Then Wednesday night before the race, some nasty GI bug crawled up inside me. I stayed home Thursday. Feeling somewhat better, I went to work Friday and got stuck for 12 hours. Saturday I felt like crud again. But Sunday dawned a new day and I remained optimistic as I drove the 50 minutes west to the plantation, a gorgeous state park nestled up against the James River.
I arrived early and my prep seemed fine. I started the race well, running the first mile in about 6:40, a little faster than I wanted, but not unsual for me in adrenaline-fueled mass starts. About midway through the 5K, I started cramping, something like a side-stitch only lower. I slowed significantly and finished in about 22 minutes, a minute slower than I wanted.
I jumped on the TT bike, gasping for breath, and immediately started passing faster runners, but slower riders. For the first half of the 22.5-mile bike, we fought against a tough headwind, but I felt OK and was passing others. Making the turn into the tailwind, I brought the speed up and started hammering along, but every time I pushed even faster that cramp clawed into my side. I also discovered that I had the bike saddle a bit too far forward and was favoring one side. I fought through it and finished the bike in just under 1:03 about three minutes slower than I’d hoped.
The transition to the second run was excruciating. Between the side stitch and riding to one side of the saddle, my left hip locked up. I shuffled out of transition to the road, then stopped to stretch for a minute. When I started jogging again, guys I’d just passed on the bike came by me one by one. The run was brutally painful. The cramp took up permanent residence as I ran/walked uphill and trudged along the river. The run took me nearly 27 minutes, my slowest 5K ever, I think.
I’d really hoped to finish in about 1:45, but instead crossed the line in 1:54:43. I don’t know if I could have achieved my goal, but I’d sure like to have raced healthy. The difference between my goal and my results were gaping in the 40-44 age group. A 1:45 would have put me close to first, but the best I could do was 8th. Tough crowd. That night I felt really sick again, so the bug was still hanging around. It really was about two days ago that I started feeling better.
Kale Running did another fabulous job with the VaDu even if I felt like doo. Tripower teammate MikeP almost hunted me down and other friends did fabulously as Karen took second in women’s masters and RobD and Melissa teamed to take the mixed relay. And the very pretty location would make a fine cyclocross venue if the state didn’t mind us mucking up some of the grass fields out there.