I've been wanting to run this race for a few years now, but the date never works out for me. Buckley Homestead is a living history farm near where I grew up. I spent one week every summer there for Girl Scout camp, as well as various field trips to the historical one room schoolhouse. I definitely thought this would be a neat run to do.
It is part a road run, part a trail run. The first part of the run is an out and back on a hilly country road. The crowd was small (about 150 people), so they lined us up, said "on your marks, get set… go!" and rang a cowbell. I love races like this. I probably started a little further back than I should have because I had to do a little bit of weaving at first, but I settled in pretty quickly. I've never done a five mile race before, so I wasn't quite sure how to pace myself. I also wasn't quite sure how to pace myself with it being road and trail. I knew that the trail portions would likely be harder, so I didn't want to go all out on the road. I also knew just from driving this road that there would be a big hill at the turn around point, so I didn't want to push too hard and lose it at that, too.
At mile one, my pace was somewhere around 9:27, which felt good and easily maintainable. Slower than I would be for a 5k, but it felt right for this race. After I got to the turnaround point, I started passing people who took off in the beginning, so I felt like I was definitely pacing myself well. At the three mile mark, you run back into the park. The transition from road to gravel wasn't too bad and there was a downhill right away. After that, it turns to packed dirt/mulch and you run over a bridge. Like I said, I spent so many childhood summers here as a kid that this was definitely sparking my memory. I remembered excitedly running over this bridge as a kid, and it made me smile. After this, you run up a hill and through some of the outbuildings from the original pioneer farm, then you go into the "back 40," which is all grass. I felt my legs start to struggle in the grass, but I was still passing people, so I felt like I'd made the good choice by not going all out with my pace. This part of the race was basically a little over a mile on a big grass loop. At points, there were cornfields and open meadows around me and I took this moment to marvel over what a pretty trail race it was. I was also thankful that although it was humid, it was lower temps. I could see how on a hot day, the walls created by the cornfield would make it miserably hot.
By mile 4, my legs were starting to hate the grass, especially with a couple of uphills, but I knew that I could make it through the last mile. I passed a few more people, then settled into an area where when there were turns, I wouldn't see anyone behind or in front of me. This made it really relaxing, like I was truly, honestly running my own race. After the last bit of grass, it was back to packed dirt, which was a welcome relief! The last little bit looped around the old schoolhouse, and I ran over a culvert and remembered the time that my sister tried to convince us that a child murdered lived in the culvert. Then past the outhouses, where I was always terrified that snakes lived, and finally into the home stretch (more grass!).
I finished in 47:16, 4/9 in my age group. I've never run a 5 mile race before, so this was a very easily obtained PR. That said, I'm really pleased with my time. I kept my pace consistent and dealt well with the conditions. I also, most importantly, had fun and enjoyed the run. After the race, they had tons of watermelon, cantaloupe, bagels, pretzels. I also loved that they not only had recycling stations, but they even had compost bins for the melon rinds. I usually end up taking water bottles with me after races to recycle at home (yeah, I'm that person), so it was cool to see a very eco-friendly race. Although I didn't stop at any of the water stops, there were water stops every single mile, even out in the middle of the field!
I would definitely do this race again. I loved the small friendly vibe, and I really loved the challenge posed by the race.