I’d heard about this race somewhere along the way, as I was scouting new races (to me, anyway!) close to home. Like the All American 5K earlier in the year, this race promised fast speeds because the course was so flat. I was intrigued, and went into it planning to leave nothing on the course.
On Thursday, we picked up my bib and shirt from Cabela’s at the St. Louis Outlet Mall, site of the race. Cabela’s is very pet friendly, so we hauled Roxy up there for a little face time with shoppers in the store. She did really well with everyone she ran into, and got all the attention a pup of three months could possibly want.
This morning, I headed back to the outlet mall, and got ready to race. As is pretty common for me, I got there early, and got to watch the volunteers set up. This race reminded me why “in person” races have such appeal. There were some vendors, a wall of velcro to stick yourself to, hot coffee… it was a very nice set up.
Race time came pretty quickly. Someone led us all in prayer. We released balloons, remembering the losses and celebrating the victories of those with lymphoma. The National Anthem was played, and we were shooed to the start line. With the crack of a small cannon, we were off!
The conditions couldn’t have been better. The sun was just coming up, and temperature was hovering around 60°. And this place was flat. We were largely running on the road that surrounds the mall, and from the race results I saw, the course only rose and lost three feet of elevation. That’s crazy flat!
I jogged the first mile. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a big deal for me. It’s probably been a year since I’ve done that. The body is capable, but my brain always sabotages me, telling me I need to rest my legs. At a jogging pace (~9 min/km or so), there’s no reason my body needs to rest, because I’m just gonna walk at ~10 min/km — not that big a difference! I was thrilled, and started to do the math, and it looked like I was on pace for a PR. I slowed to my walking pace for the second mile, thinking I would save some energy, and plan for a third mile streak.
The course had a little pylon-made cul-de-sac through an intersection to help put the extra distance in to get us to 5km. Coming out of the cul-de-sac, I found my left knee was in excrutiating pain. I adjusted my knee brace, which provided no help. I removed my brace, and again, there was no relief. I stop against a tree, and rubbed my knee, and still, there was this awful pain.
I kept walking, but my pace had dropped from about 15 min/mi to about 22 min/mi, and I was facing the second half of the race taking almost twice as long as the first half. And I really thought that I was facing my first DNF since I started doing these events over three years ago. And after a few very awkward moments of walking a major hitch in my giddy-up, my knee settled down, and I slowly increased my pace, and was back to my normal walking speed of ~10 min/km.
As inexplicably as this pain came on, it was just as inexplicably gone. i still don’t know what happened, but I was able to knock out the last two kilometers not too far off my jogging pace. Obviously, this has me concerned, but I’ll just keep an eye on that for now.
Post race, the organizers had arranged for Chris Cakes to provide an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast for the runners. The guys on the griddle were flipping pancakes onto plates, and saw me coming up, and flipped four pancakes on my plate. Obviously, they’d dealt with my kind before. 🙂 Add to that some sausage links, orange juice and chocolate milk (YES, THEY HAD CHOCOLATE MILK!!!!), I sat down at a picnic table under an awning, and inhaled my breakfast. I know I coulda done more pancake damage, but I also knew that I really didn’t need to do that.
All told, this was a great event, and one that’ll be back on my calendar next year. Flat course, breakfast provided, and the potential for some speed… how can I go wrong?
This race benefitted Race to End Lymphoma.