Friday nights return to racing began on a hot note, to the tune or 90 degrees and high humidity. The runners were relatively undeterred, perhaps scaling back expectations a bit but preparing to race none-the-less.
I met up with my new running buddy on the way into the park, we collected out packets and a race shirt worthy of the Steel City in bright gold with a black print of the Observatory. Gold has never been my color -- but it is always nice to have something to wear on the ubiquitous black and gold spirit days.
We shot the breeze for a while before the race, I was thankful to have company this year, as last year I spent a soggy hour waiting for the race to start solo. I was a little worried about my performance, I felt sluggish and all around hot and unmotivated, not necessarily good omens for the race to come. Still, I managed some excitement, and was off and running in the heat following seemingly endless announcements and the singing of the national anthem. The first flat bit and hill around the Observatory went well -- though as I descended into the park proper I began to feel the effects of the heat and my less then trained status. I trudged along, trying to not speed up too much on the downhill and risk falling out on the long snaking uphill. My fellow runners seemed taxed as well, as we headed up the hill several of my compatriots started to walk. Despite a twinge in my knee I decided to continue running -- chasing my running buddy up the hill -- I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and attempted to relax.
I made it into the finishing gate with a respectable time, and also with a good deal of nausea from the heat and pounding the asphalt. After sitting down and regaining my equilibrium I felt better and proceeded to fill myself with cup after cup of cool water and some well timed Italian ice. We stuck around for the awards -- and delightfully we both came in first in our respective age groups (which also meant we had to brave accepting our medals from a large fuzzy green frog mascot, but we persevered).
It was not a personal record for me, but considering the heat and my status I was pleased with the result. It gives me a base from which to improve, and proved that I have not lost my running mojo after all.