Today I ran the SIUC Army ROTC 10K race. Here are my observations:
1) I haven't run as many 10Ks as I've wanted to, simply because that race length isn't offered a lot where I live. There are lots of 5Ks (usually charity races), but 10Ks are few. This race, sponsored by my university's Army ROTC unit, is in its third year. It consisted of a 5K Run, a 5K Walk and a 10K Run. Prior to the race, I spent some time looking at the Illinois Patriot Guard's Fallen Heroes Wall, a traveling exhibit of all the young men and women from the state whose lives were cut short by the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. A sobering sight--so many young beautiful faces looking out from that wall. By the way, a portion of the proceeds from this race will go the Anna Illinois Veterans Home, so that was something to be proud of and feel good about.
2) The race gave out some sweet swag: a Camelback water bottle and a technical shirt with the winners of last year's races on the back, all in a black tote bag.
3) The 10K runners were lined up a distance behind the 5K runners, and the walkers were lined up after the 10K folks. I thought we were going to have staggered take off times because of this, but we all started at the same time.
4) The alternate name for this event could have been Cadet Fartlek. The cadets were stationed along the course to direct us and encourage us. So I was basically running from one cadet to the next, asking for directions (I am way directionally challenged). The biggest challenges on the route were the two pedestrian bridges on campus--we ran up one on the way out and came back on the other as we headed back to ROTC headquarters on campus.
5) I finished first in my age group and got a PR. I was pretty certain that I came through the chute at 53 minutes, which would have been fabulous. At the award ceremony, the captain in charge of the race read my time off as 54:03, which would still be a PR, but I wouldn't be as happy with it. Did he transpose the numbers? Did I see the time on the electronic sign wrong? The announced time for the gentleman I was following was 52:14 and I finished behind him. So 53 minutes makes sense to me. This was not a chip-timed race, by the way. I know I shouldn't get obsessed with time, but like a lot of runners, I am. 53:04 sounds a whole lot better than 54:03 [NB: Final posted time on 10/30 was 54:03]. And I don't want to deceive anyone about how fast I run--including myself. But I was able to put aside my selfish concern about time long enough to donate to the Fallen Heroes Wall, which is privately funded. Whatever my own personal political views or convictions may be, I wanted to honor those beautiful young faces on that wall, those lives lost.