After last Saturday’s IOP Connector Run 10K, I did some soul searching. Turns out, post-race dehydration and lots of couch time gives you a chance to reflect on why you run and race so much.
Sometimes a race isn’t about a goal or time. You can run to spend time with friends, test your own limits, and support great causes. Proceeds from the Avondale 5K benefit a wonderful cause- the Charles Webb Center. The Charles Webb Center serves children with special needs who cannot attend other daycares and whose parents could not go to work without it.
A few weeks ago, one of the Avondale 5K organizers and her daughter, a “graduate” of the center, came to our Charleston Beer Runners run to run with us, talk about the race, and collect donations. I was grieving Cindy’s death and in a rut after some of my races were postponed due to Hurricane Irma, and donating to the charity and seeing the kids cheered me up.
I write mantras on my hand before races, and on Saturday, I wrote “OWN IT”. So many runners won’t run a race if they don’t feel 100%, if training isn’t going their way, or because they’re scared they will lose to a rival.
That is not why I run races. No matter what my time or placement was, I planned to OWN IT and celebrate supporting the center and having the guts to race. I’ve had several discouraging runs lately, but for all I knew, this could be the one to turn the streak of rough races around. It did.
I got to the race, picked up my number and shirt, and ran around Avondale to warm up. I handed my gear off to Charlotte, who was working the race and headed for the start. The start was slightly different this year with a sharp turn in the beginning before a stretch of flat road, so I wanted to get out fast and hold back a little in the first mile, even if people passed me.
After a few pictures, we were off (photo courtesy of Triangle Char-N-Bar).
The first 1/2 mile was completely straight down a road, and I tried to keep my friend and fellow beer runner Dan R. in sight. He mostly runs marathons (he’s running one on EVERY CONTINENT), but when we run shorter races, we finish close to each other. We have a lot of runners named Dan, and Dan K. was close to Dan. R. I kept the Dan Pack close and hit the first mile in 6:59.
At this point, I knew two ladies were ahead of me- one was a Facebook/Insta friend who is out of my league and has won this race before, and another was a younger girl in a sports bra. Meredith, a rockstar Masters runner, crept up on me and passed, and I responded by passing her (she finished just behind me). I also knew a girl in a long-sleeved shirt was behind us, because when someone wears at a Charleston-area, you remember it. I ran a 7:05 for mile two.
I was hurting, but gaining on Dan R. and passed him. At this point, I heard “Stay strong, you have two ladies right behind you”. I thought it was Dan talking, but after the race he said he didn’t say it, so I guess it was a police officer or course marshal.
Either way, I heeded the advice. I didn’t look at my watch and tried to think positively and OWN IT. The last mile had kids cheering for the course with motivation signs, and I thought about the kids at the Charles Webb Center and how they’d benefit from the race’s proceeds and the awareness it brings them. I held on for a third mile in 7:06 before Dan R. kicked ahead.
I finished in 21:44 for third female overall.
I went for a two mile cooldown with Meredith, where we ran the course to cheer for the other runners and walkers and thank the volunteers and police officers. The race was very well organized, and they did a wonderful job directing traffic and keeping everyone on course and motivated.
After the awards ceremony, it was time to celebrate! The Avondale 5K has one of the BEST after parties. The DJ played a great variety of music, and everyone was drinking and dancing. We had breakfast burritos from Triangle, along with unlimited mimosas and several types of beer. It was hot outside, and the mimosas were refreshing.
I drank three mimosas, which isn’t a post-race Mimosa PR but my best mileage-to-mimosa rate yet (I drank four after the 2016 Charleston Half Marathon). I read somewhere that orange juice helps iron absorption, and as someone who has dealt with anemia, I use that to justify my mimosas.
The Avondale 5K was a wonderful race and celebration with friends. It’s one of the few races in West Ashley, and the Avondale neighborhood of West Ashley is a great place to run and party. Several bars offered specials if you brought your bib in, so you could celebrate all day long.
I wanted to get home to watch the Gamecocks and rest before another party that night, so I left around 11 (Photo courtesy of Brian from CBR).
When you run a lot of races, it’s easy to get caught up and compare times. It’s true that we can fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, but we can also get trapped in comparing our own performances from race to race and year to year. When you deal with injuries, aging, grief, illness, and life, you’re not the same runner that you were two years ago, one year ago, and sometimes weeks ago.
You have to give the best you can each day and accept what comes from it, and that’s what running and racing is all about. Most days don’t have races, but every day has obstacles and struggles to overcome.
And every day is worth celebrating.
Race Name: Avondale 5K Run and Walk
Location: Charleston, SC (West Ashley)
Date and Time: October 14, 2017, at 8 AM
Terrain: Road. Flat and fast. Closed to traffic.
Entry fee: $30-40
Swag: Tech shirt.
Post-race Food: Bananas, oranges, apples, breakfast burritos (meat and vegetarian). Unlimited free beer (four different beers to choose from) and mimosas.
Weather: 68 degress, 94% humidity, 8 mph N wind.