It’s been awhile since I ran a 5k. I’m not the biggest fan of them because to me, it feels like you’re just getting in a groove by the time the race is over. And also because you feel like you’re about to vomit a bunch. Anybody else?
Anyway, I’d figured I run the Great Buffalo Chase 5k again to redeem myself from last year’s lackluster performance. But as it happened, my friend, Terry, helped organize the Bullitt Blast Dash 5k, a race at the YMCA in Shepherdsville, a small town about 20 minutes outside Louisville. And so it was written that I would run this race along with friends from the Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Running (NQRFPTR) group.
I started training for the Chicago Marathon a few weeks ago, and with Independence Day falling on a Thursday and throwing a wrench in planning, my buddy Scott and I adjusted our schedules to have the weekend free from training. That meant that we would have to run the 5k and then tack on 12 miles following the race. So I had to make a choice – run like a madman and try to PR or just take it easy and enjoy the race? I’d been nursing a sore hammie, so I figured I wouldn’t push it too much. But we all know racetime decision making isn’t often based on practicality.
I barely slept Wednesday night. I don’t think it was any apprehension about the race; I just couldn’t sleep. Somewhere after 1:00 am I drifted into slumber and woke up what felt like five minutes later at 6:00 am. Scott showed up at 6:15, and we drove down Interstate 65 to the Shepherdsville exit.
It’s been raining a lot lately. Like every friggin’ day a lot. Thursday was no exception. It was sprinkling when we left my house, but by the time we reached the expressway, it was pouring down. I believe the local meterologists referred to it as a “deluge.” Awesome. Scott was intantly in a greeeeaaatt mood.
We pulled into the parking lot of the Bullitt County YMCA shortly before 7:00 and darted inside to pick up our bibs and packets. Why did we sprint from my car to the lobby? So we wouldn’t get wet. That’s exactly the mentality you should have right before you run 3.1 miles in a rain shower.
Other members of the NQRFPTR group showed up – Eileen, Laura and Michael – and we all cast weary eyes out the door at the rain that continued to fall. Terry was the official timekeeper for the event, so he wouldn’t be running. He swore the rain would stop before the race began, but as we warmed up with a light jog around center, sprinkles turned into bigger drops.
As we gathered together on the road in front of the Y, I noticed a volcano rising up ahead to the left. As there aren’t many volcanoes in this part of the country, it stood out against the dull, gray day like a scene from a low-budget Jurassic Park. Something you would see on SyFy with a title like Cretaceous Carnage. It was part of Kart Kountry, a ginormous and kitschy go-kart track (which, according to their website is the largest such complex in the world).
After two local young ladies sang the Star Spangled Banner and a race organizer said a quick prayer, the race was on. I took off at a decent pace and settled in to something between pushing it and a moderate jaunt. The rain kept falling, and before long, I couldn’t see through my glasses. A quarter mile in and I was soaked through. Oh well, I thought, let’s have fun and splash through some puddles.
I’d guess there were about 40-50 people running the race, but event organizers had taken the time to make sure the course was closed to traffic. This was a really nice touch – and one I hadn’t expected. Some of Shepherdsville’s finest guarded street intersections to keep us safe in the downpour, and I tried to thank each of them as I passed.
The course map hadn’t been published, and I didn’t have any idea where we were going. We ran down a street, crossed another road that appeared to be downtown Shepherdsville, and headed out into a park. To our left was the Salt River down a hill. The park up ahead appeared to have a loop around it, so I assumed we would lap the park and head back. Instead, we headed north and I could see the turnaround point up ahead. The leaders weren’t that far ahead of me, so I felt good and kept up my pace despite a tightening hamstring. Matt and I passed one another, and I let him know he was in 4th overall. Scott was 6th, and Michael was right behind him. Not a bad showing for NQRFPT runners.
At the turnaround cone, I glanced at my Garmin to see that we had run a little over 1.6 miles. Hmmm…that was just a bit too far, but maybe the finish line would be moved up or maybe my watch was off. Somewhere just past mile 2, I passed another guy and we struck up a conversation. His name was Thomas, and he was from Georgia. He had just moved to Louisville, so I invited him to join our running group on Saturdays.
I had started to tire by the time we returned downtown, but I figured there couldn’t be much left. I kept an eye out for the cone of the volcano rising above the trees, but I didn’t see it. A few turns later, and there it was, rising majestically above the wooden windmills and neon streams of the putt-putt golf course it held dominion over.
As I wrapped up the race, Terry yelled out my time because the large clock erected at the finish line had stopped working in the rain.
It wasn’t a PR (by five seconds), but that’s okay. My watch registered 3.2 miles (as did Matt’s), so I probably finished a little better than the stated time. Nothing to get worked up over. I won a neon orange bag in a door prize draw, and there was a pedometer in our race packet. All in all, I had a great time sloshing through the rain with some friends to kick off our country’s birthday.
Keep running, friends.