This race was slightly different from most races that I run. Sure, I don’t typically run a lot of HUGE races, unless it’s like a half marathon or a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, but this race was much smaller than most I normally race.
On my quest to run one race each month in 2016, I signed up for the Run for a Hug 5K a little over a month ago. The president of the board of education where I teach is a runner, so she is constantly sending out emails regarding runs that take place in the district boundaries or that support the students in the district. This one was no exception. Run for a Hug benefitted Operation Backpack. Operation Backpack is a local organization that supplies backpacks filled with kid-friendly food for students to take home on the weekend throughout the school year. Most of these students receive their main meals while they are in school, and therefore, would most likely go without food over the weekend when they are not in school. Operation Backpack is pretty big in my school district, as it is a rural, lower class district with the majority of our students receiving free or reduced lunches. So, it was really a no-brainer for me as this race would directly benefit the kids in my school.
Of course, since this was for Operation Backpack for my district specifically, it was a pretty small race – roughly 40-50 people running and walking total. I’ve done a few races where I work so I had a good idea of how I would finish and I’ve run the course in the past, so that made it easier as well.
What I didn’t expect was to spend the majority of the race by myself. Since it’s a smaller race, there are only 2 or 3 volunteers on the course directing runners. No roads are closed. There are no mile markers. It’s almost like a run through the neighborhood with the running club, except that you are trying to beat the people you are running with. And of course, it was absolutely freezing out (a big fat NINE degrees outside with a wind chill of -2), so even the volunteers were sitting in their cars, waiting for runners to go by.
I started the race in the front of the starting line and quickly had 2 people out in front of me. By the time we were about a quarter mile in, I was out in front. I actually ended up having to look back to make sure I ran the right way since it’s been 2 years since I’ve run the course. By about a mile in, I could no longer hear anyone behind me.
At one point, you run a short loop through a neighborhood before turning toward the finish line. By the time I was finishing the loop, the second and third place finishers were just starting it. By then, I knew I really didn’t need to push myself too much harder, but I really wanted to get a good gauge on my 5K race pace. Unfortunately, when you are running by yourself (and really like to be able to chase people down), it’s hard to get down to where you really want to be at this point in training. I was really hoping for something around 20:30 for my 5K, but instead, I finished about 30 seconds slower than I would have liked.
Mile 1 – 6:42
Mile 2 – 6:57
Mile 3 – 6:50
Mile 0.1 – 0:37
Finish Time – 21:08
Average Pace – 6:49/mile
But, now I can say that I placed first OVERALL – not just as a female – in a race! Does it count that there were less than 50 people running?! And check out the swag I got for winning first! Lots of chocolate, a yummy smelling candle, and a basket that fits perfectly in my entryway!