McLeod Sports Medicine Challenge 5K (21:34)

On Friday, I visited my parents to have dinner and spend some quality time with them. Clay was busy with MMA/BJJ that evening and Saturday morning, so it was a good excuse to spend time with my mom and dad. Both of them are turning 70 this year, and it’s important to spend time with family whenever you can.

The week before I visited my parents, I found out that some of my coworkers were running a local race in Florence, the McLeod Sports Medicine Challenge. With the Cooper River Bridge Run only two weeks later, I decided to run the 5K as a tune-up, since I hadn’t raced on the roads since the Hilton Head Island Half Marathon.

The McLeod Sports Medicine Challenge was my first 10K in 2010, and I also ran the 10K in 2011. I ran the Florence Turkey Trot 5K on the same course in November.


This year, McLeod Regional Medical Center, the local hospital system where my family lives, decided to make this race and two other local races a part of a series and offer finisher’s medals. These medals are really fun because each medal represents a geographical area of South Carolina, and if you run all three races, the medals connect magnetically to form the shape of the state.

Race Day

I woke up at 6 on race morning because my parents wake up that early, so I had coffee with them and relaxed before driving to the race. I ate some Belvita Breakfast Biscuits (blueberry flavor!) that my mom gave me, and they were really yummy dunked in the coffee.

I arrived at the race around 8:15, got my shirt and number, and went for a 2 mile warmup. It took awhile for my legs to warm up, probably because of driving 2 hours and not moving/walking much the day before. I only saw two other guys warming up. I went to the potty and to the start to see the 10Kers off- they started a few minutes before the 5K.


At the start, I saw Jack, who is about 12 or 13, and I used to coach him when I volunteered with the Florence Track Club youth team in 2011-2012. I hoped to find some guys to run close to, but the crowd was very small in general. Turns out, two other races were held in the area, which meant turnout would be low for all because the Florence area doesn’t have many runners. I quickly realized this 5K would mostly be a solo effort.

The Run 

When the gun went off, Jack took off and I followed. The course was an out and back with a big loop, so I could see Jack for about the first 1.3 miles or so. The course was well marked with adequate volunteers, and I knew it from the Thanksgiving race, but I took off way too fast on the slight downhill first mile! Florence is relatively flat, but nowhere is as flat as Charleston, and my legs can tell even slight elevation changes.


After Mile 1 (6:38), I passed some 10Kers and we rounded some corners. I was glad the 10Kers were there for me to follow and pass, as the first 3 miles of the courses are the same. Since it was Saturday morning, people were out doing yard work and had their barking dogs out, but fortunately those dogs stayed away. Whew!

In the second mile, a truck was backing out of a driveway, saw a pack of 10Kers running together, and thankfully stopped to let them by. I was behind the 10Kers and quickly approaching to pass. The driver did not see me right away and started backing again- FAST. I jumped off the race course and into a driveway to avoid him, as he came pretty close to me. The race was sponsored by McLeod Medical Center but I didn’t want to make a post-race visit there. Yikes. I was a bit shaken up and clocked Mile 2 in 6:56.

The last mile was no man’s land. I couldn’t see Jack, but I did pass a few 10Kers who cheered me on and told me I was doing a great job. With no one else around me, I was thankful for those cheers. I could feel the slight uphill of Mile 3 (7:08), since it was the end of the race and I live and train in pancake-flat Charleston. I was ready to be done and thankful to see the signs, then turn left to finish.


I finished in 21:34 and was the first overall female. As I mentioned, this was a very small race. It’s fun to win any award, but that’s all about who shows up- and you can’t control or help who shows up. In my case, you can’t control who doesn’t show up, either.

Jack won the race, finishing in under 21 minutes- a great pre-season race before the youth track practices begin in a few weeks. I hope he has a great season and continues to run strong- it takes real maturity to run a fast race in no-mans-land at a young age. I talked to him afterwards along with a few other kids who run for Florence Track Club, and it made me miss volunteering/coaching a lot.

The second place female, Ashley, and I ran a cooldown to find a friend on the 10K course, cheer for the 10Kers and some of my coworkers, and thank the volunteers.


For an award, I received a medal for placing as well as a gift card for Dick’s Sporting Goods. This was a pretty good award as I can use it to buy summer running clothes!


Goals and Expectations

I set a few loose goals on the car ride to the race.

The last time I ran this course was the Florence Turkey Trot, and I wanted to beat that finish time. In this race, I was 13 seconds faster, and only 12 seconds off my 5K PR, which was set in December at the Reindeer Run 5K.

My main goal right now is to run under 45 minutes in the Cooper River Bridge Run, but once that’s over, I’d love to PR a 5K before the weather gets too hot in Charleston.

Overall, I enjoyed the run. It was fun visiting my parents and nice to run a race somewhere different, even if it was small. Running alone is hard! I do wish the race had a bigger turnout so I would’ve had some competition to push me. I believe that if I hadn’t been shook up by the truck backing out, and had someone to really push me on that last mile, I could’ve run a faster time.

The series looks like a lot of fun, and I wish I could do the rest of the races and place the medals together. Props to McLeod Health for hosting these events and trying to get the community active.


Race Name: McLeod Sports Medicine Challenge 5K/10K

Location: Florence, SC

Date and Time: March 19, 2016, 9 AM

Entry fee: 5K: $20-30

Course: All paved, road, neighborhoods with a few inclines. USTAF Certified.

Swag: Short sleeved tech shirt, finisher’s medal.

Post-race Food: Pasta (I couldn’t eat it- it was meat sauce), Krispy Kreme Donuts, Bananas, Milk, Juice, Water, Gatorade

Weather: 55 degrees, 88% humidity, 3 mph ENE wind, overcast. Beautiful running weather!

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24 Responses to McLeod Sports Medicine Challenge 5K (21:34)

  1. laurenweiner says:

    Sounds like a nice, small race. That truck backing out would have scared me too! Smaller races are nice, but things like that tend to happen when the course isn’t compeltedly closed off. I did a small local race that had us stop at a main road! We had to wait for a police officer to wave us across. I would have likely had a PR had I not been forced to stop.

    Great job on first female! Dick’s Sporting Goods GC is a great prize!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      That’s so crazy that you had to actually STOP at a road during a race! None of us had to do that- they had the major intersection closed off at least (which was a smart move). Stinks that it kept you from a PR too.

      The gift card is a nice prize. It’s not good on everything- like I couldn’t use it on shoes due to discount/brand requirements. But they let me use it on tank tops so that was good.

  2. Hollie says:

    Nice job Amy and you are definitely right. You can’t control who shows up to a race. It sounds like it was a good race and glad you had some 10kers to run with. Gift cards are always my favorite to win too.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      The 10Kers who cheered me on were so nice- it was really sweet of them to do that. I always have fun cheering people in after my races too, I figure I need to run a cool down so why not?

      Gift cards always come in handy especially for a sporting goods store… I can always find something to buy!

  3. Laura says:

    First off I’m glad you were able to get out of the way of the truck but that definitely would have shaken me up too! I had a truck cut across a marathon course right in front of me a few years ago(cop wasn’t paying attention) and it took me a few miles to get my heart rate back down! Congrats on the win though, and love getting gift cards and useful prizes like that!

    I think you are going to do so well at the bridge run, this shows your fitness has improved and you have been doing such good race specific training for it!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You know, I’m used to crazy drivers and watching out for them during training runs, because I’m the only runner out there (or one of very few runners that driver will see, unlike a race), but it shook me up to happen during a race. When I posted about it on Facebook, a friend responded and said she had 2 friends who were actually HIT by cars during races.

      It does bring up a good point, too. Never race with someone else’s bib or in someone else’s name. I didn’t wear my Road ID for the race, so if something had happened, and I had someone else’s bib, they would not have known who I was if I got hit. I’m using this example as a warning to several people I know who are planning to run under others’ names to avoid paying transfer fees.

      I have been trying to do some race specific training each week. I feel like just running a few “less flat” courses and some hill repeats will go a long way. After all there is only one hill to run up at the Cooper River Bridge Run, then it is all downhill and flat from then.

  4. Angela says:

    Yes! I’ve been waiting to read this recap! You have the coolest races down south! I want magnetic medals that create a picture…..this sounds like so much fun and I’m sure it motivates people to run all of the races. I think you’ll go under 21 soon!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It is a cool series, and I hope runners and walkers will run these races, get the medals, and continue (or adopt) healthier habits. The other 2 McLeod Health and Fitness races are in smaller towns that do not have very many 5Ks, so kudos to them for bringing running events to those areas they serve. A lot of small, rural towns in SC have high rates of obesity, heart disease, not a lot of access to gyms or healthy grocery stores, etc. Things like this are really needed here.

      I hope to run sub-21 in 2016. Unfortunately, the heat is fast approaching in SC and that impacts running and racing. Pretty much every race from May-early September is more about survival than running for a specific time, much less trying to PR.

      I can see myself PRing my 5K soon, if conditions are right for a road race. I was hoping to set a new 5K PR on March 5, but that was the day I got sick so my PR was more of a “Puke Record” than a “Personal Record”. It was terrible!

  5. You are too modest – you WON! And your time was awesome!! CONGRATS!!!! You mentioned in an above comment that you want to go sub-21. I think you are totally capable to reach this goal! I know it’s warming up out there but you are SO CLOSE! I know you have it in you. Any upcoming 5Ks you can target?

  6. supereli23 says:

    Congrats on the win! Races always depend on who shows up, but it’s nothing you can control and you definitely should celebrate your victory. I mean you were running so fast in that first picture that you were a “blur”! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, the picture was at the very beginning of the race and I definitely took off too fast- just look at the splits.

      It was fun to be announced as the winner, even if I’ll never hear that in a bigger or more competitive race (at least not with a time in the 21s).

  7. Congrats on the win. Scary about the car incident though.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks- yeah, it was. It’s something to watch out for in most small races, but you’d think drivers would be a bit more considerate if there’s a race going on in the neighborhood.

  8. Pam says:

    Wow, that truck must have really scared you. And the dogs, don’t get me started on the “friendly” dogs off leash that bite runners. Congrats on your win and how to have a gift card to Dick’s for summer running clothes.

  9. You’re speedy! Way to go Amy. I think you’re right, you can’t control who does and doesn’t show up on race day. Last year, I did a 5K and took 1st in my (25-29) age group. This year, with a time 5 seconds slower, I took 3rd in my new group, 30-34. Crazy! All you can do is your run your best race and worry about you, right?

    Way to go! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you!

      I agree. I stopped worrying about how others were training long ago. I figure if I have time to worry about others, or who is showing up at a race, then I could be spending that time doing more training, or recovery, or writing more for my real-girl job, or cleaning, or… doing something productive. All you can do is show up and give your best for that day. If you do that, your race is a success no matter what the clock says or any awards you win.

  10. ksquared says:

    Congrats on 1st place!! Sounds like a fun race. I’m glad you didn’t end up getting run over by that can though. Yikes! I can imagine that got your heart rate up.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Congrats, Amy! That must have been a frightening moment with the truck – glad you were alright. So nice you live close to your parents and able to race this. I am lucky my parents are less than an hour from me (mile wise close…but with traffic).

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you- yeah, I know how you feel with your parents living close, yet far away. Even things that are “close” in Charleston still require 20-30 minutes of driving due to traffic.

  12. Elizabeth C. says:

    WOW- huge congrats on your win! That must have felt amazing! You are getting really, really speedy, just cranking out these 5K’s at a sub 7:00 pace! I really love the idea of the connecting medals. So creative and fun!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It’s a fun medal! I wish I could earn the others, I don’t think it will work out with the races being so far away. Either way, the medal looks okay stand alone.

      I’m glad to be running solid sub-22 in my “non tempo” 5Ks :).

  13. I’m so happy to hear you had chance to spend time with your parents! That’s great! Family time is the best :). You did amazing at the 5k, especially with it being a tune up for you and the fact that you hadn’t run a road race in some time! That’s amazing, Amy!!

    Glad you got to run in nice weather, too!!

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