Technically, I won a race on Saturday. I'm not listed in the results because I registered the morning of the event. As a result, I had to enter the 4K but was allowed to run the four-mile course. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, my time wasn't recorded.
Before anyone gets too excited, my time was slow. I may have run OK the first three miles, but I faltered during the last one. If the mile markers were correct, and there's a good chance they weren't, I was running maybe a little closer to 7-minute pace than in previous races, and that's on a course with a bit of a hill somewhere near the second mile. I suppose it's still considered a flat course, but I notice any hills, big or small, mostly because I love them. Then again, everything was a blur, and I could have just been running slow the whole time. All I know is that I hit the wall when my watch showed 21 minutes (I didn't see if it was closer to 21 or 22 minutes, just that it was 21 something), and I still had a mile to go.
Do you ever have those moments when you feel like you're running in mud, and there's nothing really holding you back, like it's some kind of mental block or a lack of motivation, or your mind just wandered and you feel like you're out of gas? I'm sure some of that is fatigue, but I still think I'm dealing with some emotional aspects of racing, fears, and not trusting myself. Everything is intertwined, emotions, mental focus, fitness, and that fire inside. If one is off, everything else quickly follows.
I'm not sure why races in Erie, Colorado are designed to create as much chaos as possible toward the end. This race was a lot like the Eerie Erie in that a shorter fun run that started later eventually converged with the longer race. Naturally, it's a clusterfuck with faster runners coming up on people who are more into the event for the sheer enjoyment of being together and getting outside. It's impossible to go all out because kids wobble to and fro, and runners entering the flock have to watch for scooters, baby joggers, large groups of walkers, and, in this case, traffic, though the two officials directing road crossings were pretty damn good about stopping cars when needed. Still, it's, just not easy maneuvering through the crowds.
Complaints aside, this was a really fun race. Everyone was incredibly nice. Several gentleman who ran with me at various times were unbelievably supportive and encouraging. I wanted so badly to keep up with one guy who ran with me up to about mile three, but I felt like I stepped into a slow motion activating device right about the time the three-mile marker came into view.
After slogging through most of the long last mile, I finally saw the finish area. I figured we would follow the curve around the sidewalk and finish in the street where the race started. When I crested the short hill and started to follow the curve, though, the course abruptly ended. Everything was roped off, and I didn't know where to go. It was a dead end. One of the race officials standing in front of me pointed to her left, indicating a large water slide. I asked if we had to go down, and she said, "Yes, or you can make your way around the ropes and run down."
I've never really gone down an inflatable water slide, and I've certainly never done it in a race. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen one at a race before. I couldn't decide if I should go down face or feet first but, in the end, decided to look at it like a regular slide.
My finish time was right around 30 minutes. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Obviously, I'm disappointed that I'm not running faster, but I'm also thrilled that I'm running at all. It was also a fucking blast to be in the lead, even if it was a very small race. My foot is a little sore, but that's nothing new. It's not any more sore than it has been after some harder running, and things seem to be hurting a lot less overall lately.
I don't know what kind of goals I can realistically set, but I think if I just keep moving forward, I might somehow improve. I hope. There's a hell of a lot of room to do so.