The morning started out at 7am and very cold. I got in my car and started on the 25 minute drive to Tigard for the Chocolotathon 5k. The car registered the outside temperature at 30 degrees and I knew this run was going to be a challenge. By the time I made it to Cook Park it had warmed up to the mid 30’s. Since I was a few minutes early for the race I decided to wait in my car and try to absorb some of the heat. Eventually, about 15 minutes before I thought the race was going to start, I left the warm comfort and found my way over to the starting line.

I could tell right away that things weren’t going to start at 8:00 am. Most of the booths were still being setup and there were less than 100 people mingling around. Shortly after I got there, someone found a microphone and started making a few announcement. He said that the race would start at 8:30. Great. That meant 30 more minutes of standing in nearly freezing weather wearing only my running shirt and running shorts. Cold!

More people started to arrive and it looked like things were going to get started on time. But then a new announcer took the mic. He announced that the race would start at 8:45.  Another 15 minutes of standing in the cold. But, I guess, it was getting a little better. By then it might have been up to 40 degrees.

There were no more delays and at about 8:40 the announcer directed us all to get in line. I thought this event was going to have a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. It turns out that there was only a 5k and 10k. Both races started at the same time and on the same course. The 5k runners were to run one loop and the 10k runners did the loop twice. By the time the race started there were between 500 and 1000 runners.

We took off in tranches in order to leave some spacing between the runners. Even so, for the first mile or so the course was pretty clogged up. That was fine with me since I’m not really a fast runner (at least not yet). But it was still cold! I looked down at my arms and they were bright red with dark blue streaks through them where the veins were showing.  About the half-mile mark I was in my stride and I started to warm up and my skin returned to its normal color.

This is my 4th 5k that I’ve run and I’m starting to notice a pattern. There are quite a number of racers who take off fast. They zip past everyone, weaving in and out, and make great time. However, by around the 1 mile mark, they are all walking. About that point I start passing them. And then a few minutes later the spurters will run past me again. But a bit further down the trail, they are walking again and I pass them. Every time I keep reminding myself of the tortoise and the hare story. My goal is to finish the entire race without walking. My pace is slow but I just keep going.

The 1 mile marker came right about when I expected it. I felt like I made pretty good time on that first mile and I settled in for the next mile. I don’t know if it was the cold or the hour of standing around or what but I started to feel myself slow down. At every turn of the course I was looking for that 2 mile mark er and it just was never coming. And then the hill! I turned a corner on the trail and looked ahead. There was a steep (very steep) hill ahead. It was steep enough that the trail didn’t go straight up it but had to zigzag back and forth. It was like climbing out of the grand canyon. I had a choice to make. Either walking up the hill, like everyone else, or stick to my goal of running the whole course. I stuck to it. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy but I climbed the hill. Once at the top, though, it wasn’t flat. Instead, it was a run back down the hill and that’s not easy. I was afraid that my legs would give out and I’d fall so I had to go very slow running back down. At the bottom, I saw the 2 mile marker. Whew. Now it was only a matter of grinding it out.

The last mile was flat and uncrowded. I should have been able to make good time but I used a lot of energy on the hill. I mostly coasted through the rest of the race. As I passed the 3 mile marker I considered picking up the pace for the last 0.1 miles of the 5k but I didn’t have it in me. I crossed the finish line at 46:51. That’s a 15:04 mile pace. Slower than my last race but that’s ok. I didn’t walk and I finished.

My next race, in March, is the Shamrock run in downtown Portland. I did that same race two years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can improve my time.


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