The sky was dark when I pulled up to WTJU to park and the rain came down slowly. Generally I don't run in the rain, using it as an excuse to get on the treadmill where I can watch television and not have to think about where I'm going.
I didn't decide to run the ten-miler until this week, when my friend Morgan told me he was still going to run it despite not having trained. He had run it five times in a row, and didn't want to break the streak.
I wasn't planning on running it, because I had set a pretty lofty goal. I had wanted to break my times for the last three years. I ran it in 77:38 in 2010. Then 80:00 in 2011. 82:00 in 2012.
I've been slipping. And I wanted to do better.
But, I didn't train the way I needed in order to do that. I've been running at least three times a week, but not at any kind of distance. I just haven't had the time.
So, I had thought about skipping it, saving the money, and sleeping in.
But when Morgan said he was going to stick it out, despite his lack of training, I knew I had to do it.
I may not have put the miles in, but I was able to draw upon my training. I came up with a race plan to run the first two miles as slow as possible, and then to see if I could pick it up after that.
After parking, I walked across Emmett Street and made my way to the start line. People were waiting inside the John Paul Jones arena, and there weren't too many people on the street yet. I didn't know what time it was. Slowly, people filled in around me as the sky grew slightly lighter. I didn't see anyone I knew, but I smiled at all of the different things people were saying. Taking in everyone else's energy prevented me from worrying about my own race. I didn't have any doubt at all that I could run the entire way.
We were packed in, waiting. One flaw of the race is that they don't have a big enough public address system, so if you're in the middle of the pack, you can't hear what's going on. You just slowly see waves of people begin to move, and you wait for it to hit you.
And then, the wave hit, and suddenly we were all in it together, strangers no more as our legs picked up and we were all different points on a line, breathing in and converting oxygen to energy, moving through this space of ours, this town. I ran slowly, took in all the sites, and didn't think about much of anything. I just moved through the world as best I could, trying not to collide with anyone.
I ran the first mile slow, second mile slightly faster, and then poured on the gas at mile 3. Unfortunately, the 8 minute mile I ran took a little out of my tank, and so I ran the next one slower. There weren't as many bands on the road because of the rain, which ended right around mile 2.
There's that moment on Alderman where the road is split, and I got to see the front-runner speed past, just behind the motorcade. There's that moment where you realize just how any people are running with you.
There's that moment where your shoe comes untied, and you stop and you're relaxed because you don't care if you win. You're just out there with a couple thousand of your friends.
I love running this race. It's become a rite of passage for me. I'm glad my streak is intact, and I can't wait to talk to Morgan to find out how he did.
*have to run now - didn't really get to finish - but that's okay - I ran ten miles*