Dam rain. Dam wind. Dam soggy shoes. Dam to the Dam!
It all started late last week - one by one, little 'issues' popping up before Dam to Dam, the largest 20k race in the nation. Tapering was freaking me out. I had a little too much wine on Thursday night while watching 'Best In Show' (for the n-teenth time). And then I got a call Friday morning from my mother, informing me that she was driving herself to the emergency room due to a numb left arm and major dizziness.
Needless to say, my mind wasn't really on Dam to Dam Friday. I sat in the air-conditioned hospital with my grandparents all day. My grandpa touted the benefits of a Western diet ('fried chicken and mashed potatoes'), trying to convince my grandma and I that my mother's diet (which is much like mine, consisting of TONS of vegetables and whole foods) is the source of her sickness. Yeah. It was that kind of day, with a couple of one-minute interruptions from various doctors asking my mother what she ate for breakfast and then making her identify a photo of Abe Lincoln (seriously). While my mom is still alive and very much kicking, she has to go to the cardiologist this week to run some tests. I have a feeling that it was just gas that made her feel like crap. Hmmm. Perhaps grandpa is on to something...
Anywho, I get to sleep at 11 PM on Friday, only to wake up at 5 AM. After some oatmeal and chia seed, I put on my race-day best and then hopped on the yellow school bus at 5:45 AM. This is how they do Dam to Dam: catch a bus by 5:45 AM; the bus takes runners to the Saylorville Dam; and then the runners wait until the gun goes off at 7 AM. Well, it was cold. Raining. Windy. The bus dropped us off at 6:15. So...I popped a squat in the woods (everyone does it) and then stood in the rain with thousands of other soaked runners, just wanting to get the show on the road. Shoes soaked and soggy socks, I tried not to focus on the shivering mouths of the woman next to me. There were approximately four thoughts in my head at this time, including:
"This is the LAST time I do this."
"My bed is warm and cozy. Thus I want to get on a bus and go home."
"Let's get this DAM race going already."
Finally, we were off at 7:05 AM. Feeling good once I got a half mile into the race, I tried to focus on pace; I didn't want to go out too hard, like I always do. The first six miles went a little slow - lots of wind (I'm *that* girl who takes advantage of drafting), and a few teenage boys running while throwing cups of agua at each other after every water station. I was really trying to slow my pace to a 9-minute mile, which is on the slow side for me. I was all over the place during the first half of the race in terms of pacing. Each mile I made it my goal to slow down and really hit a 9-minute pace. I was able to slow it down around miles 7 through 9.
This is the smartest thing I've ever done.
Miles 9 through the end of the race (12.4, to be exact) went EXTREMELY well. I was hitting negative splits and ended up doing a 7:48 in the last mile. I didn't feel like I wanted to die (which is usually how I feel during the last few miles of a half). I was able to kick it into high gear and pass tons of people. Just how I like it.
My final chip time was 1:46:23. Last year I was finished the race in 1:50:45. 8:34 vs. 8:55. Sure, I'll take it.
And yes, I'll be back for this Dam race next year.*
*Sorry for the lack of info regarding the organization of the race. This is one of the most organized races I've ever experienced. Lots of water stations and volunteer support. And a very efficient packet pick-up. Oh, and they give you a dri-fit shirt. Score!