Wednesday was a hard day. After not running for a week due to frigid temperatures, travel and Inauguration restrictions and closures, Wednesday was the day of the 420th running of the monthly noontime Tidal Basin 3K race. It was my 92nd running of it (out of the last 102).
My agency’s rock star, G, ran the two and a half miles to the race’s start with me, at a 7:45 pace. So at the start, I was already dying, with my glasses so steamed from my perspiration that I had to put them in my pocket.
Off we went. My legs were feeling tired so I hoped that if I went out fast, the speed might come. I caught up with my doppelganger Peter early in the race and ran by him, elbowing him out of the way as he tried to pinch me off into a curbside bus as I passed him on the inside. A quarter mile later I heard his familiar shuffle coming up behind me and he ran by me, for good.
I entertained my familiar I-should-just-walk-now thoughts as I passed over the inlet bridge across the water from the Jefferson Memorial. The septuagenarian who always beats me passed me there.
I passed the mile mark in 7:28, well off the pace of most of last year’s runs, which tended to be around 7:00 or better at the mile mark. Running along the serpentine walkway by the Memorial, I felt sluggish and slow. I knew the only two women in the race, a sexagenarian and a septuagenarian, were behind me but I wondered how close. I successfully fought off the urge to turn and look because that is a sure sign of a struggling runner.
I passed the 2K mark at 9:08, a 7:21 pace, so I had picked it up a bit. That didn’t last long. Coming down the long last quarter mile straightaway, the wind hit me just as I was having a fantasy that I was making up time on the runner 30 meters ahead of me. All I had to do was summon a burst–from where?–and pass him, I thought. What are you, weak? I asked myself. And 10 yards further up was Peter. I could pass them both!
We finished in the same order. The strong arctic wind blowing in off the Potomac on the straightaway stayed our speed. My normal goal in this race is to break 13 minutes, something I did twice last year, but I had to hustle to break 14 minutes this race. I finished in 13:58 (7:29), my slowest time in well over a year, 51 seconds slower than last month.
I was 19/24, finishing just ahead of the first woman, and ahead of only two other men who were younger than me. A nice 79% showing for the race, or 86% for my gender. This race can suck.
My booby prize for being so slow was running the two and a half miles back to work with G, who finished fifth in 11:14 (6:01). He had mercy on me though, and trotted back alongside me at a leisurely 8:58 pace.
And then at 7 pm I went off to lead the weekly track workout for my Half Marathon Training Group. We did 5X1000 at 1:51 laps (7:27 pace), with 200M recovery jogs. Yeah, Wednesdays can really suck alright.