Sunday, September 13, 2009

Galveston 5k update

Ok, so I am resigned to the fact that I will NEVER be an elite runner due to the fact that I have a job. However, an interesting thing happened over the last 2 or 3 weeks.

I found myself wanting to run.
I dare say I found myself enjoying the runs that I've been going on. Gobbling up the scheduled miles, then going at it for another few, just for good measure.

How sick is that?

I even found myself referring to myself as... [gasp]... a runner. Although, admittedly, I still refer to others as "real runners".

Anyway, this brings us to the Galveston Rebirth 5k.
I had only 1 goal for this run: break 30 minutes.

We packed up the family and headed to the island for the run with the weather reporters telling us that the weather is going to suck all weekend long. The little 'un was looking forward to the beach and had told us so all morning and evening, and for the entire drive to the island. We were hoping that the weather would allow us to actually appease him.

I then occurred to me that I had never run in the rain. Clouds were a good excuse for me to skip a run, but I was growing an increasing resolve to run this thing rain or shine. I checked the map to confirm the morning logistics, realized it was only 3.5 miles to the starting line from the hotel, and began seriously considering running to the run. Reason took over in the morning and I decided to sleep an extra 45 minutes.

I get to the registration booth early--very early--despite making the mistake of following another runner almost all the way to her car because I thought she was going to the registration booth.


I get my number, my goodie bag, and yes Jon and Holden, my race chip. Then I had about an hour and a half to wait for the race to begin, which I thought was starting in 30 minutes. I got the logistics wrong.

Then it started raining. And kept raining. And kept raining. Until about 5 minutes before the gun, it rained. I usually get soaked during a run, but in this case I was soaked before the run. I was also soaked during the run. I stayed soaked for about an hour after the run and didn't fully dry off for maybe another hour or so.

Here's something I learned about in Galveston: swamp crotch. Not pleasant. Not pleasant at all.

Ok, so on to the run.
There were about 750 who registered, and only 266 picked up their chips. After the interminable waiting was finished, we took off in a thick crowd that quickly thinned out and I was able to move forward fairly quickly. I fell into a pace behind 4 runners when one of them had to stop and tie his shoe. They slowed down, he caught up, and I dropped into a good pace behind them. It was at this point when I remember getting yelled at during the one season I ran for the cross country team after I stopped DURING A RACE to tie my shoe and I thought to myself "I won't make that mistake again". Meanwhile I seem to be managing to hit every puddle of water along the way and sure enough, my right shoe come untied. I tried to ignore it, but had to stop and tie it since my shoe was beginning to slide around. I tie the shoe--double knotted, thank you--and catch up to my pacers who have collected 2 more runners.

It is about this time--close to the 1/2 way point, I think--in the run where I begin to feel a bit of agony. I think I'm running out of steam and realize I've been running WAY too fast, but then there's a group of people ahead of me cheering like a bunch of nutters. Interesting how a group of cheering "fans" will put an extra pep in your step. I then drop my pacers and begin to reel in some of the folks in front of me. This is also the point in the race where I realize it's not the 1/2 way point, but it's the 2 mile marker (they didn't have actual mile markers, but refreshment tables were reportedly near the first and second mile marks, consequently, there're no splits). I'm very happy right now because I looked at my watch and I've been running for less than 20 minutes. This might turn out to be a good day.

We turn on to 25th Street which is the final straight of the run, and I pass this dude who was catching a breather. 45 seconds later dude passes me like I'm standing still. I decide at that point to pass his ass.

A minute later, 2 ladies slowly pass me in front of a guy cheering us on who says "you're not going to let them pass you, are you?" I am, at this point, gasping for air and trying to maintain my cadence. I manage to gasp out "I'll catch them". They glance at each other and smile.

A guy and a girl pass me up a few seconds after that. I remember seeing them earlier because she was wearing pink shorts and a shirt from a bar and had one too many tattoos while he had none and I thought they were an odd couple. That's two more I'll have to pass.

The finish line is at Mechanic Street and 23rd. We get 2 blocks past Broadway, and it's time to turn on the burners--or my version of them.

The first "victims" are the odd couple. They were chatting with an older lady I had seen at registration, but not since. The dude catching a breather is the next to fall. The 2 ladies who slowly passed me earlier are about a block away and we're 2 blocks from Mechanic. As we approach the turn, I pass them, then the pink shorts bolt around my left shoulder.

At this point I realize I have a remarkable amount of energy in my legs and take off after her. I catch and pass her. Much to my surprise another pair come screaming up the road past me. The girl takes off, the guy drops back, and the crowd (as I hear it) goes wild.

This is a by-God race!! A slow motion explosion that has taken over three miles to unfold!

She inches past, I inch past, she inches back up, then BOOM!!! I hit the line first and the guy is right behind us.

I look up to see who this sparring partner was and much to my surprise see a very disappointed child who can't be more than 15 years old giving me a run for my money, with her grinning dad standing right behind us. She got a pat on the shoulder, he got a hand shake, and I got me some water, not the least bit embarrassed for not letting a girl win because I looked at my watch and saw 29 minutes and several seconds. The first 26 minutes of the run flashed by in a blur. The last two minutes or so seem to have taken forever. Interesting how time works.

I was having so much fun I decided to go back on the course and run some folks in. That's how much energy I still had and how much FUN I was having.
There was the 67 year old grandma who was having trouble keeping her pants up (no kidding).
There was the little girl (like, 8) who's older brother (10?) passed her but, with my urging, decided to whip his ass to the finish line.
There was the guy running with his daughter who was pissed at him because he wasn't supposed to be running, per doctor's orders.
There was the girl, about my age, running with her grand mother.
There was story after story after story... it was a ton of fun.

Thank you Galveston.

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