I've been running this series for several years now. It's a series of 5 x 5k trail races from mid July to mid August. It is completely free put on by the Vineland Park and Rec Department.
People of all different ages and abilities show up to take part. The Vineland Cross Country kids use it to get into race shape. Marine candidates have used it for PT. Moms and Dads who want to get some exercise run it with their kids. This race has some seriously fast little kids -- 13 year old ran a 24:05!! A 10 year old ran a 26:59! Crazy!
The race has had tough weather this year. Two of the nights got cancelled for lightning. The race organizers could only reschedule one of the nights so this year was 4 x 5k series.
I wasn't really sure what to expect last night. My left achilles/calf have been bugging me ever since I ran the road 5 miler 10 days ago. I've been laying off of running since last Thursday. I've biked some, tons of stairs and lifting <== all that because I'm moving. LOL (Side note: I'm so happy I can bike again! I haven't gone long but I did a bridge loop (22 miles) the other day and all was good the next day! The bridge loop has 4 bridges in it.)
Last night's race:
I did a little warm up jog and stretched everything out really well. My achilles/calf/heel I felt during my warm up. Ugh.
The gun went off and there I was shooting out just like every other week. I guess I'm not going slow! I passed my usual people and settled into a very uncomfortable pace... and I was already regretting this by mile .3! We race down the street onto the grass around the stake and back onto the street. There's a slight uphill until you make a left and go down the loose dirt/gravel road. This section gets pretty puddle-y and normally I would try to keep my feet dry but as I was passing someone I stepped right into a puddle. Well, through the puddles for the rest of the race!
We go around a stand of trees and through a grass field and make an immediate right so we can run up the little hill sideways. (Thanks, RD) Make an immediate left to a water station - um no, please just throw the water on me! It was humid AF (first time I've ever used that but seems appropriate here). Then we are back onto the road and hit mile one as we pass over the start line. 8:02 per my Garmin. I never look at my watch during races. Seems pretty pointless. If I'm not going as fast as I would like there's pretty much nothing I can do about it and if I'm going too fast I can't slow down because my legs NEVER listen.
Mile 2 goes down the road, to the grass, around the stake, back on the road again but then heads left into the woods and around the lake. It's complete dirt and roots -- single track or double track <== is that a thing??) The trail undulates a bit but only 3 or 4 bigger (still pretty small) drops and climbs. This lady who always beats my by 10 - 15 seconds caught me here and I never caught back up. I stared at the back of her head for the whole rest of the race! Ugh! She's this short powerfully built Hispanic lady.
Somehow we had shaken ourselves out into pretty much the correct order by the time we hit the trees. I think I passed one person and didn't get passed right until the end. Anyways I was dying on the inside, wondering if I was going to have to walk. Mile 2 -- 8:46. (It's always slower due to hills and trail)
By the time I was finally on the other side of the lake I was just trying to convince myself to keep going. (I've managed to not walk during one of these races this summer! A PR for me! lol) The trail descends out of the woods to the stand of trees (that we raced around earlier) and then we head back through the field of grass, around the fence, sideways up the hill, past the water stop (please just throw it on me!!), onto the road, to the grass, around the stake, to the road and then one little last uphill to the finish line where I got passed by not 1 but 2 people! I have no finishing kick! Pace of 8:34
Final time of 24:34 -- a course PR of 25 seconds!! Wahoo! 4th overall female of 46, 1 of 6 in 50-59 AG.
The course always measures short on my Garmin at 2.9-2.96 but last night my friend used Strava to track and the course measured at 3.06. I'd love it if the 3.06 was the actual distance!
I won my AG for the race series. The lady who finished 2nd in the 50-59 AG kept me on my toes as she would finish each race less than a minute behind me.
With Strava it keeps track of your history on courses that you've previously run. Fun to see my history on this course:
2016; 26:56, 26:18, 26:42, 25:46, 26:16
2017: 27:24 (right after my hamstring tear -- should've never run this one)
2018: 24:59, 25:20
2019: 25:28, 25:45 (It was 100*!), 25:09, 24:34
Fun to see the improvement! Thanks, Strava!
Next up: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! The Vermont 100 on 100!