It's not a good memory. The only experience I had with the Elgin Fox Trot 10 miler goes back to when I was 16 years old. I was a junior at Streamwood high school, the last time I entered the race. Now in it's 37th year, it was only a couple years old back then. I was a high school track runner whose season had just ended. I figured the ten mile race would be easy and fun.
I was wrong. It was hot, and hilly, and not fun. I remember dropping out of the race at about five miles. It remains the first and one of the only races I've ever dropped out of. And I'm not proud of it.
Despite growing up nearby and having lots of family in Elgin, I never went back. For the last decade, I've run the Soldier Field 10 mile race every year over Memorial Day weekend. But childcare and work responsibilities forced me to break that streak this year. Try as I might to figure out a way to keep the streak alive, it just wasn't going to work.
Elgin, however, was another story. My father lives there, and was happy to help with the kids for a while so I could run the race. While I was dissapointed to miss out on Soldier Field, Elgin offered me the chance to finally redeem myself from the experience of dropping out three decades earlier.
I couldn't have picked a better day for it. The weather was just about perfect. And the field was a good one. CARA added the Fox Trot to it's 'Runner's Choice' series this year. That ensured a competitive field at the front of the pack. It also recognizes race organizers for the quality job they do putting on this event.
And they do a nice job. It's a much different race than I remember from about 1980, but it retains the charm and character of the people from the community. Oh, and the hills. There are a few races in the Chicago area that have some pretty good hills as part of the course. Most of them are pretty well advertised. I'd put Elgin's hills up against most of those other courses. But it's not really something they promote. Bottom line: It's got some pretty tough hills throughout the course.
I found a couple friends at the start and ended up running pretty close to them the whole way. The race felt good, despite the hills! In the back of my mind, thoughts of dropping out of the race so long ago kept cropping up. But this would be different. Dropping out was not a consideration, and I was going to eliminate the bad taste in my mouth from the experience so many years ago..
So redemption was at hand. My only objective was to finish quickly in time to take my daughters to a play that started at 10 am in Oak Brook, about 40 minutes away. I planned to make this a good hard workout, but not a race. For me that meant running about 7:30 pace, so I would finish in 1:15. And that's exactly what I ran.
When it was over, I had just enough time to grab a water, and head to the car to meet my kids and take them to the play. But as we drove away, I had a good feeling. I left the Fox Trot demons behind. I finished the race, and felt good about the result.
See you on the roads.........