Evidence: The gym class mile.
I was a freshman, deconditioned and unenthusiastic. I was more so, in terms of the latter, when I knew my finishing time directly correlated with my grade. The whistle blew, and I gave a solid effort for a tenth of a mile before resigning myself to walking. I spent most of that 15 minutes (or more) talking with a sophomore, who had a shared distaste for physical activity. But as we came closer to the finish, she picked up the pace. I did not. Dead last, I was.
And so it was with great unfamiliarity and uncertainty that I found myself at the start of the Hare & Hounds XC 5K on Saturday.
The event, sponsored by Three Rivers Running Company, is in its fourth year and is a points race for the track club. There's an individual option or, in line with its cross-country title, there's a team option with several divisions. I gathered a group of mother runners from the local Moms RUN This Town group, and we tackled the group as "Mom's The Word."
Photos courtesy Fort Wayne Track Club and Three Rivers Running Co.
During the race, I might have used some choice vocabulary rather than "Mom." To sum it up: Running on grass is hard. H-A-R-D hard.
It was a gun start, and the first mile took off at an unbelievable and unsustainable pace. For the first quarter-mile, my watch was reading sub-7:30. I knew I needed to get myself in check and took the opportunity to do so as we rounded the first bend and encountered our first incline (I'm not sure they count as hills outside of Indiana).
I fell in line with my friend Tina and ran most of the race with her. I'm not sure it was intentional but we seemed to be evenly matched, given the day and the course. I would pass her, she would pass me but in the end, we were together.
We clocked nearly even splits in the 8:45 range though I was aided in the second mile to hit some dirt track. I never thought I loved trails as much as I did until I hit that section. The return to grass, though, was like a slap in the face - especially when the course ran parallel to the finish before looping into the woods and back onto the grass. I spent that section willing myself not to walk. Not even through the water stop around mile 2.5.
I finished in 27:14, an average pace of 8:4Xish. I am not sure if there's an algorithm to tell me how much the terrain affected my pace but I know effort > time.
But, of course, it wasn't about time ... yay, running, rah, rah, three claps here. The event was about getting in a points race and, more importantly, finding a reason to run with some wonderful ladies. Most of us had not met (in person) until Saturday, and it was a great chance for us to start what will (hopefully) be a summer filled with fun, running and camaraderie.