"Luck is being ready for the chance" **J. Frank Doble**
July 4th arrived with spectacular weather and the promise of a fantastic race day that did not disappoint! My goal for this race was to stay ahead of a 9 mpm pace and place in the top ten so I would have at least one point to get on my running club’s Grand Prix board. I have plenty of volunteer points, but your volunteer points cannot exceed your running points and with marathon training, and other assorted life events, I have not had the chance to run in a Grand Prix race. Since we fly out for Korea the last week in July, this was my last chance to score a running point.
This 8K is generally a big race for a local venue. Last year there were nearly 450 runners and that doesn’t count the 5K fun run/walk that bleeds off all the slow pokes. The course is on the tourist road through the battle fields so the road is a horribly chewed surface that even people in thick running shoes complain about. I foolishly ran it barefoot last year, when I was new to barefoot running and not at all up to such a rough surface. When the course turned off the road and onto a gravel path I was sunk! When I finally hobbled across the finish line, an hour and 14 minutes after the start, I was the last person in my age group to finish.
I knew I would have a better time this year. Even barefoot I would have improved, but since I wanted to score Grand Prix points, I decided to run in Vffs. They allow me to be more relaxed and I wanted to really enjoy my last race with the Peninsula Track Club. Since last year’s age group place winners all averaged close to an 8 minute mile pace I had no real hope of placing in the top three, but I knew I could easily score a point or two. My goal was to finish the 5 miles in less than 45 minutes
I got off to a slow start. Placing myself too far back in the pack didn’t help, but I usually take off too fast so it’s all good. I also goofed up my Garmin so I can only guess at my first mile, but it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t warm up long enough because the porta potty lines were crazy long and this added to the sluggishness for the first couple of miles. Fortunately, once I got rolling I spent the rest of the race passing people. I never stopped to walk, not even on the long uphill slopes where about half the people I passed had dropped into “death march” mode. I just increased my cadence and trundled on.
My Garmin was set to chirp out half mile laps so I knew I was keeping a decent pace, but the trees were really messing with the GPS so I never knew from moment to moment how I was doing. It was okay though, and probably helped. I just focused on running a pace I felt I could sustain and reminded myself I could only expect to do my best and have fun.
As I approached the finish line I was thrilled to see the clock still said 44:xx and kicked it up one last notch for a sprint finish. I was thrilled with my 44:38 finish time! I met my person goal and felt well the whole run with no pain and no sudden stiffening after the race.
The results were posted at one point, but I didn’t even bother to look. I would find out soon enough how many points I scored (you get a point for 10th place, 2 for 9th, etc.) and I was too busy talking to the many people that I will sorely miss when we move. When it was time for the awards ceremony, I cheered and clapped for my friends that placed but wasn’t at all expecting to hear my own name. “Women, 40-44, 3rd place, Wendy Nail!” What????? Whoot! I was so shocked I didn’t even hear my official time called out. It was such a great way to finish my time with PTC. I will see them all once more at the summer picnic the week before we fly, but running is what our group is all about and race days are how I will remember everyone best.
48 hours after the race: Looking through the final results is making me laugh out loud. It is a total fluke that I won third place. The same pace (8:59) last year would have only pulled 5th place in my age group and had I been running in the next age group up it would have been 8th, next age group down would have been 9th. It was pretty much dumb luck that none of the fast runners in my age group showed up, but I still beat 13 others and am very glad they decided to take it easy on Sunday so I could have a beer glass.