Most of my short training runs are in the evening. During kid’s practices, after dark, after work. I’m more likely to see a sunset than a sunrise on my runs. Evening races are few and far between though. For the third year, Nex Gen, put on a fund raising 5 k in the hills of the Petaluma Golf and Country Club, AKA “Goat Hill” this last Saturday evening. It fit my schedule perfectly.
Nex Gen is a committee of young energetic folks who raise funds and awareness for Petaluma Valley Hospital. Much of the fund raising is done from the Run for your Life event as well as a Poker – Bunco Card party in January.
It was my 3rd year of running the race as I was at the inaugural event in 2010 with a 29:23. In 2011 I ran a 29:59. It is not an “easy” 5k by any means.
I finished up work early in the afternoon on Saturday and arrived early at the starting area at the club house. Race director Kyle Restad already had staff manning the registration table so I signed in and collected my t shirt before changing into running clothes.
Not seeing any familiar faces I struck up a conversation with three ladies from Kaia F.I.T., a women’s only training center location in Santa Rosa. Kirsten, Megan, and Paula were running this race for the first time. We chatted until start time.
At 3:30 we assembled in a rough group at he top of the hill as Kyle gave us our final instructions. He emphasized that the race was 2 loops with many well marked twists and turns. After a “3..2…1…GO!” we were off.
Now I had no intention of having a PR at this race. I’d run a TOTAL of 8 times in the last 30 days. So I made sure to keep a comfortable pace. Midway through the first lap Kirsten took about a 20 yard lead on me and set a pace I was comfortable following. The Leaders disappeared around the first corner and I would occasionally catch a glimpse of them on switchbacks.
We climbed the last hill leading to the golf course and I paced my self so I didn’t break down to a walk. I made it over the hump and started around the second loop. I forgot to check the clock so I don’t know what my time was at this point.
Now I started passing people who went out too fast. Kirsten kept her 20 yard lead and started lengthening it out on the final back stretch. We passed the walkers that started after the runners and attacked the final hill. Here I was able to pass two more runners, and as the finishing chute came into view I could see the numbers 27:53..:54..55…
I wanted to be under 28:00 badly and dug my hardest to cross the line. My finish time was officially 28:00.7. I was second in my age group, finishing just over 10 seconds behind the AG winner.
The winner Dave Houts from Cotati had finished in 21:54. Spencer Smead,an eighth grade runner from San Rafael finished second over all with a 22:35
Kirsten, my pace bunny, won the 20-29 year old age division, while her training partner Paula won the 50-59 year old division. We enjoyed lasagna, salad and desserts from Cordoza’s Deli along with a few microbrews as the sun descended on the hills of Petaluma.
Aside from being a new PR for this race, it was enjoyable to get out and meet new people. I hope more races take place in the evening, and take advantage of the post race energy as a social lubricant. I think Nex Gen has tapped into that formula combining good health, community involvement and social events to benefit the Petaluma Valley Hospital.