I originally didn't sign up for this race for several reasons. The one I gave my running friends was that I was going to be out of town (and I really did plan on heading north to my very favorite place in the world) but an even bigger pair of reasons were my weight--I'm 20 lbs. heavier than I was last summer--and my fitness level--which is appallingly poor since I'm only managing runs once or twice a week. The latter shouldn't have been a big concern since walking during a race is always an option but even fat and out of shape, I am still the same competitive me I've always been and I didn't want to really have a lousy run for my own mental health.
Well, the ticket north fell through ($500 to UP Michigan in February? Are they kidding? Nobody wants to be up there in negative a billion degrees. They should have happily handed me the ticket for free or paid me to take it. I mean, seriously!!!) so my best excuse, or the one least likely to earn me raspberries and rotten eggs, disappeared. So on the spur of the moment yesterday, after talking to my friend C., I decided to sign up if there was still room. In talking to C. about the race while I was deciding whether or not to subject myself to the race, she gave me a goal that would be doable and that would not take a chunk out of my pride. She was running for a PR (personal record for you non-runners) and wanted me to help her. She very much wanted to break 30 minutes and I knew I could do that so I promised I'd get her to the finish under 30. This took a bit of the pressure off going for my own PR off since there's no way I could have done that in my current fitness state.
So off I went to register. And again with the signs from the universe: there was room, at least until I got home from registering, at which point the race was full and closed. When you register late, you aren't guaranteed a race t-shirt. In some cases this would be a blessing (like the Turkey Trot t-shirt that is so creepy ugly) but I kind of wanted one from this race since I knew it would be marginally girlie with hearts and stuff both for Valentine's Day and because the run benefitted cardiovascular research. I had my fingers crossed that the only size left wouldn't be small (have I mentioned the extra 20 lbs. I'm carrying right now--nevermind that busty girls like me never get to dream of small t-shirts no matter how tiny the rest of the body gets) and it wasn't! Miracle of miracles, all they had left were mediums. But I can do medium--usually. I will day it was a little unkind of the barely post-pubescent man-boy handing out the shirts to look at me and say, "We only have mediums left. Will that be okay?" with such a concerned look on his face. For just one day I'd like to be built like a runner (ripped abs and minimal chest and all--although my legs are pretty decent even now and I definitely have runner's feet since I am still sporting a grand total of 4 toenails amongst my 10 piggie toes) so I don't have to face questions like this! I just said, "Perfect" and handed over my entry fee.
Cut to this morning. I had told my parents what time I needed to leave to get to C.'s house since we were carpooling to the race but either they misunderstood or I inherited my inability to read a clock from them as mom got in the shower 2 minutes before I needed to pull out and dad was still in bed. So D. gallantly offered to move their car (it was behind mine) so I could head out. I don't know if he did this because he loves me (it was early and I know *I* wouldn't love me that much) or if he knew how keyed up I was since I'd already had to hit the bathroom 3 times in a mere 20 minutes. Amazing that a small race caused me so much more intestinal distress and anxiety than the marathon did. I can only guess that I realized just how incredibly out of shape I am and as a result was worried I had been overly cocky in promising C. I'd help her get a PR. I mean, I had her goal riding on my running. A bit nerve-wracking, I tell you.
We got to the race and had to park way out in East Bumble but at least our brisk walk (in the chilly rain) to collect our chips and find the start served to warm us up a bit. Entertainingly, there was no definitive starting line so we all kind of mashed together close to a telephone pole that seemed close to the traffic cones that narrowed traffic for the race. C. gamely went along with my claustrophobia needs and we stayed to the outside of the pack both while standing at the start and once the strobe light went off sending us on our way. I had laid down my coaching rules before we took off and she mostly followed them (chief among them was that she could start her watch when we took off but that she wasn't allowed to look at it again until the end). My watch was set to beep at each mile so I could tell her how much farther without looking either. It was also set to let me know if we were faster than a 10 minute mile pace but I didn't tell her that!
C. and I have run together ever since I got down here and we ran the same marathon so I know what she's capable of and how she normally runs. I knew I was being a bit of a slave driver when she said she couldn't talk and run at the same time since she normally chats steadily throughout an entire run. But I also knew we needed to keep up a pretty quick pace to reach her goal. As we started off, we headed up a long, slow uphill that had looked rather difficult when we had driven down it before the race. Amazingly, it was far easier than I expected although it was the point that quickly made C. admit she couldn't talk at our pace. Once we leveled out, we turned the corner and headed down and around a park. At one point, we saw a bit of a hill in front of us and some woman running close to us half wailed, "Big hill." I restrained myself admirably. Not only did I not make a snarky comment (I try to only be bitchy to my family since they are stuck with me forever whether they want to be or not), but I didn't even turn to C. and roll my eyes. We did both mention it later after the run though because it was so ridiculous to get in a snort about. Not only was it not on a par with the nasty hills we ran in SF, but it wasn't even a patch on the hills we run every Saturday with the Team in Training folks around here. So we kept on trucking, even up the "big hill" that a toddler on a tricycle could have tackled without breaking a sweat (okay, I am also bitchy here on my blog as well as with my family), and made the final turn back onto the main drag. The lovely thing about this run was that the entire final bit was downhill--that same long, slow hill we'd already run up on the way out. Gotta love it when gravity does the work for you! As we headed into the finish line, I wasn't paying attention to the official time (especially since there were no mats at the start so no way of getting an exact time) btu I was hoping like crazy that we'd pulled off C.'s goal. We both hit our watches as we crossed the end mats and I told C. to look at her watch then. We ran in it 27:05 according to our watches (and the official chip time was 27:14 so we were about 10 seconds back from the start). Much faster than I thought we'd do and C. is still riding high, as she should be. She claims that she never would have gone that fast without me but I'm quite confident that she always had a sub-thirty 5K in her and just needed the tiniest mental push to get there.
I had expected the race to have lots of people dressed outrageously but was disappointed that people didn't really do it up. There was one guy dressed as cupid and a woman in heart print pajama bottoms but that was really it. Both of these folks beat us, needless to say. Wouldn't it be cool to be a fast enough runner to be able to dress goofy and appropriately themed and still smoke most of the other folks?
So official time was 27:14, which was almost 1 full minute slower than my PR but I was quite pleased with the run. I even ended up 15th in my age group. There are definite benefits to getting older. Even non-speed demon times rank pretty high. LOL! Someday I might feel like I can attempt my own PR again and this definitely inspires me to try and haul myself out on the roads more than just twice a week again. Funny how something like this highlights the things you enjoy--maybe not in the moment but certainly in the glow of accomplishment afterwards. And perhaps, just perhaps, I might be a decent coach. :-)