On Gold Medals & Brass Rings...

So the wife wanted to go Knoebels this weekend for some sort of Craftapalooza event where 300 stick and twig vendors converge on an amusement park. The basic premise is Dads can take kids on the rides while Moms buy stuff. Yes, I'm stereotyping but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Knoebels is an old-time amusement park with free admission, cheap(er) food compared to other parks. Picture a country carnival where you don't need to worry about the rides killing your children. I was pretty easily convinced to go, though: A. my family went a lot when I was a kid, but I'm sure it's been 20-22 years since I've been there so I was curious and B. twigs and roller coasters wasn't enough - they tacked on a 5k race this weekend for good measure.

Now a 5k race the day before my 4th 20 mile training run wasn't the brightest idea, ever, but I rationalized it would be just like doing my speed workout (and missing a rest day).

Turn-out was fairly light - 96 people. Color coded entries made it easy to see who was in your age group... there was only 1 guy who looked very fit in my age group, but he had a walk-man. Now, I've got nothing against walk-men people - heck, I wore 1 in my half-marathon last week and will wear one in my full marathon, too, but I guess I think if you need one for a 5k, you're not planning on getting done too quickly.

With the turnout so light, I took my place right on the starting line. The only other guys who seemed really serious about the whole affair was the local high school cross-country crowd and sure enough, they took off like they were shot from a gun.

With my 20 miler a day later, I'd decided to go for an extra hard, but not all out effort. I also decided to run mostly on feel and looked at my Garmin much less than normal.

Right away, I saw that any ideas I had of winning this thing were nuts, as one of the cross country dudes floored it. He'd end up winning in 16:59. Still, I was surprised to see that most of the pack didn't get too far ahead of me.

In the back of my mind, I had thoughts of breaking 20 minutes, but didn't think I'd have much of a shot.... one week removed from a 1/2 marathon, not going all-out, on a course that was very rolly didn't seem too promising.

But in the end, I finished in 20:11, good for 8th place overall and first in my age group. My first ever age group award (I've had a 4th and a 5th, too) was a little Gold medal. Pretty cool.

Later in the day, my son and I watched the merry-go-round, and I explained the "grab the brass ring" thing to him since they actually do that at Knoebels... He couldn't wait to try, though I warned him I thought he'd be a bit small to reach the arm, so he was cool with letting me do the hard work. Wouldn't you know it? First time around, I actually grabbed the brass ring and won a free ride. Now that's a day at the park, friends.

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