I am the first to admit that I am not a runner by trade, but I won an entry into any of the 5 Peaks trail running series through the Team Running Free lottery. I was very excited about this opportunity as I was thinking of doing it anyway and this just solidified my plans. I was also very excited as this was my first race as a Running Free athlete.
I chose to do their 12.7km enduro race. I had never run this far in a competitive setting so I was a little unsure as to what my goal for the race would be. I figured that I should pick a conservative estimate of a 5:00 minute pace was ideal for me over a longer distance. I did the quick math in my head and rounded to 1 hour 5 minutes. I took a look at the race and read some on-line accounts of the same course from years past and confirmed my suspicions that there were some big hills. I then tacked on 5 minutes to allow for hills and I thought that a time of 1 hour 10 minutes was realistic for me.
With a goal set and a great Runningfree cycling jersey to wear that could hold my e-caps I was set. Race day came and it was a horribly humid and rainy day. Thundershowers pushed the start time back by a fair amount. This left my wife, my infant son, and me to hang out in the car and change diapers and kill time until it was deemed safe. The organizers dealt with this set back of crazy tornado like thunderstorm weather quit admirably. Some people went home early, but we decided to stick it out. All in all 301 athletes stuck it out and go to the starting line.
A call for the elite athletes was put out and they made their way to the front of crowd. Unsure in my running in comparison to those around me, I gladly let the “elite” go by. Off we went. I caught a glimpse of my wife and son as we started out felt good. I had determined that I didn’t trust those around me on a slippery rocky surface, so I kicked up my pace in the first 3kms to get ahead of the main pack so that I didn’t have to deal with large line ups in slippery conditions.
I felt good the entire race. The first large hill that I encountered forced me to walk it as it was a tiny single track that wound up the hill that had 10 or so competitors in front of me all walking. I was kind of mad as I had promised myself that I would run up all hills. The second large hill that I encountered started out really well. I spied someone at the peak of the hill and they were walking up the hill. I thought that I could catch them and somehow I found myself walking. I somehow lost focus and let my body know that it was okay to walk. I wasn’t very happy with myself again but all I could do was laugh that my legs tricked my mind into walking.
I took advantage of the many aid stations, but somehow managed twice to pore Gatorade on my head twice. I somehow managed to find myself in no-mans land as for about 7kms I really only saw about 10 people. It was weird that there were over 300 participants and I didn’t really see many of them. I think this got me lulled in a slower pace than I could have as I enjoyed much of the scenery of the escarpment.
As I was finishing the race I saw my wife and infant son cheering me on, as I passed I enquired as to how they were doing. It was then that I realized that I could have been going faster over the last little bit and decided to finish up with a strong finish.
It was a fun race under really humid conditions that usually would have punished me as I am pretty much one of the sweatiest people that you will ever meet. E-caps really helped me out and I finished up the race feeling great.
I met my goal and finished the race in 1 hour 6 minutes with a pace of 5:13/km placing 39 out of 301 and 11 out of 64 in my age class. I learned a lot about mental discipline on hills, and calling for water in aid stations to make sure that you don’t get Gatorade. I will do this race again as it was well organized and the atmosphere on such a crappy day was remarkably high.