On Sunday, I missed the start of the yoga class (thanks, GPS) but found another one that started an hour later. So was walking to this next hot yoga class that I wanted to check out in Northampton, and noticed a group of people milling around downtown with race numbers on. With 45 minutes before class started, I was curious so decided to see what they were up to.
I saw a big group in a parking lot and realized there was some kind of race. This is 10:15 AM, and I go over to the tent and ask what’s going on. Turns out it’s a 5K that starts at 10:30. Like a crazy person, I ask how much it is and if I can still register. They say $20 (I was going to pay $20 for the yoga class as a drop in) so I say, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
I think they thought I was nuts.
I’ve completely forgotten that it’s 40 degrees out and all I have are hot yoga clothes — tank top and short shorts — and I’m wearing big socks that won’t fit with my racing flats, the only sneakers I have in the car. Speaking of which, I run back to the car, strip in the parking lot, get changed, realize that I have huge blisters on my heels from breaking in new shoes the day before, slap moleskin on and realize I’m running in mesh shoes, no socks and it’s FREEZING out, and jog over to the start line for 10:29 AM.
With absolutely no goals, plans or people I know, I just go out as hard as I can, trying to stay with the only other three guys who are in running singlets. By Mile 1, I’m sitting third and comfortable. By the turnaround, I realize that the first woman behind me is maybe 20 seconds back, so I speed up. Get passed by one guy. Hit 2 miles and the time the volunteer gives me means that I ran the second mile a minute faster. Dial it back, get passed by another guy but stay on his heels.
We head into town and I know the finish is coming in a couple minutes. Feet are on fire from the cold, lungs hurting, fingers numb. Pass the guy in front of me and start chasing third.
Cross the line. I ended up 4th overall, missed third by 2 seconds, but don’t care overly much. It’s cold and I just want pants and my jacket. That said… I was pretty stoked. I set a new PR for my 5K time, and beat the 2nd place woman by over a minute.
So what does that mean? Apparently I am better at 5Ks than long distance, and better at running than I am at bike racing. Now I just wish I knew what would have happened had I been somewhat prepared!
The best part of the whole thing was that I won a certificate for 6 Pilates classes (so instead of spending $20 on 1 class, I spend $20 and got a race, 6 classes, plus another certificate for 2 pounds of locally roasted fancy coffee and a sweet tshirt for my dad!)
Pretty solid Sunday. I’m not going to lie: the ’cross season is rough on me mentally. Because I race the elite field and only race in the big races that I need to cover, it’s hard for me to have a good placing. I have races where I’m happy with my finish, and plenty more where I’m not, but even when I’m happy with my finish, it’s a mid-pack one. So to actually win something felt pretty awesome for a change.
It’s definitely made me think a lot more about my motivation for racing, and reminded me how it feels to truly be competitive — I haven’t had the competitive drive for a while now (despite absolutely loving racing) but now I really feel like I’m getting my mojo, for lack of a better word, back.
This week, it’s been pretty whacky: Pilates, an awesome trip to the rock gym and some scary climbs thanks to two wonderful women in Northampton, and a 3 hour freezing cold bike ride this morning. It feels good to be “home” again!