I was number two in the 5K last weekend!
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:
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.