At the end of every running clinic there is a goal run. It gives us something to work towards and for me it helps me to stay on track and keep focused. It gives me strength to quell the excuses as they arise and it makes me stay accountable to the trails and to my weekly regimen.
This clinic was no exception. The race was down Island in beautiful Chemanius B.C. I love any time I can spend in this coastal town, with its murals on the sides of buildings and quaint shops and galleries. It is a great stop at the best of times for tourists, but when paired with a great 5KM fun run and the wonderful people involved it becomes even more fetching.
The four of us piled into the car and car-pooled down. One of the wonderful women in our group headed down earlier to pick up the running packages. Most times the running package will consist of a running bib, (The tag with the numbers worn on the chests of runners for identification.) and Safety pins to attach it with. A shirt too if there is one and you requested one, but this time there was something more. Every runner in this race had the option of purchasing a shirt; most times they are regular cotton t-shirts with the name and location of the race and the sponsors involved. This time however the woman’s shirts were of a better quality and of a more “yoga” style. I was thrilled when I looked at mine, it was a pink coral color and the logo of the race on the back of it was well done.
This was not my first race or competition run. It was actually my forth. I had run two in the winter, the New Year’s Resolution Race which occurs on New Year’s Day (This race is one of my favorites because it always has a great colored pullover for it.), and the Santa’s Shuffle (shirt). Then there was the “Run for the Mountain” which is a race to save the city side of a local mountain from being clear cut; thus saving the beauty of the trees and more importantly the habitats of many animals.
It feels great to be out there with a bunch of runners with the same goal but it is even better when you are running for a great cause and bringing awareness with you.
On Tuesday’s race day I was worried because during the whole day there had been pregnant storm clouds squeezing out their tears. I didn’t want to run in the rain if I could help it, but I would take the cooler weather and the rain over the heat of summer any time!
When it was time I laced up and headed out the door to the prearranged spot where we were meeting to head down. We opened our packages with the bibs, shirts and information, but there was a surprise for us too. None of us had run a race with the electronic foot tags. These were long plastic orange strips with electronic chips on the back of them that would track us as we went through the route and got over the finish again. I had only seen these in the bigger races such as marathons, and the presence of the tags made this race seem more serious and important.
We arrived and found where we were supposed to start and took the time to check out our fellow runners while music played in the park for the event. There were runners from all ages, sizes, and walks of life; tall lean sprinters doing practice speed laps to warm up, others were stretching and conversing with friends, novices were mixed in with the pro’s and it didn’t seem to matter. Some were decked out in the latest gear and others were just in t-shirts and shorts to have fun. It was great to be mixed in with such a variety of runners from all over the island.
Then it was time to gather at the start area of the route. I knew from experience in the other races that I had to watch my speed at the start. It was so easy to get caught up in the moment and exhaust yourself by heading out to fast. This time I put myself in the middle of the pack, making sure I was behind all the sprinters. It can be so demoralizing to be in the front lines with the top runners and have them leave you in the dust! I think it is better to start out in the back and pass some people then have most of them pass me.
It wasn’t long and we were off in a surge of bodies. The route went through town and then wound over a dirt gravel road and around again. All of us in my group didn’t like the gravel part of the track, it slowed us down and I personally felt as though I was doing a Bambi impression when he was on the ice, like at any moment my ankle would go over or I would be doing the splits down in the dirt.
The track looped back on itself so I could see the faster runners as they completed the loop and passed me in the other direction. The fast sprinters looked like gazelles, bounding effortlessly over the ground. Again I was struck by the diversity of the group, but there was a common thread throughout us all; we had sweat on our brow and smiles on our lips.
I finished the race ahead of my goal, and it was great to hear the crowd cheering for us as we came in. There were awards in the ending ceremony for the fastest in each age group for men and women and then some fabulous door prizes too. Then there were the treat tents to visit and more socializing afterwards. The girls and I had a great time, and even though this clinic is finished we are committing to the next one which is starting on July 11th, 2011. Until then we are still going to run together in different places in the city. I look forward to the time with the girls, the new tracks and forging evermore friendships.