By the time I could make out the numbers on the race clock at the finish line of the Fair Street 5k yesterday, I had twelve seconds to reach it and break my PR. I was giving it my all at the time, a real home straight sprint, and I was certain I would make it. But somebody must have moved the clock back while I was racing towards it, because I just couldn’t get close enough quickly enough. It took me fourteen seconds to reach it instead, and I was one second off of my PR – which I set last year at the same race. Still, allowing for the fact that we were racing in sub-freezing conditions (even though it was lunchtime in Kingston, almost at sea-level), into a strong headwind, and that we had hosted an Indian cooking class at our house the night before, complete with appropriate wines, I don’t think I’ve anything to complain about. Who knows? This may just be as fast as I can run… Then again, our last Grand Prix race is not until December 21, and that too, is a 5k. I still have a chance to set my PR before the year is out.
Running is not just healthy, and good for the spirit. We know that. It’s also a bargain. It’s a sport that requires only a pair of running shoes and the most basic of suitable clothing. You don’t need a team, you can do it anytime. But even when you choose to get in the car and pay to compete, it still seems like a bargain – at least round these parts. (I’ll leave my thoughts on the New York Road Runners Club prices in the past.) For my $12 entry fee yesterday, I came home with a souvenir tee-shirt, and a bag full of home-made pumpkin/oatmeal cookies for placing in my age group. (I finished tenth overall; anytime I can finish top ten in this area I’m thrilled.) We were also all fed after the race, hosted for the last seventeen years in a row by the Fair Street Reformed Church: alongside the hot dogs and chicken soups, someone had cooked a lovely vegetarian split-pea soup and there were plenty brownies and cookies and coffee and oranges to resuscitate us from the cold and any sugar deficiencies. Volunteers, runners, parents and others contributed so home-baked prizes – the majority of them seasonal pumpkin pies, but not exclusively so – that there were some left over even after all the official placements. There were a few kids under the age of 12 completed the whole 5k. There was one woman and a couple of men in their seventies also completed the course. And a bunch of local high-schoolers finished in the top ten. What’s not to love?