Max O’Hartford 5K…. Age group racing

I hadn’t done a 5K in a few years, but one of my former athletes talked me into running the Max O’Hartford today.  She was a good college runner, but 2 pregnancies (and 50 lbs gained AND lost) later, she has been working really hard to get back in shape.  I have never liked “short” races, but when she challenged me to break 22 minutes together, it sounded like a fun plan.  We added a few more former University of Hartford Track and Cross Country athletes to the “roster” and called it a Hawk alumni reunion. For assistant coach Pete, it was a huge step in his fitness goal for 2010!!  First 5K ever!!

Hartford Coaches and Alums!

Courtney, Ken, and I went out for a warmup jog.  We may not be as fast as we used to be, but we still know how to warmup well!!  The Hartford Marathon Foundation announced over 2,000 runners were registered, and the scene was very festive with lots of green and Irish glitter.  It was hard to tell if many people were there to really race, or there for the free beer and corned beef afterwards (honestly, can you think of anything worse than corned beef after a hard race?)

The start was a little shaky 3 min before start time, Courtney and I  had pushed ourselves as close to the front as possible, but there was no effort on the race directors part to get the faster runners to the front and we were surrounded by kids, not too fit looking runners, and dogs on leashes.  It wasn’t looking good for a fast (or even fair)  start.  Suddenly everyone started moving and we pushed the start buttons on our watches, only to be stopped.  Ooopss…. false start, or maybe just technical difficulty?  Now I was mid-pack or worse, and really not too optimistic!  Again, there was no gun, but everyone started moving so I pushed and dodged my way out of the mess as quickly as possible.  Seriously race directors– a little organization at the start goes a long ways, particularly if you are going to advertise a fast certified course, charge a top rate entry fee, and use D-chip timing.  I immediately lost sight of  Courtney within seconds.  A nicer friend might have waited, but I pushed on hoping we’d rejoin at some point.    Just before the mile I saw my neighbor and main competition up ahead, next to my HUSBAND.  Was he actually pacing her?  Oh just wait till I catch them!!  Mile 1- 7:10, not too bad, but still needed to catch Dani and hubby.  Mile 2- 6:45– passed Dani, but what was that breathing down my neck that I heard through the entire 3rd mile?   Ken was still just ahead, and another neighbor, Mark “the Shark” right next to him.  It was down to a sprint- Ken crossed first but they were awarded the same time, I was 3 seconds back with Dani and Courtney just behind.  We all broke 22 minutes and met our goals!

We quickly gathered a group of Uhart folks including Jon Rivera (class of 02 I think, Heather and Julie class of 07)  and ran a cooldown loop in search of Coach Pete.  We found him around the 2 mile point and he was doing great… working hard, but looking good.  I’m not sure he appreciated my “coaching” for the last mile, but he did awesome!   First 5K… sub 45 min!  (I hope I don’t REALLY have to throw the hammer in trade next week)

It was windy and rainy, and as soon as we stopped, I was freezing.  So, I dashed off to the car for dry clothes.  When I returned, they were handing out age group prizes.  There was no actual awards ceremony, so I’m not sure how you were supposed to know how to get your prize, but if you looked up your place on the results, found that  you were top 3 in your age group and went to the awards table they gave you a BIG beer mug.  I said, I didn’t want corn beef… but by now, beer was not sounding too bad!  We filled our mugs and gathered for an old timers picture opp.

Bolton Old Folks Rule- is it the water? Or maybe the beer?

This brings up an interesting topic age group racing.  All of a sudden, getting old is not such a bad thing!  Ken won 55-60 men, I won 50-55 women with Dani right behind and 2nd (although we both would have won the 3 age groups below us), Mark won 65-70 men, and Ned won 50-55 men.  Courtney missed the pic, but she was 2nd in the 30-35 women. So now we’re all “winners” and happy as can be!  Ken and I help put on a big race (14,000) and we had not gone to 5 year age groups, until now.  I didn’t really understand the big deal, but it is fun to still compete as you get older!  The older we get, the greater the difference so aging up becomes more important.   Fitness over 30, 40, 50… is a fantastic thing, but there’s only so much any of us can do to combat the loss of muscle and lack of flexibility.  Now that I’m here, I “get it”.

So, 5Ks aren’t so bad after all.  I kept telling myself, it’s only 2 more miles, it’s only 1 more mile, it’s only 4 more minutes, and yep… that was it, I was done, time to have some fun with friends.

Heather, "Coach", and Julie

Age groupies

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