Headed out to run a 5k this morning to honor the memory of Elyria Police Officer James Kerstetter, shot and killed in the line of duty in March 2010. I got to the packet pickup nice and early. I found it a little odd that we didn't have numbers for the race. When I asked another runner he told me that we would be handed a numbered index card as we finished the race. The number on the card would be our place overall. Once we received the card, we would write our name and city on it and then drop it into our respective age group buckets and then volunteers would tabulate the results prior to the award ceremony. After I found out this information, I headed back to my truck to drop off my "goodie" bag. When I came back to the starting area, I ran into Darlene and we had a quick picture taken. We then walked back to the parking lot to drop off my camera.
We walked back to the starting area and got lined up. There was a decent sized group of officers that ran together in formation each wearing a 1 or a 7, running 3 abreast. The fallen officer's badge number was 177. They let the officers have a "head start" and then we were off! It was somewhat of an out and back course with a few hills. I managed to run the first mile in 7:20. The next mile included some hills and my pace slowed a little and my two mile split was 8:00. Once again, I had to hold back tears in a race. As I was heading back on the course towards the finish line, the pack of officers passed me going the opposite direction doing a candence to the fallen officer. At this point in the race I started playing "leap frog" with another runner. I would pull away from her on the uphill and she would come back on the downhill. Once we approached the three mile mark, I managed to outsprint her to the finish and she walked up to me at the end and said "Wow, great job, I will run with you anytime". I crossed the line in an unofficial time of 23:23 and knew immediately that I had placed 1st in my age group because I was the first one to drop an index card in my respective age group bucket. Number two in my age group..."leap frog girl" of course! Thank goodness I found that final kick at the end! I got to see the pack of officers a second time when I was walking back to my truck to grab my camera and they were still in perfect formation, doing a cadence to the finish line. Right after I passed them, I saw my friend Heather. Today was her first 5K and she finished it in 32:15. She was very proud, as she should be! The best part is that she finished 177th overall which as I mentioned earlier was the fallen officer's badge number. What a great coincidence at her first race. I congratulated her on her success and we had our picture taken. Of course we were still sweaty, and red faced from the run!
After our picture we just talked with some people and waited for the awards ceremony. It was really great to hear them announce my name for 1st place female in the 35-39 age division. As I was walking back after receiving my award, one of the dispatchers I know was shouting way to go. As you can see in the photo, I looked her way instead of looking at the camera. At least I am still smiling!
Following this, my friend Darlene was called up. She placed 2nd in her age division. Darlene and I know each other because she owns Hershey's Ice Cream & More in Elyria, Ohio and I pretty much had ice cream from her store every single day of my pregnancy with my daughter. We still try and get to the store once in awhile to say hello and enjoy some ice cream. I think we both could have gone for some ice cream after this picture, it was getting HOT!!
I was very pleased with my time today even though it was only 23 seconds shy of a PR. I ran faster today than I did last Sunday on a flat course. Perhaps I actually know how to use the hills to my advantage. A side effect from growing up in PA maybe? I have no idea, but I will take it!
Keep running, you're simply the best, and you inspire me!!