Tina Griswold was a Lakewood Police Officer who was murdered along with three other officers as they sat in a coffee shop a year ago. Both Jody and I work in Lakewood and Jody knew Tina from her work on the DARE program at the middle school. A year ago I stood outside in the freezing cold for hours as the funeral procession passed by. I still can not see a Lakewood Police cruiser on the road and not think about the tragedy and my profound respect for those who serve. Today's race is a "fun run and walk" that will raise money for scholarship funds to help women seeking to enter law enforcement careers. More of a community event with lots of walkers, than a typical race. But with over 600 signed up I'm sure that there will be enough fast people to keep me in my place.
I have raced in Steilacoom many times but never at the Fort Steilacoom Park. Mostly paved trail but some long sections of gravel and dirt. I actually do not know the course at all. I'll just follow the leaders and hope to not take a wrong turn. This is a first time event and not a high stakes competition, so I will be patient with the organizers if anything goes wrong. I do arrive plenty early and have no trouble getting my bib and T-shirt. Someone announces that we should not rip off the lower part of the tag "in case you collapse halfway out there and we need to identify you" Yikes!! Unfortunately it is raining. Not windy and not too cold but it is wet and I am pleased that so many have come out in the rain. Two local news stations are here. I do my usual warm up and feel pretty good despite last weeks 50K race.
Start - They have us start on a super wide section of grass that will narrow down and pass between two barns. This may be the course that is used for cross country meets here, the start anyway is typical of that. Walkers and slower runners do a great job of lining up behind the runners. I only see a couple of people that I recognize. I thought for sure that the start would be delayed due to getting people registered and I am amazed when the horn blows right on schedule. We fly across the field, kicking up mud and water onto the backs of our legs and the people behind us. Between the barns, right onto the roughly paved park road, then onto a path.
Mile 0.5 - Going too fast as usual, I'll never hold this pace. But we are spread out nicely for such a large group. Plenty of room on the paved flat trail along the main road. Up ahead I can see runners making a turn, then again like a big horse shoe. I am able to count those in front of me. At the turn I realize that I am in 19th place. OK, enough counting. Focus on maintaining pace.
Mile 1 - Now onto a dirt trail and up a hill. Its not too steep but it does make me slow. Two guys pass me. I hope that I am able to regain some speed at the top. Right turn with volunteers to point the way, but I see two of the lead runners had gone straight and are way off course, at the bottom of the hill. I look to the right and see those in front of me along with a course marker so I know that is the way I am supposed to go. More uphill and finally a turn and a chance to go downhill. I just pass a guy wearing Vibrams. It is a wide enough dirt road with ruts, but with all the rain it is a little slippery. His shoes have zero traction and he slides and falls. It was not a bad fall and he is up very quickly with no harm done. In fact he goes on to pass me. Must have been a nice adrenaline surge.
Mile 2 - Back to pavement and around Lake Waughop. Flat pavement for a while, just have to watch for bumps. Eric Barnes sighting. All the way around the lake and back toward the barns. I'm holding pace OK and not getting passed, but I am not gaining on anyone in front of me. Last stretch to the barns and the finish. There is a lone, young Girl Scout directing runners but she is yelling to some others off to the left that no one is listening to her, "they keep going straight". I realize that we are supposed to turn left here but no one is doing that. I make the turn and hope that those behind me will follow. I pass other Girl Scouts, one of whom says "finally someone is going the right way" Between the barns and I reconnect with the runners in front of me. They are about twenty feet farther ahead than before the turn so it did not make much difference. Hey maybe they should all be disqualified and I should be the winner for running the proper course:) Back on to the grass and I can see the clock at the finish still reading in the 20:xxs. What did I run that 5K in two weeks ago? 21:13 I think. Can I beat that time? I sprint hard and just make it.
Finish - No one is taking tags or recording our finish times so there will not be any official results. Overall winners get a free pair of shoes. GPS reads 2.91 and with that finish time I am sure that the course was a little short. Still a good run and a nice event. Well organized for a first time event and a great cause, I would run it again for sure. I jog around and take some photos of the course. I'm glad that the rain was not worse and that the event was a success.
about 20th of about 600 including many walkers
5th race of the month with one more tomorrow