One reason I run marathons and half-marathon's is they provide a sense of accomplishment no matter long it takes. Shorter distances expose me to fast runners who train on track and hills. Runners who talk negative splits and tempo. Plus, there are still hanging around the finish line when I final come across. By the time I finish a marathon all the top runners are home, showered, and taking a nap. But, once a year I like to run the local '4 For The 4th' race mostly because the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. I also run it because it's about the only local 4th of July activity I participate in. It's my parade, pulled pork sandwich and fireworks all wrapped up in a 4 mile loop through the village of Charleston, IL. One year I ran it with local legend, Cal Smith. He's in his 70's and loves to run but run slowly. A few times I "ran" with Ben but he usually would beat me except the year he took sick and veered off course into the trees allowing me to fly past him and beat him to the finish for the first and only time. When Ethan Garret lived here, he'd usually run and, in fact, fly out from Arizona last year just to run this race (and maybe see his family). His brother, Josh, is always there with one of his kids who are good runners. Brett Bartlett is another friend who is there every year but he's too fast for me. Two years ago we had Elders Berger and Whitely run in their white shirts and ties and this year Elders Krull and Summers did the same.
The course is mostly flat until mile 3 with a relaxing downhill followed by a mean uphill. I hit mile 1 in just over 8 minutes by following the eventual winner of the 60-69 age group. His pace felt good to me so I stayed with him until the hill. Maybe it was my skier thighs but I was able to keep my pace up the hill and finish the last 0.5 mile feeling pretty good. I think my time of 31:14 was my best yet but not good enough to place in my age category but that's okay. I got another painting T-shirt, a free bottle of water, and the chance to donate $20 to a worth cause. Oh, plus I was able to celebrate Independence Day early and be avoid the maddening crowds for the rest of the day. Just how I like it.