The truth is, I was always intimidated to attempt the Run for the Pies 5K. It just seemed to fast, with its men’s and women’s elite waves, and with runner vying for the top 200 spots in order to earn a pie.
I would joke that I could make my own pie and run 3.1 miles in my own neighborhood to the same effect, but the reality was that I really did want to try my hand (or my feet) at this event. I’ve become the kind of person who doesn’t back down, so I registered with S and committed to doing it, regardless if I would walk away with a pie.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
I went into the race absolutely blind. I knew it started at the Jacksonville Landing and that it was an evening event, but that’s about it. I’m not incredibly familiar with all the ins and outs of downtown, so knowing street names wouldn’t have made too much difference.
T and I made the drive together to save on parking and keep each other company. She’s run Pies several times in the past, and so she was able to help navigate us to a good parking spot and get us to the start line.
The elite men’s and women’s heats both started at 7:00 before the open 5K, and we were able to watch some truly amazing talent whiz by us. These runners had to qualify with some truly incredible times (sub 17:00 5K for men and sub 20:00 5K for women) and I was really in awe of watching them. The elite course was a little different from the open: they had to take four laps around a section of city blocks, rather than making one big loop. I assume it was to keep things more flat and even for maximum speed.
For some reason, the open 5K was delayed a little from its announced 7:30 start time. I didn’t mind – a later start meant maybe the summer sun wouldn’t be so much of a factor. It was cloudy, but muggy and humid, and any relief would be welcomed.
We started soon enough, following the same little out and back section the elite runners had taken. From there, we ventured out into the city. S had been out of the race scene for a while while she was recovering from injury, so we agreed to let her set the pace and the comfort level.
I was expecting to have to make the same four laps as the elites, and was pleased to realize that we were running a full 3.1 mile loop. So many 5Ks in Jacksonville follow the same path, and it was nice that this was completely different than anything I’d run there. Not to say there weren’t challenges. There were some pretty nice inclines and sections of brick pavers (and inclined sections of brick pavers) that certainly made things interesting.
There were two water stops, too, which was nice considering the heat. It’s very rare that I take water in a 5K because it upsets my stomach, but I do like having the option.
My biggest complaint about the race was that runners were getting stopped by police in the last mile for traffic crossings. It was on a downhill and getting close to the end, so people were starting to speed up. Sometimes, it’s tough to stop short, and it’s also hard to manage sudden stops and starts in a 5K. I wasn’t so annoyed about the time, as I was about how it made my hip twinge. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was frustrating.
However, we got through that little hurdle and pushed on through the finish. I was so ready to be done.
On the plus side, volunteers were handing out the most incredible electrolyte freezer pops at the end of the race. There was nothing more incredible than that. Unless it was the free beer a few steps away. Hooray, beer.
T and I didn’t hang out too long, but there was plenty of music and beer and beautiful views of the river and bridges. It was still hot, but there was a nice breeze off the water that made everything better.
While night racing will probably never be my strong suit, I enjoyed this event. Having experienced it once, I feel better prepared to take another crack at it in the future.
Have you ever earned a pie at the finish line of a race?
Have you ever been stopped mid-race for extenuating circumstances?