Yesterday, I made the 3.5 hour drive to Decatur IL to participate in John Bingham's "Penguin in the Park 5K" race for the second year in a row. I had planned on running it with my son, but since he broke his wrist, he was restricted from running. So I went down on my own.
One of the reasons I chose to run this race is because my daughter Laura is a student at Millikin University which is located in Decatur. So going down to run the race gives me a chance to hang out with her as well. So after picking up the race packets and arriving at the hotel on Friday afternoon, she and I (and her friend Basia) went to Red Lobster for a very nice dinner Then I tried to get some sleep but was wide awake until 12:30am. Don't know what was going on there.
On Saturday, the day began at 6am with a wake-up call from the hotel. I had laid everything out the night before so I took my time getting ready. Then I went downstairs to eat my pre-race breakfast. By 7:45am, I was on my way to pick up Laura who was coming to see me run.
We got to the parking lot near race start, where we immediately found our WISH friends (the Welchs, Ryans, Myratos, and Lily Szalay)! It was great seeing them again, and introducing them to Laura. Before I knew it, it was time to find the start of the race. There were definitely more people running this year than last (619 in 2012 and 760 this year)!
Patrick Myrato and I started closer to the front of the crowd so we could kick it off at a faster pace. I was hoping to finish in sub-30 minutes so starting off at a good pace would be key. When the horn sounded, we started out at a 9:15/mm pace. For the first mile, we ranged from 8:30-9:30/mm pace which was great.
The first thing we noticed was that the course was different from last year's race, and a big difference was the number of hills on the course. With the exception of one rather steep hill, I was able to run the hills which made me feel pretty good that I could do that. I really tried to maintain a steady pace between 9:30-10:00/mm. If I could keep a 9:40 pace, I would meet my finish time goal.
So I kept pushing. But at about Mile 2.5, I had to take a short walk break because my heart rate had been in Zone 4 for most of the race, and I was starting to feel the effort. As I got closer to the finish, I picked up the pace. The last 1/2 mile was run between 7:25-8:50/mm! I really wanted that sub-30 minute time. I don't think I have ever really run that fast for that long a distance before. Imagine what I will be able to do when I start doing speed work again!
Unfortunately, I finished in 30:21 -- 21 seconds from my goal! Wow! At first, I was disappointed with myself for not pushing just a little harder to make my goal. But then I thought about the new course, and all the hills, and that made me feel a lot better about my performance. Running a 5K at an overall 9:47/mm pace with all those hills was an achievement for me. So I felt really pleased with everything.
And, Laura was there to cheer me through the finish line! That was awesome! After getting my Finisher's Medal, she and I waited at the finish chute for all the WISHers who were finishing as well. I also saw my friend TIffany who finished 4th in her age group and was the 15th female overall. I love the Finish Line because everyone who crosses that line has the biggest smile on their face!
After the race, we went to the Griswold Gym on the Millikin campus for the post-race party/breakfast. Laura told me where to park and we found primo parking for all of us! And the food? Yummy! We ate well, checked our finish times, and celebrated! The race was a lot of fun, and hanging with my buddies made it even better!
After we all ate, it was time to say our goodbyes to our friends. Then Laura and I went across the street to visit the student bookstore so we could pick up a few things. I got a cool DryFit Millikin polo shirt!
Then we went back to the hotel so I could shower and check out. Then we went to see the movie "Olympus Has Fallen". Excellent action movie! We both liked it! Then I took my daughter food shopping for her apartment. Then I made the long drive back home.
It was a great weekend! Another race in the books! And more bling for my medal display at home. The only thing that could've made today better would have been Ryan running with me. But hey, maybe that will happen next year!