The wind woke me up before my alarm even went off. These weren’t gusts. These were steady winds over 20 miles per hour. And all I did was laugh. This was going to be a ridiculous morning.
I headed to Lockport for the inaugural LockRock 8K. The good news on the weather front — temperatures were pretty comfortable for running and the rain was holding off. The bad news, of course, was the wind.
This was a race I was doing out of love. After back-to-back half marathon weekends and an endless pit of work-related stress, this 8K had little to do with performance and everything to do with experience. I grew up in Lockport. My parents still live there. It’s still my home, one of my touchstones, my personal mothership if you will. This race was a fundraiser for the Lockport High School Foundation, a non-profit which supports students with scholarships and funding for special projects. Supporting that cause was a no-brainer. Plus it was an 8K, a distance hard to race in Western New York which seems to be over run with 5Ks. (Yes, I may be a bit of an endurance snob. I admit it.)
Everything about the race excited me. So a wind advisory wasn’t going to deter me. But it did cause me to flash scenes from The Wizard of Oz through my mind.
The race started in downtown Lockport and was pretty darn flat. We started out with that wind at our backs (thankfully!) and I had no race plan. Zero. I had thought about an interval run, but decided against it. I just was going to run. After all, I had no idea how my legs would feel, no idea how my body would react to a crazy past three weeks. This was about celebrating my hometown and trying not to blow away.
I ran the first mile pretty fast. Huh. I felt good but knew that the wind would make things interesting. And it quickly did as we turned down Davidson Road and the cross wind was strong. I pretty much yelled “woo-hoo” every time the wind threw in a gust. There was nothing else to do with it.
We wound through a residential neighborhood and I started to gain on a few runners in front of me. I wanted to pass them, but I was only in Mile 2. “You don’t need to get it all back in 30 seconds,” I told myself, having learned the lesson from my track workouts. I worked hard but not all out, easing off when the wind became too difficult to work against.
We turned on to High Street and our biggest “incline” of the day. I passed the guy who was running in front of me on this stretch and for the final half of the race we leapfrogged each other. Which was perfect. I didn’t care at all if I beat him or he beat me, but our little game within the race kept me focused. My only goal for the race was to run strong and have fun. Right here was a mission accomplished.
My parents were standing in front of my former junior high with their cowbells. I high-fived my dad. This really was becoming too much fun.
The final mile of the race, which skirted the corner of the high school, had a glorious downhill. In my mind, the entire street was downhill. I was wrong. But in order to enjoy that final stretch of a downhill finish, I picked it up, just a tad, to set myself up for a strong finish.
My leapfrog partner took off ahead of me and then I kicked into my final sprint. I crossed the line and felt great. In fact, I couldn’t believe how amazing that race felt. Turns out, I ran my 8K personal best. Actually, turns out I smashed my 8K PR.
There’s a little bit of magic when you run in your hometown. And a little bit of magic when I let go of expectations and just run. And then we celebrated with s’mores hot chocolate at Sweet Sixteen Cafe. Because all magical moments should be celebrated.