A January day in Oregon is almost always guaranteed to include rain. True to form, race day was dark and rainy. I met my running group at 0-dark-thirty for our annual trip to Cascade Half and 10K. This year we were carpooling in my friend’s new (to him) Sprinter van. As we made the rainy drive south to Turner, we joked about putting signage on the van that said “Shady Oaks Retirement Village Adventure Tours.” Part of the group was preparing for the half marathon, and the rest of us were running the 10K. I usually run the half, but this year I was trying out the 10K. I have to say, the deluge was making me quite glad that I only had to run 6.2 miles.
The race morning packet pick-up at Cascade is always efficient, quick, and easy. I had my race number, goody bag, and shirt in less than a minute. I appreciated that we had the Turner Jr. High gymnasium to prepare for racing where we could stay warm and dry and even have room to do some warm-up exercises. The gym was full of runners gearing up, the school hallway was filled with runners heading to the indoor bathrooms and/or doing warm-up runs up and down the long hallway. You could feel the positive energy exuding from the racers everywhere. There is just something about being in a large group of runners that helps me feel ready for a race.
The half-marathoners headed out to the start line about 15 minutes before the 10K and 2 mile runners. I peeked outside and saw that it was indeed still raining. I finally decided on which layers I was going to wear and then it was time for my group to head out. I wasn’t too excited about waiting in the rain to start, but I knew I was going to be wet regardless. The rain was relentless. But, as true Oregonians, we just run in whatever weather the day brings. We headed out to the streets and I was glad I had my hat to keep the rain out of my eyes, but the rest of my clothes – including my rain jacket – were soon drenched. The usual early race runner chatter seemed to be less than usual. Perhaps the rain had dampened the spirits a bit.
Knowing I would have an “early” turn-around, since I was running the 10K made me feel like this was going to be a really short race. However, about 2 miles in I started to feel really off. It was one of those things you can’t really pinpoint, but you know your body just isn’t feeling right. I had been running with a friend, but had to drop back. I tried to analyze why I was feeling that way. Was it dinner last night? What I ate (or didn’t eat) this morning? The lack of sleep last night? My shoes? The rain? Eventually, I gave up trying to figure it out and just ran at the pace my body could handle for that day. It wasn’t great, but getting in a run is always better than not being able to run.
I hadn’t even hit the 5 mile mark when I was passed by the top 3 half marathon runners on their way back to the finish. Those guys just flew past me like I was standing still. I cheered them on as they passed. That seemed to give me a little boost as I made my way towards the finish line. One of the great things about this out and back course is being able to watch the top racers fly towards the finish like they are doing a short sprint while I lumbar along at my pace. The promise of a flat course seems to bring out the speedy runners looking for a PR. If you can brave the January weather, this course definitely has PR potential, as it is as flat as a course can be.
Heading in to the finish line, I was looking forward to getting out of the rain. I enjoyed running the 10K this year, despite the fact that it just wasn’t my day. In fact, I just might run this distance again next year. Who knows?
After getting my finisher’s medal and cheering another one of my friends in to the finish, I headed to the warm locker room to change into dry clothes. What a relief! I’m pretty sure my clothes and shoes had added an extra 10 lbs of water weight by the time I had finished running. After that it was off to the cafeteria to enjoy some warm chicken noodle soup, bread, and cookies. It was nice to be dry and have some food while we waited for the awards.
With the first race of 2016 completed, we began making plans for future races and, of course, talking about coming back again next year. See you in 2017, Cascade!