Since the NYC Half Marathon I have focused on shorter runs, limiting longer runs to 7 miles, so as not to aggravate my hamstring. Luckily this allowed me to run the Newport 10k this year (after missing it last year). Progress has been good, but not without its challenges. After the hamstring issue seemed to disappear, an issue with my right hip took its place, but with a week to go before the race, everything seemed to have been resolved.
My plan was to run cautiously. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, I don’t want the hamstring or hip issues to return, and, secondly, the following day was the Highland Park 5k – this race is an important one for me. It was the reason I took up running 8 years ago. Without this race I can’t imagine that I would be a runner (I’ve written about this before, here). As I am now also a race director this also means a very busy weekend.
I started the race with an RVRR teammate who I’ve run with fairly regularly this year. We’ve pushed each other hard on some of our runs so I assumed we would be running a similar pace. When you start a race plans don’t always come to fruition. We were both pushing slightly faster than we said we would in the first two miles (we were running around 7:15min/mile) but then I decided I felt good enough to pick up the pace a little (the weekly RVRR track workouts I’ve been attending are probably responsible for this) and so I started moving ahead. I had felt a very, very dull ache in my hamstring early on so this may not have been the best move. Later in the race it became a dull ache, but now I had locked in on a pace I didn’t want to slow down. My legs are not conditioned for the distance, but I managed to hang in to finish with a time of 44:21 which was over 90 seconds faster than I expected. After stretching it seemed like the aches eased but my legs were definitely feeling it.
After grabbing some food and drink at the finish line (love the bagels, but there was plenty there besides) I headed back to the car so I could help at packet pick up for the HP 5k and then submit bib numbers to the timing company and get everything loaded into the car for Sunday.
On Sunday morning my legs were still tired, but after ensuring registration finished up smoothly I headed to the 5k start line. I typically know who I would be running near in this race year after year, so I was hoping to be near them this year after dropping back last year. As we headed around the first corner I was side by side with someone I hoped to be able to pace with, but who I knew would likely get ahead at some point, and I watched as another runner I wanted to stay near eased ahead. Then I felt that my shoelace was undone. A little while later my other shoelace came undone. I did not want to stop and just hoped that I didn’t end up tripping or having a problem with a loose shoe.
As expected, the person I was alongside near the start did ease ahead and I was left feeling alone in a bit of a middle ground. My muscles were tight, my hamstring was threatening with the same dull ache I’d had the day before, but, yet again, I did not want to slow down.
It paid off. After mile 2 I could tell that I was possibly catching back up to one of the runners I wanted to finish near, and somewhere in the last half mile I managed to pass him. I had no kick left at the finish so I suspected he might be able to come back and take me, but I stayed ahead, and surprised myself with a time of 20:54.
The Highland Park 5k has grown over the last few years (2 years ago, despite high registration numbers, the number of finishers took a dip because of the weather), and this year had 581 finishers. The kids races also attracted a large number of kids.