Host: Sparta Runners Club
Location: Station Park, Station Rd, Sparta, NJ, USA
Official Time: 00:21:06 (Current Personal Record)
My Time: 00:21:08
Place: 1/25 total participants
Warm Up: 1-mile easy
Cool Down: Another 5K
Pre-Race Meals: Veggie Lasagna
Sleep: 6-7 hours
Course Distance Accuracy: 5/5
Course Difficulty: 1/5
Course Description: Easy, flat with some rolling hills; 3 sharp turnabouts at the cones slow you down
You would have thought I would have learned my lesson about chasing the lead group after the Turkey Trot.… So I am chasing these young kids – 11 and 13 – in the first two minutes I have already peaked my pace and maxed out my heart rate. I know it’s stupid to try to keep up but I can’t help myself. Finally, I get to the orange cone and pass the leader. Now I’m the rabbit.
Funny thing is that I do not like to be the leader. Now I’m setting the pace with another (fast) runner breathing down my neck for the entire race. Luckily, I was able to practice the race course a few days earlier. When I got close to the area where we are supposed to run around two more cones in a parking lot I quickly realized that the volunteer was in the wrong lot so I lost a few seconds to find my bearings.
Passing the starting line area I asked if this was the finish area and they told me that I had to loop the entire course again (which I kind of knew, but with my heart racing like it was I thought I only had to go out in the one direction and back to the start). OK, no problem I can run at 95% max for another 2 miles I kept telling myself.
At times in run I actually felt really great. Swimming, Cycling, and Running on a very regular basis over the really paid off. Of course when training, I was only going at 65-85% of my max heart rate!
A few more challenges was going against oncoming runners – some made way for the leaders others were carving their own direct lines, quickest, straightest lines between points A and B – the tight turns (6 to be exact) at either end of the course – and the on coming car (it’s an open course I found out…Aghhhh!) By drawing a straight line instead of following the easy wandering curves, and my feeling that the 2nd runner was right behind me, I was able to minimize overall course distance, legally and mentally. I also opened up and quickened my strides on the downhills (I normally slow down on the down hills when training, but when racing, I use it as an advantage to gain some ground. I also tried to turn the tight cone turns to my benefit by speeding up as much as possible so that the runners behind me felt that I was going faster than I actually was.
Having the Garmin FR910XT (purchased from Clever Training where I saved 10% using the DC Rainmaker Link and Code DCR10TXS) was a big help. After making my initial move to go “all out” I was able to use the GPS watch to monitor my Elapsed Time, Ave Race Pace (I prefer this to my actual pace), my Current HR, and Distance, utilizing the split screen feature.
I was able to hold the lead (which impressed me, despite the fact there were only 25 runners) because there are many talent individuals in our group. It gave me a nice ego boost to start the new year, showed me that with hard training any thing is possible, and it helped me set a base line for the rest of the year (which I hope to beat soon)!