This will be the last time I complain about hills for at least 6 months, I promise. After racing a very hilly 10 miler and a very hilly 15K in the past month, I was hoping a moderately hilly 5 miler would feel easy. It did not.
Sunday was the Red’s Shoe Barn Race for a Better Community 5 Miler (Red’s). Red’s was the second race in the New Hampshire Grand Prix. I’m running the series with the Greater Derry Track Club. It doesn’t conflict with my USATF Central Mass Striders racing, and it is nice to get in more races close to home. And If I’m being honest, it is nice not to finish so far back from the leaders.
The race starts and finishes in downtown Dover, NH and rolls it’s way through some neighborhoods and farmland in between. I allowed my expectations of some of the runners in front of me to dictate my pace too much in the middle miles. 1 runner took off into the lead and opened a gap early, and a few smaller packs of 2-3 runners each formed up behind him. I ended up caught between 2 of the packs in 8th place for a bunch of the middle miles. I could see the first chase pack, and knew one of the runners in that pack had beat me by over a minute at my last 5 miler. I thought as long as I was keeping him in sight I was doing well so I didn’t push hard to move up to them. It turns out however that he had raced the day before, and was saving his energy for the last mile.
The steepest hill on the course was right at the 4 mile mark, but was proceeded by a half mile gradual uphill. By the top of the hill I had moved into 4th pace and closed the gap on the 2nd and 3rd place runners to about 15 seconds. During the final downhill stretch of the race the eventual 2nd place finisher (who had beat me by a minute 2 months ago) put another 10 seconds on me to finish in 27:54. I managed to make up a little ground on the 3rd place runner, but he held me off for a 28:11. I finished in 4th, matching my time from the Boston Tune-up 5 Miler of 28:19.
I’m disappointed with my time. I had set out with the intention of running 5:30 pace. It seemed a reasonable goal after my last 2 longer races in 5:52 then 5:46 pace, but I just had no get up and go in my legs. I’m going to chalk that up to having just run my best race in years 6 days earlier. On the upside, I scored 10 out of 10 points for the 40-49 age group and 9 out of 10 points in the age grade scoring for the New Hampshire Grand Prix. I’m going to have to finish in the top 2 of each of those categories for the rest of the races if I want to have any chance to win the series. It is good motivation for me during these races. I need both a good place, and a good time because of the age grade scoring.
The next race in the New Hampshire Grand Prix is the Gate City Half Marathon in May. Before that I have the USATF Masters 10k Championship at the end of April. My goal is break 35 minutes for the first time since the 2015 Lilac 10k.