(Originally posted January 11, 2015.)
(I didn’t run the 2016 edition of this race, but apparently they didn’t offer the option of running both the 10K and 5K, you had to pick one since they started 5 minutes apart. They also moved to a new location, so they managed to fix the insane number of turns on the 5K course.)
My overall impression: I’m pleased. (Also, I’m still cold.)
I definitely have a new 10K PR. 5K? I’m going to say yes, although it’s a little complicated.
You can read the story of Joe Davis on the race web site.
First, packet pickup. They did offer Thursday packet pickup at the Y in Fort Mill (which is also where both races started and ended), but it was only until 6 PM. Even if I didn’t have class on Thursday night, getting down to Fort Mill by 6 would have been a stretch. Still, I always like to give races credit for offering packet pickup two days before the race.
I went to Charlotte Running Company off of Providence Friday evening. The packet had my shirt (I was too late registering, so my shirt was 100% cotton, but my understanding is that the early birds got tech tees), some Yaktrax hand warmers (I decided not to mess with them for the first time on a race(s) day, even though I could have used them), and coupons for the Fort Mill location of Fleet Feet, a Fort Mill chiropractor, and Road ID. (The Road ID one has the best chance of me using it, obviously.) Oh, and it had my bibs. Plural. One for each race, and each with its own timing chip. And that’s when I found out about the Plot Twist: Don’t cross the timing chips. In other words, when crossing the finish line for the 10K, if I wanted my time to officially register, I couldn’t have the 5K timing chip on me, nor could I have the 10K chip at the end of the 5K. (Both races had the same finish line, by the way.) Normally I prefer it when the timing chip is attached to the bib (one less thing to worry about on race day). Here, that made things a little more interesting.
By the way, here’s a picture of the t-shirt. I really like the logo. I’m not sure how useful a 100% cotton t-shirt will be when running, but I’ll give them credit, it looks nice.
I forgot to even look if they offered any safety pins. They didn’t put any in my bag. Luckily, I save the bibs from all of my races, and I found two bibs that still had pins.
I considered several possibilities for the bib swap. I could take off the 10K bib and put on the 5K bib between races, but I have enough trouble putting a bib on straight without poking holes in my chest when I’m looking in the mirror in my bathroom and it’s warm. 20 something degrees and no mirror? With a possible time constraint? That wouldn’t work. So I decided to pick out two different pullovers, and attached the 10K bib to one, and the 5K bib to the other. I’d leave the shirt with the 5K bib in my car, then between races I’d go back to my car and change shirts. That sounded like a plan.
So, Saturday morning, I got up and showered. Used the bathroom. Ate 2 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and drank some water. I put on my long running pants, a long sleeved tech tee underneath what I will now call my 10K pullover, and a hat. I also put on a hoodie and some non-running gloves, since my car was going to be cold. I brought a pair of gloves I could run in. I also brought along a packet of Gu. I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to eat it between races, but I figured I’d rather bring it and not eat it than not bring it and wish I had it.
I headed down the road to Fort Mill. It’s about 20 minutes from my house, so it’s not too bad.
Parking was kind of interesting, since the races kind of go through the parking lots at the Y, but I found a spot on a nearby street that looked like it would be close enough that I could get to it between races.
I stayed in my car for a little while to stay warm. I did put on some sunscreen while I was waiting, and gathered up my stuff. I took off the hoodie, and changed gloves. Around 7:30, I got out and walked toward the Y.
The Y very graciously let runners stand around in their nice warm lobby before the race. So I warmed up a bit before making my way to the starting line.
I noticed as I was waiting to start that the temperature was sitting at 20 degrees. So, the two 10Ks I’ve completed were 76 degrees and 20 degrees at the start. Someday I’ll do a 10K in reasonable weather. (For the record, I’ll gladly take 20 over 76.)
Here’s my pre-race starting line picture.
Before the race, someone said a prayer (possibly my first pre-race prayer, but I’ve also been in some races where the sound system was really bad and I couldn’t hear a word), then a young girl sang the National Anthem.
I checked my phone after the National Anthem, and saw that it was already 8:04. This made me nervous. I was already going to be cutting it close for the 5K if they started it at 9:15.
And then we were off.
I started out a little too fast. In this case, I think it was partially nerves, worrying about the 5K, and partially just me trying to get warm. Still, I managed to slow down a bit and settled in to a decent pace.
At around the .8 mile mark, we ran down to a greenway and through a tunnel underneath Highway 49. I thought that was pretty cool. We came back through the tunnel around the 3.3 mile mark.
There were water stops around 2.2 and 4.2 miles. I did take walk breaks at the water stops, because I figured it would be best to slow down a little.
Other than the tunnel, most of the rest of the race was through the neighborhoods around Baxter Village. After a while, the houses started to blend together. There were some hills here and there, but as I expected, nothing as bad as my neighborhood. I wouldn’t call it an easy course, but it wasn’t all that difficult.
Here are my times for the first 6 miles from my Garmin:
Mile 1: 10:01
Mile 2: 10:26
Mile 3: 10:25
Mile 4: 10:15
Mile 5: 9:56.3
Mile 6: 9:54.8
I noticed at the first mile marker, my Garmin said I had gone 1.07 miles. That had me worried that it was going to take me an extra .1 or more to finish, which meant even less time between races. But at each mile marker, the overage went down, which I thought was odd.
At 5.8 miles, we turned off of a road on to a path that went past a pond and then into some woods. The path through the woods was uphill, which is uncool at the very end. It was a change in scenery from all the freaking houses, though, so that’s a plus. Right at the end, we turned off the path, went into a field next to the Y parking lot, and crossed the finish line.
When I stopped my Garmin, I was surprised to see it said 6.19 miles. Huh. .01 miles short. I’ve never had that happen in a race, I’ve always gone over. (According to my Garmin, I ran the last .19 at a pace of 9:56/mile.) My watch said I finished in 1:02:54. So yes, I had the least surprising PR in my racing history.
Well, I didn’t have much time to think about the mileage shortage. Someone handed me a bottle of water shortly after the finish, and I drank some of it as I began the race between the races.
As I was alternating between walking really fast and actual running, I paused for a moment before I took off my bib (and shirt) from the 10K, so I could take the traditional post-race picture with my car key.
I did notice as I walked that it was 9:09 according to my watch. So I had a few minutes, but I still needed to be quick. At some point, I decided to skip the Gu. I left the water bottle in my car. I took off my glasses and hat, changed from the 10K pullover into what I will now call the 5K pullover, put my glasses and hat back on, and started running towards the 5K starting line.
(I’m sure anybody who’s ever done a triathlon is laughing right now at my complaints about having to do a between-race swap.)
I got there just after the start of the National Anthem. I had just enough time between that and the start for a starting line picture.
I moved up closer to the front after that. In spite of taking two pictures with my phone, I never bothered to check the temperature. The reporting station that my Garmin used said it was 28, but it also said it was 25 at the start of the 10K when my phone said 20. I’m going to split the difference and say it was 25. I’m about 95% sure it was under 28, which would mean both races were colder than any other race I’ve ever done.
After a countdown, we were off.
It was a slightly flatter course than the 10K, but there were still a few hills. It was still mostly through the neighborhoods, many that I had already run through. As I expected, my legs were pretty tired, but I managed. My pace was good compared to my usual pace, and even compared to my 10K pace, but it seemed like it wouldn’t be enough for a PR. I kept pushing, and I even skipped the water stop, which I don’t think I’ve ever done in a race.
My Garmin reported Mile 1 at 9:39, and Mile 2 at 9:41. I remember seeing a marker for Mile 1, but I can’t remember how close it was to where my Garmin said I had completed 1 mile. I don’t remember seeing a marker for Mile 2, although it’s possible I might have missed it.
Then things got interesting.
The ending was the same as the 10K, we turned off of a road, on to a path around a pond, up a hill through some trees, off the path onto the field, and ran across the field to the finish line. I stopped my Garmin at the finish line and looked at the total.
I knew my official time was under 29 minutes, which would qualify as a PR. But…that’s .18 miles less than a 5K. Of course I PRed it. (For the record, according to my Garmin, I ran the last .92 miles at a 9:46/mile pace.)
I asked around, and found a few other people who reported getting a shorter distance. So it wasn’t just my watch. But still, I have to admit, I felt a little disappointed.
One thing that did not disappoint me is that I still had my car key, and here’s the obligatory picture to prove it.
They did hand me another bottle of water after I crossed the finish. (They must not have recognized me after I changed into my 5K pullover.) The post-race food (which I assume was similar after the 10K, but I didn’t have time to look) included orange slices, bananas, blueberry muffins, assorted granola bars, and bagels. Also, they had something that looked like Irish Soda Bread. I skipped that, because it’s got raisins, and I firmly believe a raisin is a waste of a perfectly good grape. Still, coming from an Irish family, seeing the Irish Soda Bread brought back memories. (My grandmother used to make it a lot, and pretty much everybody agreed that hers was the best.)
Once again, like the Charlotte Checkers 5K, they had tablets set up where you could look up your time. Officially, I finished the 10K in 1:02:58.1, and the 5K in 28:25.8.
So once I got home, I wanted to look at the route that my Garmin recorded to see what the deal was with the 5K course, since my watch said I only ran 2.92. I looked at the course, and saw many places where it looked like I cut the corner, and even a couple of spots where it looks like I ran through someone’s living room. Well, I didn’t cut any corners, and if I could walk through walls, I’d pick something cooler to do with my power than run through people’s living rooms. I counted how many times we turned at an intersection, and got 28. For comparison, I went back to the course for the Thunder Road Half, and I got 23. So, I believe the course really was 3.1 miles (or very close to it), and I understand why my watch showed the course being short. After some deliberation, I’m going to call it a PR.
I have to say, 28 turns in a 5K (and that doesn’t count times when a road made a 90 degree or so turn, or when we went off the road to get on the trail near the end) does seem a little high, and it’s definitely going to throw off any GPS. Although this was the 3rd year for the race, apparently they outgrew the old location, plus they decided to add the 10K this year, so both courses were brand new.
A day later, I feel a lot better about my performance in the 5K. It’s a shame that I couldn’t celebrate at the finish line after breaking 29 minutes for the first time, but I’ll take it.
I couldn’t find any numbers for how many people ran both races like I did (I did notice that the same guy finished first in both races), but there were 238 finishers in the 10K, and 399 in the 5K.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty well organized race. The turns may have been a bit excessive, but every one of them was either well marked, or had a volunteer to guide us. Speaking of the volunteers, they really, really, really liked cowbell. Mississippi State fans? Christopher Walken fans? Both? Anyway, they did provide plenty of encouragement in some really freaking cold weather, so kudos. I wish there was a better way to do both races than doing the bib swap, but I don’t know enough about timing to know if there even is a better way. Maybe a bag check would have helped. Also, it would have been nice to have something for anybody who completed both races. But those are nitpicks. Really, other than the 5 minute delay on the 10K, I have no complaints. (And if it hadn’t been for the 2nd race, I wouldn’t have really cared about the delay.)
I’m very pleased with my performance in the 10K. I mean, it’s almost an 11 minute PR, so yeah, that’s nice. Granted, it was a much easier course, and while the conditions weren’t exactly pleasant, I’ll gladly take 20 degrees over 76.
The more I think about it, the more pleased I am with my 5K performance. The one thing I noticed, though, is that, according to my Garmin, I actually slowed down a little on each mile. I don’t know how much of that was due to the routing issues, though. Even so, this wasn’t miles 1, 2, and 3 for me, it was (roughly) miles 7, 8, and 9. Also, the biggest hill of the 5K was the trail near the end, so that slowed me down. Overall, I ran 9.3 miles in 1:31:24, at an average pace of 9:50 per mile, which is pretty amazing. (It’s 14 minutes faster than the Lungstrong 15K, although with the break in the middle, that may not be a fair comparison.) I’m most proud of the fact that I took no walk breaks other than the two water stops during the 10K.
My goals were 1:06 for the 10K and 30:00 for the 5K, and I beat both of them.
So, overall, it was a good challenge, and I’m happy with the result. I have no idea if I’ll try it again next year, but I’ll consider it.