The Great Race of Agoura 2020

If a woman runs a cancelled 5K during a pandemic, did it really happen?

Running a 5K is no small challenge for me. I hate running. Every step of the way, I think to myself “Why am I doing this?” which is why I listen to podcasts or audiobooks during my training runs to take my mind off of how my body creaks and groans. But I do well with challenges, so I did my first 5K on my birthday in 2018, and then I did the Great Race in 2019. I signed up again right away because it was fun, and I thought I’d try to beat my time this year.

Alas, the Great Race of Agoura was cancelled in the first wave of cancellations back at the beginning of March. I figured I’d run the course anyway. The cancellation took the urgency out of my training, so I’ve been running just a few times a week. By March 28, the originally scheduled date, I wasn’t ready to run all 5 of the K’s, so I dragged it out. I told myself that as soon as I was able to run the whole distance without feeling like I’d collapse, I’d go out and run the course. By last week, I had gotten up to 4K.

But this morning, Memorial Day, our cat George woke me up early and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I had a sudden urge to just do it. So I did. I opened the package holding my race day shirt and medal that I’ve been saving for this moment, packed a bottle of water for the car, and added a new audiobook to my phone. (The Secrets She Keeps, something easy to listen to.)

I left a car at the finish line and had my husband drive me up the hill to the start. On normal race day I would have walked and used that time to warm up, but it was almost 8AM and I wanted to do it before it got too hot. It was weird running a race without any other runners, with the streets open. It was like any other training run, except at least I saved the course for my own “race day.”

I sprinted toward the “finish line.” The cool balloon arch they usually put in Chumash Park wasn’t there, of course, but I guessed, and I ended my run around where I thought it might be. And in keeping with the tradition of getting pancakes from a booth at the park after the race, I picked up some lemon ricotta pancakes from The Royal Egg. They were delicious.

My final time was between 38 and 39 minutes. It may seem slow, but it was the best I could do. And thank God it’s done, because I’m sick of running. Back to my delicious morning walks and hikes in our gorgeous hills. I hope others will be able to join me for the Great Race in 2021!

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