What a surprising race!
This weekend, I ran the Eagle Egg 5k. It was hosted by Summit Christian Academy, where my mother teaches grade school.
It’s been awhile since I’ve raced, and I was so sick this winter that my training was pretty much nonexistent for a couple of months. I only had a couple of weeks of training before this race, so I intentionally did not aim for a particular time. I didn’t trust my legs to run particularly fast right now. I went into it with three goals:
1. Run strong and have a good time. The easiest goal, by far.
2. Run the entire distance. I felt pretty confident about this goal. I’ve trained myself enough, mentally, that I can run pretty far even if I’m not fast.
3. Run negative splits – in other words, run the second half of the race faster than the first. I actually have been doing a pretty good job of running negative splits in my training lately, but I didn’t feel too confident about this goal. I’ve run this race before, and I’ve never even approached negative splits. The route seems to have uphills and downhills in all the wrong places.
This morning was a perfect day to run. It was overcast and cool, around 55 or 60 degrees. Perfect running weather. Rain was predicted for later in the morning, but we were pretty confident it would hold off until the race was over.
Pre-race selfie with my mom!
The beginning of the race was fairly unremarkable. I spent the first mile reminding myself to take it easy, don’t run too fast and burn myself out at the beginning. There were many spectators cheering us on, and it felt fantastic to let my feet lead the way.
At about 1.25 miles, I felt the first raindrop. For just a moment, I thought it would turn into a pleasant sprinkle.
Boy, was I wrong.
The skies opened in an absolute downpour. The rain was coming down in sheets. Within just a few minutes, I and the other runners were soaked.
I had started the race with my sunglasses on top of my head. It was overcast and I really didn’t need them. When it started to rain, I flipped the sunglasses down over my eyes, thinking they would provide some protection from the water running into my eyes. They did… but the rain was coming so fast that the sunglasses remained covered in a sheet of water, which blurred everything, limited my vision to just a couple of feet, and forced me to rely on my hearing somewhat to follow the course. I spent the remained of the race alternating between “no sunglasses, pretty good vision, but water running into my eyes” and “sunglasses, lousy vision, but no water in my eyes”.
It wasn’t what I expected, but I must admit, I really enjoyed running in the rain. In spite of all the challenges that come with it – soaking wet clothes, wet shoes, poor vision – it was really fun to challenge myself to push through it. My whole body was wet, but I felt awesome.
When I was around mile 2.5, I saw what might have been lightning. I couldn’t be sure. I was having such fun running in the rain, and (much to my surprise), I knew my pace was far stronger than I’d expected. There were trees on either side of the road, so I decided (perhaps stupidly) that if that was lightning, I was safe enough. The trees would get hit before I would.
At mile 2.75, there was a cross-street that had been blocked by a police car. As I ran past, a police officer rolled down the window and asked me if I wanted to wait in the police car until the bus came around. Apparently it HAD been lightning, and they were picking up any straggling racers who didn’t want to complete the race.
Did I mention my pace was far stronger than I’d expected? I yelled a “no thanks!” to the police officer and kept running.
I threw all I could into that last quarter-mile and blasted past the finish line. Man, that felt awesome! The rain was still pouring and the spectators had almost all retreated into the school. I could hear my mother’s giant cow-bell from where she stood under an awning. I didn’t know what my time was, but I was confident that it had been good.
As soon as I’d caught my breath, I headed into the school, where the post race activities were being held. At the doorway, a volunteer handed me a paper towel. I wasn’t sure how to respond, which was probably a good thing… I was so wet that a paper towel wasn’t going to help much!
Cameras were largely put away due to the rain. I had so much water dripping off myself that I didn’t try very hard to get a good post race photo.
Inside, my mother retrieved a couple towels from her classroom and we dried ourselves off as best we could. The hallways of the school had turned into slip-and-slides from all the water dripping off the runners and spectators. We walked through the post-race festivities – booths for insurance salesmen, local fitness clubs, personal trainers, and so on. Papa Murphy’s was giving away free samples of pizza (yum!). Lamar’s donuts had brought several dozen glazed donuts. I can’t even remember what other restaurants and free samples we tried!
My Nike+ app recorded my race time as 39:47, with great pacing:
Far better than I’d expected! I accomplished all 3 of my goals: a great race, running the whole distance, AND negative splits!
My official chip time was 39:41.9 – about four seconds faster than my best time on this course, and FAR better than I’d expected!