The Billy Goat 5K, a fall trail race at James Baird State Park in Pleasant Valley, NY is probably my favorite 3.1 miles ever. It's hilly, rocky, sometimes muddy and definitely challenging. Also, race registration includes a super comfy long-sleeved colored t-shirt. This year it's maroon and I'm loving it. This Sunday was a picture perfect fall day: sunny and a cool 60 degrees. Dad and I arrived early and did a quick warm-up jog before lining up with the other 150ish runners. The start line doesn't have corrals or signs...just a white line painted in the grass between two orange cones. Hello, "small town" running.
The race starts out with a short flat stretch until you enter the woods, where the fairly narrow path follows a steady uphill, so it's tough to get past anyone. Every year I've done this race, I've been frustrated when people take off fast from the start line only to slow down or WALK once the uphill climb starts. And this year was no different. UGH. When will people learn? I just want to shout "Move out of my way so I can dominate this crazy climb!" As expected, this first mile killed me. I kept my head down, which is smart on a trail run anyway so as to keep your footing and avoid twisting an ankle or tripping over a root. I spent most of the race talking to myself, repeating "breathe" on the uphills and "slow down" on the downhills. I also had the new Florida Georgia Line song "Cruise" stuck in my head, which I sang to myself during the few flat stretches.
I didn't see the second mile marker and wasn't wearing my watch, so pretty much had no idea how fast (or slow) I was running. I knew that last year I finished in 34:01 (a solid 10:57 pace!) so I guess the plan was to beat that. I really didn't have super high hopes for a race PR for a few reasons. First, my running has been lacking this month (especially for the last two weeks since the SI Half). Also, I've done exactly no hill training. But I gave it my best and really enjoyed pushing myself the whole race. There's something so great about running in the (mostly) quiet woods, just focusing in on your own body, breath and heartbeat.
At Mile 3, I exited the woods and gave it my all for the last tenth of a mile to the finish. And my official finish time was 32:45! Boom. Not fast by any means, but I still feel great about it!
He once again kicked my butt and finished in 27:00 flat. What the heck?! He is just getting faster with every race this year. I'd watch out though, Dad--one of these days I'm going to catch up!
The Billy Goat 5K had 165 finishers this year, and as always had great organization, volunteers and post-run snacks (the donuts won't get my seal of approval, but bagels & apples were great!). See ya next year, Baird Park! :)