|Rowley's Red Barn - the race HQs|
Official Time: 24:47
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54, 19th overall
Race Website: Here
Weather: Low 50's, sunny, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: 
|1||7:30||Nice downhill start. Feeling good and fast.|
|2||8:10||Hemmed in and onto single track sandy, semi-wet grass.|
|3||8:48||Grinding up hill. Overall not terrible, but they were long|
|Total Miles: 3:04 - 24:48|
|Start / finish line arches|
Last year, I ran the Apple Harvest 10K and was really happy with my race experience. Nothing feels like fall more than corn mazes, pumpkins and apple orchards -- plus autumn running!
With not a lot on the race agenda for the weekend, I was gifted a 5K race entry by a friend who couldn't race it. I didn't have plans on racing it this year -- mostly on account it is over a 60 mile drive one way and I had just run the 10K course back in May. But with a free entry, I couldn't turn down the opportunity and even if the distance was pretty far, it is an easy, peaceful drive.
|Inside Rowley's Red Barn|
The event is held at Rowley's Red Barn, an agritourism farm that sells and produces apples. They also sell an eclectic selection of fruits and snacks (including donuts). The race course is on their grounds in which you run about 5 kilometers around the perimeter of their property. All the while running, you are surrounded by beautiful views of the apple trees and desert landscape. The course is about 90% dirt road / jeep trail with a half mile or so stretch of asphalt. It is also hilly -- not in the sense of back breaking hills, but a long slow grind near the end of the race.
|Runner Assembly area|
The race offers a 5K and 10K, with the 10K doing two laps around the property.
|Start of the 10K|
The 10K race started at 8:00 AM and the 5K starts at 8:30. I wound up getting a few photos of the 10K runners as they started on their two laps around the course. I followed that by getting in about a mile of warm-up and some drills in. I was feeling pretty good in my shorts, thin gloves, and t-shirt.
The race started promptly at 8:30 and I started off down a dirt road towards the inner circle of the property. I was quickly swallowed up by a number of faster runners -- for a smallish race, there were a lot of fast runners. I didn't spot anyone in my age group though but that didn't mean I didn't have competition.
|Stretch of dirt road|
The first mile is fast and I felt like I didn't have to hold back that much: when I did the 10K, I knew I had to save some energy for the final mile and the second lap. This time, I only had to do one lap and I felt that I could hammer it a little harder.
|Downhill section of the course.|
I really enjoyed the first mile -- with a net decline of about 80 feet, how could I not? I wound up overtaking a few of the 10K runners who were on their second lap. I was wearing my Saucony Pro 2's and I was duly impressed with them. I don't think I got the full benefits from them given it was a trail race, but they were a solid choice for this race and while it had rained early in the week, there were only a few sections of slippery mud.
|Runners coming back towards the finish line.|
I wound up catching some of the fast 5K starters and I reeled in a 7:30 first mile. Very solid and I was still feeling strong. Could this be my breakout race?
I still had a bit more downhill before we rounded another turn and I was greeted by a rutted double track dirt path. Some of the dirt felt more like fine sand than dirt. I was also hemmed in a bit by 3 teens who were running side by side. They were running about the same pace as I was but a little slower. I wanted to pass, but didn't really have the room and even if I did, I wasn't sure if I had enough power to put a little distance on them.
|Views from the back of the race course|
Finally though, one of them dropped off and I managed to get around them (eventually the pair would catch up and pass me). I was hurting pretty badly at this point, the sun was in my eyes, and it was hard to enjoy the views of the western mountains and the apple trees. I was a little disappointed, but not surprised, to see an 8:10 flash for mile 2.
The home stretch is the hardest part of the race. For the closing part of mile 2, I had to go up a hill but mile 3, I had a long tarmac road that just seemed to take forever.
I was finally off the trail / dirt, but now I had a never-ending hill and blazing sun in my eyes. My pace dwindled to that of almost marathon pace, even though I felt like I was still doing about 8:15 - 8:30. It was so bright, I could hardly read my watch.
|Running hard (post race staged photo)|
I knew this part of the race was going to be there, but there just wasn't a lot left and the final mile just seemed to take forever.
There wasn't anyone chasing me down, but occasionally I'd track down a faltering 10K runner. All I knew was that I wanted to finish fast.
There were plenty of turns at this point and it was nice to receive support from the course marshals. Finally, though, I finished the hilly section and from past experience I knew I had about a quarter of a mile of flat, dirt road before making a final turn and crossing under the OnHillEvents arches.
I glanced at my watch and I was close to 24 minutes. I'd really have to push the final part.
I still hadn't seen anyone in my age group and I was running solo for the most part. Finally the arches came into view from across a line of apple trees. I was so close, I could hear the announcer calling out people's names.
With the last few turns left, I really gave it all I had. I lengthened my stride and let it rip. I saw low 24's flash on my Garmin but the finish line seemed to be no nearer. There was no bounce in the dirt road. Finally, I reached the finish line -- crossing in 24:47.
I was so thankful I didn't have to do another lap of the course. I had gone all out on the 5K and there wasn't much left after completing the 5K. I definitely would've held back a bit more, like I did the previous two times, had I been running the 10K.
Fortunately, I rebounded pretty quickly and managed to get to my car and grab my phone and do a cool down. One of the reasons why I didn't switch to the 10K was that I wanted energy to go and backtrack a bit and get some photos for the blog. I also got a volunteer to take the "in-action" photos of me running.
I also checked my phone to see my results: 3rd place. What??? I had no idea there were two other 50 - 54 year old's in front of me.
|Medals and shirt|
During the awards ceremony though, I did find out that the 1st place age group winner was an overall winner (top 3) and was thus removed from the age group category, so I earned a silver medal, second place, for my efforts.
|On the podium|
Overall, I was happy / sad with my performance. I really was hoping to get into the low 24's with the course. Given a fast first mile, I felt that was within reach. Still, this course is a challenging one and the "never ending hill" at the start of mile 2 pretty much sapped everything I had. I did have a personal best on one lap around the course, but given the two previous times I've run the course was during a 10K race, it wasn't too hard to turn in a fast lap.
Post race refreshments were apple slices with caramel, cider, sports drink, Fat Boy Ice cream sandwiches, cheese strips, granola bars and candy. There actually was plenty to eat and enjoy and the weather was so perfect that I wound up sitting around for a good 15 - 20 minutes after I got my award enjoying the sun and breeze.
I love the medals -- they are heavy and nice. The t-shirt was simple and it'll do the trick for short, easy runs, but again, I love the polyester ones.
I really love this race. It has a wonderful vibe and people were in a good mood. I just wish the race was a bit closer -- 120 miles round trip is a lot. I definitely would recommend runners give this race a go. The course isn't fast (and it might be a smidge short too) but it has some wonderful views and it definitely brings out the fall spirit.
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