Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lo Tide Race

As runners we need to be prepared for the unexpected on race day. And be able to adapt quickly to whatever changes that may confront us. We also need to be reminded too of the big picture, and have a little levity as well.

Participated in the 11th annual Lo Tide Races in Carolina Beach, NC yesterday (Saturday March 14th). One of my favorite races for the year since it raises tens of thousands of dollars for local families currently afflicted with cancer.  And I can walk to the start/ finish line.

This year over 2,000 people ran or walked in either the 5 or 10K events.

Ran a 2+ mile warm-up with my friend Ron from the Wilmington Road Runners Club. Started to rain fifteen minutes or so into.  Was told by another friend that the 5K start had been bumped back ten minutes until 8:40... so after a last bathroom stop and some strides and I got over to the starting corral at a few minutes before 8:30. But quickly realized the race was starting in about 3 minutes.

So during the national anthem and traditional Irish blessing (St Paddy's Day theme race... a human sea of green) I was trying to get my Garmin to pick up satellite reception. Which as we counted down 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 ... I thought I had connected, but after the starting horn and me hitting start on the watch I quickly realized I did not have pace data.

Hence... I was flying blind. Like most runners I've become reliant (perhaps overly) on my Garmin for pace info especially early in races. I like to script the 1st mile time/ pace wise.

But today I was back to running it old school by feel. Decided about half mile in to race the field, and not worry so much about time. Systematically I moved my way up into 4th place by about the half way point... and spent the next mile trying to reel in a local high school kid running in 3rd.

Did have elapsed time on my watch and hit the 2 mile mark in 11:50 something. Started counting off blocks... on streets I've run a thousand times it seems, and know intimately. Reeling, reeling. Trying to stay mentally engaged with the task, yet distancing myself from the attendant pain. Flying past people in the middle of the 10K field.

Which then led to the next unforeseen circumstance. 2 of the 3 top runners missed the turn where the 5K course branched off from the 10K. I missed it as well until someone told me... I doubled back which cost me maybe 15-20 seconds, and a bit of energy processing what had just occurred.

Nonetheless I was able to keep it together the last half mile of unadulterated agony...the proverbial "bag of nails in the chest" time as described with sadistic eloquence by Alan Sillitoe in The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. Which was good enough for what I'll term an asterisk by 2nd place in 18:52.

For those though who will benefit from mine and hundreds of other runners, walkers, and volunteers efforts... times and places are irrelevant. It's merely names and numbers on sheets of paper, digitalized to the internet. Hopefully what we did can ease their burdens just a little bit today, tomorrow, and on down the long, arduous roads they travel...