Back in August I signed up for the New Year’s Race here in Los Angeles, to take advantage of the early bird pricing. There was the option of a 5K or a 5K + 10K 9.3 mile (15k) challenge. Being a smart ass and used to running distances I scoffed at the idea of 9.3 being a challenge and of course signed up for that race.
Yeah well karma is a bitch. The day before the race I had to mentor and our distance was 20 miles. I said I’d only do 11, and have the race even out for my 20 that week. But we were down mentors and I felt it my duty to lead us into the deep. Well, my body retaliated and I’m still not exactly sure what I did, but my ankle is jacked. Of course the internet says it’s a stress fracture-sprained ankle-shin splint because the internet is not a doctor.
And since I’m not only a smart ass, but a jackass, as I limped around our house Sunday morning before the race (It’s a night race) I said “I’d rather be DFL than DNF! and I want my two free beers!”. So… I went to the race despite better judgement.
My original game plan before the injury was to race the 5K and PR, and then enjoy a beer and take the 10k and a moderate recovery pace jog. But seeing as how I knew I wouldn’t be running I went ahead and had my two beers prior. I reinvented the “challenge” portion to drinking first ; ) Hey, I beat the massive crowd, and the kegs were nice and fresh… I also ate some greasy garlic fries because this was no longer a hardcore race, but a fun ‘run’. I even wore my road ID shit that says “run.” to enjoy the irony of the situation.
The first leg of the race was a 5k with an hour and half cut off. I met up with my Legger friends but we got split up, except for my friend and fellow mentor Rhonda. We saw a woman walking about our pace and I decided to strike up a conversation with her. She was a super nice lady and well accomplished in the race world, however she just had knee replacement surgery three weeks ago and was taking this slow like us. We ended up spending the entire 5k with her and finished around an hour and 6 minutes. Let me just say that I was aiming for a 25 minute PR that night, so this time was hard to swallow. “I’m a serious runner, damnit!”. I may never place, but I take the sport seriously and always try to outdo myself. But you know what, it was a nice walk making new friends. And to note, last night I did place third from last in the 5k. [Editor’s note: We did take the far right and stayed well out of the path of the runners]
After the 5k I rushed to say hi to the friends we lost in the crowd before the start of the 10k. This time I wanted to speed it up a little bit so Rhonda and I planned to speed walk it. Again we took to the far right and let folks speed past us. This time the course went into some sketchy areas and since it was a night race it made it a little uncomfortable. At the first turnaround I asked the volunteer what the cut off was and he said we’d be fine. So we trotted on laughing, joking, having a good time. We got to one section with incredibly steep hills that just kept going. We couldn’t see the next turnaround! It just kept going and going! And then I heard a car. I turned around and pace car was behind us! Rhonda and I tried to run from it, but I’m pretty sure I looked like Ace Venutra.
The truck slowed down as I did my best to keep “running” from them. We made the last turnaround and as I looked back the truck was breaking down the course. “Whens the cut off?!”. Us. We were the cut off. Everyone that had been behind us cut the course. We were the last honest distance racers on the course. I’ve never been in this situation, and always feared of being a “loser” for being last. But honestly it was one of the best event experiences I’ve been in. All the volunteers knew what was up and cheered us on. The pace car played music for us and kept shouting encouragement that we could make it. Rhonda and I kept shouting to the people in front of us that we’re marathon mentors if anyone wants to join our ‘elite’ club. And “Don’t let us pass you! We’re the end!”. I felt like the mysterious balloon ladies at runDisney events.
Look. Life is what you make it. And even in our ‘failures’ you need to find the silver lining. We could have cut the course like all of those behind us. We could have given up and gone home earlier. Maybe we looked like fools for being last to some of the elitist runners but we’re serious enough to give it our all and to race clean and honest. I had a laugh as we crossed the finish line saying “I’m number one! Last place, baby!!”. I mean plus it was way easier for my husband to watch me cross the finish line when no one else was there. And leaving parking was 100x easier than post race rush normally is. Haha.
And points to Ravenclaw, as I was three minutes earlier than my best guess at my finish time, even with a dead Garmin. Just goes to show I know my limits even when the odds have changed.
So in the end I can’t give a full race report as I got a unique view of the last place pacer. But overall I had great company and a great time! The volunteers were all amazing, the beer was yummy, the medals are sparkly and pretty, water stations were fully stocked with water and red bull, finish line was fully stocked with water and snacks, the challenge tech item is a nice hoodie, and management seemed to be on point. My only criticisms are lack of known finish time for the 10k and that the route for the 10k being the 5k but sketchier was a little boring/creepy.
And my ankle is doing better today than Sunday, so here’s hoping a two week break will be good enough before my next race, the Rosebowl half! I’d like to actually run that one, god willing.