My family and I literally JUST got back from a week long vacation on the Crystal Coast. We love Emerald Isle, NC which is about 2 hours from our home. We spend a week there with my parents every year and we look forward to it for months before! This year our week happened to coincide with both my birthday and the annual Historic Beaufort Road Race.
Beaufort is a small coastal town with a rich history (the third oldest town in the state). It is a beautiful town with historic homes lining Taylor Creek (which is just off of Bogue Sound). The annual race starts on Front Street and takes runners right down the store lined street and out into the historic neighborhood. The race route stretches along the waterfront for 1.5 miles (or more if you do the 10K) and then turns and you finish back on Front Street (just a hop, skip and a jump from the Maritime Museum).
I was excited to have Amanda join me for my first 5K. I put a status out on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to join me and I was so happy when Amanda said yes! I’ve been running off and on for several months but haven’t really been following a “training” schedule. I just get on the treadmill and run until I need a break. Then once my heart rate is comfortable, I run some more. I had worked up to running about 1.5 miles straight on the treadmill and I was usually finishing a treadmill 5K in about 38 minutes. I hadn’t done much outdoor running to prepare (only a handful of times and when I did I couldn’t run very far before taking a walk break). The last time I did an outdoor 5K it took me over 45 minutes to finish. Needless to say, I went into this race very nervous that I was going to puke, faint or both!
Amanda came and spent Friday night with us so we could leave bright and early for the race. We left the house at 6:30 AM with our personal photographer (my hubby, Aaron) along for the moral support. I had picked up our race packets (including our numbers, t-shirts and chips for our shoes) the day before. I ate a banana and one slice of bread with a little peanut butter for breakfast and I had some water on the way.
I was afraid that parking was going to be an issue considering the fact that there were over 800 people registered for the race (and the fact that Beaufort is so small). However, we had no problem finding a parking spot (a short walk about 5 blocks away). We arrived to find a large gathering of people including runners decked out in spiffy running gear, mom and dad runners pushing babies in jogging strollers, and spectators lining the streets with fold up chairs.
The crowd was energetic and excited for the start of the race. The first race began promptly at 7:15 and was the 1 mile fun run. There were many kids participating as well as many of the 5Kers who were doing the 1 mile as a warm up. We used this time between races to use the outdoor potty (the lines were long but moved quickly) and then found a shaded spot for Aaron to hang out while waiting on us to finish.
At 7:55 we were instructed to line up. We found a spot near the back and after a few short minutes we were off! It was slow starting because of the crowd of people and it was hard to get into a groove. I just wanted to take off and run but it took about a city block to find the space to do so. I had my mp3 player on though only one ear bud was in and I really didn’t pay much attention to it anyway (next time I’ll probably just go without).
When we reached the turn around spot for the 1 mile race I thought, “Woah–we’ve only run a half a mile? This is going to be a LONG race!” Amanda and I stuck pretty close together throughout the race even though I took more walking breaks than she did. She was able to maintain a pretty consistent running pace the entire race. At times I ran faster than others. Sometimes I power walked. At other times I just slowly jogged.
One thing I noticed about the race was that there were people of all sizes, genders, ages and shapes participating. From the cute little 10 year old boy (who just barely beat me!) to the older gentleman who had long, lean “runner’s legs” even though he was wrinkled with age. There were moms, there were grandmas. There were daddies with strollers, there were people in wheelchairs. It was an eclectic group.
At the first mile we were told our pace was 13:03. I remember thinking that that was pretty close to my pace on the treadmill. Shortly after that we came upon a water station (we were both surprised by that) and it was much needed and appreciated. And then just a little ways down from the water station there were homes with sprinklers running beckoning us to run through them. There were actually several more homes during the race with sprinklers running and families sitting out on their lawns cheering us on.
I’m not going to lie. It was HOT. There was a nice breeze and since the race was in the morning it wasn’t too unbearable out yet. But despite that, it didn’t take long for my hands to start swelling (note to self, remove rings next time) and for my face to get that nice ruddy glow!
We finally reached the turn around spot . . . and then the 2 mile mark . . . and then we could just begin to see the stores that lined the finish line ahead. Finally the big white and blue finish line balloons came into sight. Amanda and I had both slowed down to a quick walking pace by that time and as we came back into town we agreed after passing the first building we would run again. There were lots of people cheering and a friendly lady encouraged us on saying, “Come on ladies! You’re doing great!” I spotted Aaron soon after that and then before we knew it we were sprinting to the finish line.
When we stopped to let the race staff remove the chips from our shoes I thought I was going to faint! The fire department was there with their hoses running and the staff had baby pools full of ice water soaked towels. The towels felt incredible draped around our necks! I had to sit down for a few minutes because I was feeling faint and my right thigh was throbbing (I’ve had problems with it being numb/having sharp pains for years). After a short rest we went to find Aaron and then moved on to the refreshment station. I had an orange and a bottle of water.
Our official time (we actually crossed the mat at exactly the same time) was 40:40. I think to be exact it would actually be several seconds short of that because like I said we were in the back and it took a little while to get over the starting line and to get out of the crowds of people. But it’s pretty close!
It was, dare I say it, a lot of fun! I know it won’t be my last 5K. Perhaps one day I’ll work up to a 10K or even a half marathon but for now, I’m going to enjoy my 3.1 milers. It was a great feeling just finishing but I was so happy to finish in less than 45 minutes. Aaron has made me a promise to run with us next year and I’m already looking forward to it (although I can’t say that he is!).
Thanks Amanda for taking up the challenge with me! It was so much more fun having a newbie friend along. Be sure to go and read Amanda’s post about the race!