New Years started with the Montgomery County Road Runners New Years 5 km race. This was not my initial plan however due to excessive icing because of the New Years eve "storm" I bagged the Redeye 50 km sponsored by the Virginia Happy Trails Running club. After finishing the 5 km race in ~26:15, my penance was 4 trips up Sugarloaf Mountain for some hillwork. On a positive note I only headed down Sugarloaf 3 times since Tristan drove up to pick me up.
But alas I digress. The 5 km race was great fun and was only a short drive from our house. I would have run to the start except for the previously mentioned icing that prevented me from the 50 km race in Prince William Forest Park. At the start I saw my friends Larry and Karen from Fleet Feet Fun Runs as well as heard a rumor that my friend Sara (from Fleet Feet as well as the dog park) was at the race. Unfortunately since Tristan at the last second decided to join in running this race we arrived at the race with 2 minutes to spare. Had I headed to the race when I was ready I would have had about 20 minutes and thus had the chance to scope out the competition (or really to see who of my friends were running).
As we were just minutes from missing the start there was no time to do much other than put on our bibs and tie up our "rented" chip for the year. Then we were off.
I had not goals for the race although I did want to run a bit hard since I have really slacked off since the Death Valley Marathon (I did not exactly run the Las Vegas Marathon the next day so my last exertion was Dec 6th). Tristan ran with me for a bit but pretty soon I inadvertantly lost him. I was a bit surprised by this because typically he drops me at the start of nearly every race. As I moved along I caught up to my friends Larry and Karen. They were in good spirits and were running strong. I kept moving to get to a little bit of space. Because of all the recent snow and rain the road was covered with water and I was dodging puddles and little streams. Others might not have cared as much but I did not want wet feet.
As I moved along trying to find a little bit of real estate I was shocked to see the front runners heading back. Clearly I really need to look at course maps and perhaps even read the directions. I was quite surprised that they were facing us within the first 5 minutes. These runners were on world record pace!!! Pretty soon I saw my friend Doug and not too far after him another Fleet Feet Runner, Ken. Then I saw Sara heading back. By this time I figured the turn around was not at 1.55 miles but somewhere earlier. But as we headed around the bend we saw a sign with "2" on it. I was back to confused. We had just run 2 miles in about 7 minutes!!! Now I was on world record pace.
Alas as we continued on doubling back along the course I saw Tristan and some other friends. Heading along the road in this industrial park, there was a clock as well as a mile marker sign. I was quite surprised when it was reading 8:40 as I approached it. I do not run sub-10 minute miles! (I say this to myself alot and am always shocked whenever my time is anything less than double digits)
We made a quick right turn and started heading down another road. Again the leaders of the race were heading back towards us. This course was completely confusing me. Finally I asked another runner what the deal was. They said we were going to do two "sort of" loops repeating bits going out and back along two different segments. Now it made sense...
As I continued on I saw Doug, then Ken. Soon enough I spotted Sara. She was not about 200 meters ahead of me. As I approached the cul de sac I now was pretty sure I had figured out what the course was. The course was a bit hillier than I expected (or wanted) but definitely was manageable. Now that we were heading back to the initial out and back I knew where I was going. Along this section I passed Sara. She was looking really strong. We wished each other a Happy New Year then I was off. Again she was in a pack and the course in addition to being a bit hilly also had alot of puddles and small streams to avoid. I was dodging these items but was wasting lots of energy moving all over the course to do so.
As I approached the right turn I saw Tristan. He was easy to spot with a bright red shirt on. We wished each other luck, but I was a little worried. He was quite far behind me so I was worried that he was having knee pain. Luckily he said his goal for the race was to run smart and make sure he did not have any pain. He succeeded which is good.
Turning onto the first out and back I knew what to expect and I was moving pretty well. I was occasionally passing runners and I was not being passed. My impression is that I was keeping a constant pace while others were slowing down. As I headed up one of the small hills I weaved around like a drunk which earned me comment from a fellow runner. I chuckled but then explained I was avoiding puddles not hungover and unable to run a straight line.
Heading down the hill to the water station/turn around I realized that I was likely at mile 2. That mystery was now explained. Only 1 mile to go. Unforunately this mile started on a massive hill. I decided to walk the hill. People passed me here. But I covered up my hill walking sissiness by taking off my shirt. As I crested the hill I saw Tristan. He mocked me for my hill walking but I didn't care because I was ahead of him!
As I continued on the course I repassed the folks who passed me on the hill. Maybe one day I should stop walking hills. But I really hate hills. And I really really hate steep hills. As I continued on I approached the timing clock. It said 20 minutes. The volunteer suggested we were at mile 2. Now I was confused again. I found a runner who had a Garmin and looked like he knew what he was doing. I asked if we had just passed mile 2 or if it was back at the base of the hill. He suggested that we were about 2.5 miles in. This sounded right to me.
As we were heading for the last out and back section we saw many runners heading our way. Doug, Ken and a few other runners I recognized by face but not by name passed going to the finish. As I continued running I realized I was breathing a bit hard. I was a little startled by this so slowed my pace a little. I think this was because it was kind of chilly (at least that is my excuse) but I slowed down just in case I was going too fast as I sure did not want to start 2010 with an injury. Approaching the cul de sac I was happy to be running the home stretch.
Here a few runners passed me but I was running within myself. Also my impression of several of these runners were that they were sprinting to the finish. My biggest problem with this is that I don't sprint. But my second issue was that I had no idea where the finish line was even if I did sprint!
Finally we were turning right into a parking lot. There was the finish line maybe a hundred meters ahead. The time had just clicked over from 25 minutes and 59 seconds. I was very pleased, as I run the last segment I took a picture, then hopped around a bit to keep my feet dry which earned a few comments from the spectators. I guess I might have been one of the first runners to actively avoid the puddles and running water. And I accomplished my goal of not having wet feet at the finish.
A 5km in 26:15 is pretty good for me. I was very happy with my time, enjoyed seeing so many friends and thought the course was very cute. I liked all of the out and backs along the course which enabled a good view of the other runners many of whom were my friends. And knowing what was coming up along the course was nice (particularly since I had no idea what the course was!).
After finishing I waited for Tristan to finish. In fact I finished and then walked the course backwards for about 100 meters before I finally saw him down the road a bit. I cheered him in including taking a picture as well as a small film of his finish. He looked to be in good spirits and was keeping a consistent pace.
After Tristan finished we headed inside for some treats and to see some friends. My friends Mayra and Paula were volunteering at the post race treats table. I chatted briefly with both. Then I saw and chatted with Ken, Doug and a few others. After a brief treat break I headed back outside to cheer on runners.
Although I did not see her along the course, Tristan suggested one of my friends from work: Janice was running the race. As we headed outside and cheered on runners after a few minutes I thought I recognized Janice. She was finishing and looking really strong. Tristan and I cheered her on. For a few more minutes we walked the course and stretched out our legs. Finally, the course marshalls came walking back. I assumed the last runners were finished. So Tristan and I headed home.
After we finished the race, Tristan and I headed home. After getting home we had a long drawn out debate about what we were going to do in the afternoon. Tristan initially was going to head to Old Rag for a hike but then decided he would go to Sugarloaf Mountain. I decided to join him for some hillwork.
At Sugarloaf I ran up and down the mountain to get some hill training in. Knowing that Umstead 100 miler has some hills and VT100 miler has LOTS of hills, it is never to early to start training. Because I wanted to minimize the pounding on my knee's I asked Tristan if he could pick me up after a few reps. I suggested if we met after 2 hours I could do 3 ups and 2 downs. For some reason I was either going super fast (or the previous time which was Christmas Eve day was really slow--which it was because it was with 10+ inches of snow and lots of ice) so my predicted number of summits was off. I ended up going up the mountain 4 times and headed down 3 times. I was really excited about this because I was going faster than I expected and because this was even after I had run pretty hard earlier in the day at the 5km. This was a good start for the new year as well as the new decade!