What: 5K “all-terrain” race
Who: Just me (plus a few Shammies), with moral support from Drew
Benefited: The North Suburban YMCA
-Mile 1: 10:38
-Mile 2: 10:55
-Mile 3: 12:02
-Mile 3.1: 11:21
Photos: (click to open larger versions)
Recap: This race popped up sort of randomly on my radar. I go by the Y on the way to my bus stop, and one morning Drew pointed out a sign on their lawn advertising a “Fired Up 5K.” I think he was surprised that I hadn’t heard about it yet, since I’m usually pretty up on what races are happening locally. He wasn’t surprised at all when I told him a few hours later on gchat that I had signed up for it.
It was advertised as an “all-terrain” race, and a narrative description of the course was emailed to everyone who was registered. It said it would start on the street, then turn in to Horn Pond (which is partly paved and partly dirt trails), then loop back around in one particular location. Drew and I both thought the turnaround would happen at the opposite end of the pond, which would mean an incredibly steep hill at about the halfway point. I steeled myself, but was secretly dreading the Mini Hill of Doom.
Before the 5K started there was a kids’ 800m fun run, which ended up being 4 laps around the dirt track at the Y. It was adorable watching the tiny ones running with their parents, looking so strinkin’ excited to be out running while everyone cheered for them. One girl, maybe 10 or 11, totally smoked everyone else and had such a serious face on the whole time she looked like a grown-up runner. It was fun seeing all the kids wandering around afterward, proudly rocking their medals as they frolicked on the playground.
Our race started after the national anthem (the lady behind me got teased for not taking her hat off, and she replied saying she couldn’t be bothered to fix her hair again if she took it off). It was a pretty small race – about 200 runners. We were maybe 200 yards down the street when the cop that was controlling traffic rolled up behind us in his car and barked at everyone to run on the shoulder, since both lanes of the road were open to traffic. That was a little annoying… I know the race started on a busy street, but we were only on it for 5-10 minutes and it wasn’t rush hour or anything. They couldn’t have held traffic for a few more minutes? I wouldn’t have minded except that there were so many people running with strollers and the shoulder was very narrow; the photo above actually shows the widest point. For a while everyone had to run single-file and since I had started toward the back, that meant running behind walkers and strollers for a while. Good thing I wasn’t too concerned about my finishing time!
The first part of the race that was on the street was also one long, gradual hill. You don’t really realize the gradual hills like that when you drive them, as I do that street every day, but man, it was challenging to just keep going up and up. By the time we turned into the pond I felt like I was flying because it was flat! It was also shaded, which was a relief from the sunny street. It was a surprise and a huge bonus to find that the turnaround wasn’t where I had originally thought, so I didn’t have to tackle the Mini Hill of Doom after all! Huzzah!
It was fun to have a mixed-terrain course to run, as the dirt path was a relief on my tired legs and the parts in the woods were nice and shady. However, there were several places where the course turned into a single-track dirt path, which was a pain to navigate with so many strollers. At one point I had to stop and step into the woods to let a guy with a stroller past because I thought he was going to run me over! I totally respect people who run with strollers, and I get that the Y wanted this to be a kid- and family-friendly race, but it really wasn’t the best course to allow strollers on. One thing I was grateful for was the number of race volunteers along the course; the trails by the pond split so many times, and I’m quite sure I would have gotten lost if they hadn’t been there to direct us.
There were a few fellow Shammies running the race, and I had fun keeping an eye out for them during the section of the race where runners crossed paths after the turnaround. It was a nice distraction from how tired and hot I was to search faces and yell out encouragement each time I saw a Shammie, though it did hammer home yet again just how slow I am compared to the rest of the club. Case in point: after the race, I was chatting with a run clubber who said his race was “terrible” because he finished in 24 minutes. My reaction was pretty much “… … … Dude, that’s awesome… I’ve never broken 30!” Sigh. One day, hopefully.
I had to walk for much of the last mile. Not only was I trying to stay out of the way of strollers, but I had rolled my bad ankle on a few rocks and didn’t want to make it worse by continuing to run, and also I really had to pee and the running was making it worse. (Why didn’t I use the porta-potty before the race?!) I pushed myself to run again once we left the woods and got back onto the street, and when I rounded the final corner into the Y driveway I got a second wind. Ahead of me were two women who I had been leapfrogging with throughout the race, and a hint of competitiveness reared its head as I picked up speed and passed them both to finish strong. I couldn’t all-out sprint, but it felt good to stretch my legs a little as I ran faster. Though 34:25 isn’t anything special, I was happy because I’m still a bit wonky from my ankle, and it was a better time in the blazing heat than my first race of the year, which I ran in much cooler, easier-to-run-in weather.
The Y sponsored a barbecue after the race, but 9:35am was a little too early for me to eat hot dogs and hamburgers, so I opted for a frozen yogurt and then skedaddled. The Fired Up 5K wasn’t bad at all for an inaugural race, and I’d run it again in the future. It’s nice to support a local organization, and also nice not to have to get up extra early to travel!
What’s your opinion on hat removal during the national anthem? Should everyone take them off, or should women be exempt, as flag code states?
I always take my hat off, even though I’m a woman. It feels rude not to, though I always feel a little self-conscious because often the women around me leave theirs on, like the lady behind me at the race. I’ve seen men leave theirs on, and women take theirs off… people are all over the place on the issue, it seems.