4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Shore Runners Summer Showdown Race Report

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As I said in my August 2009 month in review post, “better late than never”.  This race was almost a month ago, on Aug 22, but it is still important for me to write up the race, how I did, and my impressions.

First of all, one of my goals is to run in more smaller, “local”, events.  In the past, I’ve tended to run many New York Road Runners events, but those have gotten so big and stressful to deal with.  Also, I’ve also decided not to try to get in the required 9 races to get an automatic entry to the New York City Marathon.  Instead, I intend to focus on marathons in other states going forward.  I’ve got 5 states, and look forward to trying to get the other 45 done.  I will definitely still run some NYRR events, but they simply won’t be my first choice anymore.  So, I jumped at the chance to run in this race.  I noticed it listed in the events section of Daily Mile and was interested for 2 reasons.  First, it is about 15 minutes from my weekend house in New Jersey, and second, it is a cross country race, which I’ve never run before.

I almost backed out at the last minute.  The races was smack in the middle of one of those rainy spells we had in August, and the forecast was for rain.  Since this was a cross country race, I was a little worried about poor footing, etc.  But, the opportunity to run in a small local 5k, and to try out a cross country race was too great, so I decided to go for it.

And a small 5k it was.  I decided to register on race day.  When I showed up to register, there was some kind of commotion.  Apparently, at the race location, they were missing both the list of number assignments for the people that pre-registered, and missing the stack of race numbers for race day registrants.  No problem though, we were all patient about it, and they eventually received both missing items and got everyone signed in.  At check in, I also got a nice looking green Saucony technical singlet!

The rain started about 15 minutes before the start of the race.  Didn’t seem to bad as it was some kind of sun shower, and we could sort of remain dry by standing under some trees.  About 5 mins before the start, the race director herded us all towards the start area to talk through the course.  It would take us around the ball fields, through the woods, around the polo field, back through the ball fields, through the woods and then around the polo field again to the finish.  A few minutes later, we were off.  In all, the most informal start I’ve ever seen for a race!

Did I say this was a small race?  There really were not that many of us.  And it seemed like a healthy proportion were young, high school and college, kids, who looked very skinny and very fast.  Many of them took right off and left me in the dust.  So settled in with a fairly small set of middle of the pack runners.  First stage of the race was through a big open field in high grass.  Definitely harder than your typical road surface.  About a half mile in, we entered a wooded section that was narrow, hilly, and muddy!   But that section was short and we entered another large open area and ran around a giant polo field.  Then, a short trip back in the woods, and another open field section, before we entered a longer wooded section.  This wooded section was hilly, and very muddy.  The muddiest area was on a steep downhill, so had to really cut the pace down to make sure I didn’t fall down.  All of the running in the grass started to get to me, and I was losing it in the last mile – did have to stop to walk once.  Crossed the finish line, in 27:46, and was handed a number, 76.  Had to check in at the main tent to provide my name and race number, so that the race could be properly scored.  Did I say it was a small race?

Anyway, I mentioned it started raining about 15 minutes before the race.  It continued to rain at the start of the race, and stopped when I was at about mile 2.  When the rain stopped, the humidity was noticeable, and the sun also started to come out, making it seem really hot.  Maybe another reason I bonked in that last mile.

In summary, I had a blast.  It was a lot of fun, but also very hard.  I managed to finish at 8:57 pace per mile, slower than I would have expected in a road race, but better than I though I could do on a slippery and muddy cross country course.  I look forward to maybe trying this again next year, and also looking for other small races in Monmouth County!

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Written by SCL

September 20, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Race Report

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