Yesterday, my running partner, Jim, and I ran the Run for the Apples at the Pine Tree Apple farm in White Bear Lake. This was my third time running this race -- skipped last year because I had just had Sophie. This is a very hilly race through the hills of the apple orchard, and I was a little apprehensive going into the race.
At the start, everyone was clustered together and it was a lot of juggling to break through the pack and get past the start. The first mile felt pretty slow, and I expected to see a near 10:00 time when we hit that first marker. So I was shocked when I saw 8:47 on the clock. Going into the second mile, we ran up a HUGE hill . . . and then turned a corner to run up another huge hill. My memory of the course came crashing back to me, but I was happy to remember that this really was the worst of the hills. I just kept pushing.
There was a water stop at the halfway point and I stopped to walk and get some water. Although it was a cool morning, I was regretting my choice of long sleeves and was really hot by this point. I looked at my watch and saw I was right at about 22:00. I realized then that I was on course to set a PR not just for this course (prior best time - 46:30), but for 5 miles races. I stopped walking and busted my butt. My thoughts were alternating between," Man, I'm really tired, I should slow down and save myself," and "Keep going as fast as you can -- the worst thing that could happen is that you crash and burn, and have to walk in -- you can live with that."
I felt pretty strong until the last mile. About 3/4 of a mile from the finish, I was going up some smaller hills (I refer to this as the "moguls" section), and I looked down and felt like I was hardly moving. We hit the 4.5 mile mark and I told myself, "Two laps around the track, you can make it." By the last quarter-mile, I could hear people cheering at the finish line. This last section runs down a big hill and curves, so I had to save my kick until I was past the point where I felt like I could fall down. I came around the last curve and could see the clock, and was shocked to see that I was just over 43:00. I crossed the finish line in 43:17 -- a PR on this course by more than 3 minutes! I was ecstatic. This is one of the most fun races I run, and it was thrilling to run such a great race. I found my mom and Sophie and watched Jim come in about a minute later. Then it was on to the yummy apple treats!