My first 5k of 2021 was back in May and I did fairly well. My only goal was to run a in-person race.
I ran my 2nd 5k two weeks ago. That race was a spur of the moment decision. I hate to do speed drills and I wanted to get back some pep in my step. So I signed up for a race. It was quite muggy and I enjoyed the race even though I definitely was NOT as peppy as I had hoped.
This race, my 3rd 5k race has a different backstory.
I kinda thought I’d do a trail 5k because I enjoyed hiking at Landis Arborteum and there was a 5k scheduled there this weekend.
But I got a FB message about this race from a runner (Lisa) who lives in Indiana and was part of a race-cation in 2014 that I participated in (with her high school classmates.) She was going to be in town this weekend and wanted all of us to race together again.
How could I refuse?
The event consists of a USATF sanctioned 5K foot race, a 2.5 mile guided nature walk, and children’s 1 Mile Fun Run, at Grafton Lakes State Park.
The 5K race was advertised as “challenging but offering runners of all skill levels a beautiful race course through scenic Grafton Lakes State Park, and the surrounding area.” All participants also received a tee-shirt, book, and a rose. The proceeds form the race go to support the Grafton Community Library.
And so without a second thought, I signed up.
I had never heard of this race but I knew that the area was scenic and I had hiked there in the winter.
As I always do, I scoured the Internet for a review of this race and I found one from someone I actually knew. This what she started her race recap with: The race director came over to get things going, and opened with “Welcome to the 31st Annual Run for the Roses! As you know, this is one of the toughest 5K courses in the area, so we’re really glad to have you all here today.”
Ok, then. So at least I was prepared beforehand for hills and lots of them. By prepared I mean that I knew about them a few days before.
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
Outside of those two races, I mentioned, I have done zero speed work. In some ways 5ks are harder than half marathons. You feel like you should run fast and before you get warmed up, it’s over. To make things were even more challenging, I never train/run on hills.
The week going into the race had me running 3 times and once long and hilly.
The day before the race, I rested on our boat.
The weather was dry and coolish during the week and of course, started warming up by the weekend.
However, summer race dressing is fairly simple – tank, skirt.
I had my oatmeal and coffee and left early, as usual, for a first time for me race. I was already 70 degrees when I left at 7 am and even drizzled on my way. The rain was short lived and the sun started peaking out.
I had no problems finding the race location so I had arrived over an hour before the race start.
I picked up my shirt and bib and waited around for my friends.
Lisa arrived first and Heidi. We chatted and chatted and soon after Andrea arrived with her husband and father.
I recognized a few runners that I knew. There were two guys dressed up as Teletubbies and some serious runners.
Soon it was time to head toward the start line.
We didn’t plan to run together. Lisa is very fast and Andrea was planning to run/walk with Heidi. So we took one last pic and separated.
As I mentioned, I only knew that it was a looped course and after the first mile, it was mostly uphill.
The race started with a slight uphill on the main road leading into the park. Then there was a gradual downhill. The first thing I realized that when I didn’t wear my race bely and had my phone in the pocket, my skirt kept falling down. I decided to just carry my phone in my hand the whole race.
I also tried to pick up the pace since I figured this was the only mile that I would not be walking (and I was right.) It was breezy by the lake and out on the road, there was no shade and pretty steamy
There was a water stop at the beginning of this mile and a sprinkler (yay). I was not expecting water but it was welcome. I was getting warm.
The course shifted to flat and then about a quarter mile later, started heading uphill. And yes, I had to walk.
Mile 3- 3.1
There was a second water stop here so I grabbed some and walked even longer.
After turning left around mile 2.1 (yup, 1.5 to 2.1 was pure uphill), we had a short little downhill.
Then it was a pure uphill for the next 0.6, with no breaks at all.
I walked several times during the last 2 miles…not sure how many times. But due to my walking, I was able to pass those who struggled to run up those hills…including the Teletubbies (lol).
Around mile 2.7, we turned right to get back on the main road that the race had started on.
The uphill continued until 2.9, and then we got a short little downhill (30 feet of drop) before the course flattened out to the finish.
Unfortunately, while the final loop around to the finish was flat, it felt long – we crossed under the start banner and then made a huge circle around the parking lot.
We made the two right hand turns to reverse direction and finally I saw the finish line ahead of me.
I did my best to sprint through the finish line but the hills had sapped much of my energy.
But I saw on the clock that I was finishing under 30 minutes so I was thrilled.
As soon as you crossed the finish line, they handed you a rose. Very sweet.
Lisa had already finished and we waited and cheered on Andrea and Heidi.
Post Race Activities:
We grabbed some water, fruit and cookies while waiting for the awards. Both Lisa and I came in second in our 10 year age groups.
Then we reminisced about our rainy Philly half and discussed possible race-cations we could take together … maybe Arizona next year??
Everyone had to rush off so no post-race brunch. If I was more organized I would have brought my bathing suit and stayed and gone swimming.
Instead, on my way home, I stopped at a nearby trail to check out the waterfalls.
Additional Race Reflections:
I would never have picked this race on my own. But I really enjoyed the experience. I feel fortunate to be part of these women’s “tribe.” As Andrea put it: “There are no accidents nor coincidences in life. Everything happens for a reason – so glad our universes collided!” So true.
And it was a lovely small town race with about175 runners. Yes it was challenging but maybe not so much if I trained on hills.
- Friends Reunion
- A real race.
- Nice swag – tech shirt, book, a rose
- location- pretty park with trails and a lake
- Real bathrooms and showers
- the HILLS
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. It was well organized.
Although my finish time was about the same as my last 5k two weeks ago, this course was harder. So I was not disappointed. Obviously if I do not train, I can’t expect those faster times. But right now, I am content just to be out there running.
I’m also linking up here:
Happy Running! Did you run or race this past weekend? Any in-person races on your schedule yet? Please share.