At the beginning of 2016 I made a goal to run a sub-25 5K. I was on track in March, but a super short course foiled my efforts. I ran a few other 5K's but didn't come close. So, when I decided that a fall half wasn't in the cards for me this year, I figured I should add some speed work and work on my sub-25 goal. I wanted a few cooler weather 5Ks and the Leetsdale Snowflake Classic fit the bill.
$25 registration got me a long sleeve t-shirt in a nice tech-ish material, along with a swag bag that included chocolate from a local manufacturer, several notepads and a reusable water bottle. Something I was not expecting from a race this size.
The race start was 9AM - and close enough to my house I was able to eat breakfast, drink coffee and still wake up at a reasonable hour. I laid out my Flat Jessie the morning of, and ate a breakfast of egg noodles and a banana, noodles and nanner as I referred to it. Shame on me for forgetting I would need breakfast.
Packet pickup was easy - and they offered same day registration as well. Parking was plentiful and the race started just in front of Quaker Valley HS. There were locker room bathroom available to use and also several port-o-potties.
For the first time ever I decided to do a warm-up. With a 9AM race start I started my warm-up around 8:30AM. I ran 3/4 of a mile around the track, and another quarter mile from the start line as we got closer to race time. In hindsight I started my warm-up too early as I was already cooling off by the time we lined up to start. The concept though is a good one, and I think race warm-ups are here to stay for me.
I was totally unfamiliar with the course, but it was well marked and easy to follow. After a touching military tribute, where the RD passed out American flags to almost all the runners, we sang the National Anthem together, before paying special tribute specifically to each branch of the military, as well as police officers and fireman. And then, as I tried hard not to cry, we started the race.
Mile 1 - 7:55
The first mile was a flat, straight shot, as we neared the first mile marker, we quickly turned left, and right, to cross an overpass, and a small downhill into the Leetsdale Industrial Park. At this point the rain started - the temperature continued to drop and the wind picked up.
Mile 2 - 7:55
At the halfway point of the race we hit a waterstop. I passed through thanking the volunteers, but not grabbing any water. At this point I was running step for step with a gentleman to my left. I told him it was my goal to run a sub-25 race that day, and that we were on track. I introduced myself, his name was Nick, and we continued to run together.
My watch beeped indicating the end of mile two, but it was another .2 miles before we passed the next mile marker. I started to fear the race would be long. My sunglasses continued to fog up with the rain, and eventually I removed them.
Mile 3 - 8:06
At mile 2.5 we ran up the "hill" of the overpass and I could feel myself losing steam. My new buddy Nick said "it's all downhill from here" as we crested the top, and he was right. We had a brief downhill before the road flattened out. I could see the finish line! Nick started to pull ahead of me. And I started to feel like I was going to toss my cookies. This phenomenon is not new to me at the end of a hard race, 5K in particular, but I've yet to find a solution to the problem. I dry heaved a few times as I ran, but finally, in front of a house with children standing cheering on the porch, I actually lost my cookies, or in this case, noodles and nanner. With the finish line in sight I spit out what I could and kept moving. I saw 3.1 miles on my Garmin and lapped it (24:48!!!) and kept on pushing to the finish line.
My official finish time was 25:23, clocking in at 3.18 miles. Either way, a new 5K PR and technically meeting my sub-25 goal. I've got one more 5K on the schedule this year, and I'm hoping for a sub-25 CLOCK time.
The post race festivities included soft pretzels (my favorite) as well as hot chocolate. They began announcing winners and I hear my name, the woman says I'm the 3rd place overall female. I was so excited! I ran over to check the official results. Did this woman mean 3rd in my age group? Nope! She meant 3rd overall female, of the race, the whole race!
My pacing was on point, and though I tossed my cookies there at the end, I felt my legs had more to give. I definitely felt as though I was holding back in the first mile, and I think this is key for me so I don't fly and die.
With just about 20 days until my next 5K I'm excited to get in a few more strength workouts and faster runs - I'm gunning for a sub-25 clock time.
But my next running goal? Put my bib on straight, or centered, and eventually BOTH! Haha.
What's your favorite post race food?
How do you put your bib on straight?
Is the key to put it on the shirt before you're wearing it!?