This will be my fifth consecutive Run For Luck 10K. I like this race because:
1) Thurston County Parks and Recreation puts on a great low key event
2) Accurate distance
3) Scenic flat course on the Chehalis Western Trail
4) Another green t-shirt
5) Timing by Rich and Bill this year
6) Each year I can compare myself to the previous years
7) Post race Irish potato stew, indoors
8) Close to home
I am not however expecting a fast time this year, but I have great excuses.
1) Got back late last night from Catalina Island, where I was with 17 seventh and eighth graders on an "eco-adventure". The boys cabin bunks were uncomfortable and for some reason the boys did not just go to sleep right at lights out time. But we did have fun.
2) We were totally isolated at Fox Landing, with no roads and a very rocky beach. I had little time and no place to run, so I did not even try. First time in a long while that I went five days with no running at all. Photo is the view from our cabin.......not the Run For Luck :)
3) Five days of all you can eat camp food buffets.
4) Lots of cold shivering (in and out of the water) all week, plus the motion of the ocean stays with me for hours after being on the water
5) Here at the Run For Luck it is very cold and breezy. Strongest winds I have run in for a while.
As I do a two mile warm up I think back on my week. Snorkeling, kayaking over kelp beds, night snorkeling!!, astronomy lesson and star finding, rock climbing, ropes course, hiking and all day trip where we kayaked to a remote beach and went eeling, tide pooling and relaxing on the beach. In between these activities we had entertaining lessons about phytoplankton, osteichthyes, porifera, cnideria, mollusca, pinnipeda, fissipeda......all my favorites. Believe it or not, I did not even miss running.
But now I am all warmed up and ready to race. We line up and will run into the strong wind for a tenth of a mile or so before turning onto the trail. Here is the countdown: "five, four, three, two, go" I am sure there was no "one" but that is OK. I tap my watch and cross the line.
Mile 0.5 - I started with Paul and Greg. Paul is hoping to do this in 45 minutes and is somewhat faster than me. I let him slip ahead and stick with Greg, who I do not know. It is a small race and we seem to be all sorted out now that the 5K runners turned onto their course. But I do sense someone catching up. I think it is a bike, but it won't pass me. Then it does and I realize that I am being "strollered". At least it is early in the race. Maybe Stroller Girl is fast and strong. I let her go ahead.
Mile 1.0 - Been wondering about the foot. I can feel the plantar but not bad at all. Continue to monitor and adjust the pace if needed. First mile in 7:40
Mile 1.5 - Stroller Girl is just ahead and not gaining her lead. Greg has dropped back. I surge and run next to her. Breeze is strong and some small branches are coming down.
Mile 2.0 - Pair of mallards lands in small pond next to the trail. With the sun so bright, the iridescent green of the male's head is stunning. Baby in stroller makes a noise. Stroller girl lifts the front wheel up and gets a happy giggle. Makes me smile and chuckle which makes Stroller Girl laugh a little.
Mile 2.8 - Out and back course lets us see the leaders. Some guy that I do not know is way in front. I wonder about Stroller Girl's position, because there are not many in front of us. I did see Karen Steen at the start but if she ran the 5K, there is a chance that I could be running with the female leader. Nope, there is Karen.
Mile 3.1 - Hit the turn around and get a very quick drink of water. Paul has about 30 seconds on me. Stroller Girl is in second of the women. I am with her running comfortably hard. I did not plan on running this fast, but the foot feels pretty good. Sweat and wind on my sunburned/windburned face is not so pleasant, but everything else feels like a nice hard run.
Mile 3.5 - Western gray squirrel scampers across the paved trail in front of us. Stroller Girl and I are not really talking, the pace is too fast, but we are feeding off each other pace wise. Sometimes I am a step in front, then she takes over doing the work of keeping us moving.
Mile 4.0 - There have been some pedestrians on the trail, now we are about to pass two women who are walking a dog and there are some 10K walkers still coming at us. I decide to make a surge, get ahead of Stroller Girl, and shoot through the hole. That will give her room too and then it will be up to her to come get me if she can. I put on the power and am happy with my acceleration. Past the congestion and a good twenty feet ahead of Stroller Girl.
Mile 4.1 - She is tougher than I figured and is right back at my side.
Mile 5.0 - Now it is her turn to put on a surge. Right at the five mile marker she makes her move. Impressively strong. I think about giving up and jogging it in. That last mile was tough. But I keep at it and slowly reel her in.
Mile 5.5 - I am about three feet behind her. Paul and a black t-shirt guy had been together but now Paul is ahead. Both of them are coming back to us, but are far enough in front, I do not think we will catch them. I tell Stroller Girl "Do, not let me beat you....and I am not going to let you win either". This is exactly the friendly competition that I love and that makes me run a much faster time.
Mile 5.9 - Stroller Girl has kick and I do not. Then the turn to the finish. Finally the wind at our backs. She will beat me by a few seconds but I am fine with that.
Mile 6.2 - Done! Second half 49 seconds faster than the first half. Average pace under 7:30/mile. I shake Stroller Girl's hand and look at the sleeping baby. Fun to give my tag to Bill for timekeeping I am a minute slower than last year, but faster than I expected. Foot feels a little off but not bad at all. A few weeks ago I thought that I would skip this one, but I am so glad that I got to do it. Last year I came in fourth in my age group. This year, although a minute slower, I earned a first place in my age group ribbon. Definitely plan to come back for this one every year.
Next up: March 15 - Six hour endurance race, March 21 - Steilacoom 20 miler (tentative depending on family plans), April 4 - Yakima River Canyon Marathon
9th of 42, first in age group ribbon