“I have this thing with fives”, Tiffany informed me last Saturday. “The number five is not a good number for me. Bad things always happen, especially on May 5.”
Tiffany was assigned bib number 325 for Sunday’s Women’s Half Marathon and she was not happy about it until I informed her that the sum of the three digits equals 10. “So, think 10”, I told her and her anxiety over her bib number seemed to dissipate.
Did I mention my bib number was 580? The sum of my three digits left me with 13 and not a good sign.
The 5K and the half marathoners shared the same start time. With ridiculous numbers of people (close to 4000 and mostly women obviously) squeezed into the corral, Tiffany and I couldn’t start at our pace group. When the race began, it took us 3 minutes to even cross the start line.
For the first mile or so, I exerted so much energy trying to weave in and out of walkers. A fork in the road at the half mile mark detoured the 5K runners left while the half marathoners turned right. Many runners/walkers were confused by the detour and it caused a great deal of congestion at this particular turn in the course. By the time we reached mile marker 1 at the St. Pete Pier, I lost Tiffany in the crowd.
David, our super Strider leader, told us he would be cheering for us around the 2.5 mile mark and sure enough, he was there with camera in hand. Even though, I didn’t have Tiffany running along side of me, it was nice to see a smiling face cheering for me in the sidelines.
For the first half of the race, I kept my pace at a steady 9:15-9:30. I so desperately wanted to finish at the 2 hour mark.
Although I studied the course map beforehand to memorize all the water stations, snack stops and bathroom breaks, somehow I overlooked the cobblestone, uneven roads, “hills”, bridges and numerous turns. All these obstacles combined with weaving around walkers, I felt unprepared.
Around mile 6, I chose to run on the sidewalk rather than the uneven cobblestone road and I worried how my knees would hold up. I slowed down my pace to about 10:00-10:30 and my knees seemed happy.
Then around mile 10, the heat began to bother me, but I soon cooled off around mile 11 when the race course led us into Tropicana Field. Running the bases was the highlight of the run for me. The a/c and the squishy turf were a welcomed relief and my pace dropped down to 8:00. Although, I could have run a few more homeruns, the course led us back out into the heat for the last two miles.
As I passed David at the finish line, I gave him my trademark smile and waved even though I wanted to cry. I felt so defeated. The heat killed me. My legs hurt. I just wanted to go home and go back to bed.
I was not happy with my performance. David tried to ease my sorrow by telling me that I’m way too hard on myself, but I know how I’ve performed at other races and it’s disappointing when I can’t hit those numbers again. I suppose I should be grateful that I can even finish.
To quote John “The Penguin” Bingham, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
Clock time 2:17:15
Chip Time 2:14:14
Gender Place 864/3275
As for Tiffany, fives may not be so bad after all or maybe thinking 10 worked out well for her. She finished 2:03. Way to go, Tiffany!