#131 – Inaugural St. Louis Triathlon

Yesterday was a massive milestone for me, and if you’re a tl;dr kinda person, just read this.  I AM A TRIATHLETE!

I’ve had this race on my calendar since last year.  I don’t know how I heard about this race, but I started thinking about challenging myself with it, especially coming up against a price increase at the end of the year.  I got on the race event’s Facebook page, describing my current skills, and just asked a simple question… Would I be able to finish this?

I got an amazing outpouring of support from seasoned triathletes, every one of ’em encouraging me to go for it.  With that of encouragement, it wasn’t hard for me to sign up, and begin this crazy journey.

I knew I was lacking some of the gear that would make this kinda event reachable, so along the way, I bought goggles for the swim, a wetsuit, and a mount for my Garmin 920XT for my bike.  Of all that, the Garmin mount will be the most useful long-term, but I kinda dig having a wetsuit.  I have no idea when or how I’d use it again — maybe swimming/snorkeling in the Caribbean?  Regardless, I have it, and can haul it out again for some future need.

As I mentioned here, I had a chance to meet Rich Adams, the Race Director for the event just about a month ago as I was gearing up.  Putting this event together was obviously a passion of his, and his enthusiasm helped fuel me as I practiced some duathlon events to get the feel for that part of the race.

But there was also that swim.

Now, I love being in the water, and can stay in for hours.  There was a lot of chatter about open water being much different that pool water, but I love being in open water.  When we’re vacationing in the Caribbean, I can go out in the water and stay out until I’m a prune.  But that’s a lot of bobbing up and day, laying on my back in the water and just paddling about.  That’s way different than swimming for distance and a finish line.  If I underestimated anything in this event, it was the swim.  More on that later.

Saturday, Becky and I headed to Hollywood Casino to pick up my packet, drop off my bike, and attend the race course talk.  We got there just before lunch, and the lines were long — although I’ve seen worse at other race events!  To me, it seemed like there were a several stops to get your race materials, and eliminating that could be a time saver at pickup time.  For example, having the race number and age tattoos already in the race envelope with the bib could save time — of course, that means that there’s a packet stuffing party for the volunteers before the packet pickup took place!  🙂

My Lonely Bike
My Lonely Bike

After I had my packet in hand, we drove over to Creve Coeur Lake to drop off my bike.  The stands that had been constructed for the race were perfect, and my big ol’ bike fit nicely on an endcap.  Mine wasn’t the only “big” bike there, but I bet if you added the width of al the skinny tires there, they wouldn’t have been as thick as my single hybrid tire thickness.  Man, there were a lot of bikes!

I listened to the course talk, and soaked up everything about the event.  And while I expected this to get things put into “ludicrous speed” for me, I really didn’t get too freaked out by all this talk about the race.

Sunday morning came, after only an “ok” night of sleep.  As I have for the last couple of weeks, I awoke a lot, with the swim on my mind.  I knew that would be my weakest element, and my brain was pounding me over it.  We got up, went through my regular raceday routine, got in my wetsuit, and headed to the Lake.

We got parked, and I hauled my little bags of race stuff to my bike staging location.  Then we waited.  Someone suggested I should dip my toes in the water, and I was amazed at how good the water felt.  The air temperature was about 55°, but the water was closer to 66°, making it very nice.  I looked out at the buoys for the swim, and they didn’t seem all that far away.  Some of the nerves started to fall away.

(BTW, while standing next to one of the police vehicles, a cop was walking up to it, when his phone rang — his ringtone was the theme to Hogan’s Heroes.  Cracked me up!)

There was a little traffic problem getting everyone to the park, so all waves were delayed by fifteen minutes to give folks a chance to get parked and set up.  No biggie.  When it was time for the first start wave to go, I headed toward the starting corrals to see how it was going.

It looked like folks were having some trouble getting into the in-water starting corral, which was causing some delays between waves.  My original starting time was 7:43am, moving to 7:58am with the traffic delay; as it ends up, I didn’t get in the water until 8:30am.  Unfortunately, all that time gave me too much time to think about what I was getting ready to do — stupid Colin trick — and the anxiety began to build.

Ready to Swim
Ready to Swim

I slipped into the water, trying to avoid the rocks that were slowing everyone down, and got in place.  I saw Becky on the shore, waved to her, and heard the countdown… and then we were off.

I knew that this swim was gonna be tough, and folks had indicated that novice swimmers should be able to knock out the 750m in about 30 minutes.  I exceeded that… by a lot.  I was in the water almost 54 minutes, and fighting for every meter I could get.  I knew that if I needed to rest, I could just flip over on my back, and float — one of my favorite ways to relax.  When you do that in an event, however, it gets folks excited, and so I had a bunch of folks in boats and paddle boards coming by to make sure I was ok.  And of course, I was.

A Short Swim in the Park
A Short Swim in the Park

As it became clear that I was just about the last person on the swim — and I knew that from all the radio traffic I could hear — I ended up with a couple of guys in boats and boards going along with me, making sure I was ok, and giving me floating rest stop, if needed. Full disclosure — I did take them up on that twice, but mostly, I just kept moving, talking with the folks who were making sure I was fine.  By this time, I was doing the breaststroke, slowly but surely, and continued to chatter as I made progress.  This kept my mind off the distance and what was left.  And I be lying if I said I never thought of having someone haul me to shore.  This swim was the hardest single component of any race I’ve ever done, and I just tried to keep it in consumable chunks, going from buoy to buoy to buoy.

Last Ones in the Water
Last Ones in the Water

There was another swimmer — Jessica — that was also taking the course in chunks, 25m at a time, with rest stops in between.  We cheered each other on, and knowing someone else was out there made it much more bearable.  There was a guy named Phillip atop one of the boards that stayed with both of us most of the segment.  I know he made a huge difference for both of us.  But really. all the folks on the water were amazing to both of us, ensuring we were never alone, and that we’d both finish this swim.

I Was Never Alone
I Was Never Alone

And we both did.  As I approached the shore, I heard a ton of folks calling out to me, cheering me by name — I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!!!  I crawled up the sandy boat launch to get to land, saw Becky, and was checked by a medic — I think they were a little worried about me — and was cleared to continue on.

Transition was a bear.  I walked to my bike, and folks were finishing the bike leg, getting ready to start their runs.  That was really a punch in the gut, knowing that I still had two full segments to go.  However, I marched on.

Cue the Stripper Music!
Cue the Stripper Music!

Getting out of the wetsuit wasn’t a problem — someone on the boat launch unzipped the back for me — and I got into my clothes pretty quick.  I dried my feet, removing the little sand and gravel from between my toes… and then started to put on shoes and socks.  I don’t know if I was just that tired, or it was just that tough, but it took me forever to get them on!  I finally got my self assembled, and walked my bike to the start of the bike course — fifteen minutes in transition, some of which, I’m sure helped me regain some strength.

I started the bike course, and quietly, a guy named Chris rode up beside me.  He had a volunteer shirt on, and said he was gonna ride the course with me.  It’s at this point, I knew I was the last person on the sprint course.  Happy to have company, I introduced myself, and started on the ride.  We chit-chatted, and I was astounded that he was gonna accompany me the whole way.  As it ended up, it was good that he was there.

I made a turn early on the course, and found that my left shoelace had gotten tangled up in my pedal.  I hollered at Chris, and he offered to help.  I stopped my bike next to a curb, and tried to put my left foot down.  Since it couldn’t go down without the bike going with it, me and my trusty steed fell to the ground with a soft thud.  Chris quickly came to see if I was ok.  And so did a race coordinator for that intersection.  And one of the police officers.  And I was just laying on the ground, straddling the median, with my head in the road, bike atop me, cracking up.  Only I could slo-mo wreck like that! Chris got me untangled, we all had a good laugh, and I continued on.

One of the nice things about the course was that it was generally flat, with only a few rises here and there… and it was closed to vehicular traffic.  I didn’t have to worry about any cars.  Chris was happy to stop along with me when I needed to drink — since I’d already proven I could wreck a bike when it wasn’t moving, I didn’t need to try to drink and ride! — and rode ahead at the intersections so we knew where to go.  It was like having a personal spotter along the way.  We even avoided a little black snake on the road.  🙂  And someone along the way, someone in the opposite lane hollered from a car, “You got this!”  Really made my day!

I was aware that there was a car following us to ensure our safety as the roads were being reopened to traffic.  We pulled over with about 2km to go, so I could refuel, and then I realized just how much the race team bent over backwards to bring the last rider home.  Behind the race staff vehicle were easily twenty cars, all being held to my crazy slow cycling speed.  When we pulled over, I told Chris that we should just stay on the shoulder until they all passed.  Refueled, and the traffic jam gone, we headed toward the finish line for the cycling leg.  I thanked Chris, and headed off to the porta-potties to take a quick break before starting the run leg.

Back from the Ride
Back from the Ride

I dropped off my bike and helmet, slathered on some sunscreen, and Chris found me, saying he’d catch up with me on the run course in just a few minutes.  Whaaaat?

As it ends up, I think he was tasked with ensuring that the last guy on the course, finished.  And that last guy was me.

I got on the run course, and run as fast my tired, rubbery legs would go, and once Chris caught up to me, I started walking.  I was spent.  However, just chit-chatting about life, the universe, and everything, made the time go by, and in no time, we’d hit the turn around, and were heading toward the finish of the event.

Homestretch!
Homestretch!

He told me I was gonna run the last little bit to the final timing mat, and once he said “go”, he split off, and I cruised through the finish line!  There were folks cheering for me, and I quickly found Becky.  I hugged her, kinda fell into her arms for a moment, and began wandering around the finishing area.

I saw Chris again, and thanked him profusely.  Obviously I could do the last two legs, but having someone keep me safe while I gutted that out made sure that I did complete the last two legs.  And despite anything he said about his small role in my finish, it was huge to me.

TRIATHLETE!!!
TRIATHLETE!!!

I gathered my pilsner glass, filled it with some kinda red beer, and sat on the grass while age awards were being handed out.  I didn’t get one, and that’s no surprise — my award was finishing! — but it felt good to just sit on the grass and relax.  For the first time in three-and-a-half hours, I wasn’t moving, and that was a good thing.

When the awards were over, I found Rich, and thanked him profusely for his work on the race, his support and the support of this team.  After a big ol’ bear hug, Becky and I headed to the staging area, where there were no longer very many bikes, gathered my stuff up, and headed home.

Thinking about the race today, with a much clearer mind, I realize this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I know there’s no way I could’ve completed this without the amazing support of Rich, his staff, my dear sweet wife and so many friends.  As far as I’m concerned, this was a team win!

There were definitely some takeaways:

  • The best stroke for the swim leg is probably not the breaststroke.
  • Tuck your shoelaces into your shoes on the ride so you don’t crash your bike while standing still.
  • Transition is a great place to rest, but you’re not resting if you’re struggling to get your socks and shoes on.
  • Swim shoes would be a big help if there are rocks in the swim entry zone.
  • Crawling out of the exit chute for the swim is completely acceptable.

I haven’t yet decided if there’s another one of these out there for me.  I loved the event, but it might be good to try something at a shorter distance.  Regardless, my swimming has to get better before I can try this again.  That swim sapped all my strength, and was the toughest part of the course for me mentally.

But to say it again — ’cause I’m still not believing I can say this… I AM A TRIATHLETE!!!!

Race Course

 

#130 – Heroes Always Memorial Run

Today was the last warmup before the inaugural St. Louis Triathlon on Sunday.  And, with a nice sunny day, it’s hard not to get out and enjoy it.

This was my first return to the Greenway in almost two weeks — two weeks filled with unseasonably cool weather, and a lot of rain.  For the Greenway, that meant that it was… well… green, as promised.

About three-quarters of the way through the run, I encountered the most wonderful scent.  I stopped, recognizing the smell, but not quite placing it.  I looked around and found it … honeysuckles!  It was like being a kid again.  When I was growing up, we’d pluck the bloom, pull the center from it, and put the tiny drop of nectar on our tongues.  I thought about doing that today, but elected instead to finish up, and get back to the Jeep.

I took it easy today, partly because it’d been a while since my last run, but also because I didn’t wanna risk injuring anything before Sunday’s event!  As it ends up, I kept a pretty regular pace, albeit not exactly blazing speed.  However, it was just a regular ol’ chug down the path, a little warm for me, but coming pretty easily.

This event honored the memories of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and benefitted the Gastric Cancer Foundation.

Race Course

#129 – Awaken the Fourth and Run 5k

A few days ago was Star Wars Day.  May the Fourth be with you.  And also with you.

I’d had great intentions to run a ton last week.  We’d originally been slated to drive to Michigan for the Bernese Mountain Dog Specialty, with Bailey signed up to try to complete her herding title.  Unfortunately, she re-injured her back, and we were a no-go.  She’s better, although not quite herself, but definitely headed in the right direction.

With us mired in Da Lou, I wanted to run.  Bunches.  It was a great opportunity to catch up on some virtual races that I’d been piling up, and to finish off a Spring Challenge from the Moon Jogger folks.  So run I did… back and forth to Home Depot!  🙂

I ended up spending the first part of the week building a new desk for my home office.  It’s a impressive piece of redneck engineering, and has plenty of room for all my computerized toys and their attachments.  By the time the week had closed, I hadn’t run a single mile.

Today, I fixed that.

Ideally, a run celebrating Star Wars Day probably should be run on Star Wars Days, but I’m a bit of a maverick, and ran it fashionably late.  I returned to the Greenway, and put my feet to work.  Unfortunately, with the week escaping, so did the cool weather, and I ended up running in temps near 80° — far above my melting point.  It was hot and uncomfortable, and before I got to my turnaround point, it was obvious that I was growing a blister on the back of my right heel.  That really slowed me up, and put me in the “just ok” range of my finishing times.

Looking at the blister, I think I figured out what happened.  I was running with these really cool Swiftwick socks that I picked up in Chattanooga.  I’ve run with them a bunch.  They’re mid calf, and have the circle and stars from the Tennessee state flag on the back.  However, they also have a small logo on them that I think got sucked down into my shoe, and the knitting on that logo rubbed me the wrong way.

Tomorrow, I’d like to run again, but it’s gonna take a little bit of work to get me on the trail… lance the blister, and bandage it well.  Blecch!

This event benefitted the Make a Wish Foundation.

Race Course

 

#128 – Spring Duathlon

As some of you know, I’m working toward participating in the inaugural St. Louis Triathlon, taking place just a month from now. At various times, I’ve been exuberant and confident; at others, terrified and cowering under my desk. 🙂 Yesterday, the race director of the event was at the grand opening of the newly moved Swim, Bike, Run shop on Clayton Road, and I thought I’d go meet him. Now, I’d exchanged messages with him a ton on Facebook, and I even became the poster child for the social media impact of this race, which he mentioned in a podcast a little while back (about 21 minutes into the podcast).  However, we’d never laid eyes on each other.

I walked up to him, introduced myself, and he told me he already knew who I was. Well, how ’bout that?!

We talked about the event, and he gave me some much needed advice about different parts of it, and even came in SBR to help me shop for goggles for the swim.  And as we chatted, it was obvious to me that I needed to string together some events.  I can run 5k, and I can cycle 20k — the swimming is still a bit of an unknown! — but I haven’t done them back-to-back.

Knowing I had some training ahead of me, I found a virtual 10k/5k duathlon, and figured I oughta sign up.

This morning, fueled by dreams of a successful triathlon, I headed out on my bike.  Now, one big difference between the race course and my neighborhood is flatness.  The race course for the triathlon is pretty dang flat.  My neighborhood is replete with hills, and I think I found most of ’em.  I’d ridden about 7.5km, was passing the house, and thought about just calling it done.  Somehow, I squelched that voice, and rode on, putting in a little over 10km in the saddle.

Upon getting back to the house, I transitioned from riding to running, doffing my helmet, getting some fuel for the road, and ensuring I had water.  Frankly, I was surprised how easy the first kilometer came.  And then the heat started to hit me.

I ambled around the neighborhood, and eventually ended up walking the middle part of my distance, peppered with a little running here and there.  Once again, I was at the house, about 3.5km into the run, and once again, the voices in my head were trying to convince me to just be done.  I knew, though, that if I did that, I’d regret it all day, and even if it was slow, I could get through it.  I plugged along.  And just like a dog getting a treat for doing the right thing, I was rewarded with some kind of weird second wind, and I was running the last kilometer, taking me home.

This was probably the hardest race I’ve done since Gasparilla in February.  The difference here was that not only did I have to overcome the course, but I had to overcome the noise in my noggin.  With me passing by the house, I had the means to bail on the race — something that would’ve harder to do in Tampa — but had to find the gumption not to.

Neither of my times were stunning — about 40mins for the 10km ride, and around 54min for the 5km run.  I suspect my splits for the ride in the triathlon will be better due to the flatter course.  So, extrapolating, let’s assume 30-40mins for the swim (those are estimates I’ve been given), 70mins for the 20k ride, and about 50min for the 5k run, and that puts me right around 2.5hrs for the triathlon course.   Anything under 3hrs is fine with me, and if it’s closer to 2hrs, so much the better.

I only had two real issues.  The first was with my Garmin.  I set it up for duathlon mode, but there was obvious operator error, and it stopped tracking me after the bike ride.  I’ll have to figure that out.  The other thing that was a surprise was how sore my hands were from the handlebars.  I’ve got nice, new cushioned cycling gloves but I suspect there’s something else afoot — perhaps goofy positioning on the bike.

So color me more convinced that the triathlon in a month’s time is really, really achievable!!!

Race Courses

Cycling

Running

#127 – MoDOT Work Zone 5K

Saturday, I ran the MoDOT Work Zone 5K in Chesterfield.  I ran this race for the first time last year, and enjoyed it.  Like last year, this was a small race, with decent medals, really cheap entry fee, and a course that isn’t used on any other race I run… All good things!

Ready for the Start!
Ready for the Start!

We started with a cool morning — about 50° or so — and just milled about until time for the race to start.  I saw a co-worker of mine, and chit-chatted about how slow we were gonna be… and then he passed me on the first turn!  🙂

Since I’d run this course last year, I knew there were pretty decent hills on the course.  I vowed to chug up the first one, and was able to do that much easier than I remembered from last year.  I got my water at the halfway point, ran down the hill I’d just climbed, and then climbed the last hill heading toward the finish.

 

Me and My Buddy
Me and My Buddy

And as I got pretty close to the finish, I spied Darla, cheering me on with Roxy in tow.  I was stunned by this, and ran over to get a puppy-snuggle on my way to the finish line.  I finished the race, and found them again.  Roxy was an absolute doll, and was friendly with everyone she met.  Lotsa puppy kisses given out!

I did two things different — something you’re never supposed to do on race day!  I fueled a little differently.  When I was at Fleet Feet Friday, picking up my packet, it was time to re-stock my cache of Sport Beans, and I decided to shake things up a bit.  I’ve been wanting to get some honey into my races, and while I didn’t find honey, I didn’t find some Honey Stinger Waffles.  These are little flat wafers, with a moist consistency to them.  I talked with the salesperson, and found that she uses those right before the race starts.  I figured this was an out-and-back shortish race, so I’d give it a try.

The other new thing I tried was Gu Chews.  Now, I’ve gotta tell ya, I had good results using Gu packets last year, but the stickiness and consistency kinda caught up with me, and I stopped using them.  These were packets of four chews — about the size of a hotel in Monopoly — and were easy to deal with, and quick to down.  Did they do me any good?  Well, I don’t know, but my time sure was good!

Me and Barrel Bob
Me and Barrel Bob

And how good, you might ask?  Well, last year’s race was 55 weeks ago (a little later start this year), and 101 races ago.  Using the time from my Garmin (this race uses clock time for official time, so that’s a little inconsistent for me), I knocked almost five minutes off my time. FIVE MINUTES!  That’s a huge improvement across a year’s span!

So how’d I decrease so much?  Well, the story’s in the splits.  My first kilometer was almost the same between the two races — 8:36.8 vs 8:35.6, a negligible difference.  The last kilometer was pretty similar too — 8:41.6 last year, and 8:21.5 this year.  The real tale is in the middle.

Last year, kilometer 2, 3, and 4 were 10:27, 11:23, and 12:00.  This is were all the hills are on this course, and while they’re not particular steep, they are long.  This year, those same three km were 9:02, 9:36 and 10:40, which were vast improvements.

I was really pleased with my performance on this race.  What’s goofy is that I didn’t really feel like I did all that well, but some reflection has definitely spun my opinion.  Glad I was out there!

Race Course

#126 – Go! St. Louis 5K

Let me start by revealing that I have a love-hate relationship with this race.  I love what the Go! series brings to St. Louis — a buncha races, spread throughout the year, with events for everyone.  This weekend included a 1mi “Master’s Mile” (60+ year old runner), a bunch of dashes for kids, a 1.2mi race for school students, the 5K, the new 7K, marathon relay, half marathon and full marathon.  (Everything 7K and above are downtown, and held on Sunday.)  That’s a lot of events, and this weekend is earmarked on a lot of runner’s calendars.  That’s all good.

However, being a 5k runner is a little frustrating, as the race feels like an afterthought.  Looking in the 32-page Participant Program, there’s virtually nothing about the 5k, or any of the other races on Saturday. There’s no course maps, no info about parking, transit, etc.  Even the section for “Important Race Day Information” is all about the events on Sunday.

And to add another burr under my saddle, I went to packet pickup when it opened on Saturday morning, and was told there were no shirts in my size left.  The number of folks and the shirts needed shouldn’t be a huge surprise to the organizers — that’s part of the registration gig — but both times I’ve run this race, I’ve had this problem.  I was given a smaller shirt, and told that I could just give it away.  My guess is that someone who needed that smaller size didn’t get their shirt.  I stuck it in my bag, and lugged it around with me all day, putting it on the donation pile here in the house when I got home.

Despite the grumbles, I actually had a pretty good time.  The course was familiar, with stretches of it also used in the Undy a few weeks ago.  The nice thing with this course layout was that it doubled back twice, allowing you to get a sense for how far back in the pack you were.  I ended up being around ⅔’s mid-pack, and was very pleased with that.  While my time wasn’t exactly spectacular, it was pretty typical, and sub-50 — a perpetual target for me at “live” events.  And I ran most of the course, with only a breather taken going up one of the hills.

The Go! folks have started a three-5K series this year, encompassing this race, the All-American in June, and the Halloween race in October.  I signed up for all of ’em, and should get a fourth “challenge” medal in October for that.  They were races I would’ve been doing anyway, so bundle pricing and an extra medal was pretty easy to take.  🙂

So, #126 is in the books… and I’ve already got another “live” race slated for next weekend!

Race Course

#125 – Comb the Desert 5K

Hi.  My name is Colin.  It’s been ten days since I’ve run.  And boy did it show.

My intent was to do 10k last night.  I mean, how hard could it be?  I’ve done it before, the weather was perfect, and I had a boatload of time available after work.  Easy-peasey.

I started out, with a mission to “go long”, and hit a trail that’s about 3km from the house.  It’s a short trail, but it’s kinda like a victory lap for me — I’ve only done that one a few times, and there’s loads of hills getting there and back, but the payoff is beautiful wooded scenery — and yesterday seemed like the day to tackle it again.

But in truth, I wasn’t really feeling it as I laced up my shoes.  I haven’t been sleeping well, and it’s really sucked the life out of me.  I spied David Johndrow’s book, ICU to Marathon, on my desk, however, and knew I needed to get out, and put my feet on the street.

I set out, and the first 3-4km were great.  The body parts were in motion, and working well.  However, around the time I got to my happy trail, things started to fall apart.  My pace fell way off, my feet were beginning to bother me (just tired and sore — no blisters!), and I knew the return home was gonna be miserable.

Time to Turn Around!
Time to Turn Around!

I exited the trail, and returned to the sidewalk that would carry me home, knowing that I had a tough 2-3km ahead of me.  I climbed the hills, and slowly made my way home.  At one point, Darla passed me on her way home from work, and I was so done, I tried to flag her down for a ride back, but she didn’t see me.

Along the way, I met this beautiful Landseer, Mr. Jibs.  He’s barked at me a gazillion times on one of the back trails through the neighborhood, and it was great to finally meet him.  He’d been sheared for the summer, leaving only that monstrous head and fluffy tail looking like they’re supposed to.  And, his owner drives a Wrangler.  Good taste.

I waddled home, short of my 10k distance, and felt like I’d been hit by a truck.  My body was beaten, my brain was questioning why I’d ever chosen to engage in running, and I began this awful death spiral of “what ifs” and “whys”.  I went to bed early, feeling considerably better this morning, and having some welcome clarity of thought.

At the end of the day, running is a couple of things for me.  One is consistency.  If I keep myself regularly moving, and not allowing myself to have excuses not to go out, it’ll come easier than it did last night.

It’s also mass across a distance.  The less mass I have to carry through a distance, the easier that’ll come.  And again, that’s just commitment, dedication and keeping my eye on the prize.

I don’t know that I’d say last night was any kind of epiphany for me — there’s nothing there I didn’t already know.  However, I do believe I got a dope slap of reality concerning my commitment to this, and to my future self.  I wanna still be doing this ten, twenty, maybe thirty years from now, and the changes I make now are critical to ensuring that’s possible.

This event benefitted the Testicular Cancer Society.

Race Course

#124 – Run Dog Run 5K

After a great sunrise Easter service in what Reverend Lovejoy would call the showiness of nature, I had just enough time to get some miles in before the rains set in.

After yesterday’s run, I knew that today would just be a walk, so I headed to my beloved Greenway, and set out.  While it was warmish, there was an ominous wind blowing from the south, and having looked at the maps before I left, I knew this was a hint that the rain was on the way.

Ya know, there’s not much to say about a walk, other than that I did it, and got in before the rains began.  I guess that’s the important part!

This event benefitted Running for Rescues.

Race Course

#123 – Honduran Street Party 5K

Ordinarily, this race is scheduled right on top of the Undy, so this was the first time I’ve had a chance to run in it.

I got to the site early yesterday morning (big surprise, eh!), and found a little breakfast at Picasso’s Coffee.  I’ve had the coffee at Picasso’s in old town St. Charles, and this one was every bit as good.  Nothing like a good cuppa joe on race day to get me started.

The race site is about thirty minutes from the house, so while I coulda picked up my race bib on Friday, I elected to wait until Saturday morning.  The race organizers got things set up pretty quickly, and I had a little time to kill.

Streets of St. Charles
Streets of St. Charles

I hadn’t been in this part of St. Charles before, and I was impressed.  It’s a new “urban living” area, with lofts above first floor shops — really neat concept.  This particular incarnation has everything you could want… except on-site grocery shopping.  I suspect there’s something close-by, but that’s the thing that’s a deal breaker for me. Even the revitalization of downtown St. Louis seems to have missed this small detail.

Racetime quickly approached, and we started to line up.  There were only about 600 folks in the combined 5k/10k event, so lining up was quick, as was the start!  In a big race, it’s not unusual for it to take more than a few minutes to get through the start line.  For this race, it was about 30 seconds.  🙂

We started out, and the first thing we were greeted by was a nice downhill slope.  That was great, but I had a funny feeling that I’d see that slope again, and not from its best side.

Cow on the Trail!
Cow on the Trail!

In no time, we were on the Katy Trail.  This is a wonderful rails-to-trails conversation that spans about 250 miles.  Needless to say, we didn’t cover nearly that much of it!  We spent about 3.5km on the trail, which was a nice flat part of the race.  And on again, it had a nice “pass it twice” water stop.  And at that water stop was a big ol’ cow, advertising the Mo’ Cowbell later this fall.

Post-Race Bliss
Post-Race Bliss

I got back to hill again, and sure enough, it was a climb.  I’ve gotta tell ya, some of these race course designers are real cruel folks.  Why would you finish a race on an uphill climb????  I got to the top of it, and finished the race, gathering up another medal for the wall.

This was really a nice race, with good support, and a huge medal.  Assuming they stay away from the Undy, I think I’ll be back!

This race benefitted Just Because We Care and Timmy’s Mountain.

Race Course

#122 – Celebrate Life 5K

After the events that unfolded in Brussels last week, I knew which virtual event I needed to undertake on Friday.  I know this one was in honor of Paris, but it just made sense to be thinking of Brussels.  When work was done, I took off to roam the neighborhood.  I just needed to walk, and reflect on all that had happened.

It still just baffles me that people — any people — can be persuaded to commit such terrible acts upon their fellow man.  As Mr. Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.

The walk was good, the new shoes are doing wonders for my feet, and it was awesome to log some miles on a weekday — one of the nice side effects of daylight savings time!

This event benefitted the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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.