Last week, Eric and I ran the Cap10K, which was a fun time except at the end when it was next to impossible to get a damn banana after running 6 miles, and I thought I might collapse before I could get to a breakfast taco.
Getting into our starting corrals, a helpful sign told me that my group would cross the starting line roughly 20 minutes after the race had officially begun. That’s because my pace group is running for many, many reasons, but to win it all is not one of them. Pre-race time is always a little tough because once you are at the race, you’re just kind of waiting for the thing to start.
I think things like: I wish someone here was selling coffee. But I don’t need more coffee because I’m trying to limit the number of times I stand in an epic line for a port-a-potty. I wish I’d worn pants. But shorts are going to feel much better once I actually start moving. Man, that lady looks fast. How many of the 20,000 people here are definitely going to finish before me.
I also feel a little awkward before the race starts because Eric doesn’t start with me. We have tried that before, just so we can keep each other company, and it’s all very sweet and cute, but it lasts about 15 seconds before he is already ahead of me, and I’m either with people too fast for me, or he’s dodging a lot of people who are much slower than him.
After the marathon/half marathon, we agreed it was better to be with our actual pace group, and as I stood there, I felt a little weird being all by myself because most people seem to be running with friends. But it does give me an excellent chance to people watch.
The people in my pace group are a comfortingly eclectic mix. Most of us are tattooed, which always makes me feel a little naked with my un-inked skin on display. There are young people and old people. Folks with babies–who sometimes look hilariously unimpressed and bored in their jogging strollers. Those babies are my favorites. People with dogs. There are people who look like they are taking this run very seriously, and then there’s the woman I jogged past who was dressed as a cookie and being chased by a man in a Cookie Monster outfit. There were tons of superheroes and even a few celebrities.
Running in a group of 20,000 people is not something I ever thought I would want to do, but running pretty slowly in the midst of a huge crowd, I find myself feeling a connection to the people around me. There were two girls who looked to be about 10-12 running in my pace group. Not a great pace for me, but very impressive for someone who comes up to my waist. One girl stopped and walked a few times, and her dad was right there cheering her on. He told her he was proud of her, and I was totally proud of her too. When I was her age, I thought having to sweat was a form of punishment, but she was out there running strong and seemingly happy. That girl is awesome! I would probably have formed a similar fondness for the redheaded girl I noticed in my group if she had slowed down long enough for me to know much about her. She was kicking ass, and I wish I had cared about being healthy and active when I was her age.
I finished really strong and feeling good, which was nice. I like a run that is challenging but doesn’t leave me feeling totally destroyed, which is why I really like a 10K. As soon I crossed the finish line, I lost track of all the people I had mentally befriended while I was on the road, but it’s nice–totally worth the early morning, not enough coffee, looking for parking and standing around chilly pre-race business–to spend some time admiring and connecting for an hour (and a half) with strangers.