Saturday, June 17, 2006
Flora Hog Jog: Race Report
ORN: 6.2 miles, 52:33
Summary: A pleasant little race in a small Indiana farm town. And a much better result than I expected.
The Report: This little race has been around for 27 years now. Flora is in Carroll County, just north of here and one of the top 10 counties in the United States in hog production. It is flat, farm country with lots of corn and lots of family farms. I haven’t run this race for about 12 years, so it was good to be back again. And little has changed in 12 years…kind of like the little town of Flora in which we ran.
I ran this race with my long-time friend Jess. He’s been running for 7-8 years but has never run a race…until today. I invited him to join me and he seemed glad he did.
After my run yesterday, when I pretty well bonked, needing to walk just to get home after a mere 3.5 miles, I was quite pessimistic about how this race would go. My right quad hurt, I umpired home plate of a long baseball game the night before, it was hot and I truly wondered if I could even run the entire distance.
Despite some registration disorganization, the gun went off about 8:20am and we began our tour of Flora (population 2,000) and Carroll County (hog population of easily 100,000). Mile one was a bit of a mystery, trying to find some groove. I felt good but doubted if it was real. I was surprised to hit the first marker at 8:38. Mile 2 kept us winding through Flora, where we ran on Easy Street. Seriously. We made a turn in town and the street sign said, clearly, “Easy Street.” I commented on this to a fellow runner who dryly observed “Yeah, and we’re only on it for one block and then move on.” Kind of like life; any time on Easy Street seems incredibly short. Still, there were a bunch of houses there with a really cool address. Mile two went by in another 8 38.
Mile three took us out in the country. We did a long straight run on a county road, bordered only by corn and soybean fields. Straight into the wind, I slowed to 8:47. Still, my pace and feel for the race was a mystery. We finally turned and went by a large hog operation, upwind of the course. The “aroma” on a day heading for temps in the mid 90s was pungent. It reminded me of growing up on a cattle farm in Nebraska…were it not for such smells, I’d never have been able to go to college. I smiled, hit mile four at the same pace, 8:48, and turned to head back towards Flora.
About this time, I finally seemed to get into a groove. I felt more comfortable and begin to run in a more relaxed manner. I had been trailing Jess the whole race, and suddenly found myself catching him. We chatted a bit and then I kept moving. I found a nice flat portion of the road, dropped my shoulders and just let the running flow. I did mile five in 8:14.
I started picking out people ahead of me, gaining on them and passing them. Made for a fun mind game. One lady had quite a decorated left arm; I set sights on Ms. Tattoo and passed her just past mile five. I then spotted about three guys with really cool running shirts, the type that go for $40 or so. Could my $8.95 technical shirt from Campmor really be good enough to pass them?? Amazingly, it was. As we wound around back in town, I did mile 6 in 7:55. I finally felt good. And only two tenths to go, which took me another 1:30. Done, in 52:33. Not a PR, but only 14 seconds off of it...way better than I had dreamed I would do.
Jess cruised in about a minute later. He was pumped…he had a fun, pain free race and was pleased with the whole experience. We hung around the city park for a while and enjoyed our complimentary Pork Burger, then headed home. The usual Saturday errands awaited.
I learned a couple of useful things today. First, fueling is important. Having bonked on my training run on Friday, I realized I had been truly empty. So, I had a toasted bagel today when I woke up, had a Clif’s Bar an hour before the race and a Gu just before the start. That all seemed to work. Second, I observed a consistent theme…it almost always takes me four miles or so to find a groove. Which probably explains why I avoid 5K races altogether and this is only the third 10K I’ve run in the last two years, during which I’ve run 9 half marathons and a full marathon. The proportion of enjoyable running to mysterious running is simply a lot higher in the longer races. And so, subconsciously, I’ve pushed myself to the longer races.
A fun day. Thanks for listening. And keep persevering.