This might be the first and possibly the last time I will ever get to do a Thanksgiving race in a pair of shorts, no gloves, and a ball cap. Surprisingly warm for Thanksgiving but we also woke up to POURING rain. I did not want to race in the rain. We ate breakfast, packed up dry clothes for after the race and headed out.
We picked up our timing chips, hit the port-a-johns and then the rain stopped. Sweet! We did a little warm up and then we were ready to go. This was our first time doing the Pilgrim's Progress race having done two of the Thanksgiving races in town. To date, this one ranks high. Ample parking, good swag (more on that in a minute), decent course, and my favorite, a small racing field.
Side note....I had worn a lighter pair of socks because I didn't want to have heavy wet socks during the race. But, during my warm up my shoes kept "eating my socks" and one pair even wound up only around my toes. So, I decided to do what I've never done and what I'll never do again: race without socks.
I mentioned the swag before. Each entrant got a nice race shirt and a pair of socks in their grab bag. Both of mine fit. YES!!! Then for each age group there were awards which were a $75, $50, and $25 gift certificate to the Polaris Mall. I knew it would be hard to get since each age group was ten years instead of five, but I wanted one and I was going to work to get one.
I'm not daring nor fast enough to line up in the front, so I lined up in the second row of people. The gun went off and so did I in what I thought was a conservative but quicker pace. When I hit the first mile in 7:04 I knew it was not conservative. The second mile was also moving but then I got a stitch under my right ribs that was really making breathing difficult. I tried to breathe it out. I slowed down (a smidgen). I put my arms above my head while running. Nothing was making the stitch better. I hit the second mile mark in 7:33. Right after the water stop at mile 2, I pulled to the side and stretched my belly. When I saw a woman go by me who drives me batty with her running style, I knew it was time to take off. I pulled beside her and around her and kept on building the pace. The stitch was not gone, but I was not going to let it ruin my race. Mile 3 was 7:40 (even with the stop). In the last mile I was ready to conquer the people who I was previously running with. I knew who was in my age group and darn it, I wanted a gift certificate. The last part of the race is a little uphill and then goes through the parking lot of the mall with two 180 degree turns in it. Not exactly ideal, but I like a challenge. I'm flying up the hill (that's what I do) and I catch a girl I know I'm competing with. As we come down the hill to make the second 180 degree turn she smokes me. I hate downhills. I try my best to hold on but she gets me in the end. Mile 4 was 7:11.
I didn't get a gift certificate. But neither did the girl in front of me either. I was 17th female overall and, get this, 8th in my age group. Seriously, the thirties are a tough age group to race! In addition to the nice bloody heel I got from running without socks, I got a new PR by a minute: 29:30 (7:22 pace) and a very cool mug. I love races that are innovative and think of race swag beyond a finisher's medal. A mug is so much more useful.
The best part of this, for me anyway, is that I'm still gaining speed. I have been racing now for nine and a half years and have spent the last year on nothing but aerobic pace in swimbikerun. Yet, I've had some very fast races recently. This gives me hope that there's still many more PRs to come.