Usually, I plan my races months in advance. I’m pretty regimented that way. I have an ongoing spreadsheet, with all our races listed by date, with location, price and color-coded based on which family members are running. It’s all part of “My System.”
I like being organized.
However, I was also kind of itching to race.
I had my eye on the local RunJax Labor Day 5K.
It was relatively close, with a flat and shaded course, and an associated kids’ fun run. I hemmed and hawed over it, and then, with less than a week to go, I registered me and little man for the 5K and one mile, respectively. Mr. PugRunner has been having some knee issues, so he was going to act as escort to little man in the fun run.
Even better, we had some friends who would be running, too. In fact, we followed our friend E, her husband and their daughter to the race, and hung with them and some other ladies. Nana and Papa Bear also came down with my cousin, to watch little man run his race.
Just a nice morning of family and friends.
The race was scheduled to start at 7:30 AM, which was early, but not early enough to avoid the (wait for it) stifling heat and humidity. Even just standing around, waiting for the starting gun, it was uncomfortable. I used the restroom and amazingly, was able to settle into a pretty calm state of mind. Surprising considering how last minute the whole thing was.
I even threw caution entirely to the wind and broke out my new Mizuno Wave Inspire 10s.
I know, I know. Nothing new on race day. Ever. But I couldn’t resist. It was time.
We lined up to run, and E was sticking near me. I told her I would be doing my regular intervals, so not to feel obligated to hold herself back. I don’t think I’ve ever actually raced with anyone before, so I had no idea what the etiquette was. Turns out that she was comfortable doing intervals with me, and I experienced what was probably my first ever run WITH a buddy.
(Side note: I really kind of liked it. I pushed myself harder so that I didn’t embarrass myself, and we were pretty good at encouraging each other and cracking little jokes along the way. I definitely didn’t expect to enjoy the experience, and now I’m plotting how to find someone who runs my pace to rope into long runs).
The course was mostly flat, and after the first long straightaway, directly into the rising morning sun, was shaded. We ran through quiet residential streets without much to report, and I found that we were keeping excellent pace with a Navy group. It was pretty easy to fall into sync with them, until the last half mile or so, when we kicked it up a notch to finish strong.
We turned in our timing chips, collected our medals and bottles of water, and little man was waiting for me with a muffin. That I think he really wanted to eat.
As we chatted with our families, waiting for the fun run to begin, we saw a runner propose to his girlfriend right after they both crossed the finish line. It was the cutest, sweetest thing. She said yes and we all clapped and cheered.
And then the kids ran their mile (Mr PugRunner and my cousin accompanied little man for the duration). It was a tough one for them because of the heat, but I think they had a good time, and they loved getting their special medals.
My parents took little man with them, while Mr PugRunner and I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed home to clean up and make meatballs and pasta salad for our Labor Day get together.
I really enjoyed this race. It’s the perfect size with a nice course, and of course, a wealth of friendly and helpful volunteers. Also, racing on holidays just seems like the right thing to do. I didn’t PR, but I felt pretty good about my time and I felt strong at the end, so that’s what counts.
Oh, and my new shoes worked out great. I want to get another pair of inserts for them, but I have some time before it becomes critical.
Do you like racing on holidays and days off?
Do you prefer smaller local races or the larger ones?