It's Friday evening. I will be running the Finish Strong 5K tomorrow morning at 9 AM in Hilton, NY. For no reason that I understand, I'm more excited about this than I have been about most past races I've participated in. It's not like it's my first 5K. It's not even like it's my first 5K in the autumn weather. But I keep going over what I need to do in my mind.
This one is run by the same people who run the 10K I ran on Thanksgiving Day 2011 and 2012. It's in a different location, so I don't know the course; but it's in the same area, so I'm generally familiar with how the terrain ought to be. It's advertised as flat, but it heads north and then back south, reasonably close to Lake Ontario. I expect it to be net downhill for the first half and net uphill for the second half, but I don't know by how much.
Got the race shirt, which looks OK:
But the race shirt is cotton, so I'll actually wear the long sleeved tech shirt from the 10K last Thanksgiving:
The weather forecast calls for a low of 47° F tonight, rising to 49° F by the 9 AM race time. 10 AM, it says 51°and a few showers. That's really shorts and tee shirt running weather, but the chance of showers tipped the balance toward the long sleeved shirt. I expect it to be chilly for standing around waiting for the race to start. That should encourage me to do a good warmup, which should help my time.
My expectation is to run the 5K in about 21 minutes, but it's more important to finish in good shape and have fun.
This is an inexpensive race, so it's no surprise that the swag is minimal. The race packet had lots of ads from the various sponsors, mostly irrelevant to me; but there are a couple to file away for further investigation.
The race packet included a teaser card from the race organizers for next year's "West Side 30K Series" consisting of the NCA 5K Scholarship Run on 5/17/14; the Finish Strong 15K (!) on 10/18/14; and my favorite 10K, the Race with Grace on 11/27/14. That's something to think about. I want to run a half marathon on 4/27/14 and the 3.5 mile JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge (date not yet announced, but traditionally late May). Getting the 5K part of that series might be really close to the Corporate Challenge; but if the half marathon is a success, running a 5K and a 3.5 mile a few days apart shouldn't be a big deal. Hope springs eternal that this time next year, 15K will be a reasonable race distance for me. And I'd want to do that 10K on Thanksgiving anyway, even if I don't do the whole series.
But let's not worry about a 2014 series just quite yet. Right now, the event on my plate is a 5K. My running clothes are laid out. My gym back is packed with more stuff than I think I'll need, and hopefully will just stay in my trunk. I need to remember to pack an ice bag tomorrow morning, but it might not be a disaster if I forget.
On the one hand, the organizational stuff that goes with a competitive race is a bigger deal than the race itself, at least for this distance. After all, it's only 3.1 miles. I expect to run it in 21 minutes. I'll spend much more than 21 minutes packing and traveling, even for a local event.
On the other hand, this is supposed to be fun. And I expect to have fun doing this. I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can.
The gripping hand is, I'm running a 5K because I *can* run a 5K. A couple weeks ago, there was doubt. A month ago, I couldn't run 5K. The ability to do this now is a great blessing in my life, and I choose to be grateful that I have that ability. I'll even express the fact of my gratitude publicly, notwithstanding the fact that Gratitude Month is November and this is only October. I don't care; being able to run is a gift, and I'm thankful for it.
Life is good.