About a week later, my two BFFs emailed me:
We're doing the Cochane race on Sept. 11. You in?
Normally, I would never race two days in a row. However:
How could I say no?
I couldn't, which is why I found myself toeing a starting line less than 24 hours after I finished my last 5K, which I PRd, thankyouverymuch.
Now, I am crazy paranoid about getting injured because I would not be able to run or exercise effectively, thereby affecting my ability to lose/maintain my weight.
Therefore, I made a deal with myself for this race: If you don't feel good, walk. For God's sake, walk. There is nothing wrong with walking and, in fact, it's much wiser than running when you get right down to it.
As I stood at the starting line, about 50 yards away from a two-story American flag, I thought, I feel OK. I'll start off running and if I start to feel bad or sore in any way, I will walk.
In fact, I was taking it so easy I decided to run with my camera in my hand and snap some pictures of the cool scenery, including the Boston skyline, Wollaston Beach and more.
Air horn, and we're off.
I take off at a gentle pace, deciding I won't look at my watch - even once - today because that's how little I care about my performance. I will run and have fun.
As I ran under the giant American flag, I looked up in the sky. It was crystal clear blue, very similar to how it looked on Sept. 11, 2001. As I ran, I saw jet after jet off in the distance, on their normal approach patterns over Quincy to Boston's Logan Airport. Too disconcerting given the day, I stop looking in the sky.
The first song on my new race playlist, Fatboy Slim's "Ya Mama", is pulsing in my headphones when I hear rhythmic chanting. I glance over my shoulder and see a platoon of police cadets running in formation coming up behind, "Left-left-left-RIGHT-lefting" their way along.
I found myself running in time with their call-and-responses from their DI, so I let them pass and stay behind them, enjoying their effort. Could I run and sing? I cannot, so I really liked listening to them. I enjoyed it so much I turned off my Nano and just listened to them chant-singing their way through the entire race. I hereby extended an invitation to them to run with me in every race. It was pretty damn fun.
Three things made me very happy in this race:
1. It was not as hot as the previous day.
2. There were 4 water stops over the 3 miles. Oh, how I could have used those yesterday.
3. Despite the fact I raced the previous day, I felt really, really good. Better than the day before, in fact.
As I'm running, I'm assessing my legs. I am feeling good, my stride and pace are easy. I'm not dying of thirst nor super hot. Do not look at your watch, I warn myself. You are not PRing today, don't even think about it.
I'm not sure whether it was proper hydration, weather or the fact I like running behind the cadets, but the race went really fast. Soon we were at the 3-mile mark and heading for the finish. I did not sprint to the last tenth as I would have had to pass the cadet corps to do so and that seemed like a douchey move, especially on 9/11.
So I kept it slow and let the cadets finish in front as the crowds lining the chute applauded and hollered for them. I finish a respectful distance behind, not desiring to look like a total wannabe.
I didn't glance at my watch at all during the race and it wasn't until after a post-race cheeseburger and bowl of pasta (yum and yum) that I checked the results print out:
36:49. Not bad for a run that was truly fun.