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Race Report: Hewitt 5K aka Blind Squirrel

The Cause

Normally, my spring running seasons ends with the Jailbreak 5K over Memorial Day weekend.  After that, the warmer weather and higher humidity do a number on my already mediocre speed, and the number of events to choose from drops dramatically.  This year, I decided to make an exception.

A new race popped up, and it was for a very worthy cause.  The Hewitt 5K was held on Saturday June 29th at Chapin’s Crooked Creek Park.  The race was to help raise money for a pavilion at Chapin Baptist Church that is being built in memory of Parker and Haley Hewitt, two children who lost their lives in a car accident four years ago.  Sounded like a great reason for me to put myself through the pain of a possible hot and humid 5K.

The Race

So, on Saturday morning, I set out to Crooked Creek Park.  In an un-Greg like move, I decided not to research the course route beforehand.  I knew some high school cross country meets were held at the park, so   I suspected the course might have some off payment sections.  I arrived in plenty of time to get my packet and warm up.  The good news was the sky was overcast and it was a bit breezy.  Bad news was the typical South Carolina summer morning humidity was there. Oh, well.  This was still better than I expected.

I could see the finish line was setup in the middle of a soccer field.  So,  the off pavement suspicion was confirmed.  During my warm up, I also discovered some white arrows on the pavement and decided to follow them.  They took me down winding paved trails.  I suspected this was part of the course.  I  followed them far enough to encounter some short steep hills and turned around to head back to the start area. During my two miles of easy warm up, I didn’t have any trouble working up a sweat.  I was ready to go.

So, there I was at the start.  A month had passed since my last race, also a 5K, and even a PR.  I’d been training hard, and really wanted to improve on that PR, but I knew that would be tough this morning.  I felt twenty-two minutes would be a victory given the humidity and course.

I’ll try not to bore you with too many details.  Here’s how it went.  I went out pretty fast with the lead pack.  After a half mile or so, we hit those paved trails I had found in warm up, and I couldn’t keep with the lead group.  I found myself in no man’s land, running by myself.  A few minutes later, my watch beeped for the first mile split and it said 7:12.  That seemed too slow based on that start.

Unfortunately, my brain cannot turn off the number crunching, and immediately I knew that I’d need to run 6:30 mile splits the remainder of the way to get a PR, if my watch was indeed correct.  About then, I hit that first short step hill.  It felt like someone put the brakes on me. Then there were some more rolling hills.  With no one close behind me, I just decided to try to keep a steady pace.

About the half way point, we looped around a couple of baseball fields.  Here, I could glimpse behind me and saw a guy less than 100 yards back.  He looked like a possible age group threat.  My number one goal now  became to not let him pass me.   I was fading, and I hoped he would, too.  Eventually, we emerged from the paved trails and headed back into entrance to the soccer field.  My watch said 19:00, and I could see the finish line.

Unfortunately, we still had to loop back to the far side of the field and back.  The guy behind me was now very close.  I was fading faster than he was.  We rounded the last corner and a spectator yelled ‘He’s gaining on you!’ I don’t know if he was lying or not, but I did my best to pick up my pace and held him off, managing a 22:13.

Turns out he wasn’t in my age group.

Satellite View of the Route

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blind Squirrel Finds an Acorn

If you aren’t aware, most races have an overall winner then  break up the field into age groups, usually in 5 year increments.  This gives us regulars a chance to compete.  Five years ago, in my first 5K, I actually won first place in the mail 40-44 year-old group.  I didn’t really know what fast was in a 5K back then, and I thought my 23:30 something was not bad, until they announced the overall winner .  He was my age, but ran the race in under 16 minutes.    Oh.

Over the past 5 years, I had not placed first in my age group again.  I did manage a third that first summer, but since summer of 2009, I’ve been shutout.  Until now.  My 22:13 was good enough for 1st place in the male 45-49 group and 12th overall.  As a bonus, they didn’t give out medals, but instead gave sugar cookies with the race logo in icing.  Much better than a medal.

My Prize. It didn’t make it through the afternoon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah, Heather Hunt finished first at 18:37.  Pretty darn impressive for a 38 year old, I think. For the complete results click here: http://www.strictlyrunning.com/results/13hewitt.txt.

POFIFOTO!

 

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