Monday, June 25, 2007

Runnin' at the Spud Fest

After a sleepless night courtesy of my drunk, loud, idiot neighbors (different ones this time...oh, joy!), I got in the car, rubbed my bleary eyes, and pointed the car northwest to the town of Big Lake for the Lakes Run 8k.

The race, in its 21st year, was one of the events associated with the Big Lake Spud Fest, the annual summertime town celebration. The course begins in front of the schools, meanders its way through some neighborhoods, and would take us on a counterclockwise loop around the lakes before returning to the schools for the finish.

As previously noted, I was very tired. I called the cops again (that's twice in 11 days, for those of you keeping score) to put a stop to the revelry next door at 2:15 AM, and I never really got back to sleep. Sitting on the edge of my bed at 5:30, I said to myself, “Do I really have to run today?” Even right before the start of the race, I didn’t feel like my heart was in it. The weather wasn’t helping either (mid 70’s with a dewpoint in the mid 60’s). It was starting to get steamy an hot. Yuck!

But the race director gave an inspiring pep talk before the race, and that made me perk up! He acknowledged a number of runners who were just up in Duluth last weekend running at Grandma’s, and reminded us to be sure to thank all of the volunteers. This was a relaxed and loose crowd, which often makes for the best races. I was starting to feel more inspired to run.

The gun went off and we were on our way! All I wanted to do was settle in to a comfortable pace and have a respectable finish. Immediately, I began sweating like a kid on his first date. It was warm out there! I was reeling off miles in the 7 1/2 minute range, so I did my best just to stay right there.

The lap around the lake was very cool. It is a picturesque lake with many beautiful homes, and there were a number of folks out enjoying the water early on a Sunday (a great day to be on the lake, for certain!).

I did something in this race that I have never done in a shorter race; I took water at an aid station! Took a little sip, but the rest got dumped right over my head to help cool me off. Running was tough, but I kept plugging away trying to maintain my pace. the miles seemed to be clicking by slowly. Coming down the home stretch, I managed a little burst right at the end (just to make sure nobody passed me at the finish line!), and I finished in 37:40.

That’s almost two full minutes off of my pace from last spring’s Human Race 8k. However, I was very proud of this finish. It was a good exercise in perseverance and gutting it out when it was hot, and when I didn’t feel like I was at the top of my game. I hung in there and got an OK finish, which made me happy. Still tired, but happy. :)

Hey, I will bet this weekend’s Western States 100 finishers are tired too! I guess I really don’t have much to complain about in comparison. Wow!
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