To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Prefontaine Memorial 10K - Year 5!

When I started running in September of 2009 I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to possibly run AND breathe at the same time. People don't run in cotton t-shirts?? People rub what where?? Gels? What the heck is a Garmin?? Professional runners, what?!? I quickly learned about all of those things non-runners are clueless about, but I also needed some inspiration. Someone to look up to when I'm struggling and needing motivation to just keep pushing. If you've ever read this blog or even looked in the room I am sitting in right now, you'll know that Steve Prefontaine is and always will be my running idol! I rarely repeat races, but the Prefontaine Memorial Run every September in Coos Bay is the one race I will not miss. I could be pregnant and waddling, I'll still do it. I could have something broken and I would make sure I am racing. This is MY race rain or shine. Healthy or not. I will always be there!!

This was my fifth running of the Prefontaine 10K. It is such a wonderful atmosphere and experience every year. The volunteers are so happy to be there, and some even know Pre himself! This year I talked with a lady that went to school with him and her friend used to date him back in the day. It's just a wonderful small town race where we people show up from all over just to run in honor of Pre. This year's bib #1 was a guy that checked every day to register as soon as it opened ... and he came all the way from Brooklyn, New York just to run. That right there shows you the influence Steve Prefontaine has on the running community even now!

For the first time I arrived in Coos Bay feeling relaxed. Maybe it just takes 5 years to get me to calm down. I ate a full bagel, banana and half a pack of Clif shot blocks. That is more than I've ever had for any race including my marathons! The weather was crazy warm before the start but we didn't mind. We joined in with all the buzz at the start area, dancing along with the DJ and people watching. At 9:30 the art museum opened and we slipped in to go check out the Prefontaine exhibit. It was nice being in there all alone just taking some time to soak up all things Pre and get my head ready for the race.

At 10 o'clock The Final Countdown started playing, just like it does every year. This year, however, our race was started by none other than Linda Prefontaine, Steve's younger sister! It was surreal to be looking up at her as I crossed the finish line, but also super cool! I was casual and didn't go into stalker mode or go cry on her shoulder again like I did a few years ago. ;) So now the race....

The only flat part of this course is the last lap on the track at the end. Once that shot gun goes off you are already starting at a minor incline that only continues to grow for over a mile. I've been training on hills a lot hoping to tackle this course. I have also been sidelined with training due to my Meniere's Disease. Life has gotten busy and stressful, which is sadly a trigger for my Meniere's episdoes. This day was not any different. I was happy and relaxed, but still suffering. Not gonna lie - this race was my most difficult so far of all my years running it. From before the gun went off until well after I crossed the finish line I was dealing with pretty bad vertigo and vision problems. I made it a whopping half a mile before I had to allow myself to walk. Heat, hills, vertigo -- I was just overwhelmed and had to have some quiet Me time. 

After my first water stop I just let my legs go. My Garmin got lost with its satellite somewhere so I can't even tell my actual pace. But I know I was hauling ass running DOWN Agony Hill. After that it was just a battle. Myself versus Ocean Boulevard. Thank goodness Man Friend was with me. Multiple times I had to grab onto him so I wouldn't fall down. He was good at just putting a hand on me to make me feel more steady when I had to walk. It was emotionally pretty taxing since this is not a race I wanted to literally fall over during! All things considered I am happy with how I did and I how I didn't let myself back off, even during the dizzy moments that forced me to walk and stumble around.

The volunteers were great as usual. We had plenty of water and spectators with hoses ready to cool us off. And just like every year, I found nice runners to have mini conversations with - and as per usual that always happens on the way back UP Agony Hill!  This was my strongest finish other than in 2012 during marathon training. I powered up the last mini hill and kept steady on the track. An older man felt me coming and sped up a bit. I was going to let him have it, but then I got more steam and just steadily pushed though. So yes, I did pass that man in his 70s and the one in his 60s. Go me! 

We crossed the finish line with Linda Prefontaine standing at the sides. It's probably best I didn't see her there at the time! History shows I would have started crying! My time was far from spectacular but this year I didn't care at all. I was so happy to just be there and to be able to do something Pre never did. I tackled his course during 6.2 miles of vertigo and confusion. Take that!!

And now I end with this photo. Every time I run as a character it seems that suddenly that character is now available in tech materials or the costumes appear out of the woodwork. I keep noticing it. This time I HAVE to point it out. Notice the outfit I wore last year (the bottom photo). Now look at this year's race participant tech shirt (the above photo). Notice any sort of coincidence?!?! I predict pirates on next year's shirt - which wouldn't be too far fetched since Pre was a Marshfield High School Pirate!

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