Since Frank and Karla moved into Flowers Plantation, I have participated in several 5k races in the neighborhood put on by the club at FP. Well actually the first one we ran before they had actually moved into the house last year. They are pretty small low key events. I think the first one had around 20 people and I won and Karla was first woman ! But they have been making an effort to get more people out and do a better job of organizing the runs. I like coming to them and use them for workouts and visit with the Werners for awhile.
They have changed the course a bit each time I have run it but all are within the neighboorhood and no matter which way there are going to be some hills !
This year for the Turkey Trot they had 79 runners and walkers entered on a cold 25F but beautiful morning. I checked in and then did my usual 1 mile warmup about 30 minutes before the start. Then about 10 minutes before I do a little jog and a few pickups to race pace. I must say I was not feeling too spiffy and having done no speedwork since the early summer prior to the injury I was not expecting too much. I did have a goal of at least running 7:30 pace but I knew even that was going to be tough with the hills.
We lined up for the start and a brief course description and we were off. The is a slight downhill for about 100 yards and then a bit of a climb. Not steep but enough at 5k pace to slow things down and I didn't want to go anaerobic this early so I didn't push too hard. Experience pays off here because quite a few folks took off very fast. As we crested the small hill and hit the flats I counted 11 in front of me but it was obvious that some of them were already hurting. I slowly moved past a few of them and by the half mile I had moved into 5th place with just 4 high school xc boys in front of me.
I settled in and could hear someone close behind but just focused on my on pace. I must say I was a bit shocked to pass the mile in 7:09. I haven't run that fast since Spring mile repeats and it felt a lot easier than I expected. Shortly afterwards I could tell the runner behind had lost contact. The 4 boys were well in front but in sight so I figured I was going to end up 5th unless my legs starting bothering me causing me to have to shut it down.
Still feeling good and pushing the pace we turned and went down a steep hill which I knew was just as steep and longer going up having run it a few times in the past including a couple of training runs with the Werners. It was hard going up but I tried to push as hard as I could and as soon as I topped out I tried to pick up the pace again.
I hit mile 2 in 7:41, not too bad with the climb but I had hoped for a little better. this is where it got a little confusing. One this portion of the course it the road is divided by a meian with some tall shrubs. We passed through the start finish area and continued up a bit of a hill towards the gate house. In the past a couple of the races have made a right turn here but I saw no sign. Problem was I hadn't noticed any of the guys in front of me going back the other way and I tried to peer own the hill at the turn but didn;t see anyone so I went on and made the turn at the gate house. I still couldn't see anone in front so I crossed back over the median to make sure no one behind me was turning. It looked like they weren't so I continued on straight and as i passed through the S?F area once again i slowed and asked to make sure where to go. I think all the hesitation and crssing the median cost me 10-15 seconds but I took off on a mission to run the last mile as fast as possible. It was a race after all.
Well I was still running strong but then things got weird. It is a half mile to the other gate and turnaround and as I made the turn I saw no one behind me. There were several ruuners within 100 to 200 yards when I made the previous turn so where were they? I kept looking but didn't see any for awhile and then noticed a couple about to turn and go the wrong way back where we had turned after the first half mile. Then as I passed through the traffic circle I saw a woman coming from the other direction going all the way around it again ! I just kept going, ran mile 3 in 7:30 despite the confusion and finished in 23:06 a bit faster than I had hoped for.
I then went straight to the guy with the clipboard recording bibs and asked what place I was. He had me in 10th ! Good thing was that they all knew I was clearly way ahead in 5th and the runners knew they had shorted the course by turning before going all the way to the gate. And it didn't affect my age group win. Actually I technically won every age group but the 19 and under !
Other than the course mix up it was a fun race for me. I and several others that did the full course measured it at exactly 5k. They are going to have chip timing and a slightly altered course for the Christmas 5k and hopefully more volunteers to help keep everyone on the proper course. I will be there hoping to improve a little and use it for the kick-off of my marathon training.
Stay tuned for more action !