The Heart and Soles 5K was the sixth in a series of eight races organized by Shenandoah Valley Runners over the winter months of December through March. Due to Caitlin having a basketball game later in the afternoon and just getting over a nasty cold, she decided to sit this one out and I went at it solo.
The race was held in the heart of Middletown, VA just down the road from Lord Fairfax Community College where I work. The weather was perfect race weather to me…temperatures in the mid-40s with no wind and overcast skies (with a tad bit of drizzle). Earlier in the week the race director sent out an email saying that parking would be sparse close to the race start and finish line, so I chose to park a quarter mile away in a strip mall lot along main street. This also allowed me to get in a small warm up jog to loosen up.
Once I arrived at the start I grabbed the timing chip assigned to me for the whole Winter Race Series and began my warmups. My strategy was to go roughly 95% effort. Being in the middle of marathon training I did not want to risk serious injury. That said, I still wanted to give it a go to see how my speed was holding up through the winter long run training.
The race was going to begin along a straight-away road and I had no idea if the course was going to be fast and flat or hilly. If the course went through the actual town I knew it would be fairly straight. As it turns out the course would be heading slightly west of town where it is nothing but hills!
When the race director gave the “GO” I started off with the front 40 or so runners of the pack. Over 300 people were running the race so I had no idea if I would be passing anyone or if I would be passed by a good many. The course took you up and down quite a bit as I found us sprinting down a long slope at first, and then coming up a long gradual hill during the first mile. I passed a few runners…one of which was a man much older than myself. He was really hauling and I can only hope I am in that great of shape when I am his age.
Mile two was full of ups and downs as we ran up a slight hill, then down another one. Up again, down again. I’ve always told Christie this is where my training comes in handy. Since I live in the mountains all the runs I do at home are up gradual rolling hills, some quite steep. While I usually have to fight to keep pace on the straight parts of a course, when it comes to hills that’s where I keep it steady and get the upper hand if I’m feeling good.
Two long sloping uphills were part of mile three which turned back into town for a long straight away of roughly a quarter mile. A young runner (probably high school aged) was able to sprint by me. He yelled as he ran by (as as source of motivation I assume), “Do you want me to beat you?!?”. I replied, “I’m 20 years older than you, so go ahead!”. He sped ahead and I sprinted to the finish coming across the same time as another male runner in a dead heat (the same age as me after checking the race results). We both finished with a time of 21:31 and shook each other’s hands after crossing the finish.
My time was not a PR, but I was happy given I was only going 95% or so. It was good to get outside and push it at a fast pace on a new course. Here were my final results:
Place: 31 of 322
Male Place: 22 of 153
Division Place (M 30 – 39): 8 of 16