As of last night, I can now add an 8k to my short list of running accomplishments!
I completed the Darcars Rockville Rotary Twilight Runfest 8k. And in the rain!
What was supposed to be a beautiful, unseasonably cool night turned out to be a cool, dreary, rainy night.
To be honest, I just wasn’t feeling it before the race. Between the nerves, the thought of running in the rain and quite possibly falling on my ass, worried I was going to have to pee midrace (I made multiple bathroom trips), and already feeling tired (the start time was 8:45pm), I just wanted to get it over with.
Once we lined up, a twinge of excitement set in. My mom and Mark were there to cheer me on, and seeing the energy from the crowd and my fellow racers really helped. I was one of over two thousand runners, which was a HUGE leap from my the small 200+ 5k that I ran back in May.
The announcer started reading the list of rules, and said that headphones were prohibited (we were running in the dark and part of the course was on a major road where cars would be traveling). I already knew this, but brought them anyway because runners got away with it during my 5k. I was hoping I could get away with it this time, but also wanted to play by the rules.
I had to quickly track down Mark who was already past the start line (he was my photographer) and give him by headphones since I already checked in my other belongings at the baggage check. Luckily I was able to find him and make it back just in the nick of time. At that point I was really flustered.
Then they played the National Anthem. That really helped pump me up. I couldn’t help but think about the all of the victims of the movie theater shooting and how I was fortunate enough to be out here able to run.
I was ready to do this.
Next thing I knew, we were told to move up to the start line. I made sure to stay toward the back of the pack. Some of these runners were hardcore and I feared getting trampled.
Before everyone took off, there was one wheelchair racer who took off first. I didn’t seem him firsthand, but I was told he was flying.
Before I knew it, the gun went off and we started moving.
I passed my mom and Mark as they were cheering and screaming my name. I was feeling pretty confident.
Then the panic set in.
It happened AGAIN.
I had the same excruciating knee pain that I experienced at the start of my 5k. But it was in my left knee this time and it was much worse. I honestly thought at that point that I was going to drop out. It was almost unbearable.
I pushed through it though and kept running. I reminded myself that it stopped after a few minutes during my 5k, and quite possibly would stop this time if I just kept running. Sure enough, it stopped and I felt good as new. If any experienced runners have any clue why this might be happening, please fill me in!
A few minutes after the 8k start, there was also a one mile fun run. Most of the runners were little kids. This looked super cute.
The course first took us through a neighborhood. It was awesome because so many families were out with their kids cheering the runners on. Some of the kids were screaming “You can do it, go, go, go!” and holding out their hands for high fives. I high fived a couple of them and thanked them for being out there.
Before I knew it, I reached the one mile marker.
There was a clock at each mile marker and I think it said 12 minutes 15 seconds. It felt like I had only been running for five minutes. I was able to run the first mile without stopping. I was super proud of myself.
It got a little harder after that. We started running up hills. I tried to take walk breaks up the hills so I could fly down the hills. Seemed to work pretty good.
Since it was dark, it was tricky to see some of the pavement. I tripped on a pothole and nearly fell flat on my face. Luckily I was able to catch myself before I went tumbling. There were cars parked along the streets and one guy behind me ran into one of the car’s side mirrors. I heard a loud thump. Ouch! Luckily, he seemed to be okay.
I was impressed with how well monitored the course was. There were monitors on bicycles riding along side the runners to help in case anyone needed assistance. There were also multiple water stations and other course monitors to direct us. They did a great job.
Around 2 miles, we headed back toward Rockville Town Square. I could hear cheers from the crowd so it helped me run a little bit faster. I saw Mark and my mom again, and I waved as Mark took my picture. It sounded like they were cheering the loudest, which was really cool.
Just as I turned the corner, I saw the elite runners heading back to the finish. I thought, “Are you kidding me?” It was only 25 minutes into the race and they were done. Wow, wow, wow. I realized at that point just how much farther I had left to go.
We headed back through the neighborhood. I was feeling pretty good and only took a few walk breaks. Some guy parked his truck alongside the road and had the radio pumping. He was out cheering us on and it was great. It was so nice to see so many people being so supportive.
Before I knew it, we were turning the corner and heading for Montgomery College.
It was then that I realized that I had reached the 3 mile marker. I couldn’t believe that I had almost finished a 5k. It felt so much shorter this time around then my first race.
I ran past a few of the campus buildings and the lake. Then the course started weaving through the parking lots on campus. This was one of the more boring parts of the race. But I heard music up ahead so that helped get me through. There was a band playing along the course. It sounded like a high school band. Since I didn’t have headphones, the music really helped.
I weaved through the last part of the parking lot course and turned the corner to run back on the road. At the 4 mile marker, we were heading up to 355 (a major road running through Montgomery County). There was one last water stop, as well as a misting machine (which I wasn’t expecting) that sprayed water on me. It felt so good.
Once I turned on to 355, we were running alongside the cars on the street. They had two lanes blocked to traffic that were reserved for runners, and one lane of traffic getting by. Since it was Saturday night, a lot of the traffic was starting to back up. Many of the passengers rolled down their car windows and were cheering the runners on. It was great. One lady cheered as I ran past her car and I yelled back “Thank you!” Even the cops that were monitoring the course were cheering us on. It was awesome.
Before I knew it I was heading back down the same street where I had passed all of the elite runners thirty minutes before. Some of them were even running back up the course to cheer on the runners who were heading toward the finish. I started hearing cheers and I could tell I was getting close.
I took a quick walk break (maybe 10 seconds) to regain momentum, then took off. I ran as fast as I could at that point. I wanted to go a lot faster than my legs would let me, but I did my best. I saw Mark and he was cheering. I quickly glanced to the left to find my mom, but didn’t see her. At that point, I just focused straight ahead and made a beeline for the finish.
I crossed the mats and I was DONE! My mom was able to capture the clock time as I finished.
My goal was to finish under 1 hours 10 minutes, so I was ecstatic when I saw this.
Here is my official net finish time (posted this morning):
I finished 835/919 (female group).
They even announced my name as I finished. That was awesome.
Once I got to the finisher area and stopped, my legs hurt BAD. For the first few minutes after the race, I thought I might cry from the pain. I quickly took the timing chip off my shoe, turned it in, and started walking toward the baggage check to get my belongings. My legs felt like jello, but the pain started to subside a bit.
I met up with my mom and Mark and got a bunch of hugs and congratulations. They were really proud of me, as was I. The adrenaline was running high and I felt great. Although I was exhausted, I was so happy with myself for following through and finishing.
I was starving and found the reserved area for runners where they were serving food. I got a bunch of small Lara Bars (the chocolate peanut butter was the best…surprise, surprise), a half banana, and a doughnut. There were also watermelon slices, orange slices…and beer. Um, yeah. Not that I’m opposed to that, but not after running almost five miles. No thank you. I probably would have puked.
There were also tents where business and organizations were giving away freebies. There was a tent for a zombie warehouse haunted house that they’re hosting for the first time this Halloween, and I narrowly missed out on getting a free t-shirt (they gave the last one to the guy in front of me). Mark and I are huge Walking Dead fans, so this was a little disappointing.
Update: Justin Watson, PR Director for Hallow Inc. who is running the zombie warehouse, contacted me Monday after the race. He read this blog post and offered us t-shirts! How awesome is that?! A big thank you to Justin for reaching out to me! I can’t wait to be scared senseless at the warehouse this Halloween! You can check out their web site here.
I didn’t stick around for the random drawing contests. I was exhausted and just wanted to head home. It was a great time and definitely a race I would recommend to anyone thinking about it next year. The crowd support was awesome, the course was well monitored, and the feeling you get when you finish is priceless.
I accomplished another goal and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
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