Shelly Girl and I like to go on misadventures and run in new places. The Naples Philharmonic 10k met both of these criteria. We had never run a race in Naples (new place) and the race was totally on roads (misadventure)! With a mind, spirit and legs used to long and lots of ups and downs, we were curious how are legs would adjust to the flat, fast roads of Naples. Also, one big question loomed, could we handle the 67 feet of total elevation gain that came with the 6.2 mile out and back? ☺
Bimble South is about 5 miles from the Naples Philharmonic Performing Arts Center and the start of the race so we decided to bike to the start. Races start early in Florida so we left home about 6:30 a.m. in order to get to there in plenty of time for the 7:30 a.m. gun. We arrived a little before 7 and the place was busy with runners arriving, registering and getting ready. The race is run by Gulf Coast Runners and they seem to be the big running group in the area. They certainly seemed to know what they were doing and we had no trouble registering. After a brief jog we headed out to the start line with a little over 675 other runners and about 300 folks who would be walking a 5k. By the way, the race is a fundraiser for the Philharmonic and local school music programs and the race director is the principal trumpet player for the Symphony. With both Shelly Girl and I being music teachers we enjoyed this aspect of the race
We took our places pretty close to the front. We had no idea where we would fit into the pace but the street was pretty narrow we did not want to get caught in the back of the start pack. The gun went off and the first thing I noticed was nobody was passing me. In fact, I was passing most of the people in front of me. Since I started so far up I was pretty sure I would be passed by a bunch of folks and then settle in to the group of folks running my pace. It was more than a little odd to find myself near the front of the race. In fact, I could see the leaders for almost the entire first mile. Very strange!
The whole thing made me a bit nervous. I thought I was running conservative but I just kept slowly passing people. I decided just to relax and stick with my plan, which was to hold back until the 5 mile mark. As time went by I found myself really enjoying the run. With the early start the temperature was quite nice and the hot Florida sun would not become a factor the entire day. There were lots of aid stations and volunteers and I made it a point to thank everybody along the course. In races I find if I can do this it is a sign I am running a pace I can maintain. I also thanked all of the musicians who were playing along the course. A unique aspect of this race is orchestra members playing music along the entire course, complete with a live brass version of the rocky theme at the end!
I covered the out part of the course feeling good and headed back home keeping an eye out for Shelly Girl. Sure enough about 30 seconds after I made the turn for home I saw her cute little self giving me the thumbs up. After a rough run at the Bash she was worried about this run but she looked like she was having a good day. At about four miles I began to feel like this was going to be one of those rare races where you just run it right. Every time I was beginning to labor I just pulled back a notch and enjoyed the day. The race is run along one of the main drags in Naples. In Naples this means seeing lots of beautiful gated communities and lots of retired people going for walks. The other thing I noticed, and maybe the main reason I am writing this report, is that I felt almost no negative inner monologue. I believe it is always a challenge to put the mind in a place of simply being content with the moment. I came about as close as I come to finding that place during this race. Why? I don’t know, but am going to try and find that place a lot more in the months and years to come.
In any event I ran well all the way to the end and while I think I can run much faster next time I finished the race feeling perfect so perhaps I should just focusing on duplicating that the next time around.
After I finished I turned around to wait for Shelly Girl and sure enough it was only matter of moments before I saw her making the final turn. She looked great! On the trail Michele has a fair chance at winning her age division at any given race. We were not sure how this would translate to the road and a short distance but sure enough she was numero uno out of about 60 ladies in the “old bag” division and 12th out of over 350 ladies overall. Sorry for gloating but I am proud of my girl and glad she likes me!
See ya on the trail,