Webster Education Foundation 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 10:48 mile
Ah, the Webster Education Foundation run.
This race is one of the few races that I've participated in every year since conception. It's particularly special to me, as I placed first it my age category there in 2013. (Notice I didn't repeat that in 2014 ... stupid flu.) Even though I knew I wasn't going to place again this year since my feet issues have kept me from running a decent pace in the last 6-8 months, I was still looking forward to running Webster in 2015.
Now, many of you might wonder why I look forward to running a race that's located in a small town in North West Wisconsin that doesn't have much to offer ... like, at all. Because when you examine this race, it's not a particularly scenic course, it doesn't offer a fancy swag item like a sweatshirt or a zippered wicking jacket, there's no endless chocolate on course or entertainment pre/post race ...
To all that noise, I say BULLOX.
In the last few years, I've noticed that many races have gone away from the pure core that is the running community. And I'm kind of sick of it. Rather than a participant focusing on having a simple, fun event that gets you up and moving, everyone these days is expecting neon blinking lights and throbbing music.
What's the point to that if the event is so poorly managed that you can barely make it through the course? Especially when you have to pay $50+ to participate.
So the above being said, last weekend I found myself a whopping $20 poorer and back at my in-law's cabin (which is now a permanent residence for them, as they recently sold their home here in the Twin Cities). And I was there ... for the sheer joy of running!!
On Saturday morning at about 7:15, I pulled into the parking lot of the secondary school building in Webster, WI. Since this race has a smaller field of participants (I estimate around 80+/- people in 2015, as official race results are still pending being posted on the internet), there was no advanced packet pickup option. I was just fine with that.
Check in was efficient and well managed, and in less than 2 minutes I walked out with a very pretty blue performance shirt.
This shirt's design may look familiar to you, since it's essentially the 2014 shirt without the black t-shirt base. Overall, I thought the shirt was none too shabby, even if I'm not a wicking fan. (PSSST! Bring back the cotton.)
After checking in, the usual milling about ensued. While I hung out with my husband in the car for awhile, other racers roamed around the school's parking lot waiting for some semblance of direction. Eventually, a substitute announcer came out to direct us (the usual guy, who I assume is the track coach, must have been ill or at some other special event since he wasn't there), and we all lumped into a group just in front of the school's doors to hear the announcements.
To his credit, after some basic info, the announcer did mention that walkers should move towards the back of the group before the race began. I was quite pleased with that; you'd be surprised how many races forget to mention that detail - it's really quite annoying. Anyway! Imagine my surprise, then, when a man scooted up past me to line up with the "fast crowd" wearing a ball cap, khaki cargo pants, a blaze orange cotton t and matching orange elastic suspenders ... with old school tennis shoes.
Well ... hm. I thought to myself "you never know who really is a fast runner" and curiously watched to see what would unfold.
And then, with a very loud bang of an official track gun, we were off.
Observing the man in the blaze orange suspenders immediately paid off in dividends. Before I could even settle into a steady running pace, I was almost in hysterics myself watching everything unfold.
Imagine this: a man, grinning ear to ear, running as fast as he can ... just beaming that he's keeping pace with the fastest runners in the pack. Before even making it 10 meters his ball cap catches the breeze and starts to shift, so he grabs it off his head and runs with it in his hand, never losing pace. The sheer joy in his expression ... I couldn't' help but smile myself. And to his credit, he probably made it close to a quarter of a mile before he finally threw in the towel - none the less disappointed in his performance and smiling all the same.
Sad that the jubilation had come to an end, I started to turn my focus inward, but was once again distracted. A group of high school aged girls were in the process of passing me while trying to take selfies. It took me a minute to realize why there were so selfie driven, but then I saw it: two of them were running side by side, keeping pace, while sharing the earbuds of an iPod.
I can't even. HA!
Eventually, my second dose of entertainment faded away into the distance, earbuds still intact, and I was all by my lonesome. *Queue iPod motivation* From there on out, not a whole lot happened. My only goal for this race, not being in great shape right now, was to run the entire distance. I managed that without any major trouble.
And since I don't have much to say, I'll just throw in the race maps and splits (as much as they may suck) here:
So, after not so much ado and also not so much a speedy pace, eventually I rounded the final bend of this course and pounded into the finisher's chute.
Oh, and like my InkNBurn robot capris and RaceRaves tank? I do.
Don't mind that entirely NOT flattering photo. And yes, it looks like I'm tweaking my own butt. Whatever.
Anyway, after finishing, I was given a spinning finishers medal that was donated by some generous participant (who could that be *wink*), and grabbed a few things from the snack table which offered the standard post race fare - bananas, water, granola bars.
However, as I enjoyed my post race refreshments, I became unexpectedly saddened. Unfortunately, day of registrations must have been much larger than anticipated, as there were more finishers than medals and the presenters at the finish line ran out. So late in the race, most of the people coming in didn't seem to mind. But there was one little boy among them, who was maybe 8 years old, that I felt terrible for. He ended up coming in a few seconds too late and missed his chance at taking home a medal himself.
For awhile, I watched the little boy mope around, sad that he didn't get a medal. I kept trying to figure out who he was with, in the hopes that some adult in his immediate family or extended social network would give them theirs. But nothing. Thinking back to when I was that age, and really wanting him to be motivated to participate again, I grew more and more depressed. I didn't know if it would be uncomfortable for him if I were to approach him and give him mine, so I sat and debated what to do.
Imagine my surprise then when, before I had worked up the courage to take action, the husband of a young family sitting next to me in the bleachers elbowed his wife. After an exchange of muttered words, she walked over to him and gave him her medal.
The smile on his face was priceless, and my faith in humanity was renewed.
Not long after that, all the participants finished the distance, and that was about it. After a little more tabulating to ensure correct age grade awards, the top runners were given a second medal for their performances, and we all went home.
Well, I know this report was less eventful than usual, but that's the story of how race bib #62 joined my collection! I've got a few weeks off now as I start to ramp up my mileage in my TC 10 mile training, so it may be awhile before you see another recap, but .. here's to another race soon!