I have to be honest about my training for this run; it was just about non-existent. Having just finished the Rock n’ Roll half marathon in New Orleans, I decided to take a “week” off of running which lasted a bit longer than anticipated. Going into the Beau Biden Memorial 5k, I was mostly relying on any endurance I’d managed to maintain from New Orleans.
My strategy was simple: don’t stop running. I haven’t run on a trail in years, but memories of high school cross country races came flooding back when I realized we’d be racing less than a mile away from my old coach's favorite park for drilling hill repeats. Glancing over the elevation report for the race confirmed that this course would be packed full of peaks and valleys so I’d be happy to cross the finish line able to say that I’d run the entire race.
The race started and I was in high spirits. Vice President Joe Biden surprised the crowd, walking out during the pre-race announcements to say a few words and had teared up a bit during his opening remarks. My adrenaline was pumping as I crossed the starting line and the first mile blew by. I wasn’t listening to music and I try not to glance at my watch during races but I couldn’t believe how fast the first mile marker had come up. Similarly, as I passed by the 2nd marker, I became more suspicious about my supposed pace. So far the hills were brutal but the immediate downhills provided an excellent opportunity to catch my breath. I was still going strong when I saw the 3rd marker up ahead and checked my watch to confirm my suspicions; they had marked kilometers, not miles on the trail. Mentally, it was a tough blow but I tried not to think too much about it, focusing instead on the 2 kilometers left to go.
Kilometers 4 and 5
At this point, we’d been up and down so many hills and around so many bends; I was struggling to figure out where we were in relation to the finish line. The race was brutal and I was woefully unprepared for the terrain. After running through the dark, chilly, creek filled "Tunnel of Love" my shoes were soggy, my hands were frozen, and I was ready to finish. There were two particularly brutal hills in the final kilometer of the race, and by this time, most of the runners around me had resorted to brief walking breaks to rest their legs and catch their breath. Climbing the final hill I saw Biden spectating from the top and I knew I couldn’t let him catch me walking. I was moving slow but I pushed myself across the finish and almost hurled on the other side.
The race was brutal. It was cold, it was wet, and I doubt that there was more than a hundred yards of flat ground the entire time. It was tough, but I managed to finish in 27:35 coming in 17th place out of 218 overall and 3rd in my age group. Unfortunately I didn't get to stick around for the awards, but I rewarded myself with a deliciously refreshing Sneak Attack Saison from 21st Amendment Brewery.