Monday, January 11, 2016

Race Into the New Year

Jeremy Update:

This morning was very busy for Jeremy. They took him for a CT scan and then placed a new PICC line. His ICP during that time period got up into the 40's for the first time in days, but after that it fell back to 12 and remained in the 10-17 range for most of the day with a few spikes up to 20. His CT scan showed the hematoma on the left side of his brain has gotten a little smaller, from 14 to 10 mm. Which was good news. No changes on his CT scan other than that. He is tolerating his feeding tube so they have increased the amount of food he is getting. Although he did have a few spikes today, it still felt like a fairly stable day. I wrote a post about the Race Into the New Year the day before Jeremy's accident. It's weird going back and reading it now, knowing it was most likely his first and last race of 2016. I'm glad I had already written about the race because just thinking about it now makes me emotional. On to my race recap...  

Of all the 5k races we run I'd say my top two favorites in terms of atmosphere and post-race party would have to be the Run to the Lights at Silver Dollar City with all the Christmas lights up and the Race Into the New Year. The atmosphere for the Race Into the New Year is like a giant party. There are people who show up and have obviously been drinking. There are people dressed in costumes. Everyone is excited and chatty before the race, some even dancing. There isn't that serious, let's race hard type of feeling at the start. I love that about it even though if I show up for a race, I'm there to run my fastest. So I always have that race mentality, it's just a more relaxed one for races like that. The race starts at 11:45 so you are literally running from one year into the next. At midnight they shoot off fireworks and instead of a water stop they have champagne. They give out blinky light rings, hats, beads, and noise makers before the race. It's just so much fun.
Oma and Opa found the sweetest New Year outfit for Elise!
Each year we run the race, as my bedtime approaches and we're still at home I start to wish just a little bit I could go to bed. As I lace up my running shoes while yawning I wonder how well I will actually be able to run. Then I check the temperature and see it's nearly freezing with the sun down and a decent amount of wind, because it's Oklahoma and when is there not wind, and I lose a bit more excitement for the race. This year was no different. I was starting to lose interest in running and then my mom reminded me about my light up shoelaces she bought me for Christmas. As I tied them around my shoelaces and turned them on, I got really excited to run. I was reminded of how much fun this race is every year and I kept picturing watching the fireworks reflect off the river while running toward the finish and I regained my excitement. I was out for a postpartum PR. I wanted to run faster than my 20:56 which I had run in two races with the last race being a bit on the longer side. My goal was to run a more consistent race, with my miles being around 6:35 or under. I knew I could do it and I was determined.
All of us with our race shirts and awards.
When we arrived at the race I took off for a warm up. I checked the flags to see which direction the wind was blowing and took off into the wind to get a feel for it. I was surprised that I hardly noticed the wind with how much the flags were flapping around. Normally for a warm-up if I'm under 9 minute pace I know it's going to be a good race. I ran my mile warm up in under 8 minute pace. I felt great and I was pleased to know the wind wouldn't be much of a factor and we even got to finish with it at our backs. After my warm-up I picked up a blinky ring and a noise maker and found Jeremy. We lined up for the race start and the atmosphere was bubbling with excitement. I heard someone behind me tell their friend, "See you next year," which I thought was funny so I turned and said the same to dad and Jeremy. We took off and I was surprised how many times I got cut off and was even almost knocked down at one point. It was the worst race start I've ever experienced. With my 6:19 first mile at the Jingle Bell my biggest concern was that I would start off too fast again so I checked my watch and it was a good thing because I was running 5:55 pace when I looked so I reigned it in big time. We went out about a half mile before going up onto a bridge to cross to the other side of the river. As we descended the bridge there was a patch of ice that we had to slow down on because we turned a corner at the same time and the guy in front of me almost fell down.
Jeremy, me, and dad before the race.
By the time we got to the bridge I had worked my way up to 2nd overall female and I could see the 1st female not far ahead of me. It was super dark on the other side of the river even with the lamp posts on so I really couldn't see my watch very well and didn't check it much at all. I had hit a nice tempo and was going with it. I went through the first mile in 6:37 which was a little bit slower than what I had planned, but I wasn't concerned because I was feeling great and knew I could pick up the pace. My plan for the 2nd mile was to maintain and pick up the pace if possible. I felt really strong and started pushing the pace. I caught up to the 1st female at around the half-way point and she started to go with me at first and then fell behind. There were a couple of guys within a reasonable distance ahead of me so I focused on catching them. I was pleased to see I went through the 2nd mile in 6:36 and had been able to not only maintain my pace, but pick it up a little bit. We went up the largest hill in the race and turned onto a bridge to head back to the finish which was in the same place as the start (the race is a counterclockwise loop). I remembered in the past watching the fireworks go off as I crossed the bridge and having such a great view of them reflecting in the river so I was watching for them as I crossed the bridge. I was running enough faster than the last time I ran this race that they didn't go off until I had crossed the bridge and was on the other side of the river heading back to the finish. That turned out being an even better place to be during the fireworks because I was running toward them and they were going off directly in front of me. It was awesome!
An awesome picture mom took of the fireworks as she walked.

With about a half mile to go I was pushing and giving it everything I had. I kept telling myself to beat 6:36 and make the last mile my fastest. I could feel in my legs how hard I was pushing and knew I wasn't going to be able to go much faster. My third mile split was 6:27. I took off sprinting as fast as I could and as I turned the corner to the finish I saw a banner across the finish line that read "First Overall Female Finisher". It was the coolest thing. I've won races before but never ones with actual banner tapes across the finish line. I think the fanciest "tape" I've ever broken was a piece of string. I couldn't help but smile and feel even more pleased with the huge postpartum PR I was able to accomplish. I was 1st female out of 236 and 7th out of 405 total finishers. My official finishing time was 20:29! That put me at an average of 6:32 per mile for the 3.14 mile course. Between the fireworks, my light up shoelaces, and getting to run through the tape at the finish I was pumped up like no other. I watched dad finish and then ran back toward mom blowing my noisemaker and cheering for runners as I went. I made it to the bridge and realized it was too congested for me to cross without being in the way so I stood cheering for everyone until I started shivering so much my jaw hurt. Then I headed back to change into dry clothes before going back out to walk to the finish with mom. It was so much fun getting to share with her and my dad about how I got to run through the tape at the finish. It really was just the coolest thing.  

We made it back just in time for awards. As the top female finisher I received a giant champagne glass filled with blue confetti, a Happy New Year's tiara, a medal, and a gift certificate for $75.  Jeremy and dad also received medals, each finishing 2nd in their age groups. Ty stayed home with our sleeping babies. Well, one sleeping baby and the other "screaming in his face" since Elise woke up right as we were leaving and didn't go back to sleep until 12:30. Thomas went to a party with friends so he opted out of the race. I felt bad for Ty when I found out how his night went, but it worked out pretty well for me that Elise was running on a lack of sleep as she slept through the night and then slept in until 9:30 the following morning. That really helped me out since I didn't get to bed until 2 am and I'm just not built to stay up that late anymore! Running from one year to the next is my favorite way to kick off a new year and I'm excited for what 2016 has to bring!
With my award for first female after the race.
Jeremy, me, and dad with our awards after the race.

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