On January 7, 2011, a week after I experienced the euphoria of running the 1st Run on New Years Day, I signed up for the Wild Rover Race Series. It entailed 3 races: a 3 miler in Haverhill, a 4 Miler in Lawrence and a 5 Miler here in Lowell, all between the weekends of Feb 27th thru March 13th. I debated for about a minute the possible weather conditions on those future dates, the fact that I have not raced anything longer than a 5K and the race fees. But the debate didn't last and before I knew it, I was signed up for 3 more races.
Early birds got the choice parking. Because I am neurotic about being late to anything, I got a great parking spot despite the snow. Being early also gave me the opportunity to go fetch my race package at St Joe's without having my running garb on. Since it was a brutal, slushy hike to the bib pick up, I was quite happy about being so early. Once I got back to my vehicle, I stayed toasty warm and got all the extra clothing layers off and put on the nice, dry and warm Mizunos!
The course was brand new to me. In fact, I had never been to Haverhill before, so me being me, I was soaking everything in. That goes for the HUGE muddy, slushy puddles in the first 1/4 mile. Once we got passed that, I settled into a groove.
I had read that the course had some challenging hills, and it was true. The first mile just seemed like one gradual hill. But much to my surprise, I handled it well even though I have done zilch for incline work on the treadmill. Not one pause, no burning shins. Once at the top of the hill, we ventured down a barely plowed side neighborhood street. It felt great to be forced to run on the snow pack. I had used the "snowy roads" excuse for not running outside all winter long. This proved to me that it is perfectly safe if you are careful. It felt so exhilarating that I started high-fiving the cops!
Of course, most times, when you go uphill, there is a downhill and as much as I knew I shouldn't fly down the downhill sections because of possible shin injury, I did it anyway. I really wanted to sprout wings!
At the finish line, an awesome finishers medal, space blankets, hot chili and soup waited for us. I think I was most pleased about my time (31:13) because the treadmill work all winter long has been hard at best. I still get it done, not a lot miles like a seasoned runner, but for me, the treadmill can be challenging. I can tell I am itching for spring to come.
The series finishers medal is pretty cool. It's huge, about 4" x 4". It has 4 magnets embedded in the main medal to connect the two smaller finishers medals from the next two races to make up one giant "charm". Yes, I love the BLING! ;-)
My best guess is that I had about a 10:17 pace. This is awesome to me because there was no effort really on my part. I am getting faster and the sub 10:00 mile is perfectly attainable if I keep from getting distracted. But in truth, I am not doing the running for the PRs (though it is nice when it does happen). I am doing the races because I know I can, to keep me healthy, to keep my life interesting, to experience the camaraderie and in this case, finding new photography material!