Run for the Rock 5k Race Recap
I was up early for another race yesterday. This one was another free entry from my friend who is a local race director. It is awfully hard to turn down a freebie! Plus this race looked like a winner: starting and ending at a local yacht club on an inlet of Long Island Sound, a flat(ish) course and a taco food truck at the end. What’s not to love?
This was, though, the first race I’ve done in a while where I had no friends to meet up with. I used to always race solo, but in the last year or so I’ve found several partners in crime; it’s always nice to have a buddy. I felt strange as I parked and went to registration alone with over an hour to kill and no one to spend it with.
Fortunately I did find one person I knew in short order. A woman from my town who helps me out with our kids’ race (and goes to my church) was there. She’s at a lot of the races I do; she’s in her sixties and has been active in the running community for probably thirty or more years. She often does the kids’ races for the race director of this race, so I wasn’t too surprised to see her. We had a nice chat before she had to get busy with rounding up the rugrats.
I spent the time looking at the race map, soaking in the pretty waterfront scenery, getting professional advice from a local physical therapist about pre run stretching (I was hoping for a massage but that didn’t work out) and doing about a half mile of run/walk warmup.
We finally got in line to get the race started when the pre race instructions were issued. They had to explain about the tear off bibs. Most races I’m doing these days have a chip in them that records your time as you cross the finish; larger races have the ability to track both your start time and your finish time to give you a “net time” (better for people like me that are at the back of the pack and might taken thirty or more seconds to cross the start line). But this race was old school; you tear off the bottom of the bib at the finish and they scan you in. This leads to a less accurate (read: longer) time. I wasn’t too bothered by it. I already knew the heat was going to be a factor as it was already over 70 and there were rumors of a sizeable hill after mile 2.
Off we went, through the local waterfront neighborhoods known as Black Rock. It was a congested start, as there were actually cars parked on one side of the street, so there was little room to navigate around the people in front of you. No worries for me as a back of the packer, although I could imagine if it might have bothered some people. As promised, the whole first mile was flat and I was loving life.
During the second mile you cut through the neighborhood and end up on this beautiful path along the shoreline. This area is known as St. Mary’s by the Sea, and it is a little peninsula that juts out into this inlet of Long Island Sound. It is picturesque and beautiful.
It is also unshaded.
So while I loved the scenery and the route, the heat was starting to take a toll. I was wearing a hat to keep the sun off of my face, but I could tell I was sweating profusely. More than usual. My face had to have been bright red. I slowed to a walk just to avoid going off the rails. Not for long, but I knew there was a hill up ahead, and I am not willing to pass out on a race course for pushing myself in the heat.
I forced myself to get back running and told myself I would keep going until the base of the hill. We’d been told there was a water stop mid hill (how big was this thing anyway?) so I figured I would run/walk the hill as necessary.
The hill loomed up sure enough right after the mile 2 marker. Holy hell, it was a lot bigger than I’d anticipated. I jogged up a little and then walked for about thirty seconds. Then I spotted the water station and made myself run to it, telling myself I could walk with the water. I did, drank half of it, and poured the rest down my back.
Aaaaah. Sweet relief, and good thing, because no one had warned us that the worst of the hill was actually AFTER the water stop. It was much steeper here, and I slowed again to a walk. I was so worn out I was actually making sad, pathetic noises as I breathed, just to let everyone know that I was, in fact, absolutely miserable.
As soon as I crested the hill I started running again. Slowly I was able to regulate my breathing and feel like I was back in the game. There was a good downhill portion here, maybe a third of a mile, and it was much needed. The heat was just sapping the energy out, and what the heat didn’t take, that hill did. I walked a bit more until I saw the corner where the mile 3 marker was. Alright then, I knew I could make it that last bit.
I pushed towards the finish, finishing stronger than I thought I could. I saw 37:45 on the clock as I crossed, but because there was a lineup in the chute, it took a few seconds to make it to the person collecting the tags. Official time: 37:54. Not my worst 5K, but definitely not the great times I’ve run in the last two races I’ve done.
But no matter to me. As I got my water and dove into the shady spot near the finish, I saw an ambulance coming to treat a man who was on the ground with what I overheard to be heat stroke. I saw another kid, maybe 10 or so, nearly passed out nearby with similar issues. I was glad I’d played it smart. It was a hot race and while it wasn’t my best time, I enjoyed the race and really felt strong the whole time.
I spent another half an hour drinking water and walking to cool down since I hadn’t realized that my car was completely blocked in being on a side street just near the finish line. I waited until what seemed to be the last finisher to cross and then made my way out of Black Rock.
I might do one more 5K this month but then it’s time to focus on my next challenge: The Women’s Sprint Triathlon on August 30. Yikes!