Well, I did it. I survived the Belmar 5. There was a horrible stitch in my side and an even more horrible playlist involved, but I managed to finish and did better than I expected. My dad also joined me at the last minute which was awesome. I beat him, which was even better. I’m competitive. Granted, the man is 60 years old and came in about 25 seconds behind me, but a win’s a win bitches (930th place counts as a win when you beat your dad).
I didn’t get the best night’s sleep on Friday for a myriad of reasons, but I felt surprisingly okay when my alarm went off at 6:10 on Saturday morning. I ate half of a nasty Soy Joy bar (mango coconut… holy disgusting, Batman) and half of a banana with a teaspoon of peanut butter (since I couldn’t bring myself to finish the bar) and drank some water. Then I went to put on sunscreen and get dressed.
Yeah, you totally can’t see the headband. It was there and it was pink and sparkly and it made me happy. Anyway, I went downstairs at around 7 with the idea that I was going to chill and watch some tv and stretch until 7:30 when my dad and I were going to drive down to Belmar together. Chris and my mom would meet us later. Fast forward to me going downstairs and seeing my dad in full running regalia. He asked if I thought they’d let him register that day. “Probably. I think they let you register up until a half hour before the race.” “I’m going to do it.” Okay then.
The ride down to Belmar was uneventful. I really wasn’t nervous at all. I’ve run 5 miles before. “It’s just a regular Saturday 5 mile jog except with 3000 other people and without hills and you should probably run faster than you normally do,” I kept telling myself. By the time we got to Belmar, my stomach was not happy with its situation in life. I’m sure I’ll post about my stomach issues in the future under the TMI tag, but suffice it to say when I got to Belmar, I needed a bathroom. Right at that moment. My dad helpfully directed me to the portapotties, or portaloos as I call them because I’m dignified (as I talk about bathroom issues). I told him I needed a real bathroom, a real toilet that flushes. Fortunately, I actually read the racer information sheet so I knew that the boardwalk bathrooms opened at 7. I told my dad to register, I needed to find a bathroom, and I’d meet up with him. Considering the amount of people that were at the event, I wasn’t sure if I would find him again before the race started. I was so desperate though, I honestly didn’t care. We had to finish the race at the same spot, right?
I found a boardwalk bathroom right near the registration pavilion with a fairly short line. I did what I had to do and afterwards I felt a lot better. My stomach still didn’t feel great and I felt randomly cold, which was something new, but maybe it was because I was more nervous for the race than I thought I was. I found my dad right away and we dropped off his stuff at the baggage check and walked over to the start line. We had about 20 minutes so we stretched and just kind of hung out on the boardwalk. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the weather was. It was about 73 degrees and while humid, not oppressively so. Granted, there was no reason i should be shivering, but since I have no explanation for you right now, I’m blaming it on the Soy Joy.
Here’s the weird thing about the Belmar 5- the race organizers love their megaphones. At the registration area, there was a man just rambling into the megaphone. Occasionally he’d tell people where to go, but mostly he just appeared to be speaking nonsense. There were another couple of guys with megaphones in Silver Lake Park herding people. However, at the start line? No one. No megaphone, no announcements that we could hear. Somehow, miraculously, 3000 + people corralled themselves to the starting line. My dad and I were somewhere in the front of the middle of the pack. We had no idea what the hell was happening. We heard cheers and didn’t know why until we figured out the wheelchair race started. There may have been singing of the national anthem- I could not tell you. All I know is at some point a fog horn went off and I am smart enough to figure out that people moving in front of me meant I should move too.
The start of the race was crowded, but not as bad as I thought. I had to do a lot of bobbing and weaving but I didn’t have to throw any elbows and no elbows were thrown at me. I put on my 80’s playlist, which I’ve used on long runs before. I totally wasn’t feeling it yesterday. At all. I didn’t want to stop and change it though, because that would be silly, so I dealt with it. Then, about 10 minutes into the race, I felt a stitch in my side. Again, I’m blaming my breakfast, although it had been over 2 hours since I ate. It really hurt, but I tried to put it out of my mind. I wasn’t stopping after less than a mile. Despite these very minor setbacks, the first mile and a half were pleasant enough. We were running down Ocean Avenue in Belmar, people were cheering for us, and it was nice to be running along the beach, something I rarely get to do. After about 3/4 of a mile, we made a left onto North Boulevard. My mouth was seriously dry at this point. Right up ahead was a water station. The guy who handed me the water probably thought I was a freak because I stopped to thank him, but my mother raised me right. I’m also an idiot. Anyway, I had and still have no idea how to effectively run and drink water from a cup so about 90% went all over me and only 10% went into my mouth but it did the trick.
The next mile was a run around Lake Como which was beautiful. I was keeping a pretty good, comfortable pace, trying not to use up all of my energy. I was passing a lot of people which was nice, and I wasn’t paying too much attention to people who were passing me. I saw my dad a few hundred feet ahead of me. He probably didn’t stop to chat with the water people. Lesson learned. The competitive part of me wanted to run faster to catch him, but cooler heads won out. I also thought, and he later confirmed so I’m really not an awful daughter, that he was running a bit too fast for such an early part of a 5 mile race, and didn’t want to find myself in the same position. I was finishing this fucker if I had to crawl across the line, but was going to do my damndest to avoid the whole crawling thing. There was a photographer at the finish line, after all.
Once we ran around Lake Como (another water station, another stop to say thank you, another weird look), we had to run back down Ocean Avenue. This was kind of annoying, only because now that I ran up Ocean in one direction, I knew how far I had to go back down Ocean. Part of me loves being in the dark and not being able to say “oh god 12 more blocks before we reach the final lap.” Although, I was in the dark about that final lap and I was none too pleased. The second trip up Ocean actually went quicker than I thought it would. I was looking for Chris and my mom for a bit but then just decided to concentrate on running. I was running a decent pace and wanted to try and keep it for the duration.
I got to 6th Avenue and thought to myself, “Oh good. Now I have have to run around that tiny lake. I saw it on the map. It’s tiny.” Note: race map was not drawn to scale. This lake was soooo much bigger than I thought it was going to be. I stupidly thought it was a large pond and we’d just run up 6th avenue for a few blocks, make a right, then quickly turn back onto 5th where we’d finish. Nope. Side streets galore ensued. Thank god for the Belmar residents who were out on their front lawns with water and hoses Granted, I ran under a hose and thought “Oh crap I’m wearing a white shirt and sports bra.” You’re welcome, people of Belmar. You’re welcome. Fortunately my shirt dried ridiculously fast. Thank you Lululemon.
We finally made our way around the lake to the final stretch down 5th Avenue. I was ready to be done. I was also feeling really happy that I was going to finish this race (and on my feet, no less). I passed my dad around E Street (I wasn’t obnoxious about it I swear). Two blocks up, I heard my mom and Chris cheering for me which was awesome. I gave them a big smile and a wave and then heard the guy with the megaphone say “runners, you can finish this in under 45 minutes. You can run a 9 minute mile” (this man was followed by another man with a megaphone telling us to take out our headphones, followed by a third man with a megaphone with no discernible purpose. Seriously, guys, where were you at the start of the race????? ) Once I heard I could break 45 minutes, I ran as fast as I could through the finish line. I don’t even want to see how that professional finish photo turned out.
Since I had never run a 5 mile race before, and certainly never this course, my goal was to finish in under 50 minutes. I finished in 44 minutes 21 seconds. I finished in the top third overall. I was really pleased with the results. I was really proud of myself. My dad also finished in under 45. I can’t even begin to say how proud I am of him. To wake up in the morning and decide he wanted to run a race with his daughter and then finish it faster than he thought he could is amazing.
After the race we drove up to Avon to have breakfast then hung out on the beach for a bit. It was such a nice day. This race made me realize that I can set a goal and achieve it, if not surpass it. That I’m stronger, both mentally and physically, than I give myself credit for. That as hard as running can be, as painful as it can be sometimes, I really enjoy it. I can see why people love running so much, why they sign up for marathons and half marathons. And that is why I signed up for a 5 K in two weeks. I’m not quite ready for the half marathon commitment, but yesterday made me realize that I may need to do one in 2013. I look forward to the challenge.