Saturday, August 16, 2008

Grand Woods Trail 5k - Race Report

Last week, Doug discovered that there was a 5k going on not far from here this weekend, and hey! it was "cheap", so I decided to get my first Michigan race out of the way. This was a trail 5k, run on basically a cross country course - a lot of grass, and a little dirt. I've never raced on a course like that and never done a trail 5k at all. Looking at last year's results, I thought that if I ran well there was a chance I could place in my age group.

Realistically, I haven't trained well in the last few months. Ever since my three-week layoff in May/June I've been struggling to get my mileage back up in the NC summer weather, which I just hate. I've bounced around, really never exceeding 15mpw all summer long. In light of that, my official goals for today were

1) Have fun
2) Practice pushing outside of my comfort zone - this is an area where I really need some work.

This morning I got up a little after 6, got dressed in my fun new shirt (see below), and had some breakfast. We left a little after 7. It just occurred to me that I didn't have coffee! Maybe that was my problem When we arrived at the race it was sunny but in the low 50's still, so this NC girl shivered for a while. There was also a cool layer of fog hanging over the big grassy field, and the grass was soaked in dew. People were trickling in until a little after 8, when it got much more crowded. This was when I got intimidated - the entire Lansing Community College XC team showed up. I wandered around for a while, and checked out the famed hill right before the finish - it's a pretty steep grassy hill just before the 3 mile mark - it's probably only 15 or 20 yards long, but really quite steep. With how short it was I figured it would be fine, but with all the dew on the grass and the hill being pretty shaded, I was a little worried it might be slippery.

We lined up at the start just before 9, listened to a few announcements, and headed off. Right away I thought I had gone out too fast, but was sort of caught up in a pack of people and really wanted to find my own space. I had a side stitch within the first 1/4 mile that stuck with me for the rest of the race, it just kept switching sides. I passed quite a few people during this mile, and was passed a few times. Near the end of the mile it seemed people had found their stride and things sort of spread out. During the second mile I felt pretty much alone - there were several people maybe 10 yds in front of me, and no one I could see behind. I passed a few people this mile, and wasn't passed by anyone. At this point I was hurting from my "fast" start and slowed way down. Once I saw the 2 mile marker, though, I figured I'd survive if I held that pace to the end. I passed one more person during the third mile, and was passed by a girl who I think might have been in my age group. There was a long, gradual hill pretty much right before the steep hill, which I hadn't really planned on. I felt a little dizzy getting to the top of the gradual hill, then had a short gradual downhill before the steep climb. When I got to the bottom of the steep part I felt like I'd fall backwards if I didn't hammer the hill, so I got up on my toes and pushed it up to the top - at which point I thought I would pass out. I cut way back, and that's when the girl caught and passed me. From that point I basically just survived to the finish - before the race I noticed a long gradual downhill right after the steep part that I thought I would be able to pick up speed on, but I was dizzy enough at that point that I didn't really try.

1st mile: 8:31
2nd mile: 9:15. Blah
3rd mile: 9:05
.1: 0:50
Watch time: 27:42 (8:55 pace)

Not a PR, unless you count it as a trail PR, but honestly to me it just feels like it isn't. I admit I'm a little disappointed because it's sad for the streak to end, BUT, this time last year my 5k PR was almost 4 full minutes slower, so looking back over the last year I am very pleased.

I have pictures, but have to find the camera cable before I can post them.

Thanks for reading!

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