Race: Making Tracks for Celiacs 5K
Place: Birmingham, Alabama
Date: April 5, 2014
Please note that once again I am putting an asterisk at the end of an official time for a race. Please note why. According to my Garmin, this race was not the 3.1 miles a 5K runs, but actually 2.92 miles. I don’t hold the Making Tracks for Celiacs people completely at fault for this. Let me explain why.
I found out on the morning of the race during the announcements prior to the start that due to the soccer tournament that was going on, the course we were to run had to be changed. So…they very little time to come up with a new course. But they did. Albeit…a little short.
But, you know…whatever. This stuff happens.
I won’t let it completely dull what turned out to be an amazing experience for me.
Because I did this race with…my mom!
Yep. My mom!! Both my mom and I are Celiacs. So, I try to make it a point to get down to Birmingham, Alabama for this event each year. Last year, I had to miss it as it was on a weekend I had another event already going on. But not this year. And, as a special bonus, I was going to run the race and my mom was going to walk it. We made plans via phone conversations and text messages…both got signed up…and both eagerly anticipated the arrival of the big day.
On Friday, my mom went to the Birmingham Earth Fare store to pick up our packets. The t-shirts for the event were still in transit, so they gave her t-shirts from the previous year and told her that both she and I (she was also picking up my packet) could get this year’s shirt on race morning. Where was I? I was on the road, driving down to Birmingham directly after work. I didn’t arrive until around 10:00 p.m. Then had to have some social time and catching up with my parents, as well as see what has been done to the house (they just got moved back in after a pipe burst while they were on vacation in Mexico in January). This made for a later-than-usual night before a race, but it was worth it. I loved getting to talk to them and catch up some…but we all knew we had an early morning ahead of us, so we decided to turn in for the night.
I woke up very early the next morning because I had to get dressed for the race as well as do my PT stretches. So, after checking the weather…which was supposedly warmer than what the Weather Channel predicted the night before…a balmy 52 degrees with some winds making it feel 50 degrees, I got out my shorts and my t-shirt and got myself put together with the colored hair and the BondiBand and compression sleeves like always. No skirt today. I was rocking the shorts. I went downstairs to do my stretches before anyone else got up. And managed to finish them up just as my mom came out of the bedroom. We hugged and I said I was going to go knock on Cathy’s door to wake her up, but as I got to the top of the stairs, she was already moving about. Sweet. Good start to the day.
The four of us (my mom, dad, Cathy and myself) all had breakfast that day (consisting of some cereal and a gluten-free blueberry muffin from Udi’s Gluten Free). My mom and dad split a banana and I got one to take with me to eat about 30 minutes prior to the race. Then, I went upstairs to brush my teeth, throw on some yoga pants and a hoodie, and grab my running bag with a change of clothes inside and a different pair of shoes. My dad was (im)patiently waiting at the door for all of us (well…just me…everyone else was ready to go as I came down the stairs). So, we headed out through the garage to get in the car and make the 25 minute drive from their house to the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, the new site of the race and the Gluten-Free Expo that was happening afterwards.
We pulled into a nearly empty parking lot, but saw the banner for the Making Tracks for Celiacs 5K hanging above the door. So, we were in the right place. My mom and I hopped out of the car, and I was glad that I had on my yoga pants for the time being because that wind was COLD! We went over to packet pickup and registration to get our t-shirts for this year’s race then went to meet up with my dad and Cathy. We decided it was too chilly to stand outside in the wind, so all got back into the car. I ate my half of the banana. Cathy got out to get rid of the peel from her half then proceeded to stand around outside, staring at the car as if willing all of us to join her in the chilly morning air. I refused for about 5 minutes. But, I knew I needed to take off the hoodie and yoga pants and get acclimated…so that’s what I did. I stepped outside of the car and immediately broke out into goosebumps. Damn that cold air.
I did a few dynamic stretches to warm up before the race. As I was finishing those up, I heard the race organizer get on the horn and start to talk about the event and the change in the course. I figured I could just follow the people in front of me…which is how I do every race. So, I vaguely paid attention and heard things like…run through the RV park…go behind the dumpster…be careful of the giant puddle…run around a pole…
These are the things race organizers go through when they very suddenly have to change their race course, which has been plotted for months, mind you! Before the soccer tournament was even scheduled to be plaid. Frustrating. They were not happy. We were told to head out to the start line…so we did. I stood near the front. It looked like we had a good turnout, which is always a good thing. And before I could get my Garmin ready to record…the air horn was blown and we were off.
I punched the button on my Garmin, it started, and off I went with the group, following a group of kids, a couple of guys (one of which was the race organizer’s husband), and a few other people. The kids petered out almost immediately, deciding they had run enough…so I passed them after the first turn. Then, I passed one of the ladies in front of me…only to get passed up by a super-speedy woman (Allison Hoover), who I couldn’t catch up to or pass up again to save my life. She was flying. We were sent over a bridge and up an incline…then made a turn to go up another incline…then turned around in a cul-de-sac…and sent back down the hills. It was as I was nearing the bridge to head out into the parking lot that I passed my mom and dad. They both cheered for me…shouting “Go Girl!” and clapping. It made me smile.
So, then we hit the parking lot and were sent through the RV park. This was about the time we hit Mile 1. So, one down…just a couple to go. We ran through the RV park and then made this crazy loop thing and were sent up another part of the parking lot and around to where there was a bit of a trail leading to a path that was behind a dumpster. They weren’t kidding. Upon making the turn onto the path and rounding the corner, you encounter one of the steepest downhills of your life. Seriously. I pulled up so as not to tear up my quads and maneuvered it safely and effectively. There was a little dip at the bottom before you were sent up a climb on the other side. For every downhill there is an uphill. I pushed up that and ran on that path until it dropped me off in a new section of parking lot. I followed the volunteers, keeping cones to my right or left, or whatever I was instructed to do at the time. I found Mile 2 (which was marked)…but my Garmin didn’t beep. I normally don’t check but I was curious…
My Garmin said 1.78 miles. Yikes!
Into the final part of the race, I just attempted to keep my pace as best I could. I came back into the main parking lot and was sent down to where some walkers and runners were coming around to head toward the dumpster. I remained on my side of the cone, avoided a huge lake (er…puddle…) and pressed on the path volunteers directed me on. The guy in front of me made a turn then headed toward a pole near the end of the lot. He ran around it and I followed, then we hit the straight-away toward the finish line. I passed him up and kept on moving as fast as I could. I crossed the finish line, paused my Garmin and made my way through the chute. The race organizer tore off the bottom of my bib and I moved on to get some water. Super-speedy Allison Hoover made a comment about my shoes (I was in my new Newton’s) as she was wearing Newton’s herself. We bonded a little. Then I went to get water and she went to talk to friends.
I finally checked my Garmin and saw that it read only 2.92 miles. That wouldn’t do. So, I handed Cathy my cup of water and did an easy shakeout for .20 miles to get me up to 3.1 miles. That was what I intended to run that day and that was what I managed to get in. I could see my parents again, heading toward the dumpster line…and they were leading all the walkers. Honestly, my dad wasn’t registered. But my mom encouraged him to walk it with her. He kept telling her to keep moving without him, but she stuck with him. And I think that’s super awesome.
I cheered for them when they emerged and headed back through the lot and made the turn to head toward the turn that would take them to the pole and then, eventually, to the finish line. I stood near the finish to cheer and when they emerged, I was shouting and just clapping and jumping up and down. As he wasn’t registered, my dad dropped off and came to my side and let my mom finish her walk by passing through the finish line. Cathy took a picture. It was awesome. I went over to give her a hug. We then went to go get bottles of water and some clementines that the race organizers put out for everyone.
Clementines are my favorite post-race thing to eat. Seriously! That or watermelon. For real.
The kids 1 mile fun run would be starting soon, and awards were said to be at 10 a.m. with the expo at 10:30 a.m. My mom and I said we would hang out at the race if Cathy and dad wanted to make the mandatory coffee run. Turns out awards weren’t being done before the expo and now the expo was open at 10:00 a.m. My mom and I went over to the doors leading to the banquet hall and stepped inside to get out of the wind. She called my dad to find out if they were close to returning. They were. And about five minutes later, they pulled in, coffees in hand. Now properly armed with caffeine, we hiked up the stairs to the expo (I mean, why take the elevator, right?) and went to see what was offered.
The expo was much smaller this year than it was two years prior. MUCH smaller. But the vendors were all super nice and there was a lot of delicious products and treats to try out. Cathy and I split any large portion of something while my mom and dad would split theirs. It made it so we weren’t too full for lunch shortly after (which we were meeting up with my sister and my youngest nephew). As we were making our way around the floor, the race organizer started to call participants over for the awards.
While I was the second female overall, they weren’t giving that award away. This did mean, however, that I placed first in my division. And when my name was called for the 30-39 age division, Cathy, mom and dad all cheered. They almost ran out of medals at this point…having not ordered enough it seemed. I got the last first place age division award though…so they wouldn’t have to mail mine to me all the way in Indiana.
We finished up at the expo, went shopping at Organic Harvest, and then met up with my sister for lunch. It made for a great day.
So, my official results of the Making Tracks for Celiacs 5K are that I finished in 21:52 (but remember…the course was short). I was 9/79 finishers overall. I was 2/54 women finishers. And I was the 1/18 in my division. Not too shabby, I think. Granted, it’s still not the run I know I am capable of, but I’m still just being cautious on this ankle. I get nervous about pushing too hard…and reinjuring it. I know I am capable of better…but I was proud of my results. And, even more, I was proud of my mom for coming out and doing the race with me. She can’t run, as her ankle is permanently fused, but she loves to walk. And this was for a cause that effects both of us…and we had a blast being a part of it. In fact, we’ve decided to make it an annual event.
I’m already excited about next year!