Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Race Report: Patriots 5k

I was really excited about doing this race this year because it combines three of my favorite things:

  1. The Fourth of July
  2. Running
  3. Marines
Hosted by the Richmond Marine Corps League (with support from Richmond Road Runners), the event proceeds go to the Wounded Warriors Project. 

Even though the 4th is my favorite holiday, I'm not a particularly patriotic person. But if I do have one weakness, it is Marines - particularly Marine veterans of World War II, who I affectionately refer to as "little old men Marines." I am a SUCKER for any old man in a uniform. At the grocery store, I can walk right past the Boy Scouts selling popcorn, the Girl Scouts shilling cookies, and the Salvation Army bell ringers without a second thought,  but on Veterans Day there is a group of vets who sell little fake poppies and I buy them every time. Whenever a news magazine-type show features a segment about a Marine, I am watching it and crying like a baby. A recent CBS Sunday Morning piece about a WWII vet who volunteers at the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans made me want to jump on a plane so I can go meet the man and hug him before it's too late.

This affinity for Marines is directly attributed to my Grandfather and my Uncle Bud, both of whom proudly served during World War II. I loved both of these men dearly and whenever I see a little old man Marine proudly wearing his uniform, I see them.

Anyway, this is a race recap. Right. SO, I was really excited about participating in this race.

This was an extremely small "club" race held at Robious Landing Park in Midlothian, Virginia. Unfortunately, Robious Landing Park is basically on the other side of the world from where I live, so I had to wake up pretty early to meet Marcey at the appointed rendezvous time of 7:45 am. Knowing that it was a tiny operation, I wasn't expecting there to be any signage pointing the way, but there was and it was simple yet charming:

Got it.

Being me, I ended up getting there early, so I parked and headed to pick up our race numbers and t-shirts. Pick up was located in a shelter just next to the parking lot and was run by -you guessed it- little old men Marines! I'm pretty sure I grinned like an idiot the entire time and had to suppress the urge to request a photo of myself with the Marines.

Marcey arrived shortly thereafter with some special holiday flair to add to our red, white, and blue ensembles:

And then I watched a group of young Marines do THIRTY push ups in the parking lot. I was completely in awe of this... I can barely do 12 girly push ups without my arms turning into noodles. And they did it so quickly, too!

Seriously. Impressive.
Robious Landing Park is right along the James River, so Marcey and I took the opportunity to take some pre-race photos to kill time until the race start at 8:30 am. 

Brown from all the rain, but still pretty(ish)
My red, white, and blue race ensemble

Marcey and I have a habit of showing up late to the starting line for RRRC races, and this was no exception. We made our way into the starting area just in time for the Star Spangled Banner, which was performed by a flute player. Pretty sure this is the first time I've EVER heard a solo flutist play the SSB at a sporting event (or ever), but seeing as how Marcey and I are both flute players, it was kind of awesome.

Even more awesome? She also ran the race.
Up until the race actually started, I wasn't sure whether I was going to actually "race" this one or just kind of bumble along the trails at a comfortable pace. When I woke up the morning of, I told myself I was going to take it easy and not push anything, as I was being risky and running three days in a row. But during the long 45-minute drive to Midlothian, I started to think that I should just all out race it because it was a small field and maybe I would be able to place. 

Even as I was standing near the back of the group of runners in the corral with Marcey, I was unsure of what I was going to do. 

The race started and we were off. I told myself to hang back and just relax... but I just couldn't do it. I normally don't think of myself as a very competitive person, but I was having way too much fun coming from the back and picking people off one by one. 

The course was two loops around a relatively narrow trail through the wooded park - sometimes covered with crushed stones, sometimes with muddy patches, sometimes with puddles of water that runners lept over (or ran through... crazy people if you ask me). It was very humid, but the wooded trail kept us almost entirely in the shade, which was a good thing because for the few minutes that we were in the sun, the temperature suddenly felt much more brutal. 

I was having a great time dodging mud, leaping over water, and enjoying the strange solitary feeling of a trail race. Near the end, I saw a young man wearing a yellow Marine Corps shirt stop to walk in front of me. As I passed him, I gave him an encouraging pat on the shoulder and yelled, "Less than a quarter mile, don't give up now!" He nodded at me and I heard him start to run again. 

The race had a fast ending down a paved hill. I wish someone had been closer to me so I would've had that extra little inspiration to turn up the heat as I crossed the finish line. As it was, I ran across maintaining a similar speed.

As soon as I finished I went to find some water and came up with this, which was being handed out for free:

NOS Energy Drink
I immediately began to guzzle it because I was sweating like crazy and dying of thirst. It was only after I'd drank half of it that I noticed the scary warning label that this drink contained high amounts of caffeine and was not recommended for children, pregnant or breast feeding women, or caffeine sensitive persons. I'm none of these, but I've never had an energy drink in my life so I was kind of freaked out and thinking that having something like that was probably not the best idea after running an incredibly sweaty 3 mile race (doesn't caffeine dehydrate you??).

I walked about 100 yards up the hill from the finish to wait for Marcey and managed to snap this pretty good action shot while screaming inspirational phrases (ha!):

The inspirational phrases were more like "BEAT HER! CATCH HER MARCEY! BEEEEEEEEEEEAT HER!"
Marcey did beat her, at the very last second. 

As for me? I didn't do so badly, placing third in my age group (out of ten) and 44th out of 312 with an RRRC official time of 26:12. I was only six seconds back from second place, and I'm going to blame my third place finish on the fact that I had to stop and tie my stupid sneaker during mile 2. 

Here's what the Almighty Garmin had to say:

You'll also notice that I didn't quite  get 3.1 miles... and I really wish that I had just runa nother .03 to actually get the 5k. Although this wasn't a PR (especially considering that I didn't technically run 5k), I still feel pretty good about my performance. I started in the back of the pack, this was trails and not road, and it was extremely humid. 

Post race shiney and sweaty. Yum.
Once we toweled off a bit, Marcey and I headed to Virginia Diner to celebrate the successful completion of Year of Running Race #8 and America's birthday with crab cakes (for me) and french toast (for her).

All in all, it was a fun little race that I would do again... mainly so I can giggle like a school girl as I pick up my race packet from cute little old men Marines and be inspired by young men Marines doing push ups in the parking lot pre-race.

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