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Laps for Lexi XC 5k - Run5k

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Sandy Spring, Maryland
United States
Sandy Spring Friends School
65F / 18C
Total Time = 18m 42s
Overall Rank = 2/190
Age Group = M40+
Age Group Rank = 1/35
Pre-race routine:

[Note: my RRs are long-winded, I know. I have no expectation that they hold any interest to anybody save myself. I simply have the frail memory of a middle-aged guy, and write it down so that I can remind myself later.]

Well, that was a little odd. I turn up at a 5k charity run at my daughter's school, against my better judgment. I find myself in my most competitive race situationin decades. And then I come away as the official overall winner, even though I clearly didn't win. Whatever, the whole family did the race, and all had a good morning out, so no complaints.

Laps for Lexi is an XC 5k at my 5th grade daughter's school, run as a fundraiser for child cancer research, in memory of a little girl who would have been a 6th grader now if she hadn't died of cancer 3 years ago. It's a really nicely done community event, which is very much set up as an annual memorial to Lexi. For example, all of the course markings are purple, Lexi's favorite color. And it is de rigeur to run the race in one of the race t-shirts that bear her photograph.
Event warmup:

It takes a while to get the old body moving these days, especially since last weekend's Ragnar Relay, which left me feeling kinda beaten up. And I've returned directly to full marathon training, so that only added to the creakiness. Anyway, there turned out to be plenty of time to get going, as a long stream of speeches, folk songs, moments of silence, etc. etc. meant that the race didn't start until half an hour late. The school XC coach was putting his young steeds through their paces, and he was getting a little antsy.
  • 18m 42s
  • 3.11 miles
  • 06m 01s  min/mile

The race is an XC 5k that loops around the wooded school grounds. About 50% on thick grass around sports fields, and around 50% on some tricky singletrack through the forest. No place for PRs. At the gun the entire male XC team went storming off - don't they teach these kids anything about pacing? Too many of them for me to count my position. As the course dipped into the forest on its first half-mile loop I started picking off teens who were already having regrets, and by the time we emerged to pass the start line I could see that I was in 7th. I picked off a few more on the second short loop, though it was a bit tricky to tell what was happening, as we were already starting to lap walker/joggers who were blocking the trail. I passed 1 mile in ~5:51, just before entering the technical part of the course, in 3rd place.

I nudged past the last of the XC team kids just before the track narrowed sharply and started to twist and turn. I caught up with the leader, who was a fit looking guy of around 30. I considered just passing him and leading the way, but I decided to sit in to see what would happen. I tried to follow the leader closely around the single track, but that made it harder to see where I was going. He was more nimble than me on the ups and downs and turns, and I actually appreciated having him to plot the route through the forest. I almost missed a sharp turn that led directly to a two-plank bridge over a boggy section. I wasn't supposed to be blowing a gasket on this run, but I didn't expect to get into a race situation like this, and the competitive juices were flowing. I've never been in a situation like this in a race, apart from in a couple of high school track races. When we climbed up a steepish path over some rough tree roots Leader Guy tried to put in a burst to get away. I didn't want any of that, so I pulled him in fairly soon after the route flattened out again. Mile 2 took 6:43 on my Garmin - probably a little off, due to the twists and turns, but it shows how different the middle mile is. The last mile was well under 6 mins again.

As we returned to the sports fields I continued to sit right on Leader Guy's shoulder. My aim had been to wear him down, but I realized that I getting kinda worn down myself. He continued to be better around every turn, jump, etc., but I made up ground on the flat, straight bits. Passing the finish to enter the final half-mile loop I figured that I'd try to make a move part way around the loop, hoping that I'd be able to get a sustainable gap. Well, the first part of the plan worked, at least. I pulled ahead and gained a couple of seconds as we headed up the final rough climb to return to the sports fields. But I wasn't pulling away any further, and I could see a shadow closing me down. As we turned for the final 100 yards into the finish my pursuer made a decisive change of pace and blew past me to win by a couple of seconds. I had no response.

It would have been nice to win, but I was beaten soundly. Still, I was pleased with my 18:42 time. I had run the same course in June in 20:24 (in muddier conditions), so that was an improvement. Presumably worth <18 on a road course.
What would you do differently?:

It's possible that I could have won by making an earlier move, or a later move, or a more decisive move. Who knows. But probably the more important question, which I won't be able to answer for a few days, is whether it was a dumb idea to run at all, since it could mess with my marathon training.
Post race
Warm down:

I jogged around for a while to cheer on the other runners and to try to reduce the tightening. I was able to see Zoe as she entered the final half-mile loop, and she was doing well and looking more sprightly than I had expected. She wanted to know her time, so she must have been looking to beat her 5k PR. In the end she finished at just over 31 mins, and collapsed in a heap in the grass, gutted to have missed her best by ~30s. But since that was in a road 5k and this was a far tougher course, I assured her that this was the best 5k she had ever done. Dad is never believable for a 10-year old, so she continued to be gutted, until she was distracted by her friends coming into the finish, at which point she forgot all about her concerns and was having a grand time again.

After Zoe's friends had finished, the gaggle of girls went over to look at the race results, and returned to high-five me, congratulating me for being the race winner. Huh? It was clear that I hadn't won the race. I went to the timing guy to explain that there was a mistake and I wasn't the winner. It turned out that the race organizers hadn't ordered enough bibs, so anybody who tried to register in the last couple of days had to run without a bib and without a timing chip, hence the winner's absence from the results. I tried to find the winner to at least get his win corrected, but he was nowhere to be found. It was probably fortunate, then, that there were no awards for the race, so there was no need for the awkward situation of me being given a prize that I didn't really win.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Creaky old body. Not very nimble on the singletrack.

Event comments:

The focus of this race was on the memorial to Lexi and on the charity fund-raising. As a race, it's so-so, and running out of race bibs was a bit of a mess up. But the event achieved its main goal admirably.

Last updated: 2012-09-29 12:00 AM
00:18:42 | 03.11 miles | 06m 01s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/35
Overall: 2/190
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2012-09-29 2:39 PM

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University Park, MD
Subject: Laps for Lexi XC 5k

2012-09-30 6:56 PM
in reply to: #4433369

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Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: RE: Laps for Lexi XC 5k
18:xx on single track for a good cause.  Sounds like a good day out.  Best of luck with the marathon training.
2012-10-01 9:56 AM
in reply to: #4433369

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Lexington, KY
Subject: RE: Laps for Lexi XC 5k
Fast race and great RR.
2012-10-01 1:02 PM
in reply to: #4433369

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Williamston, Michigan
Subject: RE: Laps for Lexi XC 5k
Holy smoking fast race!!
2012-10-03 9:42 AM
in reply to: #4433369

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Subject: RE: Laps for Lexi XC 5k

Cheater!!! Hahaha just kidding.

Amazing race!!! So impressed you were able to dig deep and pull out such a good performance. Also, selfishly, you give me hope that I can keep getting PRs for a while!

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