Bloomsday is a fun race. They had over 30 live bands along the route, so there was always music to run to, no need for an iPod, and every genre from rock to country to bluegrass. There was more than one group with an accordian. People line up along the way just to be a part of the event. Parents bring their kids out to slap hands on the side of the route. Some of the bands were middle school age kids, which was fun (and they were pretty good, too). This year, as part of their effort to make the race "greener", they plan to compost the water cups; they expect to haul over 500,000 to the composting center.
I got shin splints in the beginning for the first time in over a year. I think that's because it was early in the morning, earlier than I run anyway, so my legs weren't very warmed up. They eased up by 2.5 miles or so. I ran off & on, pacing myself by my heart rate. It's a big race; there were close to 50,000 participants, and 8 starting groups (timed with RFID chips), so you can't always run when you want to, and you have to be careful of people cutting you off as they pass you. I walked a bit more around mile 4 than I had been, leading up to Doomsday Hill since I wanted to run as much of that as possible. And I ended up running more than half of the hill, which I felt pretty good about. I hit a nice stride at the top but then made the mistake of stopping for water, which totally threw me off (and which I didn't need anyway). The last mile was long, but the final turn is on top of a hill so the coast to the finish line is easy. I finished in a little over 90 minutes, which is slow, but faster than I expected to do it.
Lessons learned from my first race: 1. Wear sunscreen. I didn't think about it, because it was so cloudy, but I know I got a little burned. 2. If I wear a headband again, I'll clip it on with something. I lost it by mile 3, which really bummed me out, especially when the sun came out and my forehead felt warm and vulnerable. 3. Put the chip on my laces instead of my ankle. More comfortable. 4. Bring a jacket that I want to donate, instead of wearing one that I have to tie around my waist when I get too warm. I forgot that they have a tradition of collecting all the discarded jackets and sweatshirts and donating them to Goodwill. (Although many of the ones I saw were not worthy of donation. What are people thinking?)
One thing I did right was leave my wedding ring at home. My fingers were puffed up like little sausages by the time I finished. They always swell when I run, I assume because I have them sort of dangling and all that blood is pumping around. I never would have gotten that ring off if I was wearing it today. The fingers are starting to look more normal now, but they are still a bit swollen.
Another thing was taking the bus: good move! Very easy from where we live, better than walking home would have been, and parking would have been a mess.
So there's my wrap-up, Bloomsday 2009 is in the can, and I have next year to look forward to. Racing isn't really something I'm compelled to do, but when it's an event that I really want to participate in, it's good to know I can do it.