Race #20, my first 10 miler.
I did not feel well at all when we took to the start line of Frosty’s Frozen 10 Mile. Nausea had my stomach in a heavy ball and my head wavering, but Trisha and I were here. We were going to do it.
Prior to the race, Trisha and I had agreed upon our intentions to stay together. We were both in weakened conditions, and 10 miles is a long distance alone and without music. We noted the exceptions of if one of us dropped pace completely or stopped.
We started off up the Platte riverwalk. It was not the most beautiful riverwalk I’ve even trodden. It snaked through city and industrial, and the Platte was shallow and thin. It still made me nostalgic for my Chattanooga riverwalk days, and it was still better than city running.
The first mile blew past. The second lengthened out slower. I heard Trisha’s breathing louder and louder beside me. Then, in a hacking cough, I lost her. From behind me, she shouted for me to keep going. I was flirting with my pace, inching in on my float. I didn’t want to break my stride, but I also didn’t want to leave her behind or run 8 miles solo.
Conveniently, the route provided a nice little roundabout. I simply jogged around and around until Trisha met up with me again.
The pack of runners completely left us before the second mile was out. Once they were out of sight, it no longer felt like a race; it felt like we were just going for a run on some riverwalk. I’m happy in the middle of the pack; I’m fine at the end. I did not enjoy being completely left behind. I realize that a 10 miler is going to bring out more legit and hardcore runners, and I also realize just how slow my pace is, but such a disparity was just disheartening.
I reminded myself that I was running my run and just focused on going.
We plodded along. The riverwalk was pretty much flat and pretty much straight, with the occasional bridge crossing to spice it up. The winter day was a balmy 50 degrees, and I felt the heat difference, sweating hard and early.
Frozen, my ass.
I became aware of my injured foot somewhere in the second mile. It started as a flat ache on the bottom of my foot, below in the sore tendons. It didn’t hurt much, but it was an alarmingly early appearance. Part of me started to worry, but I was already here and already running.
Trisha slipped behind me slowly as I found my own pace seductive. I lost her in another couple rounds of lung rattlers. She insisted I just continue on, but I told her no. I jogged on until I found another roundabout then twirled around until she caught up. I told her I would be willing to go on after the half, but we were doing the first half together.
As we crossed into the fourth mile, the leaders began passing us on their return. Other racers nearby, even so far ahead, made it feel like a race again. A flood of encouragement came from the other side, almost always at a key time. I ignored the part of me that took it as patronizing and just enjoyed the community of it.
At the halfway turn around, I felt great. I was floating; I felt fresh, energized, happy. I felt like I could keep running forever.
Then I turned around.
Suddenly, it just got much harder. I was panting and sweating and dragging. By mile 7, I had utterly hit a wall. My foot was nothing but a pad of pain. My body just ached from my toes to my back.
The sun blazed directly over me, straight into my face. The sun, my relentless nemesis. I crossed under an underpass, in the shade, with a breeze, and felt a second of sheer joy. Then I realized it was the heat, that extra layer weighing me down at this distance.
The last three miles were a long and slow constant battle. My pace did not drop exceptionally, but my perspective dragged. My head was no longer wandering in distracting thoughts; it was inventorying my every discomfort. It was whining and trying to talk me out of it. I spent the last three miles convincing myself I was not going to stop, and I was not going to walk.
I told myself I had to take the same number of steps to get back either way; they might as well be marginally faster.
I told myself the nausea bobbing under my ribcage didn’t matter unless I actually puked.
I told myself I had to finish 10 today to have any chance in hell at 13.1 in two weeks.
I told myself whatever I had to to keep my legs shuffling at my zombie turtle pace.
When I broke off from the riverwalk and turned away from the sun, I felt human again. I could hear the finish line and felt (slightly) energized. I forced my legs to pump harder, even though longer strides had my foot whimpering louder.
When I turned into the parking lot, they had already deflated the finish line; they were already breaking down the vendor tents. People were holding the flattened arch up for two stragglers in front of me. They had air futilely pumping back into it when I finally crossed under it.
2:05. Since 2 hours was my goal and I had spent some time in the roundabouts, I was perfectly happy with it.
My hip screamed from compensating for my aching foot as I limped back to cheer Trisha across the line.
When I got home and removed my shoe, I discovered a huge, unnaturally red blood blister on my sore foot. I vaguely remembered noticing a blister was forming, but I was far too distracted by my tender tendons.
NOLA, here I limp!… I mean come.