I gotta say, I was sad to see this day come. I love racing so much. I always say if I didn't run races, I wouldn't run at all. Training is boring, you need the payoff of a race.
Now I'm looking at weeks of half-marathon training before I toe my next starting line: March 3, 2012, not that I'm counting the days or anything. Ahem.
Anyway, before I get all nostalgic, let's recap the Downtown Jingle 5K, held in Providence, RI. I last ran in Providence in September and it was a huge, well-organized, fun race.
Per usual as of late, I was joined by my domestic running life partner, Sandy.
She is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and a person who overcame a chronic, debilitating illness to lose 50 lbs, get fit and get addicted to racing this year. You want an inspiration? Look her way, she's my hero.
We met at the registration area, which was in the Rhode Island Convention Center. This was great because it meant indoor toilets and heat. And a Merry Christmas to you, race organizers!
I love running with friends because they will take pictures of you. Goofy ones like at the top (in which I was trying to show off my bad-ass flexing muscle face, but it looks more like "I want to punch Sandy in the face" face - and I assure you I did not):
And hopeful before-the-race ones like this:
Amusingly, I was pretty much right on the money with my imagined starting position.
We got our bibs and then "warmed up" by toting our crap to and our gear from our cars. The weather was perfect: 50 and partly cloudy. A little chilly, but by Mile 2 that's a good thing.
Soon it was time to get lined up and take off. I really the like the Providence race series. It's very well organized, they have cool shirts and the courses are fun and interesting. Here I am looking toward the start line with the other 10-minute-milers.
Anyway, Santa let rip the starter's pistol and we were off. I had no idea what the course would be like, but I figured it would be pretty flat if earlier races in this area were any indication. After a half-mile I knew I had gone out fast, but I felt OK - good, even. At Mile 1, the gun clock was at 9-something, which means I put in a 10-minute mile. Wow.
I was also closely monitoring my lower back. I hurt it on Thanksgiving and had only run once (on a treadmill) since. That run went well, so I figured I was well enough to race. Before the race my back felt fine. And, so far during, it was good, too. It was a little stiffer than normal, but nothing that screamed "STOP AND WALK."
I was chugging along pretty well and by Mile 2, stiff back and all I was still running around a 10-minute mile. Maybe I could PR this. Maybe, just maybe, I could go sub-30.
Wow, what a way to end the racing year.
I knew if I wanted to finish in under 30 minutes, I had to hit the Mile 3 clock at 28-something. Anything 29 minutes and up would make it too close to call for the last tenth, even in a sprint. Soon it was Mile 3 and the clock read 29:15. Oh, well. If I sped it up, I could still PR.
So that's just what I did. I held a little back for the entire race to leave a little in the tank for the last tenth. I passed the Mile 3 clock and sped up as best I could, crossing at 30:42 and a 9:55 pace. 9:55!
What a great way to close my racing season. Sub-30 may have eluded me, but there's always next year.
Sandy found a video of the finish line. I come across on the right at 2:06 right neat the end of Wham's "Last Christmas," which my BFF Ann would love.
I have never seen myself run on a video. I always pictured myself as somewhat graceful when I run, not Kenyan by any means but, you know, smooth stride, efficient, compact.
Rather, I look like a '70s-era Dodge stoner van about to lose all four wheels. Ugh.