Runners say “Running feels good allowing you to clear your head”
Non-runners say “It feels better and your head clears when you decide to stop banging it against a wall!"
The President’s Cup is the most popular 5K race in the central New Jersey region evidenced by its 1500 entrants. Downtown Milburn, and the NJ’s Sneaker Factory put on a great race complete with mat timing and the use of the new sneaker timing tape system. The double loop course excels for fans’ runner viewing, and the Sam Adams beer truck serves fans' imbibing the brewing.
Superhero’s Marguerite White is the catalyst for this race. My calendar scan yield a big blank spot on Monday nite for a 8:30pm race start. Marguerite rallys her husband Jim to chauffer and wrangle her kids along as our “Crew”. She also cajoles one of the R2C15 crew, Jill to enter too.
I change at home, grab a couple of gels and a water and am picked up. We arrive at 8pm and weave through the crowds to secure our race numbers and timing plastic sticker. My only concern is Marguerite knows every 5th person and stops to chat and we need timing stickers and to get ready. Several runners from the recent lullemon Summit, NJ focus group are running, Kristen and Jennifer, and we wish them well! Relax Tim this is a 5K! We secure our numbers and it is time to line up. No stretching, no port-o-let, no transition zone set up. Pre-race is easy peesey lemon squeezy.
We line up at 8:25pm a couple of hundred in and find Jill, along with several of Jim’s high school buddies. Jill and Marguerite are calm and ready to run, waiting for the gun.
Then we spot her. She is sporting a white revealing jog bra, mini shorts, track shoes, tatts and impossibly chisled tan curves glistening in pre race sweat on a body 12 years our junior. “Her” is the local CROSS FIT instructor Karianne. My R2c15 girls, want to take her down run her down and show her who's boss. Meaning show her that kids, jobs, and mothering does not slow you down. Game on!
At the gun we are off, like cars on the Garden State Parkway headed down the shore on a holiday weekend. Everyone is in a hurry, cutting off each other and running on top of each other. Karianne hits the grass shoulder and I follow. We pass the crowds on the shoulder and sidewalk and cut the corners.
My mouth feels like a desert already, not a great signal for the next 20 minutes of suffering on a humid night! The first mile circles through downtown Milburn and is slightly uphill. The effort is taxing and I stay on the edge of the throng as K and I slide by slowing runners. We hit mile 1 at 6:55 clock time which is great considering the traffic and 15 second delay tyo cross the start. We fly past the start a second time and I spot Jim, Henry, and Teresa White and give a yell out. The runners have thinned out and we are paced up at our sustainable 5K efforts.
I am pushing to max pace and my dried out mouth and pounding head implore me to stop. Instead I push a bit more and pass runners. The leaders are running at us after the High School turnaround. Their turnover and stride length are greater than mine, but my effort rivals theirs. I pick the shortest lines and circle the school to head back downtown
We hit mile 2 at 13:45 so we are maintaining 6:50 pace in the heat. Now is the time in the 5K where you have to dig. Dig deep. The head is pounding on the wall and you still have 8 minutes of pain to go. Everything says slow down breathe and recover, but you can’t. No one around you is slowing down and all are gauging the others for strength or weakness from their own world of hurt.
Heading up the hill I push beyond my current effort to new levels of hurt and power up the hill. The look on the faces around are those of defeat. They do not match my effort and let me go. I crest the hill and am gassed. I come up on a fading young 14 year old kid is on my right. Tim, "Bluff strength and pass right by his cross country ass". My aging plant needs more oxygen then I am capable of providing. My body hates me right now. Why do this again? “I hear the non-runner chanting."
The kid and I come up on four guys that are also at the limit. I look at the kid, Tyler from Short Hills, as my heart is pounding through my chest. We start down the hill toward the finish and pass the 1 mile clock a second time, this time reading 19:50. We are close to the finish but not that close. I strain to see the end and hear the crowds at the beer truck. I floor it and drop Tyler and the four guys. I am sprinting alone in a wide gap and on fumes in 100% oxygen debt now. I hit the start line and the beer truck at max effort and start to slow down.
A course guy screams keep going, The finish is still another 100 meters! When will this end? My body hates me so much now. Just past the finish mat I hit the brakes and bend over. Here comes the dry heaves now. I wait to see if they will become wet heaves. They do not. I spy the clock. 21:42. A start adjusted 21:26 or 6:54 pace. My body recovers as I walk through the chute. I start to feel better as my heart rate comes down and I glisten with wet sweat.
So non-runners always want to know, “So you feel better bnow that you stopped running, right? "Well, yes but" . . .”But why?” they say. I try and explain that the feeling of your brain processing an overload of endorphins but this is always undescribable to them. The best I can offer is the comparison to the initial sensation in your head as you are drinking an icy Corona on Playa del Carmen in 95 degree heat.
This is the feeling that non runners cannot fathom. Physically you feel enpowered. Mentally you know you left nothing on the table. Sure, each race you may be older and slower, but when you give it everything, you achieve “That feeling”.
This is what makes 5Ks so awesome. Sure 246 runners finished ahead of me. Sure I finished ahead of 1200+ other runners. That is food for the ego, but it is pure junk food unless you have given 100% to achieve that result. Only you know if you give it all or not.
This is what defines “racing” versus a “non-racer runner”. The feelings of pain and suffering are what makes the after race result that much more special. As I leave the water table and turn around, I spot Karianne coming toward the table behind me meaning she has come in behind me. I cannot wait to share the news with Jill and Marguerite.
A Post Race Party
The DJ is spinning and the beer truck is flowing. Runners are pouring in and the Sams Summer Ale is being calorie processed before it hits my belly. The White kids are hanging tough and we post race in Charlie Browns with Patron Margueritas. (Get it?) as finishers continue to pore in.
Headbangers, keep on bangin!!