Smokin’ Fast 5K (21:28)

Last weekend, I visited my parents and jumped into the Smokin’ Fast 5K race, which is a part of the South Carolina Tobacco Festival in Lake City, SC.


I’ll admit that a festival involving tobacco is ironic. Years ago, tobacco was a HUGE cash crop in the area where I grew up. My maternal grandparents, my mom, and all of her siblings worked on a tobacco farm and so did many others. This was during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, when the dangerous of tobacco were not as well known and smoking was common. Most tobacco farms in the area have since shut down.

Today, the festival is a small town festival, complete with rides, crafts, food vendors, a stage with live music, a car show, a beauty pageant, and everything else you would expect to find at a festival. I grew up attending the festival as a kid and was curious to see how Lake City has changed.


I’d hadn’t heard of the Smokin’ Fast 5K until a few weeks before the race, but my mom saw it in the paper and was excited I was coming to visit and run.

On Friday, I travelled to my parents house and had dinner and dessert with my mom. We had Subway and shared a slice of carrot cake from East Bay Deli. I brought the cake from Charleston so my mom could try it and it was the biggest, most delicious, slice of carrot cake ever. 


On Saturday morning, I got up early to drink coffee, eat a pop tart, and drive to the race start. The roads in Lower Florence County desperately need paving, so it was a bumpy ride. Charleston definitely needs more roads for our population, but the roads themselves here aren’t full of potholes, patches, and bumps (the first 300 meters or so of the race was similarly bumpy).

I warmed up for two miles around Lake City with my friend Lee. The area doesn’t have a lot of runners, but I was a little surprised that we were the only people warming up. We warmed up on the course and after last Saturday, I was glad to see it was well marked with signs at each turn. I later saw another running friend, Keith, who is an airline pilot and signed up at the last minute since he got the day off. The crowd was small, but the race had a lot of volunteers and was organized.

After a few words and a quick prayer, we were off and running at 8:15. I quickly found myself as 2nd overall, first female, right behind Lee. It makes for a boring race recap, but that’s how the race played out the entire time. I followed Lee for my first mile (6:42- too fast for the heat) until I could no longer see him, then followed the signs on the course.

The course was very well marked, and every intersection had police officers directing traffic. The cars that were stopped were cheering for the runners. The course mostly ran through Lake City neighborhoods, so I saw some fun Halloween decorations and people working in their yards. I didn’t see any mile markers, and I didn’t feel my watch buzz for Mile 2 (6:54). I wish I had, because I was slowing fading and perhaps I would’ve pushed more in the last mile.


The last mile (7:10- ouch) lasted forever. I was sure no one was close to me, and that was confirmed when the police let the cars go by after I ran through an intersection. My mindset changed here. A PR was out of the question, and with a long run the next day and a race the next weekend, I kept the same effort level. I crossed the finish in 21:28.


I ran a few miles to cool down, then met up with my mom for the awards ceremony and to browse the local vendor booths at the festival. My parents are both 70, and I’m glad they can still come out to festivals and races. Someday, my parents won’t be able to get around as well, so I’m grateful for the times we can share together now.


As first overall female, I received a carved award and a gift card to a local grocery store called IGA. It was a fun and practical prize- because who doesn’t need groceries? After leaving the festival, my mom and I went to IGA to spend the gift card. I bought some steaks for Clay, salmon for myself, and a few goodies like Reese’s Cups and chocolate chip cookies.

Everything fit in a foam cooler and with a bag of ice on top, the groceries were still cold when I got home. Clay was surprised and thrilled that I brought him home some steaks for the grill!


My time for the Smokin’ Fast 5K was 8 seconds slower than my Race for the Ark 5K time. I’ll admit that I secretly hoped to beat my Race for the Ark 5K time, but I was okay with being a few seconds off because every race is different. The temperature and humidity were similar for both races, but the Smokin’ Fast 5K was a much smaller event without a lot of other runners to keep me on track for that last mile.

I’m still waiting on the temperatures to cool down and hoping to be under 21 when it happens!


Race Name: Smokin’ Fast 5K

Location: Lake City, SC

Date and Time: September 24, 2016, at 8:15 AM

Terrain: Paved, flat and fast road. Well marked course with police assistance. One water stop.

Entry fee: $25 (advanced registration), $35 day of.

Swag: Soft blue t-shirt

Post-race Food: Water, bananas, granola bars. Plenty of festival food readily available for purchase steps away from the finish.

Weather: 70 degrees, 94% humidity, sunny and HOT.

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23 Responses to Smokin’ Fast 5K (21:28)

  1. laurenweiner says:

    Sounds like you did well, despite the heat. Its a killer! I too, find it ironic to have a race involving tobacco!

  2. Michelle says:

    I love the races that you get to do with your mom there. I can see the happiness in your face, it’s lighting up. I wish my parents were closer too so that they could see me race more often. I have my fingers crossed that they can be here for the New Years Run again this year. Family makes it so much more fun! Great Race, cooler temps will be here soon 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You just can’t beat having your family at the finish line of a race. Any race, whether it’s a marathon or a 5K… having family there just makes it special. Races with festivals or very nice after parties at the end are good for that too, because if your family members don’t run there are still things to do afterwards and you can hang out and chill.

  3. Holy crap, what a great award! Congratulations! We have a tonne of IGAs up here, which is weird because we don’t usually have the cool stuff that you guys do down there.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Every small town seems to have an IGA store, or sometimes it is called “Red and White”. You don’t see them in bigger cities like Charleston, and many have shut down in the small towns.

      This was my first time shopping in an IGA in years. I forgot that they don’t sell a lot of the foods I buy at bigger chain grocery stores here. They also sell a lot of things I’ve NEVER seen in a grocery store here, like pork stomachs and pigs feet. Needless to say, I strolled right past those meats…

  4. Way to go! You were running the Smokin’ Fast 5k SMOKIN’ FAST! A gift card for groceries- I love that! I would get something special like you did. We used to have an IGA store. I worked therre one summer!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      When I was in high school and my first two years of college, I worked at a Red and White store, which is basically the same thing as an IGA.

      I’ve been enjoying those chocolate chip cookies this week!

  5. martina_nyc says:

    Girl, I don’t know how you do it! I can barely complete an easy run when it is 94% humidity… Let alone running even 100m sub7! I’m really impressed. Great job!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It’s just a part of living and training in SC. Some people have hills, some have snow and ice, and we have humidity.

      You adapt to it, but no matter how long you run in hot, humid temps, times will always be slower. The good thing is, everyone’s running in the same conditions so all our times slow down.

  6. Congrats on a great race and getting the “W”! It sounds like a fun, quirky race. It’s definitely hard to push yourself when there isn’t anyone to run with. I run so much better when there is someone pushing me! I’m glad you got to spend time with your family. I love when my parents come to see me run too!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, I run so much better with a good crowd. I have another race this weekend that is much larger, and I hope that there will be some more people near me on the course to keep me going and push me along a bit. I know all of my PRs have been from races where I had others around me. I’m not a good solo racer!

  7. Great job on the 5k!!! We had similar races, except I tanked harder at the end ,lol!
    Good luck this weekend, humidity will be down slightly( i.e. Under 100%)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks! Yeah, I guess I didn’t tank TOO badly, but I wish I could’ve kept the last mile under 7 or closer to 7. Oh well… you know how it goes, it’s hard when you’re in no-mans-land in a small race. I think I will have some people to push me on Saturday, though!

  8. Pam says:

    Fantastic race Amy. I am sure you would have gotten those 8 seconds if you had other runners around pushing you. What a great prize and how fun to surprise Clay with steaks. A tobacco race seems so odd, but as you mentioned, that was a huge part of industry in that area of the country for a very long time.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Pam! Yeah, a lot of NC landmarks and races have tobacco themes too… Tobacco Rd. Marathon, stuff like that. Tobacco may not be a pretty part of the South’s history, but it is still a part of it.

  9. Theresa says:

    Sub 21 has your name on it once the temp hits the 60s!

  10. Wow! Congrats on the win!! That’s really something to be proud of. And the photo of that carrot cake looks amazing. Great report!

  11. Congrats on a great race and a first place finish and oh my gosh that carrot cake looks like heaven.

  12. I love that you brought your mom carrot cake so she could try it. It looks so good! You’re the sweetest daughter!

    Great job on the 5k!

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