Another Jaunt Down the Hop River Trail

Yesterday was 5th Annual Hop River 5k & 10k here in Andover, CT.  I enjoy this race because it’s local, it’s flat, and it’s a lot of fun racing down the trail that I train on almost every day.  And, it lines up perfectly in the beginning of the second quarter of marathon training.  I’ve run it two other times before (2014 and 2016) and both times I ran the two miles to the event as a warm up and home again as the cool down.  But Saturday was a different story this year.  Torrential downpours flooded from the skies and severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings loomed.  Unsure if the race would even take place, my husband and I decided it would be best to drive there and park to save my feet from getting too soaked and to make it home again safely if the weather turned even worse.

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Just stepping from the car to the registration tent had me soaked to the bone.  By the time I had finished my warm up my soggy socks were inducing blisters. Thankfully we missed out on thunderstorms (and tornados!) and the rain even took a break by the time the gun went off.  I ran in my usual fashion: rabbit out the start and try to hang on as long as I can.  I made it through the first half a lot faster than I had planned.  I hit the three mile mark at 19:09, well over two minutes ahead of my plan.  NOT SMART!  I hit the turn-around and started back to the start/finish line, but was really feeling the humidity, the blisters, and the strain of moving too fast.  I looked at my watch a little more often than I probably should have, but it assured me that I was keeping the pace under 7 minute miles.  “Don’t get comfortable, Mazy” I kept telling myself. I was delighted to come across the five mile marker. Almost home!  Despite some cramps and sore feet, I had it in me to surge through the last half mile and actually kicked it in to the finish.  Seeing my family, neighbor, and best friend cheering in the final stretch was a glorious feeling!

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I sailed through the finish line, being sure to take a long stride OVER the wet and slippery timing mat, and nearly fainted when I looked my watch.  41:32.  This was nearly a 45 second PR in wet, slippery, muddy conditions.  My Garmin also recorded a new 5k PR, 19:49. Not too shabby.  I finished 6th overall and was again the top female finisher.  It was totally worth the rain and blisters!

After I got home I uploaded my Garmin data so I could compare this year’s race to last year’s race.  It was the same course, but a few variables changed.  Last year was incredibly hot (90 degrees, with a heat index of 105) and bright sunshine.  This year it was cool and incredibly wet.  Both years I hit a PR though.

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What was the same was my incredible gung-ho attitude about flying out for the first half and scrambling to hang on through the second half.  That’s certainly something I need to work on.  I’m not finishing as strong as I know I can, so I can work on pulling out a better kick as well.  But I am getting stronger. I am getting faster. And, maybe, I’m getting smarter about it all.  It was a fantastic run, and despite my slow down, I have no regrets.  Can’t wait to see what I pull off next year!

***Oh, and I want to send a special shout out to one of my readers who’s beautiful third place finish won her her age group.  FANTASTIC RUN, MARISSA!!***

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