Today was the Fulton “Loop Around the Lake” 15K. With a field of probably 60 runners (and the majority of them running the 5K), this was by far the smallest race D and I have run.
Did I say it was small?
When the horn went off, I started out modestly. And the entire field passed me immediately. I didn’t dare look back, because I KNEW every single person was in front of me. We ran down Route 3 in Fulton, out past the Y and the Cayuga campus and the roller rink. The traffic was pretty bad (does EVERYONE in Fulton drive an enormous Ford diesel?) and the shoulder broken, badly sloped, and covered in roadkill. I stepped on a (thankfully) dried up squashed turtle, that when it was living was probably the size of a small dog. There was also a mammal of some sort that I had to navigate around; it was so mangled I could only make out the teeth and jaw (which incidentally looked like Scrat’s from Ice Age).
The head winds were horrible, but I suppose they were keeping me cool. Once we turned left past the roller rink I hoped the winds would quit blowing me backwards, but somehow the winds turned with us.
Or, really, I should say ME. Because this race was so small I was always, always alone. I was so alone, and so in the back, that around mile 2 I realized that one of the big diesel trucks whose exhaust I continued to huff was that of the ambulance. Yes. The ambulance that follows the LAST RUNNER at the ready, for when that LAST RUNNER drops dead.
I didn’t feel like I was going to drop dead, though. My legs and muscles felt decent; I probably could have eaten more that morning (I’d only had a Power Bar, some apple juice, and not enough water). But my rebellious GI system decided that today would be a day of belligerence. So while I felt decent, anytime I picked up the pace even a smidgen, I was immediately uncomfortable and searching for some woods to jump in.
Only I had an ambulance following me. I was certain that if I hopped off the road into the woods one of the EMTs would have thought such an aberration alarming and therefore hopped out the truck to follow me or something.
The water stops were well-spaced, the volunteers friendly, and the course well-marked. I did get lost at the very end where we were supposed to know to take a right before the high school, and instead I ran into the parking lot. I had to turn around and run back, and in doing so found that I was NOT the last runner; another man was rounding the corner I originally missed, and so we ran the last mile or so together. I realized as we chatted briefly how much more enjoyable running is, especially when one is distracted by the discomfort of rebellious intestines, when one has someone to talk to. It had really been a lonely, desolate, LONG race.
But my time was right on: D calculated that for me to run Albany in 4:50, I would have to run today’s 15K in 1:40. My time was 1:39 something. Not my fastest 15K, I don’t think, but a decent run, all in all, nonetheless.
And, AND I came in second in my age group. 🙂 Because there were TWO of us. But they gave me a medal, anyway.
OH. The title of this post? Tapir. That funny elephant-like animal. It’s what I think of when we TAPER, or reduce our mileage every three weeks. I’m really looking forward to the tapir. Taper. Because I’m tapir. I mean tired. *sigh*