Yes, I’ve been at it again. Two weekends in a row even!
And, okay, I admit it! I was running for time. I really wanted to set a good finish time with this run. It was the Overrun 5K, with proceeds benefiting ovarian cancer research at some placed called the University of Kansas Medical Center. (Seems like I have some connection there.)
It was 38 degrees when I arrived at the site, a sports complex only about three miles from my house. I arrived as the various tents were being set up, and I stayed in the Prolechariot for a while to stay comparatively warm. Just as the sun was peaking over the horizon, a bank of clouds rolled in to cover it. I knew from experience that once I was running, I wouldn’t feel the cold, but the waiting to run was different.
The course was to take us out of that park and onto suburban roads for most of the 3.1 mile loop. Other cars were arriving, and runners, including a lot of youngsters, began collecting by the tents. With only about a half hour before start time, I climbed out of my truck and joined the huddled masses.
There were several food tents, some offering fresh fruit. Others had bagels and breads. One had cupcakes. And one was giving out what looked like ice cream. Since it was only 38 degrees, I avoided that. I also avoided the free donuts. But I did feel that I could carb up with a quarter of a bagel, and so I did. And then, as I was waiting around, I had another quarter of a bagel. And then another. And finally, a fourth. I hoped I wouldn’t regret that when I was running.
For some reason, the organizers had the walkers start first. Supposedly the walkers went a different route, but even from the start, I was going around walkers. I guess I’ve grown nimble enuf that I can get around such obstacles without too much complaint, and they are out there, doing their part. Anyway, we runners were started a bit farther back than the walkers, and we were all herded to the starting line to wait for the go signal. I was wearing my new running watch, and I needed to turn it on to fetch the satellite signal so it could time my run. But the starting horn went off before I had turned on the watch. Fortunately, I was at the back of the pack, and I had enuf time to acquire a satellite (and the little sensor on my shoe) before I crossed the starting line.
And so I was off.
I tried to stay mindful of my usual mistake: starting out too fast because the pack was moving so fast. But I also wanted to push myself on this run and have a fast overall experience. It turned out that many of the “runners” were actually going to walk the 5K route, so at the start, I was going faster than most of the pack anyway. The organizers talked about how straight and flat the course was, but the first mile was a long uphill push. Then came a short level stretch followed by another long uphill push to mile 2. Still, I tried to keep my pace up. I was breathing hard, and I could feel the strain, but I felt strong, and I felt I could sustain it for three miles. Nonetheless, there must be something about me that tells walkers that as soon as I pass them, they need to start running again. There were many runners who would walk for short stretches, and it seemed that when I passed them, they used that as their signal to start running again. This would happen several times during the run. Some I never saw again as they took off, but there were several runners that eventually seemed to give up on staying ahead of me and let me leave them behind permanently. (I take that as only a gauge of my progress as a runner and not as a matter of pride or boast.)
After mile 2, the run was literally downhill the rest of the way. I had been pushing myself the entire time, but I tried to ramp up even more for the last mile. (It was about this time that those four quarters of a bagel reminded me of their presence in my stomach. Garlicky belches in the middle of a run are really not all that pleasant, believe it or not.) My running watch gives me my average pace (minutes per mile), and I glanced at it once or twice as I ran. The number looked pretty good one time and pretty disappointing the other. I’m really more interested in overall average pace rather than moment-to-moment pace, so I don’t use the watch for in-progress updates other than to know the distance I have gone.
Anyway, I turned the corner off of the suburban street and into the sports complex. The finish line was perhaps a half mile ahead. I could see the blue arch I was headed toward. Somehow, somewhere I found the energy to push up my pace even further. I won’t say I sprinted that last half mile, but I was running hard, and I passed a few more people in that last stretch on my way to the finish.
The area just past the finish line was crowded with well wishers (this was one of those situations that did not need more cowbell), teammates waiting for the rest of their crew to come in, volunteers handing out water, and a few souls there to clip the timing chips off of the shoes of the runners. Anyway, I came roaring in, and all of these people were pretty much in my way. I managed not to knock anyone down, but it seems like there must be a better way.
By this time I was certainly no longer cold. The sun was making flirting appearances between the clouds, and I suppose the temperature was warmer, but I couldn’t have told you one way or the other. After catching my breath, I wandered over to the tents. I figured I earned a bagel this time, and I wanted to try the fruit punch flavored Gatorade (not bad, but I’ll stick with lemon lime). Plus I had what I thought were reasonable hopes that I would not finish last in my age group, so I wanted to wait until they posted the times. Unfortunately, the postings weren’t coming fast enuf. Two donuts and two cupcakes later, I figured it was probably wiser for me to leave. The times would be posted online later in the day.
So how did I do? Best time ever, that’s all! I shaved two minutes off of my 5K run the Sunday before, and that had been my best time ever. My average pace was well under my goal to achieve in 2013. It was a good run for me.
I ran this time without the support of my crew. My team was in Kentucky at that film festival she goes to each year, so I had to manage myself.
I was going to say something humble about how my mere 5K run is barely anything compared to the run my daughter and excellent son-in-law ran on the same day. But it turns out that run was cancelled. I understand that their running club organized themselves to do some relief volunteer work instead.