When I was in St. Louis for a professional conference last month, I decided I would get another state crossed off of my race list. I signed up for a 5K - the Flying Nun Run - at Tower Grove Park. It was a race supporting a local Catholic school, the St. Frances Cabrini Academy.
I wish that I had taken pictures of the park to post here. It was very nice, even in March. Some of flowering trees had already started to bloom pink buds, and there were paved paths winding around and through the green grasses. As I walked the ground before the race, I imagined couples getting married there in the summer.
The race started at 9, and I got off to a good start. I felt like I was running at about a 10-minute pace, and I wondered (for a brief moment) if I might get a PR. Soon, though, I realized that was not going to happen. After only a few turns on the course, I was quickly covered in sweat (from the humidity and from drinking for three consecutive nights with colleagues at the conference); I wasn't feeling my best.
After running for about 15 minutes, I felt discouraged; I had not come upon the first mile marker yet. "Am I running slower than I thought? Is my jogging speed slower than a 15-minute pace?" I haven't been running as much lately, and my motivation for running has been waning. Perhaps I was more out of shape than I thought.
When I knew that I had been running for at least 20 minutes, I decided that there were either no mile markers (which was a relief in a way) or that I had been running in the wrong direction. Truth be told, there weren't really any signs pointing us in the right direction, and I was just following other racers and trusting that they knew where we were supposed to go. "Oh well," I thought. "I guess I'll just keep moving."
My sports bra damp with sweat and my lower back drenched, I kept jogging toward the area where the race started. I figured that I had been running for nearly a half-hour, and I was tired as heck. My race had to be about over.
As I rounded a bend in the path, a lady passed me, saying something kind and encouraging. I should have been appreciative of her encouragement, but instead I felt a little devious (ironic given the race's sponsor), and kicked it up a bit. I passed her up about a tenth of a mile before the finish and ran it in. I saw that the clock said 33 minutes and a few seconds. No PR for me but a time I was happy with - a 10:30-ish/mile pace.
I stayed around after the race to eat a piece of coffee cake and cheer for the award winners. After all, I wasn't planning on attending any conference sessions on Saturday, and my flight back to Washington wasn't until 6 PM.
To my surprise, MY name was called for 3rd place in my age group! I smiled really big and went in front of everyone to accept my trophy. Very cool and unexpected. Granted, I may have been one of only three racers in my age group, but it was neat nonetheless.
I called the Academy a few days later, and my official time was 33:25.
Plans for future races?
Well, I don't have any major running goals right now even though I am registered for Bloomsday again and a 12-hour endurance race in August. I know that I have to get in better shape by August so that I don't die out on the course, but I am unsure of where running fits into my life otherwise - my identity, my daily routine, my fitness/health goals, my friendships... all of it really. I'm not in a race to figure it out either. :) This is just part of my journey.