This weekend was supposed to be a 14-mile long run in preparation for an upcoming 13.1.
However, the buzz about the McGuire's Prediction Run 5k convinced me to re-arrange my schedule.
After all, how could I miss the nation's largest "prediction run" right in my own backyard? And to sweeten the deal, the 5k is followed by a huge party with all of the traditional post-race fare, plus free beer, rootbeer floats, a smorgasbord of food, and a live band playing Irish drinking songs...
It's like some creative genius took all of my favorite things in life and rolled them into a single morning. Where do I sign up?
So at 6am I woke up, knocked back a cup of coffee, and put in my long-run miles for the day. After round one of the day's running, I stopped at home to change into a bright green shirt, grab my green beads (holdovers from last week's Mardi Gras), and hit the road again. I arrived at the starting line too late to have any of the pre-race breakfast, but that suits me just fine. Experience has taught me that any breakfast before a race winds up... well... staying at the race.
The starting line was the only low point in the 5k festivities. More than 11,000 (yes ELEVEN THOUSAND) runners converged onto a section of roadway less than one city-block long, and spilled over into parking lots, onto the lawns of local businesses... it was chaos! Fortunately almost everyone was in good spirits.
Just as the cannon went off to signal the start of the "race" (and I use that term loosely here), a gentleman (term also used loosely) started thwacking my shoulder and trying to push me aside. It reminded me of a triathlon swim start - with all the flying elbows - and I stood my ground, telling him first (in my best Southern California huff) "Um, dude. Like we're not all trying to get through, too?" When he persisted in pushing, I turned to him and laughed "Look, if you think you're going to run fast today, you came to the wrooooong place." At which point, the other green-clad runners nearby laughed and joined in, telling this over-eager newbie to cool his jets.
Because, seriously, who is going to break away from a pack this thick?
And the pack stayed thick for all 3.1 miles.
Because it was a prediction run, there were no watches allowed and no clock over the Finish line. I have no idea how I did.
Or maybe I should rephrase.
I am certain I didn't run my fastest 5k ever.
As I heard one runner say to another in the finish chute "you don't PR in a race like this!"
But I am equally certain that I had a helluva a lot of fun.
Sometimes it's good to take a step back from track workouts and long runs, and just run because it's fun.