Three Birds, One Stone: (1) Amy Thompson Run; (2) #HHRAmbassador ; (3) @skorarunning Sale!

This is a multitasking post. Time is running out to get registered for the Hospital Hill Run, coming up on June 6th! When you sign up, let them know I encouraged you to by selecting me from the pull-down menu. If Hospital Hill’s not a A-race for me, it’s surely an A-minus. I’ve long held a goal of getting under 1:30 for a half, and I’m going to give it my best shot. I hope it’s a good day for it!

Of course I’ll be running it in Skoras – probably the new TEMPO. This shoe has really grown on me. The more I run in it, the more I appreciate it. I don’t mean that it has a break-in period or anything like that, I just appreciate its versatility. It’s super light, yet with more arch support and cushioning than some other models Skora makes. I’m a firm believer in a shoe rotation – Skora has (I think) at least three different “lasts” now, and I try to switch between them to engage my body in different ways.

Speaking of that rotation, a shoe I kept meaning to give its own separate review is the shoe I ran in on Monday’s 28th Annual Amy Thompson Run for Brain Injury. The inspiration for this run, Amy Thompson, is a heart-rending story known by many in the Kansas City area since it happened in the 1980s. Read more about it here. I ran in the Phase-X, the hyper-reflective version of Skora’s most minimal shoe, the Phase. It’s one of a few shoes available, while they last, for $50 on Skora’s site. (You can click through using the banner ad to the right).

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So, back to my Memorial Day run. The feature race is an 8k, just shy of 5 miles. It’s still a short enough race that you’re working pretty hard. Coach Kyle had me targeted at “around” 33:00, or a 6:38 pace. I considered this a “B” race, tuning up for Hospital Hill, so I didn’t push quite that hard. My main goal was to keep all my splits under 7:00. I averaged 6:47 for a chip time of 33:31.1, only good enough for 26th overall, 5th in my AG (which I age out of in August!).

Here we are coming up the first hill out of the start with Loose Park to our right. That tall guy in front of me has a pretty good race face!

An 8k is some work! This guy next to me looks sad already.

The field thinned out pretty quickly. I lost sight of the lead pack, as usual, and ran practically by myself for a good portion of the race, keeping my effort pretty even. I really tried to focus on what I wanted to do (run comfortably hard, keeping all my splits under 7:00 and not overdo it) rather than racing anyone else out there. After things got sorted out past the 2 mile mark, there wasn’t a lot of passing. A younger guy running just over my right shoulder for a while finally passed me and kept gaining. I passed one slowing guy around mile 3. Then around 4.5 I passed an older guy coming up the hill toward Loose Park from the west – he was really huffing and puffing. He passed me back on the long downhill along the north side of the park prior to the turn into the finish. I feel like I could have taken him, but I just had no incentive to go over 95%. That sounds like sour grapes, but I just didn’t care. I had made up my mind to run my own race. If it had been an A race, I might have kicked it in earlier, because I do hate getting passed near the finish. As it turns out, I was catching him again because he was slowing on the final hill and I think he beat me by about a second.

I’d also like to introduce Rene. Rene is a paralyzed veteran, and I have seen him at many local races over the last few years competing in the wheelchair hand-crank division. This time, the race was small enough that I had a chance to catch him after the finish line. We passed each other back and forth several times during the race (I think he passed me last) and it was nice to finally meet him and put a name to a face. He encourages everyone to support our troops and veterans. He inspires me!

I’m sure I may have even noticed him before this, but the first race where Rene made a big impression on me was the Kansas City marathon in 2012. The pace group I was running with passed him going up Trinity Hill, and several of us shouted out our encouragement. The first few miles of KCM have some significant uphill sections, and must be incredible work on a hand crank bike. As we made the turn onto Main, however, it wasn’t long before he came whizzing past us. He was flying!

It’s serendipitous that I’d finally meet him and write about him, since the theme of this post (if it has one) is racing your own race. Rene is almost always racing his own race, as he usually has no competition in his division at local races. It’s similar (not quite! bear with me.) to the same place I find myself in at my age. I know I’m not going to win a marathon. Winning my age group is an achievable goal, and I have. Even then, it’s more about who else shows up that day than anything you’ve done (my one AG marathon win is a few minutes off my PR). Plus, you have no idea whether anyone around you is really in your age group or just pretty close to it (however, I fancy myself a really good age-guesser). I’ve never come into a final stretch of any race and known I was racing someone for an AG place. Thus, I’m always competing against myself and the goals I set. I do believe that the group dynamic of a race pushes us to achieve more than we would by running alone, but it is a more generalized effect than a specific focus on another runner. That group dynamic is why I race – it helps me to achieve my goals!

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