This Saturday, my husband and I participated in a local 5k. It has been ages since we’ve run one, mainly because we tend to hold out for the longer races that give out tech shirts and medals, most of which also require travel.
But this race was free (although our babysitter was not), and we were actually in town. It was pretty low-key – a chance for local runners to get together to kickstart a larger festival sponsored by a large chocolate manufacturer in town (Hershey). T-shirts were given to the first 100 people who registered, and I thought it was gracious of them to still give me a shirt, even though I was bib #101. (I found out later that the bib numbers started at 101, and I was actually the FIRST to mail in my registration. Laaame. Ha!)
There were no chip timers, but the timing system was pretty accurate, recording our order as we crossed through the finishing chute. It was only 4 seconds off from my RunKeeper app, which I started when I officially crossed the starting line. Because it’s been awhile since I’ve done a 5k, I didn’t have a really specific time goal, just a range I wanted to fall into. I run at the same average pace for all my races, regardless of the distance, but I still wanted to do well. I also abandoned the Galloway intervals I use in training for longer distances; I wouldn’t need them here. A brand-new playlist also helped; up until now, I’d been using the same tired music I used to train for Disney. It was feeling like old bubble gum. 🙂
The race started out FAST, which I always chalk up to the combo of elite runners wanting to break from the pack, runners trying to weave to the front, and novice runners starting out too strong. I tried to maintain a consistent pace, but my own adrenaline had me running at a pace about 3-4 minutes faster than normal. Luckily that didn’t last too long, although it helped me secure a better finishing time than expected.
The race was an out-and-back. Run out to the cone, turn around, come back. The road wasn’t closed to traffic, but at 7:30 AM, that didn’t pose a problem. There was one police officer in charge of manning the course. He led the first pack of runners out and then stationed himself at the turn-around cone. The weather was fairly cool and breezy for summer – we were so lucky! I had been dreading a heat wave, especially since most of my weekday training is on a treadmill.
The total elevation change was 82 feet. I’ve run a half marathon with less change than that! But I always seem to do better with hills. I push myself on them, and it feels good to draw upon different muscles, even if it does leave me sore the next day.
The scenery was gorgeous (rolling hills), I stuck on pace, I saw several people I knew along the course, and my husband waited for me at the finish line. The post-race food was funny – snack cakes and Reese’s cups, donated by the race sponsor, Hershey, and the Little Debbie manufacturing plant up the road.
“Nobody wants bananas and bagels after a race,” the director joked with me, when I commented on the post-race options of recovery fuel.
There was an awards ceremony and a raffle afterwards. I didn’t come close to placing for one of the huge trophies (I placed 15th in my open division and would have needed to shave 10 minutes off my time to win), but I did win a Little Debbie travel cup in the drawing, no doubt a company gift leftover. I have 2 others just like it from my own job and a volunteer job I had.
This race made me want to sign up for more 5ks. I had forgotten what they were like, but they’re a great distance and are often for a really good cause.
And I have now written this post twice, because my app deleted the first version I wrote. It was much better.