"Mother Road Run" Race Report 
Thursday, June 10, 2010, 08:03 AM
Posted by Administrator
When I realized that our cross-country trek would fall over Memorial Day weekend, I decided to hunt for some races. It would be a great way to squeeze in some exercise while on the road and it's always fun to experience racing in a new place. What I found was the "Mother Road Run" Route 66 5K in Springfield, Missouri.

We pulled into Springfield the evening before and had enough time before bed to taste a local favorite, frozen custard. The best part was the free sample cones for the dogs. Rex and Molly wolfed theirs down while Mielo politely licked his.

We gathered the next morning with 124 other racers for the 8am start. It was a pretty casual group and I was surprised to find that they had chip timing for an event this small. However, they didn't capture your chip time at the start, rather only at the finish.

While the course was flat, it lacked much personality. It wound through some generic-looking neighborhoods and there was absolutely no indication that we were in "the birthplace of Route 66" as touted on the race literature. I was looking forward to diners, old-time motels and other Mother Road kitsch, but it really could have passed for any American neighborhood.

After about 3/4 of a mile, I got behind two women who were keeping a good pace and decided to try to stick with them. It wasn't long before one dropped back and I was running shoulder-to-shoulder with the other one. We ran silently, side-by-side, until she pulled slightly ahead at the 2-mile marker. I tucked in behind her and just focused on her back.

I started this race without a good idea of how I'd do, especially after spending most of the past three days sitting in a car. My PR to date was 28:39 and, after running the first two miles at just under a 9-minute pace, I realized that I could beat it if I kept pushing it. My legs felt great, but my breathing was ragged.

When I caught sight of the building at which we started, I knew we were close to the finish and so I took advantage of a very slight downhill to pick it up and pass my running mate. However, and I hate when this happens, the course took an unexpected turn. Hoping to see the finish line, I saw the 3-mile marker up ahead instead. One-tenth of a mile is not much, except when it's at the end of a race, you're trying to PR and you started your finishing sprint a little too early.

My running mate passed me for the final time, but I was thrilled to see that the time on the clock started with "27." I pushed as hard as I could to make sure it didn't change to "28" before I crossed the line and I made it with 4 seconds to spare. There's no triumphant finish line photo as Paul hadn't been expecting me for another minute or two. I love it when I can surprise him like that!

I grabbed some water and a bagel and then discovered two differences between desert and non-desert races:

1. Grass. I plopped myself down on a thick, soft carpet of green grass. In Tucson, you typically rest your tired body on a curb, rock or, if you're lucky, some hard, crunchy, brownish grass.

2. Sweat. I'm accustomed to a little sweat and lots of caked salt. At this race, I sweated buckets out of every pore on my body. I made a mental note to wear a cap for future runs as the sweat had washed the sunscreen I had put on my forehead into my eyes.

I placed 5th out of 15 in my age group, which is an unusually high ranking for me. We hung around for the awards ceremony as Paul had placed third in his age group (and 15th overall) with a time of 20:28.

As the runners gathered, the race director explained that he had forgotten to pick up the plaques for the award winners, and so each winner should just take a bow when their name was called. He assured us that the awards are very cool Route 66 plaques and that they'd be happy to mail them to the out-of-towners.

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