Sunday, June 6, 2010

Running of the Bulls 8k Race Recap

This weekend felt like the hottest weekend of 2010 in North Carolina. On Saturday, the temperatures were already above 85 degrees around 8am, with the humidity levels equivalent to those in a steam bath in an upscale spa. Despite these conditions, 700 people still came out to participate in the Running of the Bulls 8k in Durham, NC.

Since the race was in Durham, I decided that it would be most fun to drive up the night before and spend the night with my old teammate/roommate from Wake Forest, Erin. It was so great catching up with her on Friday night. I was most grateful to sleep the extra 2 hours that I would have missed had I driven up from Charlotte that morning. Unfortunately, my sore throat made it very difficult for me to sleep soundly, and I woke up about every hour and finally woke up 15 minutes before my alarm at 5:30.

After completing the tasks of eating my oatmeal, putting on my race gear, and braiding my hair, I suddenly was hit with a wave of panic. I was worried that my sore throat would make it difficult for me to breathe, or that my lack of sleep would make me feel lethargic and slow. I immediately shoved these thoughts aside and reminded myself of my goal: have fun competing!

Once at the Downtown Durham YMCA, I picked up my race bib which was gigantic because it had the chip behind the bib. I was very happy that I had decided to wear my Nike Mid-Airborne top because it was large enough for me to pin it on. Had I worn my Charlotte Running Club sports bra, I would have had to wear a t-shirt because the bib was too large for it. Considering the amount that I sweat, a t-shirt would NOT have been a pleasant option.

Bill Shires and I warmed up about 20 minutes together and then I did some light strides and drills, both in my trainers and in my racers. At this point, my shorts were soaked through with enough sweat that I could have rung them out and filled up a small glass with my sweat. Perhaps a bit too descriptive, but it is a good way to illustrate just how hot it was at the start of the race.

The gun went off right after the race director explained that riders from the DurhamCares Race Across America team would be our race escorts on the course. That sounded pretty cool, but I didn't know just how cool/helpful that team would prove to be until I was well into the race.

The start of the race was similar to the CPCC Skyline start, with a hill in the first 400m. Once I crested that hill, I relaxed and settled into a rhythm, settling myself comfortably behind two of the best male masters runners in the state. I felt controlled, but was not sure of the pace until I hit the mile mark, coming through in a perfect 548.

The second mile was basically downhill, and I was still latched to the masters and a couple of other young guys. Bill Shires began to drop off and I offered some words of encouragement to him to get him to attach himself to me. He had just come back from a whole week at Disney World, so I'm sure his legs were screaming at him. I could feel all of the guys' sweat flying onto my legs and face, but it didn't matter. I was pretty sure my sweat was flying off onto another racer as well so I figured it all evened out. Mile 2 - 537

The third mile is when John Hinton and several other guys separated from me, and I was left with two other guys. There were several hills in this mile, and one of my running buddies dropped off in the bigger hill. It ended up just being a guy in a red shirt, myself, and a biker escort who proved to be extremely encouraging from this mile and on. I'm not sure if he was tasked to bike alongside the first woman, but he stuck with me and red shirt guy the rest of the way home. I found out later that the escort's name was Henry Kaestner. He leads the DurhamCares team. In this mile, he told me that the next girl was more than 300m back, which was encouraging because I was hurting now. Due to the sore throat, I was breathing heavier than normal as I felt like the passageway was much smaller than it should be. Red Shirt guy and I came through this mile in 559.

The fourth mile was almost the same as the one prior, with a good uphill that took us back into Downtown Durham. At this point, my racing buddy almost fell off of me, and I did not want to be in no-man's land, so I told him to "Let's go" and he latched on again. We pretty much ran side by side or I tucked in behind him for the remainder of the race. Again, Henry was offering lots of encouragement and telling us to work up the hill and use our arms. With a split of 6:01, you can tell that the hills and the heat took a toll on us.

The last mile was much better because it was flat/downhill and the finish was so close. Red shirt guy began to pull away with 800m to go, but Henry stuck with me and told me "You've definitely got the win, but pretend like you don't know that and push it girl!" It was so nice and motivating. I mumbled a "thanks" and promised myself that I would try to find him afterward to thank him for all of his help. I turned into the old Durham Bulls stadium and ran around to the finish, clocking a 534 last mile and a 28:59 finish time. All I could think about at that point was water, but it was another 200m away so I made a mad dash to get myself hydrated again.As I was stuffing my face with watermelon, a woman named Tiffany approached me and asked me to cool down with her. I graciously accepted! In the course of the cool down, we found about five more girls to join us including some Duke girls I used to compete against -Elle Pishny and Liz Wort - and Molly Nunn, Heather Magill. It was great to have such friendly companions on the run and to learn more about what they all do.

Right after the awards, my mystery escort approached me and I told him thanks. I asked about his trek across the USA and I told him that I was very much inspired. He told me that I had inspired him! It was really cool to see that we were both helping the other out and didn't even know it.

Although the course is hilly and the race is in the beginning of June, the Bull City Running Company did a great job managing the race, kept the course well-marked with large arrows to prevent getting lost, and provided delicious post race grub. It was also convenient to have access to the restrooms and showers in the YMCA. I would recommend this race to those from the Charlotte region!


Cool Down said...

Good race, Caitlin. Maybe you just didn't realize that you were such a good runner in the heat.

maryanne said...

Wow - that explains why you had no voice when you called Monday. I can't tell you which impresses me more - the way you ran this race in ungodly humid conditions and the community of support you inspired and that inspired you - OR the way you wrote it with such clarity. I am so proud, caitliner! Love, Mom

Stephen Spada said...

Caitlin...amazing stuff! Great picturres that accompany the article as well...

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