Saturday morning I woke up, feeling miserable still, happy that today was not race day. It was cold, rainy, and windy out. Honestly, if Saturday had been race day, I would have hands-down, absolutely bailed. No second thoughts. I was still hacking up green gunk (#TMI), my face still felt puffy, and my head was in a Mucinex cloud. Luckily, all I had to do was pick up my race packet for tomorrow’s Perfect 10 Miler.
I met up with my mom and we headed down to Mercer County Park to get our packets. Pickup for this race is easy, it is in a skating rink and parking is on-site. It is steps from where the actual start/finish of the race will be Sunday. While we were there, we ran into another friend who was running! This would be her prep for the Princeton Half Marathon in two weeks, which has a rep as being hilly, so she is badass.
I chose this race because not only were my mom and BFF running, but also because having had some serious life-changes in the last 6-8 months, I knew I couldn’t handle a new race or something far away. I wouldn’t have the time, the money, or the emotional/mental capacity to do that. And, since it turned out that I was sick, I was even more happy with my choice come race day.
Race morning was beautiful. It was chilly and windy, but a perfect 40ish temp and no rain in sight. Thank god for that! My energy level was not great, but I got myself ready, picked up the crew and hit the road. The race is only about a half hour from my house, which was awesome. We were some of the first in the parking lot at about 6AM (race start was 8AM). I have a habit of being annoyingly early to races, but I’d rather not have the anxiety of sitting in traffic!
I didn’t have my usual nervous stomach. I knew this race would be whatever it would be. In all honesty, I considered DNS’ing up until about a half hour before the start. I didn’t worry about if I’d have to use the restroom, I didn’t worry about if I’d have enough fuel with my jelly beans. I honestly figured I’d be walking half anyway.
Once the sun started rising, it warmed up a little bit. Minus the wind, it was really great running weather. We all had our throwaway shirts on at the start, but other than that were okay. They had some fun places to take pics, and the atmosphere around the start was great. Lots of enthusiastic ladies, buzzing about, taking pics, staying warm.
The race began about 10 minutes late, due to some backed up traffic. We were let out in waves about 1 minute or so apart. A cute touch, since this is a women’s race, they have men volunteer to be “Bow Tie Guys” who cheer for you as you leave the start chute AND as you finish. It is adorable.
One of the things that I most enjoy about this race is the spirit. So many ladies in one place, doing great things and cheering one another on. Lots of teams come out and wear matching shirts and tutus and whatnot. I was sad I didn’t have enough voice (or air!) to cheer much along the course – I definitely am someone who loves to clap and cheer as I pass my peers through out-and-backs or if I see someone who looks like they need a cheer (there’s a lot of YEAH GIRL going on LOL)!!
The course itself isn’t particularly memorable. It runs within Mercer County Park, then you leave and head into Mercer County College. Within the County College, you get to start passing the faster runners as they are about 2 miles ahead of you – which I love to see! Those ladies just killing it! I also glimpsed my mom here, at a mile 4 out and back around a water stop. She looked strong! I was surprised to find myself chugging along. I wasn’t looking at my watch (thankfully), but I was actually able to slow jog most of the course! I thought I’d be run-walking, but I was actually jogging. I made sure to stop for every water stop and take my time. Even while running 13:30s, my effort felt harder, so I knew my body wasn’t up to any sort of challenge today, and I let it be. I was happy to be at a race where there were plenty of racers around this pace – lots of back of the packers like me! I felt at home, and I didn’t feel alone, even though I wasn’t on my A-game. Also, love that there is water/Gatorade every two miles reliably. I could count on that.
Just after mile 6, you leave the County College grounds and hit a little path back into the Park. This is my favorite part of the course! This is when you know you’re heading “back home” so to speak. You weave back into the park, and around mile 7 you’re essentially back on the road toward where you started. However, then comes my least favorite part of this course: between miles 8.5 and the finish, they take you on TWO out and backs, right near the finish line. Literally, you can see people finishing, as you know you still have 1.5 miles left. You can hear the announcer. You can see it all. It is slightly torturous. Flat, but slightly torturous.
I saw my mom at mile 9! She was a mile ahead of me, chugging to the finish. I knew she had a strong race just by judging how far ahead of me she was. She did awesome!
I slogged to the end, but felt suprisingly okayish.
Once I crossed the finish line, some serious grossness hacked up from the depths of my lungs. All I wanted to do was sit down!!! We didn’t hang around the finish festival long, but CGI does a great job with it – there were bags with our waters, pretzels, and snacks all ready, no waiting. If I had felt better, it would have been a fun little after party with a DJ and food vendors and all. PS – my mom and BFF both had awesome races and great finish times! So proud!
Alas, all I wanted was to get in the car and cough and cough and cough and cough. None the less, I was proud that I stuck it out this race and got my….
SPARKLY PINK MEDAL!!!
(PS – the medals and shirts for this race – SUPER CUTE!!).
I was honestly pretty proud I even toed the line here. It was far from a good race for me, but I felt like a total badass for doing it. No one else could tell this except my mom and friends, but I had fought it out. And that felt great 🙂 Also super fun bonus… FREE RACE PICS!
Now… onto spending this whole week resting and getting RID of this plague!