Still coming off my super adrenaline high from being around hundreds and hundreds of local runners (and all their endorphins) this past weekend. I love race days.
Saturday started off with SVR Winter Series #1 at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. I went back and forth trying to decide what to do about this race. See if I could push both days? Go somewhat easy for SVR but miss getting some series points? It was tough. I knew the bottom 2 race performances get tossed, but the competitive girl inside of me was having a tough time with not racing. So, I decided to just go moderate; do a little speed play and wake up my muscles for the next day.
The race is an out and back, which is a lot of fun when you know a lot of the runners. I was able to high-five a lot of people and cheer them on as we passed one another. The theme was Ugly Christmas Sweater and I so enjoyed everyone’s holiday spirit. In the beginning of the race, I ran a little with Mike M. which was nice. Heading into the last half mile, I had to hold myself back from going all out to finish, but still ended up clocking a 6:23. Finished and ran back to see Dylan finish and then cheer John in (who would have possibly had a PR if there was a start & finish mat VERN!). My family (including our adopted Mario) went out for brunch after to replace some of those calories lost.
Sunday’s race was in Inwood, WV. I had heard about this race last year, but thought there was no way I could do 2 races in one weekend in my first full year of racing. The South Berkeley Christmas 5K is more of a half day event for the town – first the race expo, then the 5K followed by the Christmas parade. A couple months ago, race director Mark Peters had asked me to be part of the elite women crowd. I reluctantly agreed, knowing I’d only be 2 weeks off my 50 miler. I just couldn’t turn down the opportunity! A few days prior, Mark called again and informed me there was going to be an elite youth group as well and asked if Dylan could join. Dylan immediately said YES! We both turned in our bios and learned we would be announced heading to the starting line.
I did not realize how fun this race would be. All the other runners were at the line – a huge crowd of 700+ – and we waited to be announced. I was surrounded by so many amazing local runners – Courtney T., Chuck B., Matt L., Mike M., teammates Mario and Jeremy (as well as his son Connor in the elite youth) and a few new runners I had the chance to meet. As they called our names and read our bios one by one, we ran through a chute down the center of the crowd, giving high-fives along the way. Wow. Dylan was beaming. Later on that day he said, “Mom, I felt very special!” What a great experience to share with him.
For this race, I was nervous. The last few races I really wasn’t nervous for, but knowing I needed to find a fast gear for a short race was a little intimidating. I took a lot of rest the first week off the 50 and was only able to fit in one speed workout since. I wasn’t sure what I could really expect. I decided to just shoot for a PR, knowing it was a a fast course. I figured, that’s the best I can do. Win, lose, if I hit close to PR, that’d be the best I could do.
With a countdown from the crowd, we were off with a boom! Runners, young and old, jockeyed for position. Our first turn wasn’t too far off and I was sitting in 4th place female for awhile. Before the first mile, I passed one very talented young female. Hit the one mile mark – 5:53. Whew. Legs weren’t used to going this fast. I plugged away. We raced through the streets making a few turns and headed for a turn around. An upbeat, fun song played (thanks Hans!) as we turned around the cones to head back in the opposite direction. At this point, I could see where I was compared to the other runners. A few cheered me on (thank you!) as I headed into mile 2. From mile 1 on, I never checked my watch. We headed back towards the start, cheerleaders chanting “Let’s go runners!” and made the final turn. I could see the 2nd place girl ahead but knew she was too far to catch. I could see the finish line at the end of the descent. As I approached the finish line, I could see the time ticking 18:54, 18:55, 18:56… finished 19:00. Just off my 2017 PR by seconds. I wish I had looked at my watch in the last half mile to gauge where I was, but honestly, my legs were tired! Maybe I could have found a little extra push if I knew I was so close, but I like to think I left it all out there.
After crossing the line, we were greeted by several volunteers handing out dog tag medals, gloves, a hand towel, water, bananas and chips. Wow! I gathered my items, found Mario and we headed back towards the finish line. I was just in time to see Dylan cross! Another solid performance (20:33 on Saturday and 20:35 Sunday; the kid is consistent!).
After cheering on a couple other runners, I headed back to our Runner In Training booth at the Expo. Prior to the race, I really enjoyed working our table – meeting a lot of new runners, giving out stickers and finding out “Why Do You Run?” We had a lot of great reasons, some creative and some from people who thought they were really funny (ahem, Mike L.). The awards ceremony was nice – cheered on many running friends we knew as they accepted their medals and how fun to be presented with my medal by none other than Barbara S.! Thankful for the hug 🙂
If you haven’t run either of these races, you should! The SVR Winter Series includes 8 races for basically the price of 1, or if you sign up for just a couple, they are very affordable. Races are every other weekend in the Winchester/Front Royal/Stephens City area. The first race had approximately 430; so depending on the weather, expect a good crowd for the future races. The SVR crew (and volunteers) put on a fun series of races.
And, if you have not run in the South Berkeley Christmas 5K, you definitely should! An extremely affordable race fee, so many goodies at the finish line, plus donuts and pizza inside after! Mark and Aimee Peters, much kudos to you for a well-organized and fun day. Thank you for inviting us to your event. You can count on us to be back!
The weekend went by way too fast with all of this running fun; but I can’t say how glad I am to be part of our local running community. You all are a lot of fun!