In 2015, I ran one of the local turkey day races but decided this year I would skip racing. That lasted until my friends on a running forum I belong to were talking about the races they were doing and I had race envy so I decided I would try the 5K that was closer to home rather that the one I did last year because even though it wasn't that much farther away, it involved a hill at the beginning and end and I just wasn't up for the challenge. This race was the Turkey Day 5K that was held at and also supported the local YMCA.
Watching the weather, I had pretty much decided to nix plans for the race on Wed. night because the forecast still called for rain and temps in the upper 30s overnight which means an 0830 start would be miserably cold. Throw in the fact same-day registration was $30 ($10 more than what I would have paid had I signed up soon) and it wasn't a real big deal of a race anyway for me PLUS I am doing another 5K on Saturday so I was ok not running it. I woke up at 0400 and heard the pouring rain and it was a done deal...no racing for me. I tossed and turned from then on and EVERY time I'd fall back asleep, I'd start dreaming about the stupid race. I swear it was calling me! 0650 rolls around, I don't hear any rain and I decide if there is a chance I might do this race, I better get up and do my pre-race ritual of two coffees an hour before race time. I stepped outside and it actually was not that cold and while it's overcast and dreary, the rain was gone so I checked the minute-cast and sure enough, no more rain so I figure what the heck, it's a good day for a race. I usually have everything picked out the night before so I was in a bit of a tizzy trying to get my race outfit together and registration closed at 0815 and it's a 15 minute drive so I was completely out of sorts. Race outfit complete and out the door I go. Then I realize Rick has my earbuds so BACK into the house I go frantically looking for another pair. Found some and when I got to where the race was being held (at the local YMCA) traffic was backed up and panic mode when into overdrive. Get the Jeep parked and start speed walking to the Y. I've never been inside before and I had no idea where signs ups were and it was almost 0810 but I eventually found out where they were, got signed up, and then it was time to get quick warm up in. I saw several of the boys and parents from the XC team there for the race so we chatted a bit before heading to the starting line. IT WAS PACKED! Apparently this is a popular race!
My boss saw me and wished me luck, one of the XC moms who is also a runner wished me luck and the race began. The course was gloriously flat going down the main road, through a local college campus, down some residential streets to the bike path and then back through college and down the main road again to the finish. I started off too fast though and add to the fact I had over indulged Wed. night at Texas Roadhouse because I had no intention on racing and I was really struggling. I used my target strategy and it helped me focus on just trying to keep running and not give up. The last mile felt like it took forever and it was a straight shot down the main road and all I could see was a trail of people and no finish arch. Ugh! I found another target, a woman with the word "beef" on the back of her shirt. It struck me as funny for some reason so I kept up with her. When I could see the finish clock, my eyes were once again in complete disbelief that the time was still in the 24's and I heard someone in packed crowd call out my name and say "go Joy" and sure enough, it was just what I needed so I passed the lady in the beef shirt and crossed the finish line in 24:55! Woot woot, another sub 25 race, my 3rd for the year!
This was the first race in my running "career" that I went to completely alone. Either Paul has gone with me, running or otherwise, or my friend from work does the race too. It was kind of weird because I had no one to really hang with afterward. People from the running club were there but I don't know faces of people from the club vs. faces I see at races because I do so many and who knows where all the XC people were in the huge crowd so I decided I would go check my time and head home. Before I headed inside, my friend from college who lives in the area came up to me and told me congrats and that he was the one who called out to me. He and his wife were there volunteering. We chatted for a bit and then I went inside. With the insane amount of people running the race, I had no expectations for a placement so imagine my surprise when I saw I had won 2nd in my AG! Unbelievable! Now I HAD to stick around for the award because they were giving pies and aprons to the 1st place winners and the 2nd and 3rd winners just the aprons. What fun awards. Anyway, I met up with one of the families from XC and just hung with them until the awards were over because one of their sons won 1st in his AG. I joked that getting an apron was probably a sign that I need to be a better cook (I can and do cook, don’t get me wrong, I just don't like to). You know the lady in the beef shirt? I found out this morning after looking at the Facebook pictures from the running club that she was 3rd in our AG so had I not passed her when I did, she would have taken 2nd. So much for a race I wasn't planning to run and yet once again, I did way better than I thought I would. I even got to hug a turkey! LOL I think one of the biggest take aways from 2016 will be that racing without expectations is the way to go: just get out there and run and let the times fall as they may because AG placing or not, I ALWAYS do better than I feel like I'm doing in those moment of race and it's such a sweet victory, even if I don't bring home an award.