Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary Running!

Today was a big day.

Oh I don't suppose it started out being that way, and I definitely didn't expect it to be anything special...but life can be a bit unexpected sometimes I suppose.

In 2009, an out of shape 30 something used to say "the only reason I'd ever run is if something was chasing me". I guess you could say that hypertension started chasing him, and he began walking, then walk/jogging, then walk/running. This went on for a couple of months until his wife told asked him to run the 2009 Spring Water Festival 5K with her. He thought it would be a one time event. He thought he was just doing her a favor. He was dead wrong. He ran that race in just over 30 minutes, and the crowd cheering at the end was so amazing he had to experience that feeling again.

That in a nutshell is my story. Now, dozens of smaller races and a marathon later I return to that same race for the third time. I think it will always be on my race schedule. It holds a special place in my heart, and it always feels like "going home" to race. It is my official start of the fall/winter racing season.

This year I haven't been focused on running fast. I've not done any speedwork at all; I've simply been putting miles in...a lot of miles. Coming to today's race, I honestly didn't know what to expect. Should I try to PR? Am I putting my marathon training at risk by running hard? Should I just have fun? Can I have fun, set a PR and not get hurt? If so, that would be the perfect race!

Today I had the perfect race.

Race day starts out much the same for me, regardless of the distance of the race. I get so nervous and worked up, I start dry heaving...pretty much from the time I leave the house until I get to the race course. My wife laughs every time. I suppose you'd think I'd get used to it by now, but I haven't. Today I made myself sick before the was awful (Twitter followers know what I mean).
I got to the course, and got our bib and packets. I took a look at our t-shirts

I cannot convey how eye-bleedingly fluorescent lime/yellow this shirt is. But it's PERFECT for a runner who runs in the dark, right? Uhh it's cotton. Where am I going to wear a fluorescent yellow cotton shirt? I guess I can direct school traffic one morning. Or help airplanes land...maybe serve as a lighthouse on the coast...

I warmed up and was feeling pretty good, still not knowing what my legs had in store for me. I made my way to the start line, and we were off. Feeling good, downhill start...check Garmin...6:45 pace...AWESOME! Right where I want to be. First incline, legs felt remarkably strong and I good passed lots of people. (Historically I've passed lots of folks early in the race, and they passed me back later on as I faded.) Recovered a bit on the downhill and hit 6:43 pace for my first mile. I started up the second incline on the course, and passed a few more folks..(my legs feel really good...this is an odd feeling) I hit a bit of a lull coming into the 2nd mile. I was running alone, and got lost in thought a bit, so I'm sure I gave up some time, but I probably needed the break to breathe. I hit the water station, nearly choked when water went up my nose. (two years in and I still can't drink water out of a paper cup). Most of the last mile was downhill, so I was able to make up a bit of time. I crossed as my Garmin said 21:50, which would have been a 5 second PR from my last 5K race in Downtown Greenville in January. My official time wound up being 21:53. A 2 second PR, and 29 seconds off of my time at this course last year.

I'm particularly excited about these two seconds because the conditions could NOT have been more different at these two races. For the Greenville Downtown was 27 degrees, nearly no humidity and a chilly wind. Today it was 72 degrees 90% humidity and no wind to speak of. It feels good to be able to run this kind of speed in the heat and humidity.

I felt great...but the cherry on the top of my day?

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I am now an age-group WINNER. An amazing, and unexpected present for running to give me on our 2nd anniversary. I knew I loved running...I just didn't know that it loved me back so much!

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't share the moment with one special lady who drug me into this...and give her a huge shout out. My wife...after all her injuries over the past 10 months or so obliterated her 5K PR by nearly a minute! She came in 3rd in her age group! Way to go Christy!

I'm sure I've gushed too much and for far too long, but I'll leave you with this thought...that you'll hear me say over, and over and over on this blog. YOU...CAN...DO...IT! If I can, anybody can. If you can't do it by yourself, I'll help you. Running will change your life...and her gifts on anniversaries aren't too bad either.