Long after my 6x6 training had finished, I was still running religiously and dealing with Mollie persistently trying to convince me to run a race. I pushed it off and off because of sickness and work and whatnot. Finally, her powers of persuasion prevailed - I gave in a week ago and agreed to run Page’s Run out in Potomac, Maryland. I signed up Sunday, paid the fee, and there was no turning back. Before I even laced up my tennis shoes to prepare, I called Mollie to ask for a running plan. This would be my first race. It’s a big deal. I needed some extra guidance. So she told me to run Monday through Thursday and take my day off Friday. Then I would do a super easy run Saturday and run the race on Sunday.
Disaster struck Sunday night when I ate pad thai from a restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I had excruciating stomach pains immediately after. That night was coincidentally the same night my friend who I ate with was robbed at gunpoint in his neighborhood. I’m never going to that restaurant EVER again. It’s filled with bad luck. I couldn’t run Monday at all and there was no way I was running on Tuesday either.
Wednesday, after I had a miraculous healing, I was thrilled to do a long run (5.34 miles). Thursday, I ran 4.45 miles of strides around the National Mall. Friday I took the day off and Saturday I ran one mile.
At 6:30 am on Sunday I woke up to eat a tiny breakfast before the race. I love the insanity of getting up so early on a Sunday morning to go racing. On any other day I would force myself out of bed at 10:00 am so I could actually accomplish something that day. But race days, I guess, are different. (Not that I jumped out of bed all bright-eyed and excited, but I did get out of bed at 6:30 early o’clock on a Sunday. Go me!) Anyways, Mollie picked me up a bit later and we drove to the high school parking lot where the race would start. We did our respective warm ups – I jogged a bit and walked a bit and stretched a bit. Mollie did whatever she does.
My goal was to run it in under 30 minutes; Mollie’s goal was to run less than 18:31 minutes.
Yes, Mollie could comfortably run another mile in the time it would take me to finish. She had ambitions to finish first and take home the cash prize. We knew that would be tough when we saw the Car-O-Africans pull into the parking lot. I’m not being racist – everyone knows that Ethiopians are the fastest people in the world. I expected these to and beat the shit out of everyone else there. They looked like Olympians.
The race began promptly at 9:00 am and my goal was to run at a moderate pace for the first mile, pick up my pace progressively throughout, and sprint the last bit. I stuck to the plan nearly perfectly. There were ups and downs throughout the race. Parts of it I had to slow down my pace and others I felt comfortable speeding up.
As I came to the finish, I saw Mollie in the parking lot (she had obviously finished many minutes ago) and she jogged in part of the way with me giving me encouragement. She also reminded me to run really fast in the last leg, which was totally necessary.
The huge push to my running came when I saw the giant clock flashing 26:40. I could run it under 27 minutes. I sprinted like never before. I came in at 26:58 (31st out of 138 people)! What a feeling! I was thrilled.
The post race high was fabulous and still is. As I sit here now listening to music and writing this blog, I am SO proud of myself. Immediately after the race (after a cool down of course), it was a blast wandering around eating the delicious free food that was available to us. We watched the people who came in after me and I beat some really fit looking people.
[Sidenote from Mollie, quoting 6x6 post-race: “Oooh, let’s look at all the people I beat! Oh wait, that guy has only one leg. Wow.”]
We snatched like a million tiny little Luna bars that they were giving out. We grabbed apples, waters, free granola bars and more. Yes, yes, it's true - Mollie and I are scavengers.
For the rest of the day, there was lots of running talk between Mollie and I. Mollie is just as obsessed with running as you might think. One memorable quote, in reference to her father: “He never watches any of my ultramarathon documentaries!” (yes, that’s plural - she does indeed own more than one ultramarathon documentary).
All in all: SUCCESS.
What’s next for 6x6? Running sub 25 minutes around Thanksgiving season.
Be on the lookout!
[Another Sidenote from Mollie:
Post-race, as we sat over delicious cups of coffee and half-eaten plates of crepes and French toast, 6x6 asked me, “So, do you think I’m a real runner now? Like, can I actually call myself a runner?”
I looked at her, wearing her race T-shirt, happily enjoying brunch in the way that only those who worked for it do, a Page’s Run medal draped around her neck. My thoughts? Well, if this isn’t a runner, I don’t know what is!]
The 6x6 Saga (for those of you who may have missed some parts)
Weeks 1 and 2: So This Is Running?
Week 4: Dun dun dun.
Week 5: Five Weeks In - Running Symptoms
Week 6: Last Weeeeekkkkkkk!