To be honest, the last place I’ve felt like running lately has been on the trail. It’s really nice out there, but after experiencing 26.2 miles of it all at once, I’ve been much happier out on the road for now. Yesterday my run club hosted the 4th event in their Grand Prix series; a 5K and it was – you guessed it – on the trail. As much as I’ve been avoiding it lately, there was no way I would be skipping out on this one. I really want to finish well in the GPS standings at the end of the year and I already missed one of the races due to my stupid tendon.
This was not the same trail as Potts, but rather the one where I trained in order to get my body used to running on a crushed stone/dirt surface. I was more familiar with this course than I have been with any other race that I’ve run to date; an out and back and I knew exactly where the turnaround would be without even having to see it. Race time was 8am and for once I knew where I was going so I didn’t have to leave my house until around 7:15.
It was nice to sleep in a little bit, especially considering that I had attended my company picnic the day before and a teensy amount of wine may have been consumed.
I got there with plenty of time to pay my $2 and get in a half mile warm up jog and some stretching. I’ve gotten a lot better about warm ups lately and I do think it has made an impact on my race performance. I was a little concerned about some knee pain I’ve been experiencing on and off and which flared up pretty badly during my 8 miler on Saturday – like as in…badly enough that I almost called Mr. Salt to come get me, but I managed to work the kink out. I had it taped up with bright pink KT Tape, which is a GREAT conversation starter. Because the race was held on Father’s Day, all the fathers had their bibs marked with an F and there would be a special prize at the end for the fastest one. The weather was PERFECT. Mid-60’s and sunny with low humidity.
At promptly 8am we were all lined up at the trail head and given the go via air horn. The trail is pretty narrow right there, but this was a very small race (114 finishers in all) and there wasn’t much jostling for position as we took off. Many of the guys in the club are wicked fast and it was like I blinked and they were gone. For a little while I was running in front for the women, but then I got passed by one speedy girl just as we were nearing the turnaround point who I would never even get close to catching.
During mile 2, disaster almost struck in the form of a bug meeting my eyeball AGAIN. This is something I had been worried about with running on the trail and yet I had been to Target the previous day – and the day before that – and failed to get sunglasses. Luckily this bug was bigger than a gnat so I saw it coming and was able to close my eye just before it collided with my face and bounced harmlessly off my eyelid. LESSON LEARNED. The next day I’m scheduled to run outside is Wednesday and I will have at least a cheap pair before then. (For long term use, I’m currently obsessed with these.)
Anyway, I started losing some steam during mile 3, but my knee wasn’t hurting so at least I had that going for me. I could tell there was a girl following closely to my right and we ran together for most of that mile. At one point she got ahead of me, but then from somewhere I was able to dig out a little extra speed that I guess I had been saving for later. I have no idea where it came from because I was seriously sucking wind at that point.
I passed her and finished in 2nd place wondering how the hell I had just managed to do that. I was hoping for a good age group placement that day for the GPS standings, but I wasn’t expecting to do THAT well or to GET A NEW 5K PR!!!
For the first time ever my average was under 7 minutes! (6:57/mile)
After I was finished with my dry heaving, I visited the table they had set up for refreshments: cold water, some sports drinks, bagels, bananas, and even yummy Italian ice which was a very nice touch. Everything was so well organized and the volunteers were amazing; both things I have come to expect from run club events. It’s really a great group to be a part of!
The rest of the day was spent celebrating Father’s Day with Betty, Mr. Salt, and our families (lunch with his dad and then dinner with mine). It was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend.
Did you race this weekend? Have you ever attended a run club event? How did you celebrate Father’s Day?
Happy belated to all you wonderful dads out there!