Nexton Cocoa Cup 5K (23:09)

“There’s no such thing as a good run that is fluke. But you can have fluke bad runs.”
-Jack Daniels, running author and coach

Good days usually come out of nowhere, and bad days do too. The body is quirky sometimes.

After a hectic week of work, travel, and holidays, I headed to Summerville on Saturday to run the inaugural Nexton Cocoa Cup 5K. This was a really large race sponsored by the Nexton development and Fleet Feet Mt Pleasant, and it sold out- twice! The race was originally capped at 500 participants, which was later raised to 1,200. The cost included a Nike fleece hoodie, reusable bag, and finisher’s mug that you could fill with hot cocoa after the race. It was a bargain, although I’m not sure any of the money went to charity or back to the community, which was one down side (just my opinion as a fan of races that give back).

The Nexton Cocoa Cup 5K was also the only 5K that Saturday, and most every runner in Charleston showed up. Over 900 people finished the 5K.

I arrived about an hour early to hang out with friends and take selfies. Tina and I ran 2 miles to warm up, and I could tell I spent a ton of time sitting in cars, offices, and classes last week. I work a desk job all the time, but I usually move around a bit more. Sitting really is the new smoking…

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I lined up on the third row back, by Howie, Virginia, and Vanessa. We huddled together to stay warm and chat, but fortunately the rain held off to a slight drizzle. Pretty soon we were off and running through the semi-developed Nexton development. The course was flat but not scenic… think subdivision before homes and businesses come along.

My first mile was just under 7 min/mile pace, and I didn’t go out too fast compared to my workouts and recent races. BUT… runners are not mile splits or training and racing paces generated by a calculator. We are human. Paces feel different on different days, after workouts, after rest days, after 48 mile weeks, and when dealing with life.

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The wheels fell off after mile 1. My legs didn’t want to move, I felt run down and tired, and I was huffing and puffing. The stress on my body- from the holidays, work, diet, and training caught up to me. With my pace, I was easy to catch.

What really disappointed me wasn’t the time- it was getting so discouraged. I looked at my watch and wondered what was going on, and in hindsight, I just wasted more mental energy being hard on myself about a run. With the negative vibes, the goal of running with someone for fun was out by that point. Instead of running it out and finishing with my head held high, I secretly wished for a short course (it wasn’t) or place to hide.

You do speedwork to run like THIS on race day?!?! You rested for two days and huff and puff at a 7:30 pace?!?! Your goal pace for a half marathon is only slightly slower?!?!

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The race death march to the finish couldn’t come sooner. I was mentally done, and in 23:09, my race was done. I grabbed my finisher’s mug, but skipped the hot chocolate. I ran off to my car to change shoes, cool down, and be alone. It could always be worse. At least you can run; you could be injured…

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After my 2 mile cooldown, I found Virginia, hugged her, and headed to the bar. My last two tempo runs were faster than my finish time, so I drowned my sorrows in spiked coffee. The OnShore Sunday run group staked out a booth in Carolina Ale House and drank and ate and Howie insisted that I just had a bad day and it’s no reflection on my training or running ability (I believe him, he’s worked with a lot of runners and knows his stuff).

The age group winners won Carolina Ale House gift certificates and award pint glasses that they had to guard the wait staff from taking. Plus, everyone in the bar was wearing that sweatshirt and it made for some interesting pictures, almost like a school or team uniform.

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While my race was a death march and I didn’t have a good day, lots of runners had a great day. I’m proud of my friends and training partners who PRed, set post-baby PRs, met time goals, or placed.

When you train with great people and push each other in workouts and runs, you can celebrate everyone’s victories. No one meets their goals alone, and my training partners have helped me progress in running and meet goals and celebrated with me, so I enjoyed celebrating theirs. Once I cooled down and got it together, I had fun and was glad I stuck around to hang out with everyone.

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Despite feeling crabby about the race, I hit the grind the next day for my 12 miler- which went surprisingly well. Time aside, I’m grateful to finish injury-free and keep training. After all, successful runs are even sweeter after the bitter taste of a rough one.

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20 Responses to Nexton Cocoa Cup 5K (23:09)

  1. drachtungbaby says:

    Bad races happen – I can attest to that. Sometimes I can identify a reason but a lot of times it seems just random. The sweatshirt and glass are some awesome swag though! And I can always support post race drinking. Lol.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Alex. It was probably mental/stress, which is a much better reason for a bad race than being injured, sick, some health issue. But, I’m not trying to overthink it either… in the end it is just running and we are all professionals at something else for a reason ;).

      I should’ve posted a picture of the coffee mug, it is a nice “finisher’s gift” too :). Mine is even a blue mug!

  2. Congratulations on your race! That is an awesome 5k time!

  3. harveylisam says:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t have the best run. I know that feeling well, as I’m sure all runners do. There’s always the next one, though! 🙂

  4. chasingthekenyans says:

    a 23:xx isn’t terrible but I totally know what you mean about feeling disappointed in things not going to plan. It’s so easy to get mad at yourself in the moment (and after) but it sounds like you’re reasoning it out. I would definitely put some blame on the changed schedule from the holidays! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and thanks for still dropping in on ol’ CTK! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Haha, I hadn’t removed you from my reader but I was wondering where you were. It’s great to hear from you again. I think it was a fluke bad race, I have had a few really good runs since, in fact. But yeah, seeing 23 on the finish time isn’t a whole lot of fun!

  5. Numbers don’t make memories…people do. 🙂 No sense in beating yourself up! You did amazing for what your body could do that day! Another race run is another one done. Your pics of all the smiling people is what mattered that day! Glad you had a great time with your running crew.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Agreed… in the end we are all runners and just trying to improve. The person who won the race and the person who finished last both still ran the same 3.1 mile course. I didn’t want to let my disappointing time ruin the day so it was fun seeing everyone and hanging out after.

  6. araekeech says:

    I’m glad you see that having a bad race day is not a reflection of you as a runner. Often our bodies are just trying to send us a message and we haven’t been listening. In 2011 I was training like crazy and set to have my best triathlon season yet. I was taking age group wins in pre season races and was really excited for the year, and then it all fell apart. I didn’t know what was happening. I had two truly terrible races before I realized I was pregnant and my body was telling me to slow down. I’m sure you will bounce back better than ever!
    P.s. the swag for this race sounds awesome! Yes I love great race swag 😉

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Congratulations on having a baby :). That’s way cooler than something like PRing in a tri which you can do post-baby anyway (although it’s highly unlikely that I’m in that situation, I’ve known it to happen to quite a few female runners).

      Race swag is the best. Awards are cool, but I think it’s good when everyone who participates comes away with something because completing an event is an accomplishment in itself. I’m glad we got the shirt and that people got a mug when they finished. That was a lot nicer and more usable than a medal.

  7. Yeah, bad races (and runs) happen to the best of us – but spike coffee?! that’s gotta be a good consolation 🙂

  8. So sorry you had a bad race. Sometimes they just come out of nowhere for really no reason. Hopefully that means you got it out of the way.

  9. Raina says:

    It’s so hard to keep going in a race when you’ve mentally tanked. I had it happen in a 5k once. I was having the race of my life on a certified course. When my watch beeped for 3 miles, it was obvious the course was long. I almost stopped snd walked. It ended up being 3.45 mi. I was robbed of my PR, which would have been sub19, but all I could do was laugh. I still want revenge!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I’d be upset too! My last really good 5K was similar- I was on track for a PR, and the course was short. Certified course, but the staff placed the turn around cone in the wrong place!

      I still consider a PR, because the pace was and it would have been a PR regardless (the course was only .04 short and I PRed by close to a minute). Still, I feel like I need to run a similar time on another course for it to be “official” ;).

  10. Christine says:

    Sorry the race didn’t go as planned for you! Bad runs definitely happen and we just hope that they don’t show up on race day to foil our plans, but sadly, sometimes they do. The past few races I’ve run, I’ve been mentally checked out almost from the beginning, so once that happens, the race is pretty much over. But I’m sure you’ll have an awesome race at the Charleston half. You’ve really been putting in quality training time and that will pay off.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I hope it does! My legs felt really flat yesterday too, but that was the 5th day in a row running, so yeah. The higher mileage weeks are not bad during the week, but the fatigue from it seems to hit a few days into the next week. It’s so weird! But anyway, I am hoping I have my bad race out of the way and they will only be good from here on out.

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