Friday was a really long day. I was anxious to get a'runnin' but had to go through a full workday and then kill seven hours before I could start huppin' up the road. Heidi couldn't stay awake and hit the bed at 9:30. I started stretching at 10:00. I watched some TV and eased my way through throwing a leg this way and leaning that way. I drank some warm water. I had eaten a heavy lunch at 3 p.m. and had a six-inch sub at 8 p.m., and that was all I was eating. I seem to run better when I'm hungry.
The weather was not as bad as the early forecasts had stated. It was in the high 40s and drizzly. I wore a sweatshirt -- oh hey, I took a picture:
So, I had my sweatshirt, my Chris Benoit shirt, my luchadore mask, my toy belt, my leather gloves, and the shorts and shoes. Travis, my Brevard buddy, called me at 10:30 to confirm when we were gonna meet up at the race location. After an hour, I packed up some towels, water, camera, extra masks for Travis to choose from, and out the door I went.
The parking lot of the Child Development Center was packed already with cars. Travis had just picked up his registration bag (complete with disappointing race t-shirt and race number). I picked up my bag, and I let him pick out a mask to run in. He chose the La Parka.
I assume the race number was based on order of registration. He was 91. I was number nine. I was told the number paper included a "rip strip" which the officials would take after the race so they could log our official times. I saw about 50 people around the center door, staying in and out of the rain, waiting to start the race. Some had costumes, like this lady in an inflatable airplane:
I chatted with some Travis buddies, all of whom had run before. Of them, I was the lone newbie. Included in them was a triathlete. An older gent.
We moved to the race starting area at 5 til midnight. The organizers yelled out instructions on how to handle the car traffic, which chute to run in at the end of the race, and general thanks for showing up in the rain. I think we had about 60 people at the race start, and we were milling around and chatting. I was near the back of the pack. Suddenly, I heard "GO" and the front of the pack zoomed away.
Travis and I started our boot-camp jog pace. To my relief, I discovered we had the same run rhythm, and staying with him wasn't going to be a problem. I didn't know if he'd be slower or faster than me. The front runners were GONE; they hauled ass down the road. It was very thin around us. Maybe 10 people within 20 yards of us. We hupped down the road for about half a mile before we met up with the older triathlete. He was decked out. Had his super-sheer jacket and a fancy wrist computer for heartbeat and pace stats. He slowed down to match us, sidled next to Travis, and I deferred to them and ran a bit behind. I felt OK with their pace.
My ankles started to hurt first which was unusual. Had to be the downhill angle. I also knew I was going slightly faster than I would prefer. Travis and his friend were starting to quicken, and I kept up with them. We turned onto another road (marked thankfully by a cop blocking car traffic), and we started a slow uphill grade. Cars rolled past us in both directions to our left. Folks stood by the road to watch us. We chatted with other runners who admitted they hadn't done this course before. My quads started to complain, but it was manageable. What surprised me most was I was breathing heavy. I didn't have trouble breathing unless the cramp popped up or I was on the soulkiller hill. I chalked this up to running in a full mask and at a slightly faster pace than I would prefer. But I felt like I was OK with half the distance to go. I made it this far, I thought. The belt acted like a girdle and kept my back straight. But it was heavy and shifted as the clothes settled on me.
We turned onto another road, stopping for a driver who ignored the race signal-folk and drove right through the course. A short turn right again, and we were hitting a steep grade. Travis asked over his shoulder how I was doing. I gave him my quick diagnosis, and he said I was doing great for a first race. This made me feel a little better, and I decided I was gonna tough this out. The grade leveled out, and we turned left to a steep downhill. I had trouble evening out my breath while bounding a little to slow the descent. I was breathing harder than I should have. We had another short uphill, and then a flat stretch before another turn. The rain came down her quickly and then vanished. But I was very wet, and the breath was not there for me. I felt stifled. I took off the gloves and pulled up my sweatshirt sleeves a bit.
We turned left, thanking the cop stopping traffic. We were now back on the main road where we started. But we were right at the bottom of the Jailhouse Hill, and I was already in lung trouble, and my thighs were hardening. I slowed my pace and let Travis and the guy go ahead. I didn't have to keep their pace to finish. Halfway up the hill, I heard cheering and realized we were getting support by people who had already finished and doubled back to watch. I was in some pain here and was split on how to feel about this. It was a nice gesture, but it was a bit condescending. Again, I was hurting here and getting cranky. My legs were locking up, and my breath was gone. I was tempted to take off the mask. I had to switch to power walking to continue moving and alternated jogging with this. Travis and the other guy were gone. I got to the top of the hill, felt my legs loosen up a bit as the grade flattened and went back to the run. It hurt. My head was light and wobbly, and I was squinting to see the finish line. I knew I didn't have long to go so I just threw my legs out in front of me and pumped my arms. My form was shot.
I heard "slow down and move right" and realized I had made it to my chute. I saw a short line in front of me and stopped to be processed. Someone grabbed my ripstrip and took it. Someone else asked my age (and I gave them the wrong one initially; my brains were gone) and told me to walk out from under the tent and back toward the kids center. I knew nobody, and I was dead beat tired. I moseyed toward the center. Some old guy behind me made a comment about the wrestling mask, and soon I was caught by a babbling geezer telling me about living under Ventura's administration in Minnesota. I broke off and walked away.
The center had a table of water bottles and bananas, and I realized I was starving. I gobbled a banana and walked back to the car for my camera. I snapped the finish tent:
and then walked across the street and saw (for the first time) the race clock. When I took this pick, it must have been five minutes after I finished:
I felt pretty good about my time. I found Travis, and we exchanged notes and moved back to the center. I learned some folks had taken a wrong turn and added a mile to their run. As we stood and chatted with other folks, the race organizers handed out awards. To my shock, I was announced as third place for my age division (30-34). Travis was second. We got little ceramic knick-knacks. All the official run times are to be announced later on this week online. The awards wear all given out (as Travis and another pal of his and I traded Chuck Norris jokes). The triathlete said we had averaged a 6.2 mph pace (much faster than my normal 5.5) and had topped out at a stunning 9 mph pace. Someone handed out flyers for an upcoming 5k to launch the town Christmas festivities. But it's a morning race, and I run better at night. It was now 1:20, and we were beat. We went home.
I chatted with a groggy Heidi and showered. As I took off the clothes, I noticed how bulky the clothes felt, and I realized only then that this stuff was heavy. I got on the scale, noted the weight, took off the shirts, and weighed myself again. Yep, the wet shirts added 5 pounds. I had saddled myself with bad running clothes, and that's why i was out of fuel.
But I did it.