Where we last left off, I was taking an unplanned rest day thanks to an achy knee, but still determined to run the 8K Frostbite Footrace to see how it felt.
I took some Advil and headed for the race, hoping for the best. The place was buzzing with runner friends of mine, including Sara and Jen, who I hadn't seen in months. I think everyone was excited about the first local race of the year - and the fact that the weather was so nice. Several people enthused about how warm it was, and that the weather should not be a factor at all in anyone's performance.
For those of you who don't live in the midwest, the temperature was about 20 degrees. Only a cold weather runner could look at a day like that and be happy to be running outside.
I lined up with Sara and Jen. "Are you ready for this?" they asked. I said that honestly, I probably wasn't. Because of my knee problems, I planned to run a relaxed race and see how I felt. I figured chances were pretty good that I'd end up having to take off another several days. I put my Garmin in my pocket so that I wouldn't be distracted by my pace, which I figured wout be slow.
And, bang! We were off! Jen, Sara, and I leapfrogged back and forth for the first 2 and a half miles - the two of them running together and me by myself (they're sisters and tend to stick together). The two of them stopped for water, and as I passed them, Jen said, "See, Sara? That's what you get for stopping. Now she's ahead of us."
Not for long, though, and the two of them passed me again.
I'll be honest: a huge part of me wanted to beat them. No matter what, it's hard to shut down that competitive spirit. But an even bigger part of me wanted my knee to not be hurt. The months I took off for my injured shin really bummed me out. So, I relaxed and tried my best to run my own race.
At about the halfway point, Jen pulled ahead of Sara and I caught up to her. Sara said she was okay and told me to go after Jen. I did my best, but it wasn't meant to be this time around. Sara was close behind me for quite a while, so I warned her about some of the big hills.
After a while, she was too far behind me... and Jen was too far in front of me. I was on my own. The race ends with a climb up a long, not too steep hill. I pushed it hard to the top, remembering how windy that same climb was last year.
Finally, I kicked it past another runner and into the chute. My finishing time astonished me - just shy of 45 minutes! That was far faster than I'd thought I was going; I guess keeping my Garmin in my pocket paid off, because otherwise, I might have slowed down.
Best of all? My knee is totally fine. On to the next run!