Spring, as my friend put it, arrived on Sunday afternoon. Not actual spring, but de facto, with warm temps and bright sunshine.
Naturally, the weekend events I worked took place before then.
Last Saturday’s Pi Day 5K and Sunday’s Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K took place in perhaps this winter’s final fury. Both mornings started below 20 degrees, with wind chills near absolute zero. On Sunday it snowed. Water bottles froze. I froze. If you think running a 5K in the cold is hard, try standing around for a few hours.
And yet the races went on as scheduled. And people showed up. And had, from the looks of things, a pretty good time. There were colorful costumes, and a pre-race hands-free pie eating contest, and loud upbeat music. The volunteers who helped me with the Zero Waste effort did their jobs without complaint, and both races had great results, with practically nothing going to landfill. All in all, a good weekend’s work.
One thing in particular stood out to me about both days. Each 5K had a short kids race beforehand, so there were a fair number of youngins on hand. And while waiting to do their “official” run, they ran around and played, with smiles on their faces. The cold didn’t bother them one bit. They had no cares about their finish times, or how little they’d trained. They were running for the sheer fun of it. And maybe for the pie on Saturday and ice cream (!) on Sunday.
I’m still in my self-enforced “off season” after my two latest ultras, and it struck me how differently kids see things. For the past ten years I’ve either been training for a race, or running a race, or in active recovery from a race so I can begin training for the next one. That’s a long time to hold a particular mindset.
Don’t mistake me, I’ve enjoyed it. I wouldn’t keep signing up for races, and have a coach and physical trainer beating my ass up, if I didn’t enjoy doing it. But there’s always been a goal of some kind in mind. Finish that race. Try to win age group. Beat last year’s time. Make fewer mistakes out there. And above all, run with purpose. Easy runs, hard runs, intervals, whatever, do them purposefully. And here are the kids showing me that absolutely none of that is necessary to have a good time.
This Saturday there’s a low-key “No Frills” trail race at a nearby park that I go to every year. The forecast is for mid-40s and rain, and the trails will likely be a muddy mess. I’m going to run it untrained, unprepared, and most definitely un-purposeful. I will run it just to run it, and enjoy some coffee and cookies at the finish.
My inner kid is expecting to have a lot of fun.