After the Cooper River Bridge Run a few weeks ago, I took a few easy days and a weekend off racing to recover. Still, I wanted one more attempt at a fast 5K before the Summer Sufferfest heat hits in a few weeks, and the Green and Lean 5K fit the bill.
About the Green and Lean 5K
The Green and Lean 5K begins in Brittlebank Park, Downtown Charleston, and runs out to Hampton Park, a loop around the park, then back to Brittlebank. The course is USATF Certified, and since this is Charleston, it is flat and fast. Plus, the race was two weeks after the Bridge Run- perfect timing to benefit from the increased endurance from 10K and hill training.
The Green and Lean 5K is hosted by Keep Charleston Beautiful and is a recycling themed race. It’s also a great race for families, as there’s a tot trot for the kids, a few vendors, and a pretty awesome playground at the start and finish. Another bright spot of this race is the price and value. It’s hard to find a 5K for $20 these days, so when I see one, I go for it.
Melissa and I targeted the Green and Lean 5K as a goal race, and she wanted to break 20, or set a pre-pregnancy PR. I just wanted a PR (under 21:22), as my 5K PR was set at the Reindeer Run in December. I’ve run two half marathons since Reindeer Run and PRed both, plus the Bridge Run.
It was time for my 21:22 5K time to go down. Literally.
As I mentioned in the weekly rundown blog post, I didn’t feel too confident the night before the race. I travelled for work last week, didn’t eat the best, and switched up my rest days. The weather was rainy, windy, and depressing, and I was a bit tired. I still picked up my packet and planned to run.
I’ve been running long enough to know the first mile can be a lie, and sometimes the best races come when you don’t have expectations.
I got to the race that morning, and the weather was chilly- just how I like it. I threw on a hoodie and gloves, and Melissa and I warmed up by running part of the course. One other benefit of warming up: Finding a hidden portapotty 1/2 mile from the start. No crowd! We got back to the start, ditched hoodies, and got ready to race.
It was a windy day in Charleston, and Mile 1 was straight into it. I hit it in a 6:45 pace, which was exactly what I wanted. I tend to run like a metronome, so my goal was to go out at a pace that would earn me a PR and just hang on.
Photo courtesy of Luiz Franca Photography and used with permission.
For the first mile, I ran with my friend Larry, who I affectionately call Larry the Legend. He’s from Boston and has run that marathon many times, as well as some very speedy paces in his younger years. You can’t beat running with Larry the Legend and hearing his stories about other legends like Bill Rodgers and Boston Marathon Director Dave McGillivray.
In Mile 2, we entered Hampton Park, where I run each Sunday. Talk about a home course advantage! I was slightly ahead of Larry in the second mile, where we passed another man and I started running by a man wearing a singlet that said Compelled By Christ. I tried to pace and run with Compelled by Christ and let him string me along. Then, a race photographer got in our way to take a picture. I haven’t seen that picture, but it better be a good one!
I ran mile 2 in 6:51, so I didn’t lose much steam.
Mile 3 was back to the start. Compelled By Christ passed me; maybe Jesus propelled him to a negative split. I heard Larry’s wife yell and cheer for him so I knew he was right behind me and that we were running a good pace (Larry was 1 second behind me in the results).
We had to run past the start, then cut onto a grassy/trail area for the finish. I just tried to hold on mentally and find that extra gear. I kept telling myself that in 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute it would be over. I could do anything for 3, 2, 1 minutes. Mile 3 was 6:42 pace.
I approached the finish and saw 20 on the clock- shock!! I didn’t have much of a kick because the trail, grass, and sand slowed me down. I think if the finish was paved, I could’ve hauled it!
I crossed the finish in 20:53 and was 2nd female overall. I was proud to share the podium with Melissa because you can’t beat running and racing with friends. We did a 2 mile cooldown run to thank the volunteers (and my friend Chris who is a police officer working overtime at the race) and cheer for the other runners, before heading back for the tot trot and awards ceremony.
Virginia brought Stella to run the Tot Trot, and she was so cute. The kids got ribbons and King of Pops. I was a little jealous of the popsicles because the “adult” refreshments were things like bananas and granola bars.
I’m not quite sure if the Green and Lean 5K is a PR or not. The course is USATF certified, but I got a short reading on my Garmin, 3.08. Usually on certified courses, I get slightly over 3.1 miles for a 5K, as they are certified on the tangents/shortest route possible. Who knows?
Either way, the Green and Lean 5K was my best executed 5K in a long time. I paced myself well, thought positively, and stayed mentally on track the entire race. I ran the race and didn’t let the race run me. You can’t control the course length, the weather, or who shows up (or if I place, who didn’t show up). You *can* control your own training and your attitude- and I tried to do that on Saturday.
As for now, I’m excited to run a few more 5Ks as “race-outs” tempos this summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing 20:xx on the clock again!
Race Name: Green and Lean 5K
Location: Charleston, SC
Date and Time: April 16, 2016, 8:30 AM.
Entry fee: $25-30 ($5 off for CRC members)
Swag: Navy blue tank top, reusable bag
Post-race Food: Bananas, bagels, granola bars, water, popsicles for the kids.
Weather: 54 degrees, 71% humidity, 9 mph N wind, beautiful!