I wasn't planning on racing a local 5K this last weekend but since my parents were in town I had childcare taken care of. That freed me up to race the Bear River Fun Run 5K just south of Grass Valley that supports the local high school cross country team.
I arrived just after 7am to do the race day registration thing and then get a nice warm up in by exploring the beginning and ending sections of the course. I studied the course map and there were tons of turns and arrows heading in all different directions. Looked like a real possibility of getting lost if there weren't good marshalls on the course.
I talked with a few friends and then lined up toward the front to avoid the bottleneck just after the start. I ran the first 3/4 mile fast and immediately had to dial it back a bit and recover. This course had it all: pavement, grass, gravel, dirt roads, and singletrack. A true cross country course.
My friend Kathleen was just ahead of me and I tried to keep her in sight. As we hit some dirt singletrack I immediately went into "ultrarunner" mode and slowed down. Nope, not this time and I kicked it back up. Kathleen and I are very similar runners and we have a friendly little rivalry going on and my competitive nature really wanted me to pass her but it just didn't seem like it was going to happen. I was really hurting after that first mile.
There were tons of chalk arrows on the ground and great course marshalls so I had no problem staying on course. Lots of criss-crossing and doubling back meant you got to see lots of other runners. I knew the last part of the course had a gradual downhill and I bided my time til we got close to it. As we hit the downhill stretch I kicked it up a notch and shot past Kathleen and was surprised when I was able to sustain the pace. I came up on another female and went to pass her but she sped up. I was pretty sure she couldn't sustain it so I just stayed right behind her. She finally slowed a tad and I passed. Unfortunately, the course didn't turn back on the track where I thought it was going to. We had to continue on a little further before finally making our way back to the track. I was concerned I had made my move too soon but when we hit the track I told myself it was just like running 400's and I dug deep.
I crossed the line about 23:30 but the general consensus is that the course was about 0.1 mi short so my time is a little fast. The girl I passed near the finish came up to me and said she tried to catch me and it was great having me there to push her. I smiled because I know I've said the same thing to other women. Turns out she was in my age group so it's a good thing I got around her so I ended up finishing first. I was very surprised because I sure didn't feel fast enough to win.
Kathleen agreed to pick up my medal so I could head back home right after the finish. With my mom in town we had to get the girls some new clothes for back to school. It was a beautiful morning and everything with the race seemed to run smooth. I had no trouble following the course even though it had the potential to be very confusing. I talked to someone who said a number of front-runners went off course so maybe it pays not to be a front-runner!
This race was part of the Gold Country Grand Prix race series and next up is the Race to End Hunger Aug. 21.