“Would you like a wristband for free beer after the race?”
Those words, spoken by a volunteer when I picked up my race packet, led me to believe that Steve’s Old Time Tap Spring Chaser 5K was likely to be a good time. A further perusal of my goody pack revealed a random assortment of stuff: a decent looking short-sleeved cotton t-shirt (technical shirts are a rarity for local races where I live, so I have lots of good sleeping shirts), flyers for other races (two of which I’ve already signed up for), my bib and safety pins, a pen, a coupon for a free box of frozen waffles, a coozie for Michelob Ultra (on a continued quest to become The Official Beer of Running), and, hilariously, a bar of Dial soap.
My goal for the race was simple: to NOT set a PR.
My reasoning was simple: the race was on Saturday, and on Sunday, I had a training run for my upcoming trisko (“half marathon”) that was on the actual race course. A dress rehearsal, if you will. And having that dress rehearsal go well was far more important to me than killing myself for a random 5K that I signed up for a week prior.
Saturday morning rolled around. I parked my car by a strip club (seriously), and headed to the starting line. There, I met up with a bunch of other members of my running club. You guys have no idea how happy that made me. One of my main 2009 goals was to become more active in my local running community, and the image of success I had in my mind was hanging out before or after a race, chatting with other runners. It felt great to do just that. Even better, one of my fellow club members came up and told me that she was goggling running blogs (as we have all done), and happened to come across mine. How cool is that? (And hi, Kelly, if you’re reading this!)
The course went through Rock Island, up a nasty hill at the 1-1/2 mile mark, and finished in front of the sponsor bar (convenient). I made an effort to keep my pace relaxed – challenging, but not too challenging. I couldn’t resist the urge to pass some people on the hill, but I made up for it by stopping to drink a little water, something I really don’t bother with on a distance less than 10K.
As I neared the finish line, I passed another woman… only to have her pass me and slip past me into the chute. I congratulated her on a strong finish. Then, I found out later that she was in my age group and kept me from coming in third. And the award was a pint glass with the race logo, which would have been really freaking cool.
It’s true that I wasn’t running my best (my finish time of 25:38 was well off of my PR of 23:44 and I had a lot left), but that other woman ran a better race than I did that day. It was a little lesson to me about what can happen if you give anything away in a race! Next time I pass someone at the finish, it will be decisive – they will stay passed.