The best way for me to guarantee a cold, rainy day this season is to enter a 5k. And it worked again on Saturday, March 2.
The temperature was just above freezing as I drove to the Tarleton State University farm for the Farm to Fork 5k. I got there an hour early so I’d have enough time to pick up my packet and warm up. But, when I stepped out into the drizzle to run a few strides, I decided that was a bad idea, went back in, and grabbed a cup of coffee.
This was a trail run, with only the first quarter-mile on pavement. Had I warmed up, I’d have used the pavement to get ahead on my time, but as it was I held back. By the time we turned off the street and through a gate leading to the pastures and woods, the two leaders were beyond catching. But between them and me was a father daughter pair. The dad looked to be in my age group, so I planned to catch them.
I never race in a jacket, but the cold undid all my aspirations and I started with one on. That was a good move–for the first half mile, anyway. By the time I reached the water station at the half-way point, I unpinned my number and left the hoodie with the volunteers. Number in hand (I didn’t take the time to pin it back), I resumed my chase of daddy daughter.
At this point, we were running in a plowed field full of weeds. There was no trail, so the running was slow and miserable. I decided then that a wet 5k on a farm is not the best idea I’ve had.
In the next pasture a group of about twenty black heifers ran with me from one gate to the next. I must still look enough like a cowboy that they thought I was going to feed them.
I never shortened the distance between the two in front of me, but a young lady was close enough behind that I could hear her, so I still ran my hardest.
Once I finished, caught my breath, and thawed the frozen breath off my beard, I congratulated the runners who beat me and was happy to learn that the dad I failed to catch was not entered but only ran to pace his daughter. He was also, by the way, in an older age group.
We shivered in the drizzle as we cheered on the other finishers. After the awards, my friend who’d driven from Dallas and I went to Hard 8 barbeque where we ate a few pounds of brisket, chicken, and sausage for a late breakfast.
I always think of these miserable races as a way to not only improve my fitness, but also my toughness. We do lead soft lives these days, and it’s good to be physically uncomfortable. But I’ll not enter another until late spring when the sun is out and the birds are chirping.