This wasn’t my first time running this race but it was my first time doing everything was offered with registration.
Let’s start at the beginning:
One of the nicest amenities I have seen offered for a race is training. The bigger events offered training plans and you can join a training group (usually at an additional cost) but training for this race was complimentary with your registration. I know what you are thinking – it’s just a 5k. Well yes BUT this event attracts a lot of first time runners, first time walkers so the idea of 3.1 is daunting. Also, there’s people like me who are trying to get back into the groove.
I am not a fan of group runs. I am slow and embarrassed by being “known” (think about it – small group, everyone will know who is always last — that’s me and my biggest fear). But I also knew I wouldn’t get myself out there for a second run each week if there wasn’t a group of people expecting me. And I know they were all secretly appreciative that I took up the “last person in the group” position from my first week.
Training consisted of 6 weeks — 1 info session and 5 group runs. I joined during the 2nd week and what I believe was the first actual run. Each week, someone came in and spoke with the group about runner needs:
Week 1: shoes
Week 2: sports bras
Week 3: apparel (including socks and underwear)
Week 4: nutrition
Week 5: stretching/foam rolling
Week 6: overall wellness
Then the run started. Typically each run lasted about 40 minutes, starting and ending at the running store. There were four groups to choose from: walker, walk to run, beginner runner, or intermediate runner. I picked the walk to run since I am trying to get myself back into a rhythm.
I actually surprised myself. I found I started looking forward to Wednesday. I don’t know if it’s because it was social or I would be running or if it was a combination but it was really enjoyable.
On race day aka graduation day, each trainee was awarded with a running hat (hehe graduation cap hehe). If you attended 4 or more weeks, you got this extra swag for free! I didn’t hit my time goal BUT I did take on a hill that normally kills me and I finished stronger than I normally do.
Now on to what you actually want to know:
Race day dawned in its typical hot and humid kind of way. Seriously, this race is never a comfortable one. I had picked up my packet earlier in the week (multiple locations, multiple day packet pickup for the win!) so I just needed to get myself to the start on race day.
I got to the venue about 90 minutes until the start. I like to get parked and settled vs rushed on race day. Nothing was quite ready – except for race day packet pickup and bag drop – when I got there. After doing a loop of the area, I headed to the training tent (another really nice amenity if you do the training – the coaches had brought post race breakfast for all the trainees). I didn’t see anyone I knew over there so I headed into the other big tents to look at what vendors were there.
After a quick visit to bag drop and the bathroom, it was time for the start. I lined up all the way in the back – because that’s where slow people don’t get run over. In what seemed like only seconds, we were off.
The course itself is fairly flat. There is one big hill – which thanks to the training group, I was able to run up during my run interval and not want to fall over when I was done – and then a few smaller inclines. The worst part about this race in the sun. There is very little shade and when you are in it, you want to soak in all the shady goodness.
Course features 2 water stops and one very unofficial beer stop. This beer stop as grown over the years. I think the first year I did this race, there were spectators drinking beer and holding signs. Then it was handing out cans of beer. Then cups of beer…to this year they had signs, a tent and small cups of beer (I believe some runners called them shots of beer). Regardless, their “stop” is always one that puts a smile on my face – it’s just after a mile and I’m starting to remember how hot and sweaty this race makes me so I’m cranky. lol
The best part of this race has to be the finish. You run along the water front for the last .3 or maybe .4 of the race. Some of the most beautiful views of the city and water front are right before your eyes (or behind you making really awesome race pictures!). Also, the energy at the finish is amazing. There are training group coaches cheering, family and friends of fellow runners with their signs, there are women ahead of you who just finished their first race…it’s awesome.
After crossing the finish, I happily gave sweaty hugs to the race team (they weren’t super thrilled) and collected my water and deliciously icy towel. Next up, I collected my medal and flower. Finally, it’s back to the tents for chips and watermelon. Oh and the training tent because there were definitely carbs in my future.