On Saturday, we ran in the 36th annual Doc’s Hot Trot for ARC 5K at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. Let’s dive into the details!
As I mentioned in a previous post, Hot Trot is one of my favorite races of the year! The TL;DR version of that post is that I’ve run Hot Trot five times before this year, it was my first race recap to ever write in 2015, I missed breaking 19 minutes by two seconds last year and my goal this year was to finish in 18 minutes and 50-59 seconds. Obviously I would’ve been totally happy with anything faster than 18:50 as well, but I wasn’t expecting that (based on a realistic assessment of my current fitness level).
The weather forecast was iffy all week and it looked like there was a fairly good possibility that we would be running in the rain. We drove through some pretty heavy rain on our way to the race, but thankfully all of the showers cleared out by the time the race got underway. We arrived around 6:30 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. race start, picked up our bibs, hit the bathrooms (nice indoor bathrooms … always a plus :)) and headed out to do a few warm up miles.
I ended up doing two miles to warm up and added on about a half mile of strides. We got a quick “team” picture and then it was go time! My coach suggested targeting somewhere around 6:10 per mile pace for the race. My goal of breaking 19 minutes was purely my own wishful thinking, although I definitely felt like I had done some workouts that at least pointed close to this goal. I needed to average 6:06 per mile in order to break 19 minutes. Of course, that also assumes that I would run the tangents completely accurately, which pretty much never happens. With that being said, I figured that I would start out somewhere in the 6:05 range and see what happened from there.
There had been a bit of cloud cover earlier in the morning, but as we lined up on the start line and almost as if on cue, the clouds cleared up and the sun made its appearance. I guess it would really be a shame if Hot Trot didn’t live up to its name. Ha. I lined up on the start line directly behind My Daniel. I knew that he would be running a bit faster than I was planning to and I decided that I would just chase him for as long as I could. I ended up running the first mile with Bowie and Daniel Holley. My mile one split was 6:07. I knew I was right within my range and I also knew that I needed to pick it up at least a little bit to stay on track for my goal time.
There is a turnaround shortly after the mile marker. I absolutely love races that have out and back stretches with a turnaround. You get to watch and cheer for all of the runners both in front of and behind you. I always get a bit of a boost when we turn around and start seeing the other runners! I tried to focus on maintaining my rhythm and slowly easing my pace down just a touch.
After the turnaround you make a righthand turn and run a little side loop that is probably about three-quarters of a mile long. The only downside of this loop is that there is absolutely no shade, so you really can start to feel like you are baking a little bit out there. Did I mention that the temperature at the start of the race was 82 degrees? Nice and toasty! My mile two split was 5:58. Whew! I actually felt pretty good and I was hopeful that I could finish the race strong and not fade too much.
After you finish running the loop, you made another righthand turn and head for home. I focused on not letting the runner in front of me, who happened to be My Daniel, make up any distance on me. I told myself this was just like a track workout where he runs in front of me and all I have to do is hold on and feed off of his pacing. It actually worked out quite well for me. I knew that he would out kick me in a sprint or die trying, so I just settled in behind him and hung on! My mile three split was 6:03.
At that point my time was 18:08 and I hadn’t quite gotten to the three mile marker on the course, so I knew that I was really going to have to book it in order to get under 19. When it comes to aiming for a very specific time in a 5K, the last tenth of a mile can really make or break you. I usually don’t think about it too much, but this time I was keenly aware of what I needed to do. I found an extra gear and kicked it in at 5:30 pace!
My official time was 18:57! Definitely cut it a little bit close! At the same time though, I know that I literally got everything out of myself that I could’ve that day and that is such a wonderful feeling! I’m also pleased that I was able to accurately gauge my fitness level going into the race. I’ve been doing some pretty intense speed workouts and they have given me the confidence that I needed to be comfortable with running in the low six minute range.
Several of us headed out for a long (ish) cool down. My schedule called for a five mile cool down, but I settled with just over four. After that it was time to relax and wait on the awards. There was a bit of confusion with the results, but I think they got it straightened out (at least for the most part) before they did the awards. We had heard that they were bringing back the ceramic coffee mug awards this year and I had been looking forward to adding a new coffee mug to my Hot Trot collection for quite some time.
When they called the first place overall male and female finishers, Kenny and I were given a cool wooden plaque and a stainless steel mug. We got our picture taken and I think we were both trying to hide our disappointment about not getting a ceramic mug. As we walked away the race director stopped us and said he had one more thing for us … YAS! Just about everyone that I know loves the coffee mug awards at this race. They give them to the top three in each age group as well. Several of our group can testify that they are perfect for dipping Oreos in milk. I, on the other hand, prefer to use it for what I assume to be its intended use … all the coffee!
After everyone collected our awards, we even had a discussion about exactly how much coffee these guys will hold, which led to a discussion about the mathematical formula for the volume of a cylinder is (πr2h). Riveting stuff for sure!
Our team pretty much racked up … we were first, second and fourth overall in the male and female divisions, plus several age group winners! Left to right we have Erin (20:21), Daniel Holley (19:35), My Daniel (18:51), Cody (18:03), Kenny (17:54), me (18:57), Tobias (21:12), Marlen (26:21) and Jessica (22:29). Woo hoo! Way to go team!
After the race we headed to the beach for a little bit. The water was really pretty (and cold!) and we had fun playing in the water and also just relaxing some.
Hot Trot certainly lived up to its name and to the standards that have been set in years past! I’m already looking forward to next year’s race!