While vacationing in FL, my training plan suggested a 5k or 10k race on the 4th of July….I didn’t question it, I just started looking! I really wanted a 10k since I had just raced a 5k at the Corporate Cup Relays, but what I found was a 10 mile beach race or a couple of 5k races. I toyed with the idea of the 10 mile beach race – still seeking a redemption race from my half marathon DNF – but a race report from the previous year mentioned an abundance of moon jellyfish washed up on the beach and my coach wasn’t keen based on the potential of a sloped sandy surface for 10 miles having potential to cause all kinds of foolery with my hips! So we agreed that one of the 5k’s would do, and she encouraged me to pick a “fast, flat course”. One of the races was substantially closer to where we were vacationing, but appeared to me more of a “fun run” – complete with Lincoln costumed runners….it did however promise a US flag beach towel in place of a race shirt….pretty tempting, the second was a longer drive but actually said on the flyer “a flat, fast paced out and back course.” I kid you not. It was clearly a sign! 😉
I broached the subject with Todd a few days ahead of time, and again the day before…when I may have mentioned the 5am wake up and 1 hour drive…he wasn’t thrilled but luckily was in a vacation good mood and agreed to my plan. I may not have mentioned the possibility of the substantially closer race with the sweet beach towels, but I did offer that he could run if he wanted! He choose photography instead.
So that is how I arrived at the start line of the Beverly Norris Memorial 5k
in Sebastian, FL early on the morning of July 4th
. That was after I found the start line which was not immediately clear as the group of runners were herded down the road! I lined up towards the front of the crowd and was amused at the sideways glances that I was getting from the locals. The locals who all CLEARLY knew each other….there was the usual runners banter about weekly mileage and how out of shape everyone was…aka sandbagging.
I was standing behind one female runner who had a flower in her hair. She was obviously a local favorite, but was exchanging banter that she was in training for a 100 miler and “had to run after this” (I always feel that when translated from runner speak to regular speak, this oft heard comment means something like “I am racing, but just so you know I am training more than you on any given day!”) I heard one guy say to her, “I don’t want to get chicked”.
This is where I digress slightly into the messed up nature of the female competitive age group runner, and why it is no wonder that so many are a little messed up. When you take a step back – this seemingly jocular comment is pretty derogatory. In most sports male and female participants are not directly compared, however in a race – such as this one – the guys who often acknowledge that a girl is a good runner (maybe better than him relative to his peers), still feels the need to not be beaten by a GIRL. I assume that he would not have turned to a male buddy at the start line and said, “as long as I beat you” but somehow it is acceptable to make the statement based on gender. This comment did not seem to offend the recipient however, she just continued to protest that that would not be happening today because she had been running such epic mileage etc. and that she would try to keep between 5:30 and 6:30 pace.
Luckily I have heard enough start line banter in my time to be pretty unaffected and now that the real racing happens after the gun goes off! I just hung out with the old guys, in the second row. The old guys, who it turned out at the awards presentation made up the most competitive age group in this area….I guess that is what you get for racing in FL!
Soon the race director/starter arrived – made some comments on the out and back course and how if anyone managed to get lost on the straight out and back course it was natural selection! And shortly we were off. After my race at the corporate cup relays – I had plans to run steady pace for the three miles – as soon as the gun went off this of course went out the window and yet again I made it through the first mile at a 6:40 pace! I was neck and neck with the flower girl for the first quarter mile, but felt comfortable and she seemed to be struggling, somehow I pulled ahead.
About to pull ahead….
Just to be clear that NEVER happens. Whenever I am neck and neck with someone, something in my head or legs usually decides that I should just let them go, catch up to them later. This was pretty unknown territory for me. So I focused on good form and efficient running. I could see the first placed female ahead of me, but wasn’t making any ground and now I had no idea whether flower girl was right on my heels or not! By the time I reached the half way turn around – after thanking the police and volunteers along the way and smiling at the old guys in their lawn chairs who had set up by the side of the road and I had seen during my warmup ( I think they really came for the parade, but I recruited them as my friends and supporters in this unknown town!) – I saw the first place female about 50 yds before the turn heading the other way. She looked strong. Then when I turned I saw the girl with the flower in 3rd
place, at about the same point. Time to dig in and hold on for the second half of the race! It was fairly uneventful. The course was indeed fast and flat (it is FL!) It was by the Indian River so there was a definite head wind on the second half. It made me think about the autoshow shuffle
on the Detroit river in January, with the terrible headwind at the finish….I knew I could handle this little breeze!
Final kick to the finish
As I approached the line my fast twitch muscles didn’t have much left to give. I could hear people behind me and was honestly just hoping that it wasn’t the girl with the flower, but all I could do at that point was try to make it across the line as soon as possible! And I did. And she didn’t pass me. Again, this NEVER happens.
A fun race. A little test for me of my ability to hang on in a race….at that point when I normally decide that there will be another day or another race or whatever that deal is.
Todd asked me why my coach believes in a celebratory race for the 4th of July – I believe it was a genuine inquiry (and not a sarcastic one!) I told him I didn’t know, I guessed it was just because she knew there would be races to jump into….then at some point it hit me. This was a speed workout in disguise, it was three one mile repeats with no rest intervals! I had been duped by the raceday excitement! 😉
We hung out for the awards and then checked out the local artisan market, resisted the elephant ears (actually that didn’t take much resisting) and then headed back to Cocoa to enjoy the rest of our 4th of July.
Oh, and flower girl? She crossed the line and declared this was her worst race ever. When the nice volunteer handing out water said “but you were the 3rd lady” she replied “woman not lady”, hmmmm…strange that she doesn’t mind the derogatory comments about getting chicked, but was offended by being called a lady. In my book, you should ALWAYS be nice to the volunteers!