Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Classic Hangover for the Hangover Classic

Somehow I don't think you'll find any pre-race regimen that includes greasy Chinese food, a few alcoholic drinks and a 3 a.m. bedtime.

But that's exactly what my Race Eve consisted of last night. I have a pretty good excuse, I think, considering it was New Year's Eve. Plus, the race was called the Hangover Classic and it's part of a Run for Beer race series.

So, what harm could a few drinks and a late night do?

Turns out, I ran my the personal best time for 5K. (Okay, let's not point out the fact that I've only run three or four races, so it's not like there are a lot of times for me to beat. But each one is getting better, so I'm happy with that.)

I ended up finishing the race in 27 mins and 32 seconds, an 8:52 per mile pace.

I really wasn't intending on setting a new personal best. Actually, when I opened my eyes this morning, I wasn't intending on running at all.

I had that groggy feeling, my head ached and my stomach was in knots. Yikes, did I have a classic hangover for the Hangover Classic?

Perhaps a slight hangover -- thanks to a personal bartender that made me extra large drinks and introduced me to two new concoctions.

My head and stomach told me to bail out on the race.

Isn't New Year's Day a day to rest and relax? Perhaps I could have an easy day around the house and watch my alma mater University of Illinois play in its first Rose Bowl since 1984. (As I write this, the Illini are losing 20-0 to USC. Oh, go Illini.)

I hadn't pre-registered for the race, so it would be no loss. But I had committed to Erin, Jamie and two other girls, Brooke and Monica, that we would start the new year off on the right foot with a race.

If not for them waiting for me in Portsmouth to drive to the race, I surely would have opted to stay in bed this morning. (I was so close to staying home after receiving Jamie's text message saying she was going to skip the race.)

But the rest of us made it, all admitting that we had second thoughts about the race when we woke up this morning.

We piled into Monica's car and drove to Salibury. We made our way across an extremely icy parking lot to the bar where the race registration/check-in was held. I'm sure that same bar was packed with New Year's revelers just hours before.

But this morning it was transformed into a race headquarters with runners of every age, shape and size filling the somewhat dark room. I couldn't believe how many people were there, about 900 runners if you go by the race numbers they distributed.

There were actually two races - a 5K and a 10K. The four girls opted for the 5K, an out-and-back along the beach roads in Salisbury. The "back" gave an added bonus of the cold ocean wind whipping our faces, which confirmed that I would not be participating in the optional ocean plunge at the end of the race. (I don't need a commemorative mug that badly.)

Dave, my TnT mentor, was there for the 10K. We saw him just as the race was about to start and again as the 5K runners passed by the group of 10K runners lining the road. (The 10K had a delayed start to let us 5K-ers get a headstart.)

As we passed through the group of 10K-ers lining the road, they cheered and encouraged the runners. It made me note again that runners are so supportive of each other, even if they don't know you. I think we all want to see another runner do well, finish and enjoy the event.

Dave was certainly among that group, waving and cheering to Erin and I as we started the race. I'll have to pretend he's on the sidelines at Disney, since our coaches and mentors traveling with us will be people I haven't met yet.

Running these races makes me more aware of how hard it is to pace yourself in a large group of runners. I honestly had no idea how I was doing until I turned the corner and saw the clock.

This skill, if I can master it in 10 days, will surely come in handy in Disney. With a field of 16,000 runners, I'll need to find some way to set own pace. (Note to self to remember to pack my stopwatch to wear during race.)

I'm not in it to win it. I just want to finish, and more importantly, enjoy it.

I don't want or need an 8-something-minute mile. I want to be able to sustain a steady pace for the entire 13 miles. Wow, 13 miles. That's 10 more than I did today.

But this morning's 3.1 miles wasn't a struggle. At this point, it shouldn't be.

I finished nicely, running down the chute to record my time and grabbing a bottle of water at the end. Erin finished slightly ahead of me. Brooke and Monica weren't far behind. We met at the finish line, gave some high fives and headed back home -- feeling great.

Run a race on New Year's Day? Sure, what better way to cure a hangover...

Have you donated to my fundraising campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society? If not, please consider doing so. You can donate online at http://www.active.com/donate/tntma/Teresa. Please pass this link to everyone you know. Every dollar helps me get a little closer to the Disney 13.1!


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