This was an unplanned race, but for a few years now I've been interested in doing one of the Chester Woods races. The only trail racing experience I have is when I did the Nestrand Big Woods 10k in 2003. I wasn't a runner at all back then--I would just pull a 'show & go'. Show up, run, finish, and have trouble walking for a week. Anyway, my wife was encouraging us to race at Chester. She had a strain on the top of her foot at the time, but was hoping that it would be resolved in time to train a little for the 5k (see below this recap for side story on that). It didn't, so she was there as support. We got Jace registered for the 5k about a week ago and two of his buddies decided to do it too--what a way to start their summer the day after the last day of school! Since I've had some strange posterior tibial tendon/plantar tendon issue going on with my right foot, I was unsure about racing too. I wanted to do the 10 mile, but decided on the 5k and would run in Vibram Five Finger Bikila's. It was a beautiful day for a race--probably the best weekend so far this year. So we get registered, get our numbers pinned on and have a little time to run around a bit, hit the bathroom, and get ready. There were a handful of Tri-Rochester members there which was good to see. Chris Koch was already out racing in the 50k which started at 6am--I believe he finished 4th overall. So the 10 milers take off and we (5k runners) were originally going to go off 15 min later, but due to the late start from all the day-of registrants, they let us off 5 minutes later. The boys and I were up front for the start as well as Andy Shulha (Tri-Rochester member and last years 5k winner). My plan was 1) to pay attention to the trail as I didn't want to hit something big as I was basically wearing rubber bottomed socks, 2) have a fun time, and 3) try to stay with Andy. We started moving pretty quick. The first 2/3 of a mile or so are on one of the paved roads in the park. Then we hit gravel, then a hard packed dirt service road, then real trails thru the woods of grass, some Cedar chips, lakeside trails, dirt, etc. There was quite the variety of trail--pretty nice scenery along the way. Anyway, back to the start. Right away, Andy and two others, who I'd later learn their names to be Dallas and Shane, were up front in the lead running together. Andy is mid-20's, but the other two looked considerably younger. I was back about 20 feet or so with a couple others that looked more in my age range. By about the half mile mark I was alone, but still a few seconds back from the three leaders. I think we hit mile one while on the gravel at the 5:45 mark. Not a blazing opening mile, but that was good. However, I was breathing pretty hard already. My focus was back and forth--site the trail for foot hazards, glance at the leaders. Just after hitting mile one, Andy faded a little, I passed him and moved into 3rd position and was just a couple feet off of Shane and Dallas. We pretty much ran as a group till 1.5 miles when Dallas pulled away from Shane, and Shane pulled away from me. We were all about 30 yards apart from each other. At about mile 2, Shane started to fade and I caught up to him, ran with him for a bit, then passed him. It looked like Dallas was moving slower and I got about 25-30 feet from him. Around a corner I looked back and saw that Shane was maybe 30 yards back coming up a slight hill with Andy right on him. We hit some paved bike trail for a little stretch, had on-coming traffic with the 10 milers so it was nice to see some other people out there as it made the rest of the race seem to go by quicker. We got off track a little and Dallas had to turn around which then put me in front of him, but I stopped and told him to "get up there--you were leading." We got back on track and finished in the positions we were in.
1- Dallas (18:30)
2- me (18:45)
3- Shane (19:00
4- Andy (19:10)
The next finishers were a bit further back. Our times are estimates. There's a whole other story to that--we didn't get just a little off track--we ran quite a bit more due to being misdirected (more than once). One of the issues was that since we started so close to the 10 milers, the people out on the course directing traffic didn't know who was who and didn't know the races started so close. They were directing 5k runners to the 10 mile course, and some 10 milers to the 5 k course. It got a bit messy, but Shane had a Garmin w/ GPS on, I had a Suunto w/ GPS so we were able to tell right where we were at the 3.1 mile mark (actually, 3.2 as the race was just a bit long, but that is normal). The race director, Jim Mason, could have DQ'd us, but he knew it was an issue that was a bit out of everyones control. Plus, he had record attendance this year and with the 50k run added this year there were even more people to direct out on the trails. Jim and the guy doing the timing were very understanding and worked it all out. Plus, they new the gap between the 4 of us and the next runner was pretty significant and that we didn't cheat anyone out of a placing. This race had great refreshments and snacks at the finish: Caribou Coffee, Trader Joe's were there and they had VS. Sports drink (like Gatorade), lots of water, and HUGE jars of pickles. Also, Renee made some seriously good M&M cookies.
Jace and his two buds (Jared and Matthew) ran together and didn't really race each other--they finished pretty much together in 26 minutes and some change. For the younger kids, they only award 1 place (1st) for the age groups(AG). Jace got 1st in his AG (10 & Under), but since Jared and Matt are already 11, they didn't place as there was a 12 year old that finished in 25 something. They all had a good time and after they race, they had some snacks then took off to do young boys on summer break do in a park, lake, woods--the got wet wading in the lake, were catching frogs, throwing rocks/sticks around, and found some toads--one sitting on anothers back and of course thought it was hilarious that they were 'making tadpoles'.
Wife's foot issue... A while back she was diagnosed with Morton's Neuroma (to keep it simple, your toes and out side of your feet get a really bad burning ache, limiting how much you can walk, exercise, etc, before the pain kicks in). Anyway, I convinced her that going "barefoot", wearing Vibram Five Fingers, would fix the problem over time. She didn't want to go for the separate toes look so she ended up getting Merrell Trail Gloves. With just a couple of walks in the Merrells, no more Morton's Neuroma! Seriously. However, she got a little anxious, did a 5 miles walk too soon, and strained one of her feet on the top. Hence, no trail race... The strain is pretty much gone, but not in time to do any long walking/jogging/running.