I woke up just after 6:00 AM, as planned. After my breakfast of a banana, getting dressed, and some quick Facebook surfing, I was on the road by 6:45 AM. Honestly, I was bored and just wanted to get going! I figured I would arrive too early, and I did, as I pulled into the parking lot shortly after 7 AM. With a race start of 8 AM, I had no reason to be there that early, but I definitely would rather be early than late! Everything was super-easy as far as getting there, getting into the fairgrounds and parking. There were a few other early-birds there as well.
Me all set to race... in about 45 minutes LOL!
I hung out in my car for as long as I could (about 10 minutes), then walked to an out-of-the-way parking lot where I did some dynamic stretching and ran a mile (about 8 parking-lot-circles LOL!) to warm-up. By that time, it was around 7:30, so I ate my Sports Beans and then wandered over to the starting area, where more and more people were arriving and going through their warm-up routines. The race looked about as crowded as I expected. Around 250 runners two years ago and around 180 runners last year... this year's official count was 246.
At 7:50 AM, they called the kids over for the fun run. Joey, my 8-year-old, was signed up for this, but since I didn't have anyone to watch him during my own race, I didn't bring him along. Next year, I definitely want to bring all four of my children and let them do the fun run (my hubby can take care of them while I race). It was so cute watching the little ones run through the finishers' chute (100 meter dash for 4-and-under, 200 meter dash for 5-and-up) and get their medals!
The kids' races finished pretty quickly, and we were called to the starting line right around 8:00 AM. I was surprised that we were starting in a parking lot adjacent to the timing system, not right under the start/finish chute like usual. The race director announced that it was a chip-timed race, but that the start would be hand-timed. This made absolutely no sense to me (more about it later). I started my Garmin right after the horn went off, and I was about 5-10 feet from the starting "line" (a piece of tape on the ground).
The race start was fast. Really fast! As I said, I started the race pretty close to the front; maybe 20-30 people were in front of or next to me. The people around me took off like rockets! I glanced at my watch after about two-tenths of a mile and saw we were going in the low-7:00 range and I just about freaked out. I felt like I was working way too hard, and knew that I needed to settle into my own race or I would be paying for it. So I let people fly by me (very hard for me to do!) and got into my own rhythm. I was still definitely running faster than I'd planned for the first mile. I had thought I would go around a 7:50 at best, and I clocked in at 7:43.
The race went by pretty quickly. I absolutely loved running down the midway where all of the rides were, as well as by Smokey the Bear, where my mom would take my siblings and my photos when we were kids. The fair was an annual family outing for all of my childhood, and it was neat to revisit those memories.
Good ol' Smokey!
The most difficult part of the race for me is always around the 2-mile mark (I hate thinking that I have an entire mile to go still, and I'm already tired from the effort of the first 2 miles). I started to have trouble controlling my breathing at around 1.6 miles. My second mile was a 7:58, and I had no clue how I would ever keep my pace under 8:00 for the final mile. However, it was cool hearing the announcer over the PA system at the fair that the top finishers were coming in (this was at around 17-18 minutes), and that did motivate me a bit. There was a very small hill (the only one on the entire course!) at around 2.9 miles, and that was NOT fun... even though it was only a slight elevation, I was totally ready to just STOP by then. I had been running next to a man for about a mile and we both looked at each other and groaned when we saw it (and I might have let a little curse word slip...).
When I finally saw the finisher's chute, I was so relieved! I picked up my pace the best that I could and ran in, seeing my time and feeling pretty darn happy about it!
PR by almost a full minute from July 4th!!! And look at my pace for the final 0.1 miles...
if only I could hold that for an entire 5K!
I was happy to be under 8:00 for all three miles!
So, the official results have been posted on the race website. My official race time was 24:26. I know that is what the clock said as I passed through the chute, but I also know I did not pass over the start line right as the horn sounded. How on earth do they know when I started if there was no timing mat?!! I talked to some running friends, and apparently this is what they do when they don't have a starting mat... so basically, everyone's time starts when the horn sounds, regardless of how far you are back from the starting line. Thank goodness I stuck close to the front at the start!
Anyway, this was the one and only negative part of the race, but since I did PR by 55 seconds, I will let those 4 seconds go. My overall place was 41st out of the 246 runners. I was the 11th fastest female (out of 136) and got 6th in my division (30-39 year olds). I checked and if I had ran this race last year, I would have been 2nd in the 30-39 year olds! So there was definitely more competition this year. Next year, I WILL place! I just want an age group award :) The best part of the race (other than the PR of course) was the yummy post-race food, including CANDY... I.love.candy!
Mmm... Hershey's Kisses & Twizzlers...
My legs felt fine during the race, but they are tired now. My right hamstring hurt really badly all day today, but foam rolling it tonight definitely helped. I plan on using tomorrow as either a rest day or a cross-training day--maybe getting on the bike. My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful "cruising bike" that I am dying to try on the trails around Westerville. I know that my legs will welcome the day off from running, that's for sure!