The Rambling Mom (aka my wife, Liz) has approached me several times about writing a guest blog post. The invitation was open ended and much debated, until I ran the 2013 Endurance Race Services Celebration 10K. Rambling Mom’s offer to write a guest post finally came to fruition, because I, The Rambling Dad, ran the race and have nothing but time on my hands on New Year’s Day 2014.
I am the Rambling Dad. I am often a character in the Rambling Mom universe, but until now I have never been offered a voice. As often happens in real life, I let Liz be my mouthpiece. I am a runner and father of three. I’ve been running organized races from 40-yard dash to marathon since deciding to quit piano lessons and join the Coesse Junior High Track Team in 5th grade. If memory serves, I ran in my first track sometime in the spring of 1993. I ran track and field in high school and during my freshman year in college. I am a 100-200m sprinter by nature and training, but converted to distance running as a means to condition for collegiate club rugby. I ran my first 5k race on 4 July 2006 at the Maryland Farms YMCA Firecracker 5k in Brentwood, TN. I don’t recall the time, but I remember it being slow, painful, and somewhere under 30 minutes.
In 2012, I participated in the Alive in Savannah NYE Event. The event included an “extreme fitness challenge”, which was a CrossFit competition. I was talked in to doing the open qualifier, which as an intense circuit that included a scaffold, prowler push, and medicine ball throw. Along with the standard burpees, squats, and other gymnastic exercises featured in CrossFit. I was still a CrossFit novice at the time, so the circular course was an extreme challenge as advertised.
The 2012 edition also had a 5/10k and kids race on New Year’s Eve. I signed up for the 10k, but now found myself in the finals of the Extreme Fitness Challenge. The fitness challenge finals included a host of competitors from the local CrossFit boxes. The final course included more stations with more running in between and the dreaded Atlas Stone.
The Atlas Stone is a large, heavy, unwieldy concrete ball. I will never forget trying to pick up the Atlas stone and carrying it up the short, dirt hill. I have never been confused with a Strongman type competitor and this event exposed a serious gap in my training at the time. The extreme fitness challenge motivated me to improve on my strength-training regimen.
I had a few minutes to recover before running the 10k. I pushed Tedy and Ceci in a double jog stroller to a time of1:09:58.
Completing the 10k and Fitness Challenge at the 2012 Alive in Savannah New Year’s Eve Event was one of my proudest athletic achievements from 2012, so of course I had to revisit the even in 2013.
The 2013 edition was reorganized and rebooted as the New Year’s Celebration 5k/10k. The 2013 event was a much smaller, humbler, simpler affair. The Extreme Fitness Challenge, kid’s race, and kids inflatables were omitted. However, the racecourse stayed the same. Dan Pavlin and Steve White and their team at Endurance Race Services served as the race directors. Endurance Race Services puts on several races in the Savannah area in order to raise money for charity.
The 5k and 10 k races start at the Festival of Lights on Hutchinson Island. Both races started simultaneously. 10k runners ran two laps of a 5k course winding around the beautiful Westin Savannah Harbor Resort and Spa . I probably will never be afforded the opportunity to play their championship caliber course, but Endurance Race Services (ERS) has exclusive rights to running races on the cart paths of the Savannah Harbor Golf Course. I guess I would rather pay $30 to run a 10k instead of paying $200 to walk the course hacking away at a little white ball while carrying clubs. It comes down to preferences.
I do not enjoy simultaneous starts. I usually fall for the trap of starting out too fast. My sprinter instincts led me out at a 7:55 pace for the first mile. This was clearly unsustainable given my present state of holiday fitness (read too heavy to run a sub 50 minute 10k). However, I wanted to pass some slower competitors, which is not an easy feat due to the narrow, winding cart path.
The 2nd and 3rd miles were slower, but I still finished in 25 minutes for my 5k. Typically, I like to negative split my first and second 5ks to save on energy and pain. I was not able to do that on 28 December 2013. The second 5k was painful. The only sight ahead of me was Liz’s friend, Pam and her orange jacket. I wished for the crowds of 5k racers to return to push me along.
My left foot felt numb and my calves screamed. At one of the 3 water stations, I slowed down to drink and adjust my shoelaces. Thankfully, I wore my Altra Torin shoes with Lace Locks installed. I backed off my pace slightly but continued on after the brief pause.
The second lap in these 2 lap races is psychologically difficult. You always lose time to fatigue or overestimating your kick. The tendency is to tell yourself to speed up, but often the body responds by shrugging. I contemplated walking to ease the soreness of my muscles and questioned my pre-race breakfast of an orange and almonds. I questioned my minimal warm up (again the first 5k is usually my best warm up).
I removed my hat and gloves during the first 5k, but I contemplated removing my long sleeve Marine Corps 10k mock turtleneck. I chose to sweat through the heat because I didn’t want to waste time removed my shirt and replacing it for the finish. My bib was attached to the front of my mock turtleneck, so I would have to burn time and energy on removing the bib or putting the turtleneck back on so I could be officially recorded at the finish line. The prospect of removing clothing is always dicey, but I usually choose to let my body compensate for too much clothing by sweating. If this were a longer race I would have stripped down to running shorts and t-shirt.
By the time I quit scolding myself for over-dressing, I was on the gravel and dirt path to the finish line. The contrasting terrain of grass, dirt, gravel, banked racetrack, and golf cart path had thoroughly trashed my legs. 5k walkers were now clogging the path. I silently envied them and their easy stroll along the course as I chugged through their ranks. I saw my daughter, Sophia, sprinting towards me. She reached me and cheered me through to the end. I had finished in a time of 54:06.
My time was good for 3rd place in my age group and 11th overall. Never mind, that there were only 19 10k runners and exactly 3 in my 30-34 year old male age group. I was again humbled by the New Year’s Eve Celebration. My routine has become more cycling centered and the gustatory temptations of the season did nothing to aid my time. However, I was glad to see my father-in-law and neighbor get personal records in the 10k and 5k race.
Endurance Race Services continues to put on fun and challenging events in the Savannah, GA area. I would recommend them because their entry fees are affordable. The proceeds go to LOCAL charities. A big thank you from the Rambling Dad to the folks at Endurance Race Services and FCA Endurance for running a memorable race to cap 2013.