I registered for this race last year and wound up getting lazy and not running it. This year, I didn’t register for it initially on the theory that I didn’t need races and would like to save the money. But I eventually relented and signed up. This is a charity race that Celebration Rotary does each year in conjunction with the fire department. They have a big pancake breakfast at the fire house that is free for runners but that you can buy tickets for if you don’t run. And they have a 10K and a 5K.
And the start line is about a mile and a half from my house.
With an 8am start and a pancake breakfast, I thought maybe my family would be able to come. The night before, my wife and I decided that she wouldn’t wake the kids up, so I expected to be solo. I had my normal long-run oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, and as I was sitting at my desk in my house, I thought something had broken in the kitchen because I could hear running water. Turns out, it was raining. Oh, boy.
I got to the race site a little over an hour early – even though it wasn’t far I drove so that I had an easy place to stash my shirt, and so I’d be able to leave quickly to make it to a t-ball game starting right after. I checked in, and an hour early they were already out of men’s XL shirts. They tried to give me a women’s, but one look at the way it was cut and I had to laugh. I got a Large, but there is a decent chance I’ll never wear it. If I’d been thinking I’d have gotten a small and let my oldest son wear it, but, whatever.
On the way back to the car to drop my shirt off, I realized I’d left my Garmin at home. I briefly considered going to get it, but decided I’d run without it. I didn’t need it for the overall time or distance, and wouldn’t really need it for pacing, so I left it. In the end, I think I regret that decision.
The 10K was scheduled to start 30 minutes before the 5K. They had a DJ, and somebody came to warm us up – I did some laps in the parking lot. The local Boy Scout troupe marched out an American flag, the girl did a great job with the National Anthem, and they lined up the 10K and set them off, about 10 minutes late. Once they were gone, they actually physically moved the starting line down the street to the official 5K start, and we all marched down there to get into place. I noticed several kids and others that didn’t look like they had a lot of 5K experience near the front, so I went ahead and lined up farther up than I normally do.
My goal, especially without the watch, was to go out comfortably fast and do my best to hold it and maybe have some kick. I was realistically expecting a 33 to 35 minute 5K, thinking that I had an outside chance at a PR before the day started just because I’m in much better shape than I was when I ran my PR. The rain made that unlikely, though – even though the active raining mostly stopped, the roads were wet and there was a ton of humidity.
3-2-1, and we were off. I got caught in a narrow lane behind people running slower than me almost immediately. I wound up actually running up on the curb to get around, and almost immediately I was out of the crowds and running basically alone. And a bit too fast. But I made the decision to try and hold that best I could, and run the race.
Our town is very pretty, even in the rain, and the course was all streets I’ve run on before. There are no hills, but several turns, so it wasn’t the fastest course. But there was nearly no congestion, the turns were all very well signed, and there were police working traffic to make sure everything stayed safe. It was an enjoyable run.
A bit after mile 2 the course runs relatively close to the baseball fields – and my family surprised me by being there to cheer! My wife, of course, was cheering like crazy. My 4-year old, in his t-ball uniform, knew what was going on and gave me a five, but seemed almost embarrassed. And the 19-month old looked very confused. He clearly had no concept of what was happening, and then when I ran by and kept going there was no telling what he was thinking. But it was great for them to be there. I love when my kids get to see me doing this stuff. Part of this is setting an example for them, and that is easier when they actually see it.
From there it was just a grind to the end. We could see the finish line well in advance of getting there, so I kicked best I could and gutted it across the finish. We got medals, which is nice, and an option of a full bottle of water or a full bottle of Gatorade. And then after I caught my breath I walked over to the pancake breakfast and got some coffee and made pancake sausage rolls. That was a nice after-race treat. I finished in 31:09, which is a 10:03 / mile pace. That is only 30 seconds off of my PR, and this is the beginning of the racing season in Florida, not the end. I’m very happy with the run, and will almost certainly do it next year.
- On my last training run I did a 10:20 mile, and felt very happy about that. To do 10:03 for three miles means I really am in much better shape than I’ve been in a very long time. I don’t have any more 5Ks scheduled, but I’m thinking I’ll pick one in March to be a PR attempt – and a chance to get under 30 minutes.
- The pancake breakfast after was awesome. I’m now officially going to be disappointed with post-race spreads going forward.
- I’m still very unaccustomed to receiving medals for 5Ks. In the Northeast I never saw that – you didn’t get a medal unless you ran at least a half marathon. Down here, apparently all races give medals. The medal itself was small and not fancy, but it was nice, and fun to get. As before – I almost feel bad hanging it next to my half marathon and Ragnar medals, but not bad enough to not hang it.
- Not having my Garmin was very annoying. Not so much during the race – it would have been nice to see my pace, but I didn’t miss it all that much. But because I didn’t have it I have no idea what my splits looked like. It felt pretty evenly paced; I can’t think of a stretch where I slowed down or sped up. But I just don’t know if I started too hard and fell apart at the end, or how good my kick was. I won’t make that mistake again.
- I am annoyed that they didn’t have a shirt my size. If they were out by the time I got there, which was early, I imagine several people didn’t get a shirt that fit. At the end of the day it isn’t that big a deal, but it seems like such a waste. Oh well.
- There wasn’t any other SWAG, but there certainly didn’t need to be. We got the shirt, a bib with the race logo on it, a medal, and the pancake breakfast. That was plenty, and all really nice.
- Next race: The Florida Run at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, Florida. I’m running the 10K – some of this is going to be on trails, and in that park that means they could be a bit sandy. I have no idea what to expect with that, but it should be fun.
We’re racing again!