Yesterday, I ran my third Freedom Four Miler. And once again, I found myself in Forest Park, chugging through a hot course replete with hills.
The morning started cool — about 65°, way cool for July — with a foggy sunrise. I got to the park early, knowing that parking was gonna be at a premium, and that it was a long walk from the parking to the start/finish line.
Pre-race is always weird for me. There’s usually some activities going on — usually beginning about thirty minutes before racetime — but there’s normally not much to do other than hang out. I talked with other racers, stretched, and watched for good photo ops.
This race always features a little bit of military hardware — this year, a Humvee — but the coolest hardware was a crazy, giant, motorized shopping cart. I’ve seen this at the Bristol Speedway for some NASCAR races, but this is the first time I’ve been this close to one. It’s a pretty cool rig, with plenty of noise, and a cool “gee whiz” factor.
Shortly after it pulled up, we all lined up for the start — about a thousand of us. With the performance of the Star Spangled Banner, and a quick toot of an air horn, we were off.
The first third of a mile was a pretty quick flat, and slight downward hill, only to be followed by upward and downward portions of the course. I’m just not a hill guy! I broke into a quick walk, and watched as many folks passed me by. That’s something I’m kinda used to, being a back-of-the-pack guy!
Somewhere late in the first mile, I was joined by a another runner, Kate. This was her second race, and we stayed together, chatting through the remaining miles. Frankly, the miles just seemed to melt away, and in no time, we were crossing the finish line.
This is the first race in a well over a year that I’ve run with a partner — even one “discovered” on the course. I’d forgotten just how much a difference that can make. Chatting about life, the universe and everything really takes your mind off the footfalls and the miles, and makes the race so much easier to complete. Thanks Kate!
I was thrilled to cross the line, put another race in the books, and make a new friend along the way. All in all, a really great Fourth of July!
(This race benefitted the USO of Missouri. As a former military member, this is an outfit that I can’t help but support, and appreciate.)