I am not prone to spontaneity - particularly when it comes to races. But, one experience at a time, I am learning that there is something to be said for getting a bright (or dumb) idea and just going with it. And so it was that a couple of weeks ago my husband and I were sitting on the couch talking about what we had to do over the weekend (surprisingly, nothing), and I wondered out loud whether there was a race nearby that we could run. A few clicks on the computer later, and my husband, son and I were registered for the Buzz Oates No Excuses 5k.
We knew nothing about the race going into it other than what was promised on the website, but what we read was enough. After all, what's not to like about a race that:
1) includes "age graded" finish times ... basically a running handicap that rewards you for being old,
2) awards the grand prize (a big, cushy recliner) not to #1, but to the age-graded 50th place finisher, and
3) is held in Land Park - home to the Zoo and Fairy Tale Land - sentimental places that have been around for generations that we, like so many other families, enjoyed with our kids when they were young.
The last bit sealed the deal. Running a 5k with our son through a park we had not visited in years, where I used to push him in a stroller, all of a sudden seemed like the Best Idea Ever. And it was.
What I expected to find was a quirky neighborhood race, loosely organized, and not particularly well attended. Instead, what we found was a tremendously organized event that attracted, I swear, members of every major running club in the greater metro area. The place was teeming with fast people, lots of them, who would not need to age-grade their times to kick my a$$. Surprise!
The race provided me with a "run down memory lane" and, thanks to my efforts to chase the "real" runners through the park, I ended with a legit, non-age-adjusted PR that included my fastest mile ever. Yeah me!
That could have been the end to a great day, but in keeping with my philosophy that every memorable run deserves a memorable meal, there was more. The Land Park neighborhood also happens to be home to another local institution - Taylor's Market - a gourmet grocery store and butcher shop that has been in business for fifty years. It is not big, it is not fancy, but the butcher knows his stuff and shopping there makes me feel like I have been transported back to a simpler Leave-It-To-Beaver time when quality, individual attention, and the craft of bringing exceptional ingredients to neighborhood customers was the norm.
In keeping with the throw-back theme of the day, it was meat and potatoes night paired with a big cabernet. Far from basic, the grilled dry-aged steak, locally grown asparagus, and a fast and easy homemade hollandaise did not disappoint.
My best advice after this experience: Google a new race near you and do it, then top off your day with something local and good to eat. Find your #runpairings and enjoy!