Due to some nagging foot injuries shenanigans, I haven’t run much since the Marine Corps Marathon. In fact, I’ve barely run at all – a short three miles one weekend morning with the NQRFPTR group. I’m not proud of that. Just putting it out there.
It should be noted that my official 5K PR is an abysmal 29:30. I’ve spent the better part of 2012 training for either my first half marathon or my first full marathon, and seeing as how I like sticking to a schedule, I didn’t run many races during that time. In fact, the last 5K I ran was the almost-vomit-inducing heatstroke of a race back in early July.
I set out on a quest to put down an official 5K time that would not embarrass me in conversations with other runners.
While digging around on some race calendars, I came across a 5K that benefited a local charity, was held right here in town and – the one that sealed the deal – offered free post-race pancakes. I’ll pretty much do anything for a good pancake.
So Saturday morning, I met up with a few of my friends in the parking lot of the Middletown United Methodist Church for the 2012 Harvest Run. We checked in quickly, got our cotton t-shirts and milled about outside in the 20-something degree weather.
We didn’t know
a lot anything about this race – including the course – before we showed up. There was a map included in our packet, and it didn’t take long to discern that this race wasn’t going to be run a closed course. A man carrying a handmade sign that read, “Watch for runners on the road,” confirmed our suspicions.
We hung around near the start “line” (an orange cone in the street) and awaited further instruction. After a quick prayer from the pastor of the church, the race organizer simply said something along the lines of, “I’m going to say ‘ready, set, go,’ and then you can go. Ready, set, go.”
And just like that, we were off.
I didn’t bother to memorize the map. It was only three miles, and if I got off course, there was a White Castle nearby that I could just run to and call someone to come get me. Interesting note – White Castle cracks a fresh egg for each of their breakfast sandwiches. Now you know that.
I was determined to PR, but I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen when I saw a man with what appeared to be a four-year old child ambling along the sidewalk in front of me holding up the line. Another kid fell off the sidewalk and bit it hard in the dirt. I kinda laughed because, well, I’m a jerk like that sometimes. He got back up, so he was totally okay.
We ran down a fairly busy street and turned into a residential neighborhood. There were volunteers stationed at each turn, so there was a good chance I wasn’t going to get lost.
This race had some hills. I don’t really run hills by choice because I’m generally lazy and don’t like them. There was even a pretty big one right in the middle of the route, but once we crested it, the course was the inbound section of what amounted to an out-and-back.
For almost the entire race, I tried catching my friend, Matt, but couldn’t. He stayed about a tenth of a mile ahead of me and crossed the finish line (the aforementioned cone) at about that same distance.
I couldn’t read the clock that was positioned at the finish line (believing at the time that it wasn’t working), so I checked the watch on my arm. 26:16. Hey, that’s good for me.
My lungs hurt. It was freakin’ cold out, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose, so I kept heaving gulps of frigid air down into the deepest recesses of my lungs. I finally had enough and headed to Building B for my complimentary ‘cakes.
Ah…what this race lacked in officialness (it’s a word), it made up for in hospitality. Inside Building B was a spread of three different kinds of freshly made pancakes (regular, chocolate chip and blueberry), ham and fried apples. I chose the blueberry option and had a kind woman ladle fried apples DIRECTLY ON TOP OF MY PANCAKES. I get down like that.
While I ended up beating my previous PR by more than three minutes, I’ve decided not to count this as an official PR. The course wasn’t chip timed or even really clock timed, and official results won’t be posted (and weren’t even recorded) for future proof. That’s enough for me to call it a good run and let it be.
I’ll mention the time (if anyone asks), but I plan on beating it in a more official 5K soon. Although I forgot what running in the cold feels like, so I don’t know how soon that will be.
Until then, keep running, friends.
Some photos courtesy of Dawn J. and Scott S.