A month of skiing on Mt. Spokane nordic trails has embellished this winter for Bryan and me. Yet the opportunity to test our running legs (that have only enjoyed the whirring belt of the treadmill since November) seemed like a great way to experience this Partners in Pain 5k event held at the West Central Community Center last Saturday. A wet and slushy snow had fallen the Monday prior, and Bryan and I wondered about the conditions of the roads. We promised each other taking risks on finishing an early season race did not take precedence over potentially sacrificing the fitness and strength gains we've worked hard to achieve so far this year.
Luckily, warmer temperatures descended upon Spokane, melting snow and clearing roads faster than some of the snowplows. Granted, the longest stretch of the course likely benefited from early snowplow attention, as cleared pavement allowed runners the chance to gain speeds not quite attainable elsewhere.
During our warm up, which consisted of running the course at a slower speed than I attempted during the race, I cherished the warmth of the sunshine hitting my exposed face and backside (covered, of course.) Only several slippery spots where melted snow-turned-to-water had frozen overnight existed. In fact, my legs seemed to draw the greatest amount of attention, seeking pity for the way the hard pavement felt as opposed to the belt of the treadmill. While the sunshine certainly felt good, it soon transpired the race itself might not.
Bryan and I trotted back to the start line and accompanied the rest of the participants in the WCCC parking lot. At the sound of the gun, we both started out at paces we typically use to warm up. With improved fitness and time on the track, our race times will hopefully differ more significantly from what our warm up paces should feel like. Today, these paces felt hard: race effort hard.
Regardless of our incredibly high perceived efforts, we both crossed the finish line with stable bodies and only mildly bruised egos. In fact, our combined times placed us as the fastest couple in the 81-95 year age group. Suddenly, the discomfort we felt in our legs did not seem so terrible, and we remembered how, at this time last year, Bryan proposed I jump on board with him in marriage to tackle this life together. Oh, the parallels of racing and living a relationship! It turns out, these races challenge us to focus on the small achievements rather than the pain. In doing so, we more fully savor the adventure.