Returning to the Charleston Distance Run on Labor Day weekend has become a bit of home coming trip for me. 30 years have passed since I first laced up my running shoes and hit the streets of Charleston for their 15 mile run. Back then, life was far simpler.
I guess this is why I was leaning against the fence and soaking up the view of Laidley Field in the predawn hours. From the glow of the stadium lights across track and the finish line to the illumination of the gold colored dome on the Capital Building the feeling of nostalgia were welling up inside of me.
Life seems to move pretty fast. You need to slow down and enjoy it once in a while or it will pass you by.
In grand CDR tradition, the race starts with the firing of a cannon on the Capital Building steps. For the first 5 miles, my focus goes to settling into a nice pace. We ran along Kanawha Street, turned the corner near the Civic Center, then turn left again on Virgina Street, and the run on to the bridge which crosses the Kanawha River. This is an arched shaped bridge and presents each runner with their first real hill test for the miles ahead.
Rounding the corner, we run passed the sign explaining where the start of “Capital Punishment Hill begins”. This is the type of hill that gives most runners a nightmare. Arching your head back, fog hides the top from view. Heck, even thou there is another sign which says “Capital Punishment Hill ends”, the hill doesn’t end. Runners make a left hand turn and then continue their climbing. Here the fog is really thick. Runners 25 yards in front of me are lost from sight.
My training for the last month has been nothing short of abysmal. But I push those thoughts away. On race day, you have what you have. You cannot improve it, and you cannot change it.
The hills seem a little steeper this year. Quite possibly, the addition of another year to my life might be the reason why.
People are encouraging, and I find that while I am not running as well as I have previously, I am enjoying myself a bit more.
Cruising down hill and back over the Kanawha River I am at 8 miles in to the race and have 7 pretty much flat miles to go.
As I am running down Virginia Street to the Capital Building, the shade seems different this year. While the sun is shining brightly, there is more shade on the course than last year. I cannot explain it, but this is how it seemed to me.
In to the Capital Building parking lot and around the back to exit, I crossed 10 miles in 67:34. Considering, I was 34 minutes and change at 5 miles, this makes me feel pretty good.
I have 5 miles left – 3 of which are along the river. This is one of my favorite sections to run in all of Charleston.
We make a right as we near the Civic Center which marks roughly the 13 mile point. At this point the bueaty of Charleston changes. Miles 14 and most of 15 mark my least favorite of the course. Mostly, I see lots of the backs of buildings, the underside of freeways, and oh, yeah, there is a correctional facility. I don’t ever remember seeing it before Saturday. Mayb it is new.
My legs wanted to tighten up badly. Even with my conscious effort to keep them relaxed. The long corridor of buildings which make-up the road to the entrance to Laidley Field seems like it takes forever. Suddenly, I bounced out on to the track. Even thou, the rubber on the track has aged; it still gives a slight bounce to my legs. The announcer calls my name, age, and city over the PA system. He goes on to tell everyone that I am the oldest finisher so far. Not sure how I am should feel about it.
Coming to the finish, I feel better than I have in several years. With a time of 1:41:05 and place of 11th overall, I placed me 1st in the 50-54 age group.
Only minutes later, the track was now alive with excitement as runners streamed in to the finish. I stopped, listened, watched, and soaked up the atmosphere.
Yep, this had turned out to be a pretty good day after all.
Life is about making the memories so make the most of them.
The Cool Down Runner