Race for the Ark 5K (21:58)

Each year, the Race for the Ark 5K in Summerville marks the unofficial kickoff for Fall road racing in Charleston. It draws the local cross country runners for a team challenge, adults who work at area businesses that do the corporate challenge, and local runners who love the camaraderie of road races. Race for the Ark is the largest race in Summerville, and 500 runners in a race is a big deal for our small town.

Race for the Ark benefits The Ark of SC, a respite care program for Alzheimer’s patients. The patients visit the program, giving caretakers some time off to run errands, take care of household duties, buy groceries, get hair/nails done, or otherwise enjoy some personal time.

Several members of my family suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia, which is an extremely sad conditions, and I’m sure that the caretakers appreciate the program and its services.



At the beginning of the summer, I set a goal to run under 21 minutes in this race. I’ve only run sub-21 once- the 2016 Green and Lean 5K– and I wanted to run sub-21 again to prove that was not a fluke. I ran 45-50 miles a week and did two workouts each week. I started out following a plan-in-a-can from a book, and when I couldn’t achieve the goal paces, fell off the plan. Overall, we had a mild summer in SC, but the last three weeks have been absolutely brutal.

With 90+ degree temperatures and never meeting my goal paces in workouts, I struggled to stay positive. I followed the plan for as many workouts as I could, but weather and life stress got in the way. The Wednesday night before this race, Melissa and I ran together and basically commiserated about how crummy running has been lately.

Some days, your race is doomed from the time you wake up. I was late getting out of the house, leaving my coffee sitting on the counter. On the drive to Summerville, I got stuck behind other cars driving slowly. I thought about how last year, the race began at 7:40 AM instead of the scheduled 7:45 AM. I was scared it would start while I was warming up or in the porta potty. I was also nervous about the 5K itself, since I hadn’t run a race since Race the Landing 5K six weeks before.

I was a ball of nerves at packet pickup (Erin and Rie saw me and can attest!), and I headed off for a solo two mile warmup because I needed to get it done quickly.


The Race

The 5K started promptly at 7:45 this year.  I noticed the local cross country teams, most of whom start the race notoriously too fast, at the front and stayed a few rows back. After we started, I noticed some runners who I finish near in races and tried to keep one of them (Ruth Marie) in my sight. I passed some high school girls before getting stuck behind a wall of high school boys running together close to the first mile marker.

When my watch buzzed at one mile, I looked down and saw the split- 6:55. That was ten seconds off where I wanted to be to hit my time goal, and I knew I couldn’t make that up over the next two miles. I focused on gaining on other runners and passing them. I didn’t want to get passed by anyone who I passed. Thankfully, I didn’t.

I could tell I slowed down a little, but wasn’t sure how much until my watch buzzed at Mile Two: 7:10. Even though I passed many runners, I still managed to slow down by 15 seconds.

I was mentally done, but had one more mile to finish. In the last mile, I thought about my uncle who had Alzheimer’s disease as well as my coworker’s mother. I gained on a high school girl and ran side by side with her until we turned the corner at Mile 3 (7:08). I ran as hard as I could, hoping to at least finish under 22 minutes. I crossed the line in 21:58, just behind her.

Theresa got a picture of me finishing. I’m glad she didn’t capture my face.


Post Race

It was a rough day for several of us. Tears were shed and hugs were given. I ate a few donut holes, lots of grapes, and smiled for pictures. I was unhappy with my performance but glad to be around my friends, especially those who I only see at races. I tried to remind myself that the patients and caregivers who benefit do not care how fast or slow anyone runs. They only care that runners and walkers show up to support the cause.

I placed in my age group and received a wooden Ark award to add to my collection. The patients in the program make these awards and that makes them special. Most of our Wednesday night crew did really well and many of us placed.


After the race, Melissa and I went to the Summerville Farmer’s Market with her kids. It was only one block away from the race, and the Farmer’s Market was full of nice, leashed dogs to pet and play with. We also took a detour to visit the World’s Largest Sweet Tea. It’s a bit hidden from the road, but a roadside attraction to seek out if you visit Summerville or want to be a tourist in your own town.



As runners and human beings, we have good days and bad days. Sometimes the bad days happen on race day. A bad race is like an injury, in the sense that others have theories on why your race went poorly (overtraining, undertraining, not running in the morning, training with others, training solo, etc).

In the moments after the race, that doesn’t matter- what you need is a hug and a recovery beverage, plus a few days to figure out what to do next. Sometimes the mental recovery is just as important as the physical recovery- and it’s time for me to recover and rediscover the joy.


Race Name: Race for the ARK

Location: Summerville, SC

Date and Time: August 26, 2017, 7:45 AM

Terrain: Paved, flat and fast road, closed to traffic. One strategically placed water stop- runners ran by twice and another water stop in Mile 2. USATF Certified.

Entry fee: $25 (advanced registration, no shirt), $35 (advanced registration with shirt), $40 (late/day of registration, shirt not guaranteed).

Swag: Reusable bag and gender-specific tech shirt (blue with stained glass art), gifts from sponsors (pens, post-it notes, lanyard etc)

Post-race Food: Water, fruit, bagels, donut holes.

Weather: 72 degrees, 100% humidity, sunny.

This entry was posted in 5Ks, Race Recaps, Race Reviews, Summerville, Summerville Running and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Race for the Ark 5K (21:58)

  1. sarahdudek80 says:

    Well, I think that race is something to be proud of given the conditions you had to deal with. Humidity will ruin your pace more than anything else. Add on some over zealous XC runners blocking the way and you have a serious recipe for frustration. You know my thoughts on 5K’s. They are tough and leave very little time or room for bumps along the road when trying to get a PR. Way to push through and I honestly LOVE the pic your friend took of you. Looking fabulous!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thank you! It was just a rough day all around. I’m hoping the cooler temperatures help, along with putting less mental pressure on myself with races and running.

  2. wanderwolf says:

    Oh no. My two cents are that heat and humidity. You could have done a minute faster in better conditions. And with your coffee 🙂 I’m sorry you didn’t make your main goal, but it sounds like a fun morning and it was for a great cause. Also, agree with Sarah…nice picture!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It didn’t FEEL as bad at the race, but then when I came home and saw what the weather conditions were, it was actually hotter and more than previous years, so there’s that. Sunday was a little cooler, but even Sunday got hot fast when the sun came out.

  3. I know it’s hard not to kick rocks after a race that goes tougher than planned- so I say kick rocks and then readjust and go forward. You have been working hard and I know it’s hard to see it but that work has NOT gone to waste. Maybe the conditions played a big role, maybe the lack of coffee did- there are a million and one things that can throw a wrench into the race but the point is you got out there and ran hard and for a good cause.

    I’m curious- would you be willing to race where you couldn’t see your watch? Perhaps not knowing mile splits would help. When you see that first mile and said you knew you couldn’t make up the time- maybe that mentally just defeated you and made it harder mentally the last 2 miles? Just a thought!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      When I’m running on a daily basis and training, I usually don’t look at my watch until I’m done. I looked at it on Saturday because I knew there was a target pace to hit (6:45ish). I used to frequently race without my watch, but I like having the strava data. I feel like the anxiety made the race tough from the start physically (I was tense), and after seeing that mile split, it was all over mentally.

  4. Summer races are tough!! I have heard that for a 5K you should go out fast and see if you can hang on. Well, that’s one theory anyways! But either way, 1st in age is always a great thing, so congrats!! My grandmother had Alzheimers. A very sad disease indeed.
    (ps, I now know why your blog is The Tiny Terror. Takes me a while to figure these things out once in a while. haha!)

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Ha- I had the nickname for years and chose it for my blog. My friend gave me the nickname after a really hot 5K we all ran in 2011. It’s stuck ever since.

      I’ve gone out WAY too fast in 5Ks too- most people do. It’s amazing how I can positive split like a champ in a 5K but still pass a lot of people. Very easy to get caught up in the atmosphere, I guess.

  5. Wise words! Summer races are tough and unpredictable, but kudos to you for giving it your all anyway. Use your disappointment to fuel your training for your next race! 😊

  6. tracyfgreen says:

    Great recap! If there’s any month of the year I don’t race, it’s August, haha. I got a kick out of how small you look in the group photo … and then I realized that all my group photos, I’m that person! #tinybutmighty

    I agree I’d be interested to see how you did just by feel — don’t set a goal and then you don’t have a reason to look! (But you could still start it, toss it on the time of day screen, and have the data for later, which would be interesting x2!) My other suggestion — and this is something I do a lot, especially if I’m running 5ks within a few weeks of each other — is to go out at the pace I averaged at the one before, then see if I can negative split it. It sets you up for a great negative split situation which is always nice in a 5k!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      With the group photo, Tami and Becky are pretty tall but Melissa and I are not tall. Larry really isn’t that tall either (further proof that you can be a rockstar runner and not be tall). I definitely look even shorter in some group photos depending on who is around, especially guys!

      I like your idea of going out at the pace of my last 5K and trying to negative split. I have never thought of doing that, but it seems like a good strategy, especially when you race within a few weeks and know your fitness probably hasn’t changed much.

      I have signed up for a 5K next Saturday to give it another shot!

  7. supereli23 says:

    I think you did great considering there was 100%?!? humidity. That’s like running through some thick pea soup! Great job and I’m sure you will snag that sub-21 heading into cooler fall running.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      100% humidity is life here, although I run a lot in the afternoons when the humidity is lower but temperature is higher. Most of my weekend morning runs, the humidity is at least 95%. You kinda get used to it for training, but it’s definitely not ideal for racing. For me, it’s just hard to do any sort of extended effort in it. I can do a long easy run or short intervals, but tempo runs and races… are HARD!

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