'Menifee Mom' Takes Us On a Run Around the Course

Editor's note: Menifee resident Karen Thomas writes a "Menifee Mom" column regularly ...

Editor's note: Menifee resident Karen Thomas writes a "Menifee Mom" column regularly for Menifee 24/7. She also is an avid runner. Here she writes about her experience running in Saturday's Menifee Half-Marathon.

By Karen Thomas

Due to the hazardous air quality from the smoke that blew in on Friday, I went to bed that night not knowing if I would be racing in the morning or not. It was so bad I didn't want to walk around outside, let alone run.

The race organizers were not oblivious to the conditions. They had contact with authorities who were monitoring the weather and the air quality. As expected, the winds shifted overnight, blowing most of the smoke out of our area.

Still, when I arrived at the Mt. San Jacinto College campus in Menifee Saturday morning, I wasn't so sure running was a good idea. There was still the smell of smoke in the air. But the race was going on as planned and I couldn't bear the idea of sitting this one out.

A few miles into the race, I received a phone call telling me one of my kid's soccer games was cancelled due to the smoke. That made me think maybe I shouldn't be running, but I kept going anyway.

Checking in for the race was a breeze. Things were organized and everything went quickly. The restrooms seemed adequate too. I've started so many races waiting in a very long line for that one last trip to the bathroom. Not so with this race. That's one benefit of a small town race.

At 7:35 a.m. (there was a 5-minute delay due to problems getting roads closed), we counted down from 10 and the horn blew, signaling the start of the race. Right off I noticed a lot of people forgetting to run across the mat at the start to activate their chip timer in their racing bib. Oops. Rookie mistake they won't make next time.

Despite a lack of an obvious corral helping people to cross the start line properly, the race organizers did a nice job preparing the race course. The miles were marked, the turnarounds obvious, and the water stations were adequate. The roads were kept clear and safe. Not only did they have nice cold water and cute kids offering to spray you with water, but they had Gatorade and electrolyte gels as well.

Personally, I prefer to carry my own water and use the aid station water to splash on my body. It just isn't easy drinking out of a paper cup while running. My plan almost backfired, though, as I came around the turn onto Holland Road. Just as I started to throw the water on myself I looked down and noticed it was Gatorade! That was close.

Apparently, a fellow runner wasn't so lucky. After the turnaround, I noticed a man running whose shirt carried the mark of being splashed with Gatorade. Hopefully next year the organizers will help people more clearly identify the liquid they are offering!

I was feeling pretty good throughout most of the race. I sometimes make small talk with people I run by and several commented that they felt some effects of oxygen deprivation due to the lingering smoke in the air. I felt it too, but I didn't feel like it was effecting my time too much. I went into this race treating it as a warm-up for the Fontana Half -arathon coming up in just three weeks, so I was running somewhat conservatively.

After the first turnaround, I was surprised when I found myself in position as the third-place female runner. Late in the race, though, I was starting to feel a little sick and I let my pace slack. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a female runner came zooming past me. I couldn't believe I had let my guard down and gotten passed on a downhill section! I had held my position for 11 miles.

She had turned on the jets and, honestly, I just wasn't feeling it. There was no catching her. As she passed she said, "Don't worry, I'm not in your age group. I'm at least 15 years older than you!" I think that was supposed to make me feel better. (Turns out she is only nine years older.) I give her credit for finishing strong. Nice job Kim, Cochran!

As I approached the finish line, accepting my fourth-place female status, I was disappointed at the size of the crowd. Usually there are more people cheering and giving you the adrenaline rush you need at that point. Perhaps the Relay for Life held this weekend drew a lot of people away, including the high school track and cross country teams that often get involved in small town races. Or maybe it was the smoke.

Still, despite a small showing, it was a race worth running. There is something special about running a race at home, seeing the familiar sights, and enjoying the local farmland. I loved getting to see my family (left) and even a friend at different points during the race. Having a medal from my hometown is pretty cool, too.

The front of the shirt everyone received with their entry shows the silhouette of a runner in front of a rising sun. Just like that sun, in the six years since incorporation, Menifee is proving to be a rising sun. I'm proud of our town and the effort put into events like this. Smoky or not, it was one community event I'm glad I participated in.

Check out the full results on Racewire.com. Search "Menifee Half Marathon."Maybe you will place next year! Special awards were given to the top finishers overall and the top finishers in each age group.

Karen Thomas, our "Menifee Mom," is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.


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