Saturday, July 29, 2017

Running in Arkansas: Downhill. Well, Sort Of.

Run 8 miles.  Drive 370 miles.  Race 3.1 miles.

That was my Saturday.  And I'm perfectly happy with it.

I already had plans to roam this weekend.  I just didn't know where.

I usually have a couple of different plans at any given time for just about every weekend.

And often, they're not set in stone.

Awhile back, I had discussed with Waverly about maybe making the weekend a mini-vacation since we didn't take one of regular week long annual summer vacations this year.

My father and I had also talked about making a baseball trip weekend.

Shortly after he and my Mom got back from visiting my grandmother in Pennsylvania, he let me know that he didn't think that he would be up making the trip to Alpine to see Kokernot Field.

The Alpine Cowboys of the independent Pecos Baseball League play there and this weekend was the last home series of the year.

We were also going to then drive up to Cleburne to see the new ballpark of the new American Association of Professional Baseball team called the Railroaders.

So on Friday I asked Waverly if there was anything that she wanted to do.

She asked me if I would run with her on Saturday morning as she had eight miles on the books.

Many of you have this storybook-like existence of me as a father to Waverly, but she'll tell you that I'm not perfect.  I mean I feel like I do well, but I don't a hit a home run every time.

My first reaction was that I honestly felt like I couldn't keep up with her.

She assured me that she had been running 11-minute miles.

After coming back from dinner early Friday evening, I assured her that I would get up and run with her, but that I would still probably make a road trip on Saturday and Sunday.

We ran eight this morning.  About 10:45 per mile on the way out, even though she in the 30-and-change mark at the 2.89-mile water stop.  And then right about 11 per on the way back.

It was humid as all get out, but it really didn't bother me too much because the majority, if not all, of my miles are typically in the very early evening right now when it is 90-plus.

We had breakfast together and by 10 a.m., I had been home, showered, packed, the car loaded and off I went.

Right at 370 miles later, including a stop at the Marriott Courtyard here in Texarkana, and I was at the Spillway Dam area at DeGray Lake a little bit northwest of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Or actually, the northwest part of Arkadelphia as the physical address of Skyline Drive, which we ran on, was Arkadelphia.

Therefore, I can't count the 29th running of the Dam Night Run 5K as a race in my 300th North American city, town or census-designated place.  I still had fun, however.

The race is advertised as "flat and downhill ... very fast".

Ah, I think the most appropriate course definition - like for the 3M Half Marathon in Austin - is "net downhill".

Maybe I might have gone faster if I hadn't run eight this morning or driven 370 to get there, but I was only about 12-13 seconds faster than the 5K I did in Zapata two weekends ago.

There were two modes of transportation to get to the starting area -- two small school buses were being used and a number of flat bed lumber trucks with lumber stacked in the middle that people could sit on both sides.

I opted for the full Arkansas experience -- open-air lumber riding!

Plenty of time to just walk and not really run to warmup.  I figured having run eight earlier that I would just go when the gun went off.

And literally the local law enforcement discharged a weapon from the driver's side of the lead vehicle!

They actually had a "25-30 minute" pace sign as well as 30 and greater.

I positioned myself between the two and was about 33 seconds to get across the line.

A woman who had a race staff singlet on that I talked to before the race said that there were about 700 runners or so signed up.  (633 runners and 58 walkers were timed.)

The course was not as downhill as it was prounounced to be, yet I tried to push things as much as I could to take advantage of it where it was.

Therefore, I was a little disappointed that mile one came through in 9:08.

The second mile, which ended right before the road goes over the dam, I covered in 9:11. 

At the almost near eight-minute mark I had actually stopped to catch my first breath, but I saw the teardrop off the road to the right as two where the second mile would be and I pushed as much as I could.

The bridge across the top of the dam is obviously flat, but there was an uphill coming off of it.

It got the better of me.

There was one semi-steep dip in the last three-tenths of mile three before a hard left and just over a tenth of a mile sprint to the finish.

I veered all the way to the right of the two-lane road, which was completely closed to traffic, so that I could not make such a hard left-hand turn.

By doing so, I actually - once the turn was made - had to step into the grass on the inside left to pass a couple of girls.

Mile three was 10:23.  Ugh.

So I booked it to the finish with a 46.62.  If accurate, that's like under an eight-minute mile sprint to the finish.  Wow.

Total time was 29:29.85 on my watch.

The official timer had 29:29.44.  Nice.  Pretty darn close.

I was 342nd out of 633 runners.  229 of 312 men.  And 14 of 22 in the 50-54 age group.  When they entered my zip code, their database put me in Conroe, TX for this race.

A guy three spots behind my in my age group and his son, who won his 20-24 age group, were there from Bixby, Pennsylvania.

Even though today was a long days of sorts, I feel completely rested after a solid sleep last night which was on the heels of late night Thursday evening travel home from Decatur.

Looking to get up and attend church at First Baptist Church of Texarkana, which turns out is less than a mile here from the Marriott Courtyard. 

They have an 8 a.m. service which I hope to be in.

Lots of changes coming for me as it relates to races in the weeks and months ahead.

I do now have a couple of marathons on the books - Nebraska State Fair Marathon in Grand Island, Nebraska in four weeks and the Bismarck Marathon in North Dakota three weeks after that.

If all goes well, they will be marathons in states numbers 34 and 35 and my first out-of-state marathon in nearly four years.  The first one will be hot.  The second could be could as lows in mid-September do get into the forties.

Ah, you won't hear me complaining.

Thanks for reading - and all of your support and friendship.

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