I miss races. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the excitement and crowds of the start, the spreading out of the first mile until you start to identify your race “peers,” the spectators whether a scattered few or walls of support, the alternation of exhaustion and adrenaline at the finish. I miss gasping in relief when I come to a stop, cooling down and cheering on the people who finish after, chatting with new acquaintances, milling around where the results are posted. I really really miss the food, which is one of my main criteria for choosing races.
I “ran” the Girls on the Run virtual 5K in June, but it was a race I’d never done in person and the terms were pretty loosey-goosey so I didn’t really treat it like a race, just part of my Sunday long run (love the medal, though!) This one I took seriously – I ran it on the course as I remembered it (took a slightly alternate route, it turns out), and tried to pace myself exactly as I would for a real race, with 50-60% effort for the first few miles ramping up to all-out at the finish. 32:08, about right – I am definitely slowing a bit as I age. Last year I finished in 31:19. Very little to report since I was solo… the weather was overcast and not too hot, so that was nice, and the streets were empty because it was early. A distanced yoga class was taking place on the lawn in Childs Park, which looked like fun, and I saw a few other runners. I was proud of myself for staying mostly as focused as I would during a real race, so it was a decent experience – and of course it supports a good cause – but like many other pandemic-year substitutes, it’s a pale imitation of the real thing. Alas, I forgot they had suggested taking a selfie at the finish which they’d include in a livestream on 8/23 – oh well. I will very much enjoy the frozen yogurt when the coupon comes – I hope it will be GoBerry as usual!
edited to add: A big difference I forgot to mention with running now, of course, is the mask… although I often pull it down if there’s nobody around, I ran this whole race fully masked up to see how it went. It would have been fine except for how damp it gets (this is a two-layer handmade cotton mask – I tried running in a neoprene one and it was unbearable, but haven’t tried a standard medical mask). By the end the mask was actually wet and sticking to my face as I panted during the sprint. If I ever had to be masked for a long race, like a marathon or half-marathon, I’d bring several to swap out.
Since I started running “seriously” in my 30s (not really compared to many people, but in the sense that I do it regularly, keep track, and try to improve), my cornerstone/minimum is a five mile run on the weekend, usually Sunday morning. That ties into my personal base level of fitness, which is being able to roll out of bed and do a 5K any time. I’ve done much more distance when training for longer runs, but because I’m so slow 5 miles takes me an hour and that’s a good time commitment.
When we lived in Pennsylvania, I had just one option for a 5 mile loop, but it was very nice (described at the bottom of my “about me” post). Here in Northampton I have lots of choices, but I settled on my regular loop fairly quickly and I’m very happy with it. It’s a full 5 miles or a little more, and while it doesn’t have woods and cattle, I get those on my bike to work. What it has that Friendsville lacked is lots of gardens, beautiful architecture, and a bridge over the Mill River at the half-way mark where I always stop for a minute to look at the water. This morning I saw a trout! There are a few small hills but not really enough to feel prepared for the Bridge of Flowers 10K, which I’m running next Saturday. At least the weather will be better than last year, which was horribly hot and humid.
I didn’t write a proper race report for 2016, but summarized it in an email:
SO hot and sticky, and the killer hill was as bad as everyone said. It just kept going around all these curves so you would think you must be near the top and then after a switchback it would get even steeper–I ended up walking a few hundred yards of it. Aside from that, it was full of fun stuff–lots of music, including a vuvuzela!, people dressed up, and best of all a very large *goat* spectator whose human was trying to get it back in its pen by bleating. The goat was much more interested in hanging out on the road and looking at the runners! Plus all-veggie sausages and free beer, and Bill Rodgers handing out medals.
My net time last August was 1:16:34. With cooler weather predicted and having lost a few pounds (not trying to specifically, but I’ve been doing the “eating window” thing where I only have black coffee between about 9pm and noon–it’s working very well for me), I’m curious if I can do any better or if age will start slowing me significantly year over year. I’m definitely slower than I was in my late 30s/early 40s. One of the really nice things about this race is you can run it for free once you turn 70. I plan to keep going!