The Max Challenge of Old Bridge 5k Race Review

Another day, another 5k. A runner knows it’s springtime when just about every weekend there is a race taking place that we want to be part of.

I decided to run this local 5k put together by the Max Challenge of Old Bridge gym for a few reasons. First and foremost, it was for a good cause, to provide support and funds for those with autism—with the proceeds going directly back to the community. Next up was the chance to recruit yet another family member to the wonderful world of racing. This time my cousin asked if I would do this race, she a member of the 10 weeks program who has been very dedicated to her weight loss journey. Thankfully, she was kind enough to let me run ahead while we walk and jog with her Max friends.

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Lastly, with one week left until my half marathon, I figured it a great way to dial the miles back, just enjoy a run and be in the race atmosphere.

It was also the first time I ever ran a trail race. This experience was interesting to say the least. I absolutely loved being more surrounded my nature, the trees lining the course, birds chirping and the sun shining down. It meant I had to be more mindful of my feet, jumping and dodging over trees roots, ditches and fallen leaves. The terrain called for a more soft running surface, so it was easy on my knees and ankle. And since trail runs are held at parks with trails, expect steep inclines and declines. This had me reaching for and holding onto thin tree trunks on my way downhill fast the same way a skiers relies on their poles as not to fall.

I started off in the front of the pack, with a few runners ahead of me. Since this was a smaller race, I really set my heart on placing for my age group. I will admit I started a but fast, looking down at my Garmin to see 7:54 pace and knew I would burn out. So I slightly let off my inner gas pedal, while keeping the leader in my view.

The course was defined with pink tape that meant stay within this trail. There was also volunteers with signs every so often. But when we whipped past one curve, the leaders were running back to me and a few other runners saying they went the wrong one. So we all decided to turn right, which lead us in one big circle and past the end of the pack of walkers. We could’ve really used some pink tape in that moment.

It was a little defeating in the moment to know we would be behind the walkers now that we ran almost a full extra mile. But I pushed on, running hard and fast. I thought about my running coach and what she would say and thought about how it would feel next week to finish at my half. There was only one runner in front of me and no one behind me. It felt calming to be alone, hidden in the trees and just running. I felt free.

I really pushed myself on this one, catching up to the runner in front of me and we ran a bit at the end together. We encouraged each other and kept our paces until the sprint to the end.

I was surprised to see my cousin at the finish line already, but proud she finished and enjoyed herself. She ended the wrong way on the course, so thinks she only did 2 miles, but she did it and I couldn’t be more proud. Especially since she said she wants to become a runner afterwards to me, which is a victory to me to get more people into a sport I love so much.

My Garmin read 39:08 for 3.80 miles with a 10:18 pace. I am proud of my efforts, using this as a learning experience to not be so competitive and just enjoy races as fun runs. Sometimes things happen that can’t be predicted, so as long as I am having fun I will continue to race.

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Next up is half marathon time!

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