Who would have guessed that a simple 2020 goal of running a race a month could be so easily disrupted by anything other than injury or lack of interest? I'm not on Loopville, anymore (nothing personal, Loopville), but I had been thinking about running my own races, and with March coming to a close, I had to decide. Saturday was rainy, so no go. Sunday I had a 7 mile progression run that I wanted to do just to get out the house for awhile. Monday's are usually 3 miles and hill sprints, so I planned, weather permitting, to substitute a timed 5k for that.
There's a local October race, the Fanwood 5k, where the finish line is about a quarter-mile from my house. I decided to use that route, and move the start forward to the other side of the busiest intersection I would encounter. This had the added bonus of putting the finish closer to home. So at 5:40 a.m. yesterday morning, with a headlamp on, I did an easy 0.6 warm-up run down empty streets and past the eerily quiet train station. At the driveway into a Dunkin Donuts, I stopped, set my watch to 5k, and hit the button.
I was running in the dark, made darker by the low clouds that hid any approaching daylight, on roads and sidewalks slick with condensation. It was a Monday morning, the beginning of week 3 of isolation. In the October race, this course is a combination of roads open and closed to traffic, but now, oddly, in what would normally be the start of the morning rush, I might as well have been running on a closed course. So while my initial concern had been about traffic, I found that the hardest thing was ignoring that voice in my head telling me I could bail on this at any time and no one would ever know. I didn't feel like I was going particularly fast, and when the first mile buzzed at 8:22, I really thought about calling it off, because I was hoping to be closer to 8 m/m. But as I reached the portion of the course that is in my neighborhood, I relaxed, and mile 2 felt better, confirmed by the 8:11 at the mark. Knowing exactly what I faced for the rest of the run, and being 2/3 of the way through, I started to look forward to finishing, walking into the house, and having some coffee. Mile 3 clocked in at 7:59, with the last 0.1 (or 0.13 on my watch) at 1:01. Full time 25:33 (AG 55-59, if you're counting).
Comparing this to my January and February race times, it's in the middle. Slower than January; faster than February. But it was a good exercise in self-discipline, and as I settled in at the kitchen table for another day of emails, zoom meetings, and homework monitoring that would burn roughly 7 calories in total, I could at least remind myself that I had run a race. On a Monday morning. Before the sun came up.