… And the race was on.
Wait, I should probably start from the beginning.
I should start by saying that the Frosty 5 Mile is my favorite race. There is something about the course, the people, the set-up, everything that just makes it an ideal race for me. That is why I make the hour drive down 355 to Channahon every February.
This year on race morning, though, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I felt dried out, I had a headache, I had this chill in my body, my buddy that was going to run had to cancel, and I just felt blah. Then, on the drive down, I took the wrong exit, had to reroute, got there later than I wanted- which irked me more than anything- and I knew that the falling snow was going to make the trip home that much more irritating. I was not in a “race” mindset, but since I missed it last year due to being sick, I knew I needed to just get out and enjoy it.
I picked up by bib and hat–I need to get my new Frosty hat every year–and warmed up. The roads were slick from the snow and the wind was cold. I started feeling a little better during the warm-up, but still wasn’t ready to race. We headed to the start line, I joked around with a few friends and some other runners- as I usually do- but still wasn’t in a racing mood.
When the gun went off, there were two guys up front and I was hanging just behind them with another runner. We joked a little about the two guys up front slowing down to block the wind and about wanting the snow plow to stay in front of us the whole race. When we got to the mile, we looked at our watches and just laughed. We knew it was going to be a much longer day on the road than originally planned.
That is when it hit me. I was out running in the snow, no pressure, no worrying about splits, just being out there and having fun.
And the race was on.
My new running buddy and I were still just a stone’s throw away from the two leaders and we were getting closer. Just after the 1.5 mile mark, the hilly section starts and we had caught the two leaders. One dropped off shortly after that and the three of us would change positions at the front a few times. It was now all about who would do the right thing at the right time and get to the finish line first.
We got to the turnaround point together- roughly 2.8 miles in- and the three of us tiptoed around the cone. We were still bunched together at mile 3. I had noticed up until that point that whenever we would get to a spot where the snow had been melted by underground pipes, I was able to change stride and surge ahead of the other two. I kept this in mind, knowing that this would happen a few more times up the road. At mile 4, it was down to just me and my new running buddy. I hit a dry patch, threw in a small surge, and put a gap on him.
When we turned off the hilly section, I didn’t look back. I just tried to listen for his footsteps and push forward. I charged down the street the best I could, still slipping on snow the whole way, but tried to continue to pick up the pace. When I rounded the final corner, I looked behind me and saw him about 40 meters back. I knew he wasn’t going to catch me at that point. I opened my stride the best I could into the finish, watching spectators come out of the school and their cars to watch, and put my arms in the air.
I congratulated my two competitors when they finished and I think they had as much fun out there as I did. We knew it was all about racing and enjoying the competition.
There was pizza inside, too. Some of it was about the pizza.
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