Whew! How is that for a race title? Let’s just call it the Run United Half. Okay? Okay.
This is the race that started it all for me last spring. Jeff signed us up for the 5K in an effort to force us to work out once college ended and adulthood began. I was seriously annoyed at first, but that finish line got me hooked!
Before I get started on this year’s recap, I need to make one thing very clear. It was HUMID today. If you’re wondering how humid, exhibit A:
This is the only shot I took along the course. We were running on grass at this point around one of Aiken’s many horse tracks. So beautiful, but so incredibly wet! By about a mile in, I was drenched with no hopes of evaporation. Therefore, I did something that made me feel basically Olympian. I poured water on myself. Repeatedly. It was great.
The half started at 7:30, and it was SO WONDERFUL to be able to sleep in a little later. We didn’t have to head downtown until about 6:45 AM. Score!
I tried to follow a better strategy today by not getting carried away at the start. There was a pacer for 2:00 and 2:15, but since I was shooting for between 2:05 and 2:10, I wasn’t really sure where to go. I ended up in between both, but stuck back for the first 3 miles or so. I caught up to the 2:00 group at around mile 3 and stayed with them until about mile 8, when it really started heating up. I was pretty pleased with my overall time at this point, so I decided to run my own race and do what I was comfortable with. The course itself was extremely flat–I don’t think I ran uphill the entire way–but also had a few miles sprinkled throughout on grass or sand. It was nice to have the distance broken up, but the sand running was TOUGH. I could really feel my hips working overdrive to stabilize the rest of me. The grass, however, was an awesome break from pavement! This race’s course wound its way through downtown Aiken, through the horse district (beautiful!), some residential neighborhoods, our local running track, and back through downtown. I love this course because at the very end, you bank right and are at mile 13 with the finish line just up ahead. So exhilarating!
Despite thinking that I was being conservative my first 3 miles, my splits are telling a different story. Once again, I forgot to turn off my watch after I crossed the finish line, so it’s a bit longer than 13.1. You can definitely tell where the heat started to get to me at around mile 8.
Anyway, I came around the bend at the finish line and I think it will always be one of my favorites. You wind up right in the heart of downtown’s festival area and there are tons of people cheering, pee wee cheer squads, and a random guy dressed up like Buddy the Elf (He’s there every year. I don’t know why.) When I had the finish line in sight, I booked it at about a 7:16 pace. I finished this one in 2:06:53, comfortably beating my 2:10 goal. Yeaaaahhhhhh adrenaline! After I crossed, there were some cute little kids handing out swag:
And of course, the finish line photos had to commence:
But best of all, I had to celebrate running my first-ever month with over 100 miles!
Jeff ran the 5k race with a time of 29:22 (9:27 pace) which is impressive because he pretty much did not train. It’s so impressive I sort of hate him. 🙂
So now, it’s time for some much-needed R&R before I start training for the Peachtree Road Race this July! I’ll be running Aiken’s Triple Crown (10-miler) in three weeks, but I’m not planning on it being a goal race due to the heat and focusing on the Peachtree. I’m looking forward to using my time off of running this week for wedding plans (five months out!)
P.S. If you’re a lady and looking to PR at your next race, I’m pretty sure that wearing Sparkle Athletic is a guaranteed way to do that. I got so many compliments along the course about my sparkly skirt. The “Fierce” shirt I wore is from Gone for a Run. I bought the basic athletic tank (not technical fabric) and it was perfect. I don’t like to wear very loose clothing when I run or workout, so the fitted style was just right. The glitter girl was precious too… Because life is better with sparkles. 🙂