KARACHI RESEARCH CENTER: Midnight 10K
I wasn’t planning on running the Midnight 10k. Even when it was initially announced that there were spots remaining in the women’s race, I had no intention to register. The unconvincing reason: I had committed to volunteering at bib pick up and on race day. The real reason: fear. I had spent the weeks after LAM and TSP jogging around leisurely, taking plenty of rest days, and was nowhere near race shape. I was afraid I wouldn’t live up to my own expectations and being 1 of only 42 female runners intensified my self-inflicted pressure and anxiety. So I was completely fine cheering and supporting.
Except…part of me was curious if I could improve my 10k time. Part of me really wanted the shirt. And most of me couldn’t say no to trying something new. An unsanctioned 10k at midnight was something I just couldn’t pass up. The night before the race (with Drea’s blessing, since I’d be ditching her on our race day volunteer duties), I registered.
I’ve run plenty of races, stood at plenty of start lines, and the emotions are always the same blend of anxiety, excitement, and needing to use the restroom repeatedly. But this start line was different. This start line made me feel like a badass. And that badass feeling overshadowed all the nerves and uncertainty. I remember seeing the spectators and male racers standing high, looking down on us in that tunnel. I remember being excited to stand there with a bunch of tough female runners. And I remember being determined to run through every red light I possibly (and safely!) could.
I ran most of the race solo, but the fear of another female runner passing me gave a sense of urgency that helped push me on that uphill towards the California Incline. By mile 5 some of the male runners started to show up. To my far right I was able to witness an all out battle, as Ryo from LA Rebels, Tom from EFC, and The Gordon Clark were holding pace right next to one another. Then Javier asked me for directions at mile 5.9 as he smoothly ran past. (If I weren’t completely out of breath I would’ve pointed him in the wrong direction.)
Running back into the tunnel with everyone’s cheers echoing off the walls was unforgettable. The immediate aftermath was a blur. There were sweaty hugs and high-fives shared. There was Leigh Ann’s beaming face looking at me in awe as she thought I had beaten the infamously speedy Kevin. I quickly reminded her I got a 10-minute head start before rapidly shifting from participant to spectator. I didn’t even get a chance to leave the finish line area before I started cheering for runners coming in. It was an absolutely fantastic sight. Crossing the finish line were runners I had toed the starting line with, runners who I’ve shared countless miles with, runners who I had only known on social media, runners who are some of my closest friends, runners who I hugely respect, and runners who were previously strangers. It was one glorious jumble of the LA running community. More impressively, it was a glorious jumble of the LA running community up way past their bedtime.
It was well past 2am before I even managed to check the time. By then the after race glow had faded and delirium had settled in. We did that. We ran red lights, we ran through tourists, we ran through dark alleys, we ran at midnight. The race was physically hard for me, but I don’t remember any of that pain. What I do remember very clearly is how happy I felt that evening. Throughout my initial doubts in running this race, I never once considered how much fun it would be to run a wild midnight 10k with 41 other women and 42 other men. I’m ready for the next one.