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F4F Race Write-Up & SPARK MEETING (w/pics)!!!!

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

So, the race I've been waiting for for months finally occurred yesterday. The Fort4Fitness 10k. Not only was it my longest race ever (so far), but I had plans to meet up with SparkFriends that I have been chatting with, texting and e-mailing for months, but have never met in person. We came from almost every direction to get to Fort Wayne. From the North: RUNFOR3POINT1 (Brighton, MI). From the East - SNEVIL1 (Baltimore, MD) and SPARKL3 (Columbus, OH). And from the South - myself (Bloomington, IN) and ABSOLUTZER0 (Little Rock, AR).

Friday night, arrived at the hotel to greet Michelle (RUNFOR3POINT1), Laura (SPARKL3) and Sara (SNEVIL1). We all arrived around the same time...well, actually, Michelle and Laura did. But someone had to be late because they stopped for a Big Mac on the way and subsequently felt sick. I have no idea who would do such a horrific, non-Spark like thing!!!! Haha. Believe me, guys...I never heard the end of it! L.O.L. Sara arrived a little after me and we all took off to go check out the Expo and "health fair".

Ummm...expo was not the shiz...let's just say that. Really kind of a letdown, but it didn't matter to us. We got some free stuff and it was fun just being together...absolutely beautiful day and we had a ton of laughs.

You can bet we made fun of Michelle all weekend for "ONLY" running the 4-mile race while the rest of us ran the 10k. But, alas, who had the last laugh? Probably Michelle when, several hours after the race, a very cranky Leah stormed out of the bathroom whining, "Waaah, I fuc*king hate running! Why do I do this to myself????" And Nick subsequently burst out laughing and said, "Your blog is going to say that running is all sunshine and rainbows, though." Well, there. I'm nothing if not honest, friends. Haha.

After the expo, we chilled at the hotel sports bar and the girls got some grub while I drank an iced tea. No, not because of Big Mac guilt...but because I was not going to waste money at a chain restaurant when the race was giving us a pasta dinner for $3.75. I mean, come on now! Sadly, Laura had to head back after dinner. I still can't believe that lovely lady drove all the way out JUST to see us and to attend a crappy expo. Ha!

Nick (ABSOLUTZER0) didn't arrive until very late because crazy man drove a full 12 hours in one day! Wow!

Race morning was less than enthusiastic in our room. I think Michelle woke up about 25 minutes before her race. I thought we'd have to force her out of bed. The 10k started at 9am and her race started at 7:30am (tee hee). Of course, speed demon was done before we even GOT down to the starting line...35 mins 47 secs. Geez. She rocks! She hated running when she met me. I have now fully assimilated her. Well...maybe not fully...she has yet to tackle 10k. But...SHE WILL. Mwahahahaha.

And what better motivation could a person get before a super scary race than being cheered on by one of their running heroes? I can't tell you what a boost it was to have this guy there!

It was great knowing that Sara was running with me and that we are about the same pace. We figured we'd run the whole thing together. I almost left my ipod in the room b/c I rarely use one when I have a running buddy (truth is, I haven't used one for running in months), but I brought it...just in case. Before the cannon even went off to start the race, I was having ankle problems. Popping and pain. This was making me VERY nervous so I was a *little* cranky prior to the start.

Race started and I was seriously worried. Ran the first mile with Sara. Girl was on fire and I was just praying the pain would go away. I tried to keep up with her, but once I hit Mile 1, I decided to take it easy and walk for .25 miles. After that, I didn't see Sara until I finished. But it was OK. I was really glad I'd brought music, though. It was literally the only thing that pulled me through some patches. The crowds were really great in Fort Wayne and the community was so supportive.

Though the expo was lacking, the race was WONDERFUL! And I would just like to personally thank the city of Fort Wayne for stationing uniformed National Guard all along the course for my viewing enjoyment. What lovely scenery in the Fort. *sigh* The churches all came out and cheered on the runners...it was really uplifting. The weather was gorgeous.

The first 3.1 miles for me were pretty tough. I was no longer in pain after 1.25 miles, as my ankle stiffness had worked its way out and my body was feeling great. But, mentally...the distance was looming in my mind and I just kept doubting myself. Then, I'd immediately counter with, "Leah, you have to do this or you won't be able to do a half marathon in 3 weeks. Be strong!" At the 5k mark, the half marathon runners merged with the 10k and, you know...from there, my spirit was really lifted. I was so encouraged and inspired to see them and then to be a part of them and run next to them...it really helped me find that second wind and dig deep to keep going. In fact, once the halfers joined us...I think I only walked one or two times, for a very short period and then just to fuel quickly. I was able to keep running the rest of the race. In total, I probably walked about 1.5 miles total out of the 6.2 miles.

The best part of the race was the finish. Not because I was tired, but because you got to run into the minor league baseball stadium there and I was not expecting what I found there. The stands were packed with fans, they were showing all the runners coming in on the JumboTron and you had to run the entire outside of the field to get to the Finish Line. The crowds were cheering and it seems cheesy, but it was just a really special moment and I thought, "I am really proud of myself." I thought about how I will feel when I finish my half marathon and I can't even imagine it. I can't begin to imagine how it would compare to this finish.

I was telling Sara after the race, "You know...you say, 'I'm gonna run a 10k' and it sounds like nothing...especially when you are so used to being around runners." But, really...6.2 miles is A LONG WAY. It's NOT EASY AT ALL. It's actually REALLY HARD. We were both SO proud of ourselves for finding inside ourselves the ability to finish. We had both gone in with very little mileage (me due to injury and her due to busyness of everyday life). We both have our first half marathon looming (mine in 3 weeks and hers in 2 weeks). It was a really special moment for us.

We had both hoped to finish under or around 1 hr 30 minutes. Sara finished in 1 hr 17 mins 14 seconds and I came in shortly after her at 1 hr 22 mins 49 secs. We were both so happy with those results!

After the race, I caught up with my running buddy, Sarah (the one I picked up on the trail with a note!) This was her first half marathon and I'm SO proud of her!!!! We will run the half marathon together in 3 weeks as well.

Also met up with my assistant, Katherine, who I had pressured to sign up for F4F (she signed up for the half with very little training and she did great!)

SUCH a great race! And it really helped give me more confidence for the half that's coming up. I had some initial soreness in my ankle (expected) and also some tenderness in my left knee (unexpected). Iced quite a lot after the race and rested up a lot. Then, we went to dinner at a hibachi grill, which was really quite entertaining (at least for Sara and I).

Spent the rest of the evening watching "Big Bang Theory" and snoozing. Perfect.

It was a wonderful weekend. I feel closer to my Sparkies than ever and I'm really just thankful I got to experience all of it. I'm absolutely trembling with anticipation for the half...it will definitely be the pinnacle of my year and I wish I could run it tomorrow! OK...maybe not. This body is still PRETTY sore...and needs some recovery time. Maybe no workouts this week except swimming mid-week. I'd like to try 10 miles next weekend....but we'll see.

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