I've always wanted to go to Paris and I got the chance today. Of course, I mean Paris, Illinois, not Paris, France. I've been to Paris, France several times but today was my first time ever in Paris, Illinois. I must say I was impressed with the town, which is the county seat of Edgar County. It has a great courthouse, a nice festival and a real community spirit.
I went to Paris (Illinois) to run in the 2011 Shawna Morrison Honeybee Festival 5K. Shawna Morrison was an Army National Guard sergeant from Paris who was killed serving in Iraq. The Honeybee Festival is an annual fall event in Paris.
It was a very nice race and today was a great day for running, with a temperature in the 50s.
The race starts at West Twin Lakes Park, a lovely family oriented public park north of town. The park has great pre-race facilities. The race goes out a bit in the country before the course returns to the park and the finish line. A fenced in horse we ran past saw us running and raced us for a bit.
There isn't much traffic control outside the park but there wasn't a lot of traffic to worry about. The course is mostly flat, with a rolling hill or two thrown in.
I would guess there were around 150 runners in this race, with a kid's one-mile run held before the start of the 5K. Race organizers gave out bright yellow long sleeve cotton shirts to registrants and had awards after the race, plus some fruit and water. Overall, it was very well put on.
My time was 26:54. This is two minutes slower than I was running at the beginning of the year but also two minutes faster than my last 5K, which was my worst ever, so I appear to be getting back in shape after a summer of very little running. I have trouble believing that I had a four minute swing in time within five months for a 5K distance.
Anyway, I'll keep training and eventually get my speed (such as it is) back to normal for a 5K and also start doing races with a little bit longer distance to them.
With today's race in Edgar County, I've now run a race in 65 Illinois counties, as I seek to run a race in all 102 counties in Illinois. This was my tenth race of the year and I hope to do at least two more before the end of the year.
Finally, I was so impressed with Paris that I have to tell this joke:
"What is the difference between Paris, France and Paris, Illinois? One is an international center of culture, great cuisine, classical music, art and fine wine and the other is in France."