By my count, that should leave me with 2.4 readers. Here goes.
Our first race with the West Texas Running Club (and my first running race since middle school) was in September 2007. We had just joined the club that summer, and had signed up for the two mile. I didn't know anything about pre-race procedure, race courses, how I would know where the turnaround was, or whether I would be the last to finish. On top of that was the nagging problem of what we would do with our car keys while we ran. I arrived as one huge bundle of nerves.
Now, the nerves seem so silly; the bib number pick-up at WTRC races is well-marked and well-run; we've all done it bunches of times and anyone can assist nervous newbies. The turnaround is marked by a giant orange cone in the road, carefully watched by two volunteers, and one runs around behind it to turn back to the start (I missed this key detail on my first race, giving the race volunteers quite a laugh). I've only once been the last to finish, and I didn't die of embarrassment. And it turns out that running shorts have small pockets, into which keys fit neatly.
So, after learning all this at my very first race, and practising this hard-won knowledge once a month for the past three years, today's race was very much smooth sailing as usual. With emphasis on the "sailing"...
It's been raining for a couple of days. Part of the park where the race is held is flooded, so the 3-mile course had to be rerouted, and about a mile beyond the 3-mile turnaround (or 2.5 miles from the start), there was a dip in the road that had 2ish feet of water in it. We don't cancel races for rain, but we do alter courses for flooding, which meant the 10 mile race which I had signed up for was cancelled. Everyone ran 3 miles today.
There is some fun in the whole group running the same distance, since it so rarely happens. And there is lots of fun in running in the rain. There is considerably less fun in standing around afterwards, getting pelted by rain and chilled by wind. But we do that anyway, because if we were already crazy enough to come out in this weather, then we were crazy enough to find out if we got a medal for our trouble. I did; Chad did not.
We will miss these monthly races. We will miss the friends we've made over the past three years. We will miss the chance of earning a medal at every single race, even though we are confirmed back-of-the-packers.
For the first time in three years, I have no race to train for. But that won't stop me from getting up tomorrow and running anyway.