Friday, May 6, 2011

Bloomsday 2011

With over 50,000 runners and walkers registered for Bloomsday this year, I think it was a good idea to get to Spokane on Saturday to attend the expo, avoid dealing with parking on race day, and enjoy pre-race food in "the big city."

At about 3:00 PM, we arrived at the expo, and it was just as I remembered it from last year (minus the Revive Energy Mints booth, which seemed to be missing this year).  I got my race packet, checked out new running gear, and bought myself a new pair of double-layer socks that promised to keep me from blistering on race day.

Packet pick-up

Daniel and me at the expo

After the expo, we decided to get some dinner at, a downtown Japanese restaurant.  The maguro nigiri was exceptional, and even though I wasn't expecting the volcano roll to look like it did, it was quite tasty.

Volcano Roll (left) and Chef's Choice Sushi Platter (right)

After a beer with a couple of other Palouse Falls Beer Chasers (and a perennial - a runner who has participated in all 35 Bloomsday races), we made our way back to the hotel and got our race clothes and gear ready for the morning.

One person in our party started his race at 9:00, so we headed to the starting line shortly after 8:00.  I enjoyed seeing all the other runners and their outfits, gear, and, in some cases, costumes.  I admired an old man's neon running shorts circa 1985, a couple in formal attire and running shoes, and three guys dressed as superheroes.  (I didn't see the guy who only wore a g-string and a cape, though I hear it quite a thing to see...)

I found my way to the green group, and waited for my race to start around 9:15.

Shortly after 9:15, my group started moving toward the finish line.  I removed my 2010 "Campus on the Run" race shirt, tossed it in a tree lining the street (as per tradition), and engaged in small-talk with others in my race group.

At 9:17 or so, I crossed the starting line and found myself in the middle of a pack of runners going at about a 10:30 pace.  Feeling good, I smiled and thoroughly enjoyed the first couple of miles.

After 3 miles, I found myself thinking about when I would walk for the first time.  I didn't need to walk, but I decided to walk once I reached Doomsday Hill.  I made that my plan and ran to the bridge right before Doomsday.

Then something funny happened that I wasn't expecting.  Instead of welcoming my opportunity to walk (that was my basic plan, after all), I found that I was resiting my plan and thinking something new altogether.  I said to myself, "You are stronger than you've ever been.  You can do this."

I thought of everything that I have been through in the past year, all the events and emotions that I have been endured.  And in a flash I realized that I have not only survived this past year, I was holding my head up high and running a 12K race faster than I had the year before.  This year I wasn't going to be slowed by the thing that made me walk last year.  I dug in and started my ascent.

I wasn't fast, but I passed numerous people as I ran up the hill (which felt pretty darn good, actually).  My legs and lungs burned, but there wasn't a single moment when I thought I would walk.

At the top of the hill, I felt a familiar sensation cross my face: I smiled a big ol' smile, and then I enthusiastically high-fived the Doomsday vulture and a guy dressed up in a chicken suit.  I smiled because I had just run the hardest part of the course; I smiled because I had just run farther without walking than I ever have; and I smiled because I am stronger than I ever have been.

With the hardest part under my belt, I decided to running the rest of the race (2.5 miles), as well.  That distance is not small potatoes to me, but my mental state at that point was so strong that I knew I could do it. 

I don't have a whole lot to say about the rest of the race.  It just felt good.  I kept a consistent pace, and I knew that I was going to not only have a PR but also new knowledge about what I am capable of.  And that fact kept me smiling and running strong.

It was awesome seeing the downhill to the finish line.  I finished at 1:24:25, which is an 11:18 pace.

Proud Annie
Three happy Bloomsday runners.  We all got PRs!

After the race, we met up with other Beer Chasers at Northern Lights and enjoyed food and a few beers.  We then went to Sky High Sports for a second workout (this time with trampolines).  What a spectacular day!