I was awakened around 3 o’clock this morning by the crashing of thunderstorms, the atonal accompaniment to a stupid amount of rain. I wasn’t too upset about being up, since my alarm was set for 3:30 anyway; and generally I enjoy crazy weather – the raw, unfocused power of nature is very compelling. But this morning the sound of falling water did nothing good for me.
I was up that early because Runner’s High had an option for the weekly long run: either meet at Memorial Park and run as usual, with a substitute coach (14 miles this week); or register for the club-sponsored Alaina Dixon Trick or Trot 10K, meet early at the start line for 8 miles before, and then do the race at marathon goal pace. Both groups were starting at the same times (each pace group leaves at different times so we all finish roughly together), on two totally different courses. It was a brilliant piece of planning and organization, many kudos to all involved. (My own small role is to set up and take down the water stops along the route. It means I get up a little earlier, but I love being able to contribute to the group – nothing in the running world would ever get done if not for volunteers!) And then came the rain…
After last week’s cancellation of the Houston Half Marathon, you can believe that there was a certain determination in the air with this race – we were going to do this unless something made us stop, dammit. I was all over Facebook at way-too-early-in-the-morning, and most of the coaches were messaging us to keep everyone in the loop. By 5am the first wave had passed, and the next was expected around 9, so we were golden I did my SAG duties, made it to the start, and 5 of us from the mighty 4:15 pace group set out at 5:45 to get the easy part out of the way. Three miles from being done, the skies opened up on us, and we splashed our way back to the race area to see what would happen. The downpour stopped as soon as we got there (naturally), and the sky actually brightened; so with 15 minutes until gun time, the race director made the call: let’s run!
Being in a race always stirs my competitive side, even if I’m doing it as a training run and not a PR attempt, so I was very glad that my coach and a few friends agreed to run race pace together; some decided to run easy, others wanted to make a good showing, we didn’t judge…it’s hard to be critical when your shoes are full of water.
The gun went off, and we moved out of the gate nice and easy, letting the crowd stretch out so we could run in formation and be able to talk – this is the chattiest bunch I’ve ever laced up with! The rain came and went during the first of two loops, and the lack of a breeze caused the humid air to just hang there and make you pull it in. As soon as we turned for the second loop, everything changed… the wind arrived, chill and gusting, and driving the rain at a 45 degree angle across the road. Perversely, this made me start picking up the pace – I was finally able to breathe, and I just wanted to be done, grab some free food and beer (breakfast of Champions) and get dry and get home. Coach held out for a while, but once I figured out that a sub-60 finish was in my reach, I opened up a little more and went on my own. The finish clock is visible the last 0.2 miles on this course, so I was smiling as I made that last turn and saw 57:00 – one last push got me over the mat at 58:22, which is why I’m glad I removed the timing chip from my bib before the race – it would have been awkward to place second in the women’s 40-44 age group! Wait, let me explain…
I had not registered for this race, my original plan was to lead the other group running from the park. But at the last minute, one of the other coaches offered to take my group with hers, and give me her bib; most of hers were not racing, and most of mine were, so we made the switch, with the agreement that I’d ditch the chip. (Had I run under my own name, I would have been top 5, still not too bad; there are some fast old dudes in this city.)
All in all, despite the weather, I call it an excellent day of running, a fine day of racing, and a great time with friends – where else can you have all that before 9 am on a Saturday?
Are you training for any fall/winter races? How is it going?
Is the weather having a big effect on you yet? How are you coping with it?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments!