There were many things and people I missed during my five years in Virginia. One of the races I missed the most was the Salem Lake 30K in Winston-Salem, which I was happy to run today for the first time since 2004. I wish that it wasn't a 90-minutes away from my house in Durham, but it was worth the drive.
Executive summary: Finished in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 37 seconds, which gave me a "40-something PR," meaning that I've only run a 30K faster than that once: When I was 39 and ran a 2:21 at the 1999 Salem Lake 30K. Obviously the second-fastest time of the seven Salem Lake 30Ks I've run. I guess it pays to be old, though: I finished third in my age group.
There are many reasons I love this race. It's obviously put on by runners and they don't charge an outrageous fee like many other races. For a mere $20, dirt cheap for today's standards, I get everything I need. They do a lot of little things right such as using paper cups at water stations instead of plastic cups, providing good race support and helpful volunteers.
They don't have race chips, but that doesn't really bother me if it means the fee is lower. There isn't much crowd support, but that's never a big deal to me.
It's a very good race for people training for marathons, providing a much more helpful test than a half marathon.
The weather wasn't very helpful, though. Today's low, in the high 60s, is supposed to be Sunday's high. It was the hottest SL 30K I've run. Fortunately, there is a lot of shade, but that also turned my Garmin into nothing more than a stopwatch because it did not get a signal most of the way (it had me only running 13.9 of the 18.6 miles.)
It was irritating not getting constant feedback on my pace, and having to settle for feedback at every mile marker.
I ended up averaging 7:53 miles, which is closer to what I'll be hoping for at the Marshall University Marathon on Nov. 7. After splits of 7:08 and 7:50 in the first two miles, I was a bit more consistent the rest of the way, edging more toward 8-minute pace in the last few miles.
It turns out that my biggest mistake of the day was leaving before the awards ceremony. I wouldn't have come close to winning an age-group award with today's time in recent years, so I didn't hang around. I was stunned when the results were posted online to learn that I finished third in my age group. I suppose that the hot weather made a lot of people slower.
Overall, a good race day that hopefully provides me with helpful training for my marathon.