In the summertime, I try to do my long runs on Saturday and then go boating on Sundays.
But last summer, 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, Heidi and Andrea, who lives in VT) She was going to be in town and wanted all of us to race together again.
How could I refuse?
The event consisted 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.
Despite the challenging course, I had so much fun hanging out with these ladies.
I even won an age group award.
So guess what?
I signed up again this year for this 5k race. Both Heidi and Andrea said that they would be there too..
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
Outside of two July races (July 4 & July 6), 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. This summer, the temps have been incredibly hot and humid. Runs as a result have been SLOOOW!!
(Looks like a “pink” week…)
The day before the race, I just went for a walk with my running friends and did errands and gardening.
Normally I would have said the weather was too warm for a great race but compared to past weekends, it seemed cool.
No matter what the temps, summer race dressing is fairly simple – tank, skirt, cap, sunglasses.
I had my oatmeal and coffee and left early. Although I went there last year, I was not very familiar with the area. Happily, I noticed that it was only in the 50s when I left at 7:30 am.
I had no problems finding the race location so I had arrived early. (There is an admission fee to this park but if you were racing, it was FREE!)
I picked up my shirt and bib and waited around for my friends.
Heidi arrived first and then Andrea.. We chatted and chatted.
I also recognized a few runners that I knew. Many were from the STEM group or the Freihofer Training Challenge.
Then I bumped in my good friend Sue.
Soon it was time to head toward the start line.
For some reason, they delayed the race for 10 minutes. More time to chat with other runners that I knew.
As I mentioned, I knew that it was a looped course and after the first mile, it was mostly uphill.
I postponed my long run for this 5k so I planned to at least enjoy the race. You cannot expect miracles when you only run on flat routes and use very short run intervals for your runs. I had a funny feeling that I would be walking a lot of the course.
At least the weather was in my favor.
The race was not chip timed so if I really cared, I would have stood close to the starting line (but I didn’t.)
We started with a slight uphill on the main road leading into the park. Then there was a gradual downhill.
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 but out on the road, there was no shade and warmer than I expected.
Looking back at this mile, I obviously ran it too fast. But at the time, I felt good (until I didn’t.)
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 (Shouldn’t have changed out of my tank.)
The course shifted to flat and then about a quarter mile later, started heading uphill. And yes, I had to walk. And walk and 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 a lot. (Remember I’m used to intervals now.)
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.
Post Race Activities:
I grabbed some water, iced tea, fruit and cookies while waiting my friends to finish.
Soon they posted the results. Both Andrea and I won age group awards.
I couldn’t stick around for the awards. My hubby texted me that he was already on his way to the lake. So my fiend, Sue, said she would get my award.
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 about 120 runners. Yes, it was challenging but maybe not so much if I actually trained for a 5k.
But I didn’t overdo and my legs was able to do my long run the next day.
Maybe next year, I will actually bring my bathing suit and SUP and enjoy the lake after the race. And even convince some of my local running friends to join me.
This year, I joined my hubby on our boat on Lake George.
- Friends Reunion
- Lots of familiar faces
- Nice swag – tech shirt, book, a rose
- location- pretty park with trails and a lake
- Mile markers
- Volunteer calling out times at each mile
- Two water stops
- Real bathrooms and showers
- Free admission to the park
- the HILLS
- Gun timed
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. It was well organized. I’ll probably run it again next year.
My finish time was about the same as the last 5k that I ran in July (29:11.) So I was not disappointed. And it was a little faster than on the same course last year (29:27.) 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.
Happy Running! Did you run or race this past weekend? Any races on your schedule this summer? Do you enjoy 5ks? Do you train for them? Please share.
I’m also linking up here: