Friday, February 6, 2009

01/31/09: Tal Morrison 15K

By seven o’clock Saturday morning, I was parking up on the softball field at Winfrey Point because all the primo parking had been scarfed up; at eight o’clock I was standing in the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at a Dallas Running Club race, at least among their races that are free to club members. Which I am, having paid $25 for the privilege at the beginning of the year and now, having done for free two races that would have otherwise cost me $10 each, I’m closing in on making that look like a sound financial decision.

The Dallas Running Club has made a major push to increase membership over the past few years and now claim to be the third largest running club in the nation (my guess would be that the New York Road Runners Club and the Atlanta Track Club are bigger) with over 3000 members and I’m pretty sure their club races have grown along with the membership rolls. When I ran the Bloomin’ Four-Mile in 2006 there were 164 finishers; when I ran it last year they had 378. The Tal Morrison scholarship races went from 170 finishers in the 15K in 2006 to 235 between the 5K and 15K in 2007 to 572 between the two races in 2008 to 750 in both this year. Maybe it’s the increased membership, maybe it’s the appeal of less expensive races in dark economic times but yeah, I think these races may be growing some.

I was at Winfrey Point to run this year’s edition of the Tal Morrison (founder of the Cross Country Club of Dallas, precursor to the Dallas Running Club) 15K; three mornings after a Category 2, maybe even Category 3, ice storm, Dallas was headed to a high around seventy. At 8:00, though, it was a brisk 37 degrees so I went with shorts and a long-sleeve shirt; one benefit to a large crowd at the start is that there’s more body heat to keep you comfortable when you’re underdressed for the weather.

The course started to the north and looped the lake, crossing over from east to west on Mockingbird. They’re still working on the spillway and probably will be for months, so once again we got to avoid the shaky bridge and instead ran along Garland Road instead. I started back in the crowd and ran conservatively, hitting the first mile at 9:06 which is right about where I passed the dude who passed me at the end of the Frigid 10K. I never saw him again during the race today; except for one small hiccup, I ran every mile progressively faster (8:48, 8:31, 8:33 (hic), 8:24, 8:21, 8:15, 8:13, and 7:59), finishing in 1:18:31 (watch time), about six minutes ahead of him and feeling like I’ve restored some small sense of order to the universe.

Club races, especially club races in off-season months when the racing options on a particular day tend to be limited, tend not to be tremendous ego boosters as serious runners tend to show up and casual runners tend to stay home, present company excluded. I finished 20th of 31 in my age group, 139th out of 249 men, and 179th out of 417 overall, in a race where I was actually happy with my time – for now. If I run a 15K in decent fall weather, I’ll be shooting to break 1:15.

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