4mi. 1800+ registered runners of ALL ages. 900 pies for finishers. Medals to all participants. Long ahead in the future, people will look back and ask how an event this cool was so much to so many people. It is a great race!
John and I arrived just before 6:30am, in time for a good parking spot near the start line. It was cooler out than the previous few days – 46 degrees at the house when we left. John surprised me and dressed in an Indian costume, something he and Andrew Morgan purchased yesterday on the sneak. My capturing of a Newman cross country uniform was my entry in the holiday run silliness. I had heard since October how John was going to beat me at this run, in front of all my friends and all of his team mates. If that was true, he’d have to beat his own best self. In both time and appearance!
Walter met us early in the parking lot, it was cold enough for me to take two cups of coffee from a real estate company handing it out to runners near registration. I wore cheap cotton gloves and a jacket. By parking near the start line, I’d given John and I a place to drop our things right before the run. It was a good plan! I saw plenty of people in the first half hour – Becky Enck, Sam Capparelli, Paul Reback, Lilia and Chris Drew, Chris in a full turkey suit! We talked, stayed warm, and watched the kid’s 100 yard dash run. I didn’t run in the CNHS uniform because the coach had told John at school that it shouldn’t be worn in any race outside of school competition. Respecting that, I agreed to wear it only after the race. I had a singlet and shorts, visor and glasses. I kept the gloves, no harm in making sure my fingers were warm. I ran a short bit with Megan up the first straightaway, feeling really good when I was in the the warm sunlit area, and colder in the shade. Wheelchair racers came first with a 5 minute head start. Then the race down Dover Rd, too skinny for 1800 people in any year.
I started near the front, allowing the usual folks that run once a year to zip ahead and pucker in the first 600 meters. John and his team of guys were right ahead of me, that’s all I recognized in the first mile. Two Indians and a few others scattered near them. Fritz Cushmore pulled up next to me before mile #1 and said, “Mr Masterson, you run slow!” I said I wasn’t conditioned to run short distances, but I do it on holidays. The road bends left and most runners stay in the right lane. I choose to go tangetial in the left lane. Those few steps over four miles add up!
I keep a pace at or close to 6:30 for the first mile, 6:28 for the second. I hear a few chants and cheers of,”Nice costume” as I run through the neighborhood. I tilt my head sideways but not far enough before John makes it known, “Yeah, it’s me.” He runs differenty than me, higher leg turnover and louder steps, so I hear him. We run through the crowd back near the start line and many people recognize us and cheer. I don’t take any water at this stop, I may not need any I think to myself. We turn left on Tequesta Drive, the crowds and cheers thin out. Now we are at mile #2, and it’s Fritz, running in front of us, holding his right side at points. I go by and say, “Hi.” He realizes what’s happening quickly and responds with, “Oh I’m eating my words now.” He drifts back and John is still with me. I see Lilia and Dave Reback as we cross the RR tracks and head north on Old Dixie. It’s a breeze in our face, I think draft but don’t see any candidiates. For a minute, Chris McKnight looks like a possibility, but I keep Lilia’s pace of 6:30 and we pass him. Next is Dave Reback. We see a few younger kids and pass them, too. I don’t notice JOhn’s steps behind me anymore, maybe he has stayed behind the taller runners for drafting I think? I am slightly behind Lilia as we make a left onto County Line Road and cross the tracks again. At 7/11 I run with her, and I see Erica running around the corner. I tell Lilia that if she wants to run up with Erica to stay with me, but she tells me that’s not her competiton and doesn’t follow. Now it’s less than a mile up a straight road with the wind. I chip into the pace set by Erica and two other girls. I don’t realize these are the lead girls, I hear some shouts for Erica and a girl named Emma. I run next to Hamed for a bit, then speed to run near Ian Kulin. It’s an easy stride to the final turn and then to the finish. I keep aware so that I don’t get passed in the fian meters, finishing in 25:38 according to my watch. The race results say 25:40 – good by me.
John is very close behind me, having kept a grat 6:25 pace for 4 miles in a long legged, long seeved costume! Fritz, Erica, Lilia and Chris in the full turkey suit follow in with hundreds of others. The lineup and pie handout is well organized. Now it’s social time in the park and time to snack on muffins and bagels. It’s cool when I’m not in the sun. I get a mini massage and do a few pictures. It’s a wait for the awards, I am 4th in my age group by 3 seconds… and Ian was close, too! A good day of racing, I feel good heading into a season where 5k times can be improved upon and I’ll have John perking at me in most of those events. He is not far from beating me and I am happy. As one co worker told me, it’s a win either way for me. She was right!
The afterparty was really good, some more people than last year, I pulled up my back hatch and played XM Radio and the weather was perfect. This is a special race because it doesn’t happen except for once a year. It’s more about the people than the pies or finish times. It’s a Happy Thanksgiving for anyone who attends and starts their day this way!