HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Yup, that's me, #1187, fighting off my little experience with a massive shunt of blood from my periphery to core (aka. Cold Water Shock) during my first race of 2009!
Wherein I learned the difference between a 2 mile road race and a 5K (I know, I know, 1.2K). :-P
How did I do?
Here are my official stats:
Overall Place: 205
Division Place: 47th out of 97
Gender Place: 154th out of 364
Garmin Track (race): http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/7364946
Ear Worm: "Love and Loneliness" by The Motors (don't watch, just listen . . . please)
Here is what happened:
It was pretty cold when PT picked me up, mid to upper thirties, overcast with some drizzle, and a bit of a wind. The race was supposed to start at 10:30 AM and we wanted to get down there early to warm-up a bit and bask in the pre-race ambience. After we checked out the race set-up (the changing tents, etc.) we headed out for a warm-up. I trotted around for 1.86 miles on the course and then hit some muddy trails on the Northwest side of Kite Hill and then found a port-a-john without a huge line ("Don't tell anybody about these" one of the other runners said as he exited the john (you getting the idea that going potty is important? It is, don't laugh). With the way the course was set up we were going to be starting and finishing into the wind which, as if my magic, had picked up (You were expecting "dropped" weren't you? Ha! This is Seattle and we were right alongside a big lake with little to stop the wind from howling in.). Once warmed up I headed over to the 9 minute pace area as the 5-minute announcement had been made, PT came up through the crowd as well and headed more towards the front, and then we waited. And waited.
This is the second time that I have run this race and the same thing happened the first time. There we were, all keyed up to go, standing in the wind, and rapidly losing heat while the day of race registration and port-a-john lines were cleared. As you can see, I was not heavily dressed, at least not compared to a lot of the people around me (like the runner in front of me coming out of the water and even her ensemble was sparse by comparison). But, while there may or may not be wisdom in crowds, there IS warmth in crowds and I was able to keep the shivering and teeth chattering down. There were a fair number of interesting costumes, a group of young girls wearing full body footed pajama thingys, a few interesting hats, and, of course, the diehard folks who must only wear a pair of shorts and their shoes. A great many interesting conversations going on around me—how many people turned up for this, excitement at the new year, that GWB only had 20 days left in office, who was having an affair with who, "Oh look at that cute dog," how scary the prospect of jumping into the lake after the run was, how cold it was out there, why is it that this race never starts on time, how lovely the new course was, how "I cannot believe I am doing this because I am SO hungover," and, well, you get the picture. Next to me was a mother and her son who could not have been more than 3 feet high.
At 10:40 the air horn blew and off we went. Over the start mats and south into the wind. I figured that I would be running 8:30 to 9:00 but immediately got stuck behind people who were going much more slowly than that. South onto the course and into the first bottleneck of the race, a series of concrete barriers narrowing the transition from a road to a walking path. Didn't stop moving but I certainly got slowed down but once past picked up the pace again only to run into yet another course hazard, puddles. Well, not the puddles per se but the people who did not want to get in the puddles. Now folks, these are not deep puddles and not even especially muddy puddles and as you are going to jumping into the lake in a few minutes, it is raining, AND you are likely sweating already WHY are you slowing down and colliding with each other to go around the puddles? So, I just blasted through the puddles, got very happily muddier in the process, and settled into a nice pace, not too hard not too soft.
About .40 into the race I passed a mom and a kid. The little boy had just stopped and was not going further. He had his arms crossed, mouth in a pout, and belly sticking petulantly out. His mom was about 10 feet in front of him trying to coax him to keep going. It was pretty amusing.
On we went. Passing, being passed, and pretty soon I was running all by myself along one of the cross-park walking paths past the tennis courts and out to the sports meadow all the while picking my way through people avoiding puddles and the great number of roots coming up through the pavement. Around the playing fields and alongside the dog park with all the dogs out enjoying their New Year's romp and then up Kite Hill and down towards the water. I felt strong and happy. I was vaguely aware of passing someone that I knew from AR and breathed, rather heavily, "Hi, how are you going?" Getting around guys running with strollers also took some doing as they were slowing down and blocking the way.
At about 2.28 miles I began to realize the difference between a 2 mile race and a 5K, I was getting a bit tired but I was also running anywhere between a 7-minute and 8:30 pace (the GPS seems to jump around a lot). Suffice it to say that I was going hard and into a 10 mph wind to boot. And then the course organizers played a nasty trick. Instead of sending us straight through the promenade to the boat launch for the dip, they turned us West at the observation tower and then had us going towards the boat launch parking lot. I know why, of course. They needed the distance AND it makes sense to head people straight into the water rather than have a turn. But I saw this, said something like "Aw Nuts!" and simply pressed on.
People seemed to be slowing down as we approached the water. An announcer was telling us what to do and also to offer the possibility of hitting the water to those who did not sign up for that ("Why not, you are all wet already!"). I ran smack into a traffic jam as people hit the water, gasped (it was 42 degrees), and froze for a moment while the shock set in. I bulled my way through a couple of people standing side-by-side and headed deeper in remembering to take off my glasses as I put my head under (not doing so is supposed to mean disqualification but I saw lots of people keeping their heads up and have not noticed DQ's in the stats). The cold took my breath away and it took all my effort to remain upright and moving up the incline and out towards the finish. My shoes felt so very hard, as if all the softness and cushion had been flash frozen out of them.
Heading across the finish mats I stop my watch and head over to have my timing chip removed, no way my fingers would have worked, and kept moving through the chutes. Mighty Mouse was standing there with PN waiting for some of the friends. I said a quick "Hi". PT was there looking very wet, cold, and with a very happy grin (I guess I had one too). We shared a wet hug and a Happy New Year and I kept going to try to cool down (Heh!) or was it simply to keep warm for .4 miles back to the car where the hard task of peeling wet clothes off reluctant skin began. I was simply dumping heat as I changed.
Warm and dry both PT and I went off to check out the finish scene. Didn't feel like the chili feed (why chili? It is warm, cheap, both, what?) and didn't feel like standing in line for hot chocolate. Got a bottle of water, a banana, and a bag of "healthy" potato chips. Chatted briefly with Mighty Mouse, PN, and others that I knew (it is nice to know people at these things isn't it) and headed home to a nice lunch, hot chocolate, and a very happy nap.
What a wonderful way to start the new year!
Can't wait for the next XC Race.