Just as last week I couldn't talk about the Towpath Half Marathon without mentioning the weather, Eagles On Foot pretty much needs to start the same way. Only six days apart, the temperature and conditions between these two races couldn't have been more different! Instead of 20s and snow, we had near-70s and not a cloud in the beautifully sunny sky for the 5k this weekend. People were coming out of the woodwork on Saturday morning to throw in a last-minute race entry. One of the coolest things about this race was apparent from the start: the school really gets behind the race and so many of the students came out to run! Between the weather and the community support, the race felt like a festival from the get-go.
I actually chose this race over another on the same day because a fellow race manager from Hermes lives nearby and was also off-looking-for-running, so we decided to make a friendly little wager on the results. Since male vs female in our particular age group isn't entirely fair, we settled on placing within our own gender to see who "won" our competition. Of course our coworkers who actually WERE working the race got in on it a little, making the day even more fun!
I started near the front of the pack, hoping to start strong but finish stronger. The first mile of the course was a long, steady downhill - but then I realized the out-and-back course meant mile three would be a long, steady UPhill! And then I realized I started maybe a little too strong, considering the battle I'd have to finish... My first mile clocked in under 8 minutes. I haven't run that fast since the city championships back in fourth grade track - when I ran the mile in 7:51 and came in last. I tried to back of my pace to save something for the final mile, but I passed mile two and was only slightly over 8 minutes on that split. I'v never covered two miles so fast in my life! Mile three was as grueling as I expected, especially since the sun was really starting to heat things up, but I trudged my way up the hill to hear my time at the third mile marker was 25 minutes even!
You better believe I booked it into the finish (or at least tried to book it - the tank was getting pretty low) knowing I was certain to PR and hoping to make it as big a crushing as I could! I didn't even see the clock as I crossed the finish because I was too busy cutting off the person in front of me at the last second... But my phone's tracking clocked me at a PR by over a minute, and I was feeling pretty solid about the race! My coworker had finished a few minutes ahead of me, but we'd agreed on place in age group as our handicap, so we hovered around the race manager who was in charge of Eagles On Foot to see if either of our names would show up on the award winner list. Only one of us made it: ME!!!! Say hello to my first (truly earned) age group award! My official time of 25:38 was enough for third place.
Eagles On Foot was easily the best 5k of my life, but it's only my second of the year. With the consistent training I have planned for the next few months, I believe I can cut even more time by the fall. When I first started running, if you'd told me in less than two years I'd be running in the 25 minute range, I'd have laughed so hard I'd need to take a rest day afterwards. Now, I'm eyeing sub-24 by 2017. And I 100% believe I can do it. Funny thing about running - it makes you realize you are capable of so much more than you ever dreamed!
Eagles On Foot 5k Breakdown
Organization: A Hermes race - so of course it's well managed, with online registration, results postings, and race logistics moving very smoothly. The added boost from an incredible amount of St Ed's volunteers only made the race even more amazing, especially for a local 5k. Race day packet pickup had plenty of stations and no lines, the water stop had lots of hands and vocal support, timers at every mile called splits, and the finish line was organized and efficient. St Ed's also had a big raffle while the results were being tabulated, giving away quite a few prizes and keeping the excitement high even post-race.
Course: A nice out-and-back that swings by the Erie lakefront for a bit, looping through some nice neighborhood streets, made for an easy run. Of course, I'm never a fan of finishing uphill (I challenge you to find me a runner who is), but the challenge of that third mile will help me build strength, both physically and mentally, that I'll need to keep driving my 5k time down AND to start preparing for the possibility of hitting the dreaded wall on my next half marathon or October's full. I'd run this course again in a heartbeat even with the uphill! Finish behind St Ed's gave runners some much-needed shade after a bright, warm course, so it was pretty easy to cool down a bit while refueling after the run.
The Swag: For my $20 entry fee (a bargain for just about any race) I received a long sleeve race shirt (which ended up being unnecessary thanks to the weather), and some great post-race food options. The spread included Jimmy John's sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, and more. And of course, I got my medal too! I'm not used to walking away from these little community runs with bling, but I could totally be okay with making it a habit...
Bottom Line: Loved it, though I suppose it's hard not to love a race that lets you crush your PR, earn some bragging rights in the office, build your strength, AND enjoy a gorgeous day all at once! I'm torn between wanting to help work this race next year and wanting to run it again if I can get the chance.
Did you run this weekend? Who else had a crazy weather swing this week??