Good morning! I was giddy all day yesterday because last night kicked off the return of my running club’s summer fun run series, a Tuesday night timed, but casual 5K that happens from May through August. It was one of the highlights of my summer last year, and the first time I really took and active role in my club, thus feeling included. Imagine that.
Last summer, I was just starting to show when the series started and I finished the summer volunteering each week as a time keeper, when the heat and hills and baby out front made running a little too precarious for my liking. Talking to Al, the event organizer last night, he laughed and reminded me, Remember how anxious you made me last summer? I was so nervous you were going to go into labor all summer.
Now I have a seven month old and stroller in hand. Have you ever heard the saying time flies?Anyhow, I had been eagerly awaiting the return of the fun run and wasn’t going to miss the first one.
The runs start at 7:00, which is sort of a challenge since that’s Henry’s bedtime, but he’s usually really good about falling asleep in his stroller and I figure one night I week won’t be the end of the world. I changed him into pajamas before heading out and bundled him up in his blanket with his favorite stuffed pirate pig (you read that right) and rattle for the ride.
I took a quick picture and then promptly forgot to take any more for the rest of the night.
Before the run got started, I asked a couple with a double stroller how to lock the front wheel, which, apparently, is how you’re supposed to run with the BOB. They clicked it into place for me and I wondered for a quick second whether test-driving the fixed wheel on a road during an informal race was a great idea, but dismissed the thought.
Off we went.
Almost immediately I was thinking, woah, this is a weird way to drive, because the responsiveness of the stroller felt so much different without the swivel wheel. I was chatting with my friend Gina — who just ran the Boston Marathon April 20 and the Providence Marathon May 3, setting back-to-back personal bests — while working to navigate the crowd and find my place. I wasn’t sure whether to hang back to stay out of everyone’s way or to run my own pace and inch into the road a bit more. When cycling and running alone, I usually try to really plant myself in the road instead of tip-toeing along the edge, owning my space and making sure cars see me and go around. That seems sensible with a stroller, but also a little reckless. What do you think?
Eventually everyone spread out a bit and I just dodged people here and there. I ended up running ahead a bit to try and find my own space — it all felt a bit more stressful than I had anticipated. In advance of the race, I wondered how I would fare on the course’s two hills, but they felt totally fine. The first is very early on, so I hardly noticed it, and the second, which spans most of the last mile, is a long, slow climb and didn’t bother me either.
My first mile clocked in around 8:35 — a pleasant surprise. The next mile heads back downhill, so we cruised, passing five or six runners! Henry started getting kind of fussy and I found myself saying something I’ve definitely never said during a race before: Henry, don’t throw your piggy! Hold onto Martin! I didn’t really notice that I was talking to him around other people since we’re usually out on our own and one runner nearby actually laughed out loud. Henry didn’t listen, so we had to pull over for a few seconds to recover Martin (my sister named him) from passing runners and traffic. The five or six cruised back past.
We picked it up again and caught the group and got a few steps ahead, but then H started crying so I stopped to say hi, give him kisses, and tuck him back in for the last mile. We got passed yet again. Mile two logged 8:13. We turned at mile two to start the climb back up and I didn’t pursue the group again. For one, I felt like a bit of a jerk, hauling back and forth with a stroller in tow, starting and stopping. For another, I had turned on Henry’s magic music (it calms him down every time) and didn’t think runners would really appreciate or enjoy classical piano to drive them home.
So, H and I chugged along, keeping our pace and climbing the long, slow hill to the finish. I remembered the course pretty well, but wasn’t exactly sure where the road flattened out and turned back towards the school where we finished, so I stayed the course and talked to Henry, willing him to chill out for the last few minutes.
Turning to the school, we trucked home, neck-and-neck with another runner, crossing the finish in about 28:24, 8:50 for the third mile and 8:31 for the last third.
It was so much fun to see all of the familiar faces I met last summer and have seen from time to time volunteering over the past year. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and honestly, having H on my hip is just about the best ice breaker I can imagine. We can’t wait for next week! (It’s true. H told me.)
3.32 miles, 28:24, 8:32 pace.
What do you think about fun run racing with strollers? I would never bring a stroller to a regular race, but what’s the safest and most respectful way to handle it in this casual environment?