Run for the Berries 5K – Starlight, IN (May 26, 2012)
Race: Run for the Berries 5K
Place: Starlight, Indiana
Date: May 26, 2012
I finally managed it. FINALLY! And in heat and on massive rolling hills. My sub-25 minute 5K happened on Saturday.
I actually wasn’t expecting any new records to be set at the Run for the Berries 5K on Saturday. The weather before the sun even came up was in the low 70s. In fact, when I was getting dressed, I checked the weather and at 5:30 a.m., it was 73 degrees out. It was going to be a hot morning which would mean it would be one hot race.
Now, I’ve run in the heat before. I’ve been making myself do it this year instead of hiding in the gym on a treadmill. I am just smart and go out early or head out late. No running in the heat of the day. But I think making myself do it, despite always wilting in the heat, was a major factor in this finish. That being said, I decked myself out in shorts and a sports bra. The less fabric I had on, the cooler I would stay.
I ate a bowl of cereal prior to heading out to the Starlight Strawberry Festival, which this race was kicking off. I packed a Lärabar for the road to eat about 45 minutes before the race so I wouldn’t get hungry while on the run. No need to pack a change of clothes as home was a short drive away and I wanted to run, eat strawberries, and then go shower. That was the plan. So, into the car I went and headed up through the rolling and winding streets of Floyds Knobs towards Starlight, Indiana.
I actually ran this race last year. But it was cold last year. I was decked out in capri pants and a long-sleeve running shirt. Shivering at the start. So, this return was going to be quite different than the year before because running in cold is easier than running in heat. At least when you warm up in the cold, you get warm. When you warm up in the heat…you get even hotter than you already are.
We arrived at the Starlight Strawberry Festival and were directed to a spot to park. Then it was off to packet pick-up. This race always uses left-over race bibs from previous races, so I was decked out in one for The Shamrock 2 Miler. My roommate helped me get pinned up and out the door we went to give me ample time to stretch. As I was finishing that up, Judi, my roommate’s aunt, arrived with a newly decked out sign for me, completely adorned with strawberries in honor of the occasion. Awesome. Two signs (because the sign my roommate brings to every non-rainy race made the journey too). I have the best peeps who support me in my running. Honestly, I do.
Within moments, we were all moving a little ways up the street. I gave hugs to Cathy and Judi and they wished me luck. I prepped the iPod Nano as I made my way through the sea of runners and walkers to the little line across the road marking the start of the race. I was about 3 rows back. Next to me, I had a woman (who ended up taking 2nd for the women overall) who began bitching about running 5Ks. She just went on and on about how she hated this distance and would rather run ultra’s any day. Someone told her to just tack on another 97 miles then. I was just shaking my head. If you don’t like 5K races, don’t sign up to run in them. That easy.
The announcements were made and then…the gun was to send us on our way. But it didn’t fire. Naturally. So, we got a shout of “GO” and off we all went. I wanted to start off slow as I tend to go out fast and then struggle at the end, but I ended up going out fast anyway. Figures. Another reason I wanted to start off at a better pace was the heat. I was hot within moments of taking off on the race and heading up our first hill. But, what better way to accustom yourself to running in the heat than to do it.
Mile 1 was rough. There were quite a few small hills to take on. I was running near one guy and as someone he knew caught up to him, they began having a conversation. The guy who came up to him said that if they just run faster, it will be over sooner. It made me laugh. And then, before I knew it…Mile 1 was gone. I remembered very little about this course from the previous year, but I did remember that the second mile was where a lot of runners dropped off last year to catch their breath near the cornfield. I knew when I saw that cornfield I would be over halfway there.
And so I just kept going. I just wanted to stay on pace. No need to push too hard or drain myself in the heat for no reason. I wanted to be comfortable and not push my body beyond limits it wasn’t ready for…or needed to go. Mile 2 came around along with the only water stop on the route. I pushed on and then…it was there…
A steep-ass hill. No gradual incline here. It looked like a monster just looming out ahead of me. I admit…I was already feeling depleted of energy in the heat, that hill was the last thing I wanted to encounter. But, what can you do? You just run up it as best you can. So, that’s what I did. I won’t like…it totally slowed me down, but I just took it all in stride, pushed through it, and crested the top. It felt good, but damn, it took a lot out of me.
From there on, it was just a series of small rolling hills. As I rounded a corner, I could see the finish line. I picked up the pace a bit. And as I came in toward the finish line, my roommate was screaming at me. Just shouting. I checked the time clock and it was at 24-minutes and some seconds and ticking up. I found whatever power left in my legs to propel me across that finish line in a very surprising sub-25 minute 5K. My first.
It felt…amazing. I couldn’t believe it. Cathy and Judi came over, handed me water. I downed it and went to turn in my card with my time, name and age on it. When I returned, we made our way into the festival area and found a spot to camp out. When the strawberry shortcake booth finally opened we went and got some strawberries. As I can’t eat the shortcake, I just filled my bowl up with heaps of strawberries and dug in.
The awards ceremony began soon after and we cheered for the winners. The overall winners were the team from the University of Cincinnati that always comes down and sweeps this race of the top awards. It happened last year too. Then the divisional awards were handed out. And the craziest thing happened.
I won my division. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I was so surprised when they called my name for taking first place in the 30-34 women’s age group. Cathy and Judi went ballistic and shouted for me as I went up to receive my award from the Strawberry Festival Queen. I’m still in shock, I believe.
The official results for the Run for the Berries 5K haven’t been posted yet, but my official time is 24:50 (WOOHOO!). The card I was handed at the finish had a 13 on it, but I’m not sure if that meant I was the 13th finisher of the 13th woman. And, as I mentioned before, I placed first in my division. If the results ever get posted, I’ll update this to give official standings.
For now…I sit here just really proud of myself for finally pulling off that sub-24 minute 5K. I didn’t think I’d see it this year. And this one…there was no mistaking the time. The course is the right length. The time…officially stands.