Woke up about 6:30 to the sound of rain pouring down. Geez, I hope its not gonna be like Paige’s Butterfly Run a few weeks ago. Normally I’d go and check the radar and see what the weather’s gonna be like, but I figure I’m going either way, so does it really make any difference?
I run myself through the shower and begin to dig out my rain running gear. Got distracted somewhere along the way its already 8:00. Oops. Was gonna try to be there by then to miss the lines. Oh well. The 10k doesn’t start until 10 anyway, so I’ve got plenty of time. I hop in my car, its very wet out, but the rain has stopped.
I make the scene about 8:25. Its actually kinda nice out. Grey skies, low 60s, and a nice breeze. The scene is buzzing. I’d forgetten that this race has the (boys and girls) fun runs. So there’s about a zillion kids around. I go grab my packet and head back to the car, for a little last minute rest before the race.
Flash forward to 9:10, the 5K race starts. After hearing the excitement, I wonder if I should have double dipped and done both races. But, I resign myself to my original logic. 1 really good race is a lot better than 2 half-assed attempts.
At about 9:20, I make my obligatory bathroom stop, and head over to the finish line. Its not very often I get to see the finishers, so I wanna see what the real racers look like. The first guy strolls in at 15:44. He didn’t look like he was working too hard and he had a pretty good lead on the next couple of guys. The first female finisher came in somewhere in the 30s overall.
A couple of finish line observations:
- Its really interesting to watch the contrast between people who are naturally fast and those (like me) who have to work it. The naturally fast people sale through the finish line with a big smile on their face. The ones working it usually have their teeth gritted or a look of utter disgust.
- I’ve never puked after (or during) a run myself, though I’ve come real close a few times on really hot days. I’m not sure if this 5k had a higher than normal average of pukers, but its more than I’ve seen in one place before.
- Youch! An older gentleman, who looks like he had done some racing before took a spill somewhere in the final stretch. I didn’t see him go down, but it looked like he took quite a tumble. Head to toe in mud, and some blood on knees and forehead. He was a trooper though, he still made it through the finish gate with the help of medical staff. Mad props!
His accident kinda freaked me out. That’s the kinda thing I’m (overly) paranoid about. One good incident like that and you can be laid up for a while. The Swamp Rat finish line is on perhaps the worst section of pavement in the parking lot of the park. Its pretty busted up and has some giant ponds. I wonder if they keep the route this way just to be cute (after all, this is the Swamp Rat race), as there’s a far more suitable spot for the finish line about 20 feet from where they put it.
Ok, enough spectating, its time to get ready. So I tighten up my laces and go through my stretching routine. Feeling pretty good today. Nothing sore from the training during the week. Time to make it over to the starting area. Oops, I’m already there. I forgot that in this race, you don’t go through the gate. An announcer says 6 minutes to race time. Perfect timing, the sun starts burning up the clouds.
A few last minute instructions to keep right, “Runners Ready!”, and blast of an air horn. Man, its fast start. Oh geez, its the start hill from hell. Everybody squeezes together begins the climb. Still haven’t mastered firing out of the gate. About half way up the climb, I felt like I was about ready to hang it up.
But, soon enough, the hill crests and there’s a nice downhill. There’s quite a stiff headwind. That’ll make the out part kinda sucky, but will help nicely on the way back. There’s the first mile marker; I click the split button on my watch. Whoa, 7:03! I’ll probably pay for that later. Hmm, its at this point that I realize I’m not carrying my own water. Oh, well, I just get some on the course, I guess.
I’ve ridden my bike on this part a couple of times, but it always seems to be farther than it seems when you’re running. Thankfully, its just a little rolling with some tiny hills here and there. When I rolled into the parks parking lot earlier, I remember seeing some smoke and smelling what I thought was a campfire (a reasonable assumption, as this park has a camping section). But, it wasn’t a campfire, on the route was the remains of a 2 car garage, still smoldering. Man, that probably sucked.
I can never remember how many turns there are before the 5k mark. It always feels like its just around the next bend, but its not. Eventually, the turnaround is in sight. I still hate turn arounds, but this one wasn’t so bad. I grabbed a quick drink; well, I tried anyway. Most of the liquid when right up the nose. I should practice drinking while running.
A few people go saling past. Another bunch runs with me for a while, than starts to pull ahead. They’re going just a little faster than I’m comfortable with, so I only try halfheartedly to keep up. Its starting to feel kinda hot with most of the clouds gone. The headwind I was bitching about was helping much in speeding me up or keeping me cool at this point. I start to fall back a few times, then get a little wind again and close up the gap to my bunch.
After a while, we’re at the base of the climb back to the final stretch. I remember the first time I did the Swamp Rat, this was the pivotal point. I really saved myself for this hill and it made the difference. This time through, I kept the hill in the back of my mind and told myself that it was no big deal. This strategy seemed to work up until about the 3/4 point in the climb. Then, I almost felt like I was running on E.
Come on, Crowther, this ain’t no hill. I think, hey… I’m inside the last mile and its all down hill after this last climb. So, I lengthen my stride a bit and give it some gas. I catch one of that bunch that ran with for a while right before the turn back into the park. Ah a bit of level, then downhill. I can some voices catching up behind me, so I try to speed things up. Hmm, better not. Having a little trouble catching my breath. Better coast for a bit, so I can gun the 100 yard flat to the finish line.
A couple people do pass me, but I was right on their heels at the end. I sailed through the gate and tried to keep a smile on my face. I clicked the stop button on my watch without even looking at the time. Someone clipped off my timer chip. It was too hot in the chute for me to hang around, so exited and got a bagel and some smurf juice.
I sat on a picnic bench for a bit to recover. I was tearing into the bagel and looked down at my watch. Nah, that can’t be right… 47:03? There’s no way I was that fast with the hills. After enjoying the breeze for a little while longer, I got up and wander over to the results tables. Wow, 47:03, was the official time. That’s a new 10K personal best. Sweet. A quick look on the race website later in the day says that I was 64/166 overall and 3/12 in my age group.
I watched a few more runners come in and then started back to my car. On that walk I noticed that I had a little nipple bleeding, but only the right side. Nice, I hope someone got that in action shot.