2007 Riverbank Run 25k -- aka Run, Mommy, Run!

Woke up dark and early (as opposed to "bright" and early--not too bright at 4am) to make sure that I would have plenty of time to shower, get dressed, eat, get my coffee in, relax, make sure I had everything I needed along, and ample time for my guys to get going, too. By 5:45 we were out the door and ready to hit the road for our hour drive to the race.

After a potty stop (coffee...heh) we were in Grand Rapids at 7am, sharp. We easily found a parking spot in a ramp just a few steps from the starting line, then went into DeVos Place where they had opened up the huge hall that they use for the auto show and other large events as a nice indoor place for runners to stretch and use the bathrooms. I got my last potty in about 45 minutes before the start. My best friend, Eryn, was in line to "go" as I was exiting the ladies' room. We then got down to the business of warming up, stretching, and saying goodbye to our hubbies and my son before we crammed ourselves into the elbow-room-only crowd lining up for the 25k (the larger 5k event starts 5 minutes after the 25k takes off).

A few minutes later the crowd starts to move forward...I didn't even realize that the race had started (I guess we were back far enough to not really hear the gun), but we were off. I was fully expecting to have to dodge slower people and waste a lot of time zig-zagging in the first mile or so, as I did for the Komen Race for the Cure 5k I did last Fall, but I really didn't have to. The crowd very quickly spread out and I almost immediately found my comfortable, maintainable pace--which I maintained almost perfectly from start to finish (the hills in the second half slowed me some, but I made up for it in the last couple of miles...when my sprinter thighs shine, heh).

By mile 2 Eryn was getting ahead of me...part of me wanted to push to keep up with her, but a bigger voice in my head said "you had 3 shitty runs in a row before this race and have trained for an entire year--make this a race to remember fondly, not one that leaves miserable memories of breathing struggles and nausea. There's always next year to kick some ass once you know the lay of the land and what to expect." I listened to that voice. I also want to get my allergies and asthma under better control for '08--especially since I want next year to be the year that I complete my first marathon.

The weather could not have been more perfect if I had ordered it. Cool, damp and cloudy at the start, giving way to milder temps and full sun with light winds just a few miles in. Along the race I would occasionally chat with other runners--some who ended up speeding up, others who slowed-down. One gal I recognized from the 10 mile race Eryn and I did 3 weeks ago. She was one of 2 women we passed just before the finish of that race. For a long while I kept pace with a woman who does triathlons and was "coaching" a friend along in this race. I eventually lost them when they walked through a water stop--I have found that I definitely do well with my Camelbak, as my legs almost instantly tighten up as soon as I slow to even a brisk walk (if I ever have to use a port-a-john during a race I think it will really mess me up bad).

The only real physical issue I had during the race were a couple of miles of what I am pretty certain is chronic compartment syndrome. I really only get this now during longer races. It almost always comes on about 3 miles in, causes my feet to go mostly numb for a couple of miles, then dissipates. It's strange, but it's far less bothersome now than it once was, since I know it's temporary.

By mile 11 the hillier terrain was starting to effect my breathing to the point where I thought it might be a good idea to use my inhaler. Note to self: should have been doing this during all other long races--what a difference it made. Shortly after I came upon a runner who was loudly yakking on the side of the course. Right then I REALLY wished I'd had my iPod--that sound is enough to make even a runner with no queasiness sick to his/her stomach. There were other times I kind of wished I had my iPod, too, but mostly I was enjoying eavesdropping on the conversations of others (boy, do people ever talk about strange stuff, :p) and the other sounds of the race.

I used a GU packet around mile 5, then a little Rice Krispy treat a few miles later, and one last GU 3-4 miles from the finish. One guy noticed the Rice Krispy treat I pulled from my Camelbak and said "hey, you got a beer stashed in there somewhere?" I told him that unfortunately I didn't, but that it had definitely crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Shortly after I heard a couple of people talking about my favorite beer (Bell's Oberon) and I started really looking forward to the finish line (never did get my free Michelob beer, though).

During the last 3 miles I think I had a permanent smile plastered on my face. I wasn't running this race as fast as I had originally wanted to, but I just found the whole experience to be so blissful. AND by this point I was starting to pass people left and right. Slow and steady DOES win the race. By the last mile I was dodging people like they were standing still. The last half mile I was nearly sprinting and I felt stronger than I ever have at the end of a race. I wore the biggest cheesy grin for the last few hundred yards. Next year I will likely finish faster and with no silly grin on my face, but this year I went for the experience. Of the 5,672 runners who ran the 25k I'll bet there were few others who finished giggling. Seeing Eryn just a few yards ahead of me as I approached the finish line and being able to cross hand-in-hand with her was just the icing on the cake.

After the race we stopped by a JDRF garage sale in town that we had donated a bunch of stuff to (my charity of choice is Girls On The Run, hubby's is the JDRF, as he is preparing for his 3rd 105 mile bike benefit this Summer). Then we drove an hour to Eryn's place to hang out for the afternoon. It was one of the best. days. ever.


Today we had big all-you-can-inhale Mother's Day buffet. I love eating like that and feeling not a whit of guilt!




  1. Congrats!!! Am so happy to hear you had such an amazing experience!!!!

    Am really impressed you were able to eat a rice krispie treat though...no way I could do that without becoming horrendously ill. It is all I can manage to eat a piece of dry multi-grain toast before I run and can never eat for a couple hours after!


  2. You know, I don't know that I'd take a Rice Krispy treat during a race, again. They really hit the spot during a long, relaxed training run, but during a race GU packets seem to go down better. I didn't have any sort of stomach upset, but I wasn't really all that hungry. On long runs I get ravenous, though.