The temperature on my phone read 18°F.
And it was snowing.
And it was a little breezy.
Just awesome… I thought.
Am I really gonna do this?
No, I wasn’t asking myself if I was going to run – I’ve run RaceMenu’s Super Sunday race every year since 2009. It’s has a special place in my heart having been 1.) my very first road race and the following year being 2.) the best performance I have ever had in a road race.
No, I was definitely running. The question was whether I was going to be crazy enough to take off the singlet and go bare-chested with #AutismStreaks written on my chest.
I had been pretty certain I was doing this – that is until Friday afternoon when I came down with a debilitating head and chest cold. I was so out of it Friday night that I had to skip much anticipated dinner plans with family friends. After a cocktail of homeopathic and OTC remedies, I had pretty much recovered by Saturday morning, but I was still feeling the lingering effects.
As I got myself dressed to head out, I took my singlet in my hand. I thought about putting it in my backpack, but instead dropped it on the floor – my decision was made. I then woke up Jess, handed her a sharpie and put her to work.
My original thought was to stay completely clothed until the starting gun. Unfortunately, if I wanted to be able to check my stuff, I was going to have to do it a good 15 – 20 minutes beforehand. As I stripped down to my running shorts I got a lot of “Oh my God!”‘s.
It would be the most repeated statement of the day. At 20°F, I knew I could be pretty much viewed only as absolutely crazy. I moved into the tent to wait until the last minute to join the starting crowd. While there I got plenty of “way to go”‘s and “nicely done”‘s. One woman even asked if she could take a picture with me – who was I to say no?
Finally, with what I thought was just minutes to go, I made my way with my buddy JB and his friend Ed to the starting line. We moved to the back of the crowd. My reasoning was that I wanted as many people as possible to see that I had “sponsored by Charity Miles” across my back –
– hopefully at least a few of the approximately 1300 people I would pass along the way would get curious, google “Charity Miles” and start raising money on their own for their favorite charities. With the wind blowing and the snow falling, my body began to shiver. Despite having on a hat and gloves, I was standing still and I was cold.
All I needed was a starting gun, but the opening ceremonies dragged on and on – truth be told, I’m sure they weren’t any longer than any other race, but when you’re standing in 20° snowy, windy weather, half-naked, time slows down big time.
Finally the gun went off. It took us nearly a minute to get to the starting line.
As we weaved our way through the crowd, my nakedness paid off immediately. Every small pack of people I passed noticed “the naked runner” and commented on the writing – along with the “Oh My God!”‘s I got plenty of “GO Charity Miles!”‘s.
Awesome! I genuinely thought!
Fighting the crowds, our first mile was the slowest, coming in at a leisurely 8:16. By the time we hit mile 1, my legs were warming up. As the packs thinned, we picked up our pace covering the second mile in 7:35. It’s funny how being cold can motivate one to run faster. As much as I was warming up, I kept thinking about the fact that I was still not fully recovered from being sick on Friday. My upper chest began to tighten. Now under normal circumstances, that would be a signal for me to slow it down, but dammit, I was cold and I wanted some of that Oatmeal Stout I had been eyeing before the race. JB asked how I was doing. Okay…I think. Hurtin’ a little. He cracked the whip and said let’s turn it up a little!
So we did. Mile three came in at 7:08.
The Super Sunday 5 is two races. There is the 5-Miler which we were running, but there is also the 5K Bailout, where you can bail out at 5K and then take a bus back to the start. I have to admit, just briefly, I had a moment of wanting to bail out. My chest was burning from the cold air. But as soon as the thought was in my head, it was banished. I was continuing to pass people along the way at a steady clip (an advantage of starting at the very rear of 1500 people) and the steady stream of comments drove me on. JB and I once again picked up the pace – mile four got cover in 6:48.
I knew that the pace at which we started the race wouldn’t allow me to approach last year’s finishing time, but with one mile to go we decided to empty the tanks just for fun. JB and I went back and forth. On the second to last turn we were in a dead run and he shouted, next turn we sprint to the finish. All I could think was I thought we WERE sprinting.
But he was right – we made the final turn for home and we both found one more gear.
There was a young kid maybe 15 yards ahead of us. We started to close on him rapidly. I was sure we would catch him – that is until someone along the sideline warned him and he too found one last gear. We continued to close on him but ran out of real estate. I think if we had had another 20 – 30 yards we would have had him. The last mile was covered in 6:29 – according to the Garmin we covered the last 150 yards at 4:49 pace.
36:28. 183rd place out of over 1500 runner, 15th out of 72 runners ages 40 – 45. Not bad. I have to admit that part of me had been looking to go sub-35, but considering the condition I was in, I wasn’t complaining. JB and I made our way to the tent and more importantly to the beer.
I highly recommend Mayflower Oatmeal Stout as a post-run recovery drink!
After chatting with some runners and cooling down (yes, I was actually warm when I finished), I ran into some more friends, taking the opportunity to snap a shot with twitter pal and fellow blogger @kissing_frogs before heading home.
Hopefully, somewhere out there this week, somebody from that race has googled and download the Charity Miles app and is out there running, raising money for their favorite charity.
Maybe it’s you?