When I first started racing, I was all about races I had heard about, that friends had run. Since my running friend pool was not all that local, these races were here and there. I missed some of the great local races last year in my first year of running races. This year I am trying to rectify that by running local races over others.
On Sunday, March 27, I ran my first Forks XV. I have to admit I was on the fence about running the race. First, and I know it is an old record, but I am not sure I have totally recovered from the marathon. I still get extremely tired when I race or after long runs – of which nine miles is the longest I have run so far. Sunday dawned with sunny weather but cold and my legs felt good so as I was praying in church, I committed myself to run the race. Second reason I was on that fence was that I had, until that point, only run nine miles once since the marathon. That once was a hard run. The run was actually 9.45 and I ended up walking the .45 as I could not run any further. The third reason was that I had only run a 15K race once before and that was July of 2010. I put all my excuses behind me and headed to the race.
I know a lot of local runners so friends of mine were running registration. I talked with both of them for a few minutes, took my tee-shirt to the car and stood outside trying to realize that my first 15K had been in 80F plus weather and this second one would be in below freezing temps with a wind chill of much lower. I was still setting a goal to PR. I wanted to get the race done in one hour and 45 minutes. That would be seven minutes plus off my first 15K.
I did not realize just how tough this course would be. I did, though, as I almost always do when offered the chance, take the early start. I would rather be passed by all the leaders than not finish with everyone else. I did not take off in the start as the fastest. For a brief period I ran with another woman who was making her first attempt at this distance. At a little past mile 1, I handed my jacket to the course marshal. He’s a neighbor so I knew if he was not still around when I finished, I could stop by the house and pick up the jacket. I slowly started passing other early starters. Unfortunately, this would mean I would run most of the race alone. I like to talk to others during my races.
At mile 4.5, the first on-time starters passed. A little later, a couple more went by. I was happy that the half hour early start had gotten me to this point before starters passed me. Somewhere near mile 6, the pain in my foot that I had during the marathon reoccurred. I seriously thought I was going to take my first DNF it hurt so bad for about a half mile. Then, miles 7, 8 and 9 were all over 12 minute miles. This is where the hills started and seemed to keep coming. Even with breaks for water, I had not had a mile over 12 minutes prior to this point in the race. I knew by the last big hill that I would finish. The question just became whether or not I would make it in the time I had set for myself.
I crossed the finish line with personal record, a PR. Was it the PR I wanted? No but it was better than I had ever run a 15K race before this one. Was I happy? You bet!
I hung around for a little bit and spoke with friends. The after race spread of food was wonderful: bananas, oranges, pizza, cookies, breads. There was also water and coffee. A lot of hard work goes into these smaller, local races – probably as much or more than into a large sponsored races – so thank you to Triple Cities Runners’ Club and all the volunteers at the Forks XV.