Over the past couple of months, I’m pretty sure that my racing mileage has almost outweighed my training mileage, if not overtaken it completely. This probably means that I should be training more, but it also means that I’ve been doing a lot more races than usual. For me, races are the best part of running – presuming I’m in good enough shape to do them comfortably. If I could go to enough races to make them be sufficient training I would. This probably won’t ever happen, since not too many people like to go to races on weekdays, and more importantly, races can get expensive.
While road races used to be casual events where you put down a few bucks, maybe a few more if you wanted a t-shirt to prove you were there, they have now become huge productions. Now you almost always have to buy the t-shirt, even if you don’t want anybody to know you were there at all. Then they hand out tons of water and disgusting glucose drinks in an attempt to justify charging you that much to run a few miles around downtown. I’m obviously not that annoyed at this situation, because I still go to a lot of these races, but it is kind of irritating – especially since a lot of races that charge you a fair amount still have logistical problems pretty often. Every once in a while, however, you come across a race that’s planned perfectly: starts on time, doesn’t run out of water or snacks, is well marked, etc. Paula Harkin put on a race this year that did all of that – the Pints to Pasta 10k (and apparently she does it every year, since it claims to be voted the best 10k in the northwest eight years in a row).
I don’t know a lot about Paula Harkin, but she has this group (company? following? cult?) called Run With Paula, and she puts on some road races throughout the year. The Pints to Pasta 10k was probably the best running event I’ve participated in all year. My only complaint has to do with the disgusting glucose drink they hand out on the course. At one of the water stations, both sides of the course had volunteers holding out cups for you to grab and drink the contents of. I assumed the contents were all water, but instead the volunteers on one side were holding cups full of nasty glucose drink that looked exactly like water. This was terrible, since I usually skip water stations altogether and only grabbed water there because I was extremely thirsty.
There was just one other shortcoming of this race, and that is the name of the race. “Pints to Pasta” implies that you get to drink pints, and then run to a place where you get to eat pasta. This is only half true. Instead of drinking beer at the beginning, you get absolutely nothing. This is a huge disappointment when you have skipped breakfast because you thought your race was going to be fueled by tasty beer at the start. Luckily I didn’t do that, but I feel for all those who did. It turns out the beer comes at the same time as the pasta, so really the race should be called “Nothing to Pints and Pasta.” It doesn’t sound as nice, but then nobody would have the issue of skipping breakfast in hopes to get extra-drunk before the race.
Beer before the race might also have been a good idea in this case, in that it may have slowed some of us down during the first mile. It doesn’t seem to matter how many races I ruin by going out too fast, I just can’t stop. The excitement of the race pushes me forward and the thrill of passing all the slow people I started behind keeps me going… until I get really tired. I ran this race like a 5k, which is a big mistake when you’re actually running a 10k. My first mile was 6:41, my 5k time was 22 flat, but my average mile time ended up being 7:31 (with a finishing time of 46:45). I’m becoming to realize that I’ll probably always go out too fast, and my only hope is to become strong enough to finish at that faster speed as well.
Because I hadn’t really been training and wasn’t expecting a great time, I wasn’t too concerned with what my finishing time was (although I just now realized that this was only my second 10k ever, so I actually PR’d). What I was concerned with was running back to the last hundred meters of the race to yell at all my friends who were doing the race with me. My usual partner-in-crime/running had finished long ago – I have yet to see him finish a race, I’ll have to either get a lot faster or sit one out sometime. But this time I had a whole bunch of other people to do the race with, which is part of what made the race so amazing. Since I finished a bit before them, and I’d had a really nice guy make me run way faster at the end than I had wanted to, I needed to go pay it forward.
A lot of people run to the finish line like they ran the whole race – just the same steady pace they’ve been doing the whole time. I generally consider this unacceptable, unless you’re hurt or have completely depleted yourself, which isn’t usually the case. The first guy I knew who finished didn’t seem to need yelling at – he was running so fast I almost didn’t see him (Jenny’s boyfriend Cam, in case you’re keeping track). Next I saw Brian and Aaron from my Hood to Coast team, who both got yelled at and sped up very nicely, passing a couple of people if I remember correctly. Murphy acknowledged my yelling but didn’t run any faster, but I forgive him since he’s hurt or something. Jenny, Laura, Kathayoon, and Anna all gave it one last push at the end, and promised me that they felt like throwing up at the finish line. This is always a good sign.
Once everyone was finished, we got to spend a couple hours hanging out in the parking lot of the Old Spaghetti Factory, drinking beer and eating pasta in perfectly sunny sunshine. We made new friends, kept the old, and found some American flags to wave around and sing “Proud to be an American” with (a bunch of people ran with flags for the 9/11 anniversary). As usual, I’m writing this minutes before I’m supposed to be somewhere so I’m going to stop abruptly, apologize for lack of pictures, and wish you happy runnings until the next time that I wish you happy runnings.
Edit: Here’s a picture I stole from Kathayoon’s facebook.