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If you do call yourself a runner, can you handle the truth?

April Fool's 15K

2002 April Fools Run 15k: Bosworth Drops Rage

As I opened up the door anticipating music from Coop's rig, I prayed I would not have my pre-race thoughts cluttered with some weird, obscure musical fact that would give me pause the next time I mindlessly spewed whatever lyrics Coop would decide to enlighten me about. Hoping for something like CCR's "Born on the Bayou," he pops in a CD and out comes Jimi Hendrix. When it comes to music, Coop is more of a deep thinker and I'm one of those shallow types. This is partly due to our contrasting backgrounds: While he was ho-dadn' it in the 70's, I was working in a plywood mill. He's from the East Coast (D.C. area). I was born in Iowa and grew up in Roseburg-from earthen smells, the stench of manure and endless, rolling cornfields to the home of the largest privately owned lumber mill in the world. If we were siblings in the Stamper family (Ken Kesey's "Sometimes a Great Notion"), he'd be the rebellious, deep thinking kid type and I was more likely to be the guy who chain-sawed the banker's desk in half…ya know what I mean? You understand what I'm sayin'? So who would you think might have had a tougher time with "The White Album?" There you have it. Give me some Credence, baby.

When we pulled into Alton Baker Park in Eugene, Oregon, I saw a familiar tall figure: Todd Bosworth, the devil himself. I immediately thought: Isn't he running the Boston Marathon in nine days? What's he doing racing? Shouldn't he be tapering?

I met Todd in a race a couple of years ago (See Rage Race Reports…The Truffle Shuffle) and we have repeatedly tried to kill each other ever since. A sense of dread came over me as I had not planned on working that hard today. Time for plan B. He's very good and if I don't give him my best race, I'll be looking at his back the whole way. I knew he was marathon training, which would put me at a disadvantage endurance-wise. While he was running 50-60 miles per week, I was running 25-30. However, my mileage was mostly intense and my speed was pretty good. I just didn't know if I could count on it late in the race when his marathon training would kick in. I wished I had not played soccer the day before, especially trying to keep up with a bunch of middle schoolers. My legs were sore.

Coop, Todd and I warmed up in the presence of our entire 10kTruth staff, who showed up to take pictures and talk some smack. Bruce helped me forget about my leg soreness by inducing anger, as only he can (e.g. showing me ads from Runner's World's latest "Penguin" travesty).

The field for this race usually is pretty thin, given that it's early in the season for a 9.3 mile race. This year was similar to last year's field, with only 64 runners.

The gun sounded and we were off. I reminded Todd how fast he went out last year, and he seemed to take note. He had backed off to a 6:07 first mile, compared to last year's 5:55. I hung back with a 6:11. Like last year, Todd was leading the race. Jake Walsh, last year's defending champion was running with Steve DiNatale. All of them appeared to step it up in the second mile...especially Todd to widen his lead.

Front of the Pack at the start of the 2002 April Fools 15K, Alton Baker Park, Eugene, OR

More runners at the start of the 2002 April Fools 15K in Alton Baker Park, Eugene, OR - April 6, 2002

In the second mile, a young runner pulled even with me. He reminded me of one of my running partner's son's, Mike Wilson (see Run for the Shamrock Race Report). He was 17 year old Austin Bowles. Like Ron's boy, he didn't even seem to be working and wanted to chat. "Did you run the Turkey Stuffer?" he asks. He then wondered who the runners were in front of us, and decided to go with them, while he casually took in the scenery. I continued to hang back and had slowed to a 6:14 mile pace for the second mile, hoping to hang on to that pace for a while.

By the third mile, Todd had a 200 meter lead, and I passed Walsh, who appeared to cramp up. Steve Bean pulled up alongside and also didn't seem to be working too hard. About five years younger and with a college running resume that included 31:00 minute 10ks, I wisely let him go, too.

As we turned east and headed toward Springfield, I tried to maintain the gap with DiNatale, who was running strong and steady about 40 yards in front of me. The turnaround point just after mile 6 was lengthened from last year, which made no difference to me and any of the dozen or so runners who might be returning this year after taking a wrong turn last year, adding a bonus loop around the pond next to the finish area.

Bowles was now leading and Todd was running second, followed by Bean and DiNatale. As the leaders reached the turnaround point and looped back toward their pursuers, their faces showed no signs of fatigue. All looked strong. I would have my work cut out for me reeling any of these guys in. I tried to straighten up as they went by, but could not hide my own fatigue. My plan was to try to pick it up for the last 5k, but a 6:15 for mile 7 was not what I was hoping for.

I finally was able to squeeze a few seconds out of mile 8 and pulled even with DiNatale, encouraging him to "go get those guys." We were running out of real estate quickly.

With less than a mile to go, I knew all them would now be stepping up the pace, making my 6:05 9th mile a moot point. I was still five seconds behind Todd and he was digging hard in the final third of a mile. I was not going to get him. Not even Bruce holding up that stupid Runner's World Penguin ad could get my legs churning any faster.

Tod Harris (above) finished third behind Steve Bean.
Tod's time was 57:31 when he crossed the actual finish line.

Todd Bosworth (pictured below) finished in fourth place overall at 57:37. He ran a great race. Bean finished second in 57:29 and DiNatale finished sixth in 58:01. Coop finished in 1:08. Bowles was the overall winner in 56:54. Denise Kelp won the women's race in 1:06.41.

DiNatale's better half, Nancy Halter (who coincidentally introduced my beautiful, patient, tolerant, understanding and forgiving better half and I in 1979) finished in 1:14, first in her age division.

I ran 57:42 and could not have run one second faster. I ran the first 10k @ a 6:14 pace and the last 5k @ 6:08. I ran a good race, but it was not good enough to catch Todd. Next time... The Rage

Rage Race Report: 2001 April Fools Run, Eugene, Oregon

As every runner knows, hills build strength. Gravity offers great resistance against one's own body. Sort of like the uphill battle of a running fool's family, who must continuously act interested as their dad prepares for another race and starts rattling off a bunch of meaningless numbers sharing his experience with them. Can you blame them? How many races can you expect your family to endure (especially after the '99 Steens Rim Run) just for the sake of a brief "go dad" as you freeze your butt off, wishing your old man would opt for the sideburns and Corvette to get him through his mid-life crisis.

So when my daughter first expressed enthusiasm at my suggestion that she cover the April Fools Run as an official 10Ktruth on-course photographer, I was really excited. "Think of it!" I exclaimed. "You'll be taking some action photos of The Rage and Coop in action…in a real race!" Of course, I waited until later to try to ease her into the rest of the deal, which was getting up at 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning.

Needless to say, the punch line to this joke was that I was drivin' the ol' 'vette…uh…I mean Dodge Dakota…down to another race alone. So, my apologies to my readers for not having some close up Coop and Rage "Zatopekish" expressions putting the exclamation point on this otherwise outstanding race report.

My preparation on race morning is pretty nonscientific. I don't like much to eat…maybe a banana or cup of hot cereal and a couple of cups of coffee and I'm out the door. I grab a section of the paper to read in the car with the heater going (my daughter is a smart girl, isn't she?) waiting to the last possible minute in some cases to do whatever warm up the distance called for. For a 15k this early in the year, I wouldn't be doing much…saving as much as I had for the race itself.

At the start near the banks of the Willamette River in Alton Baker Park, it was real foggy…and cold. Looked like long sleeves and gloves today, but the sun would undoubtedly start burning through during the race.

I'd never run a 15K before. I had no idea how to run what seemed like an odd distance to me. At 9.3 miles, it was not quite a 10-miler, making it sort of a "tweener" on the way to a half-a-thon.

Inspired by Coop's huge race a couple of weeks earlier (see Rage Race Report: Run for the Shamrock), I wanted to race, but I was not sure how to run a 15k.

Coop and I planned a dry run nine days before the race. We both ran well, but I faded on the last 5k…something I obviously didn't want to do come race time. My preparation consisted of a couple of spirited 1:45 runs over the last several weeks, along with a couple of slower 1:30's. The speed work was average, but I had managed to get in a few track workouts, running some decent 10-lap variations (4-3-2-1, 5 x 800, etc…). The missing element was Kong. I hadn't run it now for a couple of months, so my strength was not what it should be for optimal racing performance. I tried to fake it with some 7 x 90 second hill repeats, but I could almost feel Kong looking down it utter disgust, whispering "…racing season is nearly upon you, Rage…where are you?…"

Coop and I did a brief warm-up in the parking lot and joined the 50 other runners milling around at the start. With barely an announcement, the gun sounded right on schedule, prompting a few late comers who asked to no one in particular "is this the 15k?" one even looking up from their last hastily tied double knot along the roadside…a real informal lot, we were…

As Todd Bosworth (See Rage Race Report: Truffle Shuffle) set the early pace, Mark Kalen greeted me with a friendly hello, and I settled in behind him, but not until I confirmed his availability to run with Team Killerwatts in the upcoming Oregon Marathon Relay. Yep. He was a go…and about that time, both of us realized talking and running simultaneously had become too difficult, and we succumbed to the sounds of breathing, snorting and pavement pounding. We hit the first mile in 6:04 and then made our way out toward Pre's Trail.

I took time to look at the course ahead of time. It had a couple of detours and double-backs to get the distance covered and I wanted to make sure I stayed on course. While the course would not actually be running on the bark surface of Pre's Trail, we would be running on the bike path and on Day Island Road, which run parallel to this legendary running path in Eugene.

The first detour was a hard left across the canal for a loop around an adjacent neighborhood, just after mile 2. By that time, Jake Walsh had taken the lead, with Todd now on the heels of Douglas Ritenour and continuing to run a strong third. I was well back…at least 40-50 yards running with about 3-4 other runners and was starting to get more confident in holding on to something in the 6:12-15 range. I wanted to break 58:00.

When we completed the neighborhood loop, we doubled back to the west down the canal for nearly three quarters of a mile before turning back east again. By that time, a slight breeze had come up as we headed over the most exposed portion of the course, continuing to parallel Pre's Trail as we headed back east.

I crossed mile 6 in 37:17. Shortly thereafter, the course doubled back to the west for the last 5k. Coop and I passed by each other at that point and he looked steady and in control, as usual, giving me a thumbs up on the way by.

From the dry run, I knew miles 7 and 8 would be the key, and fortunately, I felt a lot better than nine days earlier at this point. I started picking up the pace at start of mile 7 and passed a couple of runners, moving into fifth place. Todd continued to run strong and it took me a pretty good surge before I finally pulled even with him at about halfway through the ninth mile.

We exchanged greetings and then tried to kill each other, as both of us knew we would over the last three quarter mile.

I paused just before what should have been the final turn and looked up ahead and saw Ritenour, still running in second place, proceed past that turn and head around the pond in the park, taking basically the same finish route as the Run for the Shamrock course. Turning where I hesitated would have easily cut him off and I still hadn't seen the nine mile mark. It wasn't until we were in the finish area that we heard the other runners talking about the course being long. Apparently, we enjoyed killing each other so much that we had taken a bonus loop around the Alton Baker Park pond, adding about 300 meters or so onto our race, looking for a ninth mile mark that didn't show up with eight other huge mile marks. The worst part was I pulled about the next 10 runners with me, and felt like the same idiot that was calling splits in the Run for the Shamrock! Despite my report to you on that race, I guess I can cause more damage running and not watching races! Needless to say, I don't get a lot of practice running third in a race. I think it's safe to say I won't get many more opportunities, either. Whatever distance I ran, it took me 58:12 and Todd was right there, too. As if to underscore our blunder, a person in a full Court Jester costume greeted us at the finish! Perfect.

At least Coop got it right, finishing in 1:05.10, which was about two minutes faster than his time last year. As I looked to Coop for some sympathy, he turns to the guy in the Court Jester suit and says: "Hey, buddy. Mind if this guy tries on that suit?"

Next year, a closer look at the course map will be part of my training program. At least we got our April Fool out of the way pretty early in the day!

And that's The Truth.

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Date and time page last updated: 03/14/2013 4:43 PM