Every year I head to the Prefontaine Memorial 10K in serious mode. Steve Prefontaine is my hero, my running idol, the reason I got so sucked into running in the first place. Getting to run on his old training grounds, right by his home and finishing on HIS track... I don't take it lightly. I feel pretty damn lucky to live in a place where I can run in his memory and be surrounded by fellow Pre fans every September. Then this year happened ... I lightened up!!
|The ladies race shirt - v-neck tech. Love!!|
I still take this race seriously in that I have my traditional start line chat with Pre and when I'm struggling on those endless hills I think to myself "what would Pre do" - psh, would Pre even struggle up Agony Hill?!?! But this time instead of getting overwhelmed and teary-eyed at the start I realized that a) I won't win, b) I haven't trained or done a single run in TWO weeks so c) I may as well just enjoy the race .... and for the first time ever at his race, wear a costume.
With less than 12 hours until we left for Coos Bay I was created a super hero duo, while making sure I could stand wearing it in the predicted cold, rainy weather. I checked the weather report every hour on Friday, watching the conditions worsen the closer the race start got. Man Friend and I prepared for everything - heading to the coast with costumes, and alternate race clothes in case we were running in a windy monsoon. Getting into the car I thought about how I said it would take a broken leg to get me to NOT do Pre, and this time I was questioning my sanity. Usually I stay over night in Coos Bay, but this year I figured I could just get up early and drive - and I drove that entire route in the rain. BUT as I pulled into Coos Bay I looked around and said, "do you notice?" I refused to finish the sentence so as not to jinx myself. No rain. Thanks, Pre!!
The walk down to the start was different than the prior three years .... this time I had no jacket on and I was already feeling too warm. Clearly the weather did a 180 on us and we were in for some heat and sweat! As we got to the start area and the high school teams were starting their 5K race we ran into Laurie and her daughter all dolled up in their tutus and ready to do their first 10K together. They were absolutely adorable, of course! Before we knew it, it was time to line up. I positioned myself behind a group of old men, using them as a goal ... to try to keep up with them for one full block. One of those men was THE oldest racer, coming in at 87 years old. They were those men that you looked at and just knew that they were going to kick your ass!
After one false start (i.e. the gun not going off), we were off and running, beginning a 6.2 mile journey of hills and fabulous spectators! If you ever have a chance to do this race, do it. It's this wonderful sense of community. I've done this race four times now in all types of weather, and every year the spectators are there .... be in in shorts and t-shirts or big jackets and umbrellas. Dogs are out cheering as well. It's just a really nice, welcoming atmosphere and no matter how bad you might feel climbing Agony Hill they always perk you up and help get you running again!
On this race I talked to a lot of other runners, finding everyone in great spirits! And being in costume as a super hero? Kids LOVED us!! That's great motivation in itself to try to keep running even though my body didn't want to. I battled a small Meniere's attack off and on during the race, and just kept with the goal of continuing on without stopping or throwing up like I did two years ago. Just before the turn around we saw Laurie and her daughter again just flying along and all smiles! She was nice and got this shot of us. See how fast I run?!?
Oh, remember those old men I was going to try to stick with for one block? Didn't happen. I passed one - the 87 year old. That's it. We did walk with one man that has done this every single year, and this year he said he was running 7 minute mile pace and then pulled something and had to walk the rest. 7s? Crazy!!! I parted ways with him when I got to the Prefontaine home, as I felt it morally wrong to WALK by the home where the greatest RUNNER ever used to live! And from there I ran the rest of the race at a fine pace, content with where I was at .... until .....
The last 2 corners of Prefontaine Track at Marshfield High School were before me. My immediate targets were an Army Sergeant in full gear WITH a huge backpack and boots and a 9 year old boy. MF urged me to pass the Army guy, and so I did. As we passed the military in MF came out and he sent encouragement to his fellow military guy. I told MF, "I'm going to let the boy have this win. He's running a better race than I am, this is his." "Nah, do it. Make him work, pass him!" So I did ... for a half second. It was pretty awesome. This kid was like the young version of myself. As I passed him he looked over at me, as I was looking at him, and kicked it into high gear. So I had to go faster, so he had to go faster. I laughed and said, "what are you doing to me? I can't keep up with this!" I stuck out my arm granting him the win and backed off, finishing my fourth Prefontaine Memorial 10K with a huge smile and a laugh! Good game, 9 year old. I couldn't beat you, but dang it, I beat the man that is almost 90!
|Photo courtesy of Laurie|
We were starving at the end, so we changed clothes in the car and hurried into town for some very yummy pizza, a tradition started 3 years ago. On the way out of town, seeing as we still had no rain over us, I stopped at the Sunset Memorial Park to pay our respects to Steve Prefontaine. It had an even more somber feel this year, now that his mother has recently passed away and joined her husband and son. But it was still a beautiful day and nice to get to stop over to say hello and thank you to my idol!