I awakened at 545 and dressed for the race thinking about pool attire afterwards. I had oatmeal and juice at 615. I grabbed some of the newspaper to take with me for the pool. At 700 I left to drive out to Windermere where all the roads are sand and life is much more contemplative and pastoral. Guides directed me to a church where I parked. It was quite breezy and, hence, quite chilly with the mid 50s temps. I put on over-shorts and a windbreaker and sauntered – still half asleep - over to the race start area, stepping carefully across some un-laid brick road pavers on Main Street. Egad! They’re doing some paving. A trumpet player was popping out mellow morning music to get everyone in the mood. I found the table and picked up my race packet.
There were about 20 minutes until the start. I rewound my way back to the car and stripped off my jacket, over-shorts and shirt. Standing there in sneakers and navy race shorts I was thinking how glad I was that the sun was coming up. It was brisk. I slipped on my sleeveless red dri-fit shirt, pinned the number to my shorts and took off in the wake of a fastie I know who was doing some warm ups. I followed him a half mile north of town and when he turned back so did I. I sensed my legs were feeling strong from having skipped 4 days in an excessive taper for the race. Sadly (for you racers out there who know) I substituted drinking, carousing and web googling for rest and mental preparedness. For the time being I overlooked those known deficiencies and dwelled on positive thoughts – like going to the pool after the race.
I was 100 yards and 8 minutes away from the start. I jogged to a walk at the back of the chute pack and went forward to see who and where the front was. The usual shirtless hard bodies with low numbers were up there. I took about a half dozen steps back into the field. After the last race I was determined not to be caught behind any slow runners or walkers.
A county commissioner sidled up to me with about 2 minutes before the start. He asked how life at the school board was going. I told him all was well and quickly turned the conversation to his business since I knew him to be a harsh opponent of school impact fees which had recently been passed over his objection. I didn’t need to hear that again; so we chatted about his military status and my son’s. Oh good. There’s the horn.
I had a fair amount of room to get started. The course was set to meander around and through the back roads of Windermere, along the shore line of three lakes that are within the small area of downtown and back to the town hall start area. All the roads were sandy and some were loosely packed, reminding me of running barefoot on the beach last weekend. I felt strong my first mile as I passed a number of folks without any trouble but was dismayed to see 8:19 on my watch. Last week I stayed steady through the second mile but this time was determined to make up for the slower start. Up a few sandy inclines and down around some more and I had an 8:04 split for mile 2. That was not going to get me in under 25:00 unless I had a strong finish. It was about then that the legs started wobbling and slowing down, feeling nothing else but tired. I had the drive but not the strength. I crossed the 5K line in 26:01. I knew running on sand packed roads would be challenging but I know I could have done better than this. I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and a bagel and watched the remaining runners come in. It was a beautiful morning but still in the 50s. After about 20 minutes I walked back to my car and changed my sweaty race shirt to a T-shirt.
Tom Petty jumped out of the speakers with some intensity and I was off to the pool at a convention hotel in town. It just seemed like the best place to get away from ugly school news and see the beautiful people from all over the world. I walked in the lobby with my paper and bought a Starbuck’s Café Americano and went poolside. There were a few ladies out to get the last of the Florida sun before heading back north on 1230 flights. There were other folks here and there. I found Miss O’Hara’s lounge chair and pulled one up next to it. The coffee, the paper, the sun, a swim, foreign accents everywhere and I was definitely not in Kansas anymore. Ahhhhhh. There was very little more I could have hoped for. Well there was but I did not let it be a distraction. After 90 minutes I pulled out of my daze and headed on back to the ranch. It was a good day. Thank you for coming along.