I ran the Paradise Island 5K this morning. The race is part of the Run the Coast Summer Series, which is comprised of the Zydeco Festival 5K (April 13th), Paradise Island 5K (Memorial Day weekend), Shark Run 4 Mile (July 4th), and Bloody Mary 5K (Labor Day weekend). The only event of the series that I had done before this weekend was the Shark Run a couple of years ago. After running this one today, I am 1) super bummed that I missed the first race of the year and 2) planning to do the rest of them this year. It was a very well-organized race, fun race!
Before the Race
Daniel made plans with Reed and Miles to ride their bikes from our house to the Orange Beach Sportsplex, where the race takes place. It was about a 45 mile ride, so he was up and at ’em pretty early to get on the road. He left the house just before 5 a.m., which is when I got up. I got to the race just after 6:30 a.m., for a 7:30 a.m. start. I got my bib and met up with Jessica and Lizzie to do a few miles before the race. Jessica was doing her long run for the week and Lizzie ran part of it with her and biked the other part.
We ran the course before the race as my warm up and as the first few miles of their run. We made it back in just enough time for me to pin my bib on and get over to the start.
The race runs on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail (same location as the Shimp Fest 10K). The trails are all paved and it’s a great location for a race. The only minor drawbacks are that there isn’t a lot of airflow and the GPS satellites can be a little wonky in the woods. I made the executive decision to not look at my watch at all during the race. Although the temptation to glance down throughout the race can be hard to resist, somehow I have been able to do it successfully a few times now. I’ll include my splits here, but just keep in mind that I didn’t know them at the time (as if you really care :)).
Daniel surprised me at the start of the race and captured the above picture. I thought they would be there for the finish of the race, but not for the start. That just was a real nice surprise, Clark. I wanted to run close to 6:10 ish pace for the first mile. I settled in behind several guys and tried to just hold tight for as long as I could. Eventually I got dropped and found myself running in no man or woman’s land.
The course is basically a loop with 3 left-hand turns. By the time we got to the first turn, I was running alone. I really prefer to run in a pack with other runners, but that rarely seems to work out. I could tell that there were potentially a couple of runners close behind me, but at the same time, I wasn’t able to really work with anyone. My split for mile one was 6:05.
During the second mile, I actually caught and passed two of the runners who had been in front of me from the get go. One of the guys didn’t seem to want me to pass him and he sprinted for a few seconds before conceding the pass. The other guy told me good job as I went by (which is always appreciated (I always try to reciprocate the encouragement)). After I passed those two guys, the only other runner in sight was Steve and he was a good bit ahead. I knew I wasn’t going to catch him, but it was at least nice to have someone to focus on up ahead. My split for mile two was 6:14.
The last mile was very lonely and very winding. We ran over several wooden bridges with signs indicating that they were “under construction,” which basically meant that there were lots of boards on each bridge that were being replaced. In the meantime, they had nailed some extra plywood on the top of said boards, which made for a lot of little mini speed bumps. The footing was a bit tricky and definitely not ideal for race conditions. In hindsight, I guess it gave me something to focus on instead of thinking about the fact that I was hurting, so perhaps this was actually a good thing. My split for mile three was 6:19.
I didn’t have too much fight left to “sprint it in” to the finish. I finished with an overall time of 19:35 as first female and sixth overall. My time surprised me and not exactly in a good way. I would’ve definitely guessed that it would’ve been close to 19:00 (just based on the effort that I was giving). Also makes me wonder if I had looked at my watch, if I would’ve known that I *should’ve* been able to go faster? Who knows. The good news is that I have plenty more opportunities to try again soon!
After the Race
I got in almost four miles after the race as a cool down. I ran a couple of miles with Jessica and Lizzie again and then turned around to head back so that I wouldn’t miss the awards. My timing was pretty much spot on, I must say, as I got back less than two minutes before they started the awards. The winners (age group and overall) got sweet medals and I also got a bar of copper. So random. So unique! I love it.
In case you are curious, this bad boy is worth approximately $6.75. Ha. The more races you run, the more you appreciate a good quirky award and this one did not disappoint.
We celebrated with breakfast at Brick and Spoon after the race. It seemed like a lot of other folks had the same idea because it was pretty busy (as to be expected on a holiday weekend (or really just every day of the week)). I got the farmers market eggs benedict (an english muffin, veggies, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce). It was delicious!
At the beginning of the week, it looked like Tropical Storm Alberto was going to put a damper things along the Gulf Coast over the Memorial Day weekend, but (knock on wood) so far, so good. It’s tracking a little farther to the east than was originally expected, so hopefully things won’t get too crazy. It was a beautiful day for a 5K!
What is the most unusual award you’ve ever gotten at a race? Did you like it or do you prefer more traditional awards?