A couple of weeks ago I did the Midnight Madness 5k and 10k races. For those of you who don't know about them these road runs are a big deal here in Ames. I had never done it for a number of reasons: I run that far several times a week so why pay $30 to do it? I prefer to run alone most of the time and this race has hundreds, if not thousands of people in it. The big deal seems to be the party afterwards. I am not much of a partier.
Well, this year a few things came together to convince me to do it. First off, a friend contacted me asking me to do it, offered me a new pair of racing flats, and guaranteed me a PR (I hadn't run a 5k race since high school and had never run a 10k race). Then just a few minutes later I ran into the race director (Captain Midnight) at a coffee shop (though his persuasive speech focused more on the party and less on the run).
So on the day of I laced up my new shoes for the first time, just minutes before the start. The race started and for the first half I wasn't sure whether it was the 5k or 10k race (I had signed up for both). I really hoped it was the 5k because I was going way too fast for a 10k. It was surprising just how many people I knew both running and among the spectators. It seemed like every 10 meters I was saying “hi” to someone. I guess when you've been in town for 17 years and a visible part of the athletic scene for 11 it shouldn't be a surprise. There were more than a few “what are you doing here” moments. Luckily it was the 5k and I finished with a time of 20:47. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it seemed okay. Faster than many, slower than some. It's all relative.
I had about half an hour to wait for the start of the 10k so I walked around a bit and ran into yet more folks I knew. One happened to tell me about the 5k Swim the Bridge which I'll be racing tomorrow and others asked about the Arrowhead (I was wearing the shirt). I knew I'd have to back off and run my own pace in the 10k. In a 5k it seems like I can pretty much go all out, but in a 10k you really have to let go of your ego and let people you know are slower get ahead of you if that's what they want to do. So I reined it in for the first 5k. In the second half I pushed to keep the pace steady. A lot of those people who had passed me in the first half started dropping back and walking. I was glad of my easy first half. I thought I might end up with a negative split, but that didn't happen, though it was close (I don't have my splits). My finishing time was 47:43 which I thought was pretty good. The shoes were great and didn't give me any problems though in such a short race they really shouldn't.
Afterwards I got together with one of my cousins who happened to spot me when I was running. We ended up getting cake and ice cream with his girlfriend's family and missing the after-party. That's more my speed anyway. Will I do it again next year? I don't know. I had a good time and it is interesting to try and run fast rather than try and run far. I can see how someone could get into that. Maybe I'll see how fast I can do a marathon next year. Still I'm more of an ultra-runner at heart.