March is almost over. That statement washes relief over me simply due to the insanity that has been the last 30 days. Amid the transition from previous employer to (almost) current and the epic collegiate sporting event that is March Madness, I donned my kicks for Merge Records 25k race on March 22.
Runners from across the country trekked to Durham for the 25 kilometer race. As written on the Merge 25k page, we were invited to: “Celebrate 25 years of independent music—kilometer by kilometer—with Merge Records!” And, this was just the kickoff event for more festivities and parties to come for the silver anniversary.
Despite spending my Friday day and night indulging in basketball at PNC Arena for the second round of the NCAA Men’s Tournament (that started with a face-melting upset of Mercer over that one school), I actually felt great come Saturday morning. To say it was an ideal morning for running would be an understatement. A slight chill tinged the air prior to the 7:30am start, but most of us recognized that our goosebumps were temporary. Tackling 15+ miles would warm our bodies, minds, and spirits (or would that be from the DJ booths stationed throughout the course?).
While I normally abhor race photos of me (not to mention my lack in understanding why I would ever want to pay $17 for a photo of me in awkward poses), I did chuckle at my attempt at some badass facial expression here (or am I grimacing?)
Two things I learned to love from this race:
1) The Metric system: running with kilometers markers instead of miles invigorated my self-confidence (what?! I’ve already ran 6k!) Whether one considers that merely a mind game is fine by this proponent of moving all things into the base 10 system. Of course, each time runners achieved said “miles”, the alarms, whistles and buzzers on their various technological aids rang out, shattering the fragile hold of the non-US standard of measure (just briefly though because soon enough, another beautiful kilometer marker shone in the distance!)
2) Point-to-point races: While it wasn’t my first point-to-point race by any means, stretching out 15.5 miles from Chapel Hill to Durham reminded me how much I appreciate the geographic scheming (and likely organizer sweet-talking) that goes into avoiding the out-and-back routes. During training runs, out-and-backs are where it is at. But, the ability to progress forward rather than face the dreaded orange cone or similar marker requiring the tight turn of doom (I always feel time slows down during those moments) adds such a higher level of enjoyment.
For the last quarter of the race, I found myself flanked between a Catherine and another Katie. Catherine and I (pictured below post-race) found ourselves respect each others apparel choices for that morning’s run.
Overall, I loved the course. The Chapel Hill section was an area I had never explored, and it provided a great deal of downhill sections. Not surprisingly, the Durham portion brought just the opposite, with some tougher inclines, especially one last hill right before turning left into the finish (it was one of those hills where, upon turning the corner, I loudly cried out: “Oh my lord” and not in a contemporary Christian singing type of way).
25 kilometers crushed in 2:03:03. I had been looking forward to this race, and it did not disappoint. Will there be a 26k next year? One can only hope.