I had a chance to run a unique 5k on Tuesday – race was at 7:30 pm at a local state park. This was the first night of their holiday Christmas lights presentation that runs until 12/31, Its run through a very convoluted paved course through the park, with lots of out and back loops. There were more than 500+ people there, many of them just walking the course to see the lights. I was concerned about getting bogged down in the crowds, given the narrow paths and twists and turns. I lined up in the second row behind most of the local high school cross country team. Race weather was about 48 degrees with a light mist – pretty good.
I purposely went out very fast in the first quarter mile to avoid the huge crowd behind me, and it actually felt pretty good. I always feel better in evening races. The course thankfully was well marked with a bunch of volunteers, because with all the twists and turns in the dark, I was afraid of going off course or worse – injured. I hit the first mile in 6:33, which is right where I try to be these days. I thought I did it faster, but I guess slowing down for all the turns and having to avoid others slowed me down a bit. I felt strong throughout the 2nd mile, and was able to keep a strong pace, about 6:38. I was pretty gassed by the last mile, but thankfully it was mostly flat. I found my form suffering a bit towards the end, and it was hard to see my Garmin to figure out where I was on the course. Mile 3 was in 6:45. Since I only saw my 2nd mile split (too dark to see the others), I thought I might be in low 20 territory. I saw a glimpse of the clock near the finish and read it as 19:xx, so started running like a crazy person, but as I rounded the last turn I realized it was 20 not 19 in the first two numbers. Still finished hard and managed a 20:55. 2nd in age group and 14th overall. I was 5th not counting the high schoolers!