I changed my mind about running this race approximately 500 times, but I'm thankful I decided to get out there and compete. It is one to run strategically for place, and also to run without looking at your watch due to the crazy elevation variations. I finished 3rd overall female in 47:02 (6:15 pace), which was also good for a new Missouri single age state road racing record for age 37, since there are very few 12Ks. Throughout the past couple of months I've encountered some health and personal challenges, during which I've questioned if I should just cancel this entire season many times, but for this race I felt like racing and found joy in the experience, which would have been a victory even if I had run terribly! This performance wasn't my best, but it also wasn't my worst, and I was probably more thankful for it than any other mediocre performance of my life.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." - Isaiah 43:2
I included the Big 12 12K in my spring racing schedule, after the event went well for me last year. I travel to my agency's Kansas City division for work about once a month, and typically I can schedule when the trip occurs, so I planned March's trip for the Thursday and Friday prior to this race. The past couple of months have been up and down for me, running-wise and otherwise, and a couple of times after I had bad runs in February I told my coach, "Just take my March races off my schedule." Then I had a good 5 mile tempo run on February 26, and said, "Maybe leave those March races on my schedule."
Then, I got sick on March 3, bumped my long run to March 4, and said with certainty, "I am not going to run Big 12 next weekend", and my coach made the adjustment. I recovered faster than I expected from the illness and had great runs on March 14-15, but my mileage was heavier than it would have been leading up to a race, so I was still not planning to race, but I guess I wasn't completely ready to rule it out because Thursday morning I added a singlet, shorts, arm warmers, compression socks, and racing shoes to my packed bag before I headed out of town (related note: this was not an adequate amount of race gear and I had to warm up in pants I'd been sleeping in and the long sleeves and ear-warmer I wore to run in on Friday morning, and also wore the sports bra I'd run in on Friday morning...don't even ask what dry clothing I changed into after the race!).
Friday morning after a night of poor sleep, I was dragging and exhausted on my short morning run, so I have no logical explanation for why I started to feel like I wanted to race after all. I wavered back and forth, but when the time came that I had to decide for logistical reasons (around 2:00 p.m., because if I wasn't staying to race I'd start my drive back to Springfield), I suddenly thought, "Well, I have nothing to lose but the entry fee!" and committed. I registered at the race expo and stayed Friday night in Kansas City.
|With my sweet dad pre-race|
|Laughing on the starting line|
Our pack gradually thinned, and for a few miles I ran side by side with Tara. We chatted some and I mentioned that it was deja vu to last year. We follow each other on Strava so had some idea what the other had been up to since then, and I knew she was training for the Boston Marathon next month. The distance clipped by, and at one point after I mentioned that running together was really helpful, she told me that if I needed to go ahead to feel free, as the pace felt hard to her. I was hesitant to go, but I saw a male ahead who we'd been slowly reeling in, and I could feel our effort slowing so after awhile decided I would take off after him.
When I caught the male, I noticed he was a young teenager, so I encouraged him to latch onto me. I told him we were coming up on a huge downhill that would feel great, but also that mile 7 was all uphill so to save some for that. He stayed close as we accelerated down the hill. We then had a bit of flat stretch before tackling the final uphill.
To add insult to injury, in addition to climbing around 140 feet in mile 7, you also have to weave around 5K walkers coming into the finish. To my relief, both the hill and blockage of 5K masses were much easier than last year. I'd been fearing the hill the entire race, but it really didn't seem that bad this time! As for the walkers, aside from the one who hit me with his hand when turning and pointing something out to his friend (he did apologize), it wasn't terrible but I did have to run wide. In the final 1.5 miles, I could tell that I was a bit weak from being sick, but I felt like I had my position locked in and that if another woman came up to challenge for the place, I could kick it up a gear and keep my lead.
I kicked in the final half mile into the wind, and saw the clock ticking just over 47:00 (my official gun time was 47:03 and chip time 47:02, so the big clock was slightly off). The announcer said my name (my dad's video of my finish is here), but not my place, so I still didn't know how I'd fared for overall placing. As I walked through the chute I saw a fast-looking woman wearing buns to the side, and then I knew I'd been 3rd, which my parents soon confirmed. Kim won with more strength than the woman in buns in the uphill mile. Tara came in 4th after me, and my friend Michelle was 5th. I was satisfied with my place because it was the best I could have done in that field (1st and 2nd ran 5:45-5:48 pace, and results can be found here). Michelle and I then took off for a 5.5 mile cool-down, giving me 15.3 hilly miles for the day.
It's a marathon not a sprint anyway, right?