It had been a year and a half since I ran my last 10K race, and I wanted to sign up for a few things as I’m working my way back up to running the Ludington Lakestride half in June. The Run for Freedom 10k/5k was in my town and the price was right ($35 for the 10K, $25 for the 5K).
I’m not really into super-patriotic things (I just don’t have the emotional connection to the US that most Americans do) but I can still get behind the charity benefiting from this race – it’s a grassroots group that helps soldiers who have been injured in service. Also, the race is in memory of the soldiers from Grant County who died. So, I might not choose to wave a flag or wear red, white and blue, but I can recognize the sacrifice those guys made and the painful, ongoing struggle of those who were injured.
The distance is great. I ran a 5k (3.1 miles) last month, and it was fun – I ran with a friend and it was a color run so they threw colored powder at you – but that’s a short run for me. I’m at the point where running 3.1 miles is no biggie. (It’s taken a while to get there, though!) I like the challenge of the 10k (6.25 miles).
Pre-Race at home:
I ate my usual pre-race breakfast: peanut butter on an English muffin, apple, and small cup of coffee. The weather was chilly. I was going to wear a tank top but opted for a t-shirt since it was about 45 when we left the house. Great running temp!
Pre-Race at Matter Park:
There was a real festival atmosphere at the park. Sousa marches playing, tons of people, lots of color. I picked up my number and goodie bag and Steve and I (and puppy Lucy) hung out as the crowd gathered. At 9:00, there was a short program with patriotic music, prayer, welcome and explanation of race, color guard, and honoring those from Grant County who passed away in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was also a short recognition of the Boston marathon tragedy.
And we’re off!
The course was a loop south to the dam on Mississinewa River and then north to Avondale neighborhood. At about 1/2 mile in, there was a motorcycle gauntlet type thing where they revved their bikes at us as we passed. It was pretty cool.
Mile 1: 8:56 (Fastest ever mile!)
Mile 2: 9:28
Mile 3: 9:09
I was pretty happy with my pace at this point. My goal was to finish in 55 minutes, which I knew was somewhat lofty. My pace would have had to have been 8:51 to get that. Still, I was feeling good. The air was crisp and cool, I was passing a few people who had gone out too quick, and the spectators and cops were super encouraging. We doubled back towards the park and were running past the 5k-ers and walkers going in the other direction.
Mile 4: 9:32
Mile 5: 9:22
I made the loop through Avondale and it was awesome to see my friend Courtney cheering for me. She was with her hubby, Travis, one of the many police officers there. It definitely gave me a burst of confidence.
Mile 6: 9:21
I passed a few more people as we went up a little hill back to the park. I knew the end was in sight! I tried to pick up a bit more speed as I ran into the park. I saw Steve about 50 feet from the finish line waving at me. I ran over a pad that must have triggered my name to pop up for the announcer because then I heard, “And here comes Rachel Elwood, finishing her 10K!”
iPhone time: 57:34 (Also, it said the overall course was 6:44 miles)
Official race time: 59:09 (That would account for the additional .2 miles)
A volunteer handed me a medal, someone else removed the chip from my shoe, and I headed to the refreshments tent. I only took two water breaks on the race, so I was a little thirsty. I found Steve and Lucy and took a few pictures. We hung around so I could see my official time and give a few more people some puppy love (Seriously, want to make friends? Get a puppy!) before we headed home.
Overall, a GREAT race. Very, very well organized. Some of the best volunteers I’ve ever seen. There were almost too many water breaks – I felt a little bad for just blitzing through most of them. But everyone was so encouraging. And I’m sure there were some newer runners/walkers who appreciated the frequent breaks. The course was completely closed to traffic so it was really safe – AND it was super nice to cruise through intersections without a care in the world!
I highly recommend this race and hope to do it again next year!