I wasn’t really sure if I was going to run the Cupcake Run benefitting Girls on the Run of Northeast Florida.
My calendar has been pretty full, but the 5K I wanted to run at the end of the month conflicted with some other plans, so I needed a race for April. (Little did I know that I would also be scheduling a second April 5K a few days later, but what’s another 3.1 miles among friends?)
Needless to say, the lure of a cute medal and a finish line cupcake was quite tempting, and it’s always nice to be able to help out a great cause like Girls on the Run.
I registered on the Monday before the race. By Wednesday, I started receiving emails from the organizers of the event, stating that they were not prepared for the overwhelming interest, and that due to numbers, not all runners would receive a personalized bib or custom medal. As the week wore on, other emails advised that those who registration on race day were not guaranteed shirts or medals at all.
We were also encouraged to take advantage of advance packet pickup, because morning-of pickup would be difficult. Ever the rule follower, I headed to the Athleta store at St. Johns Town Center on Wednesday morning to pickup bibs for myself and some of my friends. With only two volunteers on hand, and a very small area in which to work, it was a bit of a fiasco, but I finally walked away with shirts, bibs and swag bags.
I got to the venue early on Saturday morning to ensure that I was able to score a decent parking spot.
The crowds built up the closer we got to the 7:30 AM start time, and after meeting up with some of my friends and Jenn from The Cupcake Runner (we are often in the same place at the same time, and never seem to see each other!),
I headed over to the start line in front of the Pier 1. This race was going to be gun-timed, which didn’t thrill me. I was looking for a PR and a specific time, and I didn’t love the idea of shoving my way to the front line to do so.
I settled on positioning myself maybe eight rows back, hugging the right hand side so I would be able to pull over to start my intervals. E joined me.
We were just standing there, getting ready for our mark, when we realized that people were running. Just like that! So I tried to take off.
Except a woman, who had been standing up on the median, chose that very moment to step down into the path of the runners. And stop. Directly in front of me. I pretty much plowed right into her. She wasn’t running, walking, racing or otherwise involved in the race, so I’m not really sure what she was doing, but I was pretty steamed, especially since it jacked up my right calf a little. Boo.
So I did the only thing I could: resumed running.
The course was a double loop around Town Center. It wasn’t the most scenic of routes, but it was pretty flat and mostly shaded, so I can’t complain. The weather was slightly less cooperative. Even with the early start time, it was so horribly humid. Ugh. I had absolutely zero intention of stopping for water at the halfway point, but I was having a little trouble with my body temperature, so I had to kiss that plan goodbye.
I was staying pretty consistent with my :60/:15 intervals, although I was getting pretty tired going into the last half of the second loop. I wasn’t surprised by it, but I was incredibly hopeful I could make it to the finish line strong.
As we were rounding a corner, I got a little lift. My friend’s daughter came zipping up past me. At the same time, the theme from Superman started playing on my iPod (yes, the 1977 version. Yes, I’m a nerd). The chase was on!
I certainly couldn’t keep up with her, but that burst of adrenaline pushed me around the last few turns and over the finish line!
In 30:25! An almost three minute PR!
I cried my way through the finisher’s chute (bad idea, as I cried all the sweat into my eyes), collecting my medal, my cupcake and coupons for free yogurt and mini cupcakes from Sweet by Holly.
After getting myself together, I positioned myself at the finish line to cheer in the rest of my friends.
I hung out a bit to see E’s daughter participate in the one-mile fun run, and took the time to enjoy my cupcake.
This race went so right. Even though it wasn’t the sub 30 I’ve been seeing on my training runs, I can account for 30-60 seconds because of the gun start and walking through the water stop. There’s not much I can do about gun vs chip, but I can carry my own handheld so I don’t have to stop (although I’m not going to lie, those extra walking seconds were heavenly).
I’m amazed at what happened out on the course on Saturday. Granted, at the end of the day, it was my training and my work, but it seems like I tend to tank in race scenarios. Maybe my new intervals have given me a confidence boost to carry through my self-imposed pressure, or maybe it was just a good day. We shall have to see.
In the meantime, I’m riding the PR high and looking at ways to get even closer to my 2015 goal.
What’s your favorite post race treat?
Do you prefer gun-timed or chip-timed races?