|Before the race- it was freezing!!|
The race supports the "For a Day Foundation". It's a great organization which volunteers visit kids in our local hospitals and treats them to special things like makeovers, crafts, games and so on, so that the kids feel like a "King or Queen for a day". For a Day is run by local law enforcement officers (police and fire), hence the clever name.
I pressured a few of my work friends to sign up and met them down at Bell Isle. It was my first 5k of the year, my second in a decade. It was a cold and gloomy day (low:37, high:51), but at least it wasn't raining.
I was not sure what to expect- of the race or of myself. Out loud I said I wanted to run in under 30 minutes, but I had been training to do 8 minute miles, so in the back of my head I was thinking that 24-25 minutes was possible.
I was glad it was a "chip" race, because the start was kind of a mess. There seemed to be a lot of people who did not realize that slower runners/walkers should be in back and to the outside. I held back awhile, trying not to start until some of the crowd had thinned out. Still, I had to run up on the grass to get by some slow people hugging the curbs.
After about a half mile it really cleared out. There was a bit of an up hill, but not bad. I hit the 1 mile mark at about 8 minutes and was pleasantly surprised. I was pushing pretty hard, but not too hard. I continued to pass people bit by bit and my second mile was again about 8 minutes. The third mile started to get tough. I was wearing my jacket and was starting to get pretty hot. The course actually went by where I had parked my car and I thought of dropping it off, but decided against it. I also kind of had to pee (or thought I did), but again, decided to hold on.
I still was passing runners that last mile, but there were fewer and fewer. There was one woman ahead of me that I had my eye on and was trying to catch up to her bit by bit. The finish was obscured around a corner. I wish I had seen it a bit earlier, because I would have started my kick sooner. By the time it came into view, I only had about 200 meters to push it and still had a bit left at the end. I never ended up catching up to that last runner in my sights.
I crossed the finish and the timer was asking me where my chip tag was, I said, "Here, on my bib". Uh oh. Turns out I am an idiot. I was supposed to remove it from my bib and put it on my shoe. I had to run go back over the finish a few time before it registered.
For the Detroit Free Pres Marathon last October, the chip was built into the bib, so I thought it stayed there. What is super embarrassing is I saw the neon green tags on everyone's shoes and just assumed they were ID tags (I wear a Road ID, so I don't need to do the shoe ID thing) and did not think anything of it.
I finally got the time thing taken care of and looked at the clock. I can't remember what exactly the time was, but it was in the 25's. I was so happy I almost cried. Not because I thought 25 was a very good time, but because it wasn't a terrible time and I felt ok. I just took a moment and acknowledged how far I had come. I knew the 20 year old me would have been mortified by such a time, but I also knew it had been at least 16 years since I had been this strong and fast. Since before I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a cheesy but special moment where I let myself be proud, happy, hopeful and victorious.
I stayed around until all of my friends had finished. I found a spot 400 meters or so from the finish and started cheering runners on. From here you could not see the finish, but it was close. I yelled to everyone that they were a minute away from being done and to kick hard. Several people did that and some even came up to me and thanked me- saying they PR'd. I loved that.
After we were all done, I went home and posted my general time on Facebook. My sister in law, Laurie, runs a lot of 5K's and posted something like "you might have won your age group with that time". I was like, no way! But just for fun I got online and looked at the results and was shocked to find that I was 2nd in my age group and 39th overall with a time of 25:29. I was on cloud 9! Though I did see that that girl who was ahead of me only beat me by like 10 seconds. I wanted to kick myself because there came a point, with about 600 yards to go, that I told myself there was no way I was going to catch her and I kind of backed off. I completely forgot about the chip timing aspect. She must have started a good 30 seconds ahead of me, so even though it seemed like she was way ahead of me, we were really much closer. I could have technically beat her without ever passing her. This is something that I am having a hard time getting my little brain to comprehend.
Turns out, I even get a medal. I think they are mailing it to me. When I get it, I'll post a picture. Or twenty.
Enough about me, let me tell you about the race.
Had the weather not been so thoroughly miserable, this would have been an awesome event to take the family to, especially if you have little boys. Police Departments were there with horses, armored vehicles, a bomb robot, motorcycles and all their fun stuff. I'll be sure to bring the boys next year.
I felt that everything went very well. Parking was easy. Getting my bib was easy. Everyone was nice and even the porta potty lines seemed reasonable (though I can't say what they were like inside, since I didn't use them). The course was well marked, had a water station and mile splits. It was also very fast in my opinion. It was mostly flat and avoided the windier side of the island.
As far as scenery, this is another situation where had the weather been better, it would have been fantastic. I did stop a couple of times to take pictures for the blog.
It was also a small race. The 5K only had 309 finishers (there was also a 10K and a 1 mile walk), so it was very comfortable overall. I have to say though, even though it was a small group, there were some fast folks. Several members of Hanson's Running Team ran the 10K and the top finishers in the 5K were amazing. The top male finished the 5K with a time of 17:04 and the top female was one second behind with 17:05. Holy Cow that's fast!
Trader Joe's supplied bananas and frozen fruit pops after the race. Hot chocolate would have been better, but who would have thought it would be so cold.
All and all, I think this is the perfect "first 5k" race and a great race to start the season with. I hope it continues and I plan on making it my "Opening Day" race tradition.