On November 22nd I ran the second annual South Amboy YMCA 5K, and can now officially say that I’ve run a race for as long as they’ve held it! Last year I ran the inaugural race and had a great (icy) time, and this year was exactly the same: freezing cold, windy, and fun!
This is a small local race, with about 90% of the course made of roads I run on every other day, including my waterfront park. I can’t explain how much I love running a race on my own streets – it’s like a parade just for me. Especially when it’s such a small race!
And when I say it’s a small race, I’m totally not kidding: there were a total of 64 runners. The pickins were so slim that I actually placed 5th in my age group (of 8). If I had just pushed like another 2 minutes faster I would have won an award. So at least I have something to aim for next year! 😉
But anyway – it was a bitterly cold day with wind gusts in the 20-25 mph range. We rolled out of the house with about 20 minutes til the start (like I said, it was a small, local race!) and found the starting area at the top of the hill down at the waterfront park. I grabbed my bag, snapped some photos, and we quickly retreated to the car for warmth and shelter from the wind.
Inside the car I was pleasantly surprised to see that they upgraded the shirts for this year’s race – after last year’s glowing orange cotton t-shirts, this year’s gorgeous kelly green tech shirts are a huge improvement! Nice job on that, race organizers :). So with about 5 minutes to go, we reluctantly hopped out of the car and I lined up for the start. Mike snapped his usual “at the back of the pack, waiting to start” pictures:
After he snapped that last pic I started to make small talk with him because it looked like there were only about 40 of us there – surely they needed to wait a little longer for more people to sta–HONK!!!
It turned out that everyone really was there and we were off! I laughed for the whole first 50 yards – never before has a starting line taken me by surprise like that. Usually there’s a lot of waiting and dancing around from foot to foot to keep warm. Not this time!
So off we went, into the cutting wind. Within a few yards, tears were streaming from my eyes even with my sunglasses shielding my eyes, and soon my nose joined the running party. At a half mile in, I had to stop and blow my nose quite loudly, and made a group of ladies behind me laugh. That’s my lot in life – making people happy 🙂
This course was billed as “new”, which was a good thing: last year they had mapped it up every hill in South Amboy (of which there are MANY), but only down one of them. I distinctly remember cresting one gigantic hill towards the end and meeting a police officer holding traffic for me. He took one look at me and said, “I am so sorry.” I still laugh thinking about that.
But anyway, we motored through this new course, which led us through the tony waterfront condo development for one mile, back around for a second, and around the 1-mile waterfront park loop. I kept a good 11:30-ish pace, but that wind was really brutal! I especially slowed down after mile 2 when I had to blow my nose 2-3 times in a row. Every time I thought it was done, it started right up again. I couldn’t help but laugh – if I ran as much as my nose, I’d be finishing a marathon by now.
Once I got to the final mile I found myself in competition with 2 other ladies and a 12 year old boy. Well, not really “competition”, but you know what I mean. I made a mental note to myself not to let them beat me – every time I took off, my nose would slow me down while I took care of business, and these folks would pass me. But I consistently caught up to them and overtook them each time, so I set a final kick checkpoint in my head and conserved until then.
That final half mile is my favorite stretch of the park where I usually reserve my final kick for any run, especially because it curves back uphill at the end for an extra challenge. So once I got to that magic point, I hit the gas. And wouldn’t you know it, the 12 year old was holding out on me!! He took off like a spitfire right past me and blazed straight through the finish about 30 seconds ahead of me!!
I shook my head and laughed the whole time as I crested that last hill and crossed the finish with a huge smile – under 37 minutes even with the nose blowing! – because that kid beat me fair and square! But those other two ladies were way behind me, so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!
That final kick had iced over my lungs pretty badly, which in turn gave me a nasty headache (anyone else experience that phenomenon after pushing really hard in the cold??), so I smiled for one more pic and headed home to thaw out in a hot shower – the best reward after a freezing cold run!
Well a cheeseburger would have been great too.
All in all it was another great race! Smaller shindigs like this usually weird me out – I hate being a back of the packer when there aren’t so many other people around – but I’m finding that it’s just enough motivation to push a little harder! The 5K is a fun distance and if it weren’t so expensive, I think I would run one every weekend! Nothing like a good race, especially in your hometown. Can’t wait for year 3!