I took a respite this week from my half marathon training to run a local 5K. One of the things about living in the middle of nowhere like I do, is that you have to travel dozens of miles for pretty much anything and everything, from basic groceries on up. Running events are no exception. Typically in order to compete in even a small scale race, I have to drive 20 to 50 miles. Thus, when my wife saw in the newspaper this week that there was a 5K being run in a small Town just 8 or 10 minutes up the road from us, I thought, why not? True my half-marathon schedule had me doing my Low, Slow, Distance run of 11 miles that day, but that race isn't until December and I have modified the training schedule multiple time along the way. What's one more change?
That being said, I wasn't sure what to reasonably expect out of this race. I haven't run any race of any distance in about 3 months and my training has been more of the longer and slower variety than the shorter, faster 5K distance. The weather though promised to be fantastic and the course looked to be fast. So as I drove to the event I was hopeful of a good run, maybe even threaten my PR and if all went well, shave a few seconds off of it.
I knew there would be a small field for this race. Apparently the original sponsor dropped out just about two weeks before the event. After registering I received an e-mail from the race organizer stating that registration was low and to let anyone who might be interested know about the event. That e-mail went out to a grand total of 6 people. So, when 27 of us lined up to start the race I thought that was a decent turn-out given the somewhat unique circumstances.
The course was a triangular-shaped road course of about 1.5 miles. We made two loops around to where we started and then the third time by we went just a little farther and veered off into a park to the finish line. It was a great run. I probably did my best job ever of running my own race. I concentrated on running fast, but just fast for me, not in comparison to the high school cross country kids who were also running! And, I did run fast. My first mile was in well under my usual 5K pace and while I slowed on successive miles, it wasn't by much.
All races seem to have something unusual or unique that occurs. This race was no exception and it happened on the second loop, at about the 2.5 mile point in the race. The event was held as a part of a Fall Festival being held in the little Town of Hurlock, MD. One of the highlights of the day is the chance to ride an old passenger train. Well this passenger train was loading for the first excursion of the day as we came by it on our last loop. The problem was that the train was parked across the road. Thus we were all faced with the dilemma of deciding to run beyond the train, around and back to the road, or backtracking, going around the other end of the train and then proceeding back to the road. The middle of the train was stopped over the road, so it didn't really matter which we opted for, but it was an unexpected hurdle and meant we had to go "off road" and also hop the train tracks before getting back on course.
Having successfully negotiated the train obstacle, I refocused on the race. I knew by my watch that I had a good time going but that I was also slowing a little bit. I kicked it up a notch and pushed on towards the finish line. Once the clock was visible I knew a PR was inevitable. Final time was 23:45, a full minute faster than my previous 5K PR set back in March. I also won my age-group and finished sixth overall. I take that with a grain of salt though as there were only 27 runners total and one other person in my age-group (but hey, the trophy I got makes no such distinction!!). To me though, running is primarily about competing with one's self and I succeeded on that count beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks to my Spark Friends and the SP Community for putting me in a position to do so. I couldn't have done it without you