Inaugural races are sometimes a bit of a crap-shoot; sometimes they aren't all that well-marked, sometimes there are issues with the course or the prizes or the expectations of the race. Sometimes it's a good idea but not that great of a race. And of course, sometimes the weather is bad. You never know what you'll get at the end of March in Ohio!
I got news of a local inaugural race to benefit the Sts. Peter and Paul school here in Wellston - about a block away from my house. Many of my kids' friends and fellow Cub Scouts go to Sts. Peter and Paul, and I'm glad to support the school. Especially by doing what I like to do: race!
The day before race day came with a terrible weather forecast: 40*, extremely windy, and rainy. 80% chance of rain at the start. But that rain held off (until after noon, actually!) and the start was uneventful. Easy instructions (out and back on a bike path - it doesn't get much easier than that) and thank yous to some really generous sponsors, and we were ready to go.
I kind of felt like a jerk at the start line. After all, this was a race benefiting a local school, and school children (most likely from that school) were up at the start line ready to go. A whole line of kids... and one giant adult, toeing the line. We got the "GO" and off we went.
A couple of the kids went out strong - at about the 1/4 mile mark, I said to the kid next to me, "If you keep this pace up, you will win." He would have, too. We were about a 6:30 pace, and if it had come down to it, if he had kept up with me that long, I would have let him win. Maybe.
After the 1/4 mile mark, the kids trailed off, and I didn't see them again until the turnaround. The wind was with us on the "out" so the "back" was a little tougher, especially with no competition left. The most interesting thing that happened on the race was that I had to pass a (non-racing) runner with his dog - this dog has snapped and snarled at me before. Thankfully this time it didn't.
Did I mention that I run on this course almost every day? I know it really well. I intentionally didn't run the tangents - I felt like because this was an out-and-back course, I should keep to the right. I thought I would run into traffic on the "back" section because not everyone respects the "keep-to-the-right" rule, and because there was a simultaneous 3K walk race going on, but there were no problems. In fact, as I came closer to the finish, I was motivated to catch some of the walkers ahead of me (there's a reason why my final .1 came in at a 5:48 pace). Well, besides the fact that I had a lot left in the tank after cruising the second and third miles. And the fact that I wanted people to see me running fast. Which doesn't give any good reason why my finish photo looks quite this terrible. My time was 20:35, which is a good solid minute slower than my PR - I attribute this to several factors. The first factor is that I haven't been running as regularly or as high mileage as I had been. Going on the cruise earlier in March contributed to it as well - that caused my mileage to slip and caused my waistline to expand (which was the second factor). The third factor was either that I wasn't mentally tough enough to race hard on my own or that I understood that there are days you race for pace and other days you race for place; since I had "place" sewn up, I didn't push the pace.
After the race was done, I ate a giant Amish donut and then ran a cool down lap around the lake (about 1.5 miles). Some of the other runners thought I was showing off. I really wasn't; I just know I need to cool down. After the cool-down, I ate another donut and put my warm-ups back on and waited for the awards. While we waited, the State Park Naturalist showed off his little owl, which was a really cool bonus.
Awards were good - the overall winners got a 6 month membership to the Rio Grande University fitness center. Pretty awesome award, if you ask me. That was beyond the trophies and medals. Age group winners also got medals.
Pictures were from Paul Boggs at the Jackson County Daily.