I told you guys about running this same race back in 2014. It's the only recent 5k I have run, so I guess it's my PR? The 2014 course was a bit short, but I ran an 8:05 average pace and got an official time of 23:43. I wasn't running with much of a purpose back then. I was averaging about 20 miles a week and being careful not to exhaust or dehydrate myself (breastfeeding a big toddler, living in Alabama, etc.). I figured I would do it again a year later and see what happened.
I love Birmingham AIDS Outreach and the work they do in our community. HIV/AIDS is a very real threat in this part of the country, where the shocking rate of new infections reflects a growing drug problem and a serious lack of education and resources. People living with HIV/AIDS are forced into the shadows, and the charities often don't get the same support as "sexier" ones for childhood cancer, breast cancer, etc. What I'm saying is...I was happy to give them my $20 registration fee, put on my lucky taco cat shirt, and sort of kick the tires and see where I am with my training.
This was an evening race, and I decided to run it day-of, so I didn't do anything in particular to prepare. I had my typical Sunday egg breakfast with the family, a slice of pizza and some hot cocoa for lunch, and drank a half gallon of water in the first half of the day. (I realize this sounds like a terrible lunch, but in my defense it was homemade vegetarian pizza covered with CSA veggies, and I made the cocoa myself with whole milk, Dutched cocoa powder, and raw cane sugar. Do you forgive me?) I never have stomach problems while running (KNOCK ON WOOD) so I usually eat whatever before races, and just make sure I eat enough calories/carbs.
I jogged over to the park about an hour beforehand and registered. This year, there were no numbered bibs or timing clock. The Outreach decided to offer a cash prize to the #1 male and #1 female, so that was all they were tracking. I sort of had it in my head that I might win the $100 prize, because some of these smaller charity races get a pretty small turnout. Last year, my 23:47 was good enough for second female. I know. I decided that if that happened, I would 1) feel embarrassed, and 2) donate the money back to the Outreach, or maybe 3) donate the money at the Planned Parenthood booth.
I chatted with some of my friends at the Integrity Alabama booth and stole and ate some of their hard candy. I ran about two miles to warm up and shake things out. I noticed my insanely fast (like Olympic hopeful fast) track club friend Elena jogging around, so I immediately put aside any thoughts of the sweet, sweet ca$h money, haha!
The race started in a crazy way...someone just said, "okay" and blew an air horn. The runners were like, "WHAT? NOW??!" At least I was ready. My first two mile splits were 7:15 and 7:28. The course was unremarkable, just a lollipop through downtown on roads I run all the time. At .4 miles in, a little (like 8-year-old) kid running next to me asked me "how much longer?" and I told him 2.7 miles more. He was so pissed!
At around 2.6 miles, we crossed back through the people doing the AIDS walk, and I couldn't see where the other runners were going. Someone said, "you're done!" but I kept running a bit until my watch said 3.1 miles. My watch time was 22:47, but I crossed the finish line around 21:20 (which would have been an AMAZING 5k time if it had been accurate hah). I think the last mile was around 6:28 pace but I'm relying on Strava and my watch for that. I was the third female and like ninth overall I think. Small race.
I haven't really been doing speed work, and the 5k isn't really my thing, so I had a good race. It was nice to drop the hammer and do a speedy run. After the race, I jogged a bit and then went home and ate a bunch of German food with a pumpkin beer. Win/win.