What: 2.5-mile road race
Who: Just me (plus a Shammie), with moral support from Drew
Benefited: some sporty town things that I can’t remember
-Mile 1: 10:54
-Mile 2: 11:06
-Mile 2.5: 10:27
The following two pictures are some of the “official” race photos of me and, as you can see, are proofs. While I appreciate that photographers are just trying to make a living, I refuse to pay $60 to download some pictures of me looking hot and goofy. If I didn’t hate the phrase so much, this would be the perfect time to say #sorrynotsorry.
Recap: This was my first race back after my ankle injury, and was also the abrupt start to a summer of hot, humid running. Ugh. The few training runs I did since coming back from injury did not prepare me for the onslaught of heat, since they happened during the almost 2 weeks of spring that we had between Endless Winter and Surprise Summer.
I signed up for the 2.5-mile option of the Winchester Town Day Road Race (there was also a 5-mile option) thinking it would be a good ease back into the world of racing. The Shammies had been invited by the Winchester Highlanders Running Club to take part, and I was super excited to don my run club singlet and run my first real race with other Shammies as a Shammie myself. I spotted 3 other Shammies rocking the green and white singlets – one ran the 2.5 (and killed it, coming in 3rd!) and the others ran the 5-miler. I didn’t know any of the other 3, but it was fun to join their mini warm-up session and meet some fellow run-clubbers.
When start time arrived, I found a spot toward the back so that I could start off nice and slow. The temp at gun time (8:30am) was hovering just above 70*F, but the humidity made it feel warmer and the sun was very hot. I didn’t want to burn out and/or faint in my first race back! However, the race wasn’t very big and even the people at the back took off much faster than I anticipated, so my first few minutes were run mostly around a 9:30 pace (yikes!).
I slowed it down as we made our first turn onto a surprise hill. I managed to run (slowly!) to the top and was carrying on pretty well and feeling proud of myself until the course took a sharp right turn onto one of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure I dropped a mental f-bomb and slowed to a walk. There was no way I was going to run up that mountain in the heat, after having hauled serious buns for way longer than intended. That was a whole bunch of nope, especially since all I could see as I neared the “crest” was a series of tiny additional hills.
The rest of the race was spent run/walking, but with short walk breaks and running that stayed mostly around 11 min/mile. I felt like I was running so slowly, and I kept checking my phone to see my pace and time, worried that I’d end up with a really slow finishing time. I don’t know why I was so worked up, since this was, in fact, my first race in a while, and I hadn’t been running much, and it was my first hot run of the year.
When I got to the end of the race – one lap of the track – I walked about 200m because I wanted to be able to finish strong. I manged to finish strong-ish… I hit a pace of 7:05 but didn’t want to all-out sprint and then faint on top of the photographers at the finish line. My time ended up being 29:00 even, which I was momentarily stoked about until I remembered this was a 2.5-mile race, not a 5K, so I hadn’t magically broken 30 minutes despite my slowness and the heat. Alas.
As for the race itself, it was a little disappointing. This was the second annual Town Day race (apparently it had been held for years in the 90s, stopped for some reason, and was resurrected last year) and it seemed very disorganized. There was no course map posted anywhere, or even a course description, so I had no idea I was going to have to tackle mini-mountains. The PA guy mentioned that everyone kept asking him where the starting line was and sounded annoyed that he had to tell us, but no one knew where the heck the thing was starting, or which direction we’d be running in, and I couldn’t tell if the big banner on the track was the start, finish, or both because it wasn’t marked. The course wasn’t entirely clear either, especially near the track, which caused a lot of confusion as spectators and runners who had already finished (and their children) kept wandering into the path of runners just trying to make it to the finish line. And – this wasn’t the race organizers’ fault – I almost got tripped up by a poodle several times because his owner was running with a surprisingly slack leash on the narrow course (my Judgy McJudgerton reaction was to think “Pffff, frikkin’ Winchester toff” each time). Town Day itself was nice; there were lots of vendors out on the roads near the race and the local bookstore was giving away free ARCs (advanced reader copies), so that was a bonus. I’m not sure I’d run this race again in the future, though. Maybe if the Shammies run it again I’ll do it, but it wasn’t an experience I loved. (The 5-mile option was just 2 loops of the 2.5, so that sounds dreadful too… having to repeat that killer hill!)
The best part of the race: my ankle didn’t hurt at all during or after! Huzzah! And the race finished up early enough that I still had an entire day ahead of me to read in the glorious weather as Drew played softball:
…after which I succumbed to a 4-hour nap on the couch. A glorious afternoon indeed!