But it's time to run.
My eyes might be closed. Deal with it.
It didn't help that the day dawned dreary, with a cold mist and temperatures hovering just above freezing. Even if I had run a few more times, I can't imagine that my race day would have been anything about which to brag, considering the conditions. Thankfully, I'd been able to make packet pick-up the day before, and could wait in my car until the last minute. When I headed over to the starting area, I was pleasantly surprised to see a pretty big crowd despite the winter adversity!
I'd never run a race in that area, nor a race from this company, so I wasn't sure what to expect - though my packet pick-up experience had set a great tone. The staff was all smiles and very helpful in answering some questions I'd had about the race. I had the same impression at the pre-race festivities: smiles, excitement, and a love of racing. The staff attitudes were infectious, and everyone waiting to run seemed to be having a great time in spite of the temperature and precipitation.
We started exactly on time, and poured down the main street for the first leg of the course. Road conditions were icy, but the road was wide enough that safe patches were easy to find; I don't think I saw anyone fall. I skidded for one brief heart-stopping moment but quickly regained my footing! As expected, I wasn't moving very fast, but it gave me the time to enjoy the sights as we looped through the attractive architecture of the downtown shopping centers before turning into the neighborhood streets, lined with big beautiful houses. The entire course was on city streets, and not all of them were marked for the race; we had several instances of cars crossing the race course right in front of runners, or driving down one side of the street without much notice to the runners. Fortunately there were many police officers at all of the major intersections doing a great job keeping the heavy traffic out of our way.
My hardest stretch was the beginning of mile two. Maybe it was the lack of training, or the chancy breakfast I ate way too close to race time. or the unfamiliar conditions and course, but I was struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I had some pain in my hips, probably caused by running in a different pair of shoes than I was used to (thanks to little puppy teeth tearing my old ones apart two days before the race), and my calves were aching from the rolling hills, and I had to walk for a few minutes to regain my composure and push through the pain. After a little reset, I was back in action for the rest of the race, but the damage had already been done. I finished with a time of 31:47, which is far from my best - but also far from my worst. Though I know I could have done better, I was actually pretty pleased with a solid result in the face of many challenges.
Post-race, I was overjoyed to receive a pink medal and TONS of candy! We're talking full-sized Twix and Snickers here. Unfortunately, I hadn't brought a bag with me (and didn't see a bag check even if I had) and was limited to stuffing my pockets, or as I did with my bagel and banana, stuffing my face directly. Thanks to the local radio station being on-site, we had good tunes and plenty of food, plus some sponsors handing out some sweet swag (I'll never pass up a free water bottle), making for a pleasant little festival area. I made sure to give my compliments to one of the organizers I'd met at packet pick-up the day before, and received some warm and heartfelt words in return! I headed home with a giant smile on my face, pockets overflowing with goodies, and a medal around my neck - what a great way to kick off my 2015 running season!
The Course: Running on city streets always poses challenges for runners and organizers alike. I found the route very scenic and interesting, but also had to watch my footing on the icy pavement, which took away from the scenery sometimes. As mentioned previously, the local police force did a solid job managing big intersections, and the few cars that got through were thankfully very careful. What I appreciated most about the course was the minimal number of turns! Though there were some rolling hills and a few gradual bends, there were only three, maybe four, actual *turns* in the entire course, so the majority of the run was blissful straightaways! I really enjoyed the course and would love to run it again in the spring (with everything blooming) or in the fall (as all the leaves turn).
Anyone else noticing a theme?
The Swag: For a $30 entry fee (and even cheaper for CARA members) I was very impressed with my goodies from this race! Every participant received a performance shirt in a little reusable bag, your choice of long or short sleeves, and a participation medal. Plus, the post-race party provided ample food, TONS of candy, and several sponsors giving away high-quality products like water bottles or coffee mugs. As many races often do, Cupid's Love also had a booth in which you could purchase previous years' shirts, or hoodies/sweatshirts/bags/etc for this year's race - but unlike other races, Carpe Diem prices their merchandise incredibly reasonably. I was very impressed with how accessible the merchandise was, especially for the high quality clothing they offered.
The Bottom Line: I had a really great time here! Now that I know Carpe Diem runs so many events each year, I'll be looking to get involved more often! For a small-town race, Cupid's Love really delivered a great experience and I look forward to more!
Where'd you run this weekend, and how was your experience? Have you ever run a Carpe Diem race? Anyone want to join me for their next one, the Mother's Day Embrace The Race to support breast and ovarian cancer research?