Friday, July 29, 2011

Dam race, damn hip

I’ve come to the realization that I run for approximately two reasons:  1 – to eat unlimited amounts of ice cream, and 2 – for exciting blog material.  There are probably other reasons as well, but those are the ones that stand out.
                Last night was the second race in the Woodland Trail Series at the West Hill Dam in Uxbridge, put on by my running club Tri-Valley Front Runners.  Last month my hip was too cranky to run it, and instead I volunteered and had an unexpected blast.  I’ve been looking forward to helping out again at this one, assuming my hip wouldn’t be in shape to run.  I’ve babied my hip lately with short, flat runs on the treadmill and even managed a 3.2 mile run earlier this week at a campground I was staying at.  A few days ago I got a message on Facebook from Joanna, a friend from high school and college, saying she was running this race.  We hadn’t seen each other for a zillion years and I was thrilled that she was coming.
                As the day wore on yesterday I started thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to run the race.  Real slow, of course.  Plus, it would make much better blog material to RUN the race (one-legged) than to volunteer again.  I tossed around the idea, and ran it by a couple people.  The general response was: No, you dumb idiot!  YES, absolutely run it!  Even driving home from work I still wasn’t convinced I should run, hip throbbing as I sat in my car.  But before I could talk myself out of it, I walked in the door, changed into running gear, packed a change of clothes, and flew out the door.  I got to the race and several buddies looked at me in disbelief, saying “You’re running?!”  My response: “Um, I think so.”  Even 10 minutes before the start I pondered if I could get my money back if I changed my mind.  I don’t think I’ve ever had less confidence heading into a race than I had last night!
                By 6:30 I had run out of opportunities to back out of the race and took off at a trot with everyone else.  I started at the back of the pack, and that’s exactly where I finished!  The course was nice (very familiar since it’s in my backyard) and the bugs weren’t bad at all.  I averaged a 10:00 pace, tiptoed in the rough sections, and walked up and down some of the hills.  Most people were out of sight by the time I hit the 2 mile mark, and I was thankful for my thorough knowledge of the trails.  At one point I wondered if I was dead last, but after rounding a corner, I heard a volunteer clapping for people behind me.  I certainly took my time and tried not to be discouraged at the Garmin display as it edged up to 11:00 and 12:00 minute paces.  On sections of good footing I tried to move out a little more, but my hip reeled me back in with a quick burn.  I crossed the finish in a record slow 50:18, but I was greeted with lots of cheers from the club and that was a great way to finish a race!
                Joanna and I stayed to watch the awards before heading out for some post-race victory beers, and we were shocked when she won 1st in our age group and I won 2nd!  We laughed about it, saying we must’ve been the only people in our age group, or there must’ve been a mistake.  We had our picture taken and it made for a good story afterwards at the bar.  We were award-winning runners!

Joanna & I - award winning runners.  (I want Joanna in all my pictures from now on, she makes me look so tall!)

                This morning I got an email from the club apologizing for the confusion, but as it turns out one of the runners in the 20-29 age group was mis-categorized and really belonged in my division, and oh by the way she actually won.  So… victory was sweet while it lasted, but Joanna got bumped to 2nd and I got bumped to 3rd.  I have no plans to disclose this to the people at the bar, who think I’m a running genius.  Let them go tell their families about the award winning runner with the pronounced limp they met in the bar, who guzzled well-earned Sam Adams like a champ, and then left abruptly…in search of ice cream.
Some of the TVFR runners and volunteers: a fun (and sweaty) bunch!

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