The race information was unclear on where to go to register for this race, so we followed the time-honored strategy of getting near the start and then looking for people in singlets. Without the nice man in the singlet, we never would have found it, because it was in the basement of a small building hidden behind lots of food vendors in the festival!
Funny things heard while sitting inside in the air conditioning before warming up:
"Do we have to put money down on this race?" It would be awesome if you could just ask them to deduct the entry fee from your future winnings. But no, you have to cover your bets in road racing.
"Do I have to put down my real age? I'm just going to subtract 10 years and be 43." And she did, too.
Anyway, the race. We lined up and the only runner I recognized was JoAnn. "Have fun and turn left," I joked to the woman next to me. "Oh, do we turn left?" she asked. I explained that in fact, the course did turn left, but it is usually a track racing joke.
The gun went off and she and I ran together. It soon became clear that this was a two-woman race for the win. We hit the mile in 6:05. I was breathing easily, but so was this other woman! Who was she? I became concerned that she might be this Irish Olympian from CT that I've seen in race results but never met. I asked the woman if she was from CT. Nope, from RI. Really, there is a woman in RI who can jog along at 6-minute pace and I don't know her? I was shocked.
(I asked because if she were the Irish Olympian, I might have slowed down and just raced for second place, because she would probably beat me anyway, and I wanted to conserve energy for the next morning's 5k, where more money was on the line.)
After about 1.5 miles, I detected a slight increase in her breathing: it was getting harder for her, but not for me (yet). So I took the opportunity to surge. I put a few meters between us, and also passed this guy who had been running right ahead of us. He and I went back and forth a few times, but in the race for first female, that was it. I didn't have a very big gap, but I did keep it for the rest of the race.
Lots of people were out on their steps, or lining the roads, cheering for us! That was nice. Some were even spraying the runners with their garden hoses. This race is called the Summer Sizzler, and for good reason; it is almost always over 90° (it is in the evening). We lucked out this year, as it was only in the mid-70s.
The spectators helped me, because I didn't want to look back to see where the closest female was (because that shows weakness), but I did want to know. So when a spectator cheered for me, I counted breaths until they cheered for the next runner. In the second half of the race, it was consistently 12-15 seconds. Of course, there was no way of knowing if the next runner was female or male. (It turns out it was a male, though the females were not far behind.)
After the race, I caught up with the second-place woman, Renae, and we exchanged contact info so we could run together sometime. New running buddy!
Alan also won his race, so at the awards we were both happy to win $150. I also got a gift certificate for a large pizza; he got one for a wash, cut and style at a hair salon. And they gave me a big bouquet of flowers:
My first time winning flowers in a race!