In my 15-ish years as a runner I have done a pretty good amount of 5K races. On Sunday, January 27 I did my first 5K in a cave! The Groundhog Run has been a tradition in Kansas City for many years, but I always seem to miss it. I was anxiously awaiting what running in a cave would entail.
Sunday morning was dark and drizzly and, even though the temps were high for January, it made running in a cave sound ideal.
The cave is part of an underground industrial area that is home to businesses and storage facilities.
|Just below those trees is a giant, miles-deep cave complex.|
The starting area is fairly close to the opening of the cave so it didn't seem too claustrophobic. I got there with only about 10 minutes to spare, my favorite way to arrive at a race.
|Getting ready to start!|
The cave is climate-controlled so I could have worn shorts and a t-shirt, but I was pretty comfy in running tights. I got warm at one point, but the course switched directions and there was a breeze. It was fun to run around the cave walls think about how deep the cave goes.
Running in a cave = no hills so my time was pretty fast since I typically train with hills. I averaged 8:55 miles and my time was 27:55. Not the fastest, but pretty darn fast for me!
In addition to being my first cave run this race also marked my first official race alone. I did the Hospital Hill 10K alone, but had spent the night at my bestie's house only a few blocks away so it wasn't like driving alone.
|The least blurry of my course photos. Cave-like without being oppressive.|
I have decided I actually prefer to do races alone. I can arrive when I want, do the course and then leave. I am not a huge fan of dragging the day out with a post-race meal. I also HAVE to listen to music when I run so it spares the anti-social "hey, I am glad we rode here together, but I gotta put my ear buds in now" conversation.
I arrived feeling kind of like a weirdo because 5K races have become such a social event for some. But as I was leaving I had a nice chat with an older gentleman that runs races alone all the time.
|At the finish, sporting my Shwings. Stay tuned for a giveaway!|
**funny side story** I spoke with my therapist about my feeling like a weirdo about going to races alone. I mentioned how I didn't personally think it was weird but how it did feel sort of like junior high, with the people that show up in a big group and run it all chatty and together. He agreed with me that it doesn't have to be a social event, especially for someone that prefers to run alone and make good time. BUT. Guys! I think I saw him walking into the cave the morning of the race in a group of chatty people! What's worse than showing up at a 5K alone? Showing up alone and seeing your therapist, that you just lamented to a few days ago about feeling like a weirdo. So, I did what any well-adjusted, totally mature person would do. I put my hood up, ear buds in and ran past the group with my head down.
|Keeping these in my car forever!|
**snarky side story** I think it's great that so many people are running 5K's these days. It's come a long way since my first race when I was 19. HOWEVER. There are runners and then there are 5Kers and the latter just ain't that friendly. I ran into several people on my way in and asked for safety pins because I didn't have any in my race packet. I, of course, have a metric ton at my house, but didn't think to grab any. How do you find a runner at a race? Ask for pins. One guy looked nervous and told me his wife had the safety pins. Another lady said she couldn't spare any. (you really only need two, duh.) When I got in the cave I found some ladies that were runners and they totes shared their pins with me.
Wanna blend in with the runners? Be friendly!
Do you have caves in your area or is this a Missouri thing?
What is an unusual race you have done?
Do you hide from people to avoid awkward conversation?
Would you have shared your safety pins with me?