I thought about skipping Race No. 4 in the Adams County 5K Challenge, given that I was on call.
I took a new job recently with an agency that works with adults with intellectual disabilities, and it was my turn to be the person who handles off-hours crisis calls from the various supported-living homes we serve over a two-county area. I’d been up late the night before dealing with a situation at a home just a few blocks from Saturday’s race site, in fact.
But I knew I’d want to get in a run Saturday even if I didn’t do the race, and I’d need to carry the phone with me in either case, so I decided to head over to Decatur and take my chances. Worst case, if I got a call during the race, I’d just stop and walk while I handled it. And if the call came when I was plausibly within 15 minutes of the finish line, I could wait til then to return it, as we had a call-back window.
In the previous race I’d gone out too fast and been gassed at the end. This time, knowing I couldn’t take this race very seriously while being on-call, I tried to stay relaxed.
This was an out-and-back road course, which is inherently more boring than a Greenway race but also much easier to visualize. I picked out a couple of runners to keep in my sights, but didn’t obsess about staying with them.
“Just enjoy the run,” I kept telling myself. “Stay in the moment.” Needless to say, this was much easier than usual, knowing that a call could come at any time!
Starting the season woefully out of shape, I’d run the first the three races in this series around 36 minutes. So when I reached the turnaround, I felt fairly confident I was no more than 18 minutes from the finish line.
I was feeling really good, and I knew the way back would seem shorter – it always does. I was still nice and relaxed, and as I made the turn onto the road that made up the bulk of the race, I was psyched to see that it appeared to have a slight downhill grade I hadn’t noticed earlier.
I picked up the pace, and that road disappeared in what felt like a hurry – compared with my first three races, at least. The voices of those who’d been running near me – a married couple and a mom and her son – got fainter and fainter.
The course ended at a church, and we had to take a lap around it to get to the finish line. When I came around the final turn I was pleasantly surprised to see the clock had just ticked past 33 minutes. I finished just under 33:30 – 2 ½ minutes faster than my previous race!
I’m still about 5 minutes over my 5K PR, but that’s OK. Progress is progress. And in this case, just getting the race in without getting derailed by a crisis call was a victory in itself!