Today's race went really well. It might seem odd to have a race on a Friday morning, but I'm out here in Kansas City for a very large SkillsUSA school competition that shuts down several blocks of the downtown area. Since around 15,000 people are out here for the event, there's a lot going on... including a 5K race organized by SkillsUSA, primarily for those of us out here but I think is also open to anyone.
I did this race last year. The race was well organized and great but I sucked and did horribly. Despite the course last year being flat and on well groomed trails near the river (for my Maine peeps, think Back Cove), I finished with a time of 23:07. Now, this was because I was just coming off an injury, had gained some weight and was out of shape. But still...
A very pleasant surprise with the course change this year. It was no longer by the river due to flooding, and moved a bit inland to a course that went through dense forests and featured very hilly trails that were somewhat technical and overall very challenging (for my Maine peeps, think Bradbury in terms of hills, but a step down in technicality). This was a true cross country course. Sweet.
I went out for a warm-up mile on parts of the course and was thinking "this rules". Beautiful area, pure and simple. I even saw a deer pretty close up. I noted the hills and the trail surfaces and thought to myself this takes the pressure out of getting a 5K PR since it was a trail race. Also, I simply love this kind of terrain more.
I lined up near the front and we were soon off. The course consisted of two laps of two short lollipop loops and one out and back. The first lollipop loop was probably the easiest, and the crowd soon settled in after about quarter of a mile and I was in sixth place.
I had the fifth place runner in my sights and slowly caught up to him. I'd say 70% of the runners were adults (teachers, chaperones, faculty, etc.) and the rest students. This fellow was a student and most definitely a cross country runner, so I tried to be a little more tactful in making a move. I hung behind him for several tenths of a mile keeping pace, and on an uphill I made my move. I heard his breathing which seemed pretty labored, so I made an effort to really sprint up the hill in hopes of thwarting an attempt by him to keep up, which seemed to work.
I was now settled into fourth place and feeling relatively great. The guy in first (from Utah, looked to be a college student) was off like a rocket and out of sight but I could still see second and third. Second place started to pull ahead and out of site as the race went on, but third place guy was starting to get closer.
Mile Three to the Finish Line:
I was pulling closer to third place guy and was hoping to pass him. I verified that it was the high school age guy I was talking to before the race and running in Vibrams. I noticed he wasn't looking over his shoulder, but on an uphill that was the out and back section, he finally saw me and then kicked it up a notch. I tried to chase, but his octane was higher than mine and he pulled ahead enough to where I had no chance at catching him. Well deserved.
I crossed the finish line in fourth place and was quite pleased by that. I had hoped for top five and got it. Very fun race and a great course which was tough and challenging and a lot of fun to run on.
Afterwards, chatted with the third place guy and we exchanged thanks for pushing one another. I then waited for Tim, the teacher from my school that I'm out here with, to finish. I talked him into doing the race and was super glad he did. It was his first 5K, and he finished in 22nd place and was very stoked to do better than he thought he would. I think he's hooked.
w/u: Ran 1.0 mile @ 9:40/mile pace.
Race: Ran 3.1 miles @ 6:55/mile pace.
Official time: 21:28
Place: 4th of 109
Lower 70s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, singlet.