Charleston Challenge Mid-Winter Classic 15K

Feb 7 2009

Where: Charleston,IL

Time: 10:00 am

Surface: asphalt

Weather:sunny, 50F, breeze out of the south at 5-10mph

I hadn’t been for an organized run since the “mooing bear” incident.
Actually there aren’t many scheduled for the middle of winter around
these parts. This particular run had taken place for the first time
last year. It was small, as not many people are dying to get out and
get after it in February. However, for the hardcore outdoorsy types
that can’t wait to get back outside, this was just the kind of thing
to help us get through to spring. I’d read some good things about this
course online and it seemed like a good way to find out if I’d made
any progress in January. The week preceding it was typical winter
weather. I’d been out for a couple 4 milers after work in the middle
of the week. Both mornings were 1 or 2 degrees with a wind chill well
into the minus somethings. As the sun was coming up on that Wednesday
morning I passed a tree in the park with a squirrel foraging in the
snow at it’s base. We made eye contact with each other and wondered to
ourselves why the other was stupid enough to be outside.

Suddenly, miraculously, a warm front rolled through Thursday ahead of
the Saturday morning race. By gun time Saturday most of the snow was
gone, the sun was out and temp was 50 and climbing. Man, what a feeling to be outside in shorts for the first time in months.
I stole a couple pics from the event’s website. One from last year and one
from this year to show typical winter and what we were blessed with in
2009. Somewhere in the back of that second pic you can see author’s
black cap. You’ll just have to take my word for the fact that he wore
shorts in February.



As I said the event was fairly small and as usual I took my place at
the back of the pack to stay out of the way of the serious runners.
There was a 10 and 5k also being run at separate 15 minute intervals
after the start of our run. After a quick loop around the block they
sent us out of town onto the country roads heading south. It was just
a glorious day! It didn’t matter what you were doing it was just great
to be outside. My only real goal was to perform a little better than
my last longer run at Alton. With all the walking I’d done at the end
of that run, it had taken me 1 hour 53 minutes to get through the 10
miles. With this being a similar distance, 9.3 miles I’d hope to knock
a little bit of time off my average mile. This was a much more
difficult course as it had some pretty good hills whereas the Alton
run was as flat as the Mississippi rolling alongside it. Anyway, I’d
averaged 11 minute, 20 second miles at Alton. With this being a more
difficult course, if I was able to average 10 minute 45 second miles I
was going to consider it to be progress. So my projected acceptable
time was 1:40.

The run was blissfully uneventful for the first 2.5 miles, where I
then encountered the first dog running loose. They must not see many
people running out there because I was great fun for him to chase. He
was little and noisy and gave up pretty easy. He did however alert a
boxer about half a mile up the road of my passing and the boxer came
out to meet me too. I knew I couldn’t outrun him and he had no
intention of letting me pass so I had kind of squared off with him
before his owner came out and dragged him back into the yard. I’m
pretty sure I could have taken him but it would’ve required way more
energy than I wanted to put into it. Once again on my way, it was
smooth sailing to the one and only aid station at just past 4 miles.
The aid station preceded a pretty steep hill which I chose to walk up
while sipping my drink. I seemed to be sucking air a little bit at
this point. At the crest I started running again, consciously taking
it a little easier since I knew I was a little gassed. There seemed to
be much more rolling terrain as this thing progressed. I jogged the
gradual slopes and walked the severe slopes. The leaders had
disappeared from my view somewhere in the first few blocks in town. In
fact everybody kind of ran off and left me. Now I was starting to see
some other folks kind of straining a little bit too. I picked off one
just past the aid station. Got a couple more just past 5 miles. One
more at about 6.5 and a last one at just less than 8. As I went past
the last guy he queried how much farther I thought we had. I was
guessing a mile and a half. As I passed him I crossed a bridge and
started the ascent of a big goddam hill. I’d been assessing this thing
since it came into view 5 minutes earlier. There were 4 or 5 people
on it and they were all walking. It was a mother. I jogged about
halfway up it and then broke down and wlaked. But I walked hard and
commenced with the running again as soon as I reached the top.
Homestretch now and nothing between me and the finish except about a
half mile and… another dog. This time a boston terrier. He was a pup
and meant no harm. He was just happy to see me. His owner was calling
for him but the dog had him on ignore. There was traffic coming up and
down the street so I actually stopped off the side of the road knowing
the dog would go with me just to get him out of traffic. I stayed with
him til his owner could get a handle on him. And then it was off to
the finish. By now the temp had risen to the upper 50s under beautiful
sunshine. I crossed the line at 1:37:21 for an avg. of about 10:28 per
mile. AND I actually felt pretty good.

So I got my goal in spite of doing several impersonations of the
‘dog whisperer’ along the way. I was reasonably pleased with myself
and really enjoyed the course. I’d like to do that one again next


  1. yup. It really was £150. Shocking aint it?! Its actually quite easy to spend that on jeans here – most of the fashion brands are between £50 – £100. Mine were £8 from the supermarket, Im such a cheapskate! Not sure how I feel about your levels of activity – just reading about it makes me want to go for a lie down. s x

  2. I’m not buying that the author is in back with a black cap. I believe, in the second photo, the author is in the front to the right, wearing black shorts, a number three and a tank top. Am I right?

    Way to go on the ten minute mile with many dog interruptions. I hate loose running dogs. Even the little ones terrify me.

    Yes, I had a traumatic experience with a big ass dog as a small child. It ended with me barricading myself under the dining room table behind a bench while the Great Dane was attempting to, um, love me long time.

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