photo credit: fromthekitchentotheroad.wordpress.com
The forecast was ominous. Temps in the low fifties, rain and wind off the lake at twenty mph. Not great racing weather for the long distance runners who had trained hard for their marathon. Luckily, my fiance’ and I were sharing the length but we were still anxious about the predicted conditions. Speaking for myself, I found the forecast hard to believe because it had changed so quickly over a period of twenty- four hours. I thought I was prepared enough with my gear; after all, I had run in much colder conditions. Long sleeves, a layer of water proof on top and a pair of shorts seemed enough at packing time.
We could never have been so wrong! As we drove the 200 miles north the day before the race, rain and wind pelted the car. When we arrived at the runner’s expo to pick up our numbers, we were assaulted by the cold, raw wind and plummeting temperatures. We needed to get more body protection for the starting line! So we shopped a bit at the expo kiosks, finding hats for five dollars a piece. Everything else that we may have needed was severely overpriced (when did running become such a high-end fashion sport?) so we decided that a trip to a big chain box store was in order. Well, this particular type of store is hard to come by in the state we were racing in ( in truth I like the idea) but luckily we were minutes from its location. We wanted cheap and “disposable” gear that we could peel off during the race. And we hit pay dirt-feeling relief that we would not freeze our arses off too much.
The night before a big race holds two important ingredients: a good meal along with a good night’s rest. We headed to the inn that was situated in the mountains. As we ascended the mountain road, the precipitation increased and rapidly turned into snow! We were a little dismayed at the deteriorating conditions while still holding out hope that tomorrow would be a better day. Dinner was delightful and we hit the sack early.
Race day arrived and greeted us with below freezing temps and enough snow that it stuck to the ground as well as our car. As we reached lower elevations and our destination, the snow disappeared and the temperature warmed a bit. We were grateful for our semi-toasty clothes but definitely not excited about the conditions! Actually, at one point -as my fiance’ and I huddled under the shared tent of our jackets- I said that we could change our minds and bag the whole thing. (My man had a cold and I didn’t want it to get worse).
In reality, when you train for an event of this nature you cannot back out unless you are injured or very, very ill. So, I assumed my place in the starting corral and began to feel a bit warmer from the body heat of the 4,999 other brave and crazy souls. And once the gun went off all thoughts of the discomfort from the adverse conditions exited from my brain. It was now up to me to navigate my way through the endless sea of humanity as well as the puddles and rushing water of the fine streets in Burlington, VT. By mile 1, my shoes were completely soaked and I feared I might blister. When I hit mile 5, I stripped myself of the cheap sweats and tossed them to the side of the road. My legs were warm and happy for the rest of the race! Yes, yes the wind whipped us about as we headed further north but the 12 piece percussion ensemble really revved us up. By mile 8, the country station truck was playing Miranda Lambert’s “Baggage Claim” and I was so pumped that I high-fived the DJ! For once in a race, I did not worry about pain nor pace; I was just running. By the time we circled back to the downtown area, the crowds were cheering loudly. Local drag queens strutted their stuff in support of us. Irish bands played on the corner. Then we headed south closer to the lake and even closer to the halfway point. Here the the race took on the zen-like quality that all runners experience. I was in my own zone with just 5k to go and feeling no pain.