My fourth race weekend brought my longest race: the Minuteman Muster 8k on 5/16, in support of the NC National Guard Educational Foundation. I was doing this along with three ladies as part of the Nog Run Club group. Of course, many of us are also North Carolina Road Runners Club members. The course description, naturally, contains the phrase “challenging hills”. Other Nog and NCRC folk were there as well. The event featured a 5K and the 8K, both starting at 10 a.m.
Two of the younger women (well, they are all younger) were doing the Wake Forest Rotary 5K earlier and would arrive just prior to the 10 a.m. race start. Both distances would start at the National Guard Center on Gold Star Dr. off of Reedy Creek Rd.Raleigh and would end up on Reedy Creek heading towards Umstead State Park. The 5K turnaround preceded that of the 8K turnaround. I warmed up while surveying the military equipment and booths featuring clothes and equipment of those that served in WWI and WWII. The trucks and ammo carriers were monstrous.
The ladies who had run in Wake Forest arrived in time (both having won their age group in the prior 5k). One was running with her mom in the 5K and the other was doing the 8K. The third lady, the young speed demon, was running the 5K. First, the flag was honored
and then we bunched up near the start, a few with baby joggers. Most participants seemed to be young men. And, indeed, such was the case. For the 5K, 129 men competed, most of whom were in the 20-29 AG with the next highest number in the 40-49 AG. 97 women ran the 5k, most of whom were 30-39. The 8k was overwhelmingly populated by men: 117 versus 44 women. Most men were 20-29 or 30-39; and similarly for the women. Did I mind being swamped by buff and capable men? Nope. I moved to the back of the pack, being careful not to get in front of a baby jogger.
So, off we go – in an uphill curve towards the entrance on Gold Star Drive. Turn right onto Gold Star, partial uphill
then left onto Reedy Creek to a greenway which took us to a tunnel beneath Edwards Mill Rd. then uphill to get onto the continuation of Reedy Creek Rd. Just prior to the tunnel, a child in a baby jogger dumped his parent’s cap on the ground. I swerved , not quick enough in thinking or motion to pick it up. Mom got it. The kid later dumped something else out along the way. The lady with the baby jogger and I alternated in leading each other until near the end when I moved on. Anyone running with a baby jogger has got to be both energetic and strong.
A young girl, a kid, was ahead of us. Young guys were running in a pack wearing the red race shirt, one carrying the flag. There were several male groups running for the 4-man team award. I saw some of the fast Nog folk on their way back from the 5K turnaround. My running pal was the first female. Well good. She was working on a repeat of her prior race wins. I later saw the 8K Nogger, coming back from her turnaround, steaming ahead. An uphill just prior to the 8K turnaround was ahead, as was the baby jogger lady and a pack of men. I was thirsty. There was water ahead, so I ran on the grass and passed these folks to get the water first. Most times I bypass water but not today.
Around the cone and now a downhill after a couple of gulps of water. A tall fellow and his lady and I played leap frog along the way. I’d get energy and concentrate on my new technique of breathing in when my left foot hit the ground and out when next it touched. I did not run out of energy quite as soon. I did find that I would sometimes switch to a right foot pattern. I slowed, almost stopping, well actually stopping, to take a photo through the trees of the lake.
I’d been taking photos now and then since with an age group of 50+, I was not in the running.
A nice group of runners were out. We joked and commiserated along the way as we trudged up and down the hills. This is a pretty route. A few horse farms bordered the area. If one did not see a horse, one could smell their presence now and then.
I took water at the second water stop too, which happened to be at the 5K turnaround, I think. Two men and I sort of kept pace with each other until just before the tunnel where there was a slight downhill and I picked up some speed. My speed slowed when we came out onto a street again and I made the right turn towards the entrance to the National Guard Center. Initially, we had a downhill then a left turn to an uphill right curving road and finally, FINALLY, a right to the Finish.
I later tried to spot the two men who had been just behind me but did not see them. I found the Nog folk and we hung out. Awards were in ten year age groups, up to 50+. There were team awards for 4-person teams, mostly a military challenge. In the 5K, my Nog runner's mom came in 3rd in the 50+ group, with a 35:27 time (mom and daughter ran together, giving the kid a break after her earlier 5K.) Our 5K speed demon lady ran a 6:23 pace, coming in as first female overall. The other woman who had run the earlier 5K, and ran this 8K came in first in her AG (second time this day) in 47:44 and pace 9:36. And, oh yeah, the little kid running ahead of me? Ashley Nowacki, 10 years old, finished in 47:37 (yes, ahead of my pal! But that is because she, unlike me, graciously held back to let the youngster cross before her. Me? I would have blown by – but obviously, I did not have that opportunity, coming in much later.)
Despite the hills, this was a fun event and I think it was because of the participants. Upbeat, and encouraging each other. I had been reluctant to run this one (I bypassed last year) figuring this was not an event for senior citizens. Sort of like me trying to do a mud run! However, I am glad that I did it. (As it happened, I placed 2 of 4 in the 50+ AG)
And now it is back to track related practice. Carolina Godiva Track Club has begun their fun summer series of Wednesday night meets. I will be dragged out from morning boot camp, a good excuse! The worst part is the drive there during commute time. ugh.