Happy New Year!
Some people talk big about getting active/healthy for the new year, but far too many people balk at the idea of exercising outside when it’s cold. What’s a great antidote to this? A race! To ring in the New Year properly, I woke up early, bundled up, and went and frolicked through the woods 🙂
Today’s race was a first for me – the winner isn’t decided based on who crosses the finish line first, it’s based on who comes in closest to their predicted time. I honestly have no chance of ever winning a race based on time, so the idea of an alternate type of race was really kind of enticing. Plus it was only $2. Can’t argue with that 😉
I’m not going to lie, I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to determine by predicted time, looking as past paces at this distance, on this course, considering the nagging strains I’ve been feeling, etc. and finally settled on 52:38. The course is mostly rolling hills with one large hill at the turn-around point and I had no real intention of racing this one.
Low-key races put on by the Road Runners tend to be a bit smaller, and I’m sure the cold kept a few people away, but there were probably around 70 runners (and four dogs). At 8:45am runners started to emerge from their warm, comfy cars to “warm up” (a bit of a misnomer on a 23 degree day like today, if you ask me) and then line up for the 9:00am start.
Based on my goals for this race and predicted time I started out a bit slow and moved up to a comfortably fast pace after the first mile. I lost a few seconds stopping to tie my shoe, but didn’t seek to make that up. Surprisingly I ended up having to walk up the big hill for a few seconds, something I haven’t had to do in a long, long time. At the top of the hill was the turn-around, which meant a good half-mile of downhill. The rolling hills always seem larger on the return trip, and today was no exception. I ended up having to walk twice more, just a few seconds each time, and started to doubt my predicted time; I pushed harder, trying to catch up with the guy running ahead of me.
At a typical race you can see the clock as you come to the finish line, but not this one! It would be cheating if you knew your time and could adjust your pace accordingly. My legs had been feeling heavy and that, coupled with the walking, led me to believe I had really fallen off my time. I ran hard for the last half mile – even more so when I could see the finish line.
The race wasn’t chip timed, so it took a few seconds to get the finish tag off of my bib before I could turn around and look at the clock. Despite how hard the run felt, I came in at least 30 seconds ahead of my goal pace. I’m estimating a finish time of 52:04, but official times and placements haven’t been published yet. I’m not expecting to win anything, based on the past several years’ winners, but I am looking forward to seeing my name closer to the top than the bottom 🙂