Race: Run for the Berries 5K
Place: Starlight, Indiana
Date: May 25, 2019
It’s that time of year, friends. Yep. That time of year that the Starlight Strawberry Festival happens. And that means one thing…the Run for the Berries 5K. Because if you want to give me any incentive to run a 5K (not a big fan)…strawberries are a sure bet!
The one thing that has become pretty common with me, however, is that I’ve waited to register for this race (and numerous others) either on race day or close to race day. Why? I’m on a strict budget and signing up for races and having to not go to them for ANY reason is a waste of my money. So it doesn’t happen. So, for the second year in a row…I wasn’t registered until race morning for this race.
But the adventure doesn’t start there, friends. Oh no!! Because this seems to be the year where if anything bad can happen to me on race morning…it will. And the morning of the Run for the Berries 5K didn’t let me down in that aspect.
I woke up feeling slightly “off.” My stomach was unsettled. I thought, perhaps, some water with a Nuun tablet (electrolytes) would be a big help in this case, but it didn’t really seem to help. At least I was hydrated, right? It was also VERY warm out this particular morning. Like humid and hot. The kind of weather that you feel sort of suffocates you when you’re milling about it in. UGH. So, another good reasons for the electrolytes in the water. When I mentioned running this one to my coach, Daniel, he asked if I wanted to use it for training or to actually race it. I told him I wanted to race it. Mind you…I am NOT in 5K shape…AT ALL!! I was just a month off of a fast marathon and really hadn’t incorporated any sort of speed back into my training at that point. But, hey…it’s 3.1 miles…I got this, right?
My speed work sessions during training have been fast. So, I thought, as I had come close to breaking my 5K PR at this race before…maybe it could happen. Maybe I could get a damn PR in one of the primary distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon). Why not start with the one I hate doing…the 5K. Because these legs were not made for sprinting. They were made for…DISTANCE. But, hey…I could do this…in shape or not!
And maybe…if the weather was slightly cooler and my stomach didn’t feel like it was sludgy…it might have. Spoiler alert: No PR. But let me first start with what I did do. I did get up and stretch and drink water and electrolytes, knowing it would be a steamfest (it usually is, btw). I dressed in the Boston crop that my friend, Natalie, gifted me with again…but went with different shorts this time for the Run for the Berries. I had my breakfast to go…something I could eat 30 minutes prior to the 8 am start.
My roommate and I left the apartment to give us time to get up to the Strawberry Festival, get me registered, use the bathroom, stretch, eat, and prepare to race. All of these things were accomplished and did happen. I even made myself eat the snack I brought, despite the stomach feeling wonky. It would be better thank bonky! (Rhyming is fun!)
I did some active stretching until it seemed about time to walk down the road to the start point. I was amazed how few people were there at this point. So, I got into what I figured would be the second row (where I usually start in this race) and stood there…waiting. Some fast looking people did wander down this way…but they stood behind me and I was like…”Nope. I try to be fast, but I’m not there kind of fast.” It all did eventually fill in though, even if I was still up front this time. Imposter syndrome!
The 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. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and we were sent off. And I was doing my best not to blow up in the first mile.
The past couple years I have done this race, my first mile has managed to be in the 6:40-6:50 range. Not this year. I hit that first mile and decided to just glance at my watch (this is a bad habit I got into when I had to pace myself through Toledo), noting that it said 7:13. It felt hard. And I knew I was fading already. The heat and humidity have really started to get to me this year, and my body was not responding well at all today. Nope. I decided I would attempt to pick it up…maybe I could for Mile 2.
It was maybe halfway through this mile, that I could physically feel my legs slowing down. So, my goals and hopes were just tossed aside, and I focused on simply finishing. I attempted to, but mostly failed to attack the uphills and ride the downhills, but my legs were not wanting to go any faster. They kept screaming to slow down. And they did…without me even commanding them to do so. Mile 2 was at 7:35. After Mile 2, there is a water stop waiting. Since goals were out…I stopped, snagged a cup, drank a splash, then poured the rest over my head hoping to wake up the body and cool off my core. I managed to get up the hill, but I was toast after that.
There are a few rollers after that as you head back to the road that takes you to the finish line. You actually sort of go uphill to the finish. Brutal. And I was fighting. I was fighting with all I had to get there. I could see the finish, see Cathy, see people cheering…so I pressed on. I think someone passed me. I don’t really remember. But I pushed as much as I could (it felt like I was going in slow motion). Mile 3 was 7:53. I was going off the rails. The last .1 miles to the finish felt like an eternity (Garmin tells me it was an 8:16 pace, LOL!), but I crossed the line and stopped my watch and was happy to have it done. I was handed a pink card and Cathy walked me over to the building to fill out my card with my name and time and age division…and mine was the first in the stack at that point…which I reminded her didn’t mean that I came in first. It just means I was the first one to fill out the card.
As the race was finishing up, we wandered back over to where we parked to grab my backpack so I could go duck into the bathroom and change out of my sweaty running clothes. I was happy that I packed a light dress to wear because it was really starting to heat up outside.
We made a circuit of the actual festival booths, while waiting on the awards to start…and indulged in our big bowls of strawberries (well, Cathy gets an actual Strawberry Shortcake), and a nice, icy cold, refreshing frozen strawberry drink. YES!! It was perfection.
The men are always announced first after the overall winners…and the overall winner this year (for men) was an 11 year old kid who was lightning fast. Seriously. And…as I’m getting pretty up there…I have to sit awhile through the females too…but…worth it. My card and time were in fact…right. I was first in my age division. How about that? I didn’t feel good…I pretty much died on the course…but…bringing home another pint glass (with an additional bag for being first in the age group).
I wish I could give you overall stats, but official results for this race haven’t been posted anywhere. Not on Facebook. Not on Pacers & Racers. Not on the Strawberry Festival page, nor the page advertising the Run For the Berries itself…it still has last year’s results. BUT…here’s what I can tell you…
Officially…I had positive splits. But positive splits for positive people. I finished the race in 23:37. I was the thirteenth woman overall. And I was first in my age group. That’s it…that’s all I got.
And hopefully next year I can get a bit faster, take those hills a bit harder, and not fade so much so close to the start. Fingers crossed.
And…should official results for this race every get posted, I will happily update this post to share them. But, I am not currently holding my breath!