Friday, July 27, 2012

2nd Annual Dahlonega Firecracker Run- July 4, 2012

1st Annual Dahlonega Firecracker run 2011

I must back track briefly to when I ran this race in 2011 because it was my FIRST 10k race ever.  It was a last minute decision to run it because originally Lee had to work but then a co-worker actually called him and asked him if he would switch with her because she needed to be off another day.  So, when I got the news that he was home, and I could run, I signed up!  So, although I had been running, and was in shape, was I really ready for a 10k RACE?  I don't think it mattered so much as I was just excited to run my longest race. 

However, up to this point, I had only run 5k's.  I KNOW how to run a 5k and have that race strategy and the training plan down pat.  But, how do I run a 10k?  I only know how to run fast for 3 miles.  How do I do that for 6.2 miles?  I decide just to set a time goal of 55 minutes.  I know the race is in Dahlonega and starts at the college and loops around at Yahoola, but that's about all I know.  So, I know there will be hills. 

I am running the race and the 5k and 10k folks split off, and I make a right.  But, then people start turning around and I question myself as to whether I have gone the wrong way?  So, I turn around and run up to the road where the volunteer has just arrived, and he is yelling for the 10k folks to keep going, so then I have to turn around and return to where I was at.  I was on course afterall! UGHH  So, I estimate I probably lost 40 seconds, but not a big deal.  I am really nervous, and I am flying.  I get to the 3 mile point and Holly Cow I just ran 23:43 5k.  I am startled that I ran the first half of this race that fast.  I make my way into mile 4 coming out of Yahoola Park and it's an uphill struggle for about a mile and then it's just one hill after another till the end of the race.  I make it to the finish but felt like I was crawling up the last hill at the drill field.  Lee and my Aunt's husband Donald, said I looked worn out coming up that last hill.  BTW, there is a terrible picture somewhere on FB of me that Donald took, and I looked like death warmed over!  I managed to finish 55:03.  Now, I made my goal, and I am happy.  Once again, I am surprised how my mind sets a time and that's what I achieve especially not having run the actual course!  But, looking back that was pitiful race strategy and not so smart running.  It was a huge mistake for me to run the first half of this race that fast and drag the last half.  So, technically I won the Master's Award except the race directors "forgot" to announce the Master's award, and I won first in my age group. 

What I loved most about this race was the competiveness of the runners!  Most of the 10k folks ran this under 60 minutes.  This was a tough course for a "road race".  There were alot of good competitive runners on this course.  It was also the first time I have ever ran a race where a female won first overall!  I was so impressed and proud for her!  I also loved that this race was rather close to home and was able to get home early to spend the day with my family!


2012 Race

I really debated hard between running this race or the Peachtree Road race.  I had already run two peachtree qualifiers which qualified me for the C group at the Peachtree.  However, when I ran those qualifiers, I was still interested in 5k's and 10k's.  But, my interest by March 2012, had dwindled to nil because I have chosen ultra and trail running.  I really enjoyed the Dahlonega 10k from last year and really questioned do I really want to run the Peachtree Road race by myself with 59,999 other folks?  Do I really want to ask my family to join me and spend the day in Atlanta dealing with parking, traffic, and crowds just so I can run for 50 or so minutes?  Finally, I decided to just go ahead and apply for the lottery and see what happens.  If not, I know I can run the Dahlonega race.

When I got my notification that I did not make it into the Peachtree via the lottery system, I was actually stunned for a few minutes.  I thought there must be some  No one has ever told me I couldn't run a race!  LOL  Then, I just had to laugh about how ironic this situation is.  The Peachtree will have thousands and thousands of walkers, and I'd actually run the race.  That made me laugh harder.  I reminded myself that the Peachtree is more of an event and since I really don't know what I am missing it's really ok.  I'm also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and it happens the way it's supposed to even if I don't always understand why at the time.  I even made a FB post that, "I am an offical Peachtree Lottery loser, but Congrats to the 60,000 folks who got in!" or something to that affect.  I was not mad, upset, or anything like that but then my FB friends started pouring in their condolences!  I didn't mean for that to happen, but their support was amazing. 

So, I just moved forward and planned to run our local 10k for the 2nd annual Dahlonega Firecracker.  I arrive at the race and run about a 1/2 mile warmup.  My goal time is just to try to be under 60 minutes and to run the first half of the race slower and smarter than last year since I know what's ahead.  I have not been training for speed as I have been running and training for long distance for 8 months now.  I am just HOPING to be under 60 minutes.  I had just started to recover from a 8 week slump that I was in and only starting to feel good for about 2 weeks prior to this race. 

I am lined up at the race and the RD is announcing the usual pre-race info.  Then he announces that the Master's Female winner from last year is up front and to watch out for her because she's quick!  WHAT?  Is that me?  LOL  I had long forgotten that this was my first non-official Master's win from last year.  I was over it the moment that I won my first Master's race with my long time high school friend Tommy, at the Ellijay Apple Festival because it was also his first Master's win!  It was a sweeter win to win our first Master's award together than for me to win it at the Dahlonega 10k.  See, everything does happen for a reason!

So, we take off running, and up the Drill Field Hill we go.  I am reminding myself the entire first mile to let those 5k people go.  They are in it to sprint it to the finish.  Me, I am running a 10k and must pace this out.  I am not bothered by the folks passing me by as I realize most of these folks are not running my race.  I am hearing Lee's words to remind me to slow down.  I am feeling good.  I have to giggle to myself when I pass the turn that I turned around on last year, but this year the signage and volunteers are much better.  I keep running.  I am on the downhill going into Yahoola Park and I am so tempted to go faster, but remind myself to pace this race as I have to get out of this park.  A man passes me on the downhill with his sweet little girl in the jogging stroller.  I wave to the little girl and clap my hands to her.  She is so stinking cute with curly brown hair!  I run behind him for maybe the next mile as heh has a nice pace.  I get to the 3 mile mark and check my time and it's 24:50!  Yay!  I am just over a minute slower than last year, I feel great, and begin to think that maybe I can make it in before the 55:03 of last year.  This was not my goal but half way through the race it becomes my goal.  I think of the hills ahead, and I already know I can do it.  Because of all the ultra training, I am not a FASTER runner, but I am a stronger hill runner. 

I come up Yahoola and I pass the Dad and his daughter in the stroller.  I come across a young guy in his 20's who I saw struggling in mile 3, and I am passing him uphill in mile 4.  He passes me before he gets out of Yahoola, but later I pass him on a bigger hill in mile 5 and stay ahead of him.  I come into the college and see Lee and Mitchell as I pass by.  This year, I ran that last hill stronger and have a very strong finish into the race with a time of 54:46 !  I am so excited to have beat my time from last year because I was not faster this year.  I just ran this race smarter, and I was better prepared for the hills. 

This year I won first in my age group and this year it was the appropriate prize.  It was really a fun race, and it's the first time I ran the same race twice!  I'm really in awe of all the awesome runners as again most of the finishers ran this in under 60 minutes and so many runners under 50 minutes!

So, it makes me wonder if I really want to run the Peachtree?  I could always make the Dahlonega race a tradition if I wanted to especially since I ran the first two years.  So, many people advice me to run the Peachtree at least once for the experience and promise that once I do, I'll always want to do it again.  But, still, I just don't know.

Honestly, I got turned off by the Peachtree after I wasn't selected by the lottery system because I kept getting emails of HOW I could get in.  Basically, it was all money related.  If I donated $100 to $150 to chairty I could get in.  If I spent $70 at Reebok, I could get a race entry.   The list goes on and on of how I could have gotten into this race.   After the Peachtree, I received a notice from the Atlanta Track Club that I could pay $35 to become a member and get a guranteed spot for the Peachtree if I register by July 31st.  Of course, this comes with the benefit of being a member of their club, but I honestly doubt that I would use it.  Maybe the t-shirt?  But, I don't run for t-shirts.  That should be another blog post for another day! LOL  So, as of this date I do not know whether I will bow down to join the track club.  I really really abhor how companies try to extract as much money from the little guy as possible.  It's just not who I am. 

I am just a girl who loves to run....