Other titles for this post:
My Big Fat Redneck Race
Running in Circles is Less Exciting Than Watching Cars Drive Around in Circles
***Before you read this recap, go watch Talladega Nights if you haven't already. If you don't like the movie, keep watching it until you do.***
I kind of registered for this race on a whim, but I'm so glad I did! I can't say I've ever really watched NASCAR, but being in the Charlotte Motor Speedway and running on the racetrack was pretty freaking awesome.
For those of you who don't know, Charlotte is one huge NASCAR mecca. I'm not up to snuff on my car-racing knowledge, but I know Daytona/Fl, Talladega/AL, and Charlotte/NC are the three big homes to NASCAR racing. And in case you didn't know what NASCAR stands for, it means: Non Athletic Sport Created Around Rednecks.
Just kidding ;)
Ok, on to the race recap.
I got to meet Gail, who came to the Queen City to run her third half marathon. If you haven't read her blog or seen her on daily mile, go find her! She's awesome and even way cooler in real life than on a computer screen (not that you're not cool on a computer screen, Gail, you're just cooler in person). We got to the Speedway Saturday evening just in time to grab our bibs and t-shirts, then headed for some pre-race carb loading- pizza!
Sunday morning came way too early- with a 5 AM wake up call and two squirmy dogs to take care of. We arrived at the Speedway about an hour before the race began, which gave us plenty of time to park, walk into the infield, and "take care of business."
and by "take care of business" I mean taking a picture. What were you thinking?
David, who ran the 5k, said adios to us as we lined up in the start corals. I stayed and talked with Gail in the "elite" section of 8:00-9:00/mile pace. She tried to talk me into starting with her, but I didn't want to be "that person" that everyone has to dodge because they're so slow. About 3 minutes before the start, I told her good luck and headed back to my 10:00 land where I was nice and comfortable.
These ten minute runners are my peeps. Especially the guy with the orange sweatband.
Having just PRed in the Alston Half two weeks ago and being two weeks out from my next long race, AND dealing with a temperamental knee, I had no plans of pushing myself for another PR. Instead, my plan was to go out nice and easy (something on the bottom end of 9:00) and then pick the pace up on the second half if I felt good (which meant- if my knee wasn't being a punk).
The national anthem was sung and a racecar did some donuts and revved its engine, and then it was time to shake and bake! We ran around the 1.5 mile speedway until... we came back to the start (speedways are circular you know...). Then we snaked around the infield and eventually made our way outside the stadium. It was a little strange running around in circles for the first two miles.
Around mile 5, we passed the dirt track, which I thought was way cooler than the racetrack. I'd take big wheel trucks crushing 4 door sedans over cars driving around in circles any day! Unfortunately, the dirt "arena" was empty.
Somewhere around mile 6 there was a high school drumline playing, which was more motivationally effective than I thought it would be. Although it did bring me back to my marching band days in college when we had to sing "8 to 5" over and over to our school's fight song while marching in straight lines across the field. And on the off chance that anyone gets what 8-to-5 means, please leave a comment saying so. You'll make my day.
Mile 7 was down the zMax Dragway and back, which the race director swore you'd "get your fastest mile!" It was pancake flat and ridiculously long and I did not care for it at all.
When we got out of the dragstrip, we passed an Army rock band playing, which was pretty cool because it's so personal to me. I wanted to stop and talk to them, but I had this whole race thing going on...
We snaked around the parking lots and walkways until we made our way back into the speedway at mile 11. At this point, I picked up a running friend and we started talking about races in Florida (he was from Jacksonville). I was grateful for the distraction because A) I was getting tired and B) we started running in circles again.
Eventually my newly acquired race friend dropped back, which made me feel like a BAMF for out-running a 20 something year old guy. But with about a half mile to go, he caught back up with me and declared he wasn't going to let me beat him.
Now- we're ALL guilty of picking "that person" at the end of a race and vowing to cross the finish line before them. But, um, how often do you actually tell that person you're gunning to beat them? He was probably joking, but that was all the motivation I needed to pick it up. I gunned it across the finish line and then congratulated him on a race well ran. As I sauntered away, I faintly heard him say he was going to vomit. Bam! That just happened!
I collected my medal and met up with Gail, who ran a great race as well. We stretched, grabbed some food, and ogled over our flashing medals. They're probably the most awesome medals I've ever seen. And dare I say it, TOTALLY worth the ridiculous entry fee!
I think I could wear this medal during my runs and use it as a weapon if needed.
In fact, the whole race was worth the entry fee. I thought it was pretty well executed, had great crowd support, good food at the end, and it was pretty cool to run the a NASCAR playground. I'm glad I took it easy and my knee behaved, but I agree with Ricky Bobby, "I wanna go fast!"