The Tybee Run Fest is one of my favorite races of the year – not just because it’s a rare night-time 5K, not just because it’s at the beach, not just because it has such a good vibe. It’s one of the top on my list because for the past two years I’ve run it with three of my favorite people.
Leading up to the race, my training runs had been ho-hum. Nothing bad, but nothing spectacular either, and fairly slow. So I went into the race with zero expectations. I didn’t even have a plan. I ALWAYS have a plan. As we lined up in front of the starting chute, I still hadn’t decided on my strategy. What run/walk interval would I use? What was my time goal? I finally gave up and decided not to set any intervals. I’d wing it. As for a time goal, not a chance this would be a record for me. I was just going to run this for fun. Nothing else.
My running companions had much loftier goals, so when the start horn blasted they were soon out of sight. But as I trotted along, suddenly up ahead of me I spotted a chihuahua. A chihuahua? With a race bib?
Ok, so that is not a picture of the racing chihuahua. It’s a picture of a random chihuahua, but I like the visual impact. For a dog with such short legs, he could boogie. Suddenly, I had a race goal. I was going to beat the chihuahua. I mean, I had to, right? How hard could THAT be?
So I slowly, very slowly began to gain on him. It probably took me a good 3/4 mile to pass that dog, but I have to say it felt good. I ran along, continuing to wing it. Should I take a quick walk break? Nah. I felt fine. Keep moving.
Suddenly, my phone app told me I’d finished the first mile in under 10 minutes. You guys, I don’t run sub-10-minute miles. I just don’t. I tried not to panic. Panic might seem like a strange emotion when you realize you’re running well, but I just didn’t want to get my hopes up. “Just keep moving. Don’t think about it. Beat the chihuahua, that’s all you have to do.”
I kept moving along, not stopping at the aid stations, not stopping to walk. By the last half-mile, I was beginning to fade when suddenly I heard a jingle. The little jingle jangle of a dog collar. Or was it my imagination?
Then I heard people in the crowd. “Look!” they shouted. “Look at that cute dog!”
Oh no he didn’t catch up to me! I broke into a sprint. I could NOT be humiliated by having that chihuahua pass me in the last quarter mile!
Soon it was my name I heard being yelled from the crowd as Nicole, Lee and Andrew had doubled-back to cheer me on. I flew through the chute – before the dog. VICTORY WAS MINE.
And wouldn’t you know it? I had a personal best 5K. For a girl with no plan and no expectations, it was a pretty cool thing. It was only the second race I’d ever run without walking, and I hadn’t even meant to do that. It just happened.
Lee, Andrew and Nicole all had personal bests too, so it was a pretty epic night. We celebrated – as we did last year, and as I hope we do every year – with post-race beers and pizza at Huc-A-Poos.
Is it race time yet? I’m ready to do that again.