I ran a 10k on Saturday, which cost five buckaroos, or, five american dollars. This is a change. I'm used to New York Road Runner's fees, which, makes sense, because they have an office on the Upper East Side, right on the park, so, of course they have to charge $65 for a 10k in Central Park. That rent doesn't pay itself.
The Springfield runners don't seem to have that problem, so $5 later, I lined up with my friend, Zanny, and about 35 other runners to start my (maybe) 4th 10k. There were no chips or mile markers, so it felt like a training run rather than a race, but it was in Forest Park, which felt like home. It was designed by Olmsted, and ran like a sister to Prospect Park. It was the happiest six miles I've run in a while.
This is where we met, the skating house. Classic Olmsted.
We finished the run, and there were three or four organizers at the end, shouting encouragement and clocking our finishing time on a stop watch. Afterward, back in the skating house, a couple of dozen people milled around, eating chips ahoy and drinking hot chocolate, while winners were announced. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, and it was so easy and low key, I just wanted to stay all day.
The race series is called the snowstorm classic because it has never been cancelled on account of weather. Never. Classic New England.
And now, as promised, my rules. It occurs to me that I've become a fairly regimented runner. I think this happens after running by yourself for a long time. You have to have little patterns that govern you, just to keep things going. Like, you run to a certain point and slap a certain stop sign with your hand. It sounds simply neurotic but it does serve a purpose. It keeps you from cutting corners, or switching up (read: cutting short) your route, because there's no one else around to be accountable to.
Anyway, I digress, my rules:
1. Always start a race much slower than you think you should. Let's get this out of the way: lots of people are going to pass you. Don't worry about it. Some are just faster than you. Others aren't, and so you'll pass them later.
2. Do not sprint at the end until you can see the finish with your own eyeballs. From personal experience, I will tell you that doing anything else is a risky move that can result in you crossing the finish line and making these really weird wild panther-gasp noises because you can't breathe. Not ideal.
3. Run every step. Every step.
4. Don't throw up.
5. No costumes. Running's hard enough. I don't want to have to worry about the tulle of my tutu scratching my legs. Sorry Ragnar team (I'm trying to figure out a way to tell them. I want it to read firm, but not buzzkill. Oh, Team Jetpack, I miss you).
6. This is an amateur, low-pressure road race. I know where I am in the pack, and I'm in no danger of winning. And if you happen to be running near me, neither are you. So, girl running right behind me Saturday morning, are you drafting? This isn't the Olympic Trials, Lance Armstrong. Go around me. Other competitive moves are also barred: no throwing elbows, no cutting people off to run the tangents, and I take a very dim view of compression socks.
7. Hair in ponytail. I just don't understand it any other way.
8. Run your own race. This kind of undermines all my other rules, but, in the end, this is the only rule that actually matters.
There actually is a 9th rule, but it's more a life rule than a race rule. It's that, from now on, I never live anywhere that isn't within walking distance of an Olmsted designed space. Please consider this a firm rule.