Yeah, sorry it took a month to get this up! 🙂
I’ve mentioned it a few times, but the Riverbank Run 25k was a very emotional race for me. Since it was my longest distance at 15.5 miles, I would definitely describe it as the ‘ultimate test of the human heart’. There is not a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have been able to finish this race without my love of running.
The race was on a Saturday, which meant Friday I headed down to GR for packet pickup. They have a really great race expo the day before the race, which always gets me so pumped up. There are tons of vendors at this race, and because of the size of the event there are so many people and a TON of energy. It’s a really great way to get excited for racing the next day. After packet pickup I met up with some friends for dinner at Red Robin (it’s become my pre-race favorite for carb loading).
I have mentioned that after Gazelle Girl I experienced some pain in my calf/right leg, which I believe was due to the fact that it was FREEZING and my muscles were way overworked from not training outside. I had been going to the chiropractor for a few weeks and the Thursday before the race he had adjusted my ankle. Maybe it actually worked or maybe it was mental, but it felt like it made a HUGE difference. I had a ton of anxiety about my leg heading into this race and questioned up until the day before whether or not I should run or would even be able to run it. This was a horrible feeling on top of the normal pre-race jitters and the fact that I had never ran this distance before, so there was some normal self-doubt as to whether or not I could even actually pull this off. On Friday I decided to just do it, give it my all, and if I had to stop for some reason I would let myself knowing that I had tried to do everything to heal myself up until that point.
I woke up feeling pretty good on Saturday. I forced down a banana and a rice cake with pb and we headed out the door. There were a few of us running different races, and the 25k started last, so it was nice to get downtown and walk around for a bit to warm up and get out some of the pre-race jitters. I also got to watch my friends and Bear start their races, so it was awesome to get to cheer them on. I’d been watching the weather all week, and it had been calling for rain. I kept my fingers crossed hoping it would pass, but no such luck. I knew from the Gazelle Girl 1/2 that I did NOT want to wear a jacket, so I layered up and planned to hand everything off to my friends when I got in line to race. The rain let up a bit, but didn’t clear up, so I made peace with the fact that it was going to be a wet 15 miles. I said my goodbyes to my friends who went to watch the finish of the 10k, and took shelter with another group of runners. I had a ‘first 25k’ bib on, so other runners were extremely friendly and supportive knowing that I was nervous and anxious about the race. I chatted with a few of them who gave me some tips about the race, but one girl really freaked me out. This race is known to be a HARD course, particularly toward the end, so I already had some anxiety about it. She said she had run the race about 8 times, told me to make sure I took ice and oranges at the stations, and to save some gas for the hills. I mentioned that the hills were what had me anxious, and she said I’d be totally fine (I think she was just being nice and lying to me), and then proceeded to say, “I have seen some runners get to the top and drop though, so just be careful”. Ummm…..what!? Who does that!??!?! This upped my anxiety about 10x, but I tried to just breathe and tell myself to relax and just suck it up and get it done.
We lined up just as it started to POUR. I figured there was no going back now, so I just tried to be grateful that it wasn’t an extremely hot, sunny day. The first few miles weren’t bad at all. I felt pretty good, was SO happy that my calf wasn’t really bothering me at all, and mentally was in a good place. I knew it was going to be a long run, so I tried to just take it mile by mile and not think about how much was ahead of me. I got to mile 7 feeling great. I honestly thought I could run all day and took my Gu (salted caramel, so good!!) and continued on. There were some veteran runners who kept yelling ‘keep some gas in the tank’ so that everyone remembered the ‘hills of doom’ ahead. It rained on and off, but I had pretty much blocked it out at that point. I powered through the water stations, took oranges and ice like the ‘nice’ blonde girl had told me to do, and was doing just fine. I saw the first hill and remembered thinking ‘ugh, crap, here we go’. It was around mile 9, so I was starting to get tired just from running alone. I got to the top and was glad that I didn’t ‘DROP’ like I had been warned, and didn’t see much in sight except the road ahead. They call it the ‘lonely stretch’ because they don’t have spectators on that part of the course, so it’s really just you and the other runners to keep each other going. It starts to get more difficult at this point, and the hills get closer and closer together.
The last 5 miles were really hard, to say the least. I got to the 1/2 marathon mark and told myself okay, only 2 miles left. I had told myself this about a million times before the race, and this was what was keeping me going strong, but holy crap it was the longest 2 miles of my life. 2 more miles after 4 straight miles of rolling hills, rain and loneliness in the second half of a long race sucks, just for the record. Just after the 13 mile mark I saw my bf and husband. They had come to cheer me on since they knew I’d be so over it by that point. It was just the push I needed, and it put a much needed smile on my face. The last mile was kind of crazy- there were ambulances in more spots than I would have ever thought, and runners were on gurneys with oxygen masks. I wish I was making it up. The blondie was right about people dropping. I rounded the corner and finally headed back into the crowd and downtown GR. I hit the 15 mile mark and was in rough shape. It took everything in me not to stop. I learned that I’m definitely not one of those people who gets a boost of energy from the crowd and knowing I’m close to the end and seeing the finish line. Nope, don’t care about any of that. I saw my other group of friends off to the side, powered across the finish line as hard as I could, grabbed my medal and made my way to the exit to find everyone.
It felt like a LONG walk and my body started to hurt- blisters, knees (just sore, not pain! :), even my back was hurting. I met up with everyone, grabbed my double down medal from the Gazelle tent (for running the Gazelle Girl 1/2 and the Riverbank Run 25k back to back), and headed home. I was in desperate need of a shower and ALL the food. Much to my dismay my shower was horrible from all of the chaffing from being wet from the rain.
Overall, it was a great race. Very tough but so mentally and physically rewarding. I realize I have a LONG way to go before October 18, but I am feeling great about working hard and getting across that finish line!
Here are some pics from the race (excuse the previous day’s makeup 1/2 way down my face!):