The Hardywood Twilight 4 Miler

So one of my favorite local breweries, Hardywood Park, decided to host a block party with a 4 mile cover charge. Ha.

When we heard about this back in January, Byram and I knew we had to sign up; it was a great way to support the brewery, have a fun “date”, and you know, add 4 miles onto our weekly training logs. Now, I have done a few first timer races, and in my past experience, they are under-organized and confused events. Not for lack of trying, but I know from my own experience, organizing an event for a large number of people is a daunting task, requires experience, and ALWAYS suffers unforeseen difficulties.

So my expectations for this race were a bit low. In fact, you could call me skeptical that this would go smoothly.

I am so thrilled to say that Hardywood stepped up to the plate and knocked out a tremendously fun event with a limited number of wrinkles. They arranged for parking at the nearby baseball stadium, so there was plenty of easily accessed parking. We had done our part and picked up our packets the previous day, so we avoided that particular line. We also decided to leave work about an hour early so we got there with almost 2 hours until race time. That allowed us plenty of time to sample the Twilight Weiss they debuted last night for the race. With a fantastic beer and fantastic company, we enjoyed relaxing and conversing and just having a little grown up time.

We ran into our friends Matt, Alicia, and Jennifer, and hung out with them as we waited to start. It was really nice seeing friendly faces.

When it came time to go, Byram and I decided to line up at the back of the slowest running corral rather than with the walkers. It was so hard not to take off running as we crossed that starting line, but we stuck with the plan to get a good long warm up walk in. Post-race, we concluded that our warm up walk was a bit too long, but that is a good thing to learn. We started running around the 1 mile mark or shortly thereafter. Byram pulled up with a fortunately short-lived Charlie horse in that first run, but I think we were sort of jazzed and ready to run and took off at too fast a pace. He worked the cramp out and we slowed the pace down and got to work. Rather than base his running intervals on the watch, he chose to use music, and that seemed to work very well.

I know the race was a tremendous inconvenience to those people who had to travel around the City last night, but it was a beautiful part of the Fan to run in, it was lovely waving at residents who were spectating from their porches and cheering us on, and really, we could not have asked for more perfect conditions. It was cool, but not so cold as to freeze us after the race, low humidity, and a gorgeous clear sky that was later lit up by one of the most beautiful full moons I have ever seen.

We finished the race strong and Byram earned a new personal record, pulling 7 full minutes off his last 4 mile race time, and we finished in under an hour. The race photographer got a good picture of us grinning at each other as we were running to the finish line. I spotted her and told him to make sure he looked cute since we were getting our picture taken. He responded with something pithy and sarcastic, and so we were laughing at each other when she got us. That picture now graces my computer screen as wallpaper.

It took almost as long to get our free post-race beer as it did to run the race, but it didn’t feel too onerous. I spotted a coworker who had come out for beer and the party, so we chatted briefly with him, and eventually got our Twilight beers and headed around a corner and out of the sea of people.

It was the most fun I have had at a race. I went with low expectations and no goal other than to encourage Byram and enjoy his company, and my expectations were blown away and I solidly met both of my goals.

My favorite memories of the event will be some of the cute signs held by volunteers for the race (“Take your time, we ran out of beer!” followed by “Just kidding!”), seeing the guy who lapped us before we had hit the 1 mile mark while he was on his way to win the race, cheering for a mom and her young son (maybe 4 years old) who were running a bit, seeing that clock read 58 minutes as we closed in on it, and crossing the finish line right next to my best friend.

I hope Hardywood can do it again next year. If they do, I’ll be there.

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