Last night I ran my first ever evening race, the Ferguson Twilight 10k.
It was also my first time running this race. For some reason the drive to Ferguson made me hesitant to do it in the past, which is kind of silly since it only takes about 30 minutes to get there. It was really important to me to do the race this year to show support for a community that’s been hurting since last August. Running is such a positive experience and I wanted to be a part of people coming together for good in Ferguson.
The 10k didn’t start until 6:15pm, so after arriving at Plaza 501 we hung out and watched the drum circle for a while.
There were two little kids dancing around to the drumming. It was pretty adorable. The organizers encouraged people to sit at a drum and participate but to put it mildly, that’s not my thing, so we just watched.
The nice thing about the evening start is my mom, her manfriend Tony, my aunt Aline and uncle Paul could all drive in from Carbondale to see me. Tracy and my coworker Tammy (right) plus her friend Veronica (left) were there too so I had quite the crowd.
When we started I took off at a comfortable pace, determined not to look at my watch in the first mile.
I felt a bit sluggish; already thirsty and hot thanks to this weather.
I was still hanging in there at this point. My first mile was just under 9 minutes which I was thrilled with but knew was unsustainable. I kept on, and soon approached a band.
I’d just seen a wonderful inspirational sign that said “never judge a race by the first mile”. That’s usually true but in my case the first mile ended up being a great indicator of my race. I passed this band and around mile 1.50 I walked. I drank some of the water I was carrying on my belt, which turned out to be a great call.
I did not like the feeling of being passed, so at some point I began running again. It’s a shame I wasn’t feeling stronger because the course was truly lovely; winding through tree lined neighborhoods that reminded me of being a kid playing late into the evening in the summer. The yards were filled with signs and/or people cheering on the runners. And lots of I ❤️ Ferguson signs.
Two different parts of the 10k course wound through cul-de-sacs. I saw lots of people in lawn chairs cheering us on; many drinking beer. It was a lovely night to be out; just not necessarily to run on a hilly course. Some people were sitting by themselves and cheering. It was really touching. And there were so many signs.
Just beyond the yellow and green signs was a blue tub of water bottles and a sign that said “help yourself!” How nice is that? I did help myself and was very thankful since I felt like I’d sweat out all the water I had previously.
I ran miles 2-4 in the 10:30-11 minute mile range which is pretty remarkable considering all the walking I did (most of the uphills and some other parts).
In the 5th mile there was really good crowd support, including a person blowing a vuvuzela at runners (I thanked him). I think the random strangers cheering for me really helped as I finished mile 5 in 9:29.
During that time we turned left onto south Florissant road. The peaceful protests and not peaceful property damage (it’s important to distinguish between the two) that was shown on TV mostly took place on west Florissant avenue, but south Florissant road also had a lot of businesses damaged that still have boarded up windows. But they’ve made something beautiful out of the destruction.
It made me feel hopeful and reminded me of this quote.
I was also comforted by the fact that a lot of people around me seemed to be having as tough a time as I was. I stuck close to this girl for a while and we played leapfrog as we took turns taking walk breaks.
We wound back through neighborhoods to the right and eventually approached a corner that I hoped was the final turn.
It was but unfortunately the course was such that I could see the finish when I still had about .3-.4 of a mile to go. That’s rough.
I was hoping to finish under an hour but given the conditions I’m happy I got remotely close to that goal.
Looking at my run on the Garmin website, it looks like the first half was a gradual uphill, which is not my strong suit. Plus, I count 11 drops in pace, meaning 11 walk breaks. So now I feel even better about my performance. It’s so satisfying when something is hard but you do it anyway.
They were fantastic (high energy cover songs; heavy on Nelly which is to be expected in St. Louis) and the crowd was really into it. The crowd was really diverse too–lots of kids and older people as well as a mix of white and black people. It would be nice to see more of this in St. Louis, which feels pretty segregated most of the time. But this event brought everyone together and people were just happy.
Overall I loved this event and will definitely do it again. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so supported by the crowd at a race before. It made me feel great.