I ran the inaugural Nexton Cocoa Cup 5K on December 20 as my last race of the year, and I am extremely relieved to have no more races on my calendar until the Charleston Half in January. I think I've raced myself out this season and I'm looking forward to being more strategic about my racing in 2015 (more on that in another post).
Despite my race fatigue, I still hit a post-baby PR in this race, coming in at 24:30 (7:53 pace). It was a chilly (but humid) and rainy day, so not exactly ideal racing weather, but I really don't mind running in rain as long as it's not freezing outside. And I don't think the weather really had any major bearing on my performance (although it did affect how many pictures I took since I was just trying to stay warm and dry).
This race took place in the new Nexton neighborhood in Summerville, SC (about a 35 minute drive from where I live in Mount Pleasant) and was put on by the Mount Pleasant Fleet Feet store (where I train for my half marathons). The route wasn't the most scenic since it was essentially a construction zone for new houses (don't worry, it was safe for running!), but it was a USATF-certified, flat, fast, out-and-back course. For a 5K around here, it was a large race. Originally it was capped at 500 participants, but it sold out quickly so the race directors increased it to 1200 and it sold out then, too. Not bad for an inaugural event!
I'm sure the awesome swag, which was much nicer than the standard swag, had something to do with it. It included a Nike hoodie, a reusable tote bag, and a finishers mug that you could fill up with hot chocolate at the end of the race. The line was a little long for the hot chocolate, so my friends and I opted to just head into the Carolina Ale House located right by the finish to grab some beers and food (all runners got a ticket for a free beer).
There was also a small vendor area in the finish zone where local artists and crafters set up their wares. I was tempted to get out my wallet and buy some jewelry and soap, but I resisted the (very strong) temptation.
Overall, I was impressed with this race. My only complaint (like most races around here) is that there was only a chip time at the end and not at the beginning, so essentially the race is based on gun time only.
My performance at the race was neither awesome nor awful. I was really hoping to come in under 24 minutes and perhaps I would have if I had lined up closer to the starting line, but that's neither here nor there at this point. But regardless, I still dropped another 15 seconds from my last 5K time and my splits were much, much prettier and even than any other 5K I've run so far post-baby. I'm clearly improving. Honestly though, I was probably more excited about my gold sequin printed running tights than anything else for this race. Loved them!
Now that I've wrapped up 2014 and I'm back in mostly familiar territory with racing, I'm ready to tackle new challenges and chase some PRs in 2015. Even if I didn't run a sub-24, this race was a good way to end the year.