Guess what? I ran in another race!
A couple weekends ago my training schedule called for me to run a half-marathon. Though I couldn’t find a race of that distance in my area I did find a 15K pretty close and decided, “Really, what difference could four miles make?”
This was the Eker Kosu 15K, put on by MCR Racesetter, the same people that had put on the 10K I ran in Iznik last Spring.
Because “pretty close” in this case means about 3-4 hours worth of travel, I went up the night before. The race website said there were camping options in the area, so I also recruited a bunch of friends to come with me and make it a party. My roommate even decided to run. At first she was going to run in the 5K that was also being put on, then she made the leap to the 15K. I was happy about that except for the fact that I was convinced that she would now post a better time than I, despite the fact that I have been training for months and she only runs casually at the gym on occasion.
Apparently the forecast predicted far in advance that it would rain over the weekend. I’m not really someone that ever remembers to check that, but my roommate had. She was hopeful it would be pushed off by a day or two and miss our camping.
The trip did take a long time. We all got together at 8:45am to go to the ferry, where thankfully we did not have a repeat performance of my last race trip. By the time we got off the ferry, bought bus passes, took the bus, the metro, paused for lunch, and then went to the race registration, it was well into the afternoon. We also knew we were short a couple spaces in our tents, so we stopped by the mall and picked up another “2-person” tent.
That’s in quotes, because I bet you can guess where this is going. We got out to the campsite and started setting things up. It was sprinkling a little, which wasn’t ideal, but we hung a tarp to keep the essentials dry and started putting up tents. When we got to our new acquisition, it looked incredibly strange (and incredibly tiny) without the poles in it. Shortly thereafter we realized this was more the kind of tent where two people could leisurely sit during a picnic. Not so much the kind where two people could comfortably sleep through a rainstorm. Which would explain why it had only cost about $30.
However by cuddling close and thinking creatively we found spots for everyone. Two people slept in the one-person tent, three people in the two-person tent, and one person was banished to a hammock under the tarp.
Despite the rain, spirits were high. We stashed all the bags in the special new tent, which also failed to be rainproof so it had to be hidden under the tarp. The one upside was it had a large waterproof bottom and so made a good sitting/storage area.
Sleeping cozied up in the tent that night wasn’t ideal, but it definitely could have been much worse. We were warm and dry, and honestly my bed at home is so horrible right now a sleeping bag on the ground felt about just as comfortable.
My roommate and I woke up early the next morning and caught a taxi to the race. As we walked up we saw a group of very fast young men warming up.
“They are going to run so much faster than us,” I said.
Then we saw a couple of old men also wearing 15K numbers.
“See those old men?” I said. “They will also probably run faster than us.”
Then we walked by a guy with one arm.
“Did you see that amputee with only one arm?” my roommate asked me.
“No,” I replied. “But he will probably run faster than us.”
I was clearly incredibly optimistic about our chances.
We split up shortly before the race, because we knew we would probably run it pretty differently. I lined up at the very back so I could enjoy a leisurely start. I also decided to do this run without any headphones – partly because of my chip mishap at my previous race, and also just to see what it was like. I’ve been running without music or podcasts more and more lately.
The beginning of the race was really nice. The course went 7.5 km up the highway towards the mountains that surround Bursa, then turned back around and went back to the start along the same way. The hills began within the first couple of kilometers, but going up wasn’t that bad when you knew you’d get to come back down.
Everything was going okay until I got to the second water station at 5.5 km or so. At the first station at 2.5 km I had just taken a sip, because I knew there would be another one soon.
But at the next aid station they were out of water.
My heart sank.
I sucked back all of the angry epithets I wished to hurl at the poor volunteers and kept chugging. As I ran the next two kilometers to the turn around I felt slightly nauseous and incredibly disheartened. The sun had come out and turned the cool morning in to a blazing oven of asphalt and awfulness. I pushed through, powerwalking up the hills and taking the downs as fast as I could.
As we came closer to the turnaround more and more racers passed going back, all of them looking happier and fresher than me. “Well done,” they would cry, clapping their hands at us sad back-packers. This included the one-armed man (though he wasn’t doing a lot of clapping – I am officially a terrible person). Did I mention that he looked like he was at least 60?
I finally made 7.5km (where there was unfortunately no water) and headed back into town. Then something magical happened: the psychological effect of being halfway done was wonderful. I became that annoying pixie crying “Well done” and “Bravo” to the people I passed by.
Oh how quickly we forget.
With how the running lanes were working I was able to hug the side of the road and be in the shade for much of the next few kilometers. Then we crossed back by the aid station where they had been out of water and MIRACLE of MIRACLES they had water now. I grabbed a bottle and swished back every precious drop I could. Actually, maybe not, because I also distinctly remember pouring some of it over my head. It’s all sort of a blur now.
Getting water pulled me out of feeling awful and helped me push through the end. The last three kilometers or so were amazing. A long, downhill run back into town that ended in about 500m of flat running, and the clouds had returned, which made for perfect finish conditions. I ran hard through the last bit, pretty much ignoring all my fabulous friends who came to the finish line and still managing to come in a minute slower than my roommate. You know the one who “doesn’t really run”?
I am officially the slowest person on earth.
Except not! Because with my finish of 1:33:58, I finished 11th in my category, 19th out of 45 in my gender, and 193rd out of 325 overall.
Which I guess makes me officially average.
Over all this was a fun race. There was a great atmosphere before and after, and Bursa is beautiful. My only complaint is about the water stations:
- um, the running out of water part but also
- they were all at the tops of hills. So you would trek up these hills, get psyched to run down super fast, and then have to manage a water bottle. Not the best thing. But maybe it would be awful to have them at the bottom of the hill because then you have to try to drink and breathe at the same time.
Three men competed in the 65+ category. All three finished fast than me.
At one point as I huffed and puffed up a hill, another runner turned to me and asked if I was a smoker. No, thank you sir, I am just the loudest breather on planet earth. I promptly sped up and left him in the dust.
Huge thank you to my friends for coming out to cheer and to MCR for setting up a fun race!