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.
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.
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!