There's a local series of races that happens on Tuesday nights here in Boulder, and the group that I coach with picks a few as team races, so I decided to jump in and race one. I was still coming out of my 70.3 recovery so I wasn't quite sure what the expect out of the body, plus night races are always a bit of a gamble against the tummy.
The day had been sunny and warm but as we drove over to the reservoir, clouds started to blow in. I got in a nice long warm-up with my friend Jen, we ran most of the out-and-back course which is a little hill up then a little hill down, out across the dams (dirt/rocks/gravel), then turn around and come back. Pretty simple.
I warmed up with my group of runners, stripped off my shirt and then it was time to go. Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with the 5K. I love it because it's so short, just a blast of fire and then it's over, but I hate it because I think it's all the pain of ironman crammed into ~25 minutes. And that's a lot of pain.
The first mile of a 5K is an evil seductress of sure I can run this pace for another twenty minutes. I glanced down a few minutes in and saw low 7s, so I heeled back a bit as we headed out onto the dirt. The first mile split at 7:27 as we made a left turn around the big dirt lump and out onto the second dam. It was windier once we had turned and somewhere in the depths of my brain I realized that the wind had been at our backs coming out. The second mile was fairly steady until the turn-around, and then we were headed straight into it. I started looking around for some big tall men to hide behind, but I seemed only to be surrounded by tiny women with fast feet (OMG the heel-striking...I know, I'm working on it).
As we came off of the dirt and back up the little hill, someone came up from behind me and passed me, and I ducked behind him to get away from the wind a bit, but by that point it was blowing and swirling pretty good. I kept thinking about form, tuck in the hips, pump the arms, push with the butt, fast feet. It started raining as my watch flipped over to twenty minutes, and at some point I just had to laugh, I've grown to love it when conditions are a bit wild and hairy but it does take away some of ability to really empty the tank.
When I rounded the last little corner coming into the finish I could see 24 on the clock and I pumped it right on in. Final time 24:47, a good hard little run. We hung around for a bit cheering for the rest of the runners as they charged through, and then hit the pool for a flop before dinner (no idea what we were doing here but this picture makes me laugh every time).
I don't do many running-only races anymore, so this was a treat. There's something very raw and primal about running, hard, in my own head, that I enjoy doing (once in a while, not quite as often as ironman though). It's part of the reason I've come to like a bit of trail running, getting off the sidewalks and away from the cars and iPods and traffic. It was nice to show up and run a bit fast, and I think it kicked off the end of my 70.3 recovery quite nicely.