A week ago, I decided I was finally ready to do a weekend run with the Willamette Valley Road Runners. I have been wanting to run with this group until I felt like I was 'ready,' which by my standards means I was fairly confident that I could hang with just about anybody on a long run. I showed up Saturday Morning and only five guys were there. They said summer vacations, the Olympic trials and a couple of local races were taking a toll on their turn-out for the day. As we chatted, I was sure they were thinking,"Can this girl really hang with us?'
Hang I did. In fact only one guy and I were left by the time we completed our 14.5 miles. I guess I passed muster, because this guy told me I should come workout with them on Wednesdays. After Wednesday's workout, people were all clamoring on about a 10K in Stayton on the fourth of July and since when does does this race junkie miss an opportunity like that?
So rather than sleep in on my day off, it was off to the races. My friend Debbie came along, too, as did her husband who was running his first ever race!
After milling around a bit and giving Debbie's husband lots of race day advice, we lined up at the start for the OLD TIME 4th of July 10k run. At the starting line I bumped into Joe, a guy I had run intervals with on the track at Relay for Life. The running community seemed so small world right then, which got me excited because I was becoming part of that small world! Joe wanted to know my pace. Around 7 minute miles I told him. "Oh, I do 7:15's, maybe even 7:30's is more like it." he told me, which I later learned was overly modest. But at that point I thought we wouldn't be running together, so we wished each other well as we get ready to start.
They got an authentic old-timer to give us a mini pep talk and do the timing. And then the gun was up: click - the gun didn't go off. A second try and still just a tiny click. And then a frantic click, click, click as the starter desperately tried to get the gun to sound. Finally, the old guy decided he was just going to yell,"Go!" which he did and we all started running. Three seconds after we started running, there was a loud BANG! The gun was working again.
I wasn't wearing a watch for this one. I'd like to tell you it was because I was being very casual about this race, but really it totally slipped my mind when trying to get ready and keep Liam entertained at the same time. Fortunately, a guy at the mile mark was reading splits: 6:52 - Not too far off 7 minute pace.
Right after mile two, I heard shuffling footsteps behind me and then a few seconds later, I hear,"I'm here!" and there was Joe. Joe started coaching me immediately. "This course is harder than you would think. Just relax up this hill and let's not let that couple up ahead get away from us." Despite "relaxing" we actually caught that couple as we crested the hill and went on to the three mile mark - 21:08. We made the turn around and then had the downhill. I cheered for Debbie and her husband when I passed them on their way up and then just cruised down the hill to the four mile point, 27:35. "Whoa, we picked it up." I said to Joe. I was a little surprised because I didn't think the hill was that steep and I also was a little anxious because even 7 minute pace was kind of pushing it for me. Joe was nonchalant. "Yeah, we did, but we'll just go easy on this flat because we have one more good bump coming up. After that, It is all flat or a little downhill to the finish."
The flat didn't seem that easy to me, and the uphill wasn't so fun but I stayed with Joe and our pretty good pace. With about a half mile to go, I either slowed a bit or Joe picked it up, but either way, I couldn't keep up. I finished in 43:03, with Joe just ahead of me. This was about the only time I regretted not having a watch, as I know I could have taken 4 seconds off with the right incentive (like going under 43 minutes!). But even still, it was a minute and a half faster than two weeks ago. And the age group ribbons were actually ribbons this time, not just ribbon shaped paper!
I finished 4th female, not second (4/31; 24/87 OA) - something new and different for me. The place was worse than usual, but who cares? I am just psyched by the 6:53 pace for the 6.25 mile course. I had thought I was stretching it a bit when I told Joe 7 minute pace - I am glad to see I could back up my words. Joe was obviously downplaying his fitness level at the start of the race - to my advantage; I don't know if I would have run as fast without him.