Yesterday I revisited the scene of my first race ever to once again tackle the 2.5 mile trail run. I’d intended to do this last year, returning in triumph with improved speed and stamina, but then I hurt my ITB and did PT and slacked off for entirely too long, so my triumph had to be postponed until this year. Unlike the last time I ran this race, I had no bad dreams about the course the night before. I arrived in plenty of time, even though I made a stop on the drive up to take a few pictures of the glorious fall colors (just in case they weren’t as glorious in the park where the race was held).
The line to pick up numbers was rather long and a bit disorganized, but I got my packet well before the start time. I ran into one of Mr. Karen’s kayaking buddies in the parking lot and we chatted for a bit about which events we were doing and when we’d last run this race and where Mr. Karen was (kayak club pool session). Soon after that, my two work friends found me and we walked over to the start together. Standing there waiting for the races to begin, I spotted a guy who looked so much like one of Mr. Karen’s non-kayaking buddies that I had to go see if he was who I thought; he was, so we chatted for a couple minutes before I went back to join my friends back in the pack.
Then it was time to run. Because my friends were doing the 5.5 mile race, they set a slower pace than when we’re all doing a 5K event, so I was able to keep up with them for the first three-quarters of a mile or so, which is a lot longer than I can usually hang with them in a race. I was a bit surprised by the elevation changes on the 2.5 mile loop; I had remembered them as much more gentle, and I ended up not sticking to my scheduled walk breaks as a result. I’d also forgotten about the dew-dampened grass downhill slope just before the finish; that made me put the brakes on my closing sprint just a little, because no way did I want to end up in a heap on the ground when I was almost done. I ended up finishing in 26:57, for a 10:47 pace. That’s almost 3 minutes faster than my 29:53 from 2006, and a new PR for pace, so I’m pleased.
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