I like pleasant surprises.
My friend Josh was instrumental in helping to bring back the Brooklyn Triple Crown series of footraces. The series ran for many years but after Hurricane Sandy hit New York the series went away. I already knew about the Staten Island Triple Crown and even ran two out of the three races. The same people, Complete Race Solutions and the Staten Island Athletic Club, organize both series.
For some reason I thought the Coney Island Creek 5K (CIC5K) was going to take place on a Sunday. It's summertime and the family wants to have things to do on Sundays so it appeared I wouldn't be able to participate. What I love about the CIC5K is it was really close to home. It is basically within Kaiser Park near Mark Twain Middle School. I used to run there regularly. I cannot stand races that require me to travel more than an hour, wait around perhaps another hour, then do the race in 30 minutes or more, then another trek to get home. With the CIC5K, I would be able to just walk over, 20 minutes maybe, 30 minutes top.
Eventually I realized that the race would be on a Saturday. Sure I could register but I was going to take advantage of the special discount on Independence Day. I should have registered during the day because in the evening the family watched the fireworks display on the beach of Coney Island and the exodus from the area was horrible. I don't know for sure what caused the traffic jam, maybe just too many cars leaving the area at the same, from the fireworks and from the soccer game at MCU Park. Or maybe it was because of some FDNY truck blocking one of the lane. Whatever it was, I got home really late and missed the discount deadline. I was bummed. But then Thursday night I happened to pass by the packet pickup site, VitaminShoppe at Caesar's Bay. I figured it's a local race that I want to support so I finally registered that evening.
I did walk to the race site, in 31 minutes according to Strava. I met friend Sheldon for a warmup run on the nearby streets. At the NYRR Queens 10K a few weeks ago, I also had a warmup run and I felt better during and after the actual race. I thought from now on I should always have a warmup run. Besides, I need to cross off a few streets in the area, for CityStrides.com of course. I am sure I ran the nearby streets before, somehow the lines don't show in CityStrides. As more friends show up, I learn that Jimmy is in my age group and I joked that my hope for first-place age group is dashed, I would have to settle for second-place. With the typical NYRR and NYCRuns races, the number of participants is so large that the chance of a slowpoke like me winning anything is infinitesimally small. The chance is greater with the smaller races and there are many such races in the City. I recently turned 50 years old too so there is hope there too. One popular joke is that if you live long enough, eventually as long as you finish a race you'll win because you'll be the only person in the Age Group. There weren't that many people at the CIC5K but I didn't know who else were in my Age Group, other than Jimmy. I would just have to do my best and hope for the best.
There was no start mat. When the time came, the race director walked the group over to the starting line and, after a few speeches, gave us the signal to go. I was only a tad behind the starting line, probably at the fifth row, with about five or six people per row. I jokingly asked "Where is Corral L?" There was no need for a corral, just a small group of people. During the warmup run, my left knee felt a bit weird. The pain seemed to travel down below the calf but it went away afterward. I did more stretching during the wait for the race to start. Whatever it was I held back a bit in the beginning. It was a bit scary to see all the runners in front of me taking off. I just kept my regular pace. There was no need to dodge slow runners because there were not that many people and the course was wide enough. One by one I passed the kids then the women who went into walking mode. I know, nothing to write home about, but in the running world, lots of time the little kids are pretty fast and so are the women. Just as I started to pass the front of Mark Twain M.S., some guys started to pass me. I thought they were such fast runners that they already started to lap me, even though I didn't even hit the first mile yet. I found out later that they were late-comers, speedy ones, who thought the race was scheduled for 9 A.M. It was 8:30 A.M. but got delayed a bit. I kept moving and again passed two more women. There was a third woman but I couldn't catch up to her in the first mile. By the second mile, she had to take walking break and it was my chance to pass her but before I did that she resumed running. A short while later, by the sandy portion of the course, she walked again and this time I actually passed her. My lead was short-lived as she resumed running shortly after I passed her and she regained the lead. Unfortunately for her not long after passing me she had to walk again. I once again passed her and kept going. I should have studied the course better and only knew vaguely that it was two times around the park, that the third time I hit the entrance to the track I should enter it for about a loop of the track. I wasn't sure by the time I finished the second loop of the park and had to ask the race director to confirm. I was so glad it was over. Hot and humid weather does not work well for me. I perform better in cold weather.
Award ceremony took place by registration table. First we had the overall winners then came the Age Group awards. Many of my teammates from the Prospect Park Track Club won Age Group awards, many in first-place. For my Age Group, 50-59, when the third-place winner was announced and it wasn't me, my hope was dashed. Oh well, run faster or find another small race, I thought. But it turned out I was the second-place winner, with Jimmy in first-place, just as I joked before the race. Pleasant surprise indeed!
Last month I ran the Harbor Fitness 5K in Bayridge. There were many raffle prizes given out but I didn't win anything. In the days leading up to the CIC5K, Josh had many announcements on Facebook about so-and-so sponsors had come on-board and will offer raffle prizes. In addition to the Chipotle BOGO coupon and $2 (?) Coney Island Brewing Co. that every runner would get, that is. There were indeed many prizes, ranging from baseball caps to socks then $15 Grimaldi coupon and $25 Brooklyn Running Co. gift card. There were other very high-valued prizes too that I cannot recall at the moment. Knowing my luck, I didn't expect much but when the winner for the last $25 BRC gift card was picked, the person wasn't present and my number was picked! Woohoo! Second-place Age Group AND a $25 gift card, the day sure started on a good note!