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.