Activate America 5 Miler – Frankfort, KY (June 16, 2012)
Race: Activate America 5-Mile Run/2-Mile Walk
Place: Frankfort, Kentucky
Date: June 16, 2012
Ah…the Activate America 5 Miler. I remember this race so well from the year prior to this one. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it was the scene of my stress fracture and runner’s knee injuries that put me out of running not just in June, but also July and much of August too. It took many doctor and hospital and specialist visits to get me back on my feet in time for two 5Ks and a half marathon in Chicago on September 11, 2011.
So, needless to say…I was more than a little nervous about this race. I told myself I wasn’t going to dwell on it. I wasn’t even going to think about it when I was out there running. I was simply going to run the course and be zen.
And…I set a goal that I only shared with my roomie. It remained unspoken until now. Last year, I finished the Activate America 5-Mile Run in 45:07. That’s pretty damn speedy, you know? So, I wasn’t sure how I would fair this year. But my goal was to come in at 42 minutes. That, I figured, seemed like a good goal to have. Shave three minutes off. Golden.
Being that this race was in Frankfort, Kentucky, it meant another early morning to rise, prepare, get something in my stomach, hydrate, and get in the car to head to Frankfort. It’s not as much of a drive as say…Indianapolis…but it still requires a bit of a haul from where I live. So…my roommate and I piled our stuff into the car and away we went. The drive was easy and we reached Frankfort an hour before race time. Perfect. I pulled out my thinkThin bar from my race bag and ate it as we walked toward the State Capitol, where the race started and where packet pick-up was being held on the steps.
The place was already buzzing. I went and got my packet, which included a nice tech shirt. And, since I ran all three races in the Frankfort Trifecta, I was given a horseshoe as well. It’s Kentucky, folks.
I got pinned up and began to stretch out, taking in the view from the steps of the State Capitol. I looked around to see if I recognized anyone. And I let my nerves play out by constantly milling about and finding new ways to stretch out my legs. Before long, people were lining up in front of the start line.
It was a humid morning. Already 72 degrees at the start of the race. I was in a bra top and some shorts. I didn’t want to get too hot so I went with minimal clothing for this one. I’m very glad I did. We lined up by pace. I was somewhere near the front of the pack, but there wasn’t much space between pace groups. I turned on my watch to find its satellites, which it did, relatively quickly, and was futzing with my iPod when I hear the start gun go off. No warning. We were off.
I got my music going. I started my watch as I crossed the start line…and I was on the road to rematch with the Activate America 5 Mile Run.
I was so absorbed in the run that I actually was surprised when I rounded a corner and there was the marker for the first mile. One down. Four to go. We were running through downtown Frankfort at this point…a route I know rather well as most races down there follow it. This was the easy part. Minor hills, save for the one when you double back and head back toward the Capitol before branching off and taking the long road down to the turn-around point before coming back to the finish (which was also the start). Did you get all that?
Anyway, back to the race. As we’re running through downtown and heading toward the street that takes us up the hill and toward the Capitol (also Mile 2), I discovered the first problem. We were running into the walkers. They were walking one way…we were running the other. And we were having a difficult time traversing each other. A walker wouldn’t want to give way to the runner. And the runner is on a mission to win, or beat a personal time, or to reach a goal. So that crossing there wasn’t awesome at all. But…we managed. Somehow.
Mile 2 was right as we reached the road that we now got to run down for over a mile and a half before turning around and coming back. This road is pretty empty. Not much there. You head under an parking deck and it’s just road out ahead of you, a few scattered buildings, some businesses, and a dog that chased a couple runners. Thankfully not me. It was a big dog and I’m terrified of big dogs. But the runners just ahead of me got it chasing, barking, and nipping at their heels. YIKES! The dog broke off and ran towards me, past me, and that was the last I saw of it. By now, Mile 3 had passed and I knew the turnaround was coming up. I was doing good. Making good time. Keeping my pace pretty well, despite some inclines and the like. It was hard…especially in that heat. But I was doing better than I anticipated.
Just as Mile 4 was coming up, there was one of the two water stations (the other one was before Mile 2). I grabbed a water bottle, took a few refreshing sips as I ran, then decided there was a better use for that water. And over my head it went. The cold water felt awesome. Last mile. And a lady who ran by me and a couple runners even encouraged us, “Come on runners! Last mile!” And she was off. I never have that sort of energy at the end of a race. I admire people who do. That’s the next thing I need to work on once I get used to hill repeats.
The last mile was sheer willpower. I knew when I saw that parking deck that I was getting closer. And when I rounded a corner, I could see the hill (YES! YOU FINISH ON A HILL!) that led up to the finish line. I poured on my speed last year, despite injury, to finish strong. I did it again here.
I could see Cathy at the finish, waving my sign and cheering me on. I ran fast…then a little bit faster. My legs were straining but I was going. And after I crossed, I stopped my Garmin. I didn’t even glance at it. I moved out of the way and attempted to catch my breath. Cathy found me, told me to go get some water and we moved out of the finish line area. Before turning to head to where the water was, I took a look at my Garmin. It said 40:15. If that was right, I shaved 5 minutes off my previous year’s finish time. I even beat the goal I set for myself. I wasn’t just happy. I was surprised, elated, and thirsty! Oh…and this year…no injuries. Even better.
I went and got some water then we climbed the stairs of the Capitol to take a seat. They were going to hand out awards and we usually stay for that. The announcer eventually said that results were being posted, so I got up to see if I was listed somewhere. Sure enough…I was. In fact, I came in 2nd in my age division. WOOHOO! Granted, the person who won my age division ran the race a full 7 minutes faster than me, so…I have room for improvement.
The official results of the Activate America 5 Mile Run/2 Mile Walk are that I finished in 40:15. I was 63/265 finishers overall and was 2/22 people in my division. These results were completely unexpected…but I am very proud of them.
What’s more is the results for the entire Frankfort Trifecta were tallied and posted. And I came in 5th for the Overall Women’s Open Division (ages 18-39). I was beat out for 4th place…by 2 seconds. TWO SECONDS! Ah well. I’ll take 5th place. That’s pretty awesome considering I’ve only been running for about a year and a half now.
This was a great race series and I am definitely going to run it again. Each race gives just enough of a challenge to keep it interesting. And…I love running in Frankfort.
And…for those of you keeping track…yes…soon after the awards were handed out, a storm rolled in and pelted Frankfort, Kentucky. So the streak remains. If I run in Frankfort…it rains.
Thank you, Frankfort, Kentucky, for your Frankfort Trifecta Run/Walk Series. I enjoyed being a part of all three races this year. Maybe I can win back those two seconds next year.