When I signed up for the Lake Ridge race, I saw it as a chance to say hello to some friends, breeze through a 5K and knock another county off the list.
The nasty little hills on the neighborhood course, however, proved to be a bit more challenging than I expected. But unlike the last time these friends went to one of my races, I actually finished.
The last time was the New York Marathon. Greg & Shirley and three other friends I’ve kept in touch with on-and-off since working at the Easton Star-Democrat newspaper some 20 years ago came to New York to route me on. They were ready to cheer at mile 17. Problem is, I dropped out at mile 13. I failed to slow myself down when I got off to too quick of a start. My training had slipped in the last month before the race. When I started feeling dizzy and the run just wasn’t fun anymore, I called it quits. When I eventually made it back to the hotel, I got a hero’s welcome. There was a lot of concern that I was going to be upset, but I knew I made the right decision.
Shirley works at the Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association. The association is made up of more than 7,200 homes. Its offices served as the 5K start and finish line. The family-friendly event attracted a good number of preteens as well as many of their parents. Lots of prizes and ribbons, including trophies for the fastest elementary school and the one with the most participants. A DJ blared music. And the National Anthem was played on the harp.
The course itself had more hills than I had expected. When I huffed up some of them, I got the privilege of watching 9 and 10 year olds zoom by.
The next week, I took on the flattest run I’ve ever done. The Manassas Runway 10K took place on the Manassas Airport — literary on the runway. Planes lined up for an air show later in the day made for a picturesque setting.
Both races were in Prince William County, less than 30 miles from Washington,D.C. The county, with a median income of $90K, is U.S.’s 16th most wealthy. Its population of 400,000 makes it the third largest county in the state. It is also home to the 15,000-acre Prince William Forest Park and the Manassas National Battlefield Park, where the two Bull Run Civil War battles took place.
17 runs down, 117 to go.
View PW County in a larger map
View Manassas Runway in a larger map