Every year, I plan to sign up for the 10k and then I chicken out.
I know that the hills would be good training but… the 5k is an out and back and mostly flat.
This year, due to COVID, the 10K race was only virtual. So I had no choice and registered for the 5k. I planned to run 7 hilly miles after (to prepare for a 10 mile race the week after).
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
This small race in the country has always been one of my favorite races. I have run it for the five years straight (2013-18) and enjoyed it each time. (I was out of town in 2019 and it was cancelled in 2020). It was always well-organized and had great food – the usual food but also chili and homemade muffins & cookies (including gluten free ones).
And there was chocolate milk, fresh from the dairy. (You know how I LOVE chocolate milk post-race.)
Plus, I also have won a homemade pie as first in my age group for the past five years. 28:56, 28:01, 27:54, 27:32, 27:01. Yes, it seems that I was getting faster but I haven’t run this race since 2018.
Lately I don’t feel very fast. In fact, I was highly doubtful that I could finish under 30 minutes.
The in-person version of the race was only open to a limited number of participants due to COVID restrictions. To keep the number of people on site down for safety reasons, no spectators were able to join this year. The in-person 5k had a staggered, socially-distanced start to the race.
Packet pick-up was a drive by the night before. But since I lived so far away, I planned to pick mine up the morning of the race.
Again the weather was tricky. What to wear? I was brave the first two years and wore a skirt, a baseball cap and no gloves. It was April, right? Then the next three years, it was cold and I resorted to capris.
This year since the race was later in the year, the weather was more summer-like. In fact maybe too warm. I decided to wear:
Of course, I had pizza for my race carb loading (yes I carb load even for 5ks. lol)
The race started at 10 am which was great since it would be an hour drive from my house.
After my race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, I left my house around 8 am. It was already 75 degrees and humid. Uh oh!
I got to the race early (around 9 am) and found a parking spot in a grassy field next to the church. The race started at the church in the town of Bacon Hill, a small farming town with awesome scenery. (It reminded me of Vermont.)
So as soon as I arrived, I picked up my shirt and bib and then went back to my car to drop off my shirt.
I wasn’t sure that I would know anyone at this race since most of the runners that I usually run this race with were not coming.
I stopped by the timing truck to say hello to my former FTC coach who usually asks me if I was going to PR. But he wasn’t there. No pressure 🙂
I walked around a bit scouting out the logistics (and fighting off the bugs).
But I did bump into a few runners that I knew and we hung out chatting. Luckily there was bug spray available since the bugs were pretty annoying.
There was music playing and a little over 100 runners. Much fewer than usual because there was a virtual option for both the 5k and 10k.
Eventually at 9:45, they directed us to our corrals. There were labelled by finish time. I think I headed to corral 4 (25-27 minutes). That was very optimistic but in that corral, I noticed some very fast runners and some slower ones. Obviously it didn’t matter since there were no awards and the race was chip timed.
Did I mention that it was HOT and humid? Usually this race is held in April hence the late start time.
I was sweating already and couldn’t wait to get rid of my mask.
The pastor read a prayer, the church bells rang and we were off.
I threw my mask in a trash can (since they would giving us another mask as we finished).
The 5k was an out and back.
I decided to go out fast. I always have positive splits so why try not to. Unfortunately my fast now is not what it used to be (to some I was never fast and to others, I still am fast. Remember pace is so individual.)
The course wasn’t as flat as the map showed. The hills were rolling throughout but not that bad. Even I could run up them.
I loved all the signs along the route. Many of them were riddles. I wish I could remember them but they were a nice distraction.
This one was my favorite:
My legs really protested my attempt for speed. I felt my 5k racing lay-off.
There were no volunteers on the course calling out times. There were mile markers and a few scattered volunteers cheering on the runners.
A little past the one mile marker, there was a water stop. A real one with volunteers handing out water. I walked for a while (too long) here since I was very hot and thirsty.
Eventually we turned around and headed back…. I realized quickly that I had gone out too fast. I could not keep up that pace (I was wearing my Garmin but I never looked at it until the race was over.)
I did get a breather since my left shoe got untied (yes, I double knotted it.)
I continued running at what seemed a much slower pace. Now I felt a blister forming on my right foot (or maybe both feet!?)
And then the other shoe got untied. Grrr.
Finally there was one mile to go and I couldn’t wait to finish and get that chocolate milk.
As I approached the finish line, I sprinted as fast as I could (and stopped my watch.)
The clock said: 30:xx but my watch said 28:20! I was happily surprised at my time.
I immediately grabbed a mask and made a bee line for the chocolate milk.
A volunteer handed everyone a bag of home baked cookies. Not the same selection of refreshment as in pre-Pandemic years.
Hey, a in-person race!! Not complaining!!
I never checked the results since there were no age group awards.
I changed my shoes and shirt and waited for some friends to finish.
Then I decided to try to run 7 additional miles to be prepared the next week’s 20 mile race.
I headed out on the 10K course (which was marked for the virtual race.) Pretty scenery but tough. It was hot and still humid plus those blisters! I threw in the towel after 3 miles.
Instead of torturing myself, I opted to explore some local trails to get in the miles.
Ten miles on the legs for the day….even though most were not done by running.
As they say “The hay is in the barn.”
Additional Race Reflections:
- Safety restrictions in place (staggered starts).
- Ample parking.
- Well marked course.
- Beautiful countryside scenerym
- Chocolate milk and homemade cookies as post-race refreshments.
- Super friendly volunteers
- Virtual option.
- A real race.
- No Spectators (due to COVID).
- No 10K option (due to COVID).
- Few food options (due to COVID).
- No age group awards.
- Cotton race shirt.
- Late start time.
- Warm and humid temps.
- Untied shoes (2x)
- Lack of speed work (my fault).
- Bib chip didn’t register.
Would I recommend this race?
It was super well-organized. Special attention was paid to EVERY detail. It will be even more fun when there are no COVID restrictions and it is scheduled in April when the weather is cooler.
But I was thrilled with my time. I wasn’t expecting much. I did exactly what I had planned. Just run. I wasn’t ever tired so I definitely think I could have run faster. But there didn’t seem to be a reason to. No age group award. I was just running for me and because it makes me feel good to race.
All in all, I loved this race. I will definitely do it again…maybe even the 10K someday.
On a side note:
My chip never recorded my time. This has happened before with this type of chip (due to hanging the bib from my belt.) I contacted the timing company. No biggie since there were no awards. They added my Garmin time to the results the next day (I’m pretty sure my finish time was after this …)
A local 10 mile race.
I’m also linking up here:
Happy Running! Did you run or race this past weekend? Did you experience a heat wave? Any in-person races on your schedule yet? Please share.