Saturday, April 27, 2013

Linda's Earth Day 5K Race Report

Snow pellets caught in spider web.
Submitted by Linda Iroff @LindaofNote

Boy I sure know how to pick ‘em—the days for 5Ks that is! If anything, the weather was even colder for the Oberlin Earth Day 5K on April 20 than it was for the Run for the Red the previous Saturday. In fact, two hours before the race started there was a bout of snow flurries and snow pellets!

By race time, it looked like the sun was going to come out, but the wind blew a fresh set of dark clouds overhead, making it a darned chilly run. Still, I had home-court advantage: the race started at Tappan Square, a 13 acre park in the center of town with an approximately 1 km circumference, and my favorite place for training. The course itself wound through a quiet residential neighborhood, a nice easy trip with no hills.

Click for supersize panoramic view!

The field was tiny, only about 90 runners. There’d been a 5K walk earlier in the morning, so most of the people in this race were actual runners, not walkers (with occasional bouts of jogging) like me. So I took it as a challenge just to not get too far behind. But behind I was, dead last after a few hundred yards! I kept my eye on the elderly gentleman ahead of me, but try as I might, he stubbornly remained 50-100 yards ahead for most of the race.

I finally caught up with him at around 2.5 miles, and we started talking. Matt was surprised to see me; he'd thought he was last in the pack. He often is in these races now, he told me, but it's an ego boost to be the oldest runner. Matt is 85 years old, and started running marathons when he was 50! His last one was the Boston Marathon in 2008. I showed him the Boston Runners United to Remember bib that I was wearing (the bombings were just five days earlier), and we discussed the horror of the previous few days, and our relief that the two suspects had been killed or captured the day before.

We ran the last 100 yards or so, and he was going to defer to me and let me finish ahead of him. But I said "we finish together" and we held hands as we crossed the finish line! What an absolute thrill and honor that was! (Oh how I wish there'd been someone with a camera to catch that!!!) And to my further delight, my time was 46:18, more than a minute off my PR the week before!

Athena in her Boston Marathon jacket, and Matt
After the race, Matt introduced me to Athena. She had run in the Boston Marathon that week, finishing at about 4:02. Normally, she would have been well clear of the finish line a few minutes later, but she was waiting for a friend who was still running, and was only a block away from where the first bomb exploded. It was an utter panic, she said. People didn't know what to do, which way to go. She was unhurt, as was her friend who was stopped at mile 24. "But how do you forget something like that?" she asked me. "You don't," I replied. "You just keep running."

We hugged and I confess I got a little teary.

Despite the cold (I didn't feel fully warm until hours later), this was certainly the most rewarding race I've done so far. Not only did I PR, but meeting Matt and Athena was so inspirational to me. It's a day I won't soon forget.

Oh yes, and I was second in my age group, and got the prettiest bling!!

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