Thankfully the day dawn humid-but-precipitation-free so Gabriel and I headed to Alton, about 20 minutes south of where we live. I knew it wouldn't be an enormous crowd and I was right: the field was 219. This was really only my second 5K ever (if you don't count the one I did as an 18-year-old or in the handful of cross country races I ran my sophomore year of college - which I don't!) And I knew running with the stroller provided me with a bit of a challenge AND a good excuse if my wheels fell off.... figuratively speaking, of course. The wheels on the stroller were secure.
|Just after the start. Note the walky-ness of my stride.|
I didn't want to be "that person" so I started near the back of the pack. I wanted to have some space in case I felt compelled to pass people. That happened pretty quickly since the course began on a short but not insignificant uphill. I gave people a wide birth and only came upon two moments of "eek".
1. A young kid (10 or 11 would be my guess) was doing the typical kid thing and sprinting like a maniac!Then walking.... Sprinting like a maniac! Then walking. He was not terribly in tune with the world around him and he almost wandered (while walking) right into the path of the stroller. I just said, "on your left, friend" and he was fine.
2. At about mile one, a woman about my age (again, a huge guess) was sounding like she was going to drop of a heart attack. Her breathing was so heavy and labored I was really worried about her. I came up behind her and settled in for a few seconds waiting for a good place to pass. She glanced my way and then moved very far to the right and waved me ahead of her. I was about to say thanks, as she really didn't need to allow for that much space, when she declared loudly and angrily, "Strollers in races make me VERY nervous, Ma'am!" I wanted to say back, "Out of shape runners who run their first mile far beyond their fitness level make ME very nervous, Ma'am." But I didn't.
Come to find out, she was right. The fine print on the race DID say that strollers weren't allowed. I failed to read the fine print and when Another Mother Runner saw me afterward and said she wished she had ignored the rule, too, I felt like a total idiot/jerk. I tracked down the race director and handed her my bib. I apologized profusely for not paying attention/checking on the rule. "I am sure I didn't win any of the awards but I am happy to disqualify myself for breaking the rule." She appreciated it but said it wasn't necessary. I still feel like a tool for not doing a better job of reading the guidelines but I am giving myself credit for at least owning up to it. (I also told the race director that at least one person was VERY upset with me and asked her to PLEASE tell the woman, if she asked, that I offered to DQ myself. I'm guessing if I was pissed about someone breaking the rules I would feel a tiny bit better if I learned they tried to make it right in the end.)
Anyway, back the race. It was good. Other than that, I don't really have a blow-by-blow. The miles weren't clearly marked so I had to guess where I was mileage-wise, which was fine.
Gabriel was AWESOME. Nursed right before the race, slept (as far as I could tell) throughout the race, and then was straight-up ADORABLE after the race. A good sign for future (hopefully LEGALLY) stroller-run races! And I can't say I didn't enjoy the small groups of people along with way cheering me (and my load) on. Always feels a little badass to pass people while pushing a stroller.
|"Hi, Josh!" And as Polly's mom noted on FB, always running with "Polly on my shoulder." Fight like a girl!|
At the finish I saw Josh Spaulding, the local sports writer/editor/photographer/trumpet player/stage crew/all around good guy. He was snapping photos and as you can see, I was happy to see him. Josh is a total workhorse and is a one man army covering local sports. Seriously, I don't thinking I know anyone who logs as many hours as he does at their profession. Thanks, Josh!
My results were pretty good:
26:08 (25:55 on my watch... it wasn't chip timed)
5/35 (age group)
I felt pretty good at the end (maybe too good? why was I able to smile so broadly!?) and I guess it's not too much of a surprise that my pace was about :26 slower than my 1/2 marathon PR pace. It doesn't look like I'll be setting a new PR this September for 13.1, but I am thinking I'll be able to do it with a smile, at least.
In addition to having "Polly on my shoulder" I wrote "Kurt Giessler R.I.P." on my race bib. Today is the Celebration of Life in his honor. The boys and I are not attending (holy distraction, Batman!) but Scott is taking off from camp in order to be there.
Another 5K is on tap for August 25, so it will be intersting to see how that one goes down....