This year I decided I would finally race the Hannibal Cannibal since it is a race my tri team usually does. It usually is too close to the 4th of July run I like to do, so usually I choose that race instead. However this year I was up for the challenge! (sidenote this was JMR’s second 5k ever and he still has PTSD about this run, so let’s just say his thoughts on this run course may have swayed my decision to skip out each year). Hannibal is a little less than two hours away, so I was up around 3:45a to hit the road by 4a so I would arrive in plenty of time for packet pickup, getting in a warmup run and also getting to catch up with my fellow Eco Athletes.
I arrived right at 6a, packet pickup was easy and found my group! Then I went for a short .85ish mile warmup, hit the porta potties one last time and then took my Huma gel. Getting up so early but not racing until 7a made my nutrition a little tricky… I figured if I just had a banana at 4a I would be starving by the time the race started, but I also didn’t want to eat too much and risk having an angry stomach during the race. So I settled on half of a Bobo’s oat bar and two cups of coffee on the way there (the coffee was a gamble, but I also had to get things moving), and adding the gel 20 minutes before the race was perfect (no angry stomach during the race), good to know for the future!
I didn’t have a goal time for this race as it was a super hilly race, with one hill at 5-6% grade which we go up and down and back up and down, and another hill that we just run up and turn around, with an 8% grade. I had ridden up both previously when I rode in Hannibal last year and I knew they would be tough, so time goals weren’t the focus and it was going to be more of a ‘see how I feel, and how much I can push and still finish not feeling like death’ kind of day.
The gun went off and I settled into a 7:30ish pace and managed to hold the pace going up the first big steep hill. I passed the 5k turnaround and felt like I was still holding a good sustainable pace for this course and I could even maybe push a little harder since we were starting to go downhill (although with every step I was dreading having to run back up after the 10k turnaround). I hit the second mile at a 7:20 pace and was feeling pretty good. I took water at each aid station since it was so hot and humid already, but only managed a few sips since I was breathing so hard and dumped the rest on my head. On I went and hit mile 3 at a 7:22 pace and was still feeling good – almost halfway I told myself! Then we trudged back up the hill and I saw my pace drop, but was focusing on just keeping a steady sustainable pace to make it to the top without pushing too much so I would still have some left in the tank for the biggest hill, Lovers Leap. Mile 4 split was 8:02 which I wasn’t thrilled about but I was busy still climbing the hill and had more to go, so I just kept my head down and kept on going.
After finally cresting the hill we had a slight downhill before hitting Lover’s Leap, so I tried to relax and just let my legs go, however right at the turn to go up I was merging with the 5k’ers which was a little frustrating as most were walking and I was trying to haul butt up that hill. Almost everyone around me was walking, but I tried to just keep my head down and my legs moving (and arms pumping). I made it almost all of the way to the top but was starting to feel that ‘I’m going to puke’ feeling, so I walked for about ten steps and then ran it in to the top, ran around the turn around and just let it go down hill. I hit mile 5 with a slow-but-not-surprised 8:42 split, however now I was flying down Lover’s Leap and knew the rest of the course was a net downhill so I just focused on pushing that last 1.2 miles and I did push! Mile 6 was a slight blur as I was just focusing on pushing and pushing hard, resulting in a speedier 6:52 split. I could hear someone right on my shoulder breathing heavy and I was determined to not let anyone else pass me so I pushed even harder on the last .16 (the course was a little short) at a 6:01 pace!
I crossed the finish line in 46:52, with a 7:36 avg pace, which is a 10k PR for me. However since the course was short, I am noting going to count it, but it does mean I have a PR in me, especially considering this course had almost 500ft elevation gain! It was good enough for 4th overall female and first in my age group, so I was pretty happy about that!
After the awards, after a quick change and some suncreening, we headed out for the 30ish mile group ride. I was pretty nervous about how my legs would feel as I knew the route was hilly and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by falling over on the hills from dead legs! However my legs rallied and I survived, even the ride back up Lover’s Leap. After the ride we got a late lunch, watched some of the festivities going on at Mark Twain days in Hannibal and then I hit the road to head back home.
All in all it was a really fun day with my Eco Teammates, a successful race and I got in some good hills on the ride!