The morning of the race I parked my car at a local trail head and ran the trail and roads about 7 miles to Squaw Creek park and the start of the race. I arrived about an hour early so I went ahead and added some more miles on my run by taking an easy recon of the 5k course. So all total I ran a little over 10 miles prior to the race. After finishing my warmup I headed into the park lodge and checked in, collecting my number and timing chip. The lodge was pretty crowded with all the runners trying to stay warm but I found a chair to sit in and took my hydration pack off and replaced it with my number and timing chip for the race.
My recon had shown that the road was partially to totally ice and snow covered along the course. This was in stark contrast to the previous 2 years when it had actually been fairly mild and the roads had been dry. My streak of consecutive PR at the 5K distance was in jeopardy. I had lowered my 5K time in consecutive races over the last 2 years but it would be tough today with the conditions. My goal was to come in under 22:00, I had run this race in 22:03 the previous year.
About 10 minutes prior to the race the announcement was made for us to move out to the start. Like a herd of cattle we all moved to the road and lined up, I was somewhere in the middle, far enough back I had no idea what the starter was saying over the megaphone. Unlike the previous races I had run this year, I did not recognize anyone I knew. Another reason I have gravitated to the ultra/trail race scene. The races are small enough, at least for now, I usually know someone there.
Right on time the gun went off and we all ran a crossed the timing mat. I started out with what I felt was a good pace. It was hard to gauge as the miles are not marked on this course. I knew about where the mile splits where however and figured I ran the first mile in about 7:15 pace. It was hard to get a good rhythm as just when you got going, you would hit a patch of ice or have to dodge a slower runner. As in previous years the course took you east along the park road for about 3/4 of a mile then you had to turn around and run back along the same course past the start and do another out and back heading west on the park road. The ice played a huge factor in getting comfortable and although I wasn't breathing really really hard or even putting out maximum effort it was the best I could manage on this road. By mile 2 I knew I wouldn't break 22:00 and started to concentrate on finishing the race with a good relaxed form. About 1/4 mile from the finish I glanced at my watch and realized I had 2 minutes to break 22:00 and I just might make it. I speed up my pace, kicking it to the finish. Although I had a lot of power left it was not to be. I had started my kick too late and I finished in 22:19, 17 seconds slower than the previous year.
Post race I went into the lodge and ate some bananas and chocolate chip cookies. I then put on my pack and ran the 7-8 miles back to my car. My total run for the day ended up being 21 miles with the race in the middle. It was a good effort and a good training day. I am not sure I will run this race next year. Even though it is great to get runners involved and get people out and moving, the pretentiousness off the running mom's, snottyness of the fast guys, and the general chaos in theses races are really starting to turn me off.