Dirty 5k Race Report & 100 posts!

by nomeatbarefeet

“I really thought it was going to be flatter than that.”

These were the words I uttered to Katie after she finished the Dirty 5k in Hanover, NH and had gotten her breath back. Really, I thought it was supposed to be a basically flat trail race. I was quite a bit wrong. Not only was the course muddy (hence the “dirty” part of the name), but the director warned us that there were lots of hills, plus a section called the “roller coaster.” Hmmm—a bit foreboding for us, since Katie was trying to ease into running with her knee brace. [See her post “a new sadness” for a recap of what she’s been going through.]

This elevation profile is from last year’s run (which was slightly shorter than a 5k). And, in actuality, the course this year was about 3.2m, slightly longer than a 5k.

The Dirty 5k is part of the Western New Hampshire Trail Running Series and was one of the hardest 5k trail courses we have run. Previously, the Tawasentha 5k series in Albany, NY had taken the cake: it had lots of technical sections, some long ascents, a water crossing, and the aptly named Suicide Hill at the end. The Dirty 5k course was crazier—the the hills were rolling and steep, which not only made the ascents murderous, but the descents were slippery, technical, and really did a number on your quads and knees. It a word, it was brutal.

The course alternated between grass, dirt (read: mud), wood chips, crushed gravel, and, in a few short sections through a parking lot, pavement. You can see by the elevation profile that the terrain was really rolling, being steep at times. The race was run in Hanover, NH (home of Dartmouth College) and the surrounding were absolutely beautiful. It was run at the Storrs Pond Recereation Area which is tucked back in the woods; even though the course spills out onto a parking lot, you felt detached from the world—completely immersed in nature. (Now we can check another state off the list of where we have run. Wonder how many we can accrue?)

As for the race itself  we both did great. Despite the roller coaster nature of the race Katie busted out a solid run, and doing brilliantly on the hills (thanks Hard’ack!). In fact she felt great—well, as great as a lung busting, quad thrashing course can make you feel. She didn’t experience any knee pain, and finished right in the middle of the pack of 121 racers with a time of 32:40—that’s only 4 minutes off her trail 5k PR time from Tawasentha! I would call that a victory. Even better was that afterwards her knee felt great, so this is a good sign for races to come.

Despite hearing about the roller coaster nature of the course I wanted to have a go at it, so I went out strong—perhaps a bit too strong. A group of us stayed on the leader’s shoulder until about mile 1. I took over second and I held on to it until about mile 1.4—I simply couldn’t sustain that pace (which is just at the beginning of all the uphills seen on the profile). I kept at it, knowing I was up there in the pack, and as we came to the final hill I held off a last minute surge by another runner to finish with a time of 22:28. Turns out I finished in 6th place overall and was 1st in my age group! (Bout time that 30-39 age group reaped some results!) I did experience some heel pain on my left leg, which was probably from my form deteriorating at the end of the race. I think I was coming down wrong (i.e., heel first) on the descents because my pace was so quick. I’m not sure what I could have done differently, but that will be something to work on.

I chose the mug as my prize for winning my age group, and then we won this sweet towel from the raffle.

I had to include these last pictures: after the run we went to get lunch in downtown Hanover, and as we were crossing the street I said to Katie, “Is that crossing sign flipping us off?” Turns out that it was. Not very polite, but there you go 🙂

One final comment before we conclude. We just surpassed 100 posts, which is quite awesome. I don’t think that either of us could have imagined where this blog would go when we started (certainly not that we would be living in Vermont and running races in New Hampshire). So thank all for reading and commenting, and hopefully we can get another 100 more posts!

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