I got to the race area at Regency Park in Cary in plenty of time to pick up my race packet and chip. I didn't get a t-shirt for this race, as they cost extra. (I shy away from paying extra for race t-shirts unless they're particularly good, since I already have a pretty good collection of t-shirts. I do regret not buying the CRR t-shirt from two years ago, since it was the race that I first entered in my journey toward getting back in shape.) While I was putting the chip on my shoe, I overheard a lady giving some race advice to some friends running the race for the first time. She told them not to go out too fast because there's a hill early in the race, but after the turn-around, there's a big downhill and a lot of flat course after that. She said she went out to fast last year and was sorry! I was glad to be eavesdropping, and took her advice to heart. (I'd forgotten about that hill from 2 years ago!)
Anyway, the 10K started at 8:30, but the 5k didn's start until 9:45, so I returned to the car, and read and dozed a little bit. I'm glad I didn't oversleep, but I wish I stretched a little more! I found myself trotting toward the start line and getting just a few stretches in before the start of the race. It didn't even hear the starting "gun," but I was in the back of the pack, so when the crowd surged forward, I knew the race had started!
I started the race slowly, and walked up that early hill, which helped. I was able to pick up the pace on the level and downhill stretches, even passing a handful of people. The course took us around a small lake in Regency Park, a pretty picture. The temperature was pleasant at first, but was heating up toward the end of the race. It was also windy at times. I noticed that my Garmin was 10-15 seconds behind the timers along the course, probably from the start that took me by surprise. (I didn't start the Garmin until I saw the surging crowd.)
Injury-wise, I didn't feel my knee much at all during the race, probably in part because I took 3-4 walk breaks (some on flat ground, toward the end of the race). I did feel the plantar fasciitis starting to make a comeback in my left foot, which surprised me a little, but I am nearing 300 miles on my current running shoes, so maybe it's a nudge to get a new pair.
I finished the race a bit under 40 minutes, though official results haven't been posted yet. My Garmin time was 39:30. I was thrilled to finish, and was very surprised to get a finisher's medal at the end! It's the first medal I've gotten at a race, and eventhough it's not an age-group award, it was better than a t-shirt to me now, and just what I needed. With the injuries I've had and recovered from in the first quarter of 2008, finishing this race was indeed a big deal for me. I feel like I'm "back in the race," so to speak, and that's done a lot for my spirits. :)
I'm sufficiently sore today, so I've been doing some extra stretching, and didn't run this morning at the gym. I did go in to keep the routine going, but only did 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. I've gotten a lot of R & R since returning from the gym, as yesterday's race wore me out more than I expected.
I'll post official results when I learn of them. Thanks for all the encouragement.
UPDATE: The official results are in! My official time was 39:47, finshing 247th out of 265 runners in the competitive division. In my age group, I was 14th out of 15. The top female finisher overall was a 43 year old, which rocks! There's hope for me! I'll probably never be the top finisher anywhere, but age matters less and less.