Foster’s Daily Democrat Dover reporter Nik Beimler ran the first race of the season in the Dover race series and commits to trying to get one of the coveted green jackets.
Dover Main Street organized a great race Saturday morning in the Run Before You Crawl 5K, and gave me a much-needed reminder of how fun and rewarding running can be, despite how much I may have been dreading it.
The following is a completely factual, but slightly dramatic retelling of my race experience.
Upon hearing my alarm sound at 7:30 Saturday morning, my first thought was how much I’d rather stay in bed than run a 5K road race. As I lay in bed weighing the pros and cons of going back to sleep, I realized that I had already publicly stated that I would be running, and I also agreed to write this story on Monday. So I got out of bed.
I went through the mental checklist of things I would need, hopped in the car and drove off. The destination was the Dover Transportation Center, and it was already packed by the time I arrived just before 8 a.m.
Being a chronic procrastinator, I had not yet registered for the race, so I headed inside to the registration table. Dover Fire Chief Eric Hagman helped me sign up and offered some engaging conversation to take my mind off the fact that I was in no shape to run more than one mile at race pace.
Dating back to my days with the UNH Cycling team, I have maintained a very strict pre-race warm-up regimen of standing around and not warming up at all, and I wasn’t about to break that habit Saturday. It may not be the smartest approach, but in the words of a former teammate, “We’re doing this for fun, and any extra effort besides the actual race is inherently not fun.” I instead used the time to joke with fellow runners about how much we were dreading the race to start.
Finally, the starting gun sounded, and the adrenaline started flowing. Usually, this would be a good thing, but given that I had not done any kind of race in almost two years and had only run twice before in the past six months, the adrenaline backfired and made me think I could keep a much faster pace than I could.
The race itself was fantastic. The Dover Police Department and race volunteers did a great job directing traffic. The organizers set a fun route with just enough hills to scare me, but not enough to inspire doubt that I could finish. The more than 900 racers all helped make the race an enjoyable kickoff to the 2016 Dover Race Series. And what beautiful weather! They couldn’t have picked a better day.
The water distributors at the halfway point also deserve a huge thank you, as do the many people who lined the side of the road cheering us on.
It is also worth recognizing the incredible number of young runners who participated. I can’t count the number of kids who must have been under 13 or 14 and passed me at some point during the race, frustrating me and making me question what I was doing with my life at that age.
At the end of the day, no matter how much I tried to convince myself that I was suffering, the race was a great experience. Unfortunately, I was unable to do the pub crawl following the race, but I have heard that it was a lot of fun as well.
I can’t wait for the next event in the Dover Race Series, Red’s Race for a Better Community on April 10. Make sure you sign up too! If you participate in seven of the 11 races throughout the year, as long as one of them is longer than 5K, you will be rewarded with an awesome race series jacket.
But even if you can’t do seven, if each race is as enjoyable as Saturday’s — and I expect they will be — it’s worth doing as many as you can.