Today, I’m linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run for the Friday Five linkup. Each week, the link up has a different theme, and everyone gives their personal insight on the same subject, making it a fun read.
This week’s theme is Five Race Day Surprises.
Surprise #1: Friends showing up
Most runners race against themselves and do it to *be with others* rather than *beat others*. One of the best race surprises is showing up on race day and seeing someone you haven’t run with in awhile- whether it’s due to injury, not racing much, or visiting from out of town.
I have a number of running friends from Florence (I used to live there) and Columbia, as well as a few from out of state, and it’s fun to wind up at the same race together.
Surprise #2: Finisher’s medals
Since bling is a major selling point for races these days (some runners won’t do a race without one), most races publicize finisher’s medals. Half and full marathons almost always have a finisher’s medal, but it surprises runners who run a 5K and get a medal.
I’m volunteering with the Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K series this summer, and it’s fun to give out the finisher’s medals and see how happy everyone is to receive a medal and wear it at the after party.
If you haven’t run a Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K, there’s one more in August and you should check it out. Here are some of the medals:
Surprise #3: Weather
Everyone stalks the various weather websites before a race, and sometimes you go to bed that night expecting the worst- heat, cold, rain, or even storms that could possibly cancel a race.
Last Thursday’s Daniel Island Happy Hour 5K was threatened by thunderstorms. At one point, six of us working the registration table held down the tents and signs to keep them from blowing away. Holding down a tent is interesting when you’re 5’0″.
The race went on; the organizers postponed it from 6:30 to 7 PM, and 125 runners stuck it out to race. Best of all, the storms brought slightly cooler temperatures, so people finished with faster times and everyone had a fun time.
Surprise #4: Good food
You can race for bling, beer, and to be with friends, and some people run so they can eat and drink. I’ve run races that offered everything from catered dinners to home-cooked meals to unlimited beer at the finish, and it’s always fun to treat yourself.
The Race the Landing 5K series has great food, but sometimes the very small, local races surprise you with meals or homemade baked goods.
Surprise #5: Surprise PRs
I saved this one for last, but a shiny new Personal Record is one of the best race day surprises. After being injured for much of the summer of 2014, I ran a few trail races, then showed up at the Fall Equinox 10K, my first road race post-injury. I hadn’t done speedwork, and my mileage wasn’t where I wanted it, but the stars aligned that night and I ran a 46:08.
I learned that 1.) Just running in the summertime is huge for your fitness, 2.) cross training works, and 3.) I’m a stronger runner than I give myself credit for. Most of my PRs happen when I least expect them and when I tell myself I have nothing to prove.
What’s your favorite race day surprise?