Hail my running brothers and sisters! I considered naming this post “The Beaver Attack Race,” but I was afraid that title would attract the wrong kind of readers. Also it wouldn’t clue everyone into the fact that I had completed Razz’s challenge of the bloggers (kind of like Challenge of the Superfriends, but without Casey Kasem….I think).
In any case, I ended up doing MY race on Monday. The sun was out and it was a beautiful and warm 70 degrees. I hadn’t intended to run the race on Monday, but I couldn’t drag anyone else out on a middle distance run. Left to my own devices, I decided to use part of the last leg of the Country Music Marathon route as my race course. Now this probably wasn’t the smartest idea in the world, but I wanted to make the most of the only really good weather this week.
It probably wasn't smart for a few reasons. One, I had just run a hard 18 miles two days before, and while I was mostly recovered, I was still a little sore. Two, I hadn’t brought my racing shoes. I don’t know about most of y’all, but I have a pair of shoes that I only wear for racing. They’re a pair of white/blue Nike TriD III’s that are light and cushiony. Instead, I had my heavy red/white Asics 2140’s that have over 400 miles on the odometer. Last, I’m recovering from a cold and my allergies have been wreaking havoc on my sinuses. Still I thought, beautiful day, birds are singing, people are dancing, yadda, yadda, yadda, I may as well knock out the race so I don’t have to worry about running it in a storm (It’s supposed to rain the rest of the week with a chance of storms on Wednesday). I figured 7:30 miles would make for a respectable showing, if not avoid wholesale embarrassment and ridicule from my blogging/running peers.
My first mile was a bit slow starting out at 8:02, but not bad considering that I had to dodge traffic and throngs of walkers as I escaped downtown and headed across the river towards LP Field. Running pas the stadium and through the projects towards the downtown greenway at Shelby Bottoms Park, I caught a slight downhill slope and churned out a nice 7:28 mile. Mile 3 took me over a slight hill into Shelby Bottoms Park, but I had momentum on my side, which produced a 7:13 mile. As soon as I crossed into the park, this is where things started to go wrong. The fatigue from my 18 miler two days ago and the strong start to this race were catching up to me, and my legs started to feel sluggish. Then the unthinkable/unexpected happened at mile 3.28. I was charged by a beaver. A large, fast, angry beaver. I was about midway into the park, a 9 hole par 3 golf course on the right side of the road and the river on the left side of the road, when I heard a loud rustling in the trees lining the golf course. I looked ahead and saw this enormous beaver crash through the foliage charge straight at me. Given this situation, I did what any self-respecting runner would do…I jumped back, almost out of my shoes, and swore like sailor on shore leave (thereby breaking my Lenten promise also. Curse you again crazy beaver!). The beaver was racing straight at me. I don’t know what I did to offend it. Maybe I was one of too many humans invading its space. Maybe he didn’t like the way I smelled, or possibly runners’ legs look like useful building material for beaver dams, but I don’t know. I tried to prepare myself for the wild beaver-melee that was sure to come. However it didn’t happen like that. Instead, Mr. Wild Beaver ran straight into a large drainage pipe and disappeared from view. Glancing around to make sure it wasn’t a trap or some elaborate beaver ambush, I sped along the greenway out of beaver-harm’s way. Sadly, my exhaustion and narrow beaver-escape had taken their toll and my speed dropped to a 7:45 mile (I think I was able to keep it under 8:00 due to my attempt to outrun said beaver. I know he was waiting for me to come back. I know it.). The rest of my race was rather uneventful, if not exhausting, as I did my best to recover and build back my speed. As it was, I managed to eke out a 7:35 on mile 5 as I fled the park/beaver ambush and a 7:39 mile as LP Field came into view. My last leg, which finished just short of the Country Music Marathon finish line, I did in 5:05. I did end up going slightly over the 6.66 distance (6.70), and my end time was 50:50 at an average pace of 7:35/mile.
Overall I was happy with my time considering that I wasn’t “race ready” and that I was nearly mauled by an angry beaver. This was a fun exercise, but I doubt that I could race by myself again. I like to start out a race in a crowd of strangers, because I know that many of them want to beat me as much as I want to beat them. There’s something about being in that mix of runners that gets the adrenalin pumping and pushes you to go harder. Running by myself seemed to lack the urgency and energy that other races hold. Still I had a good time, and I can’t wait to read the reports from my fellow bloggers! Later kids!