It feels like I haven’t raced in a long time…it had only been since the end of September, but it felt like a long time. I’ve only run a handful of times since then, let alone race, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we signed up for last weekend’s Grand Blanc Chocolate 5K.
It’s a little bit of a drive for us to get to Grand Blanc, but we figured it would be worth it to run a race that has “Chocolate” in the title. They sure weren’t messing around with the chocolate aspect of the race!
We registered a little bit in advance of the race, and paid $17 each including a long-sleeve technical shirt. The shirt is white and fairly thin (it’s pretty much see through), and I’m sure it’ll come in handy on cool-weather runs. We had no problem finding the packet pick up (inside a high school), and the volunteers directed us to the start line. The start line wasn’t very organized; in fact, we didn’t even know where the actual start line was until about a minute before the race started. After getting our bibs, we just found the crowd, and right around the time the race was supposed to start a volunteer had everyone move down the road a little ways to the start line (which I don’t think was actually marked). It was time for the race to start when we were being instructed to move to the start line, so I knew it wouldn’t be starting right on time. Luckily it started just a couple of minutes later, and all was good. We lined up near the front, but not quite at the front because there were several high school- and college-aged runners who appeared to be (and were) faster than us. The race benefited Grand Blanc High School’s track and cross country teams (the alma mater of Olympian Geena Gall), and we were glad to see a lot of young runners participating.
The start went smoothly – it was a small race, so it wasn’t terribly crowded and I didn’t have a problem weaving my way around others when necessary. My first mile went fairly well considering my lack of racing (and running in general), but I didn’t have to worry about passing others for very long. My first mile went pretty well, but then my pace started to tank and I was on the wrong end of any passing that was taking place. I didn’t expect much in terms of speed in this race, but I also didn’t expect my second mile to be 20 seconds slower than my first mile…yikes! After the first mile, it felt more like I was doing a moderate run rather than racing. I’m just not in racing shape right now, and I realized very quickly that I’m also rusty in the mental aspect of racing. I wasn’t planning to take this one easy, but I also wasn’t expecting to be threatening my PR…I certainly didn’t have anything to worry about in that regard, haha.
My third mile was a little faster than my second mile, but still not where I was hoping to be. The biggest thing I noticed regarding my lack of recent training is how winded I felt, even before the halfway mark. I feel like I lost ground over the final two miles, though I was able to kick a little bit over the last couple hundred meters or so. I just wish I had used that extra energy a little earlier in the race! The course was a little long based on my Garmin distance, but some of that extra distance was definitely due to me not running the tangents effectively. I didn’t know where the finish line would be, but I knew that if it was near the start line the race would be much longer than 3.10 miles. Fortunately, the finish line was closer than that and my Garmin registered the total distance as 3.17. I had been afraid it might be even longer if we had to run back to the start line. I turned in my timing chip and went to look for my wife to let her know the finish line would be coming up soon. I couldn’t find her…she must have crossed the finish line when I was removing my timing chip, and I definitely underestimated her finish time. She was very close to a PR, and it sounds like she ran a great race. I enjoyed the course, which was mostly through neighborhoods and was fairly flat. There were a couple of rolling hills, but nothing major, and they added a nice variety to the course. There was a little crowd support in the neighborhoods, but nothing major. I don’t expect much crowd support from small, local 5Ks though, and I appreciate any support I do receive. There wasn’t any water offered along the course, which didn’t bother me because I don’t drink during 5Ks, but at least one water stop is common in virtually all 5Ks as many runners and walkers would like the option to have a cup or two of water or sports drink along the course. There were cups of water available at the finish line, but no sports drink and nothing to eat at the finish line. We figured there would be more to drink and running-specific snacks like bagels, bananas, etc., back at the high school. No such luck though, as I didn’t see any water or sports drink at the high school, and only chocolate-related snacks to eat. While I certainly have no complaints about chocolate treats, I like to have the option of having more “running-specific” food right after a race.
After we finished, we headed across the street to the high school to check out the chocolate fountain and other chocolate-related goodies they had for participants. The chocolate wasn’t heating up as quickly as they anticipated, so there was going to be a little wait for the chocolate and I decided to go stash some stuff in the car in the meantime. When I went back to the high school, my wife let me know that we had both won our age groups. I couldn’t believe it! I could believe that she won her age group, but I was shocked that I had won mine. I found out later that there were only five people in my age group, so that certainly worked in my favor. I don’t feel like I deserve any kind of award for running almost 3:00 slower than my PR, but hey, I’ll take it! Plaques were given three deep for each age group, and each age group winner received a box with chocolate goodies and a gingerbread cookie. Very cool. A local running store, Bauman’s Running & Walking Shop, offered to engrave name plates for free in their store for those who received plaques, which I think is a great touch. The chocolate eventually heated up, and it was well worth the wait. There were Rice Krispies Treats, marshmallows, strawberries, banana slices, pretzel rods, and chocolate chip cookies to dip in the chocolate, as well as a table with some bite-sized candy and Larabars.
We hung around the race site to have some chocolate, and then we headed over to Bauman’s to get our plaques engraved. We got another pleasant surprise when we arrived at Bauman’s and saw that they were making Belgian waffles for race participants, with maple syrup, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips available. We discovered that several local businesses were offering free goodies to race participants in the hours following the race, so we made another couple stops and then headed home. Another fun race, an unexpected age group win, and a bunch of chocolate = a pretty good day.
I hope all of my American readers had a great Thanksgiving holiday and were able to spend some time with family and/or friends. I have a lot to be thankful for, including the ability to run, incredibly supportive family and friends, and awesome blog readers and commenters. Thank you all.
Chip time: 22:16
Garmin time: 22:16 (3.17 miles)
Pace (per Garmin): 7:02/mile
Age group: 1/5
Slowest mile (per Garmin): 7:17 (mile 3)
Fastest mile (per Garmin): 6:47 (mile 1)
Did you run a Turkey Trot this year? If so, how did it go?
What did you do for Thanksgiving (my American readers)? Do you have annual traditions or does it change each year?