Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stephanie's First 8k

"Do you eat before you race?"
"Yup. Always something. At least a piece of fruit. Wheat tortilla if you can stomache it."
My friend Stephanie/newscast producer was running her first race since college and I could tell she was nervous. Earlier in the week we both gasped through a 5 miler.
"How long is 8k?"
4.97 miles. She was starting to worry she wouldn't be able to do it.
"You can always race twice as far as you can run on a training run." Don't ask me where that came from originally, but i think it's pretty true.
First little surprise-- and I should have known when I saw the distance. Grass! Lots of soft grass to run on.. but it can add a little to your time.
Turns out it was a sort of cross country team reunion for Topeka West and there was a decent turnout.
On your mark-- get set-- go!
"Don't go too fast Steph!"
"Oh I won't."
This was the main reason I was running with her. It's so easy to jump out of the gate too fast. Especially when it seems like people are flying in front of you. Add a little adrenaline and excitement and you've got the recipe for disaster. I don't know the exact chemistry, but starting out fast throws a bunch of nasty lactic acid in your legs that will burn like crazy on the last few miles-- which will end up much slower.
We did ok. 8:50 the first mile. But the course got harder. Up and down the grassy hills.
"Let's take this one."
I encouraged Stephanie to power up a little knoll-- and she's great because she's always up for a challenge and a little competition. After all she was an athlete growing up.
"When I ran the 400 in High School we used to say it was one minute of hell."
"Well today might be a little longer in hell."
And it was hot. Hot hot hot in Topeka.
The humidity was so high the sweat was just clinging to our skin and not evaporating.
"I wish this was a 5k."
"We'll be ok, just keep the breathing steady Stephanie."
"Do you want to just go ahead Sophia?"
We were at mile 4.
"Nope this day is about you. But I can if you want me to go to the car and take a picture of you at the finish line. It's up to you. Company or picture?"
"I don't know what I want." she kind of whined.. but just a little.
"I think you should stick with the company."
The last mile can be pretty rough. A mile doesn't seem long. Unless you're racing. We got to the last 200 yards and could see the finish.
"Kick it Steph."
She has an amazing sprint and I knew I couldn't catch her, but didn't care. I was so proud of her on her first race. She had prepared so well and ran a great time. 46 minutes and change. Much faster than the 50 minutes she'd hoped for.
Later for more fun-- I ran the kiddie race on the grass barefoot. Back to nature!

A couple days later we were chatting at work.
"Hey I forgot to tell you thanks so much for running with me. And I feel bad you ran all that way and then I finished ahead. When you could have creamed me if you'd just run your regular pace."
It was not a problem. I was glad to be a running mentor and good friend. And as fate would have it. The time I ran earned me a 2nd place medal in my age group. Go figure.

Muddy Hugs,
Mud Stud

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