With how many races I have run over the years, you would think it would be difficult for me to choose my favorite race. But hands down, Crim is it. This year was my 5th year in a row running this race and it was another incredible year! Each year has its own special memories, its own plan of attack and goals. 2019 was no different… but 2019 was pretty freakin’ phenomenal. Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane and reflect on my previous Crim races before I recap this one.
2015 was my first Crim. I ran it to see if I could do it. I finished in just over 2 hours. 2016 was the year that I ran for fun. My friends and I had a 10 mile party together, stopping at all of the “aid stations”, dancing, jumping on trampolines… we did it all! We finished around 2 1/2 hours. 2017 I decided to run for time. I ran with my friends Paula and Crissy – not only did we have an amazingly fun time together, we still participated in some of those fun “aid stations” and I got a PR! My first sub 2 hour time – 1:57:09. Last year was probably one of the worst weather years. We were delayed over an hour due to storms. There was question of whether or not we would actually race. I ended up running with my friends Jenny and Heather. It was Heather’s first Crim and Jenny and I wanted her to not only see that she was capable of more than she imagined, but we also wanted her to have a great time. I think we accomplished that! We finished just over 2 hours, still better than my first and second Crim times.
So now we come to 2019. I had originally planned on another “run for fun” year because I had several friends that were going to be running Crim for the first time. They wanted to enjoy the whole experience and weren’t so concerned about their times. I figured I would hang with them. That was my plan until earlier this week when I saw the weather forecast. Typical Crim weather is hot and humid, my absolute nemesis. This year the forecast was for a nice, “fall-like” morning, with temperatures in the mid 50’s to 60’s and low humidity. Since my training has been pretty much on point, I could not pass up the opportunity to see what I was made of, especially with the weather being on my side for once.
The night before I headed down to the expo with a group of my friends. We had fun perusing the vendors and making a few purchases, followed by a delicious dinner and dessert at Pesto’s. We listened to music, sang, laughed and danced in the car on the way there and back.
Race morning came very early. Brittany and I were up at 4:30am to get ready and have our breakfast. We picked up Rebecca, headed to Jenny B’s house and met up with Amanda, then headed to the carpool lot to pick up Jenny P. Unfortunately her race morning did not get off on the right foot – she completely missed her alarm and had to drive down to meet us at the race instead. We navigated through closed roads like champs and got to the race in plenty of time to meet up with everyone, do our business and get lots of group pictures and hugs.
The race started with a beautiful singing of the national anthem that brought tears to my eyes. I did some dynamic stretching, warming up my muscles and getting my heart rate up while waiting for our corral to take off. We got up to the start line, the air horn was blown, and we were off! I had set my watch with fast and slow alerts to keep me from starting too fast or to motivate me later to pick up the pace. My pace was all over the map the first mile. My friends were doing run/walk intervals so their running pace was faster than I intended to start off with. Plus the excitement of starting the race had me moving quicker.
I ended up ahead of my friends before the first mile marker, and caught up to another pair of my friends around mile 2. Miles 3 and 4 are some of my favorite of the race, especially when you reach Champagne Bob just before the 4 mile mark! I stopped at his corner and grabbed a mimosa shooter. I started doing the math in my head to figure out when I should take my fuel… I usually take a gel every 4 miles or about every 45 minutes. I figured the mimosa was around 50 calories, my gels are 100 calories. I decided I would either take a gel right before I hit the Bradley Hills or right after. Somewhere between miles 4 and 5 I passed another group of my friends. I’m not competitive against others, but every time I passed friends of mine I knew that I was crushing my own goals and winning the battle against the old me.
While getting my best time was a big goal for this race, another one was running the entire race without intervals. I figured that I had run two half marathons without run/walk intervals, one of them without even stopping at water stations, so I could do this. My only concern was the course being hilly – my half marathons had been pretty much flat as a pancake.
The Bradley Hills confirmed that my concern was legitimate. Those suckers were TOUGH. I was told at the expo before my first Crim that the Bradleys aren’t that bad… it’s the rolling hills for the rest of the race that are tough. This was the first time I had run without walking through all of those hills, and it was hard. I forgot how steep the first Bradley hill was. Luckily it is steep but quick, so I got up it and over it without dying, and had enough time before the next one to catch my breath. The second and third Bradley hills went well. Then I started to hit those rollers, the not as steep but seem like they never end hills. I was getting concerned that I wouldn’t be able to keep my pace, but was confident I could still PR thanks to the awesome first few miles.
I took my gel at about 5.75 miles into the race, and about a mile later I thought I was going to be in big trouble. I have a really strong stomach and have never had any digestive issues due to gels or any other food for that matter while running. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to do my usual business that morning, and I started feeling like maybe it was time for that to happen WITH JUST OVER 3 MILES TO GO. I kept thinking, “I better not crap myself… ain’t nobody got time for a porta potty stop when I’m fighting for a PR!” Fortunately just before mile 7 my FAVORITE aid station was waiting: BACON AND ORANGE JUICE! I grabbed a piece of bacon, drank some OJ and kept trucking. Not long after my stomach was feeling better and I was no longer concerned about pooping my pants.
Not only that, but that bacon literally gave me life. I felt incredible those last 3 miles, and my splits certainly show it! I had maintained just over 11 minute per mile pace for the first 7 miles – my fastest mile was just before the Bradleys at a 10:53 pace and my slowest was 11:07 when I stopped for the bacon. After that I stayed in the 10s… 10:51, 10:42 and 10:01!
Around the 9 mile marker, my friend Tim found me and ran the last mile with me. He asked me how I was feeling, and I said “Effing amazing!” He asked me what intervals I was doing and I told him I wasn’t, that I had run the whole thing. He was super impressed and told me I was doing awesome. We saw the 11:30 pacer ahead of me, and he asked if I was keeping up with them. I told him that they had started in the corral before me, but that for the last mile I had been getting closer to them. He encouraged me to try to pass them, and I did. Then we picked out a friend from our running group and he encouraged me to catch up to her. I did, and then I passed her. As we turned the last corner and hit the bricks, Tim told me I was doing amazing. He said “You’re still passing people, look at you!” He veered off so that he wouldn’t go through the finish line again and he told me to keep passing people. I picked out a couple of girls with matching tank tops that I wanted to pass… and just before we crossed that finish line I did pass them!
I was finished… and I had gotten a big PR! My previous best time was 1:57:09 and I finished this year in 1:49:50. While I did kind of feel like puking towards the end, overall I felt incredible during this race. It felt so good to be able to go that fast, to still have enough energy to sprint the last mile. And it was especially amazing to have so many friends and family supporting me during the race from near and far.
Crim is absolutely my favorite race of the year and I am so glad that I got to do it again this year. I am looking forward to next year – another PR, hopefully, plus I will be doing a 3 race series that includes Crim to get an awesome bonus medal. I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend, whether you were racing or not, or supporting or not. Next up… Capital City Half Marathon Relay on 9/22!