As part of my grabbing this 2012 by the horns, i drove up to DeLeon Springs, a very odd area in Florida to run a New Year’s Day 5K.
I admit I was not really sure I wanted to run this race. I have had a fairly “big” week in running for me and I had worked the night before. So I did not pre-register. I decided to see how I felt in the morning.
While I have been having a lot of trouble getting up on work days, I found that when my alarm summoned me at 0420 in the morning today, I had no problem bouncing out of bed and taking care of the pre-race details. (Coffee, dog care, directions.) Since I was disinclined to remain in bed, I decided why not go for it.
My Drive up to the race site was bizarre. It was essentially me, and multiple members of various law enforcement agencies. It being still dark and all, I was careful to drive the speed limit and obey every traffic sign I could see. I was glad that those efforts resulted in me not being pulled over!
It was a very foggy and chilly morning at 49 degrees F or about 9 C. I got there and did the registration thing. Registering for the race on race day was straightforward as it usually is. Alta Vista Sports did a nice thing though, allowing a T shirt or no T-shirt option. The Shirts were really lovely, but in a fit of frugality I told the guy no. I don’t need another shirt, even though it was nice. I wish more races had that option. It does save money in the long run, plus my wardrobe could consist of something other than race shirts.
People were friendly in the lines for the restrooms. There was a rather long line. Apparently some extra portapotties had been ordered but were not delivered. It seemed to work out OK, though I saw several men availing themselves of trees in the area. I noted also that the flush on the toilet was starting to be sort of “weak” if you will. But such is the stuff of road races.
After using the restroom, I went and changed out my shoes and pinned on my number and did a little bit of warm ups. I never realized how Stupid and odd Skipping looks until you are doing it by yourself with an audience. But I’ve been told its a good warm up, and it does seem to be.
We lined up, and I discovered that some of the race was on unpaved road. After my last race through Moss Park, I felt a bit nervous about the whole unpaved thing! Luckily it turned out to be a dirt road. I suspect actually that it is paved, under all the dirt/sand. So we all lined up for the start on the unpaved portion. I learned there that there was no starting Mat, only a finish Mat. Not really a big deal as it was a small race, but for someone like me- every second counts. So I tried to line up fairly close to the start, but not obnoxiously close, as I am not a faster runner.
Here is a video of last years start. I think this years start was about identical.
I laughed a lot because there was an older gentleman who kept cracking jokes about this and that.
I really do not like surfaces that are not asphalt. My shoes- the Saucony Mirage– don’t either. My first goal was to get off that surface. So I started and just went until I came to the asphalt. It was about a quarter of a mile, so really no big deal. Truth be told the surface felt good to my legs. The shoes though, have not a lot of traction, so the run on the dirt felt a little “slippery”
After hitting the actual road, I snuck a peek at my Garmin. Well. I had not turned it on properly, so it wasn’t tracking anything. This is the sort of thing that can really rattle a person.
I admit, I felt a little upset. Since the race itself did not have the starting mat, I was hoping to use my Garmin time as a back up. I had the realization that these things do happen to everyone. I made a quick decision to get the Garmin tracking anyway, just so I would have an idea of my pace. within a few minutes the watch was giving me real time pace, rather than the smoothed pace I am used to…so who knows what buttons I hit. In a way actually it was very helpful because I was about a quarter mile off the entire race and mentally looking at the distance on my watch it made the whole race seem shorter.
The course was advertised as Pancake flat, which is a big bonus for me, recovering from my hip surgery. I will say, I am a bit suspicious that it really does have some mild inclines, but…in comparison to where I train, it really was FLAT.
People were not super friendly while running this race. I was a little surprised, but then the last race I ran we were all together chatting trying to stay upright in the dark, on the trail! Everyone just kind of ran their race. It is an out and back course, and it was nice to see the front runners charging along as I was finishing Mile 1.5. The turn around was clearly marked so no getting lost (another thing I have a penchant for!).
On the way back, I knew the course a little better so was prepared for the dirt pack road and everything else. I passed a few people and a few people passed me. I always wonder where people get that burst of energy 1/2 mile from the finish!!!! I never felt very winded during this race, or actually stressed, I just kind of jogged along. I probably could have used someone to remind me that it was a race.
The neatest thing about this particular day/race was that the finish was to the East and the sun was still making it’s way to the sky when I finished. So as I turned to do the last tenth of a mile, there was this marvelous golden glow coming from the finish line, which I actually could not see for the sun!
As I hit the first mat of the finish I glanced up at my time and saw it was under 34 minutes, which was my goal. Turns out the time I saw was the exact time of my PR 4 years ago. The mats added 2 seconds, so next time I race I am gunning to destroy my old PR. I was really excited and happy. All of that hard work in Physical Therapy and those horrible days right after surgery were indeed worth it, just for that kind of an easy run.
Post race, the organizers seem to have really put on a feast. Granola Bars, Salty pretzels, gatorade (which was not at all watered down!), water, oranges of course, grapefruits, and a bunch of other stuff. I was most impressed that they had Honey Crisp Apples. Usually if there is anything other than Bananas, it is the small non-descript apples that come in a bag. Not so here. These were gorgeous Honey Crisps. As I am allergic to bananas, I usually skip the post race fuel, but this time I could not resist an apple. As one teenaged boy remarked, “I think I’ve pretty much eaten my entire 15.00 entry fee right here”. It was great.
So. I liked this race quite a bit. It was low-key and friendly. The weather was really perfect, and I ran really well, compared to last year. I admit, I am so so thrilled to be running again, that I may not be the best judge of things…especially on a day when I am 2 seconds away from beating my 4 yr old PR….But I did think this was a race worth doing. It was one without all the glitz, and bling and glitter, and had people just out to enjoy running…Yeah. I loved it.
Can’t think of a better way to start out the new year!!!!