Main image for PGXC Series (Watkins Glen) Time to Read: ~4 min

The Pete Glavin Cross Country (PGXC) series of races is for runners throughout upstate New York. You can win individual age group prizes and team awards for each race, also accumulating series points and awards (and bragging rights) along the way. This race report is part of a broader post about the 2017 Pete Glavin Cross Country series.

All grass trails, rolling hills and 3 loops around so negative splits are encouraged, but did I mention there is a short but steep hill?

Will summer ever leave? I was wondering this as we began our short drive to Watkins Glen. We’d had many warm days as October wore on and today was no exception. Once we’d found our way to the Iroquois Lodge at Watkins, we parked along the road and picked up our bibs. Today’s race was another loop format. This time, it’d be three times around a loop. As we ran the warmup lap, though, it became clear that this was a bonafide cross country course. There were no patches of asphalt, plenty of twists and turns, and a lot of up and downs. One pair of hills were so steep I thought I might have to power hike them up and down!

We were toeing the start line when Mike Nier made an announcement that the park had asked some of us to move our cars. It was unclear whether this was me, but it turns out there were so many cars to move, the start of the race was delayed by a half hour. The insult came in the form of cloud cover: the sun had beat down all morning, helping to dry the grass, and at 11 a.m. dark clouds covered the sky. We all moved our cars under this blanket of shade and returned to the start line. As the clouds parted, just before 11:30, the group emitted a groan. We’d get to run in the full sun anyway!

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

I chose my spikes as footwear today, and was really happy I did. The all-grass course had a lot of sharp (acute) turns, and as we negotiated the first loop I was grateful for the traction. Just before we started, Adam reminded me to not go out too fast. Good advice, but tough to adhere to given the tight quarters as the trail narrowed into the woods. I was a bit caught up in the pack I was in, so kept pace with them until it thinned out a bit.

On the second loop, I was grateful to have a runner near me who was also named Scott. He was on “The B Team”, stocked completely with high-school kids, so had plenty of spectators watching. Every time someone yelled encouragement to Scott, I believed they were talking to me. Every little bit of encouragement helps! Scott had soon run far enough ahead of me that I was alone again, though.

The sun and humidity was taking its toll on me after loop 2. I knew I was getting progressively slower, but I wasn’t sure by how much. Mike Nier, before the race, had talked about one of those Peace/Faith/Love roadside signs he’d passed. He drew a parallel to the loop format we were running today. On the first loop, you’d have a sense of inner peace that’s easy to find as a runner. On the second loop, you’d have to have faith in your training, to persevere. On the third loop, you’d need love to get you through. As I started the third loop, i thought different things about love: “Boy, I’d love a cold drink right about now.” Or, “I’d love to be done right about now.” I approached the last big hill of the course knowing that I was almost done, and anything I did on that hill would be quickly remedied by stopping at the end. I sprinted up it, using my spikes for sure footing, and barely lost any pace. I launched myself off the top of the hill onto the grassy field that stood between me and the finish. Accelerating past the first turn, I heard Adam encourage me further, telling us to work together. I gathered that a teammate was right there with me. One more turn into the finish chute and I was done! Columbia Warren had been right on my tail, finishing just 3 seconds back.

Nutella and bagels. Mmm!

Nutella and bagels. Mmm!

Heaven

Heaven

I enjoyed the post-race food immensely. After treating myself to a water and cheering on the other runners, I downed a banana and went to retrieve more comfortable footwear from the car. Back at the food table, I spied a jar of Nutella! Oh dear. I would normally just grab a spoon. I spread a liberal amount of the chocolate-nut goodness on a bagel half and dug in. My teammate Jessie was of a similar persuasion, eating the same thing in the shade. I joked with him that God must have made the Nutella/bagel combination on the eighth day. It was that good.

Masters win beer!

Masters win beer!

Awards time revealed that my masters team took first place, and as such got to go home with a case of beer. Ah, sweet victory! We were surely helped by Adam Engst’s masters win, but the results also revealed that we were the only complete masters team that day. Well, we got the beer anyway! Amy and I offered our home for a post-race party, and so we headed out quickly to get back and start the grill. Including us, ten runners came to hang out afterwards. We had a wonderful time with grilled sausage and peppers and onions, salad, rice and bean soup, brownies and beverages. Adam brought some mini kiwi fruits from a tree on their land, too. They were so good!

Post-race gathering at our house

Post-race gathering at our house

We spent the afternoon talking and laughing on our deck. Ximing Yin told us some great stories about running in China, which was extra special. You couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiasm for running and meeting new people, and him taking wonderful pictures throughout the event. That’s the other half of the team sport coin: there’s fitness, and there’s fellowship. Caring for our fellow humans. Talking with them, and more importantly, listening. I felt, as we were sitting there that afternoon, that I was a part of a team.

Runners on our deck

Runners on our deck