How’s that for a mouthful of a race name? Well, it is exactly as the name promises – an 8k and 5k hosted by Fort Bliss and the German Air Force Air Defense Center that takes place in the evening. Eager to check off a new race distance, I signed up for the 8k a while back and marked it as a step back week on my training calendar. The forecast called for buckets of rain, but instead, Saturday afternoon was sunny skies and cool temperatures.
Hey, Finish Line! I’ll BRB. Just gotta go run 8k.
I couldn’t stop myself from obnoxiously commenting over and over again how we lucked out with the weather. (Have I mentioned yet how over the summer heat I am? Haha!) Per-Amy style, I showed up way too early and spent nearly an hour pacing around the race site feeling anxious. Eventually, my Wear Blue buddies started to show up. We gathered together briefly, took a few pictures, then squeezed into the start line with over 500 fellow runners.
My partner in crime – Julie! – wasn’t there, but another Wear Blue friend – Jennifer! – said she’d run with me. Less than ten minutes before the race was to start, she asked me what the plan was. Ummm. I had no plan! She suggested aiming for 9:00 minute miles. I agreed, glad that she was taking the reigns. At last, the starting gun went off and we all jostled our way through the starting chute.
Mile 1: 8:52
Jennifer and I have run together a few times before, but I know she’s a lot faster than I am. (She did a fast 6 miles at Wear Blue one week, and I’m pretty sure her legs were a blur the entire time a la Road Runner and Coyote.) I, on the other hand, have been finding my weekly runs to be difficult and tend to drag later in the day. Instead of my usual chattiness during running, I kept my mouth shut. I needed all my energy to go to running and breathing – not talking! I probably overcompensated a little that first mile by going a tad faster than planned.
Mile 2: 9:03
The first two miles of the course run through Main Post and along the tree-lined street where the biggest of big wigs live. It’s one of my favorite places to run in all of El Paso. Green grass, beautiful homes, the Franklin Mountains close by – what’s not to love? Plus, we had that fabulous weather that I can’t stop raving about.
1.5 miles in, near the 5k turnaround, a lederhosen-clad group of tuba players provided entertainment for everyone. I’ve been to races that have live music but never tuba players! It made me feel a tad wistful for our days in Germany.
The tuba troupe playing on stage before the race. My race pictures of them came out blurry.
Mile 3: 9:03
The entire race I had worried that I’d burn out, but I think the 9:00 miles were just right. By the halfway point, I had settled into a steady rhythm. Even stopping at a water station didn’t mess with our pacing. The further into the race we went, the more energized I felt. (Ahh, see, that right there tells me that I’m more of a long distance type girl.)
Just beyond the halfway point, we managed to catch up to one of the guys in our Wear Blue group who had passed us early on in the race. Apparently he had slowed down to make a pit stop and was having tummy trouble. I enjoyed getting to talk to him during the race (he’d usually be way ahead of us!). He took the rest of the run easy and we took off!
Mile 4: 8:58
We merged with the 5kers during this mile as we all headed to the finish on the same stretch of road. That kept things interesting as we worked to maintain our speed. There was plenty of zig-zagging to avoid other runners, walkers, and the uneven footing. But it also made for excellent people watching. Jennifer would point out to me, “Look at that kid! Look at those people!” She also waved to spectators and thanked volunteers – a kindred spirit!
Here we come! Looking good, feeling good!
last .92: 8:28 pace
I heard some fellow runners say during this portion, “There’s only 2k left! Let’s do this!” They weren’t talking to me, but I took it upon myself to follow their lead. I pushed myself to go hard. The end was near, and I wanted a strong finish time. In the last stretch, we managed to catch another Wear Blue guy and pass him in the sprint to the finish. (In all fairness, he was pushing a double stroller into a headwind. Still, we totally passed him, and I’m totally bragging about it.) Jennifer surged ahead in the final few meters, and I followed close behind.
- 4.92 mile finish time: 43:47
- Average pace: 8:53
Jennifer asked me afterwards if I’d do the race again. Absolutely! I loved the course, the weather, the energy, the distance, all of it! I had so much fun, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. Hopefully next year Stephen and I can run the race together and join in the German merriment afterwards.
The view of the mountains post-race. Doesn’t get much better than this!
Next race on the docket: my first El Paso repeat race! I’ll be once again tackling the McKelligon Canyon Challenge, a very hilly 5k, with a goal of beating last year’s time.