As I was posting my race report for the Market Square Day 10K, I realized that I never wrote a report for the 1791 Trail Run 5K at Berwick Academy. So here it goes …
Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was going to run this race. There were a few factors that were going against it: (1) I had run the Pineland Trail 50K the previous Sunday and (2) my youngest daughter had a day-long softball tournament at school on that same day. However, I was interested and I wanted to support some friends that were helping to organize the run.
As the morning of the race rolled around, my body was feeling pretty good (issue #1 eliminated) and I found out that my daughter’s first softball game of the day didn’t start until 10:15. Since Berwick Academy is located a couple miles away from my house, this would give me time to run the race, go home, take a shower and then get to my daughter’s school (issue #2 eliminated). So I got ready for the race and was on my way.
This was the inaugural running of the race, and the field was small (48 finishers). I arrived about 45 minutes before the race, paid my $20 (which got me a t-shirt and a cinch bag). Most of the runners were students or parents with a smattering of other runners such as me.
The race took place on Saturday, June 1, which turned out to be very warm with a touch of humidity. It had rained a little bit during the week, so we would expect to find a little bit of water on the course, but not much.
Let’s talk about the course. It was not a traditional trail race. It was (not surprisingly) a cross country course. What do I mean by this? Some of the course went along the soccer field and along the lawns of the campus as well as through trails in the woods. But no complaints from me. It was all very runnable.
The trails were well maintained and non-technical. There were a few spots with some incline that posed a challenge to runners as well as one area with a slightly aggressive downhill. In places there were some roots, but for the most part, the trail was flat and packed with very few rocks and roots to get in the way.
I had not great expectations for my performance for the day. I ran an 8:44 pace (which placed me 12th overall and 2nd in my age group), nothing stellar but it was a good recovery run.
At the finish, there was plenty of water as well as a nice selection of breads other things to eat.
If you’re curious about trail running or new to trail running, I would definitely recommend running this race next year. Assuming no schedule conflicts, you can expect to see me there too!
The York Days 5K took place in York, Maine, on Sunday, July 28. It is the fourth race in theSeacoast Road Race Series, which my wife and I are running this year. Being part of the Seacoast Series meant that the race would be one of the larger 5K races in the area.
We arrived at York High School, where the race would start and finish, early enough to get a decent parking spot, pick up our bibs (there was no pre-race pick-up … and we won’t mention that they didn’t have any record of our registration) and to warm up a little bit. The weather was relatively cool for a summer day, and the cloudy skies were occasionally giving way to rain.
After warming up, the crowd of runners had grown significantly, and we started to see many familiar faces. It was then time to head to the start line. We made sure that we seeded ourselves appropriately at the start line so as to avoid delays from the crowd as much as possible.
Just before the start of the race, a friend and I decided to run together to ensure that we would push each other. The national anthem was sung by a “barbershop quartetish” (but it was more than a quartet) group, and then we were off just as it started to rain slightly.
The course was relatively flat and fast with a small uphill about halfway through and a stretch along the ocean (which was much too short in my opinion). Our strategy was to go out strong and to keep pushing. And that’s what we did, keeping a pretty steady pace with negative splits of a couple seconds for each mile.
In the end, we finished with a 21:49 net time and a 7:02 overall pace. This was good enough for me to finish 68th out of 820 runners as well as to finish 9th in my age group. In reality, I wanted to run faster (at least sub-7:00), but I’ll have to save that for another day.
The first annual The Salmon Run 5K Road & Trail Race took place in Rollinsford, NH, on Saturday, September 14. This race was held to benefit the Friends of the Rollinsford Public Library, and since I live in Rollinsford and the race was being organized by friends, I decided to run this race even though it was not originally on my race calendar.
The race course is different than the typical 5K in the area in that it incorporates both roads and some light, easy trails. The race started in front of the American Legion and immediately began up a hill. This was followed quickly by two more hills within the first three-quarters of a mile. After these hills, the course flattens out for about a quarter of a mile. Then there is a quick up over a bridge that goes over the train tracks. This is followed by a little more running on the roads before turning into the woods on the edge of Scoutlands.
The first half of the trail is a wide access road with some light rocks and roots (all the roots had been painted orange to make sure that they were seen and to make the off-road experience more accessible to those who may have been intimidated by the word “trail”). About half way down the trail, it turns into a hard-packed gravel/dirt access road. In all, this accounted for about one mile of the race.
After coming off the trail, the course ends up in downtown Rollinsford. After going through the town, there’s a quick uphill and then it’s all downhill to the finish line.
Being familiar with the course and having run these roads and trails on a regular basis, I had a two-part strategy. I knew where the uphills were and where the downhills were, so I could plan accordingly. The other part of my strategy was that I was going to run easy since I was two weeks prior to running a marathon and didn’t want to risk any injuries or issues.
Well, the second part of my strategy didn’t seem to work out very well. As I was running, I was feeling good and I could see the front of the pack so the competitive side of me started to come out. I started to run harder, pass people and never looked back. I ended up passing a final runner with just under a mile to the finish line.
In the end, I didn’t push myself to a PR level, but I did run the race. I finished with a time of 22:07.43 and a pace of 7:08. This was enough to get me an overall sixth place finish and first in my age group.
For being a first-year race, the race was well organized and included a kids’ fun run with a monster mascot. This is definitely a race that I would run again. Check it out next year.
The Great Island 5K took place on Sunday, October 13, in New Castle, NH.
This would be the second time that I had run the Great Island 5K. I first ran in it in 1998 (with a time of 30:44 and a pace of 9:53 at age 27). There were a few things that would make it different this time:
- I have been training and running regularly (something that I wasn’t doing in 1998)
- I had run a marathon two weeks prior
- I was coaching a beginner’s 5K group
So I had some things that were going for me this time, and some things that would remain to see how they would impact me.
The race starts at the Great Island Common in New Castle. The course is composed of a few rolling hills as well as a short run on a gravel road. It’s a scenic course with views of the harbor and ocean from the Common as well as along the course.
After meeting up with the other coaches and members of the Runner’s Alley Beginners 5K Groups that had been training for this race over the past 8 weeks in Portsmouth and Dover, we all made our way to the start line.
I started the race running with a friend. Our goal was to try to run a sub-7:00 pace. The last time that we had raced together with finished with a 7:02 pace. At this point, neither of us were sure that we were physically ready to achieve this goal.
We ran our first mile at right around a 7:00 pace. I was feeling much better than expected at this point. Although I always feel bad leaving a friend when we’re running, we always agree that if the other person should always run their own race. So I picked up the pace to see what I could do.
My running started to click, and I continued to pick up the pace and pass people along the way. In my head, I was thinking about the irony of my race attire. I was wearing a shirt from the training group that I helped coach, and on the back, it read: “Beginners Runner’s Alley Group.” This actually became a topic of conversation on a run later in the week, when someone mentioned that she had been passed by someone in one of these shirts and was thinking that she must be getting slower or wondering why this person was in a beginner’s group.
As we entered back onto the Common for the final loop into the finish line, I continued to pass people. I crossed the line with a time of 21:10 and a pace of 6:49. So I achieved my goal and got a PR.
After finishing, I made my way to the entrance to the Common to cheer on the members of the training group as they finished up their run. Even better than setting a PR was to see these runners finishing strong after all the work that they had put into training over the past eight weeks.
If you have a chance, you definitely should plan on running the Great Island 5K in 2014. It has an added bonus of being part of the Seacoast Road Race Series.