Labor Day is supposed to mean a day off of work. A day to sleep in. Enjoy the last weekend of summer. It's never included a 5 a.m. wake up call or bringing home a piece of hardware for me.
Today it did.
I ran in the Run for the Paws 5K this morning in Randolph, Wis. My friend Amanda had asked me about a month ago if I wanted to run it with her. With no Labor Day plans and the promise of free corn at the Korn Karnival, I signed myself up.
Randolph is a bit of a drive from where I live, and the race was already scheduled to start insanely early - a 6:45 a.m. start time - so I went down to Beaver Dam and crashed at Amanda's house last night.
The alarm went off at 5 a.m., I jumped in the shower (hey, it wakes me up) and we were on the road and driving through heavy fog by 5:45.
Yes. Heavy fog. The kind of fog that means you can barely see a car length in front of you as you drive down the highway, crossing your fingers no animals decide to jump out of the fields lining the road. Hmmm, I thought. This could be interesting.
We got to the park, picked up our packets and got ready to run.
The start time was pushed back about 15 minutes in hopes the fog would lift and it would be safer for the runners. That was nice since the routes were entirely along country roads.
With the sun high in the sky and the clock reading 7 a.m., the bull horn emitted this ambulance-like noise signaling the start of the race. It was still foggy. But I ran.
It was a little eerie actually. I mean, it was foggy, so you couldn't see very far in front of you. Once a runner got ahead of you, you could see them in the distance, but basically just their outline. Couldn't make out a lot of features and good luck trying to see the corners up ahead where you would need to turn.
It was a smaller race, which meant with fewer runners, I was pretty much running on my own. Setting my own pace with no one next to me. Almost made me feel as though I was just out for my daily run.
It was an out and back run, the first time I've actually had a course like this I think. And honestly? I didn't like it that much. The biggest trouble spot was where the water station was set up. It was about 1.25 miles in and right at a corner. It was stationed on the side of the road you would run on on the way out, but at the pre-race instructions, we were told to hit the water station on the way back in, meaning it probably should have been set up on the other side of the road. The problem was the runners who had passed the turn around were flying around the corner, coupled with back of the pack runners who decided to hit up the water station and just stand there. A little congestion. A little confusion and a bunch of close calls in terms of people almost colliding.
I was lucky to avoid it.
The run itself went OK. I hit the first mile around 11:30, thought I needed to pick up the pace a bit. Haven't got a clue what my other mile times were. About a quarter-mile from the end, I kicked it into a higher gear, trying to out run this guy in a blue tank top. He ended up beating me by 2 or 3 seconds. Ugh. So close.
I ended up finishing in 34 minutes, 14 seconds. Good enough for third place in my age group.
And that's also a new PR for me this year in a 5K. Down almost 3 minutes from the year's first 5K in April after having a ton of set backs due to the Monster last year. Still about 2 minutes slower than my pre-Monster 5K PR though. But it's getting closer. And to think I've barely run in the past month. Makes me wonder if my sub-32 minute 5K is in the cards yet this year.