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While I am a morning runner through + through, there is something to say about evening races.  The Run at the Raceway was a “twilight” run, starting at dusk, so I had the ability to catch up on some much needed sleep Saturday morning.  Not only that, but my legs were already stretched out and ready to go come race time.

However, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t sick to my stomach all day.  The downside of evening races is that I have to think about the race ALL DAY LONG.  Which, for someone like me who gets super nervous before races, is about the worst thing ever.  All I thought about all day long was how much I HATE racing, and how much I would have rather met with the Cottleville Road Runners and done my long run instead of run a race.  Why I continue to race is beyond me because, honestly, I would MUCH rather do all the training that leads up to a race than the actual race.  Blech.

Matt + I headed to Gateway Motorsports Park around 5PM, after dropping the kids off for the night at my in-laws.  The race wasn’t until 7, but I wanted plenty of time to get there (it was closer to home than I had originally thought) and get a really good warm-up in.  Coach had planned for me to get in as many miles as possible around my race, so I knew I needed at least a 2-mile warm-up before the race start.  We got there just as the 1-mile fun run was getting read to start, which was actually really fun to watch.  The winner ran a 4:20 and the female winner ran a 4:59!  There was also a guy pushing a stroller who ran a sub-5:00 mile as well!  AMAZING!

Once I watched the first several people come through, I started my warm-up.  The whole time, I had to keep talking to myself and getting myself mentally prepared.  I’m getting to the point now where I’m starting to find “my zone” for my race prep.  I don’t really want to talk to anyone… I just want to visualize my race and mentally prepare myself for the task at hand.

I headed to the starting line with about 15 minutes to spare.  While there were 1,000 people racing, no one seemed to want to come up towards the starting line.  It was literally me, a handful of speedy guys, and a little 7 year old girl.  I tried to scope out my competition, thinking the girl who won the 1-mile would for sure be running the 5K, but she never came up to the start.  So, I lined myself up behind the first line of guys, hoping I would have some guys to compete with.

Once the airhorn went off, I quickly realized that I was going to have no real female competition and most of the fast guys would be too fast for me to “compete” with.  I ran with one guy for the majority of the first mile, trying to pull ahead of him, but anytime I would start to get in front of him, he would speed up.  And I was NOT going to waste my energy on trying to pass him in the first mile.  I had plenty of time, and I could already tell that I started out a little too fast.  Sure enough, once we got into the 1-mile race track, I pulled ahead of him, and my watch beeped a 6:17 for the first mile.  Perfect for the pace I wanted to be running, but too fast for my first mile, especially by myself.

And by myself I was for pretty much the rest of the race.  This was definitely a mentally TOUGH race.  I’m a chaser.  I NEED competition and thrive with bigger crowds and lots of people to focus on passing throughout the race (hence, why I was able to PR at Chicago, despite the 1st place female being a full minute ahead of me).  But, I had NO ONE at this race.  There was one guy in front of me who I thought I had a chance of passing, and eventually did in the last mile, but I was literally by myself, so I felt like I could let up a little bit and still be good.

I will also say that the last half mile was THE WORST half mile of my life.  Not physically, but boy, was it mentally tough.  It was literally a straight line to the finish line.  You could hear the announcer, you could see the finish, but it was sooooooo far away.

I started telling myself I could do this.  To not let up.  To channel my inner Lightning McQueen (ka-chow!) in order to finish this race and achieve my 2 goals – to run a sub-20 5K and to break the tape.  I had no doubt by that point that I was going to win.  I knew there was NO ONE within striking distance (although, some of the spectators had me a little worried, but when Matt wasn’t yelling at me about it, I knew I was good).  So, it was all about still pushing to finish in under 20-minutes.

Well, you can hear how the finish went…

AVERAGE PACE = 6:26/mile

It was pretty much the BEST feeling in the world to break the tape!  It’s been one of my goals for awhile now, especially being SO close at GO! back in April.  And I love that my husband was able to get it on video as well!

I talked to some friends, got some more miles in, and then it was time for the Beer Relay – the race I was REALLY looking forward too.

The Beer Relay is a 4 x 400m race, where each teammate chugs a beer before their 400m leg of the race.  We had a 12 ounce Michelob Ultra to drink and then 400m to run.  Of course, Matt has to join me, as did our friends Bob + Michelle.  We talked a lot about our order, but decided we would start with Bob (fastest drinker, 2nd fastest runner) and end with me (fastest runner, slowest drinker).  Bob got us a great start, but we just couldn’t seem to get past the people in front of us (I’d say they were better drinkers than us…).

The beer chug wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it was going to be.  I wasn’t fast at it, by any means, but I handled it pretty well.  A couple of burps during helped, and I had a really great 400, despite having to burp a few times while running.  We ended up getting 6th overall (out of 36 teams) with a time of 7:30!  Not too shabby!

I’m looking forward to coming back to do these races again next year for sure!