My first race post Boston wasn't half bad! I have a love/hate relationship with the Wrigley River Run. I love that it's a local race that supports the community, its small, and very well organized. It's also a chance to run with all of the local running groups at once. But, I hate the course! It's a tough one with the hills you have to take to get up to the riverbed several times (hence the name).
When I first ran this race in 2015, I broke the tape and took home my first ever win. I've come back each year to fight for that win, but it's been a tougher field since 2015. Last year, a 2012 Olympic Marathon qualifier showed up and swept the 10K taking not just first female, but first OVERALL. Yes folks, she beat the boys too. I ended up with 3rd female that year and my worst recorded 10K time of 43:11 just 4 weeks after I ran the Vancouver Marathon.
It's been almost 6 weeks since Boston and to be completely honest, I haven't fully recovered. I signed up for the Wrigley Run about 3 weeks ago because I do it every year! In the back of my mind I thought.... maybe I can really break 40 minutes! As the race got closer and I'd missed a few runs, only done some strides for my "speed work," I knew I should abandon my expectations. You can't be the best all the time and you can't expect to be able to run something you ran during your marathon training at your peak, so close after a goal race.
The week leading up to Wrigley, I'd felt really run down, my hips were tight, my body has felt a lot of stress from multiple back to back vacations and upcoming road trips that require more planning than relaxing (Big Sur camping, Havasupai camping, and a super quick trip to Mexico for a wedding). The day before the race while I was doing my little 3 mile stride workout, I thought, "maybe I won't race and I'll just run and have a good time." For some reason, this is really hard for me. I often show up to races feeling like I just want to have fun and not worry about time, but that never happens.
When I showed up that morning, it was perfectly overcast (the perks of June gloom weather for runners), and the race was starting in about 20 minutes. I met up with Peter and some other GRVL Runners and folks from the Long Beach Running Club. All of the 10k runners lined up and I looked around and there were not very many women in the front. I surrounded by all men. I told myself not to go out too fast (my main problem with shorter distance races) and to pace myself. I felt good when we took off, but when I looked at my watch and saw I was doing a 5:30 pace, I pulled it back. I was still surrounded by all men (and lots of them started to pass me).
We made our way through the neighborhood and finally to the first turn onto the riverbed. The one good thing about the course is that you're able to see where your competition is when you are running up and down the riverbed with all of the turns. When we came up the first turn, I saw another woman about a quarter of a mile behind me and the next woman was pretty far behind her. At this point I was thinking, ok... I'm in first place right now... but I'm really tired! We continued on the riverbed and finally came off back onto the street. I was behind an older gentleman around mile 2 and told myself to stay with him.
We came back up onto the riverbed just before mile 3. I worked hard through the uphills, but I need some serious hill training (I figured this out in Boston too). At this point, I started getting into the low 7's range on my pace. My ultimate goal for the race was to average a sub 7. I heard someone coming up behind me and knew it was the second girl. As she passed I shouted "Great job!" She had a great kick and I knew I wasn't going to catch her.
I continued to pace with the older gentleman, and stayed behind him on the riverbed. We finally came off the riverbed and made our way into mile 5. There was no way I could catch the woman who passed me, so I just focused on staying consistent and strong until the end. I slowly passed the older gentleman after mile 5 and pushed through to the end, claiming 2nd female overall.
Damn, that was rough. I cannot find a love for these shorter distances, but I know I want to get faster at them. The race director asked Ricky to take some photos of the event, so I stuck around for the 5k and the kid's race and got to cheer on all of the folks running that, which is always lots of fun.
While I was waiting for the awards, I chatted with Gina, who volunteered for the race, and she told me the woman who came in 1st was a former Olympian! 2 years in a row I got beat by an Olympian! What are the freakin' odds????? I was still super happy to take home my beer glass (I need to start drinking more beer because pint glasses are consistently given away at races!). I'll be back next year, of course, and hopefully the field will just be filled with recreational runners like me :)