|Photo by Mark Polomski - 50 - 59 Race (John on the Right)|
I'm not typically like this, but during the week prior to this race I spent time locating my favorite items of running clothes to wear. Most of the time I don't give much thought to what I wear, I just make sure it is comfortable and appropriate for the conditions, but this past week in my mounting nervousness, I wanted everything the the State Street Mile to be perfect. After all, I have waited three years to do this race, having to sit out the first two because of injury. Finally, finally I get to run this downhill mile through paradise, end at Starbucks, kiss my husband and share a 5 shot Americano with him. So I needed my favorite shorts, which required a load of laundry to be run. I pulled out a very old running top the color of red because "red" signifies fire, passion, speed, determination, focus. It was what I wore 3 years ago at my last road mile. Lastly I needed my favorite socks. I sifted through my over packed sock drawer and couldn't readily find them. Hmmm. Let's try that again. I pulled out every pair of socks in the drawer and no fav's to be found. Nope, not in the dirty clothes either. Well, there's only one reasonable explanation. John took them. He must have thought they were his. After all it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference. I went through his drawer and nothing. I looked in my backpack and in my running shoes and cycling shoes. Not to be found. So the night before the race, as I laid everything out for the morning, I reluctantly went through my sock drawer to find a worthy runner-up pair. I chose some greenies to match my Newtons but was unsettled about the whereabouts of my favorite socks.
Race day was nice. It was not an early morning rise because John's and my races were middle morning and we had merely to walk 4 blocks from our house to the start line, so it was a nice casual morning of getting ready, stretching, stretching, and more stretching. I fretted one last time over my lost socks and then let that go in favor of focusing on the crushing competition I was likely to face. We placed our entries weeks earlier and when I registered I had a choice I needed to make. Was I going to enter the Open Elite race, or the Master's Elite race. What I had noticed from looking at previous results, is the Master's Elite race lacked comparable competition. The women who entered the Master's race were wonderful, strong, fast women, but I could see that my mile time was likely to be much faster than what had been posted by that group in the past. If I entered the Master's race, would I run as fast if I had no one to puch me? Then with the Open Elite race, the finishing times and participants varied greatly from year to year. There may be a lot of super fast women or there may be a few super fast women. But if I entered that race, knowing of course I was not likely to win, I might run faster against the competition and post a better time. Oh the dilemma. What was more important, to run the fastest time possible but finish well off the leaders, or to win? I decided therefore to enter myself in the Open Elite. It's one of those moments; you make your selection, check the box, pay the fee, hit submit and then immediately regret it.
I was not privy to information about who had entered the elite mile this year but not long after I arrived to watch the age groupers start, I sat and talked with a fellow elitists who began rattling off names and abilities of the elite entrants. What???? How many are qualified for Olympic Trials? How many 22 year olds? Or 25 year olds? Decades younger than me? She ran a recent sub 17, she runs a 2:16 half. My jaw dropped and I thought, "Do I really belong in that race?" After all, the point of having a Master's Elite mile is so the Masters can still compete at a competitive level yet against those who are at least dealing with the same age disadvantage.
Ponder, ponder, ponder. Should I switch my race? I really didn't think about it for too long before I went over to the registration table and asked if I could change races. They allowed it and I decided that I would quietly slip out of that elite category. All things considered, I'm glad I did, but the question of whether I would have had a faster race as an elite still hangs in the air. Who knows.
It was time to slip on my racing flats. With my runner-up socks already on my feet (who wants to wear runner-up socks in a race, really), I pulled out my lime green Newtons. Ooops. What's this, ha, my favorite socks stuck inside. The one place I didn't check :) With a quick switch of my socks I began my last minute preparation for my race, clad in my favorite running clothes all the way down to my feet.
|Photo by Mark Polomski|
|Photo by Mark Polomski|
Santa Barbara is a great place to run and race. It was great to get a chance to watch others run in their races and to cheer them on as they did me. There were epic performances today. Many age group records were surpassed on this cool, calm, overcast Sunday. The elite races were phenomenal and there were excellent performances by local runners who ran in those elite races. The race itself is well attended, well supported and well organized. Thank you to all.