Today was the Neptune Festival 8K in Virginia Beach and of course I signed up a little late this year due to the freaky weather we have been experiencing for the last week. We had a nasty Nor' Easter blow in and it brought several inches of rain and very windy conditions earlier in the week. It made training very interesting.
But by today, things were supposed to clear out. Hmpf.....more lies.
I got up this morning to check the radar and sure enough.....storms loomed off the coast. I wasn't sure if those storms would roll our way but it wasn't looking good when I headed out the door. Those dark mean clouds that lay low in the sky were swarming as I headed to the oceanfront.
By the time I got there, the drizzle started. By the time I picked up my packet, it was raining.
I met up with a few of my running friends and we all huddled under the Old Lighthouse Museum until the start. There were probably 30 people huddled up together. By the time they called everyone to the start line, it was POURING down raining.
The gun went off and I ran my heart out....quick start or not I just wanted to get it over with. I couldn't believe how hard it was raining and it seemed like it only rained harder as we made our way up the beach.
As we came around our first turn, I saw a guy running ahead of me with a jersey on that had a holy cross on the back. It struck me at first, being a slightly spiritual and part time catholic person. Could it be a sign?
We all plodded up the rain soaked and puddle ridden street with the wind to our back. I didn't wear my ipod for obvious reasons so it was a different experience to hear people breathing and wet shoes hitting the pavement.
Of course I forgot to start my watch, so when I looked down at the 5k mark....there was a big fat 0:00! I seem to be having a problem with this.
I started to feel the pace on the 5k. I was poopin' out for sure. So, I latched on to some dudes who seemed to be maintaining a decent pace.
I never really look up when I am running hard and getting tired. I get less observant too. So when I started to follow these guys, I only noticed one thing.....a guy with untied shoelaces. I named him "shoelace guy" and he was pacing me pretty good.
I stared at his flopping shoelace for the last 1.9 miles. All I could think about was how much I wish I could bend down and tie his shoe.
And then he ramped it up for the last maybe .3 miles and I couldn't hang on to the finish. And I never noticed anything more about him other than his flopping shoelace.
So I cranked it up and finished that 8K run in 38 min. As I crossed the mat....."shoelace guy"came up and congratulated me. He said....
"Great run....you helped me so much. Thank you, that was just a great run and you really got me through to the end."
I was so touched that I introduced myself and shook his hand. He said "My name is Keith and I'm out here running for my mom who died last year of cancer." And that is when I noticed the holy cross on the back of his jersey.....he was the dude with the cross I saw earlier in the race.
I remember mumbling something out of my mouth....I don't know.... but I was so overcome with emotion that I walked away with the biggest lump in my throat and by the time I got to the boardwalk, I was in a full on cry. I cried because of how much I love my own mother. I cried because I helped Keith push himself to the end in honor of his mother.....and he was a total stranger.
I'm a sap.
Either way, here is the result......First Place in my age group
Thanks for the awesome pace Keith-aka "Shoelace guy"
It rained most of the morning and through awards ceremony. I was cold and damp and shivering but it was worth the wait to get the plaque. HA! I'm getting a pretty cheesy collection of this stuff.
All in all, my running keeps getting better. I have reached a new level physically and emotionally and I keep dreaming about qualifying for Boston.
No more races until Fleetweek 1/2 in 2 weeks. The rubber hits the road here.
The story continues on the East Coast. Have a good weekend blogger buddies!!