Just a quick blog entry this time. Yesterday was the Spring Burn 12km road run in Topeka Kansas. Sponsered by The Great Plains Running Company and Saucony. A nasty little 12km run that loops you in, out, up, over and around some of the cities toughest hills. It started at the Matrot castle and run you past the Museum of Natural History. Through some well to do neighborhoods. Up in front of the Governors Mansion then down, up and around The old Menningers Institute. Finishing thankfully downhill for the last half mile in front of the Hollywood Theaters and Red Robin Resturant where we enjoyed a post race pancake feed.
Now I know your all thinking. Where the hell am I going with this? Why would I be writing something about a road race on my blog. Well truth be told. Yesterday was my first road race in about eight years. I know I hate road races as much as any self respecting trail runner does. Believe me when I say this I didn't do it solely because I loved the idea of it. I did it as sort of a challenge that was presented to me by Willie Lambert owner of The Great Plains Running Company.
Last year we started our Rock Creek trail series races out at beautiful Lake Perry Kansas. When the series was started we didn't expect to draw quite the road running crowd we did to the trail scene. We also didn't expect them to do as well as they did. Being able to hang up there with the big guns of the local trail running scene. So about a week ago the challenge was set. Willie told me that I should really do the Spring Burn 12km and show some of the road studs out there that trail runners are still very much runners and that we could still run even if we didn't have obstacles to run over and through. At the time I told him I wasn't sure. I really hadn't felt that great as far as the legs went having run the Freestate 40 miler only the week before. I was also afraid that if I agreed to take his challenge that my legs still wouldn't be ready to run 12km fast enough to be in the hunt.
Thursday I finally threw in my hat and signed up. Making the decision even after having already run nearly 70 miles this week. So there I was at the starting line staring up at a nice sized hill right off the starting line. Willie said this was a road race even a trail runner would love. I told him he was starting it off right by putting the start at the bottom of a hill. As for the rest of the race we'd have to see. Anyway back at the starting line I couldn't hellp but look around and check out what everyone else was doing. Its funny to look back on the thing you used to do and love for a majority of your life and see how ridiculous it all was. Road Runners are a strange bunch of people. I sat there and watched all the contenders/pretenders go through their routines. Stretching, wind sprints, trying to get into each others heads struting around like a bunch of peacocks in heat. It was quite a parade of testosterone complete with pagentry.
Feeling like a fish out of water. I was lucky enough to see a couple of long time local runners Brad and Marla Rhoden at the start. They remembered me from previous meetings so I did a short warm up with them. Brad had just added another 3:10 marathon to his belt finishing the Lincoln Marathon last weekend. He asked how I was and I told him the story. He said I shouldn't worry about anything and that I'd run fast regardless of being rusty on the road.
The race about to get under way now. I could hear people saying. Theres that trail runner. Whats his name again? Wheres he at? stuff like that being chatted up by the other runners behind. I think Willie must have been stoking some competitive fire during packet pickup. Telling him he brought in a trail runner to give them Roadies a fight. At any rate I just shrugged their mumbles off and focused on what I had to do. So with tired legs. No speed work and some of the areas fastest road stars lined up in front and behind me. Willie counted backwards from three and we were off. I started off up the hill after a half dozen guys or so. I could still hear people behind me in the pack talking about trail runner this and trail runner that like I was some kind of endangered species or something. Still didn't bother me though I was just buying time starting off at a moderate pace. Eventually I knew that the hills would get most of the trash talkers sooner or later.
Coming up on the first mile mark of the course I was running along at a comfortable 6:00 min flat pace. I was suprised to find myself in fourth place at this point. There was a runner behind me a few paces breathing hard trying to recover from the first series of hills. Being the helpful trail runner that I am I told him to just take it easy on the hills in the begining. There would be plenty more to come at the end of the race. His reply was that he knew what was coming as he did the race last year. Fair enough I thought I just thought I would be nice as he was sounding like he was about to go into cardiac arrest. So much for being nice I thought. I need to drop this guy quick so I picked it up a little and made a gap and was slowly making ground on the third place guy. Shortly after the first mile I caught the third place guy and put a gap on him also. Feeling good still I tried closing the gap on the first and second place guys but every move I tried to make they seemed to have the same game plan and stayed just ahead of me. So I was content with my place in the pack. Knowing they were running a few seconds faster per mile than I was. Unless they had a catostrophic meltdown on the last couple of hills there would be no way I could catch them with only a mile and a half to go. Finally making it to the top of the last hill I was releaved that it would be over in a couple of minutes. So I let off and just cruised it in to the finish. Crossing the line in a very, very hilly 12km racin just over 47 minutes. Breaking the course record by a minute. But because I have the luck that I do it was only good enough for third on the day.
After the race I was talking to the guys that finished ahead of me and they seemed like nice enough guys so I was glad to see that not all roadies are the same. I decided that I hadn't done enough mileage for the week yet so I told them I was going to run some cooldown miles. The second place finisher. Who I think his name was Dave. Said that sounded good so he ran a short 4 mile cooldown with me at a nice easy 10 minute pace.
After I was done with my extra mileage Willie came up to me and said way to go Rockstar. I told him. See. I hadn't forgotten how to run roads but that I'd still take a trail race over a road race anyday. Its just a different feeling when your out there in a trail race. Mixing it up with your friends and enjoying the post race festivities and sticking around to cheer every last runner across the finish line. Its a difference I like and its far better than being just some random dude with a number and a time bumping elbows with somebody who doesn't give a crap about anything but a PR. So as far as I'm concerned. Trail Running is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Its only when you don't do the one thing you love. The one thing that gets you out there in the morning running technical single track trail that makes you aprreciate it that much more. A faithful trail junkie to the end.