Friday night I went to one of my favorite 5Ks, but I went reluctantly. It isn’t because I don’t like the event anymore and it wasn’t even because of the insane heat we’ve been having (I know, I know, waa-waa-waa). See, I love running, but I also love how social it has become for me. Running has become my therapy and while I always feel good and better after a run, I feel my best after a run with good friends. Most of my close friends have ventured with me into the world of distance and trail running. Many people I know still run roads and 5Ks, but no one I am super close with and travel from event to event. Still, I packed up my stuff and headed down to Massillon (only a 40 minute drive) for the 9:30pm start.
Once I was there I found I was in the best of spirits. I mean, the night before I did 57 pushups in 1 minute. Obviously I rock! I didn’t forget my Garmin for this race and I was properly fueled and hydrated. The earlier rain had cooled things off a tad and this was quite possibly going to be an amazing evening.
I parked in the same place as last year. Since I arrived at 900 and I learned there were over 1800 people registered I was floored there was even parking left. I literally was across from the doors for the packet pickup in the school. Casually I walked in and easily picked up my bib, glow-stick and shirt. Once again the shirt disappointed me, but I am a shirt snob, so what do I know?
With all that out of the way it was time to head to the street. Only 20 minutes to go and the crowd was filling out nicely. An announcement was made that over 2,000 people would take part in the run & walk (simultaneous events). It was such a large event, they had pace corrals!
I chilled out in the 30:00 group and decided to keep my phone. It fit nicely in my sports bra and after overhearing many very funny conversations, it was time for the fireworks start. Only there weren’t any going off? We all ran/stop/ran/stop to the starting mats until the field thinned out.
My first mile I kept a steady pace. I thought about how strong I have become this year and all the things ahead of me. I reminded myself to keep good posture and quick short turn over under my hips. I listened to other people talking and laughing and collecting discarded glow-sticks along the course.
Mile 1 arrive near the bottom of a hill and Garmin chirped to me (of course I can’t see in the dark). The person timing said something near 10:00 and I wasn’t mad, but I wasn’t happy either. This lead to a heavy heart going into the course’s one massive hill. Later I would find my actual pace was 9:06! Woot! This is what happens when you have a delayed start, yet I forgot since I haven’t done one in so long. I think if I knew I had done so well, I could have held the faith a tad longer.
Along the way there were countless people in their yards with glow-sticks and music and younger children cheering and screaming. Shortly before mile two back on a street after weaving through some neighborhoods, the fireworks began to go off. Someone jokingly said “OK, the race is starting now”. My legs were starting to feel tired, but I told myself it was all in my head. The counter at this marker told us a time near 20:00 total. I was bummed I seemed to be getting slower and tried not to let it get to my head. Later Garmin would tell me my split was 10:40-something. Not great.
After mile 2 is the ONE course water stop. I really wish we had water before and every year I forget to take my own!
Everything was the same on course except for the transition from road to track near mile 2.5. There is a paved path leading onto the community grounds and the “track” around the park. The track always kills me, it’s so long and hard and red (TWSS?) and it sucks the life right out from under me! This year the path had an archway over it. There were lights all the way from the road to the track, like an elegant bridal pathway with multiple lit arches. Very cool and allowed me to keep worry off my mind a few more moments.
Early in the race I could hear constant chattering and laughs. Near the second mile this died off to more serious and delayed conversations.By this final mile the only sounds were the surrounding carnival and the occasional breathless encouraging grunt from a parent or friend to their running buddy.
Coming down around the bend I felt strong and confident in my performance. I really believed I had made the 30:00-ish cut off! I saw the clock and was bummed. Clock time 32:36 …official chip time 32:00.
Don’t get me wrong, a 32 minute 5K in the heat on a summer night with 2,000 other people is NOTHING I am upset about at all! I am so happy about the race because I ENJOYED MYSELF. I kept telling myself during the run, it isn’t about the finish time, it’s about the performance. Time means nothing without a good story to back it up. Jackson Night Glow never fails to deliver and it’s obvious why it is a staple for the Ohio Challenge Series and why it has grown leaps and bounds in the past few years.
I opted out of the food fiasco (not organized AT ALL for the number of runners) I grabbed my water and made it back to my car. Look how sweaty and red I am. This is AFTER 20 minutes of walking around to cool off and drink my water.
It didn’t take long to drive back home and hit the sheets. I slept a long and solid sleep and woke feeling wonderfully. I hope everyone else kicked off their weekend with just as much fun!