I did an easy 6 miles on the course a week two days before the race with my friend Ryan Polli who raced on it a lot in high school and won a 5K on it last year. I hadn't ran on the course since one invitational when I was in high school. I was glad I got the easy run on the course with Ryan to familiarize myself with it before race day.
Jamie and I arrived at the park around 7am. It was humid but not too bad. Luckily, the course is mostly shaded and you're not in the open sun for long. After doing my dynamic warm-up I headed off on the course for an easy two miles warm-up. The grass was fairly dry and the trails were in good shape. After my warm-up I met Jess and Shane who were also running in Capital RunWalk singlets. I thought the race started at 8:00am but it was an 8:30am start so I did my warm-up too early. I talked with Jamie, Jess, and Shane while waiting for the 5K to start.
We lined up to start the 5K at 8:30am. The DJ was having the crowd do a warm-up that included jumping jacks, static stretching, and other moves that I wasn't doing. I was ready to run and that was taking up time. Maybe he was stalling cause they had some kind of issue and were not ready to start the race but it was an annoying delay. As far as goals go for this race, I wanted to break 18 but knew it would be challenging on this course.
After running down the 1000m hill to start the race we hit the trails. I started passing some runners as we ran through the first section of trails. I moved up into the top five just before the one mile marker. I ran the first mile in 5:33; a little too fast but the first 1000m of it was downhill. It was nice having the course marked every 1000m along with the mile markers.
Shortly after the first mile the course comes out of the trails and goes up the same 1000m hill we ran down for the start. It's tough and I passed a couple more runners on it near 2000m that went out too fast; one of which being the guy in the athletic tape shoes. We ran back by the start/finish line when I saw Jamie on the right cheering for me. A woman caught me and pulled even with me going up the hill around 2000m. We were battling for 2nd place overall with a guy ahead of us by about 15 seconds.
We came out of the woods and the uphill finish awaited me. I tried to finish strong and hit mile 3 about halfway up the hill in 5:53. Before the 3 mile mark, about 500m into the climb, I just put my head down and went for it. It was tough and going out fast and pounding the legs didn't help either. I finished 3rd overall in 18:17.
I didn't wear cross country spikes. I wore my Brooks Green Silence road flats instead and they were fine. It if had been raining or had rained the day before I could see where cross country spikes would have helped. It's a challenging course but I would race on it again. My pacing was not my best by far but in a race like this you have to race the course and not the clock. You can't try to run consistent splits on a tactical course like this. It was a tough race but it was fun to do something different than a road race.