How to win first in your age group

Step One: Pick a small race.

Step Two: Run well.

Step Three:  Make sure that the one lady ahead of you in your age group takes first place overall.

Saturday, I ran a 5K in Park Falls to benefit the Chequamagon pool.  My cousin organized the event and the course was the local high school cross country course.  There was also a free (!) kid’s run.

Here are the things I was worried about going into this race.

1. I don’t run on trails.  Ever.  Seriously.  I don’t even like running on gravel.  I was afraid that I would twist an ankle running through the woods.

2. It had been raining the past few days.  Trails tend to get muddy and slippery when they are wet.  I was afraid that I would twist an ankle.

3. I get lost easily.  I get lost more easily when I’m not running on roads.  (But, as last week’s event proved, I can get lost even on roads.)

As it turns out, the third one was the only one I had to worry about.

This was an inaugural event and the participation was pretty good for a small town race.  It was held at the high school and since there was a Halloween theme, some people came in costume, including one of the canine participants.  I had family around to keep an eye on the boys while I ran.

I started toward the front and tried to pace myself with another woman I assumed was about my age..  This wasn’t the best strategy because she was much faster than me.  At one point during the first mile, I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was running a 7:19 pace.  That isn’t what I should be doing.

I let her go and another girl passed me about half a mile in.  The other girl was much younger and her body had never been encumbered by things like pregnancy or childbirth.  It didn’t bother me that she passed me.  Her time will come.

I ran the first mile in 8:05.  That is faster than I should be running.

At this point, we were into the woods and following the painted arrows on the ground.  I came to a bend in the trail and second guessed myself.  I wasn’t sure I had gone the right way.  Even though I had followed the arrow, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to go that way or go straight and follow the other trail.  I stopped.  I doubled-back.  I looked for another runner to make sure I was going the same way.  I doubted myself.  I lost quite a bit of time.  I think I was paranoid because of what happened last week.  And because I had fallen behind the lead pack, I couldn’t see the runners ahead of me while we were in the woods.

Finally, we were out of the woods and we ran around a field and then into the woods again.  I almost missed the next turn in the woods because I was paying attention to the people who were coming toward me.  The lead runners were coming back out of the woods after completing a loop.  I ran the loop and when I was coming back around, I again second guessed myself.  I was alone on the trail and even though I was running the only logical way, I still slowed down and looked around.  Note to self: trust yourself (or at least the course markings).

I ran the second mile in 8:39.  This is closer to where I should be.

I started fading during the last mile.  I could tell that my legs were getting tired.  I was definitely paying the price for going out too fast.  And, when I noticed that my legs were tired, I started getting more nervous about tripping over something and twisting an ankle.  So then I changed the way I was running and I started running a bit more tentatively.

Once the finish line was in sight, I tried to pick up the pace and give it all I had at the end.

I ran the third mile in 8:48…definitely paid for starting out too fast.  The last .05 mile was in 23 seconds (7:14 pace).

I ended up getting a medal for first in my age group.  The woman I had tried to keep up with took the women’s overall title and the other girl ahead of me wasn’t anywhere close to my age group!  Oh, and I got a PR!  This is the second time that I PR’ed my 5K this year.  (25:54)

I’ve never had the #1 bib.  I was the first person to sign up for the race.  Just one of the benefits of being related to the race organizer!  And I love the Halloween medal.

Jaden was really excited about running the kid’s race.  It has been a while since his last race and he could hardly contain himself.  It was called a pumpkin chase and they had a local high school girl wearing a cute pumpkin outfit and all the kids chased her.

Jaden and the other kids lined up.  My cousin’s kids ran it as well.  Tyler, Cade, Brady and Jaden.  Makenna was at gymnastics, or she probably would have been running it too!

Run, Brady, Run!!

Jaden (in the red) on the backstretch.  I am so proud of his pacing.  He started fast, slowed down a bit in the middle, and then sprinted through to the end.  He told me that we need to practice his running.  He wantsto be able to always run the whole race and not have to stop to walk.

He worked so hard to get to that medal.  He ended up in third place!  He was thrilled.


1. Getting to hang out with my family. Seriously, they are awesome.  And the kids always have a blast with each other.

2. Another PR and a cool medal.

3. Free (!) kids race.  Jaden loved it and he is asking when his next race is going to be.


1. Trail running.  I am just not used to it and way too paranoid.  Even though I ran well, I knew I was shortening my stride and not running with the same fluidity as usual.

2. Commute time.  The race was 90 minutes from my house, which makes for a bit of a long drive for a 5K.  But, family made it worth it.  I just wish I hadn’t had to get home to do homework, so I could have spent more time with them.

Overall Grade: B+

I had a lot of fun, the kids race was great, I got another PR.  It would have been nice to have a bigger turnout to support the cause, but I think the people who were there enjoyed themselves.  I don’t think the option to do this race again will exist next year.  The race organizer’s house is for sale.Winking smile


2 thoughts on “How to win first in your age group

  1. Pingback: 2012 Year in Review « (G)O'Donnell

  2. Pingback: October update « (G)O'Donnell

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