Today I ran in my first 5k race in quite some time, and first race in almost a month. Smiles for Sophie Birthday Bash and Dash 5k in Avon Lake was the perfect 4th of July race. It was also a nice practice race for the K5K this coming Saturday.
I arrived at the race after 8 am. I had to park off-site and take a shuttle over to the race due to limited parking at the park where the race start/finish and festivities were taking place. It was weird riding in a school bus, which I hadn’t been on since I was in high school some seven years ago (eek!), but it was a nice time to clear my head and mentally prepare for the race.
It was quite warm this morning with the sun going in and out from behind the clouds. That is the thing I don’t enjoy about races starting later than 8 a.m. in the summer months because it allows time for mother nature to warm things up and make things a bit more difficult. After stretching and using the restroom one last time before the start, I made my way to the starting area. Before making my way to the start line, I was handed a carnation by a race volunteer. I wasn’t quite sure what it was for until a woman next to me asked the volunteer what we were suppose to do with the flower. She informed us that when we run by the Quayles’ home (Sophie’s family) we were to drop the flower in the yard. (Sophie, passed away in 2007 from a brain tumor at the age of four. This is the fourth annual race, held on her birthday, to raise money for pediatric brain cancer.) I thought the idea was a great way for the community to show the Quayles support while remembering Sophie.
When I arrived to the start area, I popped my earbuds in my ears to try and get myself pumped for this short race. I made small chat with two fellow runners next to me, nothing specific, just normal runner talk about other races and upcoming races.
As it grew closer to 9 a.m., the race coordinator started making the traditional announcements prior to the start of a race. Of course, if you aren’t within 10 feet of the speakers you can’t hear much over all the other runners and spectators. After the grumble of announcements, I started to hear people singing “Happy Birthday”. They were singing Happy Birthday to Sophie (she would have been celebrating her eighth birthday this year). Again, it was something very sweet and touching to do to pay respect to a life taken away from a family and the world too soon.
After the playing of the National Anthem, runners took their mark and we took off to the sound of cowbells jingling. We took off on a small two-lane road that was conjested with runners of all ages. For about the first half mile, I was dodging runners, mainly little ones, and trying to get my pace set. I knew I wanted to run this race at a faster pace than I’ve run this past week, but didn’t want to burn out by mile 2.
We past the Quayles house around the first mile. There were three signs in the lawn along the street that said “Happy” “Birthday” “Sophie” along with carnations piled on the grass from the runners who had dropped their flower as they passed. As I dropped my carnation I thought “Happy Birthday Sophie” (a little girl I never knew but had the kindest, sweetest face). I moved along not knowing what my pace was because their was no race official at mile 1. I was feeling pretty good despite the heat and humidity. I was definitely thankful for the water stop at mile 1.5 and the little shade provided by the trees.
When I hit mile 2 and the race official was shouting out splits, he yelled out “20:30” as I passed. Wow!, I thought to myself as I passed. I haven’t run a 10:00/mile pace at all this week. I knew I had 1.1 miles left and felt I could come close to my PR time, but knew I wasn’t on track to break it. But about a quarter mile later, tightness in my right quad began to creep up. I ran a while more but knew if I didn’t stop and tried to push through it I would either burn out before the finish and not be able to finish strong or completely kill my pace. So I decided to walk. But only briefly to stretch out my right quad. I walked for maybe 20 seconds before I began running again. I really hate walking in short distance races or runs because I know I <b>can</b> run the entire distance without stopping, but I know it won’t completely harm me.
A quarter of the last half mile was in the shade. Perfect! A little break from the hot sun to help me out and begin to push hard for the finish. I just wish the last half mile had a little more shade because once I hit the sun I felt like it quickly drained me of the surge I had started to get. I didn’t want to completely slow down because I couldn’t see the clock at the finish line and didn’t know the time lasped. I pushed as hard as I could as I saw the finish line dead ahead of me. I crossed the finish line in 31:28. Not too shabby, but nothing to get too excited about.
I knew that wasn’t my race to set a new PR at. Again, Saturday’s K5K, my one-year runniversary, is the race to do it at. To do that I’m gonna have to dig down deep this week and work on shaving over 2 minutes off today’s race time to beat my 5k PR of 29:50.
I know I have it in me.
I know I can do it.
I just have to get out there and pound the pavement with all I’ve got.
I just am hoping for a cool morning since this Saturday’s race also starts at 9 a.m. A 7 a.m. or even 8 a.m. start time would be fab!
Whatever, I gotta roll with the punches and take what has been dealt in front of me.