Yesterday was the John Rudy 5 miler, a winter series race that was cancelled in 2017 due to the weather. Given it is still my second year running the series though I’m going to continue titling the races as such.
I did not know if I would be healthy enough to run the race. A stomach virus attacked Jason the afternoon of Christmas Eve. I made a quick trip to the store for Pepto, Gatorade, saltless pretzels and chicken noodle soup. He recovered well enough to attend Christmas Day dinner at my parents’ house. A little after 10pm on Christmas I found myself in the bathroom. And after 11pm. And after midnight. This continued until roughly 4am despite the fact that I had only been producing stomach bile for the last few hours. It never ceases to amaze me how our bodies seem to hate us when we’re forced to vomit.
I had emailed my manager after midnight to advise that I would not be able to cover the reception desk in the office as previously scheduled, but that I would still work from home as I did not wish to lose my holiday pay. I pushed myself through 7 hours of work on 2.5 hours of sleep before falling onto the couch for a nap. Thursday my stomach was still sensitive but I managed to eat more and overall was feeling better. On Friday I felt that a head cold was starting as I could only breathe out of one side of my nose. I had some back and forth texting with Todd over whether or not I would run and of course he understood my predicament but as my friend and the race director, he was strongly enjoying me to try.
I woke around 6:30am on Saturday feeling well rested and breathing decently though there was still some nasal congestion. I was grateful that the cold hadn’t fully settled in my head or sinuses. The sun was shining and it felt quite warm except for when the wind blew. I was committed to racing, but set no goal time as I planned to run based on how I felt.
I arrived fairly early to the park and helped my dad with directing the cars where to park. I contemplated removing my leggings as it was feeling even warmer, but some chilly winds began blowing and I decided to remain dressed as I was and added my gloves. Dad and I ran a short warmup and joined a growing group by the northern extension of the York Heritage Rail Trail. I told dad to not stay back with me as he had the past two races, but to go ahead as I was going to start out easy and see how I felt. I had blown my nose several times that morning and was hoping I would be able to breathe without much difficulty.
At 9am the race started and we headed south on the trail. Despite the trail not being very wide there was no jostling as we all settled in fairly quickly. I pushed a bit on the first grade and opened up on the opposing downhill. I settled in near a woman who been talking to dad before the race and who I knew was not in my age group. The first mile was finished in 8 minutes which I found decent since I was still finding my comfort level.
Todd had forewarned of some potential mud on the course due to heavy rains the previous day, but the wind and sun had dried up most of it. There was one spot that we went off the trail to avoid a mess and had to run through a bit of mud, but it was nothing compared to what I had dealt with over the summer in my half marathon training. I finished my second mile in 8:10 which was fine as well.
A little past the two mile marker I began watching the lead runners return. This part of the trail was also one of my favorite parts as it ran alongside a creek and had some woods and was very scenic. I cheered on dad as he passed, encouraged him to close in on the group ahead of him and called out the time on my Garmin. I reached the turn around cone and our running friend Scott who I gave a thumbs up. I cheered on a few other runners before hitting the third mile in 8:07.
I was feeling fairly good despite not running for five days or exercising for four. My legs felt strong though my nasal congestion was making breathing a tad challenging. I pushed up the bridge as it was one of the few “hills” in the course and saw Les, an older local runner, not far in front of me. I spent many races over the summer trying to catch him and managed to beat him at the Spring Valley and Wildcat races. I was going to wait until the last mile to try pass him, but found myself running a bit faster and closing the gap. He was encouraging as I came upon him and told me to go after the few girls ahead of us. We crossed the fourth mile together as I clocked a 7:58.
I caught the woman who I had paced off of earlier in the race and told her great job. I worked the final long grade and passed two or three runners. With about a half mile to go I started to feel a tad ill and overheated and partially regretted not taking water at the aid station. I pushed on knowing there wasn’t much left to run and crossed back into John Rudy park. The final stretch mirrored that of my high school country cross country course; it’s deceiving in making runners think the finish line is closer than it is. I was cautious to not being pushing too soon, but when I heard dad cheering my name I did begin to stride harder. I felt rather winded crossing the finish line, but was very impressed to have broken 40 and ran a 39:47.
I finished third in my age group, four seconds behind the second place girl who I have beaten every race thus far, but given my health I wasn’t too disappointed since I originally thought I’d run well over 40 minutes. I’m grateful to have felt well enough to run and to run as great as I did. The race was reinforcement that while missing workouts tends to make us feel out of shape, we retain our overall fitness a lot more than we think we do. That being said I am looking forward to getting back to running regularly and completing some longer runs again. Here’s to finishing our the series strong in 2019!