Race: Run for the Berries 5K
Place: Starlight, Indiana
Date: May 28, 2016
There are a lot of things people run for. For some…beer. For some…donuts. For some…pizza. For others…wine. For me…FRUIT!! I love fruit. There is nothing quite as amazing as a giant bowl of cold, wet watermelon after a hot summer run. In fact, this is my favorite thing to eat in the summer after I run…whether it’s a short weekday run or that long slow distance on the weekend!
So, trust me, whenever the Run For The Berries 5K rolls around every year…I’m always eager to take part. Why? Because strawberries…EVERYWHERE. Yes…I will run for berries. Hell, I’ll run for any type of fruit, honestly. YUMMY!! And while you don’t get any for free, there is nothing better than rewarding yourself after a hard run with a big bowl of strawberries and a cold frozen strawberry drink.
I wasn’t actually signed up this year for the Run For The Berries 5K in Starlight, Indiana this year. Like I said, every race has sort of been a last-minute decision thing due to the hip issues and how I never know exactly how I’m going to feel from one day to another. I haven’t actually participated in the Run For The Berries 5K since 2013 (when I was in my best racing shape…and at my fastest). In 2014, I was in Buffalo, New York for the Buffalo Marathon, and last year I wasn’t running anything…at all. I was a miserable pile of non-running self-pity and hurty hip things. So, it was nice to come back to this one. This is my fourth time running this local 5K and I will always do it whenever I am able.
Today…despite some slight twinging in the hip first thing in the morning…I was going to do it. I filled out the registration form at work on Friday and had it all set to go in the morning. Cathy offered to pay my $25 registration fee because…bills…bills have been plaguing me recently and I am slightly broke at the moment. So that was awesome. So I got up early (4:00 am) to get my PT stretches, dynamic warmup, and some plyometrics in prior to the race. I did my core work as well. And then made a dash (in the car) up to Kroger because I needed a pre-race banana. This is not a want…this is a NEED. I went ahead and grabbed a few other necessary groceries while I was out. Got home just before 6:00 am. Cathy and I had some cereal for breakfast with some coffee (for the kid and adult in each of us) and proceeded to keep saying we needed to get off the couch and get moving, but neither of us really making an effort. Ah well. The good thing was, any tenderness or soreness in the hip had worked itself out…so I was feeling good.
Teeth were brushed and I put my hair up in pigtails and got out my Bondi Band of choice. I went ahead and put some water in my Kara Goucher water bottle and popped a NUUN tablet in it for some electrolytes before Cathy grabbed the sign, the race bag, and we headed out for the race.
We left early, because Cathy wanted to make sure we had plenty of time for her to get lost on the way there. We don’t go up that way often, but, there are signs that point the right way. The drive there was gorgeous with the sunrise and the beautiful houses out in the country. It’s always a nice ride up to Starlight. We followed the signs to the little field we always park in at the race and got situated into a spot.
From there, it was into the main hall of the Strawberry Festival grounds to get officially registered for the race. I went up to the table with cash and the form already filled out…got my race bib (#180) and was given a t-shirt in the size I requested. The shirts were gray this year. And back to being in tech material. YAY!! I got pinned up, went to use the bathroom, and then we meandered around the grounds for a little while to kill some time. On the way out, I saw Renee from my spin class heading in. She wasn’t feeling good, but was running with a friend of hers who is training for her first triathlon. So, that’s really fun. We chatted for a moment and then she went to register and I went to meander, waiting for my good friend, Michelle, and her little boy, Liam, to arrive.
And then I ran into my friend Amber, whose husband Tim was running (and was 2nd male overall) in the race. Amber and I both have been dealing with hip labrum tears. She had surgery on hers…I didn’t. We’ve bonded over this. I’ve met a lot of good friends through having to sit out of running…and it has made me better for it. Amber and I are going to start riding bikes together once I get more comfortable on mine. YAY! Her kids were anxious for her to come and join them…so we parted ways and she said she’d cheer for me at the finish.
I love my friends.
We saw a lot of the fast runner people doing their strides and warming up prior to the race. So we headed that way so I could stretch. I think I did a quad stretch on each leg and called it a day, HA!! I’m so awful about stretching. We were all starting to move up to the orange cones that marked the start of the race. It was at this point that Michelle and Liam showed up, just in time, which made me SO happy!! We waved and they went to stand with Cathy just beyond the start point. Our race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. It made me laugh. And everyone else. Then…we had to wait for HIS Garmin to find satellites. He did…and the count was given. On your marks…runners set…and then the horn.
I took off…giving a nod to my cheering section. It was total game face though. Which is not like me, LOL!! Seriously. I’m so laid back but…game face. The first mile is a series of rolling hills…nothing too major. I was running comfortably, but speedy. I could tell I was speedy. In fact, at one point, I was thinking…”Wow…I’m ahead of Lynn.” And the moment I thought it, she passed me quite easily, not even breathing hard. HA!! That will teach me. Anyway…I was having a nice run…no pain…feeling good…not worrying over anything but holding steady and preparing for the hills ahead. Mile 1…perfectly measured…my watch beeped right at the marker. Turns out…it was a new fastest mile for me… I just wasn’t aware of it at the time.
Zen racer. I never look at my watch or obsess over pace. I run better when I don’t know.
I made the turn onto Engle Road and started into the second mile. I loved this part of the run because, soon after making the turn, I scooted past a cute little girl running with her dad. She was saying something about how what she loved about today’s run was she was running with older people. I turned my head and said, “You’re doing an amazing job!” She thanked me and said, “How old are you?!” She was aiming for first in her age division. HA!! I told her I was 35 and she was relieved. She was in the 14 and under group…and definitely under 14. That was an ego boost. This mile also brings in more rolling hills, but a few more downhills than uphills. We ran past Hubers Family Farm and continued down Engle Road. And then I made the turn into Mile 2. This is where the water stop is, but I just kept on running.
Because right there…RIGHT THERE…on Hill Road…is THE HILL. It’s like my friend, Amber, said later on Facebook…it’s not just the hill but WHERE the hill is in that race. At this point, your legs are tired and this hill is HUGE. I mean…it’s a steep, steep climb. So, I did my best to run up it, still lacking the power and strength that I used to have. I’m working on that…kinda. I’ll be working on that more. Hills might slow me down…my legs might not be able to maintain a fast pace for a long period of time…but maybe soon they will. It all takes time. And I’m sometimes impatient, LOL! After the hill, it’s just a few rollers and a couple of smaller climbs to the finish. You actually finish this race going uphill.
I could see it in the distance and I attempted to pick up the pace, but my legs were shot for the day. The best I could do was just focus. I had runners pass me up as I got a bit closer…which always pisses me off…they were all men…
I heard Cathy and Michelle and Liam all shouting and cheering. And as I ran by, I hear Amber yelling, “GO KAREN!” I really do have awesome friends. So, I pushed…and I saw I was in the 22 minutes…but it ticked past my 22:02 PR…and just ticked past the 2013 finish time of 22:19. But only by six minutes. I was tired, and hot, and a sweaty mess when I stopped…but I was so happy with that run. It was challenging and it was amazing and I came out of it without any pain. Not even a twinge.
I was handed a pink card at the finish showing I was the 8th woman to finish. Cathy said I definitely placed in my age division. We thought that in 2013 too, and I ran it faster, and didn’t…so I wasn’t going to hold my breath. We took some pictures and then meandered over to the festival to get a nice, cooling frozen strawberry drink. And our big bowl of strawberries (Cathy & Michelle got strawberry shortcakes). We went and took a seat at a table. Liam went to play on the slides and we sort of hung out, enjoyed our strawberry treats, and found a lot to laugh and talk about.
It was taking a lot longer than I remember to get to awards, so we decided to go hit up the booths at the festival. Cathy bought me this amazing crocheted Wonder Woman doll. This woman knits there fantastic dolls from Disney movies and other things. There was only one Wonder Woman doll. It was meant to be mine. There was also only one Captain America doll. Cathy went back and purchased that while I got her a purple star crown with blue and purple ribbons to wear. Seriously…we really are adults. Liam got his face painted for the first time and did a fantastic job sitting there while it was done. Then we went to watch Liam play some games and I purchased a thing of strawberries with a salted caramel dipping sauce. THIS. WAS. LIFE. CHANGING. I love salted caramel and was the first person to get this dip that day. I am so glad I did. It isn’t a combination that I ever considered. There were the usual suspects…chocolate and white chocolate. But you wave salted caramel ANYTHING at me…and I am buying it. THIS WAS AMAZING. I’m in love.
As Liam finished up his games, the announcement that the awards were going to be given out was announced. We made our way over there and saw all the male awards handed out first. My friend Amber’s hubby, Tim, won 2nd overall male, because he’s stupid fast…and amazing. And then the female awards were given out. And I was announced as the first female in my age division. WOOT WOOT!! Considering I didn’t place the previous time I ran..and ran it faster, this was a nice surprise. Exciting stuff. Cathy, Michelle and Liam all cheered loudly as I went to receive my award, this cute little pint glass thing.
And that was a wrap for the day. Liam wanted to go check out the bouncy houses and Cathy and I needed to go grocery shopping and hit up a few spots in Louisville. So, we parted ways and I went home to shower and change.
As it stands, the official results of the Run For The Berries 5K are that I finished in 22:24. Not a PR…but I clocked my first mile in 6:48, which is awesome. Now if only I could maintain that sort of pace. But these legs just aren’t there and aren’t ready. Maybe one day. Maybe not! Either way…super proud. I was the 8th female to cross the line and came in 1st in my division. If the official results ever get posted…I’ll update this accordingly.
Already looking forward to doing it again.