So, a couple weeks ago, my running friend Colea and I decided to train for and run the Run for Brighter Days, a new race in town in memory of a young man who committed suicide after suffering from bipolar disorder. Mental health awareness is definitely close to our hearts because it’s in both of our families, so signing up for it was a definite.
I hadn’t raced since February’s Titan Trot 5K and have actually cut back on running a bit in favor of weight training and yoga (despite the cutback, I still ran 3 days per week). With the bum quad from the class that cannot be named, I debated changing my registration to the 5K for this race because it’s advertised as a trail run and I didn’t know if my hip would heal for 6 miles of nonstop running.
I took a weekend off, discovered the joy of foam rolling, then ran a 6-miler last Monday before coaching track. With the burst of confidence, along with my pre-race Friday night ritual of a sub sandwich and a Sweet cupcake, I decided to stick it out for the 10.
I woke up bright and early Saturday morning and after coffee, food, and bathroom, I hit up a few local yard sales. I love yard sales! I got some amazing deals on decorations for Memorial Day/Independence Day, a new garden flag for my mom, and a few new sweaters and shirts for myself (thanks to another fairly small college classmate of mine who “invited” me to her yard sale via Facebook).
Despite living in this area for years, I got lost in the classmate’s neighborhood. I had plenty of time, but pictures and chatter were probably out of the question (hence all photos in this post are courtesy of Colea’s husband and Carolina Running Company). After a few missed turns and some crazy yard sale traffic jams, I got out and on the road to the race site, which was the Clemson Rural Education Center– located here in Florence, but an extension of Clemson University.
Being a die-hard Carolina Gamecock fan, I’ll refrain from Clemson chatter in this blog, but I occasionally yell Go Clemson. Only because I coach a kid whose last name is Clemson :).
I stopped at Burger King on the way to the race to pee. I was experiencing the joys of hydrating for heat and humidity, and it couldn’t be a bad idea, considering the race would probably have portapotties. I quickly went to the potty and got in my Honda Accord, heading to the Rural Education Center whose namesake runs for our club.
My car had other plans.
The crazy cranking sound it made last year was back– at the wrong place and the wrong time. Fortunately, after a few minutes of trying to start the car and a crazy “OMG THIS IS MY FIRST DNS (Did Not Start)” on my mind, my car was fine and I skedaddled to the race. Fortunately, I got there just in time, as a few last minute (literally) registrants signed in.
Then, a lady at the registration table told me to talk to Greg, who directs the Carolina Running Company. There was some miscommunication over the distance I’d signed up for, so I headed to the finish line so he could put me in the system for the 10K- not a big deal, just took a minute. Still, I was cutting it close on time; let’s just say I literally walked to the start WITH Greg- to blow the starting horn!
I had just enough time to tell Jack, one of the 9-year-olds I coach, good luck and be sure to win :). He came in 3rd place male overall and was definitely the cutest runner dude out there! Plus, he represents the Florence Track Club well with good sportsmanship and manners. Jack will be quite the catch for a girl one day, but she’ll have to be a fast female to catch him.
The race itself was on dirt road, gravel, and light trail. Except for a few hills, it seemed mostly flat. The organizers had tons of water stops, which was great because the heat and humidity were *killer* with the 9 AM start time.
Don’t trust weather reports, because temperatures feel massively different once you add humidity (It actually got cooler as the day went on)! I didn’t actually get water at any stop, but it was a great idea because a lot of first-timers ran this, and with multiple aid stations, if someone had a heat related medical issue, the volunteers could help.
After about the first mile and a half, the 10K participants veered off from the 5Kers and the race got lonely (better than having to run a course twice, right?). The scenery consisted of corn fields and irrigation systems, which was a nice change from swamps.
Funny thing- all of the mile marker signs looked exactly like the crop marker signs- same colors, font, size. About halfway through, I saw a sign and thought to myself, Oh wow, mile 3 sure was short. A few steps later- Oh wait, that’s not mile 4-that’s a wheat field. Bummer!
I persevered through the crazy heat and to the finish- sure was glad to see the Mile 6 marker, which couldn’t be mistaken for a corn field! An announcer at the finish called out race numbers and (I think- I listen to music) names. That’s a really nice touch that more smaller races should try, and a very nice lady was bringing cups of Gatorade around to the finishers.
I rehydrated, walked around, and talked to a few longtime running buds and some new friends I met, Curtis and Brandi. Their first 10K races turned out splendid, even on a tough course and in crazy heat, and it’s always a pleasure for the small but tight-knit local running community to grow with new faces :).
The awards ceremony was shaded and lovely- I finished in 53:59 and won my age group (two overall female 10K winners were between 20-29, and awards categories were only one place deep since it was a small race). Colea placed first in her age group, too.
I scored a pretty sweet medal (another nice touch: the race name and date are engraved on the medal), a size medium t-shirt (bummer for same-day registrants getting first dibs on t-shirts, even though I registered early- they ran out of smalls. Of course, I did arrive late…), and a can of boiled peanuts.
Gotta say this is the first race I’ve left with a can of peanuts as a part of my race swag- and the first time I’ve ever run (no pun intended) this late for a race, but I’ll take ’em :).
I thought Run for Brighter Day was very well organized for a first-year race, and the only hiccup was running out of small shirts (the race organizers said they’d change this next year). You could tell the organizers were passionate about the cause, and they did an outstanding job.
I’d definitely do this race again next year- hopefully arriving *much* earlier!