The Winter Warm-up 5K is a relatively new event in the region (I think this was the third annual running?), very small field, but with a few new people joining in each year. It takes place in Gateway, Colorado, at Gateway Canyons Resort, which is this little place that was built by John Hendricks (a high-up with the Discovery Channel and associated networks), and kind of looks like The Cousin of The Alamo.
There's a pretty nifty car museum there as well-I'm not remotely interested in cars and even I was impressed with some of the automobiles housed there when we took the kids through the museum after one of last year's races. The course has a little of everything, and is a well-organized event in an area where the weather usually cooperates, so not a bad option at all in January.
My neighbors Carl and Jo Ann were gracious enough to let me ride along with them to the race, and RWOL forumite deltarose was also coming in to run from her neck of the woods. The weather was perfect, with no wind to speak of-just a good, sunny winter day in western Colorado. Here's the crew of myself, Jen, Jen's husband, and Carl from the race director's photo album, getting in a warm-up prior to the start.
My goals for this race were pretty simple-don't go out too fast and implode early on, and run sub 26:00 (ran 26:48 last year on a sloppier course). The course was the same as last year, but when we walked down to the trail in the woods where the race begins, they pointed out that some work had been done on the trail and it was now this well-ground and packed down dirt surface. Other areas of trail that were snow-covered last year were dry with a few sloppy spots, but generally seemed like better conditions than a year prior. They counted down from ten, and we were off on the double-loop course.
I got off to a good start, dialing back pretty quickly from what was a slightly too fast start for me, and settled in. I haven't felt "good" at any 5K in the past year but liked how I was feeling today. Of course, that's a relative good feeling-as opposed to that wanting to puke and wishing to never run a 5K ever again. I just tried to hold my pace on the flat or slightly uphill sections, and push on the downhill that comes at the end of the loop, down the road back to the resort.
First mile: 7:42
I was kind of losing that good feeling going in to the second mile but didn't feel bad either, and just started focusing on short landmarks, trying to turn the legs over as quickly as I could. I never really looked at my watch after the start-just checked my mile split each time the Garmin beeped at me.
Second mile: 7:34
I just tried to hang on in the last mile, and think I was sort of enjoying myself at this point, knowing that I've done a good job bungling 5K's on several occasions but was on a pretty even pace this time. When I hit the road for the last stretch to the finish, I gunned it as best I could.
Third mile: 7:39
Final .1: 1:11 (well, that's actually what the Garmin measured as .17 miles, and calculated it to be a 6:50 pace)
Garmin time: 24:06, Official race time 24:07.
I am pleased with my result this year, and although it's nowhere near my road 5K PR, I'm excited to have a 2:41 course PR. Jen (deltarose) did great (HUGE course PR-this was her very first race a year ago), and I think Carl enjoyed the course too-it was a good weather day, and the improvements to the trail sure helped! I won a pair of socks in the drawing after, which I think was the same door prize I won a year ago at this event.
Since I got teased a bit for not mentioning this in the original RWOL race report, I'll mention that while this was a "the scoring's made up, and the points don't matter" event (no awards, other than all the nice schwag given away, and the free soup and donuts at the finish), I was the first female in the field of thirty-five or so to cross the finish. I say that knowing full well that I'm a good solid mid-packer who happened to show up for a race where none of the regional front runners appeared. ;) Had a nice lunch with Carl and JA in the bar and grill at the resort, and then headed back to Junction.
One little negative footnote on an otherwise great day-there were several dogs that participated in the race this year, one of which became aggressive toward another dog at the start. I found out after getting back home that a dog at the race had also bitten Jen's oldest son following the race (I am not sure if it was the same aggressive dog from the race start, or a different animal), though his skin was not broken. I think that's a slippery slope they're treading to allow dogs on and around the race course, and one that could frankly mean the end of the race if a more serious accident or injury were to occur. It is a safety issue-many dog owners do not train their animals how to behave in public, and even so-they ARE animals. Even the dog who is normally very well-behaved can become aggressive or bite without a history of doing so. I say this as someone who has owned dogs for years, and loves their company and companionship. This was just not the time and place for dogs, in this little runner's opinion.
So that's about it! I'll plan on a return trip to Gateway for their 10K in a month-great races if you just want to get out and run hard for a bit without a huge crowd.