Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"I'm a Renegade, I Always Was"

First race of the season!

Date: 1/21/12
Name: "Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run"
Distance: 10K
Location: International Falls, MN
Time: 48:01
Place: 2/48 Female, 2/8 20-29 Female

I seriously should run more races in the insane cold. Or, I should just have the DRC Renegades with me at every race I run. Seriously, I'm not sure how this race could have been more fun or more perfect. It was by far and away the best I have felt at a race since I ran the Bayshore Half Marathon last May. No doubt, the full night of sleep and solid breakfast (bagel and peanut butter, FTW!) allowed because of the later start time helped things--it's just easier to pull a decent race off when you're rested and feel good. I also think the general good-vibes of the crew I was travelling with helped as well. It's hard to get yourself too keyed up and nervous when you're spending most of the time laughing because your group has befriended and adopted the guy who was our server for dinner, or because of the goofy mock-awards ceremony held after said dinner. (I won a box of Peanuts bandaids in honor of my recent trait of being injury prone.)
I don't even know how I managed it, but I was also dressed pretty much perfectly. Mind you, I was wearing 3 shirts and a fleece, the warmest running tights I own, knee high socks, a hat, a gaiter mask, and my stupid black puffy gloves. So, basically half of my running clothes were on my person at the start of the race. Somehow, and I'm still not sure how exactly, I managed to get my DRC team singlet on over all that, too.
On the plus side, I didn't really look as ridiculous as I felt, and we all were bundled to the almost absurd point:

The race started and ended at Rainy River Community College, and we arrived just in time to watch the two guys from our group who were running both races finish the 5K. (They took 2nd and 3rd in their age group, the first two of seven medals our crew would take home that day.) We staged ourselves in the college just inside the closest exit to the finish line, where we found our waiter-friend again after he finished his 5K (instead of jumping a van ride back to the finish like he claimed he did last year). Due to the indoor walkways of RRCC, I was actually able to pull off a decent warmup and shake out run. We headed outside with 2 minutes to go, had a starting line dance party, and then we were off!
The race itself was just plain awesome. I wound up losing the neck gaiter at about mile 1 because it was making it way too hard to breathe. I was also plenty warm (as I should have been with 5 layers on), and even with the loose snow on the side streets the footing wasn't bad at all. Things improved just before mile 3, when they spat us back out on to the main highways through IFalls. By this point, I had caught and passed every woman that I had seen, and I couldn't see any more in front of me. I knew there was no way I was the lead, but I was really curious just how many more were in front of me. I was also holding a good clip, and felt really, really strong. I did want to catch and go with one of the guys from our group, but I wondered what would happen if I did (meaning--would he try to take off on me, and would I try to go with him, blow up, and crash and burn?), so I opted to just keep him in my sights.
After looping us along the main highways, they brought us back in to RRCC for the finish:
Classic finish photo--reaching to stop my darn Garmin (it took 3 attempts to get to it after I crossed the line). I was really, really happy after the race--my goal was to be under 50:00, so I easily got that. No matter what, though, my time would have been a PR because it was my first 10K. We bummed around the finish area, taking turns going inside to warm up while making sure someone was always out there to get photos and support our crew as they finished.
While we waited for finishers and for the awards, they started posting results. I actually gasped, bad melodrama style, when I saw how I did. (A woman standing nearby asked if I was OK, that's how horrible of a noise I made. Ugh.) In all seriousness, I was pretty thrilled. At that point, I thought I was 4th overall, 2nd in age group, and I was freaking thrilled. I'm sure that doesn't show in the photo from the awards ceremony at all:
The Renegades cleaned up the hardware, too. Seven of our fifteen took home an age group medal between the two races. So, so, so awesome.
After the ceremony, we went back to clean up, and take in a bit of the town before we headed back to Duluth. This may have included turkey bowling:
Lesson learned: running I can do. Throwing a frozen turkey at bowling pins? Not so much. 4 attempts to even hit the freaking pins. But, it was too much fun. We then ate burgers the size of small countries, went to the Runner's Reception, and headed home.
Oh, and the obligatory hardware shot:
My first race of 2012. My first 10K. My first top 5 finish. My first age group medal.
A.W.E.S.O.M.E! It's been a long time coming, and I am hopeful that it's a sign of good things to come. :)

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