Everyone warned me this day was coming. The day I’d wake up, lace up my racing shoes, power my way through a course and – despite all my efforts – walk away without a PR.
After managing 19 consecutive personal bests – or a new individual record for every year Miley Cyrus has been alive – I’d almost come to believe I’d get faster forever. But yesterday morning’s Sleepy Hollow Halloween 10K changed all that, single-handedly obliterating both my nativity and my PR running streak and leaving me feeling emotions that can only be summed up with the following descriptor:
That’s right, folks. I crossed yesterday’s finish line some 3 minutes behind my previous 10K PR, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. Why, you ask?
Because I didn’t want to PR anyways.
I realize that sounds very middle schoolesque, but it’s true. As I toed the starting line in Sleepy Hollow on Saturday morning, I turned to my friend Ethan and told him my one goal for the race was to not do any damage that would leave my legs smarting come next weekend’s marathon. (My other goal was to figure out how the heck they pulled off this headless horseman illusion. The 5-year-olds in the crowd seemed to figure it out, but I’m still working through it.)
The course was a challenging but breathtaking one that took some 900 runners past the legendary Old Dutch Church, along the leaf-lined Hudson River Valley and over Mt. Kilimanjaro, or so I assume given the ridiculous elevation climb at around mile 3. I aimed to keep my pace at about 8:30 – or some 30 seconds a mile faster than my marathon goal pace – and set out with the simple objective of enjoying a morning outside of the city on a gorgeous fall day.
And you know what? I had the time of my life. So much of my recent training has been focused on race times and splits and hydration and fuel strategy that I’d almost forgotten what it is that I really love about the sport of road racing. I love calling ‘Thank you!’ to every spectator along the race course. I love making eye contact with a volunteer at the end of the water station to tell them I’m coming for their cup. I love making silly faces at all the photographers and full-out sprinting my way up the final 25-meter stretch to the roar of the crowd.
It’s not whether I’m one of the first 50 to cross the finish line that’s important; it’s whether I’ve taken the time to high-five 50 kids along the race course that matters, and believe you me – the children of Sleepy Hollow’s hands have been high-fived like you wouldn’t believe.
You know what else I learned I like this weekend? Running races in costume.
A tried and true dog person, I’m not sure what encouraged me to dress like a cat at Saturday’s event. Probably the fact that I could wear all black running Spandex I already owned and Target was selling cat ears for $1.
Or maybe it’s hereditary, judging by this recent (and wonderful) photo-booth family portrait taken at a friend’s upstate wedding. Like father, like daughter, I guess.
How do you measure the success of a race? In PRs? In high-fives? In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife? (Name that reference!)