First of all, let me start out by saying that race day was HOT. It seems to be the trend of late, and I didn't escape it. Somehow I thought that since this was "just" a 10K that heat wouldn't be a big issue for me. I was wrong. It was HOT and I was miserable. That all being said, I was pleasantly surprised when my chip time turned up a 1:00:13 (average pace of 9:42). Considering how many walk breaks I took and how early I started taking them and just generally how sluggish I felt, I was amazed to see that time.
So, what's to say about the Bellin? It's an awesome race - that is, if you can get past the crushing crowds and the insane children trying to take you out at every turn. If you can get past those things and just take in the crazy amount of energy generated by all those people there in one place with one purpose, then it is an amazing event to take part in.
The Bellin Run celebrated its 36th year Saturday, and the feel of the race reflects that. It is well organized, well loved, and well supported. Volunteers are AWESOME, crowd support is phenomenal, and the community really rallies behind it. With big names in running like Bill Rodgers and Joan Samuelson showing up to run it, too, it can be fun for race gawkers.
Hubby and I started our day early as we roused the kids from their beds to head up to the start line. Since I was actually running as part of Hubby's corporate team, I needed to be there a half hour before start time to take a team picture. Getting off the highway, we already ran into race traffic. With 18,300 registered participants signed up for race day, this was to be anticipated. We made it to the general vicinity of the corporate tents with plenty of time to start our search for parking on the nearby side streets, and as luck would have it we found a spot relatively quickly. A moderate walk to tent city, and we were there just in time for the photo op. After the picture, I walked Hubby and the kids to the playground, said my quick good-byes and trotted off to find a porta-potty before the start.
The nearby bank of pots was heavily in use with lines practically out of the park, but from years past I remembered another bank of them near the start corrals, so I headed that way. T-minus 20 minutes to the start. Unfortunately, I tried to take the shortest route between two points, and that was a fail. The Bellin start is situated at an intersection of roads in the heart of the Bellin medical complex. Cutting across to turn up the road that leads to the finish, I got stopped by an official looking gentleman (gun and badge), telling me and a few others we couldn't go that route. T-minus 15 minutes. Jogging faster now to get to the start on time, I retraced my footsteps and made it to the park next to the start line. A quick question to a volunteer and I was headed in the right direction, past a pre-race water table (thanks!), and on to the porta-potty line. T-minus 10 minutes. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Done. On to the race corral. T-Minus 4 minutes.
Made it! Corral 2. I was so excited to start in Corral 2
, but as it turned out, I started more right outside of corral 2, because there wasn't enough room in the corral. The corrals line the street and then go around TWO corners to accommodate all the participants. They are blocked off by metal barricades and have clear entries, guarded vigilantly by volunteers. I made it to the Corral 2 Entrance, only to find that that was the closest I was going to get to Corral 2 before the start. It was all good, though. As Corral 3 was gated off from Corral 2, once the race did start, we all got to get underway before Corral 3 was allowed to enter the mix. (Okay, how many times can I say "corral" in that paragraph?)
The race started with a bang. A four-minute walk to the start line, and I was finally off. (Not bad considering in previous years I have crossed the start line 20 minutes or even 30 minutes after the start!)
I won't bore you with a mile-by-mile description of my race. As stated, it was hot, and as I had brilliantly decided the night before during my pre-race indifference
that I wasn't going to wear a watch - rather run by feel - I, of course, started out WAY too fast. (In retrospect, wearing the watch might have helped keep me in check in the first mile or so.) That first mile is an ever-so-slight uphill with no shade. The sun was shining brightly, and it didn't take long for me to feel the heat. I ran out too fast, and before the first mile marker, I knew I was going to suffer. By mile 2, my legs already felt heavy, and I had taken several walk breaks.
I have to say that with the temps pushing the mid-70s at the start and in the wake of the Green Bay and Madison Marathon cancellations, that this race did everything in its power to make the run as safe and comfortable as they could. From daily news interviews leading up to the event advising runners how to deal with the heat, to announcements at the start, to medics and first aid on the course, this race had it all. Water stations were plentiful with water cups stacked three deep on the tables, and shuttles were on standy-by at several points ready to ship runners back to the start if they decided they were done. There were misters on the course, but they didn't provide nearly as much relief as the sprinklers and hoses, provided by the good citizens of the area. Before the race, I jokingly had said I would try to hit every watering device on the course, but I couldn't! There were too many! I tried, but I soon realized there were certain sprinklers that had I gone for them I would have caused traffic issues, so I let them go. I still managed to get soaked. Towards the end I took to dumping half cups of water on my head after taking a few sips. The water cups were full, and there were a gazillion of them (that's the official number).
Then there is the ice cube. After running five-plus miles in the heat, getting as much water and Gatorade as I could stand, running through sprinklers, I was presented with a single, lonely ice cube in a cup at one aid station. Hmmm. I stared at it. I didn't quite know what to do with it. Was I supposed to eat it? Rub it around my face? Put it in the water they then gave me? Then I remembered my friend L. and her story of running Boston a couple of months ago....something about ice in a jog bra. So, I hooked my finger in my soaked running shirt and jog bra and tipped my one ice cube into the spot where my cleavage would be if I had any. There it sat all the way to the finish until it finally melted away. That actually felt pretty good, and I can now say I have found a new purpose for the jog bra.
So, as stated, the crowds in this race are not to be dismissed. With over 18,000 people running a 10K, there is really no escape. Unless you are in the very front (I would imagine) or the very back, there is no point in this race where the crowd thins out. Brushing up against people, slowing suddenly, stopping short, dodging through holes in the crowd, jumping up on the sidewalk to get around people are all a part of this event.
Worse than the big people, though, are the little people. They are fearless and slightly insane. Don't get me wrong .... I love kids - I have two of them myself, and I hope E. and LG run fast and far as they get older. HOWEVER, that being said, I hope they never do what 90 percent of the kids out there seem to do, namely dodge in and out of foot traffic not knowing how long their legs reach behind them. I almost got tripped up on several occasions by kids who darted in front of me thinking that if our shoulders weren't touching, they were good. They fail to understand that their legs reach out further away from their bodies than anything else. On more than one occasion, I was forced to do a couple of fancy dance moves to avoid a collision.
Then ... there was the collision.
Approaching the finish of all places, a 10 or 11 year old boy burst past me and cut right in front of me. I didn't see him coming and next thing I knew, his "kick" kicked me in the right shin. I experienced but a momentary startling along with a burst of pain. He, on the other hand, went sprawling on the concrete with a nice little skid in there to boot. I and another gentleman went to ask if he was okay, but quicker than quick, he picked himself up and sprinted for the finish. I would bet anything he had two bloody knees to show his parents. While I felt a twinge of guilt for any part I may have played in his downfall (unwitting as it may have been), I would be lying if I said I didn't also feel an avalanche of vindication for all the times in this race I had to dance around other kids. I would call it poetic justice, but I am sure that any higher power out there wouldn't push a kid down just to make me feel better. I know, shame on me. Oh well. I'll get over it. And, judging by how fast he moved on, I am sure the kid will too.
So, despite the heat and the crowds and the slower time, I feel I had a pretty good race. The first few miles were rough, but I feel I perked up quite a bit after mile 4 or so. Somewhere in there, I finally found my groove. I hit a pace that I should have been going all along and suddenly got comfortable. I made a mistake thinking to leave the watch at home and run by feel. Really, I should have had the watch to ensure I ran slowly in the first mile or two, then used it to set a manageable pace. Ah well, it's all a learning process, and I am obviously still learning.
So, my fourth (or fifth?) Bellin is in the books. I only had a seven-mile long run on my schedule for this weekend, so this fit in nicely. Now, it's time to get back to a normal weekly schedule and get back into marathon training in earnest. There are several fun things on the calendar this week, including my first track workout and a local 5K. I can't wait!
So, I am editing this because I forgot to put in my big question to anyone reading this....Namely, what was I supposed to do with the ice cube?