After my 3-month-long hiatus between the triathlon and the Mews 5K, it was a real treat to only have to wait a few weeks before I could race again.
Seeing as how I'm still working through this injury, though, and seeing as how I ran pretty darn fast at the Mews last month, I had no intention of really racing this one. It was tempting, seeing as how I've come tantalizingly close to winning an age-group award at this race on two other occasions (they only give out awards for 1st place, which makes it much tougher), but I didn't want to push it, so I was sure to mentally prepare myself to approach it as a fun run, and nothing else.
As such, I expected to finish in around 25 minutes. Even when it's low tide and you have hard packed sand to run on, running on the sand is definitely tougher than running on the road, and I knew it would slow me down at least a bit. And as I was driving down to the beach, I could see that it was somewhat windy, so I knew that was going to be a factor, too.
This is a small race, so I didn't worry too much about getting there early, and showed up about 20 minutes before the start. It was chilly, but not too cold, and actually a really nice day for a race. I ran inside and got my number and t-shirt, dropped them off in my car, and then headed out on the sand for a very quick warmup jog down the beach.
Soon enough, we lined up and the gun went off. We headed down the beach for about half a mile, then turned around. After the turnaround, we had to run the entire length of the beach, and as we headed down that way, we were running into a pretty steady headwind. Since the first half mile had been with the wind at my back, I was able to finish mile 1 in 7:51, but since much of mile 2 was running into the wind, I slowed down to 8:04 for that mile.
I was fine with that, though - I was enjoying myself, and I didn't want to start feeling like I was pushing super hard. It was such a nice day for a run, and even though I wasn't running all that fast, the race is small and not terribly competitive, so I was right up at the front of the pack, which was pretty fun. And I knew that once I got to the turnaround, I'd be heading into the wind again, so I wanted to save some energy.
And sure enough, as soon as I made the turn, I was slammed by a gust of wind. But now we were in the homestretch, so only had to run halfway down the beach this time, rather than the full length. Knowing that, I did let myself pick up the pace a bit. And as the finish line came into sight, I picked it up just a bit more, and managed to finish mile 3 in 7:43.
The time on the clock when I crossed was 24:50. A full minute slower than the Mews, but taking into account the sand and the wind, a very solid effort, I think.
As I had been approaching the final turnaround, I was scoping out the competition, who had already turned around and were running the opposite direction toward the finish, and was pretty excited to see that I appeared to be among the top 10 females overall. And I couldn't be sure, but I had a feeling that I had a good shot at maybe placing in my age group.
So I waited a bit to see the results get posted, and was thrilled to see that I was 2nd in my age group. For this race, that wouldn't mean any kind of award, but I don't care - just knowing that I was 2nd is enough for me!
And although it's a small race, and the field isn't terribly competitive, I was competing in the 19 - 39 age group, and the woman who won first place in that group was 26, so if I can hold my own against a 26-year-old, I think I'm doing ok : )
It was a fun race. A good effort, but not all-out, and I feel ok about that. Every race can't be an all-out effort, and this is a perfect one for just getting out there and running well and having fun. It's not easy running on the sand, but it is really nice to run on the beach - and did I mention that the post-race food includes donuts? : )
Official time - 24:53
2nd in 19 - 39 age group
7th female overall
22 out of 122 overall