Father's Day means Smith's Challenge, a 10K men's only race held for 20+ years in Lancaster County Park. Reportedly, this 23rd running would be the last, but we've heard that before. I hope I hear that claim every year for as many years as I'm able to keep running and that it keeps people coming back each time. It's a beauty of a race.
Last year I'd not run the entire week prior, resting up after my leg of the Laurel Highlands 50K Team Relay put its hurt on me. I had pretty dead legs and, frankly, took the course too lightly, running 1:00:59 and feeling lucky to have managed that. This year I'd logged a good many miles on the heels of Laurel and felt pretty good about the effort I'd given in the altitude of Boulder in the days just before Smith's. I hoped to improve dramatically on my 2010 time.
Lindsay and the girls came along this year (which was awesome) and joined Erin, Noah and Finn at one of the playgrounds while Jefferson and I chatted about the course. I spoke with Chris McDougall for a bit and was stoked to hear about some of the forward progress on the Born to Run film and Chris's confirmation that he had every intention of again doing the Conestoga Trail Run in September.
Before long, we toed the starting line, listened to Ron Horn do his schtick and then headed off into the park. My legs weren't nearly as fresh as I'd hoped but I felt certain I was running stronger than last year.
It was nice to see numerous familiar faces on the course, be they running or volunteering. I'd forgottent that, despite the fact that much of the course is under the trees, there are some sustained exposed sections that felt awfully warm in the sun that greets a 10:00 AM start. Most of my running happens before or right after sunrise or in late afternoon/early evening. I definitely noticed the difference but was slightly irritated to be feeling like it was negatively impacting my efforts. What a baby.
Thankfully, I was holding a good pace in spite of not feeling terribly strong. I hit the finish line in 50:32, having shaved just over 10 minutes off my time. True to form, I immediately started pondering where I might've done better and gotten down in the 40's, but that faded away pretty quickly as I lounged with Erin, Lindsay and the kids. Jefferson came across the line looking strong, rightfully psyched to have run sub-59.