Can you turn back the hands of time? The Days of Old 10K is held in Maple Lake, MN., whithin 5 miles of where my grandparents had a farm and I was wondering how much of the experience of the area as a kid I could reconjure. The race starts at the high school and I'd been to a graduation there 10 years ago, so I didn't think out my drive route - it turns out I was remembering Monticello High School, which is about 10 miles away and I was pressed for time. Let's see: it's 36 to 35 to 694 to 94 to 37 to 25 to 8 to 55... piece of cake! I put on a 2-year-old pair of road shoes, hoping they'd bring me back to the feel of short races.
I barely got there in time, full of coffee and lyrics to Steely Dan songs. "California tumbles into the sea: that'll be the day I go back to Annandale." Annandale is where the farm used to be, though Steely Dan meant Annandale, VA. "I'll make it this time, I'm ready to cross that fine line... they got a name for the winners in the world, I want a name when I lose. They call Alabama the Crimson Tide. Call me Deacon Blue." That's Wake Forest Demon Deacons, for those who wonder about lyrics. "She thinks I'm crazy, but I'm just growing old. Hey, nineteen (Skate a little lower, now.)" I had a boss once who thought that was the dirtiest line he'd ever heard.
Yes, I once had a boss.
Lots of familiar faces to greet me in the parking lot. Keith, Kel and Wayne will have their stories to tell on their blogs. My cousin Keith and his wife, Barb, were there, making it a kind of family reunion. "Last year on this day we were in Leadville! Remember?" Everyone's wondering how the Minnesota crew are doing out at Leadville today. Keith and Barb are going to see Keith's dad in South Haven (again, maybe 4 miles away) after the race; he's 90 now and the last person either of us know in the old homestead.
I think I see Andy Holak, but I'm mistaken. I do see Jeff Allen, though, so this isn't going to be an easy day for the over 40's. Another guy looks familiar (Keith thinks for a moment it's Jim Ramacier; after the race I recall it's Arth Gorr, who's now in the 50+ age class). Lots of guys with a few grey hairs: is it going to be another day where everyone looks too young for their age class but me (maybe it's the baby food and vodka diet that's aging me)? Lisa Trainor is there; hadn't seen her in 5 years - she looks the same and will win the women's race by a long way.
Oh yeah, there was a race. Maybe I should mention it.
The first mile is on road, a quarter mile asphalt, then gravel. The rest of the route is on a well-marked trail going clockwise around a pond one never sees, I think. Though it is a clockwise loop, I swear there's nothing but left turns. After the loop, the route goes back opposite the way it started. They marked every root, rock and hole with white paint; I was thinking that, if they did that at Superior, the whole path would be white!
I hadn't run fast since the 10K in Milaca in May and had forgotten how it felt. I was running on the balls of my feet for a change, which was nice. My stride wouldn't stretch out as far as I wanted; I am really tight. The first mile and a half, I tried to race, but I wasn't ready for a 10K, so I slowed from 6 min./mile to 7:30 by the half-way mark and sped up again to about 7 by the end. At one point, I could see Colin Gardner-Springer walking or shuffling up a small hill and I felt I could catch him; I saw him about the same distance away all the way to the end, where he beat me by 40 seconds (I'd've guessed 15 seconds - that's how long it's been since I did one of these).
I finished 7th overall (43:20). The winner was 35 years-old. The first master was Dave Wik, in second. The first 8 guys were all over 35 and I ended up 4th in the 40-49 group. Great race to run, but tough if you're in the wrong age class.
Tonight's a long run in the dark at the Richard T. Anderson Conservatory with Adam Harmer, then only three weeks to my first 100 mile finish. And I WILL finish!