Racing the Clock

Yesterday was the first time I ever ran with three times on the line.

The first one was the one I always have: my time from the previous year.  My first experience with the Hippie Chick Quarter Marathon was three years ago.  It was the first time I had participated in a race with that all important “marathon” word in the title.  And the fact that a quarter marathon is just a few blocks longer than a 10K was an added bonus (and the fact I didn’t realize that “few blocks” was .35 miles until the actual run was probably a good thing).  I was excited last year to knock a few minutes off my time and hoped to do the same this year.  The goal was to beat at least 1:10 on the clock which would mean a less than 11 minute per mile pace.  Which brings me to time number two…

During the Shamrock Run in March, I had decided to run with a watch to see if I could improve my pace by staying more controlled at the beginning, rather than losing all energy when I was feeling good those first few miles, rather than just being me and surviving well until the end.  So I strapped on my Nike Watch and hit the button after crossing the starting line.  Now I had been using the regular watch function for a few weeks with my Girls on the Run coaching, and had made sure that the sync still worked with my shoe sensor, but I had not tried out the pacing information in a few months.  Whoops!  Unless I suddenly became an Olympic class athlete with 6.30 minute miles, that part of the watch was no longer functioning.  With the Newport Marathon coming up in a few weeks, and a small field there so its doubtful there will be pacers (volunteers who run at a certain pace so you can just follow them), I decided it was time for a new watch, a runner’s watch.  Oh yes, it was time for a Garmin.  A running store downtown helped me out with the new watch, and a new skort that ended up working less than great.  So again, as I crossed that starting line, I pushed the go button.  And for the next 10 minutes, the watch and some satellite hovering in space tried to find each other.  Turns out, you’re supposed to start the watch while standing still.  So no pacing resource for me.  But the clock still worked so I aimed to keep each mile marker on the course within 11 minutes of the last.  Not the fanciest method, but it was distracting to count in elevens and great fun when I would end up with a minute to spare at the next marker.  Plus, I had to get done with the whole run as quick as I could because of time number 3…

The first time I participated in the Hippie Chick Quarter Marathon, it was on Mother’s Day Sunday, then last year they shifted to Saturday because many of the women had more restful, less 5am alarm clock desires for their days.  When I signed up last fall, I was mostly aware that it was on Saturday again, that it was in May again, and that it would take me about an hour again.  No problem.  Then we get to January or February, and one of my students asks when the Warner Pacific College Spring Graduation is.  And now we have a problem.  I had signed up for a run the very same morning as the WPC Graduation.  Graduation is not only part of my job requirement, but it is also the celebration of so much had work by our students, staff and faculty.  Lets just say there were a few inappropriate words shared with the computer screen when I realized my error.  So now I had the most important time / deadline of all: complete a 6.55 mile run that started at 8am in time for a 10am graduation.  Oh, and the run is in Hillsboro while the ceremony is in Clackamas; locations that are approximately 37 minutes apart from each other.

When I crossed the finish line on Saturday morning, there were three times on the line and three main thoughts in my head.  First: “Hallelujah that clock says 1:10.”  My official time would come out later that day at about 1:06, meaning my pace was a minute faster than last year.  The second thought: “Where is my medal, where is water, and where is my bagel?” I’m not much of a deep thinker at the end of a race.  And last but not least: “I hope there is enough parking because I am getting to that ceremony NOW.”

Many speeding laws were broken over the 37 minutes that followed that finish line, and some less than safe choices were made about when and how to change my shoes, but I made it with 10 seconds spare.  And as I sat there, thankful for the cap that covered my highway dried hair, I celebrated my students for their journey and smiled at my own that morning.  I’m not saying that I would attempt that whole adventure again, but I found myself smiling without an ounce of regret.

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