I’ve never done this before, but I thought “Eh, let’s branch out a bit and blog about my pre-race rituals and the race itself… along with some musings, of course.” So here it goes:
Race: OrthoCarolina 10K
Where: Charlotte, NC
When: 8/20/2016 at 7:45 am
My favorite part about racing is, shockingly, not the running part. It’s the habits you form before and after races that make you feel like you’re part of a tribe of sorts. A tribe of crazy people who wake up at 6 am to run as fast as they can for a certain distance, all to receive a medal. There’s also the really cool part of donating to charity, too.
Anyways, the rituals – It’s the creating playlists the night before, the drinking a lot of water, the carb-heavy meals, and the coffee in the morning. It’s the encouraging text messages, and the scrambling to find parking and use the pinning of the bibs that keep me coming back, race after race.
OrthoCarolina did it right this year. First, they had plenty of parking, including a parking garage. Praise. There’s nothing more stressful than driving up and down streets, only to find the majority blocked off, and trying to find one spot while battling a bunch of amped up runners with 13.1, 26.2 and 70.3 stickers on their cars and an itching desire to get to the start line.
The food and beer trucks were located in a parking lot right next to the finish line all awaiting the finishers. Downside – the porta potties. Not that there’s much of a chance for them to be the upside, but the lines were long and they were far from clean and sanitary. Flip side – desperate times call for desperate measures.
That’s the logistical stuff, though. The best stuff?
One of the best feelings is standing at the start line. You can feel the energy pulse through the crowd. It’s positive. It’s upbeat. It’s anxious. And it’s awesome. You can tell there isn’t one negative vibe going around.
OrthoCarolina 10k Classic was nothing short of that. Though, it did feel as though there weren’t as many people running this race as I had anticipated, but I could be totally off on that. Nonetheless, the crowd was pumped, and so was I – despite the humidity that was already rearing its head at 8 am.
I’m not being dramatic when I say this was one of the hardest races I have ever run. But, I was so impressed by those running around (and past) me. It was hot, humid and HILLY, but even though it was evident we were all struggling, everyone pushed on… one hill after the other and it was encouraging to watch.
Everything started great. But, I must’ve jinxed myself when I wrote this post about fighting through cramping, because goodness gracious did I start cramping. Right under my left rib. This time, I talked myself through it, just as I had given the advice to do so. And it helped! The cramping eventually went away. What got me were the hills. In fact, I had to walk some of mile 5, which I’ve never had to do during a race, but instead of beating myself up over it, I embraced it and quit the negative, perfectionist talk.
I still cannot get over the number of hills we had to climb (or, for me, crawl) during this race. You don’t realize how hilly your city is until you run through it. But, it got me thinking, as running usually does.
In life, we don’t know when we’re about to face a “hill,” or a hard time. Typically, we just find ourselves in it and we’re faced with getting over that hill and fighting a tough fight. What I tried to embrace about the hills during this race was at least I knew they were coming, right? I knew to slow down on the downhill so that I had enough energy to face the uphill. And there were some parts where we’d face a hill, only to turn right and face another hill, but even then, we could still see that second hill coming. We could talk ourselves through it and say, “Hey, we’re not done fighting this fight. Give it all you got.”
It’s interesting (and difficult) in life that we don’t know when the fight is over… until it’s clearly over. We may be going through a hard time and anxious for it to be over, but we’re never quite sure when it’s done. And, when faced with a hill during a race we foresee it. In life, we don’t. We don’t know when we’re going to get injured or lose a loved one. We don’t know when those we thought we knew will change or will hurt us or will leave us.
But, we fight on. Just as we all did during that tough 10k. And the beautiful thing about not knowing what’s coming in life, is that we become so much stronger because we have fought up those hills. Another mile in the books. And another hill stronger.
Anyways, I crossed the finish line and basically collapsed right then and there… actually, I hid behind the porta potties for about 5 minutes. Then I regrouped with my friends and we celebrated with a well-deserved beer. Thanks to Sycamore Brewing for the brew! It was a tough and difficult run, but it was a sure-fire kick start to race season. And, a very blatant reminder that I need to up my training.
One question I do have is: What’s protocol/polite for passing people at the beginning of a race. It wasn’t until this one where I was passing people in the beginning (not flaunting here, because the majority passed me later on) that I thought, “Hmm… maybe this isn’t the right way to go about this.” Would love to hear your thoughts!