Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Buckwheat Mile: A Moderately Long Post about a Very Short Race

This year I decided to race in the inaugural (pet peeve: when people say 'first annual' [oxymoron]) Buckwheat Mile that was held during the annual Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood, WV. It's rare to get the opportunity to race such a short distance, and I've only been running consistently for less than three years, so I thought it would be a good measure of my progress.

The race takes place at the start of the Farmer's Parade on Saturday at noon. So when the fire whistle goes off, the race starts and follows the parade route. The race ends on the football field: you enter the football field, run around the outside, and then finish. They suggest that you only run the race if you can run a mile in 12 minutes or less, because otherwise you'll get run over by a goat. Derek told me he wouldn't talk to me if I didn't finish in under 7 minutes and he's amazingly good at assessing what I am capable of, so I hoped this wouldn't be an issue.
Swiftwick: Not just for cycling!

Once we got to Kingwood, we said hello to Derek's parents and niece and nephew, and went over to register. I got the cutest race T I've gotten in awhile:

I warmed up by jogging around the adjacent neighborhood for about 10 minutes. We lined up at the start about 12 minutes before the race actually started. I did some short sprints right when we got to the start, but then I just stood there for 10 minutes. 

I'm somewhere behind all those high schoolers in the center. 

So when the whistle blew, and we took off, my legs felt HEAVY and I was not as warm as I could have been. The race starts on an uphill, which sucked. For the first quarter mile, I was really regretting the whole thing. I got passed and then I passed back several times, and there were lots of small children who went out too hard and were scattering like shrapnel around me. By about halfway in, the race is on the main drag of the parade. I saw Derek's parents and his niece and nephew who had made adorable signs for me. That helped. I even smiled for a picture Derek's mom was taking, but I can usually drum up a smile even when I feel like total poop. With such a short distance like a mile, you are doing it correctly if you feel absolutely horrible the entire time. And I did!

[A picture of me running the race would go here, but Derek was asleep at the proverbial wheel].

By the time I got to the entrance of the football field, I saw Derek and (Dalek). Unfortunately, Derek was talking to his Aunt and Uncle and never noticed me. He usually yells at me to go as fast as I can and tells me to correct the horrible flailing motions that appear in my form in the final yards. So I just played a game of "What would Derek yell at me about right now?" in my head and I think it was a suitable substitute. 

I checked my watch when I past him and I don't remember what it said, but I remember doubting my sub-7 goal. I put my chin down, tried to minimize side-to-side arm movement, and just ran as fast as I could around the football field. I passed some 60+ men in the last few yards and looked down to see 6:50 on my watch! Let's celebrate!

But wait! Here comes the intense chest/throat pain! That lasts for 20 minutes! Apparently that can happen when you are breathing in cold air really fast. I don't do a lot of speed work, obviously. The pain mellowed and I was just left with some phlegmy goodness that has persisted into Sunday. It was totally worth it though, because I PR'd my mile time and I got to gorge myself on buckwheat cakes afterward. I didn't get any awards because I was in the 19-29 age group and there were a bunch of collegiate cross-country girls there. They are amazing and I am in awe of their running and their ability to pull off spandex booty shorts, but if I had been in the 30-39 group I would have gotten 1st. To getting older!
Pre-race, obviously. Because I'm not spitting in the grass and coughing in the picture.