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A Midsummer Night’s Run (through HELL)

I was number two in the 5K last weekend!

Before the 5K and after the 5K

Sadly, this does not refer to my finishing placement but to my bib number. I was evidently the second person to register for the event, only after the elusive number one who I never sighted. This made me such a celebrity that a guy ran up to me after the race to ask, “Are you really number two?” to which I replied, “Yes, I’m number two!” Then his friend took a picture of us both holding up two fingers like a victory sign.

I had planned to run the Midsummer’s Night Run in Lexington, Kentucky with my old college roommate, Kelly, who lives in town. Sadly, Kelly injured her foot while riding a slide into a basement dressed as the Cheshire Cat, so I had to run alone. This was for the best because it would have been Kelly’s first 5K, and it was so AWFULLY organized that it probably would have turned her off to racing all together.

I had positive thoughts for the race at first because there was a festival atmosphere around the event. There was a kettle corn stand, ice cream, balloons and plenty of kids, some in strollers who would participate with their parents in the race. What they forgot to include was WATER.

After a messy start, we pounded down the road and passed a cop yelling, “MOVE OVER! Runner’s ahead of you are coming back this way.” The race route doubled back on itself, but the organizer’s decided to have someone yell at us about it instead of using traffic cones to mark a return lane like they have in other races I’ve run.

My plan for the race was to do intervals of four minutes of running followed by one minute of walking. This worked well for the first 15 minutes, after which the 80-something degree heat and high humidity had dehydrated me so much that my mouth was parched. At the one mile marker, there was no water station. I kept running and I kept looking for a water station. And looking. And looking. I didn’t see a water station, but I did see not one, not two, but three fountains along the race route, including this one:

The 5K route should have gone through here

I wish the race had been routed through there, and I was seriously considering making it a personal detour, but I was carrying a camera and a cell phone which I didn’t want to replace after they short circuited, so I carried on. We passed several groups of people at tables outside restaurants who cheered us on, but what I really wanted was for them to grab me a glass of water from the soda fountain. Finally, the race path went past the very end of the race, where there was a table on a sidewalk not too far away full of water. I ran away from the pack of racers, chugged a paper cup of water and then grabbed two more to drink as I walked. I then continued on and finally found the “real” water station, which was almost two miles into the race. I didn’t grab any water there because I’d just sucked down about 12 oz of the stuff, but only 2 minutes later my throat was dry AGAIN and I regretted it.

I tried to rally and keep jogging down the hard, hot Lexington streets, but I was fading fast and ended up walking all but the final stretch of the rest of the route. When I finally did run across the finish, I had to walk another block to get to the water station at the end, and was given only a brown, mushy, over-ripened banana to eat that looked like something Kroger had thrown out.

So, all in all the race sucked. I was disappointed by the poor organization and I was disappointed that I was unable to perform as well as I know I could have if I was properly hydrated. I’ve run 5 other races which varied in length from a 5K to a mini-marathon, and each one had water stations at least every mile. Some even stocked Gatorade! All of those races were during cooler temperatures than this race, so not only was it the hottest race I’ve run, it was the one with the least amount of water.

I ended up finishing in 47:23, which is somewhat pathetic considering all the training I’ve done in the past two months. I know, I should be proud to just finish. Rah, rah, rah, hooray for me. But seriously, I know I could have knocked that down to at least 44:00 in better circumstances. I was afraid at first that I was the only one who thought the race was poorly organized, but then I read the other reviews and was glad to see it wasn’t just me.

So, I have signed up for the Irish Fest 5K in downtown Indianapolis next month, which was the first 5K I ever ran two years ago. I hope to improve on my time and I also hope they will have water there, even if it’s contained in a sheep’s bladder they expect me to eat.


By the way, thank you to everyone who sponsored me in the race! We raised $733 for headache research. The National Headache Foundation even called me and thanked us for the donation.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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Diane, Fit to the Finish • August 17, 2009 at 10:35 am

I know you are glad that is over in many, many ways. I still remember my very first 5K. It was a good feeling in every way!

Sorry the race wasn’t better organized. Good for you on finishing strong though!


Jess • August 17, 2009 at 11:11 am

Congrats on the race! I’m debating doing the Irish Fest 5k, I liked the idea of it better when it was in the evening!


The Mother Tongue • August 17, 2009 at 11:24 am

I hate that you had such a bad experience with the race. Still, I’m glad you came–you raised money for a good cause, and we got to have a good chat over lunch. So not a total loss. :D


Margalit • August 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I know you hate rah rah comments about finishing so I refrain, except to say I am not sure I would have under those conditions.

I hope the folks in Indianapolis follow your blog or read other reviews and do a better job of making the runners comfortable. Besides the lack of water the lack of cones could have been dangerous-good no one butted heads! Glad to read you are keeping on with running.


Grace • August 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Sorry to hear that the run wasn’t better organized — not enough water stations or even cones. Like others mentioned, I hope the organizers take the comments into serious consideration before putting another race together.


Lyn • August 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm

You did awesome!! Send the organizers a link to the post so they can improve next year. Well done for YOU!


Tiffany • August 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Ah, Jeannette, do not feel bad. I ran my first (and so far only) 5K back in December. I finished second to last, 34 seconds of the last place finisher. An 80 year old gentleman. I am not exaggerating: http://dserunners.com/results/2008/12-28%20MissionRock5k.htm

I didn’t let that stop me though. I’m running my first 10K next month with my sister. And I’ve got a half-mary scheduled for December. All building to my grad-goal: The Paris Marathon on April 11, 2010 – my 40th birthday!


Sara • August 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Ugh. Sorry hear the race was so disorganized. I hope the Irish Fest race goes much better – or maybe you can take along a camelback just in case there is another water shortage? ;)

How is Blue Bell? I just my bike out last week (finally) and wondered if you take Blue Bell out a lot.


Merry • August 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Am I the only one having spooky Prisoner flashbacks here?

I am number 2. You are number 6.

I am not a number, I am a free man!

[maniacal laughter]


Tiffany • August 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Excellent. I realize I misspelled your name and its ON YOUR BLOG. Fab. Sorry! To be fair, in another person’s comments last week, I misspelled my own name.


Rahim • August 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Conratulations on finishing the race and good luck in the Irish 5k. Before you get started you should go to whoever’s in charge and tell them to have some water ready for the runners accordingly.


Dani • August 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Congrats on finishing the race! =)


cindy • August 17, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Woo-hoo! Way to go, PQ!

The organizers need to learn to take better care of their runners. I definitely think I would have chanced ruining my technology just to cool down in the fountains. I have no restraint, this we know…


Mom Taxi Julie • August 17, 2009 at 8:11 pm

WTG on getting back into running. Even if the event did suck, at least you were out there!


gp • August 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm

woot woot happy dance… to finish is to win.. especially in those conditions

happy trails



Andrea@WellnessNotes • August 17, 2009 at 9:38 pm

You did a great job, especially considering you ran in the heat and without enough water! And how great that you already signed up for your next race! I keep talking about signing up for a 5K. I think I should actually do it and not only talk about it! :)


Deb • August 17, 2009 at 10:41 pm

What a mess! I wonder if it was their first time hosting a race?

One of these days, I am going to run a 5K. It might be awhile. But eventually I will get there.


Valarie • August 17, 2009 at 11:08 pm

I was there, too, and had the same thoughts about going through that fountain. This was my second 5K (just walking for now), but if it had been my first, I might have thrown in the towel. I found the whole experience rather frustrating. I live here, so the heat and humidity were totally expected, but I thought the race organizers would do a much better job of looking after participants when it came to water and such.

I didn’t care for the route. There was no uphill to speak of, but that meant there was no downhill to give me a little boost. And with the only thing I could see being buildings and more buildings, I couldn’t gauge how far I had gone, and couldn’t pace myself. I just never felt safe digging in and hustling toward the finish line since I had no idea how far away it was. It sort of messed with me mentally, making me wonder if I had enough left in me to make it the entire distance. I ended up doing okay, at least for a still 60-pounds-overweight woman who was 39 pounds heavier and totally inactive six months ago, but was kind of disappointed with myself.

Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip to Lexington!


Valarie • August 17, 2009 at 11:16 pm

“I live here . . .” Just realized how stupid that comment is. Of course I live here, just didn’t explain that here is the Lexington area. I think it’s time to head for bed!


Valarie • August 17, 2009 at 11:19 pm

@Deb – It was the 25th annual Midsummer Night’s Run. You’d think they would have it right by now!


Elizabeth • August 18, 2009 at 7:44 am

Hey there… I’m sorry to hear your experience was so bad. I ran in the race last year and loved it! Granted, I wished they had more water stations, but I knew there would only be one going in based on the course map, so I paced myself and ran with a water bottle. I think one of the coolest things is running the streets of Lexington- as someone who lives here, it’s always fun when they shut down the streets and you get to snake your way up and down them on a stifling August evening! :-) Some people even hope for really hot days, I think they think it adds to the fun! I wasn’t able to run this year due to a foot inury, but am planning on running next year. I hope you won’t think poorly of the race, although I really am surprised since it was amazingly organized last year, I wonder if they got a new race coordinator or something!

Anyway, congrats on getting back into it… coming back after taking a break is always hard!


Julie • August 18, 2009 at 9:19 am

Sorry you had a bad experience. Perhaps you should think about buying some weather appropriate running gear. Running in a cotton t-shirt and long sweat pants in August is crazy!! No wonder you were so thirsty!


PastaQueen • August 18, 2009 at 9:43 am

@Julie – It’s not cotton. Both the pants and the shirt are made of sweat-wicking material designed to keep runners cool.


Deanna • August 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

No water…that sucks!! We did a 181 mile relay race and the dumbasses forgot water too… hello race organizers? Must be the same folks! But you finished and that’s all that matters, so good for you !


Julie • August 18, 2009 at 4:06 pm

@PastaQueen – Wow, just looked so uncomfortable to me. I live in Lexington so I know how hot it can be to run here…I’m all about the fabric!


Quix • August 18, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Sucky races suck. Glad you’re signing up for another! It always feels good to avenge yourself in the next race…

My first 5k was well planned out and the bonus was it was 11am (not the butt crack of dawn). My second 5k was HORRIBLY organized and more of a neighborhood thing than an offical race (plus it poured during the whole thing). My first 10k was super offical and awesome and a great experience. My first half was somewhere in between – it took an HOUR to get shuttled in and I almost missed the start and there were no mile markers, but they had tons of liquid and the course was beautiful.


Kate • August 18, 2009 at 11:47 pm

WOW, I cannot believe how much that race must have sucked. What kind of idiots schedule a race in AUGUST without water stations every mile?! I did my last 5k on August 6th and not only did the have a properly marked return lane, the water people stood in the middle between the two to give you water whether you were going there or coming back – on ever mile.

Congratulations on not passing out from dehydration. I hope the next race is better.


Diane • August 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm

What happened to your nose?


Merry • August 19, 2009 at 10:38 pm

@Diane – What, you didn’t hear? Well, it turns out that Pasta Queen and Diet Girl got into this kickboxing fight over whose memoir had a better car chase scene, and… oh, why spoil it for you. Check out:



Thealogian • August 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Hey, thanks for posting about the Mid Summer’s Night Run & congrats for doing it. I was there too (it was my first, with my brother…I blogged about at my place: http://fatfeministfitnessblog.blogspot.com/)

Anyway, I totally agree on the lack of water and how weird it was that the “real runners” coming back through the route didn’t have a lane, but rather cops just shouting at “we the brisk walkers and/or joggers.” But whatevs I guess.

Today, a week after the race, it would be a perfect night for the race. Kind of chilly, although there could be rain tonight, so maybe not. I did tons of yard-work this afternoon precisely because its not so oppressive out.

You did much better than I did, or my brother (although, in my defense my brother begged to be able to stop to pee at about 2/3 of the race and being the fool, I stopped with him as he had to search out a bathroom. Once we got back on the path, the 3,000 walkers were well ahead of us and we finished a rather dismal 1 hour 1 minute (take five off of that, plus the lack of pace setting brisk walker neighbors, I think I could have done it in 55 minutes…) My niece said she’d do it with me next year and “show no mercy” which will certainly inspire me forward. I like a bit of competition in life.

Anyway, my sister-in-law works at Central Baptist, the hospital that sponsors the event and I’ll ask her to mention your concerns to the organizing committee.

Please consider doing the race again. And perhaps have a reader meet-up?


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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