42. Flowertown Festival Run, 2009

Joanie Beckons

This article is being posted a little late, because I moved just after the race. Yes, I finally did it. I moved to Vermont.

This race was special for a couple of reasons. First, it was the last one I would run in as a Charleston resident.Second, it was the first race Maurice Davis participated in since his stroke in December. He did the 1-mile Fun Run. I debated on whether to put the Fun Run in as it’s own race, but since it was all part of the same event I just settled for one big article. Sorry if it takes a while to load.

Camera Troubles Ended

Finally, at long last, and only a day before the race, my camera came back from repair. Ritz Camera is going through Chapter 11 restructuring, so I was kind of worried about getting it back. Everything turned out fine, though, and I was looking forward to using my Nikon again.

Registration and Separation

My friend Bob decided to participate in his first official event in twenty years, so he drove down from Columbia to crash at my place. Things went pretty well in the morning, until we got to the registration desk.

I stepped a few away from the desk to put on my race number, and Bob disappeared. He thought I had wandered off, so he went off to look for me. I waited around the Registration desk in the hope that he would loop back around, but he didn’t. We were officially separated.

Before the Race

After waiting for a painful length of time, I gave up and started greeting people. I got a few shots, most notably of Maurice Davis. He had a stroke on December 28th, and he’s recovered enough to participate again. He was planning to do the 1-mile fun-run after the main race was over.

I spent most of the time before the race looking for Bob. We had both ridden in his truck, so I couldn’t put away my race packet until I found him. I scanned the crowd while I spoke to friends. Everyone was kind of bummed out that this was my last race in Charleston, including me.

After what seemed like forever, Theresa offered to put my race packet in her car so I wouldn’t have to run with it. I gratefully accepted, at which point Bob turned up. He was coming back from the parking lot for some reason. He said that he didn’t remember where we had put the truck, so I thanked Theresa and led him to it. I can’t really judge him too harshly, really. He’s doesn’t live in the area and I frequently lose my car in the grocery parking lot. Stuff can look weird when you go to a place for the first time.

The Race Itself: After the Gun

We supposedly had a little time before the 10K started, but it’s not an exact science. I mean, I wasn’t carrying a watch. I wanted to get out there and take some Starting Line photos before things got started, so I led Bob around the corner and pointed at the truck. He was going to drop the race packets into it and join me.

I ran back to the Registration desk to find no one there. Uh-oh. Gotta get Bob. I waited for a couple of minutes, and then ran back to the truck. He wasn’t anywhere around. I ran back to Registration on the other side of the street. No Bob. Finally, I gave up and started running for the Starting Line. He was on his own, wherever he was.

As I rounded the corner I heard someone say “GO!” The crowd started up, and I was hard-pressed to run past them to the official starting point. Once there, I turned around and started passing people.

I couldn’t help but wonder where Bob had gone. Did he make it to the Starting Line? Did he get past me somehow? Will I see him on the course? Did he miss it entirely, and is he just standing back there waiting? I couldn’t worry about it all day, though. I had a race to run. I tried to put it out of my mind so I could focus on what I was doing.

One benefit to missing the Gun was not having to worry too much about speed. I ran alongside friends, watched the crowd, and even stopped by the cemetery to get a photo that wasn’t blurred by motion. I savored the race.

The Big Finish

I finished with a time of 50:04, which isn’t too bad, considering the circumstances. The first thing I did was look for Bob. I ran to the truck and back to see if he was anywhere around, and tried to make myself as visible as possible. Again there was no Bob, so I settled into my usual routine: taking photos of other people as they finish the race.

What About Bob?

Bob missed the gun, but he wasn't last.

So where was Bob all this time? Well, he was running the race after all. I didn’t see him near the truck because he was inside the truck. Confident that he had fifteen minutes to kill, he decided to move his race number to the outside of his jacket. By the time he got to the Starting Line we had all been gone for about ten minutes.

True to his old cross-country days from high school, however, he ran to the official starting point and began his race. He ran it in about an hour, but of course the clock said that it was 1:10:00.

Thankfully, we didn’t have any trouble keeping track of each other after that.

After the Race

One of the things I like doing at these events is connecting people. It’s not difficult in the Running Community, since everyone treats each other like family anyway. I had lots of fun introducing Theresa to the rest of the group.

Bright Hopes and Dismal Failures

This was the Big Deal of the event. Maurice was back. He had a stroke on December 28th, and a benefit race was held to help him with the medical bills. He’s a popular guy around Charleston, and everyone was excited to see him with a number on his shirt.

That Dude is Gone
That Dude is Gone

I was ready to wave him on when Jennifer Smock smiled and said “What? You’re not going to run with Maurice?” In response, I flashed a wide grin and stepped into line. Then I turned around to where Theresa was standing, flashed another grin and waved her over.

Theresa's Angry
She probably hates me now.

She laughed for a moment until she realized that I wasn’t kidding, and then she stepped up. “I can’t believe I’m doing this. I just ran six miles!”

“It’s just one more” I replied. “No worries.”

I stood right next to Maurice as the race began. I figured that it would be nice to run with the guy for a change. He’s normally much faster than I am, but he was recovering from a stroke so I figured that I could pace him.

At the first turn, I realized two things. First, if I maintained that speed for any length of time, I was going to throw up. Second, I was pretty sure that Maurice was still accelerating. Stroke or no stroke, the guy was not going to be caught that day.

It then dropped back to run with Theresa, who was already complaining. She couldn’t believe that I had gotten her into this, she had already run six miles, she didn’t like me anymore, etc., etc. I smiled and let her rant a bit, noting the smirk on her face as she did so. I sped up to get ahead of her and turned around. As usual, she was a good sport and struck a sexy pose for me.

Hanging Around After the 1-Mile Run

I finished the 1-mile with a time of 7:30. Maurice finished with 5:30. (I think he’s recovering quite well after all.) Afterwards I hung out and spent some time with my friends. I was getting kind of bummed out, actually. Even as I write this, I miss the people. There always seems to be something or someone new around.

After a bit of hanging out, we moved over to the Awards Table to see who got what. The big winner was Theresa, who finished Fourth among women and First in her age group. Well done!

Insane Woman at the Race.

It's so cold! Man, it's so cold!
It’s so cold! Man, it’s so cold!

Okay, explain this to me. It was cold in the morning, right? This leaves a runner with two options. You can either freeze before the race an be okay while you run, or you can bundle up before and be too warm as you run. I chose to strip gloves and hat as I went, while Theresa chose to freeze. At left, you can see how happy she was with this decision.

After the race, her first priority was to get back to the car and get her track suit before her body cooled down and left her cold again. Reasonable so far…

How About Some Cold Food?
Hey, how about some really cold food? I like the Mango!

Finally, she ran right over to a truck vendor and bought some Italian Ice, whatever the hell that is. As far as I can tell, it’s a really expensive snow cone. No one will admit this, of course. If you question it, then you’re just not cultured enough to understand why snow cones are worth so much these days. (Due to past experiences with other people, I didn’t ask her about the nature of Italian Ice.)

What I don’t get is why she would put on clothes to get warm, and then immediately shovel ice down her throat.

Women are weird.

Final Thoughts

Oh, man. I can still feel it. Other races are coming up, including the Bridge Run, and I’m going to miss them all. I’m sure that there’s stuff in Vermont for me to do, but there’s a special place in my heart for Charleston. Maybe I’ll fly down for another race sometime.