First 5K of the year

Yesterday was a good day.  We slept in a little bit, did a little shopping (John has a new suit, but no new running shoes.  Surprise – no one carries size 14, 4E running shoes.), and then headed to Falls Church for the race.  We parked in a cul de sac around the corner from the trail (the race was on the W&OD trail), in front of this really cool Tudor house.  I love Tudor houses.  So does John.  Neat house.  Anyway, it was overcast and a little chilly as we walked to the building next to the trail where we could get our numbers.  My number for this race?  42.  Woo!

This race had timing chips, or whatever you call them, so we had to tie those to our shoes.  I think they only use them for finish times.  If you start anywhere but in the front of the pack, your time isn’t really going to be accurate.  When they started the race, a guy at the official start line counted seconds so we knew when we crossed.  My official start time (which doesn’t figure into my official finish time, which annoys me a bit) was 18 or 19 seconds after the starting gun.  Actually, that works for me ’cause it means my actual official finish time was below 30 minutes, if you subtract 19 seconds.

There was another woman with a weird pace in this race.  She was wearing pink and black (pink hat, black pants, pink shirt, black jacket), nicely coordinated.  She started out just ahead of me in the pack, but then she stopped to walk.  So I passed her.  A few minutes later, she passed me at a jog again.  Then she walked and I passed her.  That’s really annoying.  I passed her sometime after the first mile, and I didn’t see her again until the race was over, so I ended up beating her, but I don’t like leap-frogging with people who walk.  It means their jogging pace is way faster than mine.  Speaking of people who walk, I’m half-convinced this one guy was actually triplets.  I passed him once (he was walking), and then a few minutes later, I passed him again (he was walking).  I never saw him jog past to me to get ahead.  Then it happened a third time, and I really started to think there was more than one of him.  How did I not see him get ahead of me?  Very weird.  But the weirdest person was the guy I saw near the back of the pack (the race was out 2.5K and back along the same path, so after I turned around at the halfway mark I went by everyone who was behind me), running in khaki cargo pants, a button down, and a jacket, carrying a little umbrella (folded up).  Not exactly what i would choose to go for a run in.

Oh!  Before I hit the halfway point, I saw the front-runner coming back towards the finish.  He was tall, thin, black, fast, and all I could think was, “Kenyan?  Could he be Kenyan?  What’s he doing in our rinky-dink race?”  And then I immediately thought, “Yeah, sure, just ’cause he’s black, fast, and clearly a REAL runner, he must be from Kenya?  What is wrong with you?”  And just ’cause I turned out to be right (he is Kenyan, and he won the race in 15:51) doesn’t my assumption any better.  But I still don’t know what brought him to this particular race.

I googled him.  He’s in town to run marathons and half-marathons and win prize money.  Seems to be how he makes a living, which is just really cool.  John mentioned this morning that 15:51 isn’t really all that fast for a 5K (not for medium distance runners), but it makes sense now that I know the guy is a marathoner.  Endurance, not so much speed.  Of course, he’s still twice as fast as me, so what do I know.

Best part?  It RAINED the whole time.  Actually, it wasn’t that bad.  It was something more than a mist, but without actual raindrops.  It was nice and cool just when we were heating up, but we did end up mostly soaked.  The course was mostly flat, except when we went over Rte 7.  But the bridge over 7 was wooden, and I think the change in texture was enough of a distraction so that I didn’t really notice the hill.  I’m glad I did it.  It was hard, and I was concentrating on keeping my legs moving (“No walking, no walking, keep breathing, it doesn’t hurt that bad, no walking, no walking…”), but it felt really good to finish.  I saw the line coming up and I stretched my legs out and passed another four people in the last tenth of a mile…and then I stumbled to a stop and tried to untie my left shoe with fumbling fingers and wobbly legs so I could give them my timing tag/chip thing.  But it felt good.  Our next race is in a month in Alexandria.

I’ll be ready.

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