My wife has ran a couple untimed 5K's but wants an official 5K time so she signed up for the St. Mary Magdalene Monarchs in Motion 5K in Apex. I figured since I'll be there with her anyway, I may as well sign up to see what my 5K time is, since I have never ran one either.
How hilly can Apex be? How hard can a 5K be?
Saturday morning was hot and sunny and humid. We got to the race at around 7 to pick up the race packet and do a bit of warm up. The race course is figure eight through a subdivision. We warmed up by running the smaller loop and it was immediately clear that it's not gonna be easy. Around the first corner of the race, the course goes straight up a big hill and down another big hill. Hmm....how hilly can Apex be?
We were already sweating buckets after one mile of warm up. I ran into Stephanie from the Galloway group who was volunteering for the race and chatted with her a bit. There was a yoga instructor leading a group doing warm ups which I didn't need, since I was already sweating buckets from that 1 mile slow jog.
The race organizer wanted everyone running 8min pace or faster line up first, so I nudged to the back of the front pack. Maybe 30 or so people. Rest of the runners lined up behind us and I hoped I don't get trampled over. I hoped to run at least 8min pace but secretly hoping for 7:30 or so. I know my secret competitor Rachel is race result stalking me on this one.
Race starts and we blast up hill in the parking lot. Yeah, hills in the parking lot already. I follow this cute girl in short shorts and blue tank top around the parking lot down the hill through some shops then turned into the first loop of the figure eight. We immediately huffed and puffed up the first hill where I get passed by some runners. Around the corner is a long down hill section where I pick up some speed and pass those that have passed me, including the blue shirt girl and also a blue shirted guy. We pass the mile 1 marker near end of the loop and I was doing about 7:20 or so. Way fast, and my heart wanted to escape from my chest.
Climbing back up to the shops and we turn down this seriously long steep hill toward the loop 2. Jeez, this hill will be fun on the way back. Once again I pass the blue shirt girl and guy and also pass the water station. Climbing toward the loop two I get seriously fatigued and wanted to walk but forced myself to not to stop. Fortunately the start of loop 2 which is bigger is a short section of down hill where I caught my breath a bit and let the heart rate drop below 100%. The backside of this loop is a looong section of up hill. I shuffled passed a couple walkers that seriously tempted me to walk. Mile 2 marker passes by and I was doing just under 8 for the second mile, with my heart ready to shut down.
We turn around to the end of loop two, and heading down toward the last really long steep hill. I gathered the last bit of my resolve and strength and powered my way to the top of the hill, with absolutely nothing left on the top. From here the course takes a right for about a hundred yard with the slightly rise in elevation and I couldn't muster anything so I slowed down to a really slow shuffle and another runner passes me here. Then we turn left and up a seriously steep but short hill into the parking lot. Finally on top of the parking lot, I looked back and saw two runners behind me and gaining. I felt like puking but knowing salvation is just yards away, I dug in and sprinted to the finish with a 24:43 time.
I promised Jade that I'll take some pictures of her at finish, so I trotted back to the car and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and my phone. Back at the finish line I waited for her and saw a runner had collapsed at finish. Ouch. There was four or five people helping him so I continued waiting for Jade.
Jade had wanted to do a sub 30 min race but after seeing the hills during the warm up she had all but given up on that goal. So it was a surprise for me to see a glimpse of her on the other side of the parking lot and I saw the race clock showing 29 min and something. I yelled and shouted "Go Jade" as loud as I could. She came around the corner and looked at the race clock which was showing 29:47! Digging down she lowered her head and picked up her cadence and sprinted across to a 29:53 finish!