Race #55 – National Park System 99th Birthday 5K

A company called Vacation Races puts on some great races in our national parks.  They’re largely longer distance races — half and full marathons — and most of ’em have been way far away from here.  However, they also do some virtual races, and I’ve signed up for a few of them.

The first of these is the National Park System 99th Birthday 5K.  This race celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the National Park System, and is part of a trifecta of virtual races from Vacation Races for me.  I’m also running the Rocky Mountain National Park Centenary 5K (next week) and Public Lands Day 5K (in late September).  I mean, why wouldn’t you wanna celebrate all these beautiful places?

This morning, I returned to the Wildwood Greenway, site of wonderful and awful runs of late.  I struggled to get motivated, but walked straight to my running clothes when I got up, and put them on.  Somehow, I knew that donning my “superhero uniform” would help slide me out the door.  An English muffin and part of a bad cuppa joe later, I was out the door, and headed to the Greenway.

It was chilly this morning, with the air temperature around 53 degrees.  With the doors off the Jeep and the roof down, it made for a very cool short drive to the Greenway.  I love that though, and I think that just primed the pump for a good morning.

I stretched, and started on trail.  I had some good music in my ears, and felt like I had a pretty good pace going.  I’ve striving to get below fifty minutes regularly, which is sub-10mins/km.  My first split was a few seconds over ten minutes, and my second was a few seconds under, which put me in a good place.  My third kilometer was slow though, at 10:22.  There’s a long upward slope at that point, and frankly, I slowed my pace a bit to rest as I went.

And then, it happened.

As I got into my fourth kilometer, I glanced at my watch and noticed that my overall pace was sub-10min/km.  I had just powered up a short, steep hill, and it really affected my overall time.  Suddenly, I was inspired, and paid attention to the run/walk intervals my watch was driving me to.  And the running felt good… really good.  My fourth kilometer split was 9:14, which inspired me even more.  My fifth kilometer was 9:08, which is screaming fast for me, especially in the last part of the run.

I don’t know what happened, but I wish I could capture it in a bottle, and use it again.  It all just clicked for me this morning, and gave me one of the fastest times I’ve ever had on the Greenway.  In face, this morning was many minutes faster than most of the runs I’ve had up there since I returned to it.

As the front of my Jeep says, “Happy, happy, happy!”

Race Course