So I ran my first 'race' in several years today. As races go, this was about as small and friendly as it gets, with a couple of dozen participants, split between 5k and 10k distances. The race format was unusual as well: participants estimate their finish times and the one who indicates the slowest time leaves the start line first, with others departing in a pursuit format, based on the differential between their estimated time and that of the person who begins before them. Ideally, this creates a situation in which, if everybody runs close to their estimated time, all of the participants cross the finish line at around the same time. Nobody is allowed to wear a watch or other timing device, so it's a challenge to race by feel. It's also a treat to be unfettered by gadgets for a rare change.
I was lucky enough to start with 2 other people, who knew the course, because I did not. It was a beautiful recreational trail that winds its way around the edge of a golf course, with the river to one side. What a lovely, lovely place to run!!!
I put in a hard effort, and my competitive spirit got the best of me as I marked and then passed as many runners as I could. It was an out and back course, so at the turnaround you had a good idea of who was ahead of you and by how much. As well, the course was open and flat enough that you could catch tantalizing glimpses of whoever it was up ahead of you.
Crossing the finish line with burning legs and lungs, I felt the exhilaration of racing again. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed it.