In the immortal words of Randy Jackson, “You know I’m a fan, but it was just all right for me Dog.” Sad to say that compared to last year’s Home Run Trot, which was one of my favorite races of the whole year, this one seemed a little pitchy (no pun intended). As we drove up to the stadium about 40 minutes before the start of the race, the first thing I noticed was that there was only a fraction of the crowd in attendance compared to last year. We soon found out that this year they decided to have the Girls on the Run race after the 5k. That was disappointing because, although they weren’t counted in with the regular runners, last year the hundreds of girls ran along with the other runners in the 5k and with all of their friends and families in attendance the crowd support was great. This year, not so much. Last year as I entered the stadium and ran down the third base line I received an ovation that sounded like I just hit a grand slam. This year, it was more like a sacrifice bunt. Okay, so the friends and families of the Girls on the Run really didn’t come to see me anyway, but all the same it’s good to at least have the perception that something grand is happening as you head towards home plate.
Not being quite as ambitious or driven as I was a year ago, I chose to run only one race this weekend so I bypassed Charlotte’s Twilight 5k on Friday night in order to get a good night’s sleep and have fresh legs so I’d be ready to run Saturday morning. All of the races, large or small, have a certain charm and this one does too, even on an off year. The Crawdads stadium is one of the nicest in the minor leagues and it’s always a great place to end the race. One of the highlights for me this year was my friend Michele Hoheiser winning First Place Overall Female, for which she received a huge trophy and the privilege to throw out the first pitch at tonight’s Crawdads baseball team (along with the men’s race winner Bill Johncock) and sit in the fanciest seats in the stadium. Michele’s a little bottle rocket from Long Island who talks almost as fast as she runs and is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.
As for the race, I had forgotten how hilly it was. As with most of the roads in Hickory, you’re usually going up or down — not a lot of flat land. The hills weren’t huge but just enough to keep slowing me down (funny how that works).
After the awards ceremony we headed for our cars as the parking lot filled to the brim with tweens and their friends and families. In an hour or two they’d all be cheered on as they crossed home plate. I nudged Michele and John (he’s Michele’s husband) and pointed to the crowd of about 700 teenyboppers lining up to run in their brightly colored T-shirts. I thought it was fun last year when we all ran together, and besides, I can outrun the majority of 10-year-old girls.
I was happy to finish 5th overall but I have to admit that I don’t seem to be getting any faster lately, which is a little disappointing. My time was 21:29, which I suppose isn’t so bad for a 58-year-old codger but it’s in the general vicinity of where I’ve been stuck. I thought seriously about it after the race as I sat in Hardee’s and polished off a smoked sausage biscuit, hash browns, and two blueberry biscuits, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of a single reason I’m not continuing to improve.
4 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.) 4 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) 5 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10) 5 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10) 7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No) 0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No) 4 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No) 7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No) 7 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 9 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 7 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups) 5 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided) 5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities 0-10 Other