On Sunday, I ran my first race since starting this blog. I heard about this race through a new friend of mine that I met through the run club I've recently joined. She had high praise for this race–well organized with a great turnout in a nice neighborhood race for a good cause.
This was all certainly true, with the welcome addition of some fantastic running weather: high 50s, sunny and a bit windy. Perfect condition for running if you ask me.
The race itself was pretty great. The course started at Stanton Park in Capitol Hill, and basically did an out and back to RFK Stadium where DC United plays. The vibe was just really cool.
I got to the packet pickup about 30 minutes before the start. I walked around for a little bit after getting my packet and shirt, and I made small talk with a few people I randomly recognized from here and there in DC. After walking around for a little bit, I started to warm up with some lunges. During my warm up, this group of about seven super excited/energetic people run over to my area in the grass just ahead of me and form a sort of semi circle. My lunges were taking me directly into their circle, and one dude noticed me and immediately called me in to join his group and warm up with them. I think half of the folks there were originally from Brazil, the other half probably from around here. It was really cool of them to invite me into their group and just offer for me to join them. It's one of the things I really like about running races; you really see the best in people. Strangers helping each other and just looking out. It's this feeling that you're all in it together, so why the hell not help each other. We're all headed in the same direction with the same basic goal of finishing with our heads held high. Every single race I've ever participated in has left me with this feeling in one way or another.
I didn't go into the race with a goal time in mind at all. I just kind of looked at it as a part of my weekly milage. About 3 miles in, though, I was hoping that I'd PR it, or at least try to finish with a sub 50 minute time. That didn't happen, but it's all good, I had fun. The craziest part of the race was at around mile 4. I was hitting a hill on the back end of the course, and ahead of me I see this guy running in a Clemson shirt. Given that I grew up in South Carolina a HUGE Clemson fan, the shirt immediately caught my eye. I knew that an old friend of mine, from elementary school actually, lived in Capitol Hill, and although DC is full of alumni from colleges across the country, I figured there to be a decent chance that this guy was my friend. I run up next to him and observe him for a second. The last thing I want to do is interrupt some guy running up a hill 4 miles into a 10k only to mistaken him for someone else. "My bad." I'd say in that scenario as I tried to run away as fast as I could. But actually, it turns out that it was my good friend from SC. It was crazy to see him. We met up once here in DC about 6 years ago, but haven't seen each other since. And before having met up 6 years ago, I hadn't seen him since I graduated high school. So basically, this was the second time in 15 years that I saw him. We ran together for a bit, he caught up with his family who came out to cheer him on, and we made plans to meet up later.
That was a really cool experience that got me to thinking. About the small decisions we all make and how one decision leads to another, leads to another, leads to another… For example, I decided to join this run group, and from the group, I met a new friend who told me about this race. I decided to register for this race (even though I didn't know anyone running it). During the race, I decided to pick up my pace slightly at mile 3 to try and PR. Then I decided to investigate the man in Clemson shirt further. All of this led to a cool experience or randomly running into an old friend. It kind of makes you think. You never know where interesting opportunities will arise and how the small decisions you make will lead you there. I feel like it's a lesson, to embrace the decisions, large and small, with positivity and purpose and optimism. Maybe those decisions will be the first ripple that will eventually lead to an experience that is fun, eventful, surprising, fulfilling, etc. Or maybe not, but even then, at least you've done something with a positive intent in mind. And the potential path, full of uncertainty and unpredictability, is just fun to imagine.
Anyway, I'm certainly planning to run this race again next year. The money benefits a local pre-K to 8th grade public school, The Capitol Hill Cluster School, with several campuses in the neighborhood.
My final time was 52:23. 8:26 min/mile pace. My GPS mapping said otherwise, but I know that GPS tends to overestimate distances. 589 out of 2217, overall; 420 out of 996 in the male group; 195 out of 421 in my age group.