The Race That's Good for Life.
Today was race day, and after I had pinned on my bib and laced my D-tag into my shoe, I hoofed the few blocks to Oak Park-River Forest High School (the start and finish site). After a few minutes milling about the high school halls and finding a spot to stretch, I made my way to the starting line for the women's race start at 9:10.
Promptly at 9:10 the starting gun went off (yep, a real starting gun, how fun!) and we were off. It was my own mistake, but I had lined up in a bit of a poor spot. I lined up pretty far back from the starting line, and in the absence of any provided pace markers, I ended up dodging my way through slower runners for the first half mile or so.
Not an ideal situation, but once I made it through the pack, it was pretty smooth sailing. It was a fast course without much elevation change, which may account for my excellent PR of 27:53.5. The finish line was fully stocked with water, gatorade, bananas, granola bars, hummus dip packs, you name it.
So the race was good, well-organized, on a picturesque course through the lovely homes of Oak Park, but the main reason I loved this race was the community. I moved to Oak Park almost a month ago now, and am still getting used to the concept that this is my home and this is my community now. Oak Park, technically speaking, is a small town -- just 4.7 square miles in area with a little less than 52,000 residents.
Most neighborhood races I've run there have been some of the residents that stand on their porch, watching curiously as the runners go by. In Oak Park, people didn't just come out of their homes to idly watch the race. People were standing in their yards, sitting in lawn chairs pulled up to the curb, and cheering.
I'd never been in a neighborhood race where so many residents were watching and enthusiastically clapping, cheering, ringing cowbells and holding motivational signs. Especially as we neared the finish, the sidewalks were just jammed with people cheering on their fellow Oak Park residents. It really lifted me up, and for the first time, I felt like I was really a part of this community, which was a really great feeling for me.
The Race That's Good for Life is definitely a keeper for my 2014 race circuit.
The Race That's Good for Life 5K
April 28, 2013
Oak Park, IL
See my other past race results and upcoming races here.