Several months ago my sister had an idea that when my family got together for a reunion in Pennsylvania this summer we should all run a race while we were there. Yes, we are alike in so many ways… She found a local race for the one weekend we were all there and it was only 12 miles away. The race was the Quiet Valley Rooster 5K and like any other race junkee I did my homework. I looked up the previous years race results to check out the local competition. In my “research” I discovered that last year only one person had broken 20 minutes and the first female had finished after the 25 minute mark. In my mind this could only mean one of three things:
- The course was long and not certified. (Been there and done that.)
- The competition was not as fast.
- The course was tough.
About 2 minutes into my race warm-up I learned the reason for the “slower” times from last year: Number 3. Only saying the course was “tough” was a huge understatement. This was a true cross country/ trail race. I now have an entirely new respect for those who race trail/ cross country races.
|Pre-race runner family picture. (Two of my bro-in-laws, two of my sisters, Abi and I)|
After the warm-up and some strides I headed to the starting line. I must admit it was my first time to ever stand next to a rooster at the start of a race.
|What have I got myself into?|
|Tricky is looking pretty confident!|
|I am the one right next to the rooster. He actually took off pretty fast!|
Mile 1- 6:30. Within the first 2 minutes I had settled into first female and there were 5 guys in front of me (all high school age). We left the grassy start area and headed into the woods- uphill on a single lane trail.
After the first “woodsy” section we were greeted by an actual road which we ran on for maybe a quarter mile. I told myself to use the roads sections to my advantage. Too bad there were only two short road sections… When I saw my first mile split I knew my next two were going to be even slower. After mile one we headed up hill on a grassy knoll. Around the end of this mile an “older” runner (a.k.a.- a runner more my age) and another high school kid passed the two guys in front of me who were starting to fade. I passed the slower guys too which kept me in third place.
Mile 2- 7:19. Yikes! A LOT of uphill grass and muddy sections on this mile. During this mile another kid came up and tried to pass me. We went back and forth for most of this mile but eventually I kept the lead. There was a lot of mud on the dirt road in this section of the course and I actually chose the grass on the side of the road because my footing felt more secure there.
Mile 3- 7:15. This mile contained the hardest trail section of the course. The two guys in front of me were too far ahead to see (a lot of turns and trees) and I couldn’t see anyone behind me either. I focused on following the flags in the woods and just finishing. There was also a slippery wooden bridge that I practically had to walk across so I wouldn’t fall on my rear. Once I made it out of that section I knew the end was near. At one point I looked down at my overall average (7:00 pace) and it hit me that I actually ran a faster pace in my last marathon. Talk about a reality check.
|The final stretch|
Mile 3.05- 0:21 (6:53 avg. pace). I have never been more happy to finish racing in my life. I just wasn’t prepared mentally for how challenging this was going to be. It did not bother me one bit that the course measured “short” on my watch. Usually I feel a little guilty if a race measures short but not this time. I paid for every second of this one! There were so many twists and turns on varying types of terrain so I’m sure it was difficult to get an exact measure.
Official Finish Time: 21:28 (6:55 pace). 3rd Overall/ 1st Female. Official results can be found here.
And I actually set the female course record. I would love to try to break 20 or 21 minutes on this course but I can’t say when I will ever be in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania again at this time of year. If I am then it’s game on!
As soon as I finished I talked to John for a few seconds and then headed back out to cool down/ find Abi. She was running the race too and I wanted to be there for her in the last bit. I found her around the 2.5 mile area and ran in the final stretch with her. That same rooster that had stood by me at the start was right in front of her and she picked up the pace to pass it at the very end!
|Kickin it in past the rooster|
The 2nd female was actually my sister Tricky who finished in 23:01. My brother-in-law came in 1st in his AG (23:43) and my sister Tara finished 2nd in her AG (28:49). Abi finished 2nd in the 12 & under AG (30:51). My other brother-in-law finished in 37:21.
|so much more unique than a trophy!|
|Abi posing for race photographer to accept her medal|
|most of the family|
|Proud of my big girl- this was a tough one and she didn’t quit!|
|Me with my sister Tricky|
|With my dad after the race|
As challenging as the course was I cannot say enough how beautiful it was. The Quiet Valley Rooster Farm is gorgeous and the atmosphere was very family friendly. It was very organized and they had a ton of door prizes.
There was a Farm Festival going on in conjunction with the race to celebrate the farm’s 50th anniversary and the kids loved seeing all the farm animals.
|My niece checking out the rabbits|
As challenging as this race was I had a fun time there with my family and it was a really good race experience for me. My last cross country race was in college and honestly this was a lot harder since it also had the trail element with it. I know that every race is not going to be a PR and running a trail or cross country race like this really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I gave it everything I had and even though on paper it might not look like a great finish time (for me right now) I know I worked for it just as much- if not more than the 17 minute 5K I ran the week before. I have a lot more respect for those that run trail races. I can also see why many might prefer them over road races. They are anything but boring! It’s not about the fast time but about the journey itself and the many sights along the way. At one point I remember running by chickens and some baby chicks. My sister Tricky said she almost tripped over a flock of geese. It was definitely a different race experience but a good one nonetheless!
|My poor Ravennas are not used to running in the mud/ cross country!|