I jogged down to yesterday’s downtown noontime 3K race around the Tidal Basin in the rain. At least it had stopped snowing.
A small band of hardy runners was there. A Parks Policewoman stopped by in her cruiser to hurry us along in our dispersal so that a gathering which didn’t have a permit didn’t tarry too long on federal parks land. The Race Director hurried over to speak with her, and made sure that nobody left any sweatshirts or fanny packs lying about for the quarter hour we’d be gone while we ran around the Tidal Basin. Suspicious packages, you know.
Off we set in the gloom. Peter, who is about my speed and age, got away from me quickly at the start and I didn’t expect to see him again. Running along the Tidal Basin, the water was gray and choppy. The Jefferson Memorial across the way was partially obscured in the cold mist.
Although he is faster than me, I stayed ahead of the Race Director this race, as he had run a 3:25 marathon only three days earlier. He was never far behind though.
I tried to sprint down the 100 meter highway bridge over a northern arm of the water. I tried to power up the short hill just beyond, which runs past the Tulip Library at the 1K mark. I imagined the bulbs sleeping underground, just starting to stir with the end of winter beckoning. Both attempts at shaking up my race effort midway through were only moderately successful.
There was none of the usual jockeying for position around me in this particular race, which would count only 23 finishers. Normally a steady stream of half a dozen familiar runners goes by me after the starting line crowd has sorted itself out.
I set my sights on the runner ahead and gradually pulled close. He surged. I pulled close again and passed him at the 2K mark, behind the Jefferson Memorial.
Up ahead was Peter, coming back to me slightly. On the last uphill, the bridge over the Potomac inlet, I drew to within ten yards of him. That was as good as it was going to get. Peter increased the distance between us steadily on the long finishing straightaway and finished eight seconds ahead.
I pushed hard at the end to beat 14 minutes, finishing in 13:50 (7:25). I was 13th overall, and the thirteenth male out of twenty.
It was the 421st monthly running of this race, of which I have done 93.