While I was all ready to have a faceless 2014, an opportunity came up to run an inaugural 5K charity race that Lisa had heard about. She had hoped we both could do it, but her work schedule wouldn’t allow for it … so I signed up on my own!
Downtown Corning holds a Sparkle festival each year as the culmination of a week of holiday events starting with the tree lighting at the Centerway. This year they added a 5K, sponsored by Wegman’s and benefitting the Food Bank of the Southern Tier (our local food pantry). And when Wegman’s ‘sponsored it’, it wasn’t just the usual ‘throw a few dollars’ at it … they paid for everything so that all money collected went to the charity!
Aside from registering for the race which also got you a shirt and socks, they were selling elf ears and jingle bracelets with all of THAT money going to charity – so we bought two each. Above is a picture of all my gear laid out – and Lisa wore her ears and bracelet to work. This is what I looked like all decked out to go:
For a bit of history, I have run THREE 5K races, all in 2012:
– My first was a 32:02 … but a HUGE personal victory!
– My second was two weeks later and 29.46, which stands as my PR
– My third was two more weeks later, and it was over 90F, and I still broke 30 minutes with 29:51
I have expressed my ‘fear’ of the 5K – it is more of a sprint than an endurance challenge. I was all nerves getting ready to go. But in my head I had three goals:
C goal: beat my PR
B goal: break 25 minutes
A goal: hit 8 minute/mile average
A+ goal: while breaking 8min/mile, why not break 24 minutes?!?
Honestly if I broke 25 minutes I would have been ecstatic – everything else was ‘gravy’. Also honestly, if I did NOT break 25 minutes I’d have been disappointed … which was definitely part of my fear.
The race start was at the Corning High School stadium, but finished in downtown Corning at the Centerway. So I parked over in the garage by the finish (brought my badge because it is normally restricted access) and walked back over the bridge. Since we’d been to that stadium many times (marching band competitions, also for the GlassFest 5 miler) – I assumed things would be open so I could use the rest room before the start. Nope. Ugh – fortunately it wasn’t urgent!
Here is a picture I took waiting at the start – I didn’t notice at the time, but the guy in the sweatshirt moved right in front as I gook the shot … there was a guy dressed like ‘Buddy the Elf’ from the movie Elf that I was trying to get in the frame.
I lined up a bit back from the start – I didn’t want to be TOO far back, but also wanted to let the ‘speedy elves’, as the announcer called them, go out first. I did a selfie to show how the crowd was starting to assemble. There ended up being more than 750 people registered – they accepted registrations for 750 and let people pay $20 at the race to join in with a tag.
Here is the course map:
It was a bit of a weird course, and totally depended on the volunteers! You might notice that the course took us to the same intersections more than once – which gets confusing unless you have someone directing you! Fortunately there were volunteers all over the course!
I went out strong, wearing my Garmin to help keep track of my pace and make sure I didn’t lag at all. I was asking people fairly consistently, and for the first quarter mile or so had the usual congestion – but people were actually pretty good about lining up according to their intended run/walk status. The biggest issue for me were the groups who were several across and not really pushing the pace – or getting out of the way!
While I knew I was doing more than a casual pace, it also wasn’t a hard pace – I wasn’t sprinting, and it felt like a pretty sustainable pace. When I heard the first mile go off I was a bit surprised – I thought I’d gone further and just missed the chime. I definitely slowed a bit then, but kicked myself in the butt and got moving again.
There were a bunch of times I wish I had more pictures – the outfits were great! I was just past the two mile mark when a couple of really young kids blew by me – it is just always awesome for me to see kids who aren’t even teenagers running so gracefully and effortlessly, chatting as they went.
I was worried about doing the underpass and heading over the bridge if I would sustain things – but I did! As I was crossing the pedestrian bridge I passed someone who looked familiar … who then just edged me at the finish. You can see his name listed above mine on the results below – it ended up being the boys middle school history teacher (and advisor for some activities and all around great guy). We chatted for a bit and it was nice to catch up on kids and life.
I grabbed a picture of the finish time board – I had no idea how quickly they would get things online (answer was very quickly!) The placement had no meaning at that point as it had to do with how many were finished when they printed.
When I approached the finish line the ‘minute’ numbers were obscured, so I had no clue on my time until I was within about 10 meters of the finish. When I saw 22 minutes? I couldn’t believe it! I was going to easily break 23 minutes … who WAS this guy running this race? A 7:21 pace? I NEVER do that! That is a *7* Minute PR!
I came in #77 out of 692 recorded finishers (they had to close the course at 5PM to kick off Sparkle), 49th man, 11th in my age group (the winner was in my age group as well!).
I am terribly proud of myself – no humble-brag here, I have cut 3 minutes per mile off my first 5K pace, and my per mile pace is about 50% lower than what I first recorded back in April 2012 (my first GPS run ever). I couldn’t be happier – and I have gotten some amazing comments on Facebook and Instagram from all of my awesome friends!
It is also a reminder that to paraphrase Tip O’Neill “all achievements are personal”.