NERC 5K Cross Country Series- Race 1

So let's start with most recent events here! Last night I went out to run with some high schoolers. The local Northeast Running Club puts on a small xc series every fall to help xc kids get in shape for their season. For $3 you can't really pass up the chance to tweak your 5k time, good learning experience and fun to see all the young ins go out like bats out of hell then slowly come back to you.

This is a cross country race, I did it all three times last year, first race went horrible last year around 22:31, then the next week 20:46, and third week 20:17. The start is grassy and slightly up hill then you head into the woods across a bridge and onto a short pavement path before heading downhill on a bridle type path and then back up a short steep hill and on your way out to a field. The path here is tiny gravel, and without spikes I am sure you are losing a lot of your effort here. You are on this surface for near a mile before heading back onto the bridle type path and then back to the grass. After mile 2 you head back into the woods and then onto a dirt path mixed with boardwalks. The elevation drops for about a minute before you pop out into a field again before turning and running uphill the final few minutes. AK typical cross country course, a mix of everything.

For the Burning River I was up on Saturday at 8 am and I finally crashed into bed Sunday around 5pm. I slept like the dead until about 9 AM Monday morning. Monday we mostly relaxed, played some disc golf, went to the movies, and I got in a 6 mile trail run. My pace was slow and I realized I was obviously a bit beat still. Yesterday I got caught up on dishes and we played some games, I was yawning a lot but finally a hot cup of tea snapped me out of it and then we headed to an early dinner. Couldn't decide what I wanted and went for a spinach and mushroom stuffed pizza. It was a bit greasier than I anticipated and may not have been the wisest pre-race choice.

My parents decided to stay and watch the race before heading back to Michigan and my hubby came to watch too. I wanted to win and I also wanted to break 20, but it was hot and humid and on my warm up I just felt sluggish so my hopes weren't too high for either goal. Got in about 2 miles and a few 30 second strides with Beth and JA and then headed to the car to change into my flats and took off my short sleeve. I did feel lighter as I rushed to the bathroom and the start. Maybe there is something to this warming up in heavy shoes and wearing warm ups then donning "racing" shoes and stripping thing.

I wore my garmin but decided not to pay attention to it and just run by feel, taking splits manually and turning off the autolap function. Every trail run I have done with the garmin has come up short of the mileage I have expected. Not sure if that means I have just been living in a dream world, or if the garmin struggles in the woods. At the Buckeye 50k, my garmin was over a mile shy of 31, and I know that course is pretty close, so I have my doubts about its accuracy. I think it is close, but I am guessing it struggles with the hills in the woods or something. Last night proved to be no different hitting the first mile my garmin had 0.93. I know that the race director has wheeled this course several times so I just find it hard to believe even one mile would be that short (at the finish a man with and older garmin did have the same distance as me so who knows), if you want accuracy I guess you need to run on a track!

First mile I just tried to keep it even. Didn't really pay attention to any of the girls ahead of me, there was only one I recognized from other local races and I knew I should be able to run with her so I slowly made my way up to her passing the rest of the girls along the way to the first mile. Hit the mile marker at 6:16 which was fine by me, I was targeting anything between 6:07 and 6:26 depending on how I felt. I wanted to give myself a chance at a PR if I was feeling good and sub 20 if I wasn't. (Evil Garmin called this 0.93 and 6:46 pace)

I pulled away from what I assumed were the two lead girls at the mile marker and just did my best to hold pace. My breathing was pretty ragged, seemed like my lungs were burning an awful lot but my legs felt decent so I tried to hold on as best as I could, using any downhills I could, trying to be aggressive. Confirmation that I was the first woman came a little before the 2nd mile marker, I grabbed a cup of water and drank half and dumped the rest on my head as I hear my mom yelling for me and then my husband. I was feeling pretty rough and tried to smile but I don't think I got much of one out. Mile 2 was 6:36 (.97 and 6:50 pace from the evil garmin). 20 seconds slower wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear and I knew sub 20 was going to be rough with the final hill looming.

Over the next mile I did my best to take advantage of the downhills. Not too many runners around so I did my best to catch up to the kid in front of me. I hammered the downgrade here figuring I needed to take advantage of it but as I caught him and said good job he started to pull away and I realized I may have pushed too hard to take advantage of the elevation. We turned to climb the final hill and it felt like I was running through quick sand. Just utterly zapped I knew if any gals caught me it was going to be ugly. Just pushed as hard as I could looking eagerly for the 3 mile mark. Could hear my mom yelling and did my best to look happy but again I don't think that happened. Mile 3 was 6:47 (.97 and 7:00 pace by th evil garmin) and I knew sub 20 was not happening. (Bummer)

Hammered in as I heard David and my dad cheering and watched the clock with a grimace, and then my silly garmin as it flouted that I had only gone 2.95 and still wasn't even close to sub 20. Bah. I was pretty fried, drenched in sweat and my stomach was cramping, likely from the pizza but also probably just from the heat and being so trashed from the weekend. I drank some gatorade and then headed back to cheer for Beth. Stood around trying to get my stomach back in line and chatted with some friends then me and my family did the one mile fun run. I power walked with my mom and we got back in time for the awards. I got a little medal for my efforts (as Beth said my boob was rusted in it) and Beth and JA both got age group awards. Considering the past few weeks and the weekend leading up to this I am pretty happy with the effort. Hopefully next week I will get the sub 20 XC monkey off my back :) If any one has any opinions on the garmins performance on trails I would love to hear them. All I know is that run certainly felt like 3.1 and not 2.95.

Big thanks to my parents and my hubby for coming out to watch. Maybe that was just what I needed to finally win a race this year :)

Pictures and video links here in case you don't feel like scrolling down to the previous post!
NERC XC Finish (Thanks to my hubby for the photos and video!)

NERC XC Photos


duchossois said...

Great race report, with a slide-show AND video. Congrats! Your sub-20 xc is going to happen next week.

DaisyDuc said...

Wooohoo, first female!

mouse said...

DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO THE GARMIN ON TRAILS. seriously. I don't even bother bringing it along if there is any significant tree cover. (the trees block the satellite signal even with the newer versions, I think)

You may have better luck when the leaves fall in Autumn, but during prime foliage seasons you'd be better off just wearing a watch and trusting the race director's markings.

I love reading these race reports. It reminds me of high school CC. Your speediness, as always, inspires me.

ramblings of a runnner said...

congrats on the win! If it makes you feel any better - my garmin is much more evil than yours. I ran 20 on the towpath. Garmin told me it was 17.25 - I wonder how many extra miles i have run over the years b/c of my ghetto garmin!!

solarsquirrel said...

First of all - that race course is tough - especially with that freakin up-hill at the end! Congrats on an awesome time.

My garmin seems to do pretty good in the woods, on the muddy paws race I think that it was only off by a few hundredths vs. where the course had it marked. Then again, I alwasy forget to stop it, so who knows if I ever really know how far I've gone.

Rae said...

You are one quick gal! Way to go!!!!

My Garmin is terrible on trails, I wouldn't go by it at all. You can have it beep when it loses the satellites - which is does ALL the time on trails!