This race is never easy, but this year I at least wasn't injured or ill, just not as fit as I first thought. The course includes some concrete, some asphalt, some dirt, some sand and some grass. It meanders through many of the main parts of Balboa Park and some that until today I bet folks didn't know existed.
I ran the first 5.5 miles with my friend Alexis, who had her second child four months ago. Alexis and I used to run together regularly during my later marathon years, and running with her today really helped me maintain a decent-for-me pace. She even taught me a trick to help the quads on steep trail uphills that seemed to actually work. I really need to work on running down those same steep hills because that's where I noticed Alexis gained on me and I wished her well as I let her go and settled in behind some high school cross-country runners.
My goal from the get-go was to run this one conservatively, and I did. That and excellent weather allowed me to pass people in the last 1.5 miles and at one point even forget I was in a race. I just fell into a rhythm and let my mind wander. Final time, according to the official results, was 1:20:59. I was slow for the field and for my age group, but such is typically the case in San Diego Track Club events.
I no sooner got in my car and saw a slew of messages on my phone. My college-aged daughters and my older girl's longtime boyfriend are visiting for a few days. Seems while I was cruising down The Prado, Chris was doubled over in pain on his way to the hospital, hours away from emergency surgery. He'll come home tomorrow or Monday and recover at our house until he's well enough to travel back to Marin. This also means this empty-nester gets to behave like her old Mom self for longer than expected, and that, my friends, is a much better prize than placing in my age group.