In life you have to give people 2nd chances. The same can be said for races. The last time I ran a race at Salem Lake, I was covered from head to toe with mud. I walked away thinking that I would never come back. This time, there was not a speck of mud on my shoes. Granted, the temperature was 25 degrees so even if there was any mud, it would have been like concrete.
The Frosty 25k is part of the overall Frosty 50k and Relay race. I choose this race for two reasons. My spring marathon is a little more than 2 months away and after a lazy December, I needed a long hard study tempo run to get me back on course.
I headed up to Winston-Salem that morning, so when I drove out of my garage, my car showed a temperature of 29 degrees. When I parked at Salem Lake, I took a picture with my phone because it said the temperature was 25 degrees. Cold is cold, but this is cold for North Carolina.
After 3 miles of running before the race, I gave up on trying to get warm. I changed clothes and headed for the starting line.
I saw Bobby Aswell dropping off his drop bag and then, he was trying to buckle his fuel belt. Bobby was shaking so badly that he was having trouble getting it snapped. "Bobby, let me help you with it". He said "I'll be okay once I start running". I shook my head. He was tough because he was going to be running the 50k distance.
The starting line is crowded but I find a good spot next to Caleb and to the right of Laurie. They are running on our CRC Relay team.
The race gets rolling and my legs just don't want to turn over. My first mile is 6:23 and then my 2nd mile is 6:25. Somewhere in the 3rd mile, I start to feel better. I start to feel warmed up. I catch Molly Nunn. I recognize her by the huge pony tail of hair. I had spent 3 miles chasing that same waving hair at China Groove 5k in June of last year.
Next, I see Dennis L. and Kelly F. The line of runners in front of me is really starting to stretch out now.
I am actually glad that I wore my mittens. It makes eating my cliff blocks a little more difficult but otherwise, I was glad to have warm fingers.
By this time, I have rounded the far end of Salem Lake. The racers ahead of me are really off in the distance. I catch a couple of guys but for the most part, I am running alone.
At 6 miles, I climb the only hill on the course and then head down the switch backs on the other side. Flashing by the aid station, I hear Aaron hollering and I see Chris Lamperski taking pictures.
The trail turns to a paved greenway during this section which extends all the way to the turn around.
I pass 7 miles and begin to wonder when I will see the leaders coming back. I suspect – actually I hope the only people in front of me are relay runners. No such luck. Relay runners have different colored bibs.
I see at least 5 people with either 50k or 25k bibs. Maybe my only saving grace was that only one of them looked over 40.
12.5k or 7.75 miles, I hit in 48:03.
Up to this point, I kept telling myself. Hold something in reserve. This is 15.5 miles of racing. Those last 7.75 are going to be tough.
I now start to retrace my steps back to the start. I see Molly not far behind me. I see Kelly running hard. By the way, both Molly and Kelly were running the 25k. I see Allen Strickland and Bobby. Many others passed me but in the sea of racers, their faces became a blur. This was helped by the fact that most had chosen to cover up or freeze.
Just before the 8 mile mark, a runner flashes by me. He is running hard. Negative thoughts start to creep in and I think that I am slowing down. My 8 split flash up at 6:09. Then I realize he must be a relay runner. Honestly, I don't feel any better about it. I don't want to be passed by anyone. This is just the nature of racing.
I catch one guy and ask how he is doing. He is in the relay race. I catch one other guy. Again I ask how he is doing. He says that he is in the 25k race. "Oh". Note to self, I need to keep pushing.
Rounding the far end of the lake again, I know that I have a little over 3.5 miles to run. There are some small roller hills but nothing too bad. Then there is this one hill about a mile or so out from the finish. Darn, my legs don't like it but they climb it as hard as they can.
Now, I can see the finish area from a mile away but I have to weave in and out of these little coves first before I get there. Making the last turn, the finish line is in sight. My arms are pumping and I didn't even look back. I just surge across the finish line.
One of the race officials comes immediately up to me and tells me that I won the overall masters' award. There is no awards ceremony. I just need to come back when I am ready to pick up my award.
I change shoes and then head out on the back side of the course to watch the other racers.
I see Caleb and Aaron heading to the relay junction. Aaron is running our CRC team's last leg. Later, I see him flash by me. I yell encouragement.
Then, I head over to the finish area.
Caleb, Emily, Jason, Michelle who ran on the women's CRC team were hanging out. I see Aaron running hard all the way to the finish line. Dalena finds herself racing to the finish against another relay team.
It was really awesome to see our CRC Relay teams doing so well on a really cold day.
Our CRC team "Mixin it up" in the co-ed category finished in 3:29:58 averaging 6:46 pace and third overall in this category
Our CRC team "Too hot for the Cold" in the men's category finished in 2:57:46 averaging 5:44 and third overall in this category
Our CRC team "Gone Chickin" in the women's category finished in 3:11:39 and won the women's all female team category.
To our CRC members who either joined me in the 25k, 50k, or ran on another relay team, congratulations. Like me you all braved a cold morning just to enjoy "running with a passion".
PS. Special thanks to Chris L. for taking pictures at the race.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner