I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of racing downtown. The roads are rough, with lots of variations in the surface from repeated work and patching, and plenty of ridges from years of traffic. And, historically, I haven’t done well downtown. Add all that together, and you have a pretty reasonable set of excuses for my dislike of running downtown. What possessed me to run back-to-back races downtown is a mystery to me. (Yes, next week’s race is down there, as well.)
The one thing I have always enjoyed about downtown races is the travel. I drive about halfway to downtown, park for free, and then pay five bucks for a roundtrip ticket that takes me almost all the way to the start line. No parking downtown, some “me” time to think about strategy or recover, and (usually) trains full of other runners… that rocks.
Today, I got downtown about 45 minutes before the start of the 5K, and wandered around the “runner’s village.” A little bit of Kaldi’s coffee, and it quickly became time to line up.
This was a Halloween race, so there were tons of costumes. I didn’t get dressed up — only maybe 20% were costumed — but I enjoyed those that did. There were butterflies, demons, cartoon characters, and superheroes, all there, like me, to put their feet on the ground.
The horn sounded, and we were off. I had a pretty good idea that I wasn’t gonna set a PR downtown. The hills and road conditions just take time for me to navigate, and I knew my history downtown. With that in mind, I figured I’d be happy with a sub-50 minute finish for this race. I happened to find a good tune on my iPod at the beginning of the race, and I chugged out onto the course.
I started running, and I just ran into a rhythm — much the same way things have gone the last month or so — and it just came easy. My kilometer splits were all sub-10 minutes, with the first and last under nine minutes. It just came together… again… and in what seemed like no time, I was at the finish line.
Somehow over the last month, I’ve learned to quieten the little voice in my head that tells me I have to walk instead of run. I’ve squelched the nerves, knowing that if I’m running a 5K, I’ve got it covered. That’s confidence that’s come from week-after-week of getting out on the trails and courses, practicing, pushing myself, and learning how to manage me during race conditions.
I know and support that if you get out there on-course, you’re a runner. For the first time since I started doing this almost four years ago, I feel like a runner, and that’s a feeling I can’t even describe.