Y’all. I did a new thing today. I ran NAKED.
I should probably clarify. By running naked I mean that I ran without my watch!
I emailed my coach last week and told him that I didn’t really have to (or want to) *race* Spring Fever, but that I would definitely be running it. I also told him that it’s a very hilly course and I never run great (relatively speaking … as in I haven’t ever run a PR here), but I love it regardless and that there were no big race plans needed (he usually sends me a very thorough race plan, so I didn’t want him to waste time on that).
He told me to go watch less and run by feel. What?! I thought about it some and told him that I simultaneously loved and was terrified of this idea. It sounded fun but what about the data?! The mere thought of stress free running was stressing me out. Ha. My little number-loving, OCD brain was blown at the thought of not be able to know (and dissect) my splits after the race.
With no pressure of the watch, the plan was to take it pretty conservative at the start and almost make it a progression run (by feel), finishing strong and fast the last couple of miles, enjoying running and having fun chasing down people during the second half. Most importantly the plan was to have fun and enjoy the race because that’s why we do this. A million times, YES! That’s why we do this. We do this because we love running, pushing ourselves to be the best that we can be on that day and being a part of something bigger than any blog post could ever adequately convey.
Spring Fever has always been one of my favorite races! I had a decent streak going at one point, until I got the flu in 2015 (i.e., the tax season from H. E. Double. L). Daniel has run it every year since we met, so he has an 8 year streak going now too. Here we are in 2010!
The first year I ran the race was 2007. I have no clue what my time was (and trust me, I have done a decent amount of internet stalking to try to figure it out), but I know that I placed 3rd in my age group! It was my first time to ever place in my age group (and I still have the award to prove it :)). I ran again in 2008 and again, have no clue what my time was, but I do know that I got called out in the age group results for the boys. I always register as Samantha instead of Sam now for that very reason! The rest of the years went something like this: 2009: 45:39, 2010: 44:54, 2011: 42:32, 2012: 40:57, 2013: 41:04, 2014: 41:01, 2015: N/A, 2016: 40:20.
2017 was my 10th Spring Fever Chase 10K! We got to Fairhope at 7 a.m. this morning and picked up our bibs before walking down to the Running Wild tent for a team picture and a few warm up miles. We ran 2 miles before the race and then I ditched my watch and we made our way to the start line. I felt pretty calm at the start and I was excited to run!
I have no mile splits to share with you today, so I’ll do my best to describe the race in terms of how I felt (which as it turns out was good!). I knew that the Daniels (Young Daniel and husband Daniel) were going to likely start somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30 pace (they said 6:30, but I didn’t really believe them (LOL)). I figured I would just try to stay a little bit behind them for the first few miles and see how I felt. I settled in to what seemed like a comfortable, sustainable pace during the first mile and stayed about 10 – 20 yards behind the Daniels and a few other guys.
The start of this race is always a little chaotic because so many people run TOO FAST for the first half mile or so. You have to do a little bit of weaving around and dodging kiddos. I guess this is pretty true of any race. The problem is that the kids start really fast and when they run out of steam they will just flat-out STOP right in front of you. No one got trampled (that I am aware of) and I felt really good during the first mile.
My mom and dad came to the race to cheer for us and they were at the one mile mark. Of course my dad yelled, “GO KID!” He has always called me Kid and I hope that never changes. I got a little boost from hearing them (you can also see Ali & Cody in the background) cheer for me. I love local races for that very reason. Having people out along the course cheering for you is the best!
During the second mile I chatted with a guy from Mobile that I have seen a several local races, but haven’t every really gotten to meet, so that was nice. We came up on one of the local high school coaches riding his bike and coaching one of his athletes. He was telling him to relax, focus on his form and to stick with us to catch the pack of guys in front of him. I figured that sounded like a good plan to me, so I decided to relax, focus on my form and try to catch the pack of guys in front of me.
I caught up to husband Daniel about mile 2.5, which kind of made me sad because I knew that meant he wasn’t running the time that he hoped for. He has a labral tear in his hip, so he isn’t exactly in peak shape right now. I knew that he didn’t care if I passed him, but I was still just hoping that he would be feeling good. He encouraged me as I went by and told me to catch Young Daniel and make sure that we both finished strong. I told him that I would do my best!
The course has “gentle” rolling hills pretty much the entire way. Gentle might not be the correct adjective, but they aren’t steep … so … moderately rolling hills perhaps. The problem is that there is one in mile 2 and mile 3 and mile 4 and mile 6. I don’t consider myself to be a strong hill runner, so I was planning to just conserve on the uphills and not expend any unnecessary energy. This is where not having the watch was absolutely awesome! Normally I would’ve looked at my watch a million times and when I saw it slow down on the uphills, I would’ve thought to myself, “stick a fork in me, I’m done.”
I caught up to Young Daniel and David (one of the other Running Wild team members) somewhere around mile 3.5. I still felt really good, which was somewhat surprising. I told Young Daniel good job and to keep it up and let’s go finish this thing. He is racing the Azalea Trail 10K next weekend and so I knew he wasn’t planning on giving an all-out effort today. He told me to go on ahead. It was kind of funny because he did the same thing to me at Rock N Roll New Orleans when he caught me around half-way and I told him to go on ahead. One of these days, we’ll run together!
After I passed them and maybe one other guy, my place was pretty much set for the remainder of the race. I was in third place overall at this point (first female; third person) and I could see the first two runners ahead of me, but they weren’t getting any closer. My mom and dad (and Ali and Cody) were on the course again somewhere in between mile 4 and 4.5 cheering for all of us, so that gave me another little boost. I also knew at that point that I had a mile of flat-to-downhill running and I was pretty excited about that. Bring on the downhill!
Someone standing on the next corner called out my time to me as I passed. It was 28 minutes and some change. I knew I was somewhere in between miles 4 and 5, probably close to 4.5, but without the watch to check my distance, I wasn’t really sure. I didn’t even attempt to do the math in my head at this point. Mathing while running is like drinking and driving … just don’t do it. It can be dangerous. I thought 28 minutes sounded pretty good and at that point, I had less than a mile and a half to go. I can do anything for a mile. Right?!
The really good news was that once you pass mile 5, you have half a mile of downhill running (before climbing back up to the finish). I was ready for that downhill and I *think* I picked the pace up some (but who knows really). I made up a little bit of ground on the second place runner, but I never could quite catch him. The last little ascent was brutal. Again, I was so thankful not to have my watch telling me how slow I was or how much I sucked (those watches … they can be mean sometimes). I just focused on getting to that finish line and holding my place.
I was absolutely floored when the clock became visible. It read 38:XX. I thought to myself, “Surely that says 39:XX, right? It has to be 39 something.” It wasn’t. It was a 38! Holy Moses. I finished in 38:52 and was ecstatic! It was over a minute and a half *course* PR (not all time PR, but just on that course).
Before I knew it, Daniel and Jill came zooming in! Jill met her goal of sub-40 and ran a 39:52, which was a big PR for her (and it was her first time running this course … it took me 10 years to do that!). She is a great training buddy and I am thrilled for her!
Daniel finished sub-40 as well, which is great and he is ultimately happy with that. He has run a 37:19 on this course before (which is just sick), so it wasn’t a PR, but I’m pretty sure it is a broken hip PR! Ha.
We hung out at the finish line for a little bit, swapping battle stories with the other runners and got our picture taken with the Dogwood Trail Maids (at least I think these are the Dogwoods … it’s either that or the Azalea Trail Maids … and I’m sure that if I got it wrong I probably offended someone … heck, the fact that I don’t know which ones they are is likely offensive as well … sorry!).
Jessica and baby Olivia had a great race as well! She rocked a sub-8:00 pace running for two. And of course she is wearing a black top and you can’t even tell that she is 5 months pregnant.
We made our way back over to the Running Wild tent and I got adjusted by Ryan. It is really nice to have someone stretch you out post-race. I think it definitely helps to jump-start the recovery process. He said that when I first saw him (after First Light) my glute/hamstring/hip issue was an 8/10 on a scale of good to bad and now it is a 0.5/10. Yes! Success!
Side note: I did end up getting a standing desk at work. I have been trying to stand for an hour or two each day and I think it has really helped. I’m pretty sure that my computer is trying to take over the planet with its ginormous-ness.
Anywho. After that we did a two mile cool down. Cooling down after a race also promotes recovery and flushes the system. It’s hard to make yourself do it sometimes, but it is always worth it. We came back in time for the awards. The race takes place during Arts & Crafts Festival, and each year the award is a print done by a local artist (sometimes kids, sometimes not). We have them sprinkled throughout our house! The overall winners also got a free pair of shoes from Running Wild! Saa-weet!
After the awards we did brunch at Warehouse and then came back and walked around the Arts & Crafts Festival for a little while. It was a beautiful day and I was happy to soak up some Vitamin D (it’s good for the soul).
In closing (so formal), I would just like to declare my love for Spring Fever Chase one more time. It is truly one of the best local races and one of my all-time favorites! I would also like to challenge you to race without a watch sometime. I had a blast! I hadn’t realized until today how much
of a head-case I am I stalk my Garmin during races and how much I let that little number dictate how I feel (kind of like the scale). Running without a watch helped me to remove any preconceived limitation that I would’ve placed on myself today (it’s tax season, I’m tired, I never run well here, etc.) and enabled me to run happy and run free!
Mission accomplished. Try it! Run naked and report back (… with pictures (KIDDING)).