The weather changed and around 2:30 AM the rocking of the coach jerked us awake. The winds that normally precede a thunderstorm was catching the big awning and moving the coach. In the dark, wind and rain, I went out to close the awning and stow the patio furniture. With the coach secure, we got back into bed. Hopefully the racket woke the neighbors that woke us at midnight two nights before.
The alarm went off at 5:30 AM and after a quick cup of coffee, we left for the race venue about 35 minutes away. On the way, I began to realize what a crazy thing this was for me to do. Despite all the workouts, there were doubts about making it to the finish line without the help of paramedics. It had been 20 years since my last race. Back then, I was 20 years younger, 30 pounds lighter and confidently running 10ks. I even had a full head of hair. Twenty years of working for the corporation certainly took its toll. Fortunately, I opted for the 5K and had been training in hilly country.
It was still lightly raining while checking in, but the overcast and cool air would help. At check-in I was issued an electronic chip that would record start and finish times. I fastened the chip to my shoelaces with a pull-tie that could only be removed by one of the race volunteers. It was a great idea and would record my exact race time. A 5K is about 3.1 miles. At my normal rate, I expected to finish in about 40 minutes, which is a snail-slow pace.
The race started about ten minutes late. After a very short flat stretch, the course went vertical and runners began dropping out in alarming numbers. Training on hills paid big dividends and I chugged to the top, no problem. After a downhill section, the course had three uphill pulls, each steeper than the last. Once again, we lost more runners but I was able to make it to the top. The rest of the course was mostly downhill to the finish. My time was a surprising 34:26, which was in the middle of the pack. Pleasing, but not an Olympic record. I averaged slightly over 11 minute miles and about six minutes faster than I expected. Recovery was quick and we were soon eating a breakfast provided by one of the race sponsors.
We went to Faye and Don’s house to clean up and eat a bacon and eggs brunch. It had been a long time since we ate like this and it was delicious. For the rest of the day, Jeanne and Faye went shopping while Don and I hung out. For dinner, Don prepared one of his award-winning meals.
After another dominoes match, we returned to the coach to find the campground had mostly emptied out. After sorting through the goodie bag issued to race participants, we went to bed and slept soundly.