For those of you who have been to a loopfest, I don't really need to explain. You know the joy that everybody just gets wrapped up in for the whole weekend. I'm not sure why it happens, how it happens. Everyone says stuff like "Loopsters are the best people". I'm not sure that's really true or if it just happens because of the process of getting people together who only know each other from a magical website that only accepts positive vibes; People sharing the same passion who congregate in a place where they can put the "real world" aside for a while and just party and run and race and support each other. Whatever, it sure works, and this weekend was no exception.
It was great to see many of my "old friends" that I had seen once or twice before. And as always there was about half of the crowd that were new to the experience. Sharing the rookies' joy can be the best part.
I got a late start Friday night and took a red-eye flight from LA to DC, and then another flight to Charleston Saturday morning. So I only slept about 2 hours, but there would be no time for napping. I met Jenny Rae at the airport and we got acquainted on the drive to Sassafras Estates, where a huge home-cooked brunch buffet would be served, and loopsters dropped in for hours. Then it was off to Huntington and meeting everyone else at the expo and photo op.
Next we had a group carbo-loading and more social time, but eventually it was time to get some rest. Race day was tomorrow! I slept well for once, probably because I wasn't worried about my race, so I made up some of that lost sleep. I roomed with ForWill and it was nice to have a roommate who didn't snore like a grizzly bear!
I had no goal for the race other than to have fun and enjoy the camaraderie. But I had a plan at least. The plan was to run with MildSauce. She and I were both not optimally trained to race, so we agreed to go out easy, maybe 8 minute pace, and then just see how it went. I figured we would pick it up a little from there and run negative splits. And in the back of my mind I thought about catching RunnerGuyMark and RunMonkey who were planning to run just a little bit faster.
We got to the course just in time to make a pit stop and get to the start. It was a pretty good crowd, but luckily ForWill found MildSauce in the crowd for me just before the national anthem. The weather was perfect, and soon we were off and running. We settled into a comfy pace, and found it was about 7:45, which we deemed acceptable, and trotted along enjoying race day excitement.
Miles 1-6 were 7:45, 7:45, 7:41, 7:47, 7:41 and 7:41. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard either. We were chatting and laughing and having fun passing people the whole race. Here we are at mile 3 spotting JB.
It was a clear day. The view by the river was beautiful. The trees still had colorful leaves. The bakery was blowing out fresh bread smell. Fun times.
As we got up to the running path by the park, it got even more fun. The crushed stone path was easier on our legs, and the curvy path through the grass made it feel like a training run. We started picking up the pace as we passed more people. It was a long progressive tempo run. Miles 7 and 8 were 7:38 and 7:26.
Mile 9 we both started feeling a little fatigue and took it down a little to 7:39. But then we saw a familiar green shirt ahead and thought it was RunnerGuyMark, and we kind of put him in our sights and stepped it up a little. We also got passed for the only time all day by a guy, and we ended up running with him and talking a little. Turns out he was a first time marathoner who was going out a little fast. I actually saw him finish later - at 4:49! Ouch.
Miles 10 and 11 were 7:33 and 7:25. Now we were starting to get in race mode. We still hadn't caught the green shirt so we were cranking it up. Mile 12 was 7:12 and we caught him...and it wasn't our loopster. Oh well, we had to keep it going now. It was a race after all so we were giving it a good, solid, honest effort and earning our medals. I was hurting a bit and asked Sauce if she was going to leave me behind, but she said no, and I hung on. Then in mile 13 I felt a little better, and pushed a little ahead, and she asked if I was going to leave HER behind. No, we were in this together. So we helped push each other through mile 13 in 7:17 and into the stadium.
There we caught our footballs and headed down the field, noticing the clock clicking toward 1:40. A last dash sprint seemed to get us in just under.
But...official time for both of us was 1:40:01. Poop.
However... the race lacked a chip strip at the start. Official time was gun time. And if there is no start strip I use Garmin time for chip time, so I'm calling it a 1:39:58.
So, a solid negative split run. More importantly, my recent injury problems were left behind in California and I had no problem at all. So I feel good about getting back to more serious training. In a few weeks. After another Pikermi this weekend and a 5K Turkey Trot next week...Hey, I like to race.
It was a blast running with the Sauce, and then hanging out for hours with so many Loopsters sharing all their stories. I was near tears many times as the first-timers came in for their victory laps, and goals were beaten, and loop love was in the air. Fantastic day.
And then we got to party.
The local pizza bar let us rent out the whole place, so we took over and acted like we owned the joint. The food was great, the beer was cold, and the Loopsters were all in great spirits. After that, most of us adjourned to the Sassafras house for a bonfire and moonshine and s'mores and singing. You will see many pics and stories from others. I'm getting tired so I leave it to them. But it was, you know, osom.