The first weekend I stayed in our new house in St. Louis I saw there was going to be a huge cross country race at nearby Forest Park. While the event was mostly aimed at high school runners, they had a 4K open race (2.5 miles). Having just whet my appetite for cross country at the DHS alumni race a few weeks prior I decided to run it. There aren't a whole lot of open cross country races around, so I wasn't really sure what type of people were going to show up. The answer is good runners. A lot of them.
It poured down rain all the previous day and night so the course was ankle deep water in many places. It only took a few steps of my pre-race warmup to give up all hope of keeping my feet dry. A sizable crowd lined up for the 7:30 AM open 4K and then we were off. The start was very fast and I was quite a ways back even after I started faster than I should have. The first mile was 5:32, and I slowed down from there. The second lap was a lot of back and forth, notably with a 13 year old boy and a 22 year old woman who went on to win the women's race. Around two miles in I repeated to myself "I'm too old for this shit", by which of course I meant races that short and that fast.
I finished in 14:50 (5:58 pace), 25th overall, and I somehow managed to get 3rd in the 30-39 age group. Despite the fact that I actually had a pretty solid race, I was a ways off the top 5-10% I would have expected for this sort of race... indicating the competition was really good.
I stuck around a short while to watch a couple of the early high school races before heading back home. It's been over 10 years since I watched a high school XC meet. It was a good time.