I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here or not, but I’ve never really been a nervous racer. I’m not one of those people that needs to get to the race 40 minutes in advance to organize myself. Typically I show up, like, 10 minutes before the race starts, do what I need to do, and get my run on. So on those occasions that I’m feeling unsettled or nervous about a race, it’s usually with good reason. The Wholly Hell 15K was one of those races. We’ll call it “not my best race ever.”
To be honest, it really started Thursday night when, half way through my spin class, it occurred to me that I should probably be taking it a little easy.
Race morning didn’t go that great either. Along with my lack of nervousness comes a lack of preparation. I don’t lay out my gear the night before. I’m lucky if I know where all my gear is on any given day. (My house is not what you might call “organized.”) I knew parking was going to be tight so I wanted to leave the house a little early. This plan was totally derailed by 10 minutes of running around like a chicken with its head cut off looking for my SPIbelt, and two footwear changes because I couldn’t decide which pair of trail shoes to wear.
When I got to the race, the main parking lot was already full. I headed to the over-flow lot which was also totally full. (I’m not even sure why I thought there would be parking in the over-flow lot since that particular lot is for the “stairs” which is a set of trecherous stairs that used to lead up an old tobbogan hill and a really, really popular workout place in the area.) I headed back to the first lot thinking I could park on the side of the road. As I was parking, the forest preserve police were going to be ticketing so I needed to move to the lot across the street. I grabbed my bib, checked my packet since I didn’t think I had time to run it back to the car, and started milling around the starting area.
The race started a couple minutes late (I assume to accommodate the people that had to go move their cars so they wouldn’t get ticketed.) which gave me plenty of extra time start panicking about the race. “Wow, it’s hotter than I thought it would be.” “Ugh, I should have worn my other shoes.” “Crap, I should have worn a tank top.” “Huh, maybe I should have brought my CamelBak.” “I really think I should have worn my other shoes.” “Maybe I should just go home.”
The race started and it was definitely a rough one. First of all, the race could have just as easily been called Wholly Hills. I’m really familiar with Swallow Cliff because Nik and I do a lot of hiking so I was prepared for some hills, but the course wove through the woods which was even hillier than I was expecting. The hills definitely took a toll on me. There was one water station on the course, but you passed it four times. Unfortunately, they ran out of cups on my third pass so I ended up pretty thirsty. Apparently I was right to second guess not bring my CamelBak. I was also right to second guess my footwear choice because I ended up with a gigantic blister about halfway through the race. On top of it being a physically uncomfortable race, I was struggling mentally for most of the race too.
Despite this not being my best race ever, it actually wasn’t that bad, especially in retrospect. My official finish time was 1:50.42 which is an average pace just shy of a 12 minute mile (though I do think the course was a little short.)