There’s a different feeling at the beginning of a race than before a normal run. If you’ve ever been at the start of a race, then you might know what I’m talking about.
For me, it’s usually a combination nerves, excitement and focus.
The longer the distance, the more intense these feelings become.
I know that not everyone enjoys races or even misses them and that’s alright, but I think of races as a test to see how well I am training and progressing.
The last race I ran in was November 2019. Of course, at that time no one had any idea what the next year or so would hold. As time has gone on from my last race, the feeling of anticipation has only grown for the time when races would return, whenever that would end up being.
I’m sure that you can relate to the feeling of anticipation for an upcoming race or the feelings at the start line.
Either way, it’s feelings like these that I have missed over the last year and a half!
Many races have announced that they will be going ahead in the fall (some with reduced capacity and other precautions) and with those announcements I had begun to make my racing plans for the later part of the year. By making those plans, which I’ll share more about in a bit, I had already experienced a boost in my running.
Then, an unexpected opportunity came up this past weekend for me to run in a live, in-person race in New Jersey!
The race was a 5-mile (8k) race and, while short races usually aren’t my favorite because I put a lot of pressure on myself to go fast, it was a great chance to see where I am right now with my running.
Since it had been so long, I almost forgot what it felt like to be at a race and in the start area with other runners as music is playing so loud that you can barely hear the person next to you speak.
The race just so happened to fall on the warmest morning of the year so far – 70F (21C). Combined with the humidity, I knew that it could be tough to keep up my target pace of around 6:30 per mile. The good news was that it was a shorter race so there was still the chance that I could keep it all together for long enough to get close to my target time.
However, as the start time got closer and the start area a little more crowded, I began to rethink my strategy for the race.
I decided to be sensible from the beginning and then see how I felt after a mile or so.
Turns out I didn’t feel great!
After a first mile at about 6:45 pace, it was clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to maintain that with the conditions as they were. I ran the next four miles at about the same pace and finished in 34:06!
While my finishing time might not have been quite what I was hoping for, I was happy to have navigated through the conditions to finish strongly.
But even more than that, it just felt great to experience racing again and everything that goes with it!
After all of the excitement and fun of doing this race, it’s got me really looking forward to these races that I’ve signed up for in late summer and fall this year!
Bird-in-Hand 5k and Half// This is a small race held in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania that has been listed on a few different Top 10 lists of races to do in the US over the years. I did this race virtually last year, but am eager to get running on the country roads that make this area popular! I’ll be doing the 5k race on Friday evening followed by the half marathon on Saturday morning.
Grand Circle Trailfest// I’m hoping that 3rd time’s a charm for this event. I have registered for and deferred this event the last 2 years. It is three days of 10+ miles each morning close to three different National Parks (Bryce Canyon, Zion and Horseshoe Bend) in Utah and Arizona. This will be my 2nd trail event ever and my 1st in about 15 years.
Rocky Run// Perfect for runners that like the Rocky movies or soundtrack. It starts and finishes right next to the “Rocky Steps” and has music from the movies playing throughout most of the run. Even though I’ve done this race each of the last several years, it’s always one that my brother and I look forward to because of the atmosphere. This year, I will be doing the “Italian Stallion Challenge” which is a 5k at 7am followed by a 10 mile run at 7:55am – for a combined half marathon distance.
Philadelphia Marathon// If you’ve been reading my last few blog posts, you’ll know that I started but did not finish this race in 2008 and that’s a feeling that’s stuck with me over the years. I’ve decided that this is the year to exorcise those demons and finally go back and complete this race. This will likely be my final race of the year and my only marathon.
With about three months to go before the first of these events (Bird-in-Hand), I am really looking forward to preparing for these races and feeling the growing anticipation as they get closer!
As these races approach, I’ll give an update of my feelings and expectations going into them. For now though, I’d love to know what your race plans are like or if you have done or plan on doing any of these events that I will be doing this year!