Running: Shot In The Dark Fun

Yesterday, I woke up with very sore legs. I forgot to take my Aleve before bed and in the middle of the night, Smith jumped on our bed and decided to lay right on my legs. Worse than that, I failed to do my post-run stretching routine following a 6K.

The morning leg pain wasn’t fun, but the enjoyment I had at Bull City Running’s First Annual Shot in the Dark race more than made up for it.

I almost didn’t get to enjoy it. Jess and I left the house at 7:00 thinking it was 3 minutes up the street at the New Hope Church. We turned into the parking lot and saw runners getting lined up. The race wasn’t supposed to start until 7:30. I thought maybe they were starting early due to the rain. Then I noticed that everyone had on a different bib than me. After scrambling and asking if there was another run going on here, I quickly found at that I was in the wrong place.

We were supposed to be at New Hope Church Rd in Cary, which is about 20 minutes away.

I was angry and frustrated. I wrongfully took out my anger on Jess, who was driving as fast as she could, within the speed limit of course, to make sure I would make it on time. I thought there was no way I would make the race and that I had wasted my time and money. I got angry at her when she was just trying to help. Thank God she doesn’t take things as personal as I do because I’d still be crying in the car if she snapped at me like I did to her.

We arrived at our destination at 7:35. We were late, but I saw a large group of runners still standing around. I hadn’t missed anything. It turns out that the rain forced them to delay things a bit. After apologizing to Jess a hundred times for acting like a dick, I did my pre-run routine and prepared for the race.

The race was a down and back 6K prediction run. Where you finished didn’t matter. It was all about how well you knew your running pace. I had never run an official 6K, which 3.7 miles for those of you who don’t feel like googling. In fact, most of my recent runs, in conjunction with my 10K training plan, were over 4 miles or right around 3 miles. So 3.7 miles was definitely not in my wheelhouse.

I predicted my time to be 33:28. I made that prediction about a month ago when I signed up for the race. I thought about lowering it by 20-30 seconds as I felt that I was faster than I was a month ago, but after looking at my recent runs and times, 33:28 seemed like a good prediction. Plus, I didn’t want to second-guess myself and regret it later.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to listen to my music on the run. Being a prediction run, watches and phones had to be left in the car. The watch I could live without, but I always use my phone on my runs to track how I’m doing and to listen to music. Luckily, Jess had an iPod shuffle that I was allowed to use. I don’t know if I could’ve finished the race without my music.

The run went great. Outside of a small hill at the starting point, the trail was completely flat for the whole race. I started fast, which is typical of me and something I wish I did a better job of controlling, and then leveled out. Less than halfway through, my right headphone went out, which is what I get for using headphones that I bought way back in middle school.

Since the run didn’t start until around 8:00, the sun went down on us during the run. Some people had headlamps and lights, but I went without one. Running in the dark is something I’ve never done and something I hope that I don’t have to do often. It’s not that running in the dark is scary, at least in this setting it wasn’t, it’s that the run seems never ending as you can’t see what’s in front of you. With the trail being a straight shot with very little light, it felt like I was running towards a black hole of nothing for an hour.

Near the end, I saw a lamp post at one of the turns and I thought that was my turn towards the finish line. It wasn’t. I was one turn early and had to quickly correct myself. Finally, I raced down the hill and crossed the finish line.

Jess and Smith were waiting there for me. They congratulated me on finishing and Jess said that she thought I was close to my time. She wasn’t keeping track, but she heard that a person about 30 seconds ahead of me finished with a time of 32:50.

After walking around a bit and grabbing a beer, the results were posted. I ended up finishing 29th overall (there were probably 60-70 runners), but where you finished didn’t matter. Your time is what mattered. I finished in 33:24, 4 seconds faster than my predicted time.

With the top 15 closest to their time earning a prize, I felt confident that I would be going home with something. It turns out, I was the third closest to my time and the top male. Jess gave me a big cheer when my name was announced. I ended up picking a certificate that gets me a free shirt or hat from Bull City Running and a free pair of socks. Can’t wait to cash that in sometime in the next week.

I realize that I’ll probably never be the fastest runner, but I don’t care. I have fun at these events. It’s great talking to fellow runners and it gives me something to work towards. It was cool to win and I’m proud that I know my stride and pace as well as I do, but I would’ve been just as happy if I didn’t win, as long as I finished ahead of my predicted time. I definitely would’ve been upset if I was way off on my time and was much slower as well. It still would’ve been fun, just discouraging.

Thanks to Bull City Running for throwing a great event. Everything they do is very professional and fun. I’ll say it again; if you’re trying to get into running, find a local run store. If they’re anything like Bull City, you’ll be in great hands.

The next run I’m scheduled to do is the Hurricanes 5K on September 18. However, I saw a See Spot Run 5K and 1 mile fun run planned for September 11. Smith loves to run and I think he’d have a great time out there. Hopefully he’s smarter than me and remembers to do his post-run stretches.


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