I had a 20 mile long run on my schedule this week, so my coach suggested I run the Ron Daws 25K race. I didn't know anything about Ron Daws before today. He was a marathoner from this area in the 60's and 70's. He ran on the Olympic marathon team and was inspirational to a lot of runners in Minnesota. The course today covered some the training routes he ran and there were some testimonials before the race about his impact on others and the sport.
I had to get in an extra 5 miles to get the full 20, so I went to a nearby trail early and got them in before the race. I knew there would be no way I would have the energy to do it after. I got to the race and changed into some dry clothes: my marathon outfit contender. Jenny and Guy met me there. Here is a picture of Jenny and I before the start:
It was pretty chilly at the start, maybe low 30's, then warmed up for a little bit when the sun peaked out. It was cool again later when it clouded up, so I'm glad I wore something long sleeved over my UA tank. Another reason I was thankful I had my long sleeve top: the tank chaffed my underarm so badly in the 4 miles that I had the long sleeve off that it is still hurts. Ouch! I didn't put on any Body Glide, so I guess I was asking for trouble. All in all, though, I was happy with my clothing choice. I think some Body Glide will remedy the situation. Outfit approved!
This race was unlike any other race I have been in. For starters, the entry fee was only $4. There was no race t-shirt, only 3 water stops with just water, and I counted only 3 people cheering along the route. What it did have though, made up for what it was missing. The caliber of athletes there was truly astonishing. I ran an average pace of 10:13 per mile, and I seriously think I only beat 5 or 6 people. It wasn't only the athletic prowess of the participants, but also their attitude that impressed me. I've been at races that are an out and backs and, usually, all of us people in the back cheer on the leaders as they pass us. Today, when the leaders passed me, most of them had something encouraging to say. I was really touched by that.
I also really enjoyed the course today. It had a little bit of everything. Some of it was roads through subdivisions, some was a flat rails-to-trails path, some was a gently hilly path with the feel of a trail run, and some was a paved path in a park. There were some really big hills, but it was always interesting and that helped the time pass.
There were also some great people in the back of the pack. For a couple miles, I couldn't see anyone in front of me or hear anyone behind me. I really thought I might be in last place. I was okay with that since I was running according to my plan, but I was getting a little lonely. Then, on a really big hill, I ended up walking about 25 yards. About 5 people passed me. I'm usually not excited about being passed, but today it made me happy. The 5 of us encouraged each other and keeping them in my sights kept me going. Jenny ran back for me at the end which made finishing a lot more fun.
All in all, I was really happy with my miles today. I ran 5.2 miles before the race and the race ended up being 15.6 miles. My average pace for both runs together was 10:11 which I thought was about right for me. The difficulty of the hills during the race kind of made up for the little break between the runs. When I ran the Bear Water 20 miler before the TC Marathon, I ran all out and was just completely dead at the end. It kind of threw me psychologically because I knew the marathon would be even tougher. Today, I ran slower than I did at that race (10:11 vs. 9:41 for the Bear Water Run), but I felt like I was pushing myself plenty. I felt like I could have run at least a couple more miles. Honestly, I'm happier running a little slower and smiling at the end instead of going a little faster and wanting to curl up in a ball and cry for the last two miles. I think I'm finally learning that smiling is good. I hope I remember that on Marathon Day!