This morning I slept until 7:00, the first time I have ever slept that late on a race day with a morning race. Having picked up my bib yesterday and living four miles from the race start, there was not much preparation to do before a 9:00 gun time. The weather forecast was spot on – cloudy early and the sun started shining by 8:00. A good friend of mine lives right in the center of the village, so I parked at his house. I mapped a route that I ran to warm up, exactly .75 mile. This race is known to have many locals jump in and run without registering, as a result it is also know to run out of water at the water stops. I brought a hand held bottle I use for long runs so it wouldn’t be an issue. My warm up run went well and I was in the starting area with 15 minutes to spare.
The sun was shining bright and I was trying to stay in the shade as much as possible before the start. From what I can tell, there were close to 2,000 runners and walkers, and that was just for the 5.25 mile race. There was also a mile fun run that started at the same time. The road was packed and I took a place in the pack about a third of the way deep. The first half mile I had to be very alert. Did I mention it was packed?! Dodging walkers, joggers and stroller runners is a challenge when a four lane wide road is filled with over 2,000 runners. Oh, and the first two miles is up hill 200 feet. Fortunately the run went through mostly tree shaded streets. There is one road that is not very tree lined and I was happy to see the clouds roll in when I made the turn onto the road. Once I cleared that street and turned to the final street, which is tree lined, the sun came out. Most of the race had neighbors outside cheering us on. Some even offered water, both to drink and hoses to cool us down. The young children with super soakers and the elderly lady with a small plant mister were my favorites.
I really didn’t know what to expect with my pace for this race. Having run the half marathon last weekend, still recovering from my ankle sprain, and the heat and hills – I knew I wanted to average under 11:00 per mile pace. The last five mile race I ran in March I was right at 10:00 pace, but it was flatter, cooler, and it was before my injury. I did well during the first two miles in the hills. Dodging the people didn’t seem to slow me. I was faster the first three miles from what my GPS reflects. Pacing is something I know I need to work on. As I approached the last quarter mile I really wanted to beat 57 minutes. I was quite happy as I crossed the finish line with an overall time of 56:52. My average pace was 10:49, and as a friend pointed out – there are not many 5.25 mile races and I have only walked this race before, so it was a PR. After drinking a bottle of water, I headed back down another route I planned and ran a mile to reach seven miles today.
After the race a friend of mine and her boyfriend hosted a brunch at his home. It was the perfect way to unwind – good company, conversation, food and beverages. Living in Chagrin Falls, especially during the Blossom Time festival, has the best of both worlds. Small town quaintness yet so close to a big city. Participating in the run, walking through the village, and spending time with friends make the day so special. I am fortunate to live in a great community, a blessing I most certainly will not take for granted.