Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pork Chop Trot: 2013

It's a tradition now!

If this Pork Chop Trot business sounds familiar to you, it's probably because I wrote about it last year when I ran this 5K. My brother and I had such a good time running last year - followed by a visit and meal at Grandma's house - that we vowed to come back this year if possible. So here we are!

I woke up this morning to hear serious but not severe thunderstorms rumbling outside, which is not the best way to rally a runner to get pumped up for a race. I had coffee with my usual summer pre-race breakfast (English muffin with peanut butter - winter is oatmeal with PB) and took a grouchy dog for a walk in the lingering rain. Then my brother and I hit the road, for our first 5K of the summer.

We arrived in time for a short warm-up jog, and then the race began. The rain wrapped up during our drive, leaving behind a cloudy day with a strong wind - better conditions, I thought, than last year's full sun and mid-70s. The first mile was mostly downhill but nearly fully into the wind, and it got to me when I was away from other runners.

Then the course veers left, onto a single-lane dirt road that cuts through a cornfield. Last year, the corn was over my head, and it was such an amazing little moment that I thought of bringing my camera this year solely to photograph this road. I chose not to, and that worked out, because this year's delayed summer meant that the corn was just above my knees and it did not quite convey the same wonder I felt last year running through the field. Also, this year the dirt was soft from the overnight rain, so all of my focus was directed toward my footing.

And then the course goes back onto pavement for the third mile, and my legs were feeling the first two miles. The first few women were evenly spaced out roughly every 10 seconds ahead of me: close enough to see but not quite catch up to. I finished about 50 seconds slower than my best 5K time, and I felt good about it.

Every runner has different food and drink cravings after he or she finishes a race. As I've written before, from Chicago Marathon 2011 onward, I've gotten hankerings for soda. It sounds kind of odd, but I think the caffeine and fizz (and sometimes sugar) are pleasing to my system after a hard run. I told my brother on the drive up that I wanted to grab a fountain drink on the way home, but with a gap between our race and the awards ceremony, I made a beeline from the finish line to the town bar across the street for a soda.

I can't say my immediate post-race routine has ever included a bar. But with a cold Diet Coke in my hand moments after finishing the race, I was a happy camper. Brother and I posed for a photo:

Later in the morning, we learned that we had both placed in our age groups. When I was looking at the results board, I realized that it was my last year in the familiar old 20-29 age group! 30, here I come!

We headed over to Grandma's for lunch (the second of three times that I'll see her this month!) and then hopped back on the road toward home. It was a fun morning with my brother, and a great return trip to Pork Chop Trot, one of the races I'm going to look forward to every summer.

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