If you haven't read the last post, go do that now. Ok, so I got a call from my runner friends and as predicted, they will not be able to attend. A little while later I gave the race director a call and found out that late registrants were welcome and the race was in fact rain or shine. So this was really going to be it. Nervous energy was now copious. We had to run some errands so it was a little after 7:00 before I could run. Since it was so late I was stuck on the treadmill. I decided to scale back the walk to .25 mile cause I still hadn't gotten anything ready for the race yet. I walked that in 5:00 and then ran a mile in 15:04, slow even for me. I wasn't trying to go slow, it's just that I run slower on the mill, odd I know. Afterwards I felt better though. It served to burn off a little of that anticipation shake I was developing.
Saturday - Race Day!
I slept well. That run last night really calmed me down. Unfortunately I am not a naturally organized individual. That means I woke up at 6:45 with the intention of leaving in an hour, having to get two children ready to go and not yet having packed myself. It all went well though. I through my gloves, headband, watch, and a spare change of clothes in a bag and I was packed. Got the kids ready and ended up leaving for the race only 10 minutes later than plan.
I knew the race was going to be small, but showing up 5 minutes after registration was supposed to open, I did not expect to be the only people there. So my wife and I waited in the car and debated whether we were in the right place. A minute or so later two car fulls of cross country runners (they had CC stickers on there cars) showed up and started getting ready. I got out of the car to ask them where the registration desk was and all of sudden I could see down the large hill where we were parked. The barricades and decorations told me the race was going to be at the adjacent building at the bottom of the hill. I asked to make sure and they said it was down there. The parking lot of the building the race was at was all blocked off so we the racers had to park next door, up this hill. I wasted no time in getting down to register with the hopes that I would be early enough to get a shirt. I registered without a problem. The space on the entry for t-shirt only went up to XL. Not really my size, but that's ok soon enough I'll be able to fit. So the lady takes my form and money. Then she says, "Oh it looks like we ran out of XL, Large is all we have, do you still want one?" I said sure, knowing full well that I will have to run for another year before I have even a chance at wearing this. I checked out where the start would be and looked at a course map, just a simple out and back. Back up the hill to the car with a half hour before race time, nerves ablaze. Checked out the shirt, it's pretty cool. Race name on the front graphic on the back definitely something I would wear, if it ever fits. We sat in the car and tried to distract me for the next fifteen minutes. Finally it was 9:15, race start was 9:30, I figured I should do a little warm up. So I got my watch, gloves and headband on and my pants off. Boy I just realized it's a little cold this morning, like under 50 F. No matter, I'll warm up once I'm running. So I ran along the parking lot driveway to the road and around a corner to where the start was, ie the long way, maybe 1/4 mile. This is when I notice how slow I really am. Other folks running longer warm ups are a lot faster than me. They pass me giving off a breeze, like I could draft behind them or something. No matter, I get to the spot and the wife is there camera in hand under an umbrella. Oh yeah did I mention it was raining, great day for a first race. The next ten minutes took forever. People kept showing up, but I could tell that unless a bus pulled up in a second this was going to be a very small field of entrants. It was mostly young people with their parents. I saw a short bald man come line up and felt better about not looking like I belonged. I figured he might be someone I could run with. A couple people had heeded the call of the race director and actually dressed in costume (the race was the Bertha Vos Costume Classic II). Batman, Minnie Mouse and a clown were the most obvious, but a couple people also wore wigs. Since there was a child's mile race about an hour after this one a lot of people had their kids there also dressed up. (My oldest is far too young for that, so when we saw what the weather was like we sent her to grandmas.) Finally the race was going to begin. I lined up in the back. I told my wife to comeback to the finish line after 45 minutes and I should be close. The air horn went off, and we were racing. I couldn't find bald man, oh well maybe I'll catch up to him. There were no bib numbers and they weren't keeping track of your time unless you finished in the top few. They had a big clock at the starting line so I hit my watch when I passed it and made a mental note that I'd have to remember to stop it when I passed the clock again, my timing would be my business. The course was dedicated to the northbound lane of the road. There were cones setup in the center to separate us from traffic which was shared both ways in the southbound lane. The pack ahead of me disappeared pretty quickly, but that was ok as I planned on being last. I ended up going back and forth with a couple groups. The first was a dad with 3 kids. One kid wanted to run fast and the two others wanted to go slower. The dad kept going between. He'd tell the two behind me, "Ok lets run up to that guy (me)." Then I'd hear them catch up to me then they would start walking and he'd keep running up to the one ahead of me. Then he'd fall back to check on the other two and repeat the process. Oddly enough the one out front and one of the kids behind ended up stopping at the 1/2 mile mark where their mom was cheering them on. The Dad and daughter left racing ended up passing me and finished a good ten minutes ahead. The second group was Minnie Mouse and her daughter. They were run/walking or is it run/dragging if you walk faster than your kid and hold hands? Anyway they stayed mostly ahead of me till the halfway point. They stopped to talk to the woman dressed as a witch who was turning people around and that's when I pounced. I stayed ahead of them for the rest of the race, but only because the kid was gassed, definitely a year to early for her on this event. I did end up seeing bald guy, it was about 13 minutes in or so, he was all alone heading back, and he was flying. I told him good pace, but I think he was going too fast to hear me. My wife said he finished in 19:??, so much for judging that book by it's cover. I congratulated the top 5 or 6 racers as they passed me. I got a few responses and a few people encouraged me while I was running. There weren't any official water stops, but a lady had set out a folding chair at the side of the road with cups of water on it, I thought that was nice. There were 3 volunteers and one cop along the course making sure people didn't turn down side roads and shouting encouragements. The guy at the 2 mile mark had his car stereo blasting really loud which gave me a little boost. The course was on a very windy road. So after every curve I kept expecting to see the finish. There was a guy who walked out of driveway to check his mail and he yelled to me that I was doing well and he had just started running 4 weeks ago. I yelled back I was 3 months in, that felt good. Then all of sudden I was there. I could see the clock it looked like 42:?? I tried to run faster but it was up a slight incline and I was already going as fast as I could. I finished in 44:05, a default PR, and a minute faster than I expected. I also completed my biggest goal for this whole thing in running the whole way, which seems like a forgone conclusion but deserves celebration. I was indeed the last person to finish running, the ten or so people that finished after me were all walkers. Immediately after my wife had a water and an apple waiting for me. Even though I was soaked the water was what I wanted most. I tried to sip it but it was gone quick and she went off to get me another. I did some stretches and then drank some more water and we were out of there. I noticed as I was walking back to the car that my nipples really hurt. I figured it was from being out in the cold for an hour. As the day wore on though I learned that I was a victim of nipple chafing. I wore my long sleeve tech shirt, but I didn't wear my compression shirt underneath which is what I had done when I ran in the rain previously. So I learned an important lesson, rain = compression shirt. I was in pain all weekend, but it was a small price to pay. On our way home we stopped at a couple stores and that was good to get out to the car and walk around a bit. I'm glad that I found the race, but I have no interest in running it next year. The people were nice, but I think what I'm looking for is something more race like or official. Something that feels more like an event.