It has been months and months since my last local race, the Healthy Hearts 5k in September. While big races have their own challenges (longer distance runs, transportation issues, expos), smaller local races cause me a different kind of anxiety. I live in a college town and the runners who live here are fast. So although I finish in the top 30% of big races, I often finish in the bottom 30% of local races. It’s not the best thing for my ego, but it does give me a lot of motivation to put the work in to speed up.
This is the first time I’ve run the Flatwoods 5k, but I was excited about it because it’s held in Austin Cary which is a beautiful local forest.
I woke up with some stomach pains and I was actually afraid I was going to have my very first DNS (did not start). I ended up not eating anything and taking a pepto and a zyrtec and crossing my fingers and heading out. Because I spent some extra time dealing with tummy trouble, I actually ended up getting to the race only about 15 minutes before the start. That is completely unlike me and way out of my comfort zone. I was able to pick up my bib and hustle over to the start area. I lined up around the middle of the start area and the race director gave some instructions and pointed out a small drone aircraft flying over us (you might be able to see it in the photo below) that would be shooting pictures/video of the start and finish. A few minutes later the start gun went off.
Like all race starts, it was a bit crowded at first and I found myself behind a group running a bit slower than my goal of a sub-30 minute race. As soon as I realized that I was behind pace, I passed and sped up. I was relieved to find that my stomach seemed to have settled down and that I was going to be able to run after all. I was feeling pretty good and looked at my Garmin and realized I was running much too fast for this early in the race. So, I slowed back to a middle pace, pushing it a bit but not too much.
About a mile in, I started feeling tired and over things. I was thinking that quitting might be fun. Just hike over to my car and go home. I think these are the kind of thoughts that swing through my head during any race that I’m pushing myself with either distance or speed. I ignored those thoughts and just focused on each footfall, each runner that was around me, the water stop that wasn’t too far away, the gorgeous landscape we were running through.
I stopped for a quick walk through the water stop. I hadn’t hydrated enough before the race, so the water was welcome (and I actually wished the cup was a bit bigger!). Then, back to running. I was feeling refreshed from the water and felt like I could pick up the pace a bit more. I was running in the same group of people, taking turns passing and being passed. About a mile from the finish, I put my music on and pushed as hard as I could without feeling like I was risking burning out before the finish.
About half a mile from the finish I sped up a bit more and was passed by one couple and passed about four more people in the last stretch.
It was a chip timed race but the timing was from the gun, not from when you crossed the start. My Garmin gave me 29:55. I’ve done a 5k faster, but I’m happy with this result. I was really hoping for (but not expecting) one of these pine cone trophies for the winners and top three in each age group but it was not to be. I did pass some people who won in other age groups, but I’ve found that my new age group (40-44) is pretty darn competitive. I’m sixth in these age group results even with a sub-30 (barely!)! 103 out of 167. Just more incentive to step up my game, lose weight and do some formal speed work. I’m getting one of those next year!
Although I didn’t get an award or a PR, I really enjoyed this race course. The race was well organized and well run and the course was gorgeous. It’s outside of town, but not too far from my house so it’s pretty convenient and it was very affordable. The race shirt was tech material, unisex but pretty nice. I’ll definitely run it again next year.