The goods: t-shirt, race bib, first place trophy (female age group), muddy shoes, and a fat cat taking it all in.
I hadn't really considered running 5 or 10Ks at this late date in my life until someone on DailyMile suggested that my training times were consistent with current 5 & 10K finishing times. Really? I ran a couple 5 & 10Ks back in high school and college (30+ years ago), and quite honestly, I sucked pretty badly at them. I always considered myself a slow distance runner, and, well, I am for the most part. Compared to some I'm quite speedy, to others I'm a turtle. So, I signed up for this 5K, which is part of the River Towns Race Series, not quite knowing what to expect. Based on my recent half marathon pace I was hoping I could maintain an 8:30 min/mile for this considerably shorter distance.
Race day dawned chilly (low 40's F) and raining. Drat! I hate racing in the rain. I wore black tights, long sleeved t-shirt and my rain jacket, plus gloves. Hubby Dean decided to accompany me to the race since it was so close to home (1/2 hour drive) and a short race. It's so much more fun going to a race with someone you know/love. Once we finally figured out how to get to the start of the race, we pulled into the parking lot and the rain magically subsided. Thank you!! There was plenty of mud everywhere, and this was just a taste of things to come!
I picked up my race packet, attached my bib to my left thigh and strapped the timing chip onto my ankle as per instructions. Interestingly, my number ended in "76" (276), just like my Garden Spot 1/2 Marathon number (776). Lucky number, perhaps? We got to the starting point in plenty of time, so we had a bit of a wait before the race actually started. Lots of time to stretch, visit the potty, chat with folks and try to stay warm!
This is a fairly informal race, and there were a couple hundred folks here for both the 5 & 10K races, but I couldn't say exactly how many. This race is run on the oldest rails-to-trails in the US, so that's pretty cool. It was mostly flat with a few little dips and rises, but nothing drastic. It was mostly run in the woods and on trails, and that's also very cool. I love running in the woods! We were told that with so much rain recently there would be plenty of mud to trod through. We were also told there were wildflowers blooming along the trail, and to be mindful of an area of the trail that had washed out.
I decided to start toward the front of the pack this time since it often takes forever to even get to the starting line. And interestingly, even though we wore timing chips, there was nothing at the start to "read" our chips. So I guess everyone got the same start time and the chip simply read our ending time.
Anyway, the race started a few minutes late, but that's OK. Once everyone is running, who cares?! At least it wasn't raining! Since I'm so prone to spraining my ankles on even the tiniest things, I had to keep a pretty close eye on the trail and couldn't really appreciate the beauty that I was running through. Back in college I once stepped on an acorn while running and sprained my ankle so badly that I was on crutches for days. Didn't want a repeat of that, especially with the Gettysburg Marathon coming up a week later!
It generally takes me a good mile or so to actually get "warmed up" to the point where I can run without feeling too labored. It's always that way for me....that first mile just feels horrible, like I want to quit because I feel like I'll never catch my breath. Then, magically, something kicks in and I feel like I can run and run and run. So once that first mile was over, I felt pretty good. About the halfway point I heard a fellow just behind me mutter, "I haven't seen any d**n wildflowers", which made me chuckle for some reason. He ran beside me for a short distance, then dropped back. About two miles in, Wildflower guy (Joe) came up beside me again and we ran that last mile together, talking, dodging mud holes, trying not to slip on the slippery wooden bridges, and simply stomping through the mud. That's the quickest I can recall a mile going by....makes such a difference if you're running alone or with someone. Joe went on to run the 10K, which was simply the 5K course run twice.
I was stunned when I crossed the finish line in 25:14, an 8:08 pace! We were told our times as we crossed the line and handed a popsicle stick with our overall place. I came in 15th overall and as it turns out, I was the 3rd female overall and first in my age group (50-54). I was elated!
A not-so-clear photo of me accepting my first place (female age group) trophy
So, now a seed has sprouted in the back of my mind, and I'm wondering if maybe I shouldn't train for some shorter distances (5's and 10's) and maybe get my times even better. Nothing boosts one's ego like a bit of success!