Saturday, September 20, 2014

Starting the Weekend Off Right

This weekend so far has definitely been all about running. Yesterday, I drove to South Bend to watch Matt, my oldest, run for Benedictine University in the National Catholic Cross Country Championships at Notre Dame.

Matt ran track in grade school and then ran track and cross country in high school. He qualified for the state meet in XC his junior year and then twice was part of his school's (Aurora Central Catholic) state qualifying 4x800 teams. Benedictine is a small school about 30 minutes from home, and with a small team with 13 runners he is getting a lot of chances to run right away, which is nice.

It was a pretty exciting event. The race was run at the Morris Golf Course on the edge of the ND campus. The course is almost perfectly flat, so on a day with great conditions it's probably really, really fast. Friday wasn't one of those days, though, the temperature was in the high 70s and that made running fast a bit of a challenge.

While everyone ran the same race, the scoring was split into two categories: the Division I teams -- like Notre Dame, Canisius (which won the meet), Dayton and Saint Louis were in one group -- while the rest of the smaller schools had their own division. Benedictine finished 19th out of the 24 schools in its division, which isn't bad considering six of the top 9 runners are freshman.

Matt finished the 5-mile race in 31 minutes, 20 seconds, which considering the conditions was a nice effort. He had run 31:00 two weeks before in an 8K (4.97 mile) race, so the times are pretty similar. They will travel to St. Louis next weekend for the Maryville University Open.

I thought it was such an awesome event. It was almost like when small colleges get the chance to play football or basketball against one of the power teams. It was a Division I meet against some great teams and runners, all in the shadow of such a legendary university. Way cool.

So this morning, Darcy and I got up and headed out to a forest preserve for the Fall Into Fitness 5K. It was a low-key event that was a fundraiser for the Bartlett High School athletic programs. It was an OK event, there were probably about 200 runners and walkers, and by low-key I mean there were no mile markers or any clocks on the course.

Truthfully, I didn't care. One, it's always good to support your community and two, in the end I kind of enjoy events like this. There are plenty of opportunities to go to bigger races with chips and swag and the like, sometimes it's just nice to go out and run with some people and have some fun with it.

The weather was pretty decent, I think it was about 60 degrees when it started, but the clouds added a little bit of humidity. The course was a little like the 4-mile loop I described a few days ago, it was a crushed gravel surface that wound through some grasslands/wetlands and had some hills, which were quite a challenge. Some were really quick and steep, but at about the 2-mile mark there was this long, gradual hill that was probably about a quarter-mile in length.

The thing with hills is that you never make up going downhill what you lose going uphill. It would be nice to charge down hills but I tend to use them as a bit of a recovery until things level off. I've always found that if I fly down a hill when I get to the flat then I feel like I lose momentum. At this point of my running and training, the goal is to just keep moving forward, and I like a steady effort instead.

Anyway, a couple of the shorter hills did me in at the end, and I was very relieved to see the finish. What I did like is that the race had a little XC action to it as the last 100 yards or so was on grass. Unfortunately it was on a bit of a hill itself so there was no big kick to the finish.

I finished the race in 32:30, which isn't bad. The last 5K I ran back in July, the Bastille Day 5K, I finished in 31:39, and being honest with myself I haven't done enough training to say I should have done better. But it's always fun to get out and run on the clock and meet some new peeps, so it was a good day.

Darcy walked the course, so I doubled back and found her and we walked in together. It's just so nice to have someone who is supportive of my running and what I like to do. We are already talking about another 5K in a few weeks. I've already started thinking how I'd like to get under 30 minutes in that one, hopefully I'll get it done!

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