A friend of mine recently started running, and I wanted to find a race that we could do together. I figured a 5k would be too easy and a half-marathon might be too soon, but then I stumbled upon the Hillbilly Hike.
It seemed perfect: 10k distance, a $30 registration fee, a great dri-fit t-shirt, and no hills since it’s held on the Summerset Trail.
Having recently gotten over a nasty IT band injury that kept me from both the Des Moines Triathlon and Des Moines Marathon, my plan was to take it easy. Keep a solid pace, stay comfortable, and don’t do anything stupid. Many of my training runs are 10k, so it’s not like I had anything to prove.
I just wanted us to have a good time.
Off to a Rocky Start
I forgot to check the weather forecast, unfortunately, because it was cold. Tuesday had been 79 degrees, and Thursday was 75. But the high for Saturday was only 55–meaning I woke up to 4 degrees above freezing and frosted car windows.
No big deal though. I layered up and wore my running beanie instead of my favorite hat.
But I forgot gloves.
I figured I’d stop at Target and buy some, but they don’t open until 10:00. Shit. I had a sneaking suspicion, however, that QuikTrip might have something.
I was right. They were around $2 a pair, so I bought four gloves and doubled-up. Problem solved.
The race organizers had buses waiting to drive us to the starting point. Little signs were posted in the windows for either the 10k or half marathon.
My bus pulled into Summerset State Park about an hour before the start of the race, and I quickly noticed a problem: some of the other buses were leaving, forcing their riders out into the cold. About 30 minutes later our driver announced that we had to get off so he could pick up more people.
I walked around at a brisk pace and jogged a bit. Anything to produce some body heat. It worked well-enough, but I looked around for my friend and didn’t see him. I’d thought he was on one of the other busses. Five minutes before the start of the race, he still wasn’t there.
But moments later, another bus pulled in and dropped off a few stragglers.
“I got on the bus for the half-marathon,” he explained.
Time to Run
“Okay,” I said, “here’s the deal. A lot of these people are going to take off running hard, but if we set a comfortable pace and stick to it, I guarantee we’ll pass most of them.”
We’d actually never run together, and this was his first time running a 10k distance. But I figured nine or ten minutes a mile would be fine.
Sure enough, two to three miles in, we noticed people who ran hard earlier. Only now their breathing was laborious and some looked downright miserable. I almost felt bad happily running by, carrying on a loud conversation.
Before we knew it, we came to the last stretch and saw the finish area. We sprinted the last quarter-mile and my Garmin said I finished somewhere in the 58:00 range.
I say “about” because the truth is I don’t know. I forgot to stop my watch until a few minutes later, and the race didn’t use timing chips. I placed second in my age group, but they had my initial time as 52:24 and later changed it to 59:40.
Some folks complained about the logistics and made a fuss, but I let it go. Who cares, right? It’s a fundraiser for a church–not a professionally organized event.. And since this was only the second year they’ve held the race, there were bound to be glitches in the system.
The entry-fee was cheap, and I had a good time. That’s what matters.