What a night. Started off the day with a terrible run, tried to get one in before class here in Krakow, but had absolutely zero in the tank. I think I went 2.3 and averaged 8:25. Figured at this point that my training cycle was over and it was time to pack it up. Even had a burger for lunch assuming I wasn't going to be running tonight.
On a whim, decided I wanted to run a free local running group's 5k and 10k that they offer every Thursday night. It was one of the things I had planned on doing before coming to Krakow, but with the way my running has been since I've been here, I figured I had better just not. But, I needed a pick-me-up tonight, and running provides that for me. I showed up by taking the bus (figuring out how to use it on the way). got there about half-hour before the race, did some stretching and only about .5 or .6 warmup (pretty good tempo though). Got my race number and met a few people who spoke some english, tried some broken polish but they were way better in english than I was in Polish. Decided on the 5k option and didn't know what I had in me, figured mid-18s would be okay given the burger for lunch and the general lack of "umph" lately. Got out the first mile in 5:38, pleasantly suprised. Was running with just two other guys at this point, 2nd mile (included the turnaround) was 5:33, just 2 of us now, was planning the whole last mile on passing the other guy for the win, but was contemplating whether or not to show up as the only foreigner to a tight-knit running group and winning the first race. Turns out that was a little premature because the other guy had plenty left and just had a better close than me. Last mile was 5:36, and :35 for the .11 for a total of 17:21, 5:35 avg pace.
The course was amazing - the sun was going down over Krakow and we were running along the Vistula river alongside Wawel castle -- just one of those magical moments that you know you are in while you are in it. COuldn't believe how easy the pace felt, was just floating - maybe the lessened mileage gave some pop back in my legs as I felt in control the whole time and the pace was consistent. The altitude of the last 1.5 years has also apparently paid off (krakow is 600-700 feet). Aside from the amazing scenery, which was truly stunning and a privelege, the only difficuly part of the race was weaving in and out of walkers and bikers (open trail), which actually was kind of fun when it wasn't borderline dangerous.
The spirit of the runners in the group is truly unmatched. They are all great people and had congratulations and high-fives to go-around (even for me, the new guy!). Met some nice people and they invited me to come back next week and to come to a slighlty bigger running get together saturday morning (which I will probably do but not race). Will definitely be back next Thursday for round 2. Pretty cool way to end the day and really feel like I've arrived in Krakow.