The June Bug 5k race at Frank Liske Park takes place on the first Friday of June each year. For those not familiar, the June Bug Race usually is the first of a series of Friday night races held in various towns on the eastern side of Charlotte. The course itself is a mixture of road (1/2 mile) and dirt paths (about 2.5 miles). Running on the dirt paths is a lot like running on the beach. There isn't much traction and a lot of energy is spent moving through the loose grit. In the numerous years that I have run this course I have never had a fast time on it. And with hot dry conditions all week, the dirt could easily have doubled for beach sand.
At the start there some familiar faces in the crowd, I talked with Tom and Diane for a few minutes. The starting line was different this year because of a change in the course. The Park and Rec resources were doing some construction around the back side of the lake. This meant that we would be running around the front side of the lake. The front section has a couple of rolling hills and a small single person foot bridge to cross.
Part of our prerace instructions included a warning that the passage over the bridge was to be single file.
Looking around at the start, I took note of all of the young faces. Not long ago, I looked around we were only separated by a few years. Then, it was two of their ages together added up to my age. Standing there Friday night, I realized I now had to add 3 of their ages together to equal my age.
But what I lack in youthful enthusiasm and raw speed, I try to make up for with wisdom.
These young high school runners love to go out fast from the start and easily put anywhere from twenty to thirty seconds on me. But the real race is handling the combination of the 90+ heat and navigating the loose dirt.
We hit the dirt path and I was 6 overall. These guys are running right up the center of the path in the loosest dirt of all while I am running along the edge searching for any place with traction. By the time we reached the top of the first hill, I was just about the catch the 2nd place guy.
With the first mile under our belts, the lead guy didn't look like he will be coming back and I am plenty happy running where I was. We headed down the hill and long the new section of the course and then across the foot bridge before picking up with the regular course again.
At this instant, the thought suddenly occurs to me. He is not pulling away and maybe just maybe I am closing the distance. We head through the back woods section and over along the fence which has always been my favorite section of the course. Definitely, the gap appeared to be closing but along the fence the gap just disappeared and I am pulling up right behind him. For the first time, he realized that I am closing on him. His instincts I guess were telling to pick it up, but now I am right on his shoulder. After just a few more strides I am pulling in front of him.
We head up the hill and back to finish line. As we are making the turns through the woods, I shift my line of sight to check see how close he is, but I don't see him. With comfortable feeling starting to settle in, I try to as efficiently as possible to cover the remaining race distance. This was not one of my fastest times, but this race was one of my wisest. I ran a controlled smart race and felt good the entire way.
After the race we warmed down together, I learned that he had not one but two brothers in the race and that he was taking a year off after graduating high school and before heading off to college on a running scholarship. We talked again at the awards ceremony and I suggested if he were interesting logging more miles check into the Charlotte Running Club. Everyone is welcome on our runs.
Before wrapping up this post, a shout-out needs to go to the Concord Park and Rec Dept. In this down economy, a road race could easily get cut from the budget, but somehow these guys continue to put on a fine race. Keep up the good work guys.
For anyone that is interested, once again I took my video sunglasses into a race. Here's a link to the edited footage on You Tube.
Or for those viewing this via my blog – see blow
Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner