In 2011 I ran the Woodbridge Run for Pizza with my friend Carolyn and a huge group of people and had a relatively good time. The company was great, but I learned that it’s just one of those races that truly takes everything I’ve got. The combination of the hilly terrain, the weather, and the fact that it started at 7PM made for 4 miles aboard the struggle bus. And while I finished in 45:05 at a respectable 11:16 pace, I vividly recall my mantra for the entire last mile: never again, never again.
The 2011 finish line showdown between me & Carolyn (and Derian in the stroller!)
But, like the stubborn polack I am, “never again” turned into “meh, sure” and I found myself at the starting line last night once again!
I met up with Carolyn about a half hour before the start and we milled around stretching and chatting with our families. The forecast called for thunderstorms but the sky was already clearing, so we slowly made our way to the starting line, talking mostly about how G-D DAMN HOT it was. Seriously, it was like 90 degrees at 7PM, and the humidity had to be around 90%. It was like walking through hot soup!
We also limbered up with some synchronized acrobatics
After a few words from the mayor, we set off on our journey and chatted a bit along the way. Carolyn set the pace at around 10:15/mile, which worried me a bit. I felt OK, but didn’t think I could maintain that pace the whole time, especially with the humidity.
But we kept going through the first 2 miles, walking at each mile marker for water stops – but I wasn’t going to be able to keep up the pace, I could tell. It turns out that even though she wasn’t running a lot lately, the crazy HIIT booty camp classes that Carolyn has been taking have turned her into a superwoman, because even though she mentioned eating 2 ice cream sandwiches before lunchtime, she made 10:30 miles look EFFORTLESS! I was sucking wind and felt my form breaking down bad, but she just clicked on through with a smile. I think I need to check out these classes!
At the 2nd water stop I felt the nasty acid reflux burn kick its way into my mouth and burped a few times. No matter how much water I drank, it kept burning and I had to walk through it. I felt bad – I didn’t want to hold Carolyn back so I told her to go ahead. She hung around for a few more meters, but all that water kicked back on me and I burped up a big ‘ol hunk of my pre-race PB&J (yuck). That’s when I told her to go: she wasn’t going to want to see the end of this.
On the bridge right before mile 3.
So once she took off at mile 2.6ish, I did a few run/walk intervals but started burping again every time I’d start running. At the last interval at the start of mile 3, it was finally too much and I ended up losing the rest of my PB&J (sorry, gross!). It didn’t feel bad though – if anything, the lack of food now made it easier to run! That must officially make me a runner , huh? 😉
I stuck with intervals for the next 3/4 mile, maintaining an 11:40-ish pace. I was still really excited by this – considering my last run of more than 3 miles was a 12:30 pace (in nicer weather!), this performance was much better than I anticipated! It was kind of a bummer to see my friend go on ahead though, especially after all that talk of no running and ice cream sandwiches. But comparison is the thief of joy, isn’t it?
Once I hit mile 3.8, I sucked it up and powered through, rounding the corner and finishing strong (and with a smile!) in 46:46 (Garmin time of 46:49) and an avg. pace of 11:33!
After I crossed the finish line and reunited with everyone, we cooled off in the open fire hydrant at the finish then headed over to the post-race party for pizza and live music.
The pizza was meh considering I’d just yakked on the course, so I had one piece to call it a Pizza Run, got a few mosquito bites, and we called it a night! Another successful, fun Pizza Run in the books.
Will I do this one again next year? Maybe. The smaller field of runners means there aren’t that many slower folks like me at the back of the pack – and I wasn’t even going as slow as I was earlier this year! I finished 165/208, which certainly isn’t last, but I was alone for most of that last mile. It was lonely, and frankly kind of discouraging back there. But again – comparison is the thief of joy! And looking at it in terms of my OWN performance and how much better I’ve gotten over the past 3-5 months, this race was a huge win for me, hands down.
Ah, who am I kidding? I’ll probably give it a shot next year just to see if I can beat my time 😉