This morning I ran the Run For the Hills 5k. I found out about this a couple weeks ago and signed up mainly because it’s so close to my house. Apparently this is the 22nd year of it, so I don’t know where I’ve been.
The race began at 8am but of course I arrived obscenely early so I spent 7:15-7:50am waiting in my car (it was a little chilly).
Proceeds from the 5k go toward maintenance of Wilmore and Francis parks. These parks are always part of my half marathon training so I was glad to contribute. A good bit of the course circled Francis park, which is exactly a mile around and is very pretty in the middle.
My shin splints have been creeping back lately, though not as bad as a month ago, so I was thinking I’d just run at an easy pace and not push too hard. I ended up lining up near the front of the pack which always confuses me as far as pacing goes because very fast runners end up passing me, making me think I’m going slow, when really I’m not (for me). I settled into a nice “hey I’m not dying” pace and was shocked at mile 1 when a volunteer yelled out 8 minutes. That’s not an easy pace at all but I was feeling good so I decided I’d try to keep it up.
A really neat feature of this race was the tie in to Stan Musial. Apparently he used to live in St. Louis Hills, and his two houses were marked with Cardinals balloons and balloons in the shape of the number six, his number. And they had a guy play the national anthem on the harmonica, just like Stan used to.
Both of Stan’s homes were near the first mile:
It’s a good thing these houses were there because the course got really hilly at this point and it was a nice distraction. I could feel myself slowing up a bit but I was surprised my shins felt good so I kept my hard pace for the most part as I followed the course through the neighborhoods around Francis park. As I approached the finish I passed two men (yay!) and a woman running with a 12 year old girl and was feeling great. A second later the woman and the girl sprinted past me. I’d like to say I had a girl power moment and joined them but I was already at maximum exertion and trying to push thoughts of “what if I puke in front of everyone watching me at the finish?” out of my head, so I let them leave me in their dust. I crossed the finish line in 25:36, exactly my time from the 5Kimmswick a month ago. Weird.
Immediately after I finished someone handed me a bottle of water provided by Hoffmeister Mortuary, a hilarious sponsor given I normally finish 5ks feeling like death. They had a lot of other free stuff too, like Ted Drewes’ frozen custard.
If I didn’t have the ice cream melting in my hand I probably would have stuck around longer. The Run For the Hills 5k had a festive neighborhood atmosphere with music blaring (I hope all the neighbors were there because otherwise this was an early wake up call) and people hanging out in the park. I’m so happy to find a 5k close to home and I’ll be sure to run it again next year.