Official Time: 18:42. 8th of 98. 2nd in Age Group.
I was looking forward to this local race. It's held at Ninigret Park which was an airforce base many years ago. It's completely flat and would be a fast course. It was windy with the approach of Hurricane Sandy but it didn't prove to be a problem. My last 5k had been a few months ago at Bryant on a true cross country course. I ran a PR of 20:41 in that race - my hope was to come close to breaking 20 minutes in this one. I thought this was definitely doable with all the track work I had been doing.
My wife Amanda and I arrived with plenty of time to spare (this was her second race and the first we've run together.) Saw a bunch of the WTAC guys and then I ran a couple mile warm-up on some of the Ninigret trails. Yes, I know I've made a No Trails Pact but these were as benign as trails get. I was starting to get paranoid as to where the trail would come out and opted to double back to make sure I was back in time. Found my wife and all our family who came to cheer us on and then it was time to race.
I had run the race two years ago where it featured two laps of the bike track. They've since changed it and now it begins/ends near the Frosty Drew observation hut. I prefer this setup as it now heads down to the nature walk parking area and only does one lap on the track instead of two. As soon as the race started I knew I was going too fast. I tried to ease off a bit and at about 1/2 mile I was running a 6 minute mile. I thought this was still too fast and I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep it up but I wasn't feeling that overworked so I just stuck with it.
I picked off a few guys over the next mile but since I was took off fast there weren't a lot of guys ahead of me to overtake. At mile 2 I looked at my watch: about a 6:20 pace which is right where I wanted to be. I focused on a TNT runner ahead of me and stayed behind him for most of mile 3, passing him will only a few corners to go. Family and friends had congregated around the entrance/exit to the bike track and their cheers were welcome.
As I approached the finish I thought the timer said 19:xx but then I realized it was at 18:xx. I couldn't believe it - I had thought a sub-20 time was doable but I was crossing the finish line with a sub-19 finish! Amanda finished strong and broke 30 minutes which was her goal. She ran a great race!
Local WTAC speedsters Justin Bentley, Jonny Hammett and Jeff Walker took 2nd, 3rd & 4th place. And because they didn't double up the Overall and Age Group winners, I ended up getting a medal for 2nd in the Open Age Group. I was very excited as I had never placed in my age group before. This race was a great confidence boost confirming that all my training has paid off. Now to prepare for the Lil Rhody Runaround!