Race #55 – National Park System 99th Birthday 5K

A company called Vacation Races puts on some great races in our national parks.  They’re largely longer distance races — half and full marathons — and most of ’em have been way far away from here.  However, they also do some virtual races, and I’ve signed up for a few of them.

The first of these is the National Park System 99th Birthday 5K.  This race celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the National Park System, and is part of a trifecta of virtual races from Vacation Races for me.  I’m also running the Rocky Mountain National Park Centenary 5K (next week) and Public Lands Day 5K (in late September).  I mean, why wouldn’t you wanna celebrate all these beautiful places?

This morning, I returned to the Wildwood Greenway, site of wonderful and awful runs of late.  I struggled to get motivated, but walked straight to my running clothes when I got up, and put them on.  Somehow, I knew that donning my “superhero uniform” would help slide me out the door.  An English muffin and part of a bad cuppa joe later, I was out the door, and headed to the Greenway.

It was chilly this morning, with the air temperature around 53 degrees.  With the doors off the Jeep and the roof down, it made for a very cool short drive to the Greenway.  I love that though, and I think that just primed the pump for a good morning.

I stretched, and started on trail.  I had some good music in my ears, and felt like I had a pretty good pace going.  I’ve striving to get below fifty minutes regularly, which is sub-10mins/km.  My first split was a few seconds over ten minutes, and my second was a few seconds under, which put me in a good place.  My third kilometer was slow though, at 10:22.  There’s a long upward slope at that point, and frankly, I slowed my pace a bit to rest as I went.

And then, it happened.

As I got into my fourth kilometer, I glanced at my watch and noticed that my overall pace was sub-10min/km.  I had just powered up a short, steep hill, and it really affected my overall time.  Suddenly, I was inspired, and paid attention to the run/walk intervals my watch was driving me to.  And the running felt good… really good.  My fourth kilometer split was 9:14, which inspired me even more.  My fifth kilometer was 9:08, which is screaming fast for me, especially in the last part of the run.

I don’t know what happened, but I wish I could capture it in a bottle, and use it again.  It all just clicked for me this morning, and gave me one of the fastest times I’ve ever had on the Greenway.  In face, this morning was many minutes faster than most of the runs I’ve had up there since I returned to it.

As the front of my Jeep says, “Happy, happy, happy!”

Race Course




Race #54 – The Galaxy Run 5K

Another day, another virtual race!  :-)

I found The Galaxy Run a few weeks ago from the Will Run for Bling folks, and given the design of the medal, I couldn’t pass it up!

This morning, I took myself up to the Wildwood Greenway yet again, trying to redeem myself after Thursday’s debacle on the Greenway.  Once again, the conditions were kinda tough — 70°, but close to 100% humidity — but I was determined not to let that deter me.

Lately, I’ve been treating these virtual races without the same rigor I’d have for an “in person” event.  Several months ago, I learned that treating a virtual race like an in-person race put my brain in the right place, and helped me to do the right things before going out… eating right, dressing appropriately, using my braces, etc.

This morning, I did all the right things, and went in with the attitude that I was just gonna walk today, and put good, solid miles under my feet.  And basically, that’s what I did.

I’m still tuning my music for my pace, and probably will keep doing that for a while.  I found a few tracks that have a little faster pace than is comfy for me, but others are becoming regular favorites.  I really do believe that’s helping me quite a bit with my movement.  Heck, “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas floated across my iPod, and I starting singing along.  I think there’s a law in support of that behavior!

More and more, it’s obvious to me that the biggest enemy I have in my racing is me.  I’m quick to just “settle” for a walking pace, and can be sometimes self-defeating.  These are just little mental games that I need to grow past, and more success will squeeze that out of my noggin, I’m sure.  Walks like today — tough, but successful — are foundational for putting my brain in the right place as I take on these challenges that three years ago, I would’ve never ever attempted.  This kind of mental gymnastics on the positive things I’m doing is every bit as important as any physical stretching I might do before I run.

I’ve just gotta keep that mental finish line in front of me!

This race benefitted Easter Seals.

Race Course

Jeep Wrangler RHB Radio Update

I bought my Wrangler Rubicon in the spring of 2013, and have loved it ever since.  It’s a wonderful, capable vehicle — much more so than me!  It’s a transformer… doors on or off, roof up or down.  Every day, it can be a different vehicle.

Like other parts of the Jeep, the 430N radio system also needs periodic maintenance, and mine’s been barking about the age of the maps for a while.  Unfortunately, those updates haven’t been available.

A week or so ago, I got a mailer that indicated that finally, map updates were available for my Jeep!  I ordered them, and they arrived late last week.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in the package, but what I got was a SD card reader, two SD cards, and a load of instructions.  The RHB software update was for version 50.01.01, and the Garmin firmware update was to version 5.11.  And along with that was Garmin’s City Navigator North America NT 2015 maps.

Thursday night, I got started.

Doing the radio firmware upgrade wasn’t too big a deal, and seemed to follow the instructions that Here (the distributor of the files) sent along.  However…

I started trying to do the map upgrades, and quickly ran into problems.  The mapping system is supplied by Garmin, and Garmin seems to always be goofy about licensing their material, making it funky to work with.  This time was no exception.

Following the instructions, I inserted the map SD card into the supplied USB card reader, and stuck it in the front of the radio.  Basically, the radio has to write something to the card, which, I believe, writes a file indicating the current device (the radio) and its map status.  This is apparently used as part of the map activation process.

As described, I removed the card, took it to my Mac, and tried to use the Here website to activate the map.  Unfortunately, it never seemed to work.

Undaunted, I backed the Jeep out into the driveway, and tried doing the map update, not knowing for sure if I had a valid activation or not.  The booklet said it would take up to two hours, so I started the Jeep, and I sat.  There was nothing on the radio screen as I let things percolate, although I couldn’t really tell if anything was happening.  The supplied card reader has a tiny blue light on it, but I couldn’t really see it well enough to see any activity.  After two hours, I pulled the Jeep back in the garage, turned it off, and then checked the maps on the radio.  No bueno.

I called Here Friday morning, and talked at length with them.  I described what I’d done, and the agent was convinced I’d done everything right.  He had me mount the SD card on the Mac, and he asked me to look for two files, gmapprom.gma and gmapprom.unl.  Neither were there, which implied that the map activation process didn’t work correctly.

He also hinted that there had been a ton of issues with owners of 2013 RHB radios (used across the Chrysler brands) trying to do these updates.  Here is just the middleman — Chrysler builds the firmware and Garmin builds the maps.  Here really doesn’t have anything to do with either end of things, but is the group getting the angry calls.  :-)

The agent indicated that they were working daily with both Chrysler and Garmin to resolve this.  He said he didn’t know when they would make progress, but that I could return the update within 30 days (September 15th), so I figured I’d give them until September 10th, and see where things sat.

Not giving up, though, I kept trying to activate the maps, figuring I needed to solve that before I would make progress.  One thing I’d noticed was that I was being prompted by the browser if I was sure I wanted to re-submit a form while on the activation page.  I kept clicking “no”, as it didn’t seem to make sense that the form with my information needed to be re-submitted.  Then I thought, “Well, why not?”  And, once I let it re-submit, activation seemed to take place, and I had a code on my screen and the expected activation files on my SD card!

So, today, I blocked off some time to install the maps.  This time, I decided to do it in the garage, leaving the engine off, yet having the Jeep key in the “on” position.  Also this time, I took my desktop SD card reader.  It has a big blue light on it, and it would be easy to tell if the card was being read or not.  The first time I tried, it appeared that the update was gonna work, but within a few minutes, it went back to the blank screen I’d seen before.  Guessing this wouldn’t be successful, I stopped the update, and started thinking about what else I could try.

And then I thought to try turning off the radio before trying the update… and it began working!  The blue light on my card reader was blinking, and I was seeing status displayed on the screen as the update was applied.

Twenty-five minutes later — not two hours! — I had 2015 maps on the Jeep, and all was good.

So, with all the yelling and screaming out there about this update, here’s the two things I did that I think were key.  The first was letting the form re-submit in the browser while on the activation page.  The second was turning off the radio before attempting the update.

And with that, I’m now current with my maps!

Race #53 – Take Your Kicks to Route 66 5K

St. Louis — like much of the midwest — has a thing about Route 66.  The Mother Road ran right through town, and just past where I live out here in the ‘burbs.

And with that has come some historical preservation, and some growth of the road.  The Route 66 State Park, for example,  memorializes both the route of Route 66, and the town of Times Beach and its ecological disaster.  And Manchester Road, where I’ve been running a lot lately, is on the route of the old road.

When I saw this virtual medal come up through Full Medal Runs, I knew I had to get it, and I knew where I’d have to run it — right alongside Route 66!  The city of Wildwood has built the multi-use Wildwood Greenway as a connector to other trails in the area, and included a pedestrian bridge over the Manchester Road (old Route 66) to provide access between the north and south trails.  This is a paved trail, and while a little hilly, isn’t too awful.  Folks walk, run, and cycle on this trail seemingly every day.

When I first started running — three years ago — this trail was my go to place.  I knew where the 5K turnaround point was, and there’s no vehicular traffic to deal with.  It’s still the site of my PR in the 5K distance back in 2012.  (Picture a turtle being chased by a slightly faster turtle to whom he owes money.)

Thursday, at lunch, I decided to put this trail to good use, and earn this medal.  I was coming off the color run over the weekend, and a terrific interval run on the Greenway (0:30/1:30 splits), and figured it was a cooler day, and would be a great experience.  I was a little over expectant!

I got to the trail, stretched, and got moving.  And unfortunately, in the first ten minutes, I knew this wasn’t gonna be good.  The sun was much hotter feeling than I was expecting, and my shins were already starting to complain.  What I thought was gonna a be a great interval run turned into “just” a walk, with some real slow parts for me.

I don’t know if I started out too fast, didn’t stretch enough, or if the conditions were just that bad for me… regardless of the cause, the going was slow and methodical, with a mantra to “get ‘er done.”  And ultimately, I did finish — I haven’t “not” finished yet — and secured another medal (which should arrive next week!) for my medal display, and chocked up more miles for me this year.

This race benefitted the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Race Course


Race #52 – The Color Run Night 5K

I’ve said it before, I’m not much for “novelty races” — mud runs, cave crawls, and the like.  It’s not the I mind the events too much, but a lot of them are nationwide touring events with no medals.  However, there are a few things that’ll trip my trigger, and pique my interest.  One is NASCAR tracks.

When I found out that the Color Run Night was gonna be held on the track at Gateway Motor Speedway, I was in.  There was no medal, but it was on the track!  And then, I discovered that they also had another race from these folks in September, the Color Run Shine, that would have a medal.  Woot!  I signed up for both.

Unfortunately, I got an email a couple of days ago that the Shine race in September was gonna be cancelled.  No real explanation, just due to “circumstances beyond our control.”  There went my medal, but I still had the race on the track, so that was good.

I went out Saturday morning, and started gathering the things I’d need for the race — goggles (to protect my glasses and eyes), a couple of cowbells, and lots of glo-sticks.  I wanted to be dressed right for this event!

Drag Strip
Drag Strip

I got to the track a couple of hours ahead of the race start, as suggested, and wandered around the facility.  This track is both an oval, as well as drag strip.  When I was a kid, I liked drag racing, and it was extremely cool to stand at the start line, and look down the track.

As it was really hot — about 90° — I figured I needed hydration and a little food.  The concessionaires were dealing, so I scarfed a big ol’ soft pretzel and a bottle of water.

And knowing there was no medal, I went to the “company store” and picked up a keychain.  I figured I could get some ribbon, and make a medal out of that little plastic do-dad.

The stage group were whipping the growing crowd into a frenzy, with music, swag flung into the crowd, and group Zumba.  It was looking to be a good-sized and energetic group as the sun set, and we got closer to the start time.

Start Line
Start Line

We started to corral near the start line, and it was evident that this was gonna be fun.  Folks had their lights, glo-sticks and glow-in-the-dark stuff revved up, and little by little, we were released in waves onto the course.

Shortly after my wave took off, we turned, and found ourselves on the drag strip.  Although it was dark, you could still see the dark rubber from all the burnouts.  Walking on that, however, was anything but fast.  The rubber laid down by all those tires was tacky, and it felt like you were walking on fly paper.  Probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever walked on!

One after another, the throng I was with crossed into color zones where we were doused in colored powder.  There was also a zone with bubble machines, and another with black-light messages on the pavement.  From the flats of the straightaways to the banks of the turns, the course was great, and loads of fun.

One thing I’ll mention is that the course was short of 5K — my Garmin measured about 4.3km, but with the walk from the parking to the course, and back, I’m counting it as a 5K!

Crossing the finish line, I was handed a bag, filled with the same colored powder that was covering everyone.  This was for the after-party.  And then, someone put a medal in my hand.

Now, the medal was a “Shine” medal, not a “Night” medal, but that was fine with me.  My guess is that the medals for the Shine event on September 19th were already in town, so they were just used for this event.  Works for me!

The after-party was a blast.  People were everywhere, all covered in every color of the rainbow, and all having a great time.  Every ten minutes or so, the announcer would countdown to another “color blast”, which is when those bags of color would be launched among the crowd.  It’d look like a massive fog falling from the sky when folks would fling their colored powder in the air.  It was really cool, and gave a great medium for the lasers from the stage to shine through.

And finally, they had a fireworks show.  And not just bottle rockets — real good fireworks that went on and on.


When I got home, I got a good look at my clothes, and man was I a mess!  I had color-covered arms.  I had a color-covered belly — I have no idea how that happened!  My shoes were orange.  I was a mess.

After I got in the house, and figured out how to keep from tracking color all over the place, I hopped in the shower, and began to try to scrub off all the color from me.  Frankly, I was surprisingly successful, although there’s still a little color on me.  During the shower, though, it looked like someone was wringing out a Smurf — so much dirty blue-ish colored water!!

Yeah, I don’t usually do this kind of race, but I believe this may be a return event for me.  It was that fun!

EDIT:  Here’s the video from the race.  Warning… it’s kinda long!

This race benefitted the American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri.

Race Course

Race #51 – Quest for the Golden Pearl 5K

With exceptionally cool morning weather this week, I resolved last night to get up early today, and run.  It didn’t hurt that the Perseid meteor shower was also coming up on its peak (which is tonight).  So,  at 4:30am, I drug my tired self out of bed, threw on my running gear, and walked out on the deck, both to confirm the temperature was as predicted, as well as to see if there were any streakers in the sky.  The temp was great, but I saw nothing of the Perseids.  :-(

I scarfed a little breakfast (water and an English muffin with peanut butter and some wonderful honey from the pantry — this stuff was kinda green colored, and crazy sweet!), and trucked out to the site of my last awful run… the Wildwood Greenway.

This time, Mr. Sun wasn’t gonna harsh my buzz.

Last night, I set up my Garmin a little differently, albeit still for intervals.  In the ill-fated run on Monday, I set up intervals in the Training set of menus.  This was the way I was accustomed to doing intervals with my old Garmin, so I thought that was right.  When doing it like that, however, you can only specify a specific number of cycles of running and walking, and in the online app, splits are shown as a function of those cycles, rather than kilometers or miles.  Not great, but the price of entry.

Playing around with the menus, I saw that I could set up an alert for my running/walking intervals, and after a little testing from the couch last night, I knew I’d found the right settings — prompting for run-to-walk transitions (and vice-versa!), as well as preserving my kilometer splits.  Perfect!  With my intervals set to 30secs of running and 90secs of walking, I was ready.

So this morning at the Greenway, I exited the Jeep, stretched, and hit the magic button on the Garmin to start timing whatever was to come.  I knew that I’d use the first three cycles (six minutes) to warm up and wake up.  Those passed quickly, and I made a commitment…

I was gonna let my Garmin have its way with me, and make me its whiny bitch.  When it said “run”, I’d run.  When it said “walk”, I’d think about it.  :-)

And that’s what I did.  I powered up some hills that usually cause me big grief.  I ran down the backside of some hills, extending my running cycle into my walking cycle because it felt good.  In fact, I ran up some of the hills faster than I ran down them.

It didn’t hurt that the temperature was twenty-five degrees cooler than Monday night, or that I only had the sun on me during the second half of the course.  It also didn’t hurt that I found a commitment this morning that’s been lacking lately.  Yes, I’ve been finishing my races, but on the terms my weak gray matter has been dictating, not at the level of capability I know I have.  This morning, I gave up control of that to a little plastic widget on my wrist, and it forced me to run more consistently than I have in a long time.  In fact, today was sub-50min moving time (those stupid traffic signals pushed me to 50min overall), and that was tremendous, especially after Monday’s debacle.

I’ve never tried running before my workday began, but this just might be a good thing for me!  Now, to go off and reward myself with coffee and Cap’n Crunch…

This race benefitted Water.org, which pioneers innovative, sustainable solutions to the global water crisis, giving women hope, children health and communities a future.

Race Course

Say Hello to My Little Friend

iPod Shuffle (4th Gen)
iPod Shuffle (4th Gen)

I’ve had a love affair with music since I was a kid.  I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a huge piece of my life.  And because of that, I love running with music.

A long time ago, I picked up a tiny little iPod, the iPod Shuffle (2nd Generation) to carry music with me when I went cycling or traveling.  I loved that little thing, and it still works very, very well to this day.

However, as I’ve started to do more running, I’ve discovered that you cannot control that model of Shuffle with the on-cable controls — no volume adjustments, next/previous track, etc.  When I’m running, I’ll find that a particular track at a particular time doesn’t hit me quite right, and I wanna skip it.  Sometimes, I’ll find a track that was so good with my pace that I wanna repeat it.  While you can do that from the front of the Shuffle, you sorta have to fiddle with it on your waistband or pocket, and that’s a little distracting to me.

4th and 2nd Generation iPod Shuffles
4th and 2nd Generation iPod Shuffles

As I started to research, I got tangled up between the newer iPod Nano (I have an older one of those too!) and the newer Shuffle.  The new Shuffle pays attention to those on-cable controls and is really teeny, but the new Nano had Bluetooth for headphones.  I even bought some new Bluetooth running headphones to see if I could get them to fit my earholes and get used to them.  No deal.  You see, I love my Bose sport earbuds, despite being cabled.  They fit my ears like they were custom made for them, and ultimately, that’s what made my decision easy.  Shuffleland, here I came.

A few things of note.  First off, the price now is about half what I paid for my first Shuffle.  They both only sport 2GB of storage, but with an option in iTunes, you can “down convert” files to 128kb/s, putting more music in the small space.  Even at 128kb/s, the audio quality is fine for my old ears when I’m out running or riding, and 2GB has always given me plenty of variety when I’m out putting trails behind me.

I’ve had this little thing for a couple of weeks now, and I really love it.  It’s teency, even smaller than the previously diminutive Shuffle.  This time, I even got it engraved at the factory. The only complaint I have about the engraving is that it is really, really small, and is more like a printed message, making it very hard to see.  Still, I know it’s there, and that’s a good thing.  :-)


I was struck with the reduction in the size of the packaging.  In the photo, you can see the difference in size between the little plastic coffins these two devices were shipped in.  Apple’s gone to some lengths to minimize the amount of packaging in many of their products, and it really shows with the tiny little box for the new one.  One casualty of that move — you only get one Apple sticker, instead of two.


The charging system has also gotten smaller.  With the second generation device, there was a long cable and a little dock.  The new Shuffle has a little pigtail cable that plugs directly into the headphone plug.  I kinda like that, especially given that I’ll be traveling with this one to races around the country.  In fairness, it is a little awkward to plug into the back of a Mac or iMac, but works great with my MacBook or a USB hub.

So, after a couple of weeks of putting it through its paces, I think I’ve decided this new little piece of gear is a keeper.  Hopefully, it’ll last as long as my first Shuffle!

Race #50 – Phone Home 5K

After my success on Saturday morning, I got cocky, and returned to the Greenway yesterday afternoon.  I thought I’d have a great time of it, zipping through 5km, and maybe even adding a few more miles.  And even more optimistically, I set my Garmin to work through  some interval work to see if I could get my times down.

Mr. Sun, however, had an entirely different plan.

I got out to the Greenway just after work, and noticed it was hotter than I expected.  Earlier in the day, we’d had a small storm come through that scrubbed out the atmosphere, and made things really nice.  Apparently, nature abhors a vacuum, and where the humidity had poured down as rain, it was replaced with vicious crazy nasty humidity with big, nasty pointy teeth.  So, not just hotter, but more humid.  Hooray.

Jumping on the trail, I started moving my feet.  I knew I’d take five minutes or so of walking to warm up, and shortly after that, I started to work my intervals.  By the end of the third interval, I knew I was not landing in a happy place, and quickly, my times fell off, and I was looking at conditions and a pace more like the ugly race in Washington almost a month ago.  This too, had turned in a death march across the desert of pavement.

I slogged on, and on, and on, wondering if this distance would ever be complete.  It felt like some kind of sick Groundhog Day, with the pavement beneath my feet never seeming to end.  I finally got to my three-quarters complete point, and knew I was gonna make it through.  Frankly, there’s really no option but to finish — there’s no way to get back to the parking lot, shy of some kind soul stopping on the side of the road to rescue you and ferry you along.

So, I finished — yay! — but I was toast afterward.  Note to self… heat and humidity DO NOT MIX!!!

Race Course

Race #49 – Sage Rat River Run 5K

Somewhere along the way, I’d heard of the virtual races at Virtual Run World, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t watching them for  races.  Their medals were kinda large and gaudy, and didn’t trip my trigger.  However, I learned recently that they sponsor a “real world” race, and that they were selling off excess medals from those race series.

That race is the Sage Rat River Run, which is run at a variety of distances, and one of those is 5K — right in my wheelhouse.  The other thing that was enticing about this was the rat on the medal.  Darla’s been chasing rats in tubes as part of barn hunt, and doggone-it, I wanted to have my own rat reward!  :-)

I decided to return to the Wildwood Greenway, and run on it for the first time in a couple of years.  This is a great paved trail, with paths on both the north and south sides of Highway 100 (Manchester Road), and is the site of my PR at 5K back in 2012.  Of course, on a nice day, it’s pretty crowded with walkers, runners and cyclists.  Yesterday was no exception.

I’d intended to just go 5K, but kinda got in a groove, and started exploring the trail, getting into some of the nooks and crannies I’ve never explored.  Before I knew it, I was over five miles for the second weekend in a row.  And once again, I found that I had a nice rhythm going (albeit not the fastest in the world!), which is giving me some real confidence about the upcoming half-marathon in Tulsa come November.  I get it that five miles is significantly less distance than 13.2 miles, but the early returns are looking promising!

So, with this weird course yesterday morning, I have no good way of extracting splits for either 5K or 5mi.  C’est la vie.  Sometimes, it’s about the journey, rather than the metrics!

Race Course

Race #48 – Road Shark Five Mile Run

Given that we all survived another Sharknado, I just had to run this virtual race!

I wanted to challenge myself, and do something a little longer than the 5K races I’ve been doing lately.  Five miles is about 8km, and is a small stepping stone to the half-marathon distance (a little over 21km) that I’ll be doing in November.

Frankly, I’d been dreading this run for a few days.  It’s summer.  This was the longest distance I’d done in almost three months.  And lastly, I was doing it on my own — no race support, other runners, etc.  All that weighed heavy on me as I thought through my route planning for this morning.

I landed on a good, extensible course, which was the path up Clayton Road.  That’s been my favorite 5K route, despite the recent runs on the Wren Trail course.  I’ve favored Wren lately because of traffic.  I love having music in my ears when I’m on course, and Clayton Road just has too much traffic on it to do that, unless you get out early in the morning.

I ate my regular raceday breakfast — toasted english muffin, with peanut butter and honey, paired with a tall glass of water —  stretched and headed out around 6am, just after sunrise.  And right from the start, this run felt different.

The weather was amazing, especially given the heat we’ve had over the last couple of weeks.  I think that was really fortunate for me, as I’ve proven many times this summer that I don’t do well in the heat.

I marched down Clayton, and things were coming easy.  Way easy.  I got to my turnaround point for a 5K, and did a little bit of a gut-check.  Did I have it in me to go beyond this point, and complete these five miles?  I felt good, so I plowed on.

When I planned my route a few days ago, I was surprised to see how far up the road my turnaround point was gonna be.  Somehow, my brain had that location figured to be a whole lot farther away from the house than I’d just seen on the map.  I just knew that couldn’t be right, and I knew I’d be watching my Garmin to make sure I knew my “real” turnaround.

I got closer to my planned turnaround point, and began to climb the last hill on the eastbound side of my route, and I was struck by just how far I’d come… both in my personal journey, as well as this run.  I would never have believed I could’ve travelled on foot so far.

I turned around — and my race planning was correct! — climbed that hill again (from the other side), and got into a great groove going down the long grade as I continued westward.  In what seemed like no time, I passed my 5K turnaround point, knowing I had just over 2km to go.  And right about then, I got a gift.

A business was watering their lawn.

I didn’t dance in the sprinklers, but I did take it in, and let it rain down on me.  Even though it wasn’t especially hot this morning, that unexpected shower felt wonderful, and was the best part of the route this morning.  I was energized by this, and continued to work toward the ranch.

It seemed like I blinked, and was home.  It seemed like the whole course went by so fast, especially the last 2km.  If I had to guess, I was enjoying the benefits of that “runner’s high” that I keep hearing about, but has never quite found me.  This wasn’t the longest run for me — that was the Hospital Hill 10K in early June — but it was by far the best run I’ve had since I began this journey three years ago, taking advantage of my second chance after cancer.

So, how’d this match up against my 10K times two months ago?  Well, it’s pretty amazing.  In June, the race was just over six miles, and I covered it at a pace of 17:54min/mi.  This morning, I did just over five files, and covered it at 16:35min/mi.  I shaved 1:20min/mi off my time in June!  And frankly, this morning, I really believe I could’ve done 10km easily.  Things were going just that well.

After a couple of weeks of pretty challenging running, it was awesome to have a really, really good run!

Race Course

can·a·peel (noun) ˈkan-ə-pēl – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.