Several business trips in the last few weeks have forced me to develop more flexible running habits. I may have to run at unusual times, in unfamiliar locations. I may have running partners who don’t run my pace; I may get lost (it happens a lot).
But I have learned so much from these experiences. I’ve learned that once I get sand in a pair of shoes, it isn’t coming out. I’ve learned that Central Park is a running mecca and possibly one of the safest places to be at 6am in New York City. And I’ve learned that it’s always humid in Florida.
My coworkers have learned that I always pack running gear and no matter how late we stay up, I will be ready to run at 6.
I’ve learned that, short of someone who runs in the area, Map My Run is the best way to find a running route. In Tampa last month I pulled up a 5 mile route that showed me sights I may have otherwise missed, including the beautiful Moorish building that used to be a hotel but now belongs to the University of Tampa, and a number of stunningly beautiful homes set back on wide streets lined with enormous, gnarled trees.
In Irvine, CA last week I ran in shorts for the last time this year. No pics, I was in a rush.
Last Sunday I ran the Run with Santa 5K in Reston Town Center. The weather turned seasonal for the occasion, with sleet starting around 7am and turning to snow just in time for the 8:30am race start.
We were warned multiple times about the potentially hazardous conditions pre-race, but it was the hazardous runners in the first quarter mile that were the real danger. I have no idea why people have to weave so much, forcing other runners to brake and swerve. This is annoying under normal conditions, but on this occasion it was scary, as runners were trying to avoid wiping out. I may or may not have shoved Santa as I got boxed in while passing him. Well, he really shouldn’t start at the front.
I had forgotten how hilly Reston is. And the 5K course that Potomac River Running uses for this event isn’t even particularly hilly by Reston standards. The problem was that I was sliding backwards on the uphills, and having to exercise more caution than I’d like on the downhills. Any paint on the road was slick, so I had to avoid stepping on that, too. I reminded myself that the conditions were the same for everyone else, so it really was a level playing field, unless one had been training in Alaska.
I was wearing a brand new pair of Brooks Pure Drifts (the name may be appropriate for the conditions but they certainly don’t have any extra traction, being a minimalist race shoe) because I like to throw caution to the wind and try new stuff on race day. Speaking of caution, about halfway through the race I asked myself if I really needed to be this careful as I was slowing down drastically on the turns and running extra distance to keep away from potentially slick spots. I decided if I was going to go down, I’d do it spectacularly. I went through both miles 1 and 2 in 6:37, which was slower than PR pace but I knew it wasn’t going to be a PR day. The last mile was rough. I was having trouble breathing from the cold air, and the finish couldn’t come soon enough. Then, in the finishing straight, my youngest son appeared and sprinted alongside me, yelling the motivational words, “Come on, you’re not going to let your son beat you, are you?” Next time I’ll make him run the whole way.
I may or may not have beaten my son in the finishing sprint. But I did beat Santa.