This weekend was the second race of the Carolina Trail Race Series, the Sticks-n-Stones 5k and 10k at the US National Whitewater Center. There are two categories in the series, long and short. After running the Charlotte Running Company Trail 8.2 miles I decided to enter the long distance series. I had planned on doing the 10k of this race but due to my ITband issues the 5k was the best choice for me. I emailed the director of the race series to see if I could change categories and he made my week by saying he could do that for me. So I signed up for the race and waited for an illness to strike because since December every time I signed up for a race on line I came down with a cold within 24 hours after signing up. I was lucky this time and stayed illness free!
I decided I was going to give this race my best effort. I decided to try to start out fast for the first time in a race. I'm not good at this, I really like to hang back and let everyone pass me. In a 5k you've really got to start out strong and hold it if you want to stand a chance of placing well because there is no making up time later in the race like a 10k or above. Kay was there to run the 10k. We discussed my plan during our warm up run and as we were standing around waiting she told me I was to start in the front row. Yikes, that's a scary place to go. I knew I'd be hearing her voice the whole race keeping me from slacking at any point.
We went over to the start area and I stood right at the front. The timing service Emcee informed us that he would be staging the racers. The only race where I've been staged was at the two Peachtree Road Races I did. This new development was nice to hear. First he called for the 6 minute milers and below, we all just stood there and looked at him since it's rare to have a trail runner doing under 6 minute miles. After that he asked for the 7 minute and below milers he finally had some takers. I decided to hang out with the 8 minute milers which put me in the second row. I eyed my competition and hoped they weren't as fast as they looked, and not in my age group.
The signal was given to go and I took off as fast as I could. The start was downhill. After reaching the flat area I realized that I went a hair too fast down that hill and my quads already felt wrecked. We ran around the kayak and whitewater pool on a wide gravel path. There were areas with freshly laid gravel that were really awkward to run on. I finally moved just off the gravel on to the grass. Even though I started as hard as I could I still got passed. I saw two women pass me and I knew there was already one ahead of me from the start. We made it to the trail head without a traffic jam, that was a great feeling to be able to keep running at that point. The trail felt so good on my legs compared to the gravel path around the pool.
Once in the woods I set myself to my task of not letting the two girls ahead of me out of my sight. I am proud to say they never did get out of my sight. I also never got passed on the trail. I only passed one person and he clearly had started out too fast and had to walk around mile two. During the last mile there was a lot of pain and moments where vomiting seemed possible. Every now and then I would think, "Oh my god! I'm in 4th place for women!" That was enough to keep me from backing off. I kept hoping one of the two girls in front of me would poop out but they never did, always kept 10 to 100 feet ahead of me. I made it up the hill to the parking lot with very little left in my legs but I still managed to find a last little kick left in me for the most glorious end to any race I've done in a long time.
After turning in my chip and grabbing some water I went for a cool down run around the pool. My legs really needed to loosen back up. After my cool down I headed straight to the results board. Just as I thought 4th place for overall women! Kay blew away the 10k and won female overall. I'm in trouble next year when she moves up to my age group!
Garmin distance: 3.37
Garmin Pace: 9:22
Official Pace: 9:33
Females 35-39: 1/10