My hubby and I traveled three miles to our small local airport last Saturday to run the Wheels and Wings 5K road race. The morning was cool for late June and I donned a long-sleeved T-shirt over my race gear before visiting the registration table.
As we picked up our bibs I heard someone calling my name. I turned to see the president of our running club standing beside the registration table. He told me he was the race director and gave me this sweet Lancaster Road Running Club stretchy bracelet.
It pays to know people.
Bill and I strolled around before the race, checking out the antique cars arriving for the “Wheels” part of the Wheels and Wings festival and did a very brief warm-up, which consisted of running a small loop around the parking lot. You don’t want to wear yourself out before the race, right?
We ambled over to the starting line and I saw a former student of mine wearing a race bib. She and I chatted for a few minutes, catching up on her life since she graduated from high school.
All at once, I felt someone hugging me from behind. It was a friend of mine (who is a great hugger). She was running her very first race along with her father, who was acting as her coach.
The race director counted down from three and we were off. My race plan was to maintain the comfortably hard pace I have been using for my spring races.
We ran out the drive connecting the terminal with Airport Road and turned left on Airport Road, where a volunteer stopped traffic to allow racers to cross.
Roads were open to traffic in this race, which I typically do not like, but it was not too much of an issue on these lightly traveled roads. We ran up a slight incline as we continued on Airport Road, but overall, the race course was fairly flat.
After turning off Airport Road, we ran a short distance, then entered a neighborhood where we ran a loop around a big block. As we ran in the neighborhood, at approximately the halfway point of the race, I passed my former student but didn’t think too much about it at the time.
We exited the neighborhood and retraced our steps, heading back toward the airport. At mile two, right on cue, I saw Bill off my left shoulder. After running the first two-thirds of the race ahead of him, he was surging and I was fading. I stopped for a few short walk breaks.
I entered the terminal drive and headed for the finish line feeling tired, but good. Bill finished in 25:53 and I crossed the line in 26:20. We caught our breath, drank a little bit of water, and cheered as our friend and her father crossed the finish line in just over 33 minutes.
As we were waiting for the awards ceremony to begin, my former student approached me. She told me she had been trying to catch me for the final mile and a half of the race, but couldn’t do it. She asked me how old I am and we determined that I am exactly 30 years older than she. After telling me she always enjoyed my class, she asked if she could give me a hug and of course, I agreed.
I won my age group and got a very nice medal with a Boston Marathon-colored ribbon. It was the perfect way to end the race.
There were lots of positives about this race: easy logistics, inexpensive registration fees, short travel time (for us), fairly flat course, and good organization. The few areas where improvement is possible are the race shirt (very thin material), the post-race food (bananas and water), and closing the course to traffic. These few items are not enough to prevent me from running the race again next year. I definitely would.