Last week, I finally got the chance to participate in one of the Race the Landing 5K series races- All American Night. This five-race series started last summer and has grown both years and each race. All five runs are held at Charles Towne Landing, which is super close to me in West Ashley, and each race uses the same course, so you can compare your times and try to improve each race, if you want.
Not many races take place in Charleston in the summer, so if you want to run a 5K (or five 5Ks), this series is a great chance. If you register early, there are additional discounts and perks, and it’s perfect for first-timers, as there are lots of walkers and Couch-to-5K graduates. The awards are five year categories, five places deep, with unique prizes- not just medals or ribbons. Those who run 3 or more races and improve their times over the summer can also win achievement awards for improving.
I met the race director and organizer, Lisa, at Fleet Feet Mt. Pleasant Diva’s Night a few weeks ago, and since she personally encouraged me to run (and I have nothing better to do on a hot Thursday night), I signed up online last week and went for it.
Since I’m in the middle of training for a 26.2 mile fun run, and currently on a cutback week after last week’s 41 total miles, I didn’t do anything special to prepare for this race. I’m not a big fan of night races because I’m a morning runner, I have to watch what I eat all day, and I have no clue how to fuel for them. I couldn’t deny myself a Greek frozen yogurt bar after lunch, and fortunately, it didn’t come back to haunt me during the race.
I got there early and warmed up by running parts of the course and doing my usual butt-kick, knees-up warmup while the kids races were going on. The kids races are a peak into my future as a running parent- some kids enjoyed it and ran strong but I saw a few tears and others whose parents were basically dragging them across the finish. I guess one day my warmup will be running the kids race with my children!
The race started at 7 PM and we were off. My first mile was way too fast- as usual- although I felt fine for most of it. I always get super excited at the start when a race is big like this! The second mile wasn’t super bad, but my third mile was a lot slower- I could feel it and I could tell from the music on my ipod. I don’t normally wear the ipod or a watch during 5Ks, but after my last 5K where I heard people chatting (who runs a 23 minute 5K while chatting?), I decided to wear it just in case to drown out noise. I really didn’t need it in this race, as we were pretty spread out- but the same guy kept run/walking and passing me over and over. It was crazy to keep passing… getting passed… passing… getting passed.
I finished in 23:53 after getting out-kicked by my friend and TrySports Mt. Pleasant training partner Gary. His kick was definitely on- I remember him passing me and thinking I was glad he wasn’t a girl, hehe. After getting water and cold, wet towels (best post-race perk ever!), we both cooled down by jogging/walking down the course to cheer for the other finishers.
As everyone finished, caught their breath, and cooled down, we went inside for the dinner, awards, free beer, and after party. The post-race food was some of the best I’ve had, and the menu was fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, hot dogs, French fries, red rice, iced tea, lemonade, and fruit. You could pick from 3 different kinds of beer, including home brews (I gave my beer ticket away), and a local track team was selling slices of pie to raise money for shoes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a slice of pie because they ran out, so I guess they raised a lot of money.
Everyone had fun relaxing and taking pictures while waiting on the awards, too. I won third place in my age group (25-29), and everyone at our table won an age group award, minus Virginia, who won an achievement award for completing the races while pregnant. This was her last pre-baby 5K as she is due in August, but she will come back super strong with a little one in the jogging stroller next year.
Virginia is also modeling our great race shirt- a red tank top (tech material) that even fits me. This will be perfect for summer running and training for that 26.2 mile fun run in the South Carolina heat and humidity. It’s one of the best race shirts so far.
These gators are a super fun award- their heads and tales move. It’s like a new toy so most of us at the table were making our gators fight and getting crazy looks. I swear we’re all 9 year olds trapped in adult bodies sometimes.
Elaine was there too- we are both no meat athletes (she is vegan). So, this picture is just proof that you can avoid meats and still be a pretty awesome runner, as we both won gators. Yay gators!
So, I wasn’t super stoked with my finish time, but I keep reminding myself that even maintaining during the heat and humidity is progress. At least I haven’t really slowed down, but I’m hoping for faster races and some PRs this Fall. Until then, I’m super satisfied with having fun at the 5Ks and winning some cool prizes- I’m glad my drought of being one spot away from placing in my age group finally ended.
If you’re looking to run some 5Ks around Charleston next summer, definitely check out Race the Landing. I plan to register early for the whole series next year, as the early registration price is a steal and you can’t beat five summertime 5Ks with dinner, beer, and awards. That’s 10 months away and I wish I’d gotten in on the fun earlier this year, but Charles Towne Landing is planning a Fall/Winter race so hopefully I can get in on that.