Sunday, March 11, 2012

St. Paddy's 5-miler swim... No, RUN!

I awoke at 6 am to the sound of rain hitting the driveway outside my window. Shrouded in complete darkness, I headed to the bathroom. Ever since I was little, I've come to learn that if I can hear rain hitting the bathroom fan, it's not just raining...It's pouring.

As I write this, the same window I looked out of this morning to see steady rain hitting a huge puddle in the driveway is now bright with sunshine. Go figure. This morning looked much different, and I take pride in the fact that I got off my bed and followed through with my decision to participate. The clothes I set out the night before looked pretty scant when considering what the rain and wind planned on throwing at me. Being a St. Paddy's race, I thought it might be fitting to wear something green. Yet it turns out I don't own any green running gear whatsoever. Unless you call the neon jacket I borrowed from my dad an example of green running attire, the only piece of green I had on was a pair of underwear. I wore them, but no one knew but me.

The rain fell just as hard at Spokane Community College as it did up north in my area. It didn't take 10 minutes to grab my race number and go for a quick 2-mile warm up before I felt like I had hopped out of the swimming pool. Goggles would have been nice to shield my eyes, but I relied on my Timex head sweat to keep the, the water...out of my face.

Dave Erickson starting out. Photo by Greg Gallagher.

Warm up complete, all runners treaded water at the start line in anticipation of the gun. In year's past, that stupid blast has scared the crap out of me. Yet this year I never heard it. I only started, running...when the wave of people moved forward toward the first giant puddle to muddle through. Many were to follow.

Eager to finish sooner than later, I started out at a relatively brisk but conservative pace. I learned my lesson last weekend (no starting out at 6:40 miles) and decided to shoot for 7-minute miles instead. It sounded more manageable in my head anyway. A similar head wind that we experienced last weekend at Snake River hit us again starting out. This time, we had rain to contend with, and I soon couldn't figure out if I was smearing rain water or snot across my face in an attempt to keep my vision clear.

Eventually I collided with Mike Lauffer and one of his running buddies. They proceeded to carry on at a 7-mile clip (conversation included), so I decided to hang on in their wake to the finish. Five miles flies by much faster than 13.1, and I couldn't have felt more relieved to finish just under 35 minutes. My finish time signified several things:

  1. I maintained a conservative pace throughout the race.
  2. It may have hurt a little, but at least I could walk at the end.
  3. Most importantly, I didn't drowned.
Natalie Gallagher, Adam Little, and Jeff Wilcox at the finish.
Photo by Greg Gallagher.
Cooling down with a few teammates and congratulating those who ran much faster than me served as a great ending to a cold day. Having to slog through a run in the rain is made much more fun when you're surrounded by hundreds of other wild and crazy people who chose to do the same thing. We could have all been sitting on the couch, sipping hot chocolate, and watching a movie. Yet we chose to run. 

Perhaps the greatest reward after cold, wet races is the warm shower awaiting us when we get home. When I said earlier I felt like I'd hopped out of a swimming pool after my warm up, my clothes looked like I'd hit every muddy puddle on the course, too. After a shower and post-run meal, post-race congratulations continued on Facebook. In fact, check out Dave Erickson's video of the race at Swim Bike Run Videos (link below). Thanks Dave!

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