I think I’m done chasing PRs.
When I got started running, it was all about time for me. Could I break 2 hours in the half marathon? Could I improve upon my marathon time? Heck, I was even trying to drop my 5K time on the rare occasion that I would race the distance. As I moved up in distances, I was still always thinking about time. My goal for my first 100 miler was to go sub-24 hours. It should have been just to finish the darn race, but I had it in my mind back then that just finishing the race wasn’t enough. No, that wouldn’t provide enough validation for me. I had to complete the race in a good time. Like merely completing the distance wasn’t an otherworldly accomplishment in and of itself.
Well, experience and age has changed my perspective more than just a bit. Now it’s not so much about the time it takes me to complete the races I sign up for as enjoying the experience. I’m still trying to push myself physically, but I’m more willing to take some time and smell the proverbial roses. My mindset has changed so drastically that I ran a race last weekend and didn’t even know what my PR was for the distance.
The ChesLen Chase is a local 10K race on trails that I run fairly regularly. It’s a very well organized race with 5K and 2 mile fun run options. I’ve wanted to do it for a number of years, but it’s either never matched up with my schedule or I would find out about it the week after or even day of the race. There were plenty of friendly faces to chat with ahead of time as my entire family was running one of the distances along with several neighbors and friends. And standing at the start, I met Hunt who was one of the founders of Phunt 50K that I’ve done the past several years. That was very cool.
They’ve change the course around a bit and the one they used wasn’t too tough by trail running standards. The first mile is mostly on a dirt road/double track trails before transitioning into a meadow section. I was shocked to notice myself running sub-7 minute pace right out of the shoot, which is about my road 5K pace these days. So I dialed back the effort and let some people drift ahead. About a mile in my son passed me and I thought, “Well, looks like my days of being the fast one in the family have come to an end.” Turns out he went out even faster than I did and ended up fading a bit over the rest of the race. He still ran an awesome race and I’m much prouder of his run than mine.
After passing another runner at about mile 2, I kept my position for the rest of the race. The three race distances start 5 minutes apart and have different courses throughout the nature preserve and all seemed to share the same trail for a spell. The road we were running down was a little congested, but not too badly. And then I was passing 5K runners (even my wife!), which was a bit more challenging on the single track trails. The only other thing worth mentioning is the hill at mile 5. It’s a relatively new trail for ChesLen and one of my favorite sections, but it’s quite a doozy and I walked most of the section.
And then I was across the finish line. My son and I hung out for a while afterwards. I sipped my Victory beer and him his water. I didn’t win any age group awards, but I did end up having something to celebrate. Turns out I was able to knock 2 minutes off my 10K PR at the end of the day. I may be done chasing PR times, but maybe I’m not quite done setting them.