Earlier in the week I was having second thoughts about doing this race. My mind is focused on my first ever ultra marathon to be run next weekend. The weather forecast for today had been calling for rain followed by snow and lots of wind. My good friend Bill encouraged me to come out anyway if just to get a run in and have fun. When last night's storm did not live up to its predicted fury I decided to go ahead and run. I had second thoughts at 7AM as it was raining and 35 degrees. The hardest part sometimes is just getting out the door. The showers stopped by the time I arrived and there is little wind. It is a damp cold, but could be much worse.
Start - Good to see familiar faces and friends new and old. Looks like 12 of us will be running, a few more than the race last month. I feel a little awkward in my new black shoes. They are the same make and model that I have been wearing for years, but the all black color makes them look big and clunky. I finally get to race with Marygay, who has multiple marathon finishes mostly a little faster than mine. Hoping for some good competition. Billy, Marygay and I run a warm up lap and discuss strategy. I tell her that on pavement today I should be about a 7:15 mile, but with this rough terrain all bets are off and maybe I will be at 7:30 but who knows? This cross country course has two long loops, then on the third loop it cuts short to the finish. There is a mix of open fields and short trail sections with crazy hairpin turns through out. Some of the field is a little muddy, some is very muddy. The fields are on different levels, so while there are no major hills, there are numerous steep ups and downs of about 10 feet or so. We decide to stay out of the deep MUD and just warm up for the start. Soon RD Craig calls us to toe the line and we are off. My last minute "strategy" was to run the flat wet but not so muddy fields at an all out sprint, then catch my breath on the hairpin turns, MUD, and any uneven surface where I could not run all out.
Mile 0.05 - Sprinting across the field on the grass. Gosh there are fast runners here. Craig is coach of the Evergreen College cross country team and Rich (who is racing and co-RD) is coach of Tumwater HS Cross country. Each has a few of their runners with them. Us old folks quickly settle in the back.
Mile 0.3 - Off the field, up a hill and around a little tree. There is a young man just in front of me. I could pass him if I want, but maybe later.
Mile 0.4 - The course map had shown a "log jump" and when warming up we did not run this part. Well here it is. Fairly flat (but who knows what is under those leaves?) then a bump of a log with a two foot drop on the other side as the trail jumps down to another field. I manage it OK.
Mile 0.5 - Back on the field and time to sprint. I really should not pass this kid so early, but it seems like the right thing to do. Sprint past him, far enough to break the connection and hope that he will not catch up. I hear Bill yell something behind me, I think he fell or almost fell on that log.
Mile 0.8 - I have been off the field, and around a little trail. Now a sharp turn and up hill on this clumpy, soggy, shoe sucky MUD. Foot size chunks of MUD seem to slide downhill with some of my steps. Craig is there are tells me to lift my knees up higher. I have a lot to learn about cross country and trail racing, but I am loving being here and doing this. I see Bill down below and know that he is OK.
Mile 1.0 - After another sharp turn and a 30 foot section of deep MUD I hit the one mile mark. Craig is yelling out times and encouragement. 7:15. Hey that is great but will never hold. I expect the kid and Marygay to catch me but I press on. Flat grass, time to sprint.
Mile 2.2 - For a short race, this seems to be going on a long time. Second log jump went well. After the hairpin turns I see that I am gaining my lead on those behind me. I have no idea where the next guy in front of me is. Good thing this course is marked so well. I have only turned my ankle twice and neither time was very bad. I am still able to pick up the pace on the grass sections but with no close competition there is a small lack of true desire to run fast. Just do the best I can I remind myself and press on.
Mile 2.5 - Last log jump. Lets take this one with extra care. I slow down and gingerly place my shoe on the log. It slips and I slide a bit. The time I was most careful was the time I almost bit it.
Mile 2.9 - One more bump of a hill, then wet field to the finish. I can see the clock way off. 23:15. This will be one of my worse 5Ks ever, but really that is fine. Can I break 23:30? I run faster, then faster, and then I really kick in all I have. Nice to have some strength left. Cross the line and see the clock change to 23:31. Official timer has me at 23:30:86. Not that it really matters. Another fun low key event. Glad I did it.
8th of 12
Race #152, 5K #46