Looking at these photos what comes to your mind? Do you wonder why people run? Or why they’d pay to show up and run in the rain like this? Or why would they try to stay dry under a tent when they’re about to run in the rain? Or did you notice the couple with the stroller under the umbrella? The lady had a small baby. Or maybe you saw the portable toilets and thought , yuck, I’d never use those.
Or maybe you’re a runner and thought, let’s go, it’s just a little rain! Or you were checking out the starting line and other features of the race course.
I woke up at 4 am, checked my weather app because I knew the forecast, and saw a huge storm headed to where the race was being held, about 40 miles to the east of my house. Got ready to go and was about to get in the van when the sky opened up. Had a few second thoughts , but then I thought , well maybe it will move north. I took off down the highway and eventually drove out of the heavy rain into sprinkles. When I go to the race venue it started raining moderately. Oh well, I thought, I’m here, I’ll put on my rain jacket. I had to walk about a 1/4 mile to the packet pickup area from the parking lot, or at least it seemed like it. In line with the other die hard runners, I started to feel good about showing up. One of them, an older man and amazing runner that I know from trail running, had driven 1.5 hours in heavy rain, hydroplaning on the highway. I thought , if he can do this, I can! Then another lady mentioned that she might just go home. I was thinking, then why are you here? She didn’t leave , though.
We had to wait awhile after picking up our bibs and during that time it rained off and on. It started raining a bit harder right before 7AM so they held off a few minutes. Finally, we saluted the flag during the national anthem in the rain and headed to the starting line. I decided to keep my rain jacket on even though I knew eventually I’d get hot and have to take it off, which is what happened later.
I had registered for this race during a “super low price ,early bird” registration period , read ‘impulse buy’. I could have skipped it since I had run 22 miles the day before, but I wanted to challenge myself and see what I could do.
The title of this blog is really about what goes on in the mind of a runner, and probable other athletes and people who like to push themselves in whatever pursuit they enjoy.
In the car on the way there: Dear God , please get me there safely. Please help me run my race. Please watch over and bless my family while I’m gone from home. (Then I listened to Christian music and the end of an inspiring message from Ravi Zacharias on the radio.) Oh crap, watch the road. Do not look at your GPS while driving! Why are these people in such a hurry at this hour on a Saturday?
Arriving at the venue: Oh no! I thought this was where I am supposed to go but evidently not. I will follow those cars. I hope I’m not late! Whew, I guess this is the place. Well, here comes the rain. Hmm, I don’t want to walk back to the car with my t-shirt, so I will wear my pack under my jacket and bring everything I need . I can just stuff my shirt in my pack, or maybe the pocket of this jacket. I bet the shirt will be too small for me. I guess these people sitting in their cars went to packet pickup yesterday. The sky is lightening up, the sun is coming up soon. I should hide my wallet. I wonder if anyone breaks into cars in the rain. Okay, off I go into the rain with the other nuts.
Waiting to start, while standing under a tent: I hope I can run. I hope my legs and body can do this. Oh, that’s nice that this family is running together and look how enthusiastic and positive their kids are! What is wrong with my kids? I wish my family would run races . I’m cold. Uh-oh , it’s raining harder. Will there be lightning? Will the race go on? Oh no, people are getting bit by ants. I hate ants. ( I have a short chat with the man next to me about ants. We compare scars that we both have on our wrists from ant bites. We talk about the craziness of what we are about to do and how we like it.) Oh, yay, they are starting pre-race stuff. Almost time! Remember to take it nice and easy, don’t go out too fast.
First loop of two 5 mile loops: Well this isn’t so bad. I feel pretty good! I’m not hot and I have energy and I’m passing a lot of people since I stared off in the middle-back section. Oh, she went out too fast, now she’s slowing down. Why is that man breathing so hard? He’s running too fast for his fitness level. I hope he’s okay. Wow, already 3 miles done! That went by fast. Look at all these awesome cops and volunteers standing in the rain for us! I love these volunteers! Wow, they have a lot of orange cones. Careful, don’t slip on the painted lines. Man, I feel so good. I can’t believe it. I wonder if that will change soon. I’ll just go with it and if I have to walk some I will. Oh wow, almost to the turnaround already! 5 miles done. Halfway. Oh , what?! There is the winner coming in! He has run 10 miles already! How do they do it???
Miles 6-10: Hmm, that lady keeps running by me and then walking. I am going to just try to maintain this steady pace as long as I can. Well, I am passing her again. We are yo-yoing. She can’t hold that pace. Why doesn’t she slow down? Maybe she likes the run/walk. She can run well, but she can’t hold it, she’s out of breath. I am slower , but we are averaging the same pace. This is interesting. I will just keep going. Where is she? Oh, I caught her again. I think I might be able to run the whole thing without walking. That is my new goal. So much for my plan to run/walk. Hmm, should I eat a Gu (gel)? I can’t believe I’ve run this far on just water! In the summer I need so much fuel! Mile 7 already! This is flying by! I think I will go ahead and eat a GU just to help me stay strong . But I’m not going to walk. How can I do this with this jacket in my hand? I’ll put it under my arm. Okay, here we go! Last mile, push it. I wish I could run faster . I wonder what my pace has been? (I forgot my watch and was using an app and had not looked at it during the race.) Oh, here I am catching up to that yo-yo lady, I will encourage her. “Almost there! You have a great pace! Go for it!” ( We finished within seconds of each other, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her after the race, unfortunately.) Push it! Finish line ahead, go hard! I did it! I think I PRd this course! (no, but almost) Wow, that was awesome! Crap, my app won’t stop! My phone is too wet and my hands are cold and wet. (somehow I stopped it but it had a little extra time on it.) Oh, I like this medal.
After the race: I’m cold. I’m hungry. I want dry clothes. I want food. But I have to wait around so I can get the results. Did I place in my age group? Breakfast tacos ! I will eat the insides, no tortillas for me. (I’m gluten free.) Oh, soda, yes, I want one. What is going on ? Oh they are already giving out awards and the cash drawing. I hope I win $100! ( This race gives away 8 $100 bills and 5 $50 bills. ) Well that was pretty tasty, I love potatoes and eggs. I need to sit down and I need a paper towel. My hands are so cold! Oops that area is only for VIPs. Oh, there are some chairs. They are wet, but so am I. Oh it feels good to sit down! I can barely hear the announcer. I better pay close attention. He is calling the winning numbers with little warning. Oh bummer, one number off. Hey I see a lady I know, I want to say hi. She won Masters Female ! And her mom won her age group. Hey there is another trail friend. Good to see and chat with her . I’m so cold. Should I just leave? I will put on my wet jacket. That is actually warming me up. Well, I didn’t win any money or place in my age group. I can finally go get warm!
On the way home: Thank you, God! Thank for you making this a good day. Please get me home safely. Amen. Why are these people driving 80 in a construction zone? Idiots. Okay, out of that death zone. No, I’m not moving over. I’m doing 80. Sorry. Pass me if you want to. Go back to Austin.
So now you know a little bit of what is going on in my seemingly quiet little head.