I’m having a hard time putting my experience at the GW Parkway Classic into words. On one hand, I met my post-injury time goal of finishing under 2 hours (1:59:45 – what up!). On the other hand it was an extremely difficult race for me, physically and mentally.
I actually slept pretty well the night before, which is really rare for me. We were up at 5 am and on the bus to the start of the race by around 5:40. We got there by 6 and then had about 2 hours to kill before start time (the Parkway Classic is a point to point race starting at Mount Vernon. There’s very limited parking there and if drive to the start there’s no way to get back to pick up your car after). Thankfully the race organizers knew there would be a bunch of sleepy, hungry runners and they provided an awesome start area for us. They had space blankets to keep us warm, coffee, bagels, bananas and Vita Coco water. Seriously, it was awesome.
The time went by really quickly. We posed for some before shots with our space blankets:
Before we knew it we were off running. BF started way ahead of me and Suze, he was in the 9:00 minute pace group because he’s fast. We started with the 11:00 minute group. I can say the first mile of the race was probably my best. We started off a little fast, at a 10:35 pace, and then my next 3 miles were progressively much, much slower (11:20, 12:02, 12:28). I was freaking out and coming across 2 problems that I wasn’t expecting at all: A terrible blister and a kind of bad reaction to my new heart medicine. I think I was starting to scare Suze by mile 4. My heart rate was going nuts – not my normal 205 beats per minute nuts – but a newly medicated can’t seem to beat fast enough to keep up with my activity kind of nuts. It felt like I had a side stitch in my heart. I did a lot of walking trying to figure out if I was even going to be able to run. I decided to just run as much as I could and pray that later on I’d be able to pick up enough to not finish in dead last. There was no way I was going to stop, I’d walk it in if I had to but I really didn’t want to.
This was stressful enough but I also ended up with an epic set of blisters on my right foot. I haven’t had a blister in a long time and wow, so painful. Seriously, I came pretty close to crying a few times. It was just so unpleasant. Not like the National Half Relay where I felt like I was going to hurl but was at least having fun when all was said and done. I just felt miserable, like I’d never ran a day in my life and was trying to push through 10.
I managed to knock 1 second off my pace during mile 5 and finally, at around mile 6 my heart rate seemed to stabilize. I was still a little out of it but thankfully that weird pain went away. My pace picked up on mile 6, slowed a little on mile 7, and evened out on miles 8 and 9.
At around mile 9, I realized it was still a teeny bit possible to make my goal, even though I told Suze it wasn’t. I made it up the awful hill and took off on the downhill hoping I could make up enough time to cross in just under 2 hours. I almost gave up right before mile 10, with the finish in sight. I looked at my Garmin and thought it was impossible because I had added an extra .1 in distance early in the race while dodging the crowds. I knew I’d hit 10 miles in under 2 hours but I thought the finish line was impossible. As I slowed down a girl on the sidelines screamed at me “Don’t quit now! You’re so close! You don’t really want to walk!” And I looked at her and almost cried but I took off running and heard her and her friends screaming for me and I just about burst into tears. It was honestly the most perfect timing and was so inspiring. Random girl, if you ever happen to read this – THANK YOU SO MUCH! That cheer was just what I needed because I crossed the finish line in 1:59:49, with 11 seconds to spare.
BF was waiting at the finish – he’d been done for about 30 minutes! I was so proud of him! He kept me from crying about how hard it was and was so happy that I finished. We all went and met up with the huge crowd of coworkers who ran, they all killed it. Seriously, I was the slowest by like 25 minutes, but I don’t care. I’m so proud of myself for pushing through and somehow, miraculously meeting my time goal. I spent awhile thinking about how much better I could have done, but I snapped out of it. Races don’t occur in a vacuum and though I think I could have knocked 6 or 7 minutes off that if I wasn’t feeling weird from the new medicine or covered in blisters, that’s the situation I faced yesterday and I dealt with it as well as I could.
I know a lot of people raced this weekend and I hope all of you had a good time!