One of the things I miss most right now is stair racing. Thanks to the pandemic, stair races are pretty much done for the time being, and I don’t know when they’re coming back… or when I’ll feel comfortable racing again anyway. I did have a race experience recently, though – with a bib and everything!
Good ol’ lucky number 41088! The race was the Cedar Point Run & Ride 5K. I signed up way back in December, and the race was supposed to happen at Cedar Point, the awesomest amusement park ever. but, due to COVID-19, they turned the race into a virtual event, and instead of running between roller coasters and corn dog kiosks in northern Ohio, I ran along a boring trail in suburban Detroit without a roller coaster anywhere in sight.
I take that back – the route wasn’t boring. It was a section of the Air Line Trail in Wixom and Walled Lake that I had never been on before. The Air Line Trail used to be a railroad, and it turns into the West Bloomfield Trail, which then turns into the Clinton River Trail. It’s this series of trails that I’ve been systematically hiking with JJ during the pandemic, and this race actually brought me to the western terminus of that trail, where the former railroad trail meets up with an actual, functioning railroad.
JJ ran the 5K with me. We had been training together for the month prior, and I was ready to get this over with. Because it was virtual, I had the pleasure of starting whenever I wanted, and I wanted to start early, before it got too hot. So, at 8:24am, JJ and I began.
You may remember me grumbling recently about not actually enjoying running all too much, and I stand by that. But I do admit that a race is empowering. I found myself liking the run a little bit more that day, knowing that it meant something more than just a workout. The trail was flat, and there weren’t many people out there that morning, so we had it more or less to ourselves most of the time. We only had to stop once for JJ to poop, and I jogged in place while he took care of that business.
JJ and I got a lot of smiles from the few other walkers and bikers on the trail. Maybe I looked silly running, with a dog and a race bib, when there clearly wasn’t a race happening, but I don’t really care what others thought.
I found myself checking my watch a lot in the second half, because without a set finish line, I wanted to make sure I finished the 5K on the dot. And I did! 3.10 miles exactly.
My time of 31:39 is a good few minutes off my best 5K time, but I knew going in that I wasn’t going to be setting any records. I was happy to be done. And super happy, once I saw my splits, that my efforts to push myself towards the end paid off, with my third full mile being my fastest, and the final tenth of a mile my fastest pace of the morning.
Organizers set up a way to submit your time to make it in the official results, and I did. At the time that I submitted, I was in 30th place, out of around 100. But people had nearly a month to complete the virtual race, and I never checked back to see how I fared once the deadline passed, and I don’t really care, either.
What was most important to me was that I earned the medal that they sent me ahead of time. Not just by finishing the race, but by giving it my all and pushing myself as hard as I could. I did that. I earned my medal. And the medal is cute: Snoopy in a roller coaster car!
JJ did a great job, too. He’s a wonderful running partner, and after we walked for another 8/10ths of a mile to cool down and get back to where I had parked, we both drank a big bottle of water, and sat in the grass in the shade for a bit.
Keep it up, David!
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