TWO RACES IN ONE WEEK.
Today was unplanned, at least until yesterday afternoon. Today was supposed to be the initial group training run for the 25k in May. Today was likely to be the last snow-free day until who knows when.
Don e-mailed me yesterday afternoon and asked if I wanted to do a Running Club event--5k or 10k. I responded, 5k of course. So I got sucked into doing this, and I'm glad I did. The Running Club distances are usually 2, 3, or 6 miles, so being an actual 5k would give me a chance to see what kind of time I could do. The last event, back in December, was 3 miles, my first 3 mile distance since the accident, and I did 32:41, so I was happy with that. I figured, then, that I should be able to do a 5k in 35 min. or better. That has been my goal since I started running again in November. And 35 min. is a far cry from my old average, but you've got to start someplace I figured.
The weather has been in the upper 40s and low 50s all week, so naturally today's forecast would call for colder temps and the possibility of a rain/snow mixture. It was still dry when it finally got light out, so I figured we were going to miss that mess. No sooner had I thought that when it started raining. Fortunately, it was a brief shower, and by the time I left for the race it had stopped. I never did find out the temperature, but it felt okay. I figured it was over the freezing temperature, since it had rained and not snowed.
This event was held at one of the suburban high schools, right next to the cemetery where my mom is buried, so I know the area well. It is hilly, that's about all you can say about it. I knew what I was getting into.
There were probably 50-60 people signed up, including the race director's cross country team. There were 4 women in my age group, including the Stripper, who was there with her daughter. Also the Cheater, a woman in my age group who 3 times in one year switched chips with her husband, taking age group awards away from others who had beat her, until I finally called her on it. She quickly sidestepped me when she saw me show up. I knew of the 4 women in my age group, I would still be last. But that was okay. My main goal for the day was to do the distance and hopefully not walk.
Runners set, go! and we were off, with me bringing up the rear. I did hear someone behind me, but I never looked back, figuring it must be one of the men doing the 10k. There were 4 women ahead of me, and slowly but surely they were pulling away. The first part of the route was through the school campus, then out to the road. The race director had warned people about remembering it isn't a closed course, and to watch for cars, since you always lose against a car, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I know.
Once on the road, it was immediately downhill, but I could see the uphill looming ahead, and people were pulling farther and farther away from me. I just plugged along, still hearing footsteps behind me. My only regret was I still wasn't fast enough to catch the Cheater. About halfway up the first hill, a couple of women were walking. Man, this was a long hill. I hoped I could catch them, but no luck, at least not right away. One of the women took off running again before the top and the other started running just as I came up behind her. It was one of those steep, long grades where you feel like you are going to bust a gut, get sick, or have a heart attack. But I kept going, and the woman who had started running just as I caught her slowed enough so I passed her once and for all.
Up ahead were two guys doing the 10k, since all men had to do the 10k. Soon, I passed one, then the other. We were on a pretty much flat road, but the wind was blowing in our faces, so it was no reprieve. Once we turned off this road, it was a long downhill, and here one of the guys passed me. I continued on though, wishing it would be over soon. I was feeling tired here and I knew I still had at least a mile to go. I really need to work on this, to overcome that fatigue factor I have after 2 or so miles. But after we got down the hill and things leveled off and were actually heading uphill again, I passed the guy again. The last quarter mile or so was all uphill, so I just paced myself, hoping he didn't pass me again. Finally, to the top of the hill, and down the drive to the end. Yipee. And I wasn't last. Time: 35:21.
All in all, I did what I intended to do. Going over my goal time by 21 seconds on such a hilly course was okay. I made it the whole way, I could add to my weekly mileage, I felt like I had put in a solid effort, but there's no way you could pay me to do that loop again!