Willow Hills Cross Country Recap

So far this calendar year, I have run a half marathon, a marathon, a 50k, and a 50 miler. I run a 10k every Thanksgiving, so I needed a 5k to have run every major race distance up to 50 miles. Luckily, a Pamakids race came up on the schedule that was less than 20 minutes away from the house. It was a 5k cross country race and I figured what the heck.

I had been increasing my distance, and my speed over the last few weeks and managed a 5 mile run at a 7 min pace. My 5k PR is a 20:30 from 2 years ago. I was hoping to run this race in 21 minutes, considering it was a trail race.

The race started at 9am, and my wave didn’t start until 10:30am. The women went first, then men over 40, and the younger guys went last. I met with the Pamakids groups and got my new race singlet. I had some time before my race. Turns out I was the only male under 40 on the team. And there were several college teams out there. Turns out most of the runners come in under 21 minutes.

I got in a mile warm up along the trail, and it wasn’t that bad. It was a dirt trail with lots of rocks. The hills weren’t that bad. The ladies race started, and they actually used a starter pistol. I chatted with the other guys on the team until the ladies got back, and then I got in another mile to warm up. I ran a different part of the course and found that there were some pretty substantial hills.

The Masters Men came in, with the first place guy coming in at 16:55. That is less than a 5:30 mile. Not bad for a guy over 40. I knew I was going to get royally smoked during my race.

It was a lined start, everybody gets the same start time (no chip time). I lined up all the way to the right, which actually was the shortest distance to the bridge we had to cross. The gun went off and so did everybody else. I let a lot of people get in front of me, not that I really had a choice. I ended up getting behind this young kid, and I mean young. I thought he was about 14, I was going to try to keep up with him.

The first half mile was way too fast, a 5:40 pace. Then the steep hills started. Boy did those suck the life out of me. I was keep that kid in my sights, and luckily he was slowing down too. The first mile was a 6:35. I tried to maintain a sub 7 minute pace through the first lap, and I did, but barely. I had to take walk breaks up the hills. 10 seconds minimum. I could still see the kid, and the guy behind me was farther back.

The next half mile was okay, and I was just above a 7 minute pace. The last mile was brutal. I had to take longer walk breaks. Of course, on one of the tougher hills, the Pamakids team was out cheering me on, and I couldn’t walk up the hill with them watching. I did however manage to pass another guy on the course. The kid was slowing down more. During the home stretch, the last quarter mile, the kid started really slowing down. But this is where I get my final kick. I told him that there wasn’t much left and he needed to push, and not let the old guy pass him.

I told him that, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to slow down to let him stay ahead of me. I pushed the last 300 yards and tried to break 22 minutes, but I knew I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have a 12 second 100 meter dash in me. Apparently that guy I passed a couple minutes before did. He shot past me to finish two seconds ahead of me. The kid came in about 5 seconds later. Turns out he was only 13.

I was dead, that was one of the hardest run I had ever done. The sad thing was that I ran a 35 minute 5 miler earlier that week, but I couldn’t maintain a 7 minute pace for less distance. True, the terrain was more difficult, but I should have been able to maintain it for the shorter distance.

I wasn’t in the bottom ten, but I would have been if it wasn’t for the six kids that were younger than 12. The next day it felt like I ran a marathon. I am going to stick to longer distances.

One thought on “Willow Hills Cross Country Recap

  1. I’ve been really surprised by the pace that some of these youngsters each weekend when I go and do the 5k Parkruns. I’ve given up trying to keep up with them, even if they do seem to run a bit, walk a bit then run some more.

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