Since I last raced in July, it’s been over a month since my last race review. With the heat and summer vacations, we haven’t had many races in the Charleston area over the past few weeks. Truthfully, I was ready for a break after the Race the Landing 5K series. I raced a lot at the beginning of the summer and felt a little burnt out, so I’ve enjoyed the mental break from racing.
A couple of my friends from our Wednesday track workouts were running Race for the Ark, since it’s right here in town and Summerville doesn’t have many races. I decided to jump in too.
Race for the Ark is in its 16th year, and the proceeds benefit those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The ARK charity helps educate patients’ families and get the patients the treatments they need despite barriers such as living in rural areas. The ARK also provides respite care so that patients’ children and other caregivers have a break from around-the-clock caregiving.
My uncle passed away last year due to complications from Alzheimer’s and my grandma had dementia in her later years, so I had a very personal reason for running it. I’ve found that any run where you honor or remember someone is a better run.
I got to the race about 7 AM and picked up my packet and shirt. The online registration form never mentioned that the shirts were sized gender specific, which in my opinion, is a big mistake on the race’s part. First, the race offered a no shirt option and probably could have sold more shirt entries if ladies knew they could get a fitted shirt. Second, many ladies wear a different sized shirt depending on the cut- unisex or gender specific. Many women received shirts they could not wear.
Races never have tiny terror sized shirts, so I ordered a Large for my mom, who walks a 5K each day. Unfortunately I got a women’s large and she probably can’t wear it now. The race organizers said I could swap it out after the race, but after I finished, they and the shirts were nowhere to be found. In the end, it’s just a shirt, but it’s also an advertisement for the race and the sponsors.
I ran a warmup on the course, then came back to the start and exchanged little pep talks with Aisha and Melissa before the race. It was Melissa’s last race before she moves off to medical school in the Caribbean. We’ve run a lot of races together so it was fun to share her send-off race. The race promptly started at 7:45 (note the weird start time).
To avoid going out too fast, I started a few rows back, having to dodge and run around some people. It was a big race, and one little boy fell 1/10th of a mile in. Fortunately he was close to the curb and his coach helped him up. Speaking of coaches and kids, this race has a high school team competition, so Summerville, Ashley Ridge, Pinewood, and Porter-Gaud were out in full force (probably ~100 kids). I’ve never seen a road race with so many high school kids.
Dodging other runners, I hit the first mile in 7:02. The first mile didn’t feel too hard and I was right where I wanted to be. I knew as the race progressed, I would start to feel it.
My goal going into the race was to keep a steady pace because I’ve practiced that all summer, in preparation for a winter half marathon. If you “bank time” by going out too fast in a half, you pay it back with interest. Since race fees are astronomical in Charleston, I don’t want to pay any more than I have to.
I passed a lot of people in the first mile and a few in the second mile, including most of the high school girls. Those kids were really giving it their all, and the top two finishers were both high school athletes. I hit Mile 2 in 7:03 and was surprised I hadn’t slowed down. My legs were feeling it but I knew the race would be over soon, so I let those numbers get me pumped up to finish. We had some course spectators and cheerleaders so that helped.
I approached the finish and saw 21:xx on the clock, and I realized I hadn’t slowed down (I’m so used to bombing that last mile of every 5K). Since Mile 3 is so close to the finish, I didn’t look at my watch split for it until after the race, but I kept an even pace (7:02, 7:03, 7:01, :48) the entire 5K.
My finish time was 21:55, and I beat my “official” PR (22:05) from last year. I’ve run faster 5K times since, but on slightly short courses (3.05-3.08). Some of those were faster paced races and pace PRs, but seeing “New Record” display on my Garmin is always exciting.
After the race, I ran around downtown Summerville to cool down, then headed back to the finish to talk to friends, get awards, and eat some refreshments. The refreshments at this race were great with tons of food and fruit from sponsors, as well as giveaways and prizes. Post-race massages were also offered but I didn’t get one (the line was long and I go to a sports massage therapist each month anyway).
I placed second in my age group. Melissa won our age group to celebrate her last Charleston race (she ran a 21:42 and was close to me for most of the race- so she really pushed me to earn my PR!). Two others, John and Rie, who do speedwork with us on Wednesday night also placed, as well as a bunch of my other Charleston running friends.
Everyone who placed received a wooden Noah’s Ark, and I later learned that the Alzheimer’s patients make the awards. That makes winning one extremely special.
Aside from the t-shirt fiasco, I really enjoyed the race (I’ll likely opt out of the shirt next year). With 497 runners, it was quite a large race for Summerville and drew a wide range of participants, from speedy high school kids to walkers. The flat, paved course and large, fast, field make it ideal for a fast race to kick off Fall running.
Race Name: Race for the ARK
Location: Summerville, SC
Date and Time: August 22, 2015, 7:45 AM
Terrain: Paved, flat and fast road, closed to traffic. One strategically placed water stop- runners ran by twice.
Entry fee: $25 (advanced registration, no shirt), $30 (advanced registration with shirt), $35 (late/day of registration, shirt not guaranteed).
Swag: Reusable bag and gender-specific tech shirt (green with stained glass art).
Post-race Food: Water, Gatorade, large fruit assortment (melon, bananas, grapes, oranges), Panera bagels, baked goods (some homemade, some from Panera bread).
Weather: 72 degrees, 100% humidity, sunny.