It's been a year or two since I've run what I consider a good 5k. So when the opportunity presented itself this weekend to run two of them, I thought I'd give it a go. Of course that sounds easy in theory, more difficult in the real world where I live with kids and other responsibilities and the like.
Fortunately the kid's saturday soccer and other activities finished in the morning, allowing for a trip out to Balmoral Park in Crete for the annual Runnin' with the Horses 5k that afternoon. I ran this race a couple years ago, and had a wonderful time, and especially enjoyed the opportunity to run on the race track with harness race horses warming up alongside!
Going into the weekend, I figured I was good for one quality race, and one that I would just use as a workout. And I wasn't sure which race I would try to run hard. But as I drove to the race Saturday, I realized it was a nice day, and despite my sluggish feeling, and annoying injury problems, I was just going to have to go for it the first chance I got.
Runnin' with the Horses is a relatively small, but high quality race. I think if it was at Arlington Park, it would draw more heavily from the Chicago running community and would be substantially larger. But I like it the way it is. It features a lap around the exterior of the track followed by a lap on the race track to the finish line in front of the grandstands. And best of all, there is a great post-race party with a live band and a beer tasting with several micro-brews.
The organizers invited members of the Chicago media team including Dina Bair, Christine Garcia and Tom Ahern, and made a nice donation in our name to breast cancer research.
I went out in 6:35 for the first mile, and confirmed to myself that I was going for a good race, hoping to break 20 minutes. I vowed to try to keep that pace for the rest of the race. Unfortunately, it the gusty winds didn't cooperate. I fell off the pace a little. I managed a 20:14, but felt like it was about all I had, so it was a good effort, and it got me 2nd place in my age group. Tom Ahern won his age group, while Dina and Christine just missed medals. So it was a good showing from the newsies!
And the kids had a good time, thanks to our friend Deb Rowland, who came to watch her husband run, and share some of her great artistic skills with the kids. I encouraged the
kids to come to see Deb and the horses, but it was sure nice to see them cheering us on during the 5k!
After the race, I spoke with my good friend, who happens to be my high school coach, and he encouraged me to try to run the 5k the next morning hard also. He suggested I would be loose already, and might even get the sub 20 minute race I was looking for.
I thought about it, and figured I had nothing to lose, so I might as well. The race Sunday morning allowed a night's sleep to recover, and a really fast course in Roselle. The Run for the Roses is also a CARA circuit race, which draws some really fast competition. I would not be getting a medal in my age group at this race!
But I was determined to go out strong and see where it got me. It was a beautiful morning, with cooler temperatures and little wind. The course seems to have quite a bit of downhill running, but defies logic because I didn't really notice much uphill running! In other words, it's fast.
Somehow though, I missed the first mile marker, so I didn't really have a good idea of my pace until I hit the second mile marker. That was 13:38 or so, a little behind the pace I needed to break 20. But I kept pushing, and found myself running right with Bob Richards, a friend and author of the http://www.chicagoruntimes.blogspot.com/
We pushed to the finish, but I was nearly a minute slower than the evening before. These old legs just don't recover as quickly as they used to. That's going to make next weekend's Ragnar Relay (12 person team, 200 miles, from Madison to Chicago) a challenge. But it was a great couple of races regardless.
When I spoke to Rick after the Roselle race, he admitted he thought it would be pretty tough to come back with a strong race so soon after a good effort the night before. But he said he didn't want to tell me that! I was glad he didn't because at least I ended up with a couple good efforts.
And more importantly, the kids had a great time. The Run for the Roses is one of the few events I've run that offers child care. And while this isn't Deb enthralling the kids with activities, it was pretty good. They had clowns doing face painting and making balloon animals. When I went to pick the kids up, they didn't want to leave! But at that point Daddy was wiped, and breakfast sounded really good!
Now, I'm ready for a couple easy days before gearing up for the Relay next weekend. See you on the roads.......