Pancakes and Beer 5k

I roll out of bed cold and cranky. Earlier in October it was still 80 degrees, but the week of the 27th it decided to jump to winter and is now in the 40s. Luckily this race, the Pancake and Beer 5k at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, starts at 9:00 a.m. The location is close to my house, but it’s Saturday and I want to sleep in. “No rest for the wicked” I tell myself, and force myself to get ready.

“At least it’s not raining” I remind myself. It rained non-stop the day before. I braved the rain on my lunch break to pick up the packets. The race did offer race day pickup, but in case the rain didn’t stop and we decided to skip I at least wanted our shirts.

Every June I run the NoDa 5k with my friend Becky. This year she expressed interest in doing another 5k in the fall, so I set out researching local races. I love researching races as much as running them. In the end we picked the Pancake and Beer 5k which included a free pancake breakfast and beer after, a long sleeve shirt, and most importantly a start time that wasn’t horribly early. My boyfriend, Mike, said he’d join as well, and with that our 5k crew was set.

Although we arrived 30 minutes prior to race start, the parking lots were already full. We drove around and found a neighborhood street to park on. Neither Becky, Mike, or myself enjoy cold weather so we all stood around uncomfortably, trying to maintain cheerful banter, until we were called to the start line. While waiting in the corral Mike asks me, “what is your goal?” I answered honestly, “I have none, it’s just a 5k. Just running this one for fun.”

After crossing the start line I pushed my pace but tried not to look at my watch or put any pressure on myself. The starting streets, which were all within the business complex, where closed to traffic. But permits were apparently not acquired for the main roads so we were forced to run on the sidewalks. 700+ runners forced onto a singular sidewalk does not equal a great race pace. Luckily time was not my goal, but it was still frustrating to get me pace thrown off.

At mile 2.6 a young girl running solo asked a course volunteer what mileage we were at. The volunteer did not answer, so I told her the mileage per my Garmin watch. I learned this was her first race, and as we were doing about an 8:40 pace I told her she was doing awesome. The former Girls on the Run coach in me came out and I stayed with her until the end, and we finished in 26:50:12.

Once I reconnected with Mike and Becky we grabbed our free post-race beer, and got our free pancake and bacon breakfast. The breakfast was pre-packaged and Mike and I gave our portions to Becky to take home to her boyfriend. I am a vegetarian so no bacon for me, plus I never crave a sweet breakfast. Honestly the beer was hard enough to get down that early in the day. The wind was blowing strongly, which only made us colder in our sweaty clothing.

We decided to head home, but I heard the name of a woman who finished directly ahead of me get called for an award. “Did I place too?” I exclaimed excitedly, running to the results tent. The excitement was short lived, I did not place. I did come in 6th out of 52 in my age group though which is the best I’ve placed in a race so far. I was suddenly angrier about the narrow sidewalks and my pace being slowed. Had I known I had a chance to place I would have pushed harder. However, maybe I did so well because I was focused on fun. I think there is a lesson in there if I wish to learn it.

*Author’s note: I did enjoy this race despite the narrow course. Had it been normal weather for October it would have been an enjoyable after-party and we would have stayed longer. I would recommend and run this race again. And seriously, the shirt is SO soft, comfortable, and cute.

October 27, 2018
Charlotte, NC
Time: 26:50:12
Pace: 8:39
Overall: 134/636
Age: 6/52
Gender: 37/346

Meet Virginia, I Can’t Wait To

I’m aroused from slumber by the soft sound of weeping from the hallway. I look at my phone, 3:30 A.M. Still time to sleep before my 5 A.M. alarm. I hear my friend comforting her son, and feel for her. She is running as well and clearly her sleep isn’t going smoothly. I snuggle down to fall back asleep when it hits me, “My Garmin!”. I forgot to plug in my GPS watch last night. I jump out of bed and get it charging. Although I’d never wish a nightmare on a 4 year old, this one was a blessing.

Meet Virginia, I Can’t Wait To

I groggily roll out of bed and start to get race ready. I am not a girl who spends time getting pretty even on the best days, so races take me no time to prep for. I throw on my clothing, rub some chapstick in prime chaff spots as I’m too cheap to buy Body Glide, and head downstairs for a soda. I had missed the expo, but Katie had grabbed my packet for me. She was already in the kitchen, ready to go. Katie, my old college friend, had also picked up distance running after graduation. She had moved to Virginia after grad school, and she invited me to run the Fredericksburg Historic Half Marathon. I eagerly accepted, both excited to see her again and run my first half marathon. My first half attempt, which took place in Disney World, failed when a thunderstorm cut the course in half. Katie and I finished our morning caffeine and headed to the race.

We arrived before the bulk of the crowd and secured a good parking spot with ease. With time to kill, Katie introduced me to Wagman’s, her favorite grocery store. Her pre-race ritual is a hot chocolate and a muffin, and I agreed to give it a shot. I ordered a small hot chocolate and we split the oversized muffin. I am not normally a dairy drinker, and although it is never wise to try something new on race day, I like to live on the edge a little. After breakfast, we used Wagman’s lovely bathrooms to avoid the port-a-potties, then proceeded to the start line.

My nerves start to kick in as we near the starting corrals. Unlike my first half marathon attempt, the weather was perfect this morning, so barring injury I was going to succeed. The start was well organized with large markers to indicate anticipated finish times. I was aiming for a 2:15 finish, which was different from Katie’s goal, so we hugged, wished each other luck, and enter our respective start zones.

Left on my own my nerves really went into overdrive. Starting corrals are always the point you start to overthink the race. What if I get lost? What if I get injured? Did I pee close enough to the start time? What if I have to pee again and I can’t find a port-a-potty? How exciting would it be to finish faster than I anticipate? How sad will I be if I’m slower? How will I react if I end up running next to a celebrity? What if aliens abduct me and I don’t get to finish? What if, what if, what if. Although these thoughts typically quiet the more you race, I believe everyone experiences them during their first race. Except that fear about needing to pee, that one remains.

I’m literally shaken out of my internal reveries by a loud BOOM. The beginning of the race is marked by a cannon fire, which although fitting for a military race, is horrifying when you aren’t expecting it. Immediately my thoughts switch to run mode, and I take off across the start line.

The course is lovely, highlighting the best of Fredericksburg. There is lots of support from the crowd along the entire route, along with official aid stations. Strangers handed out orange slices, water, beer, and even shots of Fireball. Although I know how to handle my beer off the race course, I cannot imagine drinking alcohol while running, but more power to those who can! My cop father instilled a strong sense of “stranger danger” in me, so I do not take the goodies offered by the crowd. Official race support staff handed out Sport Beans, which I do accept. While running up a hill I pass a homeowner blaring “Eye of the Tiger” to power runners up the incline. In the historic downtown section there are people in period costumes doing Regency dances. Odd, but entertaining. I was having fun, and more importantly, feeling good.

However, Murphy’s Law is always waiting in the wings. At mile 9.5, a dull ache in my hip starts to appear. This wouldn’t be fun in any race, but the Fredericksburg Historic Half has a famous element that still loomed ahead of me: Hospital Hill. At mile 10, you start a 1.5 mile long incline in which you gain approximately 200 ft. Despite my hip pain, I was determined to conquer the hill. I am able to run the majority of it, although my pace does dip.

By the time I reach the top, my hip is screaming. I start massaging it hoping to work out the pain. The water stop at the top has Marines lined up to “encourage” you, which in military terms means yelling. I guess I looked as bad as I felt, because instead of tearing me down, a Marine gently said, “You are doing great, keep at it.” I could see in his face he knew I was in genuine pain. I’ve never responded well to negative reinforcement, so his kindness was the inspiration I needed. Had he yelled at me I probably would have gotten mad and walked longer. Instead, I start running again, trying to ignore the pain, and I cross my first half marathon finish line 2:06:50 after starting.

I take my medal and graciously accept all the goodies the Marines hand me. Water, Powerade, fruit cups, bananas, trail mix, potato chips…so many tasty treats! I had not planned on having a beer after the race since it was so early, but that immediately changes once I exit the finisher shoot. My hip is in so much pain, I crave some free Mich Ultra pain relief. While limping towards the beer tent, a heavenly angel from a sponsor’s table says “ice pack?” I eagerly accept the pink gel ice pack with some company logo stamped on it, and thrust it in my spandex shorts against my hip. I didn’t care that I look crazy. I’m in pain, and the cold feels great. I continue my journey to the beer tent, get my drink, and finally sit down to rest.

I have some good conversation with fellow finishers in the beer garden before heading to the meeting spot Katie and I had picked out. I stretch while waiting for her, and greedily shove potato chips in my mouth. I do not crave sweets at the end of a race, but I do love to replenish my sodium. When Katie arrives, we continued to sit and snack, before heading back to her house.

After a shower and a nap, Katie and her family treat me to a fantastic Indian dinner. While exiting the restaurant, we both instinctively stop at the sidewalk’s edge, trying to figure out how we are going to tackle the minor step off the curb. The pain in our quads and hamstrings has appeared. We make eye contact, and both burst out laughing. Runner’s life, you either love it, or loathe it.

*Author’s note: This race truly was amazing. I both highly recommend it and would run it again. Plus, they gave free race photos, which means I got gems such as this…

Race: Fredericksburg Historic Half
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Date: 5.15.16
State #: 1
Chip Time: 2:06:50
Pace: 9:40
Overall: 1909/5719
Age group: 117/462
Gender: 646/3003