So my morning started out at 7 am. The race didn’t start til 9 am thankfully with it being such a cool and overcast, breezy day. Luckily the rain held off til a little later, even though we really didn’t get all that much. Since it was only me going to this race, I didn’t have to worry about whether anyone else was ready or not. This happen to be my first race with no running partner. This aspect of it made me slightly nervous as on my longer races I have always had a partner to help distract me, so I was unsure of what to expect from myself as then I tend to get lost in my music and having to watch my pace a little more. On shorter runs, I’m not all that worried about maintaining a certain pace, however at 9.3 miles, that is starting to stretch it a little bit.
So my morning started out as to be expected, woke up at 7 am on the dot. Didn’t sleep all that well towards the end of it, but that is normal. I usually have to take Tylenol PM to help me get to sleep due to pre race jitters and excitement. I had already laid out my running attire the night before as it was supposed to be fairly chilly but not too bad.
Ate my usual pre-race breakfast of a slice of Sprout’s Oat Bran toast with a tablespoon of Natural Peanut Butter, half of a banana sliced up and a little bit of honey drizzled on it. Oh and can’t forget the half a cup of coffee to get me woke up! I MUST have my morning coffee. It’s my one vice, well other than Shakeology! So after it was all together I slowly sipped my coffee on my way to the race that was downtown Tulsa, about 20 minutes away from my house. I found fairly close parking, only two blocks away. I figured it would be a lot further since this is one of the biggest races in Oklahoma. I got there about 8 am and sat in my car getting all my gear together. I usually run distances longer than 7 miles with my water belt and decided at the last-minute to take some Chomps with me. I hadn’t needed them on any of the training runs, but I figured I would rather be safe then sorry when it came to needing/wanting them. Normally I start out my longer runs with a GU packet, however I hadn’t picked any up and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of them purely due to texture.
So about 8:15 am I decided to make my way out of the car and try to track down the bathrooms before having to get ready. I immediately stepped out of my car and gust of wind caught me by surprise. BRRR!! It was COLD with the wind. I debated on taking my fleece pull over or leaving it in my car. I ended up leaving it in my car because I figured once I got to running I would warm up quickly. The hardest part about racing is the “down” time and waiting til the corral you up to start. At the Tulsa Run they had a 2k, a 5k and a 15k, plus a USATF masters devision. I thought it was neat that they were also honoring the runners who had run in ALL previous Tulsa Runs! 35 years of running in the same race! Simply AMAZING!
So the race got under way, they didn’t really have it zoned off like some races do according to pace groups. My goal was 93-95 minutes, so I just happened to situate myself a head of the 1:30 minute pace group as it was fairly large. So once the gun went off and everyone set out, I immediately began telling myself to slow down. It’s so hard in the beginning as so many people have the mind-set of getting out of the corral and going as fast as they can. People just kept passing me left and right, however I just kept focusing on my breathing and kept myself from looking at the time/pace until a mile into it. Once I hit a mile did I finally hear the Nike + app voice tell me that my pace was 9:13 per mile. WHOA! I forced myself to slow down, which was hard to do as people are just passing you left and right. I knew if I kept that up I would crash. I am the type of runner though that starts out slow and then progressively gets faster. So since I knew I would be running by myself I purposefully set my play list up on my iPhone with more upbeat songs. Every mile, the voice kept coming back to me telling me my pace and then I would push myself to slow back down. I hadn’t thought of the fact that with all the upbeat songs I had chosen for my playlist that they would also keep pushing my pace faster and faster as I kept forcing myself to slow down.
Just before the turn around point at about mile 4 and I was still hanging in there pace wise between 9:15 and 9:35 that I would just let myself do what felt comfortable. I had been running that pace consistently through those 4 miles and felt pretty good. Breathing was good, no sign of fatigue, so I just kept it up. At the turn around mark when I still felt great, I figured since my pace was quicker then I had originally planned and been training for I better go ahead and eat some Chomps so I wouldn’t crash. Ingested my usual 3 and plenty of Gatorade to wash it down and continued on my way. About 7 miles into the race I took in another 3 Chomps and Gatorade and could finally feel the start of fatigue in my hips and right side of my neck and into my shoulder. Made the mental note to start work on relaxing my upper body more, however kept pushing on. From about mile 8-9 it was pretty much all uphill to some degree. After about half way through mile 8 and 9, I really felt the fatigue start to set in and tuned into my heart rate as the wind had picked up as well at this point. It started to level off at mile 9, however the wind was still there. It was at this point though that making my way up the hill that all those people who had passed me in the beginning were walking now and I was passing them going up this hill. After my half marathon training earlier this year that was something I loved incorporating into my training runs were hills. It’s such a huge surge to pass people up hills when they are walking them and panting. Once I topped the hill and it leveled out and I could see the finish line my pace started naturally picking up. Even though you are ragged and worn out, it is an adrenaline rush, even emotionally. Something that you remember never thinking you would do and you are doing it! Incredible!
So I finished my first Tulsa Run 15k with the official time of 1:29:23. Nearly 4 minutes faster than my goal time! Needless to say I was pretty darn happy and my muscle soreness really wasn’t as bad as I remember it being with the half marathon earlier in the year. After the long races, you make your way through a “buffet” almost of post race foods, such as half bananas, bagels, water and sports drinks. I grabbed a quarter bagel and a half banana. I was standing there with my banana peeled, eating my bagel and drinking some water when this little Penguin came up and began snacking on my banana.
Luckily he was a cute thief though so he was spared. His owner apologized and offered to go get another banana for me at least.