...of the (almost) spring season and since September. I used to race almost every weekend when I lived in New York City (where I grew up and lived until 1999) and was a member of the NYRR. I thought I was done enjoying the ritual of race morning. I thought I no longer cared (too much) about speed. Not that I was ever the fastest. But I had some ability.
But in the St. Patrick's Day 8K, I finished in 38:15. I was the 16th (out of over 300) in my age group (35-39), and the 100th woman overall (out of over 2,000). I am thrilled -- I had no idea I still had a little speed left. And it wasn't too hard, either. I was hoping for less than 45 minutes. I am pleasantly astounded.
Sunday was a cold one in Washington, DC -- 30 degrees with a wind chill of 19 degrees. Waiting in line for the Port-O-Potties, I overheard and joined in conversations on "Why do we do this?" I remain unsure.
I think part of it is the ritual: a ritual that is all mine, does not involve my children or spouse (but I liked it even before children and a spouse). It is a quiet ritual. I pull out my special race-day bag, my NYC Marathon 2000 backpack. I check the forecast and lay out my clothes for race morning. I set my alarm and plan when to leave so I will have enough time for two Port-O-Potty visits (yes, two). I often warm up. (On Sunday I did not. I was unwilling to give up my warm fleece to baggage check until the last minute.) I try to line up 5-10 minutes before gun time. After the race, I find the closest coffee shop -- usually a Starbucks -- and get myself the largest possible skim latte. This latter part of my ritual was particularly satisfying on Sunday -- a warm cup and tasty coffee for the walk back to the car.
My pacing is no longer what it used to be. I used to be pretty consistent. If I ran the first mile in 7:35, the subsequent miles would be within 5-10 seconds (no, not as consistent as an elite runner). On Sunday I ran a 7:50, a 7:12, an 8:00. A little wacky. But I don't care so much about pacing anymore -- I just check in, "Does this pace feel okay? Can I keep this up? Speed up? Slow down?"
Maybe I can do that half-marathon on March 29 in sub-8:00s...
Oh, and on race morning of the 8K, but unrelated to the race, see what I did at 6am (5am without the "spring forward") to save my car.