2020 has not been a good running year for me. I planned to participate in several races that I would run and record with my GoPro, but this pandemic slowly caused races to go virtual, one by one. And that includes races that I haven’t had a chance to run in and put on the calendar, Ray Tanner’s famous Home Run series being one of them.
I registered for Ray Tanner’s race months ago, though I could not find the email confirmation, maybe this COVID can be a computer virus too, who know. But I was getting updates about the race, and that made me feel better. When word finally came out that it would be a virtual race, I would be remiss if I didn’t say I was sad that I wouldn’t be running in and around the University of South Carolina baseball stadium.
Since the race was virtual, participants had from 1 to 17 October to knock out their miles. I was still nursing my hurt knee and waited until the 16th to do my run for this 5k, and since I work later hours at the university, I went for my own familiar route on the Lake Murray Dam at night.
The weather was relatively calm with a slight breeze coming in. I grabbed one of my smaller headlamps, chose my lemon colored On Cloudflow over my somehow lighter Atrey shoes, and snagged a better fitting phone holder strap to wear for this run. I drove out to the northside parking lot and passed a couple of cars with people still partying in the picnic area. I slip on my gear and add the Aftershokz I keep in my car for the needed tunes to distract myself on upcoming path. I walk and stretch to the starting line, which is just the big green sign on the other side of the parking lot.
I started my Garmin and away I went. My Forerunner has a tendency to push out a faster start time whenever I begin a race, and this time it was telegraphing a 7:30 mile before settling on an 8:10 mile, but Strava will say otherwise in its analysis; all the while, my right knee is screaming at me that I needed to adjust how I landed on my feet.
My knee finally stopped chastising me after a quarter of a mile into the run and I felt in a rhythm; it really helped that Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was playing by that time and put me in a running groove. It was a slow groove with an average 8:48 for the first mile, but the ground was flat and I had a nice, though small wind cooling me off during this easy autumn evening. I pass the five towers and notice the cars careening by in the dark. I hit the half-way point which is a little before the ascent to the bridge with all the lover locks on them. While there are no castles or mountainous peaks, this scenic area with its promises of love will always remind me of parts of Germany. As I turn around before the bridge, I feel myself slowing down, if only for a second, though again, Strava said otherwise.
At mile two, I averaged an 8:59 mile and it was a big contrast to what I used to run, and a reminder that I need to work-out more. I continue on, still feeling good, albeit slower, but as I get past the 2.5 mile I had to slow down due to a family walking along the dam path and not hearing my “runner on your left” comments until I was almost on them. Once I past them, and exchanged “hellos” and “good evenings,” I chugged along, but had to crawl to a walk because now my right shoulder was locking up. I’ve had shoulder problems for a couple of years now, but this was getting ridiculous since 1) I was almost done with the 5k and 2) I wasn’t carrying anything in my right hand so my shoulder should not have been acting up. So, I walked for good 30 seconds while doing shoulder and arm rotation exercises and quietly cussing up a storm so that the family behind me do not hear my misgivings. To make up for the time, I work on sprinting the last tenth of the 5k distance and my Cloudflow did not disappoint me.
I finish up with a time of 28:06 and walk a lap around the parking lot before working on cool-down stretches while trying not to disrupt the people fishing at night because that is still a thing here.
To go back to before the race, Strictly Running did a knock-out job as usual. Participants had a wide time-frame to pick up their shirt, for me it was a gray Under Armour tech shirt and I currently own very few of those, and it was so easy to come in (with a face covering on, course) and particular shout-out goes to Brady for his super friendly welcome and taking care of my packet pick-up.