45th TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-Miler

So today was the 45th TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-Miler. I’m feeling pretty drained right now, but I wanted to get this documented while it was still fresh.

The couple of 8 mile runs I’ve done in training clocked in around 1:50:00, so that’s the time I was hoping to get given that the race course is a very hilly loop through Saguaro National Park East and things are relatively flat where I usually run. If I could beat that time by a little bit, even better. I was particularly nervous about this one since I signed up a little late and never did get a chance to go check out the terrain in person before the race. Looking at the elevation map that they sent, I figured I’d be doing pretty well if I finished in under two hours, much less in my 1:50:00 goal. I guess there’s something to be said for adrenaline because my official time was 1:38:54! Placed 540th out of 675, so not nearly as close to the back of the pack as I was expecting, and was 38th of the 39 men in my age group.

And you know what? I’m damn proud of that. Especially when you take into account the fact that I haven’t even been running a full year yet.

The first three miles actually felt really good. I think I tied my current best time for a 5k, which was pretty cool. The fourth and fifth miles sucked rocks. Seriously. Starting at roughly 3.75 miles, the course runs uphill until just past the 5 mile mark without really leveling off and with absolutely no downhill breaks to bring some relief. I managed to not take any walk breaks until around 4.1 miles. After that, I had to walk at least part of every uphill stretch.

I honestly don’t remember much of miles 6-7 aside from cursing under my breath every time I saw the road heading uphill again. Though I did see a former co-worker volunteering at the 6 mile water station, which was kind of cool. By the 8th mile, I was just ready to be done. In some ways, that last mile was the cruelest. The road undulates up and down while meandering through a bunch of curves. The problem is that many of those curves look identical. Each time I was sure I’d be rounding the next corner to see the finish line, I was greeted with another stretch of road that I could have sworn I had just run.

So, yeah. I finished, I didn’t die, and I beat my goal time by more than 10 minutes.

After finishing, I made my way down to the area where they had refreshments available. Downed some chocolate milk, grabbed a couple small bags of goldfish, then found a shady spot to sit down and catch my breath. Now, I don’t know if I hadn’t hydrated enough in the previous days or what, but it took a good 15 minutes or so before I could get back up without starting to black out. That was more than a little unnerving. I eventually made my way across the parking lot to another water station where I was able to drink a bunch of ice cold water, which seemed to help drastically.

I’m feeling much better now. Good enough even to head out for what has become my traditional post-race burger and beer – once I’d had a shower and lazed in front of the TV with a cat in my lap for a bit.

Probably ought to make it an early night tonight. After all, I was up at 4am.

I think my next big goal is a half-marathon in December. What? It’s just 5.1 more miles than I did today. Heh… “Just.”

Oh and for those who are interested in such things, my mile splits according to RunKeeper were: 11:41, 10:32, 11:08, 11:22, 14:32, 11:36, 12:49, 12:39.

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