Anyway, I'm up in NH visiting my parents for the holiday (and for my mom's birthday that she shares with the U S of A) and arrived just in time to run this race up in Manchester, a few towns away from where I grew up. It was an evening race, and combined with the long car drive up from Virginia, I had plenty of time to carb up for this race (5k races require carb-loading, right?). It was a mad rush to the race site, as I read somewhere on the website that packet pickup ended at 6 (and I was still at my parent's house a good 40 minutes away at 5:30, whoops) but fortunately that turned out to be wrong and I picked up my packet no problem.
|Top of Derryfield Park in Manchester, NH|
Both the 5k and the mile races started at Derryfield Park in Manchester. The last time I raced here was in high school cross-country my senior year (also the year that we finally decided to do what every other team did and spraypaint motivational sayings along the course - but ironically this was also the year the town cracked down on this practice and all of us got in trouble, with the school principal handing down a community service sentence the day after inducting me and my spraypainters-in-crime into the National Honor Society. Irony indeed).
|Permanent finish line for those x-country races|
I knew this would be a relatively fast race, as the last mile of the 5k was the same downhill mile as the mile race. But the first mile of the 5k went downhill a bit as well and what goes down in mile one needs to go back uphill in mile 2, so it would be a toss-up on how fast I would go. I knew I wanted to at least be in the 21:xx range, but it would be a great day if I could get sub-21. It was also super hot and humid - silly me thinking that New England would be cooler than Virginia. They lined us up at the start line at the top of the hill and I found a spot in the 7:00 min corral (determined not to start off too fast - ha). They sent us off and we went barreling down the Bridge Street hill for a 1/4 mile before taking a right into one of the local neighborhoods. Things flattened out there (and my pace slowed a bit, no more gravity) and then we turned again, went up a tiny hill at the one mile mark, and I caught a couple girls who had gone flying out from the start line. We then made a left and started up a much longer hill, back up to the top of Derryfield Park. I managed to catch another girl here who had started walking, but then two other women came flying by me going up the hill - it looked like they had saved their energy on the descent and were now catching us poor suckers who maybe burned a few too many matches early on in the race. They went by me with such confidence that I figured it was a lost cause trying to stay on their heels so I just tried to keep my pace relatively consistent and not slow down too much. We hit the mile 2 mark at the top of the hill, and it was here that I breathed a sigh of relief - one mile left and it's all downhill, how hard could that be? As we went by the start line, signaling the last mile, the announcer was calling out what place the girls were in since the top girl had just come through a minute or two before - I was sitting at 6th OA female, with 4th and 5th being the two ladies who had passed me going up the hill to mile two. As we started the last mile, I wasn't too far behind 4th and 5th - and then 4th started pulling away and by about halfway through, I had caught up to 5th and passed her. Now that I was in the top 5, I was running scared and planned to do whatever I had to do to stay in the top 5. The last half mile seemed to last FOREVER. We hit 3/4 of a mile and my legs hurt, my arms hurt, my abs hurt, sweat was pouring down my face and it was so hard not to slow down because I had maxed out, even with the downhill. My best friend Katie and her boyfriend Chris had come to watch and Katie said that I looked angry during the finishing stretch. I just wanted it to be over and sweet relief when it was! I came across the finish line in 20:41, which is one of my fastest 5k times (thank goodness for that last downhill mile, otherwise I don't think breaking 21 would've happened). I was 5th girl overall out of 400+, and 3rd AG. We stuck around to chat post-race, it was so great to catch up with Katie and Chris (wish I had gotten some photos, but then thinking of how dripping wet and disgusting I looked, I think I should be glad I forgot) and we watched the mile race, which really seemed to be the big event (for everyone of all ages - even 2 year olds - I will need to get my goddaughter to race this with me sometime, she would be great!)
And I have to say, it was so nice to wake up this morning and already have my holiday race done and done so I could just enjoy a leisurely breakfast, go out for my bike ride, and still be home before 10am.