Where: New Lenox, Illinois
Results: 22:20 – 19th Overall – 12/124 Place Male Overall – 3rd Place M56-60 Age Group
Racing is back! Not sure I am though. After a year plus hiatus from racing due to the pandemic, I decided to join three of my coworkers and jump back into racing. I felt some anxiety about participating in this race, which is the norm for me for any race, but it was mostly due to not really being prepared to race a 5K having done nothing but long and slow distance training for most of this year and last. But I figured why not jump in and test my fitness a little, so I did.
I had checked the race results from 2019 and saw that I had a pretty good chance to possibly crack the top ten in this little local race, but when I got to the race I could clearly see that the competition was going to be strong. People want to get back to racing I guess. When I noticed that Tinley Track & Trail was well represented, I knew that a top ten finish was going to be a challenge.
I arrived and did my usual warm-up, and it didn’t take too long as the temps were in the low 80’s for this Thursday evening in June. About five minutes prior to the start I took my place in the start area and waited for the gun. Instead of a gun though, the girl starting the race gave some unclear message about starting the race when she starts the music. Well, the music started and we where all like “do we go now?” Someone took off, and the rest of us followed.
My plan was to try to stick with a guy named Rich from the Tinley T&T squad, as he is a little faster than me and would help me pace to my best effort. Rich has become my main competitor (arch enemy) lately, as he is in my age group and I see him at most of the local races.
The race starts with a little uphill and then flattens off for a while. When I noticed that I was running at 6:50 pace I tried to dial it back and settle in and also realized that I was once again hitting it too hard out of the gate. That wasn’t my game plan, but I seem to always go out too fast for the first mile. I clocked a 6:54 first mile and just shook my head. Rich was still ahead of me but he was starting to build a little bit of a gap.
I used to have some dumb rules for myself about who not to let beat me in a race. I need to add mom’s pushing baby strollers to the list, as two of them passed me in the second mile. To their credit they were fit, but it sucks to get passed by anyone pushing a baby stroller!
The second mile came 7:19 and although that was a decent pace that should have been comfortable, it wasn’t because I had already burned all my matches in that first mile and that pace was being forced upon me. I had driven the course earlier in the day because I was unfamiliar with it and saw that the last mile had a good drop but the last half-mile would be a climb uphill to the finish. Once I made the turn onto that hilly portion I was maxed out. I retook one of the stroller pushing moms but knew others were chasing me down. I gave it my all but got passed by another runner named Kelly, who I know from the local running club. But I was just glad to be finishing the last mile in 7:22 and coming in at 22:16, according to my watch.
The awards were quickly posted online and I could see that being third in my age group would not get me a medal for this race that only went two deep for the awards. Rich finished a half-minute ahead of me and I couldn’t quite match the pace at the end of another guy, who beat me by about ten seconds. Oh well, I need to be a little more prepared for next time and just be happy that racing has returned. 19th place out of 281 finishers isn’t so bad.
Summary: Chasing the Sun 5K is a tough little course with lots of turns and challenging hills at the start and end. I may keep this one on the calendar. I kind of like races on weekday evenings.