Susan is taking on quite the challenge this year by running a race every single month of 2016. She’s getting back in shape again running with friends, family and her faithful dog. On her second race of 2016, she came in last place but enjoyed the race atmosphere and seeing other runners on the course.
The -22 degree weather in St. Catharines welcomed us to the 5K Valentine’s Run– my second race of 2016. My brave sister-in-law, Susan, joined me for this one and as we headed to the registration on Main Street to pick up our headgear, we caught a glimpse of the festive chocolate medals. Much-needed motivation for a cold winter race.
A mild panic started to creep in as I headed to the start. The race hadn’t even started yet and already, I couldn’t feel the toes. At least it was a bright and sunny with no wind. As we set off running, it didn’t take me long to realize that although Susan said it would be a fast walk, she was going to be pushing me to run as much as I could.
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On out-and-back 5K races, it’s not long after before the fast runners are already doubling-back and passing us on their sprint to the finish. At this point, I’ll admit, I look like I’m in a parade. I started waving and hollering out encouraging words to them even though I was in the race myself. I can’t help it– I’m amazed at their achievement. It barely resonated with them though, judging by their steadfast and steely focus on the road ahead. Whatever, it makes me feel good to support them.
When I approached the halfway point, we were greeted by a full-on tailgate party with a Happy Valentine’s Day sign, chocolates and candies. We were warmed up and I was thrilled to be able to feel my toes again. The volunteers amaze me at events like this– they stand out in the freezing cold, cheering us on. That’s commitment.
Throughout the race, Susan kept saying that we might have been at the back. I said there was absolutely no way as there had been a whole crew of walkers behind us when we started. As we were heading to the finish line though, I looked over my shoulder when I heard a car following from behind. It was the police car following the end of the race. The walkers had taken a different route. I was in fact the last racer.
Knowing this helped me to pick up the pace. We finished in 42:30 – a time that I will continue to improve upon as the months progress.
When I finished, one volunteer shared with me that she had run for 25 years and had always been in the last quarter of the group when she raced. She said that it didn’t matter– someone always has to come in first place and last place in order for it to be called a race.
It was a fantastic event. After the run, I just enjoyed the party getting to know the other participants and volunteers. And of course, there was live music, unlimited chili, pizza, beer and cider– the makings of a perfect post-race environment.