So today I ran a 5K. I ran the Jingle Bell Run with The Boss. He'd been doing "Couch-to-5K" and wanted something else to do, so I suggested we run a race. He found the Jingle Bell Run and off we went.
For the first time in my life, I almost missed the race. The town of Eugene does not have its park parking lots street addresses listed. So the address to which GPS, iPhone, and the town's own website directed me to was somewhere in the middle of nowhere or perhaps at the back of the park... nowhere near parking, packet pickup, or porta-potties.
And I'd had a LOT of coffee this morning.
Let's just say there was some frantic calling of The Boss, some driving while simultaneously GPS-correcting and phone-wangling, and finally, a desperate pull over to the side of the road when I saw two people wearing santa hats and candy cane codpieces to ask for directions. God bless the candy cane codpiece couple. They got me right on track.
The Boss declared I'd outrun him as he planned to run a 10:00 mile and just wanted to finish. I was feeling extremely tired after a long drive to Portland yesterday and being up late, so I was fine with slow.
Then The Boss took off and held this punishing pace of 9:12. Um, yeah, my average pace so far has been in the 9:40s. So this was 30 seconds faster than I normally run. I hate it when my body proves how much harder I can push it. It was a hard run, but a good hard run.
You see what pushing things does to me? I start saying things like "good" and "hard run" in the same sentence, AND I'M A CYCLIST! I'm not supposed to enjoy hard runs. They are supposed to make me suffer.
The course was mostly nice and flat with a charming little uphill swell right in the middle. We only saw Santa at the beginning of the course, though, and the carolers weren't caroling for us as we ran off. However, the race director had a charming touch of using a giant candy cane as the front-of-the-race pace pole. Near the turnaround, I saw the fast people chasing the kid with the cane.
As always, the first mile and a half were misery and pain and blackness of the dark night of the Achilles tendon. But around mile 1.5, something cleared up and the running became smooth and easy. I'm starting to associate that with finally getting fully warm. It takes me a LONG time to get happy, but once I hit that happy point, it's... easy to hold a strong pace. So the second half of the race was pretty charming and happy. Even my tight hip flexor was warm and mobile.
I'M A CYCLIST! I SWEAR! I SWEAR, MY BELOVED TREKS! YOU WILL ALWAYS BE FIRST IN MY LITTLE HEART!
Nearing the end, The Boss had a strong sprint left in him, and I managed to drag myself over the finish line in a surprising 28:40. The Boss's wife, being sharp of eye and attuned to what her husband and I REALLY run races for, pointed us to the many boxes of pizza. Bless you, Boss' Wife, for you do rock greatly. Whatever ire was left from the getting-lost situation earlier dissolved as I saw what looked like dozens of pizzas- ample pizza for everyone- and floated away on a sea of pepperoni steam. Maybe all winter races should provide steaming hot pizza.
I've just checked the official results, and discovered to my shock that I was actually 3rd in my age group. The unofficial results had me at #5 in my age group, so we didn't stick around. And now I've discovered that I won a ribbon, and blithely strolled away from my first running ribbon and podium finish here in Eugene!
Good job to The Boss for a strong run! Clearly, we need to do this again, because he's got a lot of speed left to build, and I must go get another ribbon. And now that I've discovered that I can hold a 9:14 pace, there's no more 9:40 slacking off for me. I'm ruined, I say, ruined.