Monday, August 24, 2015

A Second Chance

There are many races to be run, and they aren't free. It's hard for me to justify running a race more than once unless I really love it. Case in point this year will be my fifth running of the Capital City River Run in Lansing. It's one of my favorites, and if possible I run it every year. If I didn't like the race I generally write it off as miles logged and never consider running it again.

Last weekend I did something unprecedented and ran a race I didn't enjoy the first time - The Crim 10-miler (I also ran the 5k to log some extra miles) in Flint. I ran the Crim in 2011 on a steamy August day, and I didn't love it. Interestingly my blog is not too scathing, although I did later rank it as my third least favorite race I'd ever run. In 2011 I found it too congested at the start and didn't enjoy the race much at all. 

I've been open about my motivation struggles on the road to the New York Marathon. One way I've been addressing it is to register for races to keep me going. I love a 10-miler and think it's the best distance ever. I've done several other 10-milers (including the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in DC and the Papa John's 10-miler in Louisville). It's a fabulous distance. Despite my first experience with the Crim, I decided to give it another shot.

Something else has happened in the last four years...something that won't surprise you: I've fallen in love. When I ran the Crim for the first time in August of 2011 I'd never been to Flint. Now it's emerged as one of my favorite places in Michigan. Despite its struggles Flint is a city with charm and character. It's got whatever it is...that certain something that makes me fall in love with a city. Part of my interest in running the Crim again was because it's in Flint. Flint and I are kind of into one another. It's turning into a whole thing.

My friend and I met at the crack of dawn to carpool to Flint on Saturday morning. Getting into the city and finding parking was seamless. We were about three-quarters of a mile from the start, so we walked downtown. We had plenty of time to use the bathroom (an indoor bathroom at the University of Michigan-Flint student center - a luxury!) and mentally prepare for the race.

This year there were well marked corrals, and we squeezed our way into coral C. It was packed at the start, but at least it was organized by time. We kept the 8:30/mile pacer in sight as we started off. I honestly don't remember anything about the Crim from the last time I ran it other than it being crowded, running around walkers, and it being hot. It turns out it's a really great course with a TON of energy. The entire community is out cheering on runners. People are out on street corners, in driveways, in front lawns...everywhere. Fraternity boys were wearing costumes and handing out beer. I was reminded of the Ann Arbor races I've run and been disappointed because there's no community support. While Flint may not have the resources Ann Arbor has, it has community spirit and heart. I'll take it.

We had a goal of faster than 1:30, and we hit the brick pavers on Saginaw Street well ahead of that time. I finished the 10-miler in 1:26:08, just a few seconds behind my friend. I felt like I was going to throw up...it's the closest I've ever come to it after a race. But we did it, and we beat our goal. It was awesome. 
All smiles post race!
I had about a half an hour before the 5k started, and I honestly didn't know how I was going to make my legs move again. We stretched, drank water, and I slowly made my way to the 5k start. It was a jog at best - I was using it to get in miles not be fast. 

Unlike the relatively well organized 10-miler, the 5k was a sh*t show. There was a separate start for runners and walkers, but people clearly ignored it. As soon as I took off I was dodging walkers all over the crowded course. About halfway in I realized the course was partially a loop as I saw the fast runners coming toward us. We switched sides of the street, and runners were running at each other from each direction. It was so confusing. I was very irritated and tired, but I kept telling myself I wasn't running it for time...just log the miles. I finished in a slow (for me) 28:46, but it was 13.1 on the books. 

The Crim was much better, and Flint...well I adore it. The Crim was totally worth the redo, and it has redeemed itself. I may even run this race again in a few years...we'll see. I think I'll skip the 5k next time though.

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