This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
I’m a little behind on race reports. It’s been a hectic summer. So I’m going to be posting two race reports in fairly short order.
First up, the Hank Aaron State Trail 5K. As seems to be the case every year recently, I find myself at some point questioning whether I should run this race. This time, as mentioned, I had a very busy summer. The weekend before this race, I was in Illinois going through an RRCA coaching certification course (which I’ll write about when I get a chance). 2 days, 8-9 hours per day plus driving, then return to work on Monday. Plus I had a 100 question test I had to complete on my own time after the course was completed and I wanted to get that done before going on vacation the weekend after the HAST 5K. So I thought about skipping the race because I thought I’d be pretty drained.
Then I saw an offer for a free entry on the Keep Running MKE blog and figured what the heck, if I can get in free I can show up and at least get the body used to running hard. As it turns out, I ended up winning the free entry so there was no backing out.
On race day, I arrived and claimed my free entry, then relaxed until warmup time. During the warmup, I wasn’t feeling great but I was feeling good enough. What I noticed more than anything was the humidity. It was only around 70 (pretty good for this early August race) but the humidity was just thick. Still, everyone has to race in the same conditions and conditions are never ideal for distance running in early August. So I lined up thinking of what has become my recent usual finish: mid-20s for place with a time in the high 17s. This is a good field but not on a fast course so, while not thrilling, that isn’t a bad performance.
I lined up about 3 deep and, once the race started, quickly found myself first wishing I had lined up in the second row then getting passed by a handful of people. I probably lined up about right.
As the course looped around the Miller Park parking lots for most of the first mile, I worked my way past the fast starters, then settled into position. Around the mile, I passed a few people, then someone with a Hansons singlet passed me I believe just past the mile mark. I wanted to go with but I couldn’t quite match him so my goal became to just hang close and try to get him back later.
As we went up the gradual rise, I stayed as close as I could but he did open up a bit of a gap. As we turned around and went back down, I tried to make the most of the gentle downhill slope to pick up some speed but Hansons guy seemed to be doing the same thing. I was gaining slightly, though.
At the bottom of the slope, there are a couple quick turns, then a turn onto the off road portion of the trail along the river. Around the first turn, I was lining up to pass the Hansons guy. Coming off the turn, he knew I was there and picked it up, almost instantly passing 2 guys who were just ahead of us. I tried to match the move but again couldn’t. So I shifted to focusing on the 2 guys now between us. I fairly quickly passed one, then set to work on the other. Just past 2 miles, I got him and was back looking at Hansons guy.
With a couple quick, sharp turns, we cross the river, then it’s running parallel along the other side of the river upstream until we’re back by the Miller Park parking lots and into the finish line. Not much changed along here. I pushed hard, trying to close on Hansons guy unsuccessfully but also trying to make sure the guys I just passed didn’t come back on me. I don’t remember any position changes through here or into the finish.
In the end, I finished 19th, 1st 35-39 age group, in 18:03. Not quite the time I was hoping for but a better place than I was expecting. Maybe the humidity took more out of me than I expected. I did finish feeling like I had just swum, not run, a race.
Regardless, this race brings me back for another year and I get another good early tune-up for the fall season. Plus a gift certificate to a local running store. Not a bad day.