Where the Hills Are
Not like – giGANtic hills, but the annoying, never ending up and downy ones that seem to appear only after you’ve made a turn. Again and again. Turn after turn. Mile after mile. Oh – and there was rain… but I’m getting ahead of myself. This is not “the run” and it’s also not “not the run”.
So this is a race I’ve never done before. Hosted by the Howard County Striders, the RRCA Ten Mile Club challenge is a cross country scored club race which means I guess that everybody from your club who finishes somehow contributes points towards your club.
I was pretty stoked because FINALLY I would be joined by my friend Dennis who always gives so much support to all those around him. We’ve been trying to connect on one of these runs and have never quite been able to link up. It’s been too long since Dennis and I have run together and I was looking forward to catching up.
I thought I would be able to get to the race in time to make the club group photo, but I did not. I shed my Bear-like sleeping tendencies to get out of bed on time, ignored the cold, ignored the rain and got my show on the road. That’s a lie – I grimaced at the cold AND the rain but it did not get armer and the rain did not stop so off I went.
There was a fair amount of backup getting into the parking lot at the race, but I was early enough that no one was losing their mind over it. I parked and made a bee line to the gym for packet pickup. It took me a moment to figure out that instead of arranging the pick up lines by alpha or by bib number, the lines were sorted by Running Club. Whoa – I hope no one cares that I’ll be having a leisurely run with a friend during this race! I suddenly imagined that everyone in the room was basically an olympic athlete out to win for their home team. As usual, my imagination was far from reality.
Dennis and I quickly agreed to a pace for the race and decided it would be better to run the additional 3.1 miles after the race when we were already warm rather than before the race and risk having to wait around and get cold. Also – we like to sleep…
The race was well supported with water and gatorade about every two miles and plenty of course monitors to keep you on track. One surprising tidbit – there were ZERO porta-pots along the route. To be fair this information was in the pre-race materials so if you did your homework it was not a surprise.
By the time we were “encouraged” to go line up to start, the rain had passed. We joined the rest of the crowd and made our way. Knowing this was a competition race we picked a spot pretty far back in the pack and tried not to get pulled into the faster paces ahead of us. This was a little challenging due to the downhill start and “herd effect” but I think after the first mile we settled in nicely.
I may have mentioned the hills. Many folks mentioned the hills to me prior to the race. They were mentioned enough times by enough people that I had properly prepared for them. And by “prepared” I mean “woke several times the night before wondering if I should have done some hill work in the weeks prior”.
For someone who trains on hills this race is not a big deal. I am *not* a person who trains on hills… The upside is that it kept us honest on the pace and for me personally added an additional challenge and much needed change from my usual approach to hill work – which is to approach a hill, and then turn around before beginning the incline.
But enough about the hills! Let’s talk about the rain. “What about the rain? You said the rain stopped before the race started.” You’re right. I did say that – but what I did *not* say is that a couple miles into the run the rain came back. At first it was a nice gentle mist, a sprinkle of good luck from Mother Nature – but around mile 6ish I realized – “holy crap it’s really raining.” If you’re reading this and thinking “geez I don’t remember rain at mile 6” that means you are fast and were already inside, enjoying a warm beverage and trying on your new gloves (race swag) when the rain hit.
At any rate – my pants started getting heavy and my warm hat – which is not optimized for rain (no bill) – was basically capturing all of the water that hit my head and guiding it to my face so that it could run the entire way from my rapidly disappearing hairline to my chin. But you know what? It was a good time. Dennis and I talked about kids and family and careers. We talked about our goals and our training. We talked about our troubles and our triumphs. It was an excellent hang from beginning to end.
After we crossed the finish line we made our way down to the track and began putting in the extra 3.1 miles. (Does it count as track work if you just run slow on the track?) In retrospect we probably should have hit the gym for a pit stop. Dennis was having some pain in his foot and smartly decided to call it a day so we parted ways and I ventured off of the track to finish the mileage. I knew that going another 2.5 miles on the track by myself would be pure misery and since I used to work right around this area I decided to run to my old office. It turned out to be exactly half of the mileage I needed so after a long pause to look at my old office I turned around and headed back to the warm gym. I was cold and tired and fighting stomach issues and ready to be done.
Not the Run
I’m behind on this report. This run happened almost two full weeks ago. With another run from last weekend to write about and my next run happening in about 10 hours, I’m really feeling the pressure of writers debt at the moment. It’s funny because I started this post the day of the race – but then a funny thing happened. I got very lucky and was referred to play trumpet in a local high school production of Chicago. Is it Broadway? No. Is it even Toby’s Dinner Theater? No. But that’s OK – I’m not ready for that yet. (Well – maybe Toby’s…)
I had a 5 hour rehearsal after this race, two 3 hour rehearsal during the week and then 4 shows in a row – Thursday through Sunday. I got busy. I got busy with something I really love to do so the running posts (which I also enjoy) took a back seat and it has me thinking. What is the relationship of this new love of running to my old love of music? What if I had a shot to play and teach and it could support me – but I had to give up running (and triathlon etc). Would I do it?
It’s one of those ridiculous questions because my reality brain immediately breaks into the conversation and says “you work full time now and you figured out how to do grad school and train for a marathon at the same time – you can do music and stay healthy at the same time.” So much for making a mountain out of a molehill. Thanks reality brain. I knew I could count on you. Now about those hills…
Next Week: Team RunL8ter vs Team HyberNation