10k race. This was the first year for this event, a 5k and 10k at Singer Island Ocean Mall. I was originally slated to be the announcer, but a local radio station sponsored the event and used their talent instead.
I arrived early so I could do what I’d normally do before asking my legs to go fast – a warmup of at least a mile. I drove over the bridge, already marked out with cones, then turned to see how far down the last series of turns in the small neighborhood. I was one of the first people in the parking lot. It was breezy and beginning to rain when I started running the course backwards. I met Leslie Schiller in her neighborhood, she was walking her dog. I was slow warming up at first, stopping to double knot my shoe laces. I decided not to use a visor in the race, the first 1.75 miles heading north into the wind would make that a problem. I would use my Oakley photo-chromatic clear glasses to keep the rain at bay.
The race started on time, 7:15 am. I ran to the lead right from the sound of an air horn, going around the Ocean Mall building and then turning right onto A1A heading north. The wind and rain were both very powerful in the face of every runner. I didn’t once look back to see who was with me, I knew two fit guys with beards started near me as did April and a tall guy with calf sleeves. I ran a 6:21 first mile, looking to get some gap between anyone that would want to use me as a pacer or look to draft my “short frame” into the wind.
At the first water stop, an adult lady and some kids were busy setting up the cups and large cooler. They didn’t have anything ready for me to take – so I yelled, “They’re coming” to them as I ran past. I could see up the road, to the blinking light at the fire station, and then further. The road turns slightly and has some medians in the middle to separate traffic. I could not see a police car or flashing lights which would be the turnaround. It was foggy and the wind-blown rain was making it difficult to see ahead, even shielded with the clear lenses. I could watch sheets of rain blowing down the road and then have the gust of wind hit me – along with its accompanying rain.
I saw that the turnaround was around one of the medians that separated northbound lanes from southbound lanes. I ran around that which put the wind and rain at my back. I moved the sunglasses up onto my head, and found that no wind and only some rain was hitting my face. Coming on the other side of the road I saw April followed by the two bearded guys heading north towards the turnaround. I remember thinking I would have to avoid any incident on the bridge in order to keep this first place spot. I ran past the second water stop, which also had no attendants. I saw the straight road ahead of me to the 90 degree right turn of A1A. I thought maybe any of the spectators from the Ocean Mall would be out there when I passed, but no. The weather was a mess, there were no fans cheering today.
Before halfway, a white car with the price sticker on the passenger rear window drove next to me and took video from an SLR camera. I don’t know what that was for – the race, Wendy Martinez’s family, that’s still to be determined. I had my pace going well and at just past mile 3, my watch read 19:15. Good for the first few miles, now to really be exposed to the wind and rain high up on the only hill we have in our area. It was becoming foggy on this section.
Running towards the Blue Heron bridge had me lower the glasses on my face again. The wind and rain picked up, some reported feeling hail while they ran the bridge. I had hard rain, but didn’t see hail pellets hitting the ground. I know what that looks like!
I climbed the bridge strong going west. I had to run around walkers at the back of the 5k, many were wearing the black race shirt they received for this event. Some had ponchos, umbrellas they could not control, and walked hand-in -hand. I ran well down the bridge and under the span for a brief respite from the rain. Coming back up the other side was more difficult. I wasn’t as fast, but I was ok with that. I had more 5k people to elude and some were running slowly vs walking. The wind was very hard on the bridge, I couldn’t hear if people were talking to me… “What is that guy doing?” I didn’t see others giving a hard effort to get up or down the hill. There were spectators on the bridge cheering and trying to stay dry. I think the bridge was a surprise to people that came to support a cause and run or walk a 5k. Nicole Foster’s family did the race, I don’t think her husband or their kids knew about the bridge.
My pace was ok but I was laboring to breath at the top of the second climb. I didn’t want to stop, vomit, or walk at all though. I ran well down the bridge and onto the flat section before the turn. I made the right turn onto Lake Ave and saw more runners ahead. Now I was running with the wind again, towards Sailfish Marina. I made the left turn into the neighborhood, assisted by a police officer that stayed in his car until I got close. He waved me in the right direction, into the residential area of Palm Beach Shores. This is where I did my warmup before the race.
I ran among only a few 5k people, and caught up with a young guy with no shirt, who when I came up on him, started running my pace slightly ahead of me. We went around the last corner and into the rain and wind one last time. He didn’t run next to me for long, and once I passed him, he was not in my finish line straightaway photos.
I came down the last long straight behind Johnny Longboats and Das Beer & Pizza. I saw Maureen taking pictures and the finish line inflatable archway pulsing in the wind. Willie from Game On Race events was at the finish line with a water bottle. I wasn’t totally gassed as if I had done a hot weather 5k like Sunfest. I finished in 40:34, I think for a PR in my second-ever 10k.
Good training all summer delivers in the fall season!