It was a last-minute decision to run it, but I've decided that for the next several Saturdays, I'm going to run 5Ks as my tempo runs. Mostly because I love running 5Ks and by using them as tempos versus an all-out race, I'm getting in some solid speed work. For some reason, it's hard for me to get motivated to run a tempo run on my own, but in a race, I find it easier to push my pace a bit without going too hard and being tired for the following day's long run. Plus, it's summer vacation! I don't have to do really long runs right now and I'm not running any races beyond the 10K distance. During the fall and winter, I have to give up a lot of 5Ks because they interfere with half training, but not during the summer! So I'm taking advantage of it and having some fun.
Since it's ridiculously hot and humid here in Charleston and because I was only planning to run this race as a tempo and not a race, I had no PR goals. I was running by feel and hoping that meant I'd come in somewhere around a 7:40 pace since in the heat, that seemed like a reasonable tempo pace. In cooler weather, I would have targeted a 7:30 pace as a tempo run, but not Saturday. It turns out, my target was pretty close. I finished in 23:58 with an overall pace of 7:42. And even though that's not particularly fast, it was good enough to snag 2nd in my age group. (Edit: Upon review, I realized I was actually 1st in my age group; the person who I thought was 1st was actually 3rd female overall - results here).
Generally, I'm pleased with that run, especially considering the weather conditions. I was able to hold a steady pace for the entire course and even picked up just a little in last mile and passed several runners. I guess my regular training runs in the heat are paying off.
This was my first time running this race and I'll probably run it again next year. Overall, it's a well organized race with some nice little perks, like a silent auction (where I won two items - a necklace and a painting - because I can't be trusted not to bid on all of the things at silent auctions) and post-race King of Pops popsicles (among other foods like bananas and bagels). Refreshing and delicious!
The course starts and ends at Brittlebank Park on the waterfront in Charleston, so you just can't beat the views. In the first mile runners head toward Hampton Park (in the blazing sun), the second mile offers some relief since it loops the one-mile path in Hampton Park, which is mostly shaded, and the third mile is back out toward Brittlebank Park in the blazing sun. The finish is in the grass/dirt/not something-I'd-really-even-call-a-trail, so kicking into the finish is a little bit harder than if it were a paved road. But even though this was a tempo for me, I still couldn't resist attempting a finishing kick in the last .1 and when I checked my pace for that stretch, it was 5:38 (what?!). Crazy, even if it was such a short distance. Especially considering the heat.
My only complaint is that I wish they'd start the race at 7:30 instead of 8:15. By 8:15, it's really, really hot and those long stretches in the sun were pretty unpleasant. By the last mile, I was starting to feel a little dehydrated (not that the beers I had the night before had anything to do with that. At all.). But overall, a good run.
And even though I ran this as a tempo and not a race, it was still awesome to finish strong and not be sick. I haven't run a healthy 5K on the road (not a trail and not with a stroller) since the Wando Hearts & Soles 5K back in February! And I'd say it's an accomplishment to have my tempo pace in the heat and humidity come in 7 seconds slower (pace per mile) than my race pace in ideal racing weather in February. Those wheezy, asthmatic miles in between still counted toward making me a stronger runner!
Next Saturday: Floppin' Flounder 5K (tempo) on Sullivan's Island. And I'm sure it will be another hot one!
Race location: Charleston, SC - Brittlebank Park/ Course: Partial shade, partial blazing sun/ Race size: 180 runners / Cause: Keep Charleston Beautiful / Post-race party: Some fun things, like a silent auction and kids' races / Dog- and stroller-friendly with awards for the first finisher in both categories / Weather: 80 degrees, sunny, humid
23:58 (7:42 pace) / 1st out of 19 in AG / Health: good (a little dehydrated)