Conserve and Attack Part 2 – Race Day Recap

Now, where were we…

Ah yes, race day! Thankfully the Georgetown Running Group that put this race together set the race start time for 10:30am, so we didn’t have to get up at an ungodly hour. We were out the door by 9am and on our way.

It was kind of funny that we ended up pulling into the conservation area right behind Matt, Neil and Jess although we were leaving from different places at different times. We got to see Matt get yelled at by a parking marshall because he went the wrong way into the lot (he he he), although in Matt’s defence, the parking marshall was wearing a santa suit and seemed a bit confused about what he was doing waving a Canada flag. But I digress.

Anyways, when we finally stepped outside, we realized quickly that it was damn cold. When we had left our house it was about 1 degree, but now the thermometer was reading -3 and the wind had picked up a bit. I hadn’t dressed warmly enough for sure, I was absolutely freezing standing around.

Lesson learned – for winter races, you need to bring extra warm clothes to wear BEFORE the race gets started (and then have a plan to either give them to someone right before you start or stash them in your car or somewhere else).

Thankfully I WAS smart enough to bring a warmer quilted vest to wear, so at least I wouldn’t be cold out on the run. Matt and Neil were smarter and brought some extra clothes to wear before hand. Here we are before the race inside the (heated, thankfully) pavillion:


I had mentioned before that it was my mom’s very first 10K race, and she was a little nervous on race day morning. It made me reminisce about my first half marathon and the sheer terror that I was going through standing around before the race. When you’ve never done something like this before, you really wonder what the hell is going to happen to you out there?! What if your legs just stop moving? What if you have to go to the bathroom? What if you just don’t want to do it anymore? What if you trip and fall and hurt yourself? And the most crippling fear of all:

What if I’m the very last, lone person out there on the course????

I’m sure all of this (and much, much more) was going through her head, but she sure doesn’t show it does she?!

Sara and Mom

We finally headed down to the starting area, handed over all of our paraphernalia to Jess (HUGE shout out to Jessica for being the pack mule for the day – often the two of us are pack mules together, but she was rockin’ it solo today and was a huge part of the race!!! It makes life SO much easier on the runners to have somebody to help them with all of that stuff so they can just focus on the race!!!)


Matt and Neil made their way up to start right on the line (they were hoping for 45 minutes or less for Matt and 50 minutes or less for Neil) and my mom and I stayed put near the back. We were hoping for more modest times (about 1:10 for me, and my mom just wanted to finish and not be last…….).

We started off, and I knew from driving the course yesterday that the first 3km of the race were all down hill. It was like this sick, false sense of security, but I wasn’t biting, and I held WAY back on the down hill. I knew that I would need my legs later in the race, and just let them coast. I saw a lot of people CRUISING down for the first 3K (including Matt and Neil, who told me later that they ran the fastest 3K of their life in about 7 minutes for Matt and 8 something for Neil!!!), but knew that I needed to hold off if I wanted to make it the whole way.

Something very weird happened just before the 1km marker. A lady running in front of me committed the ULTIMATE race sin. She stopped dead in her tracks right on the course. I nearly ran RIGHT into her, but I managed to stop and put my hands on her back to avoid bowling her right over. She apologized, and then limped off the course. I called out to her asking if she was okay, and she said she was, so I continued on. Much later in the morning, I saw her with a splint wrapped around her leg, walking on crutches. It was a harsh reminder that sometimes it doesn’t take much, and just to be grateful that you finished the race in one piece sometimes.

So back on the course, my mom was AHEAD OF ME for the first 3km?! That sand bagger. I did end up passing her around the 3km marker when she stopped to tie her shoes, and never saw her again, but she definitely had a strong start to the race.

Around 3km, things started getting interesting. Remember that elevation graph I showed you? Take another look if you missed it in my last post:

Elevation Graph

It was pretty much straight up hill from the 3km mark onwards. I was mentally ready for that because we had driven it the day before, but those hills still kicked my ass totally. Between about the 3.5 and the 4.5km, my breathing got totally out of control and I was falling into that “gasping” trap. I got myself back on track by focusing on the word “in” for some reason. Not sure where these little voodoo things come from, but they just kind of appear naturally, and I found myself internally repeating “innnnnn”, “innnnn”, maybe in an attempt to get myself to focus on the “in” portion of breathing rather then the out? Whatever voodoo magic it was, it worked, because by the time we were at the 4km hill, my breathing had regulated, I wasn’t gasping anymore and I was feeling great.

Until we hit the 5km hill.

Again – I knew from the previous day that there was an absolute beast of a hill at the 5km marker. They had thankfully put a water station just at the bottom of what they deemd “the big hill”, so I grabbed a quick sip of water, told myself that I was going to run up that entire hill or die trying, and started up.

I very nearly died trying, but I made it.

At the top I was absolutely spent. It was about 3 minutes of just straight vertical running, I passed about a million people walking up the hill, and then they all blew past me on the down hill that followed because I was so exhausted my legs could barely support me anymore. God damnit. I am really really proud of myself for keeping on running at that point anyways. That was a little bit of what I like to call “Matt Crazy” that took over. It’s contagious. I think I missed the whole point of the “conserve up the hill and ATTACK on the downhill”. I ATTACKED up the hill and then DIED on the way down instead 😉

After that hill, everything else kind of paled in comparison. You want me to run up that little speed bump? Sure! No problem! How about I do it twice?! The kilometers started disappearing, and I knew I was getting close to the end.

Around the 8k mark, my shoulder developed a pretty nasty cramp. I’ve gotten them before in races, and I’m really not sure exactly what they are. I need to keep an eye on this and try to get to the bottom of what it may be. The cramp disappeared after about a kilometer, but it was a really really painful, and very long kilometer.

The last kilometer of the race was pretty much all downhill again, and I turned on the jets at that point (or “let the horses out of the barn as Matt’s family says) and finished in 1:07. A little slower time, but I knew it was going to be tough to stay on a normal pace given the hills out there. I was happy.

Matt, Neil and Jess were right there at the finish, and Jess had taken some great pictures of the boys finishing as well!!

Matt absolutely crushed his goal and finished in 42 minutes (coming 7th place overall out of 600 runners and 1st in his age category!) and Neil ALSO totally schooled his goal and came in at 50 minutes right on the dot (coming in 3rd place in his age category!).

Neil had some pretty good race stories about sprinting to the end with some guy ahead of him. Sounds like the guy ahead of him was “conserving” while Neil was “attacking”, and then the guy took off at the very end to just beat him…oh the things that take place at the finish line of a race!!!

Matt Neil Sara 2

My very last race story (I promise, I know this is getting to be long winded), was my mom, who we thought was still out on the course at 1:30. After I came in, we went back to the tent, got some warm soup and some drinks, and came back out to the course, only to hear that only 4 runners were left out there.

I was horrified. I thought my mom was one of them.

A very nice race marshall drove me out in his car to check the course, and I was so relieved to see that she wasn’t one of the 4. She was already in, and we had missed her!! We went back to the tent, and found my mom sipping some coffee, asking where the heck we all had been. She had finished in 1:23!!! Way to go mama!!!


It was an amazing weekend overall, and we got to bask in the “after-race all day glow” for the rest of the day on Sunday. Looking forward to the next one already!!!

Have a terrific week everyone!!

The Jamaican Running Team - Blake Claw, Bolt and Pistols
The Jamaican Running Team – Blake Claw, Bolt and Pistols


4 thoughts on “Conserve and Attack Part 2 – Race Day Recap

  1. Congratulations to everyone! Thanks for the report & pictures, Sara & Jessica. Even though I’ve decided to take a break from running (after my grueling half marathon in Vegas on Dec.2), reading your Egg Nog Jog adventure has inspired me to get back out there… in maybe a week or two. It’s just so nice to not “have” to run for now:). I can finally concentrate on Christmas & enjoy the season. Take care & keep your stories coming – I love reading them! Jean:)

    1. Thanks so much Jean!! CONGRATULATIONS on the Rock n Roll Half!!! Any crazy race stories from the day?? I know there are ALWAYS race stories!! I know what you mean, whenever I finish a race, I always take a couple of weeks to just enjoy not “having to run”. That usually makes me “want to run” even more 🙂 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s