"Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it." -Stan Smith
Northwood, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- The 10th Annual Run to Fall cross country race is one of those events that I typically decide to do the week of the race. Occurring less than six days before Reach The Beach , it falls at an awkward time on my racing calendar. There have been years that for health reasons I've passed and others that I decided to run with my youngest daughter who really wanted to do her first 5k. As a fundraiser for the CBNA XC program (and a parent of an athlete on the team) I feel obliged to help support this terrific little race. With a week to go before the event I made the decision that I'd race it. I was feeling very good physically and I've had a very successful racing season to date. At 5k it would be the shortest race I've done (excluding snowshoe racing), but probably the most intense due to the expected fast pace. A brand new course this year threw out any comparisons to the one year I actually "raced" it so whatever happened I'd be setting a PB on this course. One of the benefits of the race is that it's really a family affair. Madison, my oldest daughter, is a senior in the program and participates in "spirit stations" along the course with her class & teammates. Brayden, my oldest son, volunteered to pick up some additional community service time. Karen, my wife, raced it as she's done for the past 4 years and my mother-in-law Judy was there as our cheering squad. My race plan was pretty simple...run hard and consistent and use the event as a confidence booster for Reach The Beach later in the week. At the gun I took out hard to try to avoid the potential bottleneck in the hole shot at the end of the open field. By the time we were several hundred meters along I found myself behind the lead group. Obviously a little too fast for me, but I felt good that I had positioned myself where I needed to be. When I reached the mile split, Brayden (now working to call out times) called my split as 6:07. Pleasantly surprised my quick inventory revealed I was feeling pretty comfortable with the pace and the effort. Not terribly familiar with the course I pre-ran the 'woods loop' to see where the 'spirit stations' were located to give me an idea of where I was on the course. The freshman were stationed just a hundred meters or so from the track and the end of the first loop. By this time I hadn't been passed and was running within 10 meters of the guy ahead of me. I would catch him on the small ups and he'd pull slightly ahead on the downs and flats. Despite this I felt that I had a pretty good chance of getting ahead of him so I waited patiently. By the time we reached the 2 mile mark, without a purposeful surge I had caught and passed him giving him a word of encouragement to stay with me and work to the finish. Within the next 200 meters I also caught a younger runner from CMS who had been just ahead of us. He obviously didn't take too kindly to an old bastard like myself moving in front of him and he promptly regained the spot and accelerated out of sight. The last 300 meters were around the track and when I got there I peaked behind quickly to make sure I didn't have to try to outkick some hotshot to the finish. The guy ahead of me at this point was just too strong and easily maintained his 50 meter lead. I crossed the finish in 19:19 (6:13's) which was good enough for 12th overall and 3rd master. Surprisingly, when the results were posted I realized that I was only 10 seconds from the Top 10! Upon reflection I was very pleased with the effort. Racing 5k's is tricky if you haven't done it much. The roughly 20 minute sustained hard effort is quite different from the longer trail races I've done this year.
NEXT UP: Reach The Beach Relay (race report coming soon!)
Dare Mighty Things
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt