My September race (as part of my one race a month all year goal) was the American Heart Association Healthy Hearts 5k. It was scheduled to start about an hour before the Heart Walk at North Florida Regional Medical Center. I usually pick my packet up in advance but for this race, packet pickup was only available for two days, probably because it was a pretty small race and I didn’t figure that out until last night.
I had planned to get up at 6am and leave by 6:45 so I could park easily (the hospital can be difficult to park when it is crowded) and be at packet pickup when it opened at 7am. Unfortunately, Eli had a combination of a sprained ankle and some kind of mystery virus with high fevers, so I ended up sleeping less than three hours last night. The good news is that my neck pain that had lingered almost a week was finally gone! Yay!
I still got up at 6 but it just took a little longer than normal to get dressed and moving and caffeinated. So, I didn’t get to the hospital until about 7:15. I had no idea where I was allowed to park, so I drove around to the main parking garage which was further from the start and mostly deserted. The race started at 7:45 so I was not there as early as I usually like to be. I decided to jog to the packet pickup to get my warm-up in. Packet pickup went smoothly and I jogged back to the car to put the packet in the trunk. The race shirt was a white cotton t-shirt and was pretty plain. Another instance where I wish I’d picked the no-shirt option.
I jogged back to the start area and had about 10 minutes to get settled before the race started. There were a few portapotties which were pretty nice (with antibacterial foam for hand cleaning) and clean. The people who lined up for the 5k looked fast. The active page said that if you aren’t going to finish in under 45 minutes, they’d prefer you to run the Heart Walk instead because the start/finish is shared. So I think the more casual runners probably took that option, resulting in a faster than normal field for the run.
The weather was cool compared to the summer, but still pretty muggy. There was an occasional cool breeze sneaking in but really, mostly it was just nasty humid and muggy.
The race started right on time which I liked. I lined up around the middle of the pack. The course was nice and wide and with only 160ish people I never got bogged down or stuck behind anyone. That was great. It stayed on two-lane roads behind the hospital and back into a residential neighborhood I didn’t even know was back there. Very quiet and peaceful.
What wasn’t great was the hills I wasn’t expecting. You may remember the same complaint from my last race, which is making me think I need to start incorporating more hills in my training. There aren’t many in Florida, but the race directors around here seem to find them all. Those of you in hilly regions will probably laugh at what I consider a hill, but here’s the race elevation in green (and my corresponding drops in speed in blue).
I’m a little disappointed in myself for walking after that last hill, but honestly it surprised me (although as a mostly out and back course I should have remembered it) and I was pushing myself pretty hard and that last hill just took it out of me. I did start running again after about 30 seconds, but I’ve never had to take a non-planned walk during a race before. But it was better than puking, I suppose. I have been working on pushing harder during races, so I guess I have to find that sweet spot of racing hard without racing too hard.
I’m pretty happy with my splits. The second mile was slower due to a big hill and walking the water stop. I just cannot drink from a cup while I run. Several people were running with water bottles and I think that would have been a good idea for this race since it was so humid and I did a bad job of hydrating the day before.
You may notice this race was 3.16 miles. I’ve been a little spoiled lately with smaller races having courses that are a little short. So, although this isn’t an official PR, my average pace of 9:28 is better than my goal of running this race at 9:30. And I’m happy to have any 5k under 30 minutes.
The results aren’t up yet, but they had them printed out after the race and I came in right in the middle of the pack, probably 5th or 6th in my age group.
This was a well organized race. I would have liked some more information about advance packet pickup and where to park (either provided at registration or better signs at the race site). And, as always, I’m disappointed that I didn’t place in my age group (yes I am too competitive for my own good).
If I can When I drop this last 30 pounds, I guarantee that I’ll be placing.
I tested out the base of my Dr. Who inspired Space Coast Half Marathon costume during this race and it worked great. This shirt is the Large, I think I’ll be wearing the Medium at Space Coast, the large fit ok but was a little loose and long. Other than that, the outfit worked great. Just add some blue argyle compression socks and some kind of whoovian headband or something and I’ll be ready to run.