The Mahomet Half Marathon is a fine, small race in a small town in eastern Illinois. I enjoyed the run through the beautiful farm fields. While I had hoped to break 2 hours, the 80 degree temps plus high humidity hit me at mile 10, so I had to slow over the final 3 miles. It was great to begin the fall running season.
Mahomet, Illinois is about two hours from my house and the date landed perfectly for me as a set up for fall racing. Up at 4:30am, out the door at 5 and, with the help of an hour time change when I crossed into the Central Time Zone, I was registered and parked just after 6am Central. I had time to gently loosen up, stretch well and be ready to go.
The race started exactly as promised at 7:00am (I always appreciate that) and a field of 270 or so headed out. Starting temperatures were in the low 70s, with high humidity. I went out, planning for a sub-2 hour effort, or 9:08 per mile.
The course was surprisingly delightful to me, though perhaps not for all in the field. If you've ever driven across central Illinois, you will recall its main feature is featureless, lush, flat farmland. By mile 2, we had left city limits and spent the rest of the race in a tour of that farmland. Being a Nebraska farm kid myself, I found it wonderful to absorb at running speed. The corn was tall and heavy laden, 3 or 4 filling-out ears on each strong stalk. The soybean fields were a perfect carpet of uniform green, uniform and deeply colored. It's a beautiful thing to see some of the richest farmland on the face of the earth giving food for all of us to enjoy.
A treat around mile 5 was to bump into a spectator wearing a Wheaton Cross Country shirt. "Did you go to Wheaton College?" I asked? Indeed, he had, and he jumped onto the course and ran a half mile or so with me. Our youngest son went to Wheaton and this fellow was just a year behind him. While he didn't know our son, they had common pals, I learned. What a fun moment, out in the corn fields.
I stayed on the sub 2 hour pace through mile 7, then it slipped, bit by bit through mile 10. At that point, I was keenly aware the temps were well over 80 and the full sun on the open country roads were taking their toll. Since the main objective of this race was to set up for a strong marathon in 7 days, I shifted to a 6/1 run walk over the final 3 miles.
It would be cool if race directors gave an award for "The Most Witty and Humorous Comment to Water Stop Volunteers" because, while I was not close to an Age Group award, I do think I would have been a winner for humor. The mile 11 water stop was obviously staffed by the local high school cheerleaders. The matching hair bows, smiles and general bounciness were obvious clues. So, it hit me what to say as I came into the station and made eye contact. Try saying this out loud, using a "cheerleader" tone... hand motions are optional:
"We've got water, yes we do,
We've got water, how 'bout you?"
They looked at me a little funny but one of them allowed it might be a good cheer for a water stop. I dunno...I doubt it will catch on but it gave me a smile the rest of the way in.
The race had a cool finish, onto and almost a full lap around the High School track. I crossed the line, thankful for another race finished.
I placed 129th out of 256 finishers and 6th of 8 in my 60-64 age group. The official results only posted my gun time, 2:04:06, while my chip time was 2:03:48...no biggie, just interesting.
Another fun treat...the Mahomet-Seymour High School mascot name is "Bulldogs"...wonderfully, the same mascot as my high school in Auburn, Nebraska. I noted a line of track hurdles used to mark our entry onto the track and posed with a hurdle. Kind of fun, as my limited high school track career was on the hurdles. The big scar on my left kneecap is a life-long reminder of running (and tripping) on cinder tracks!
The organizers did a nice job of offering showers post race in the High School...that was nice. I drove home, took a nap and was thankful for a good day.
Next Saturday, I'll be running the Wausau Marathon in northern Wisconsin. Stay tuned.
Persevere...no matter the temperature.