Tag Archives: races

Race #38 – All-American 5K

Today’s race was another of the Go! St. Louis race series, second of the three they’re holding this year.  I’d been watching the weather, knowing that we’d had a tropical depression move over us, and that a cold front was to move through today.  Last night, it looked like it would be 77° with sun at race time.  As it ends up, it was cloudy, about 68°, and storms were moving across the northern parts of our area.

Tut, tut, it looks like rain
Tut, tut, it looks like rain

Siobhan had come up for Father’s Day, so all three of us piled into Darla’s Acadia, and headed toward Kirkwood.  The ominous clouds continued to drop southward as we drove, and we could hear the thunder growing.

We found parking — which was pretty scarce! — at the start line.  This race is a one-way, mostly downhill race, so Darla and Sio were gonna drop me off, and then drive to the finish line to meet me as I finished.  Great plan.

George Sells from KTVI was there, and interviewing folks about the race, all the rain we’d gotten and whether we liked to run in the rain.  He interviewed me and Sio, and that probably aired while we were at the site.  There’s a piece up on their website, but it was after it was all over, and didn’t include our fifteen seconds of fame.  🙁

Sio and Darla decided to go back to the Acadia, and wait to see if the race was gonna go off.  With the storm approaching, and lightning visible, it was a pretty good question.

Enter the rain.

And I’m not talking little sprinkles, I’m talking soak-you-to-the-bone-try-to-find-shelter-wherever kind of rain.  It poured, and we lined up for the race.   The horn sounded promptly at 7:30am, and we took off.

I was expecting this race to be kinda fast.  It’s billed as the fastest 5K in St. Louis, and after looking at the elevation profile, I see why:

 

All-American 5K Elevation Profile
All-American 5K Elevation Profile

I took off at the gun, and began running.  And, as I frequently do, I walked part of the course.  However, I made it a point to run all the downhills.  On two of those hills, I really kicked it up, and ran faster than I’ve ever run in a race.  The cool thing was that one of them was as I was going to finish line.  When a big ol’ overweight guy turns on the afterburners at the finish, the crowd absolutely starts cheering for you.  That’s pretty doggone cool.

Typically, I shoot for less than 10min/km, although my races over the last year or two have been frustratingly shy of that..  That’s a 50-minute 5K, and a number generally just above all the time.  In my splits today, they were ALL under ten minutes — significantly — except one segment.  That’s amazing, and the first time I’ve pulled that off.  And as you might expect with splits like that, I had a great finish time.  In fact, it was the best race finish time I’ve ever had in a 5K, and the fastest 5K distance I’ve run in three years.

I get that I’m not all that fast, and my time isn’t exactly remarkable.  But, to me, it was like I’d won the Olympics.  And that’s the deal for me.  I run “against” me, and sometimes have a great day doing it.

Race Course

Race #37 – The Puppy Run 5K

Another virtual race in the books!

I’d had a few question marks about putting this race on the schedule.  I had no idea how my knees and stamina would be this weekend after the Hospital Hill duals last week.  As it ends up, all the races this year have (apparently) made a difference, and my recovery seems quicker, even after abusing my feet and knees like I did last weekend.

Last night, I vowed I’d get up and run this morning.  Yesterday, I awoke early (5:30 or so), thought about running, and then rolled over and slept for THREE MORE HOURS.  Now, I believe that if your body sleeps, you probably needed it… but, gee whiz!  I wasn’t gonna let today slip away from me, and suffer from a lack of miles.

So 6am came around this morning, and after a slow wake up — and a couple of snuggles from Bailey — I got up, and started prepping.  Remember a few weeks ago that I’d mentioned treating virtual race days just like regular race days?  I’m still doing that, and it really puts the event ahead in perspective.  I guess it’s akin to pro athletes getting their game face on, physically and mentally preparing themselves for what’s to come.

Girded up in all my running armor (there’s a contradiction, eh?!), I stepped out into the sunlight… and found a icky, humid airmass out in the sunshine.  Shades of the Hospital Hill 5K.  Blecch!  I got going though, and while the air was tougher, I once again found the course to be moving beneath my feet, just like I was flying.  One kilometer, then two, and suddenly I was at the turnaround point.

That’s been the beauty of doing these races every weekend or so.  This was my sixteenth race of this year, and that frequent activity is making these races get easier and easier.  I’ve been bemoaning not finding more speed so far this year, but I think what I’ve found is even more important:  determination.  And that’s been key for running so many races already in 2015.

I’ve been asked why I would do these virtual races.  I know me, and setting a “collectible” goal out there hits my brain pretty well, and grabbing these finisher medals is kinda a Pokemon thing for me… gotta collect ’em all!  That’s what gets me out there, and getting out there is what’s important.  It’s healthier for me, and it gives me a tangible thing that I can chase after.  And given that there’s not always races around here I can get to, this keeps my feet on the pavement in between racing events.

And I know there’s a population of real runners out there who believe that a “finisher” medal isn’t worth having, advocating that the only medals worth having are those you win for placement in 1st, 2nd or 3rd.  That’s definitely an opinion.  It’s not mine.

Words to Live By
Words to Live By
You see, I do earn my medals.  I run the same miles, sometimes on the same courses, and my miles, although slower, are for the same distance as their medals.  I’d even wager that those of us “back of the pack” folks are probably putting together a bigger effort than the elite runners at the front.  They know they can do this, and quickly.  A 5K is like a sprint for some of these folks, finishing in less than twenty minutes.  For those of us who are moving a lot slower, and carrying many more years and pounds than the folks in the front, the determination to finish is higher, and beyond the sense of accomplishment in finishing, having that medal waiting at the end is a tangible result of our toil and sweat.

As one of the signs at Hospital Hill last weekend said, I’m not here to compete, I’m here to complete.

And that’s what’s kept me on the road this year.  And next weekend is the All-American 5K on Father’s Day.  I’ve never run this race before, but I’ve been led to believe that this is one of the fastest races in Da Lou, with a one-way, mostly downhill course.  Can’t wait to give it a shot!

Races #35 & #36 – Hospital Hill 5K and 10K

Veni, vidi, vici collis.  Twice.

Hospital Hill is one of those legendary races.  From folks out here in the midwest, you hear just how wonderful and awful this race is… the folks are wonderful, and the hills are awful.

A year ago, in a stroke of questionable sanity, I ran in the Hospital Hill 5K.  I was slow, the hills were steep, and the heat was hot.  I had no idea what I was in for, but I finished, and I was thrilled about that.

This year, in another stroke… of something… right after last year’s Hospital Hill 5K, I signed up for the Hospital Hill Re-Run.  This is the combination of a 5K up The Hill on Friday night, and either a 10K (in my case) or half marathon less than twelve hours later on Saturday morning.  Not only would these races be close together, but this would be my first 10K.

Darla and I drove across the state Friday morning, which is a pretty quick trip from our home — Kansas City is only 3½ hours away.  We got checked into the hotel, and visited the health expo next door to pick up my race packets for both races.

These health expos are pretty cool, and are a great way to find new products associated with running,   You can also meet folks representing other races in the region, and pick up any doodads for the race that you left at home.  🙂  I picked up a bunch of brochures for other races around the midwest, thinking about my racing plans for the rest of the year.

I also talked with someone who makes custom medal displays.  Displaying my medals has been a real challenge, as it seems like I’m adding finishing medals at an alarming rate.  I’m halfway through the year, and I’ve already run as many races as I did all of last year.  Wayne, from LifeSpeed Sports, showed me a display and shelf option that I think will look good in my office.  Probably more to come on that in the future.

The weather dudes had been talking about rain in KC all weekend, but when Darla and I walked to the start line Friday night, it was bright, sunny, and hot — not what I was hoping for.

On the 5K race, you just barely get started before having to climb Hospital Hill.  This is a crazy hill, rising about 120 feet across half-a-mile, and since it’s the first thing you see, it sucks the life out of you before you really get into the course.  Blecch.  The cool thing is that you close out the race coming down that same hill, and that definitely helps your finish time.  I climbed the hill, slowly, and carried on.

As I always do, I found some other turtles to stay close to.  Every now and then, you chat, and then you either pass or get passed, only to catch up again.  It’s nice, because those folks are hoofing through the course the same way you are.

5K Finisher!
5K Finisher!

I finally got to the finish, and I was just spent.  Darla was waiting for me, and it was nice to see a familiar face as I crossed the line.  I got my medal, chocolate milk and an ice cream sandwich (which absolutely rocked!), finding a place to sit down.  There was just no fuel left in my tank.  The sun had beaten the fight out of me, and I hobbled back to the hotel after successfully completing the 5K.

When I got back to the room, everything hurt.  I was a little wobbly, and so discouraged about Saturday morning’s race.  If the 5K had taken that much out of me, what would the 10K do to me?  Could I really finish it?

The news Friday night said that we would have sunny skies again Saturday morning, and I wasn’t too excited to hear that.  Imagine how thrilled I was to awaken to the news that storms were due in sometime during the 10K race!

Storm Clouds
Storm Clouds

Last year, I was driving away from KC in very strong storms at the time the 10K began.  That event was delayed due to those massive electrical storms, and while there was rain due in, it appeared I would complete my race before things got ugly.  But with the rain coming, it was under 70, cloudy, and just enough breeze to keep things nice.

The 10K and half marathon shared the same course for the first five kilometers or so, so we all started together, and began the race.  This time, however, Hospital Hill came about two kilometers into the race.  For some reason, this approach to The Hill was much easier for me.  I dunno if it was the nicer conditions, or being able to warm up for a couple of kilometers before getting to it — regardless, it wasn’t nearly as tough on Saturday morning as it was on Friday night.

The course wound on, rolling a bit up and down the ridges, until the 10K and half marathon runners split, and I was facing another hill, the 39th Street Hill — rising about 85 feet across a kilometer or so.  This hill led to Broadway, where the half marathoners joined us again at their eleventh mile.

Suddenly, flash, boom!  The storm had rolled in, and the rain began.  With only two kilometers to go, I was really hoping we would be allowed to finish.  With lightning in the area — and close — I wasn’t gonna be surprised if the race was paused for safety reasons, but the skies quietened, and we continued, albeit in a bunch of rain.

From there, the course was good, until we reached Trinity Hill.  This crazy hill looked like it went straight up into the sky, rising about 75 feet across a city block or two.  It was brutal, but was the last hill on the course.

With the 10K and half marathon runners finishing side by side, there were plenty of folks cheering us all on as we approached the finish line.  In fact, that’s one of the nice things I noticed about the 10K.  There were supporters all throughout the course, even for those runners turtling along at my speed.

10K Finisher!
10K Finisher!

And just like that, it was done.  I crossed the finish line, grabbed my two medals (you get an extra medal for running the 5K and one of the races on Saturday), and found Darla on the side.  And I felt pretty good.  In fact, I felt real good.  Maybe it was just adrenaline, but I was in so much better shape after the 10K than I’d been after the 5K.  Success!

I was really pleased with how my 10K race went.  It seemed to go quickly, and I was no worse for wear after it was done.  All that was left was a little BBQ celebration dinner, something we both enjoyed!

Race Courses

Race #33 – National Geek Day 5K

For frequent and returning readers, you’ll remember that I ran a virtual race, the Dark Helmut 5K, back on May 17th.  To say I struggled is an understatement.  It was a frustrating virtual race that I just slogged through.

I also made mention that course selection was key.  I believe I have proof of that today.

Today is Geek Pride Day, commemorating the release of Star Wars on this date in 1977.  The fine folks over at Moon Joggers had a virtual race to commemorate the day, and with my geeky tendencies, I couldn’t exactly pass it up.

The medal came in a week or so ago (typical for a virtual race — so you can “finish” with your medal), and I was filled with both excitement and dread.  I was thrilled to add another race to the “done” list (along with another medal!), but the results from my last virtual race were pretty crushing.

Last night, as I thought about the run this morning, I decided I would treat this like a regular race.  That’d take a couple of things.

1.  Prepare like a real race.

Last night, I laid out my clothes.  That sounds like a little thing, but it got my brain in the game, and forced me to look at the weather for this morning, find the right clothes and have ’em laid out for this morning.  This included my compression socks (which really do help!), running underwear, shoes, knee braces, Spi-Belt (for my iPhone), and proper shirt selection.  I’ve gotten kinda lazy on the virtual runs, probably because they’re just around the neighborhood, and without the tools that make/keep me comfortable on my travels, it’s no wonder I’ve struggled lately.

2.  Find a course that will lead to a successful outcome.

Also last night, I thought about my course.  I had no idea where I was gonna go, but I knew I didn’t wanna try to conquer that same hill that killed me a little over a week ago.  It was brutal, both physically and mentally, and I just didn’t want to have that kind of outcome again.  I thought about the area, and realized that I could simply take a “right” instead of a “left”, and avoid that hill altogether, keeping me on flatter roads.

As it ends up, that was a brilliant decision.  I ran more on this journey than I have in a while — although my time doesn’t really reflect that very well!  I was comfortable getting to my turnaround point, and it seemed like it was no time until I was at the four kilometer point, and entering the home stretch.

I got home, with Becky awaiting me on the front porch.  She was planning to cheer as I came in, photographing me, and giving me the full race experience.  However, she forgot the direction I was headed, and I ended up sneaking up on her.  🙂  She did end up snapping a few photos before I got back in the house to relax.

The thing I noticed was that I wasn’t nearly as exhausted as I was after trying to conquer the hill last week.  In fact, I felt pretty good.  If I feel that good after the Friday night 5k in Kansas City in a couple of weeks, I’ll be good to go for the 10k the next morning!

So, put another race in the books, and a little bit of learning, too.  I think this was the best solo run I’ve had this season, and I hope I’m focused in on why that was!

And yes, that’s me in the image above.  My parents gave me my first computer, a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model III, as a present for graduation from high school in 1981.  My inner geek runs deep!

(BTW, the course maps look a little different now, and will link back to slightly different looking data.  It’s still the same stuff, just formatted differently.)

Race Course
Geek Day 5K
Geek Day 5K

Race #32 – Ferguson Twilight 5K

Ferguson.  What comes to mind when you hear that word?

There’s no doubt that there are as many views about what’s taken place there over the last nine months as there are people.  And with all those varying views, it seems there’s a constant flow of rumors of planned unrest, both peaceful and not-so-peaceful.

It’s against that backdrop that this race hit my radar.  I’d been thinking about this race, but frankly, was very concerned about the atmosphere there.  That wasn’t helped much by rumors of a “Ferguson Spring” event that was targeting this weekend.  Even the race organizers addressed this rumor on their website.  They also talked about their commitment to a safe, fun race.

That didn’t stop me from checking social media and other spots on the web as Becky drove us to Ferguson.  I was willing to bail on the event if it looked like there would be danger afoot.  I just simply wouldn’t put us in a dangerous situation for a medal.

We parked, and caught the shuttles from the parking to the race event.  And already I was getting more comfortable with my decision to run this race.  There were people of all ages, capabilities, and races in the bus with us.  It was really a melting pot.

The Plaza at 501
The Plaza at 501

The race site was amazing.  There was plenty of food and people everywhere!  I picked up my shirt and bib, and we headed to the party.  The center of the event was a place called The Plaza at 501.  It was a neat little community area, with plenty of space and a nice pavilion.  Normally, I’d feel a little weird about leaving Darla behind as I raced, but entertainment was everywhere — jugglers, live band, and a drum circle that invited anyone to join in.

My time to race came, and I kissed Darla, heading to the starting corrals.  This race was capped at 2500 runners, and I’m not sure they had that many there, but there was a huge crowd nonetheless.  The horn sounded, and we began moving slowly toward the actual start line.  Of course, once we hit the line, folks took off.

I ran for the first two songs (as measured by the music on my iPhone!), and began to walk.  I discovered that this was a very, very hot and humid day, and that was sucking the life out of me.  I walked the rest of course.

And in retrospect, I was cool with that.  I made it a point to pet every big dog I encountered.  I danced like a kid in the spray from an open fire hydrant.  I enjoyed this race!

For the last three years, this race has been voted “Best Community Support”, and I see why.  Throughout the whole course, there were neighbors sitting on the sidewalk and on their stoops, cheering on the runners.  There were signs of encouragement everywhere along the course.  Along the course was a rock band, and a little while later part of a marching band from one of the schools.  The community was really into this race, and made it a joy to do, despite the heat.

Almost Finished
Almost Finished

Because I was walking, I got to see an awful lot of the area.  I’ve never been to Ferguson before, and at my slow pace I was able to take it all in.  There were some beautiful older homes hidden in the neighborhoods, and some that were obviously not as big.  As I wound up and the down the hills (and the hills were ugly in the heat!), the neighborhood got behind me, and I came into the business district.

That’s where it got very surreal for me.

I was suddenly aware that I was passing the Ferguson City Hall, and eventually the police headquarters.  I walked past shop windows, still boarded up from the unrest.  I saw murals painted on the wood panels, advocating peace.  It was tremendously moving to see this area first hand, and realize just how much things had calmed since August.  It was emotional to be there.

Finished!
Finished!

And with all that, I still felt very comfortable on the course.  There was a ton of very visible security on the course — folks at the street closures, volunteers on bicycles among the racers, and loads of uniformed first responders at the Plaza.  It was obvious that there was a tremendous desire by the folks in Ferguson to have a safe, fun event.  I think they succeeded.

While I’d vote for cooler weather, this was easily one of the most enjoyable races I’ve participated in over the last three years.  I do believe that I’ll add Ferguson to my list of races I’ll run yearly.  It was that good.

Race Course

Race #31 – Dark Helmut 5K

Last year, I did one virtual race, and frankly, I wasn’t a fan.

I’ve come to discover that I like having other folks around me while I’m running, and I do a little better with a structured race.  However, the virtual races are growing on me.  Let’s face it, aside from the finish line, both formal and virtual races end about the same for me… finishing by myself.  And that’s ok.

Last Tuesday, I tackled the Dark Helmut 5K.  Much like a regular race, I’m finding that course selection is key.  For this race, I chose a course that I’d run once.  It has a great downhill in the first half, but that same hill becomes an awful adversary on the return trip.  And it’s that hill that has kicked my butt both times I’ve done this course.

But I finished, and I knew I had to.

This race was a fundraiser for another runner, Calla Hess, and was managed by the folks at MoonJoggers.  I’ve never met Calla, but I was happy to run this race to benefit her.  You can read her story here.  With the Spaceballs-themed medal, I was even more excited to do this one.  However, it sold out quickly, and I’d missed my chance to run it.  A couple of weeks ago, the MoonJoggers folks said they were opening a second round for it, and I pounced on it.

I posted on their Facebook site, thanking them for bringing it back.  I expected to hear from the MoonJoggers folks, but I was floored to get a response from Calla herself!

Many of the races I run have some kind of charity or organization that benefits from the proceeds of the race.  This is the first time I’d ever heard directly from someone benefitting from my activity, and it was a wonderful feeling.

That’s really the fortune cookie in this run for me.  Sometimes, it’s really not about how hard my race was.  Sometimes it’s about how hard someone else’s race is, and being able to help.

May the Schwartz be with you!

Race Course

Race #28 – Boots and Badges 5K

When I’d originally lined up my “six races in six weeks,” this race wasn’t even on my radar.  Somewhere, I heard about it, and thought long and hard about whether I wanted to do a back-to-back on this final weekend of racing for me.  Would I have enough fuel in the tank?  Would my legs hold out?

Today, I found the answer to those questions and others.

First things first… Why does the shirt and medal say “2014”?  Delorean with a flux capacitor?  Time capsule?  Nah, nothing quite that dramatic.

This race was originally slated to be run last fall.  But when the Grand Jury decision came down for the Ferguson events, the race committee didn’t feel that it made sense to pull resources from the crisis in North County just to provide safety for a race.  After looking for a date, they landed on today, and just used the shirts and medals they had in hand from last fall.

I’ve mentioned this before — I’m not a big fan of running downtown.  The roads that the courses travel are pretty rough with uneven pavements, patches and potholes, and typically it takes a lot of extra time to travel back and forth from the race site.

Typically, I’d just drive to the MetroLink station in Brentwood, and take the train downtown.  That means an early start, but I don’t have to worry about driving or parking downtown.  However, just a couple of days ago, there was a brutal beating of a MetroLink passenger on the train by a gang of thugs.  I know the odds are way, way against me having to deal with that, but I also knew that if I drove downtown, I’d avoid it altogether.

See, there were only about 500 folks registered for this race.  For the big downtown races, the train cars are full of runners, and with that “safety in numbers” going for me, riding the train isn’t that big a deal.  But with a really small race, I know the trains would be pretty empty.

Headquarters
Headquarters

As it ends up, I found “rock star” parking, just about three parking spaces from the race start/finish line.  Excellent!

The home base for the race was the downtown Hooters, and even at 6:30am, they had it open, serving coffee and water.  No chicken wings, however.  🙁  But, it was warm inside, had plenty of seating, and even featured real bathrooms instead of porta-potties.  That was nice!

Color Guard
Color Guard

And with this race benefitting Backstoppers, it only made sense that there would be a color guard from the police.  I love that most races begin with the National Anthem, and spinning up a few flags just adds to the experience!

And that warmth was well-needed.  It was cold… really cold.  I think the temp was around 30, but the buildings kept the sun off much of the course, and were great for channeling the wind down the streets.  It was probably the coldest race I’ve run this year.  Now, when we got to the long straightaway where the turnaround was, the sun was blazing down, and it was a nice warmup mid-race.

Speaking of that straightaway, once again, this race had a single water table that served water to both sides, just like the Undy.  In this race, that was about 2.5km into the race on the outbound side, and about 3.25 km into the race on the return side.  Before yesterday, I’d never seen that configuration, and I really, really like it.

I knew I was near the back, and on the straightaway, I saw how close I was to the back.  From the return side, I could see the tail end of the runners, with a support truck following along to keep them safe.  As the recent GoDaddy commercial says, every train needs a caboose, and that was me!

Things we going well… and then it happened.  The real world intruded into my race.  About 3.5km into the race, my phone went off, alerting me to a power outage at one of our facilities.  Ugh.  So I slowed, trying to manage dialing into a bridge call, keeping my team updated on what I was hearing, and trying not to fall in a pothole or walk into a light pole.  As it ends up, they didn’t need me on the call, so I dropped, but I was slowed across about ten-fifteen minutes of my race.

After a few more turns, I came to the finish line, and found that I finished three seconds faster than yesterday.  Woot!  The last time I did a back-to-back weekend (last year’s Rock and Roll Remix), I had a ten minute difference between the races.  Having consistent results this go around is a really pleasant surprise.

So, the last race of these six weekends of races is complete.  I have some reflections on these races, but I’ll save that for another day!

Race Course:
Boots and Badges 5K
Boots and Badges 5K

Race #27 – Undy Run/Walk 5K

Three years ago this weekend, I ran my first race — the 2012 Undy 5000.  I did this as a symbol of fighting back from only three months earlier having fought colon cancer… and won.

Three years downstream, and twenty-six races later, I returned to the Undy this morning, running my fourth race in this series.  The Undy is special to me, as it benefits the Colon Cancer Alliance, whose sole focus is to aid patients, survivors, caregivers and anyone affected by colon cancer.  Of all the races I run, this is the only “fundraising” race in which I participate.  That’s how important this is to me.

Me and Louie
Me and Louie

The weather was cold, and I knew it would be.  However, the sun peeked out from the clouds, and helped bring a little warmth to the park.  But, I was still glad to have all the cold-weather running gear I’d been investing in this winter.

In the opening remarks, the MC indicated that there were 2000 folks registered, with about $150,000 raised.  If you’re reading this, you may have helped either support me, or donated your money.  Either way, I thank you for that.  It was also announced that St. Louis is the biggest Undy event for CCA.  I’m a little surprised at that, as this is run in eighteen cities, some of which are much larger than Da Lou:  Denver, Atlanta, Philly…  We were the largest Komen race for a while, so maybe we just like to run and fundraise out here!

The course, while still at Forest Park, was different this year due to some parking lot construction at the site of the Muny.  Because of that change, the course was much flatter this year, and much easier to deal with.  With the new path through Forest Park, terrific traffic control, and a well placed water stop that you could pass twice, this was an ideal course.

On the Road Again
On the Road Again

I did have a surprise about a kilometer into the race.  There was some crazy redhead yelling at me from the sidelines, and I went over to her.  A hug, a kiss, and I was on my way.  I’ve never had that happen during a race!  She looked an awful lot like Darla, but that could’ve just been the sun in my eyes.  🙂

And as I approached the finish line, Darla was waiting for me, cheering me on.  There’s no better sight than that.

I got my post-race snacks, and waited for the closing ceremonies.  We all listened to a survivor and her story, and then the cool thing about this event took place.

All 71 colon cancer survivors and patients were invited to the front to receive a medal honoring their fight.  This is an amazing feeling, having almost two thousand people cheering their support for your fight.

And that’s what this race is about — supporting everyone who’s been impacted by this terrible disease.  I was supported during my battle; why wouldn’t I return the favor?

(Tomorrow is Race #28, and the last of this series of races for me until later in the Spring.)

Race Course:
Undy Run/Walk
Undy Run/Walk

Race #26 – MoDOT Work Zone 5K

The first full day of Spring found me hitting the pavement again, in my fifth race in as many weeks.

I’d heard about the MoDOT Work Zone 5K last year, but for some reason, I never signed up for it.  But I remembered the race, and added it to my “Conquer St. Louis By Foot” tour.

Selfie with Cone Man
Selfie with Cone Man

I picked up my race shirt and bib yesterday.  I really wish more races would do race-specific bibs for their races.  This one, like an awful lot of races I’ve run over the last few years, had a generic Fleet Feet bib. Nothing against Fleet Feet, but a race-specific bib would mean a lot more.

And then there was the shirt.

This race was to promote work zone safety.  I don’t know what I should’ve expected, but the shirt is bright enough that it can be seen from space.  I’m sure someone on the International Space Station gazed down upon St. Louis this morning, and wondered why all those extraordinarily bright yellow traffic cones were all moving around.

One of the problems with running 5K’s around St. Louis — when I can find ones that have medals — is that there’s a few venues that get used all the time.  Forest Park.  Downtown.  Old town St. Charles.  I’ve run ’em all.  A lot.

This race was held on roads I’d never run upon, which was awesome. It paralleled I-64 on the northside, crossed over the interstate, and then paralleled the interstate again on the south.  I liked that!  From anywhere on the course, you could see the whole course.  I really like seeing the water stops, the halfway point and the end of race as I’m moving along the road.  For this, MoDOT scores with this race course!

However, there were hills.

This Is Far Too Much Credit!
This Is Far Too Much Credit!

Have you driven through Missouri recently?  It ain’t exactly flat, and while rolling hills are cool in my Jeep, they’re a pain when I’m running up them.  The first kilometer was an awesome, fast downhill run.  But when you go downhill, and have to return to the start line, it’s a fact that you will go uphill at some point.

And so we did.

I started getting close to the finish, and I’d already relegated myself to a “goldilocks” race time — not too slow, not too fast, just right.  I turned the corner, saw the clock at the finish line, and couldn’t believe the time.  It was much lower than I was expecting.  Huh?  I looked at my watch (and yeah, there was that whole deal again with chip time and gun time, but you’ve read that before) and realized that the course was short by about a tenth of a mile.  That’s not a huge thing, but it definitely made me feel good coming across the finish.

Normally, I don’t hang out for the awards.  I already have the only awards I’m gonna get — a race shirt, a finisher’s medal, a bottle of water, and a snack of some kind — and I know I’m not getting an age group award.  However, the dude that won my age group did the course in less than half my time.  That is stunnnnning.  Somehow, I’ve gotta find some speed!

So today was another good race, with good weather, a good course, and another medal on the medal tree.  Next week, it’s back-to-back races to close out my winter-into-spring racing until sometime in May.

Race Course:

MoDOT Work Zone 5K