The music didn't stop.
My goal for this 8k was a bit of a moving target. When we first signed up, Nicky wasn't here yet and my dreams were lofty. My previous best 8k time, Shamrock 2012, was 1:25:59. Both 8ks in my name were of the walking variety, so PRing the race Saturday was a formality if ever there was one when myself and running are the topic. I mostly planned to follow the advice we saw on a bumper sticker: Start slow, then back off.
My mix was designed with a healthy PR in mind. This winter I had pretty much decided on 1:10:00 as my goal. It's nearly 16 minutes better than my old PR, and would mean 14 min/mile. Therefore, when selecting music, I was happy when I made a 1:09:00 mix. That meant when Jay-Z was over, I would have less than a minute to finish under my goal.
Race weekend arrived, and my nerves took over. Doubting my ability to get under 1:10:00 I decided to not think about it and just make sure I PRd.
Kacey helped me get ready and came with me. After saying goodbye to my in-laws, the reality washed over me and the seriousness kicked in. We left the hotel, and everything felt right. Here I was, as every race day, with Kacey. Only now we have a kid in tow. We did our first race, the Sherry Anderson 5k, in 2009. Kacey caught the bug a little before me, but since then we've had so many wonderful race days together. She's my inspiration.
But still, the miles. Two miles in, with a 12:24 pace, I thought there was no way I could keep it up. But instead I went faster. My walk breaks were frequent, but I never strolled. An old friend proved a good pacer in the first half, and I have a random couple to thank for helping me keep it going for the last three miles. We kept passing each other, but eventually I was spending more time in front. And at the end they were dust. But damn, they helped. The guy had his name on his shirt, but I forgot it. Thank you both, whoever you are.
In the end, I crossed at 1:00:13, 12:07 a mile. Slow by the standards of many, but way beyond my expectations. Nearly half an hour better than my best, and a better pace than my best 5k.
From Macklemore to Paul Simon, B.o.B. to the Deftones, the music kept me going. And after one skipped track, I crossed the finish line to Jerk-Off by Tool. I never even made it to my planned race ender, Empire State of Mind.
What I accomplished was hard. Surgery in August, a new baby boy. But it's nothing at all compared to what Kacey did then and this weekend. I look forward to her recap.
This weekend solidified my love of races. We run for health. We run to finish. We run, walk, jog, and stumble over the finish line. Some keep their heads down, in the zone. Others dress up and laugh the whole time. We're all runners. And I know that now, because I can't stop dreaming about more race days with our new little family of three.