Downtown Sundown 5K - Race Report

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Short version:

  • I went a little overboard on glow sticks at the Dollar Tree the day before the race
  • The race started at 8:30PM
  • I ran a new PR of 19:50 (clock time) with mile splits of 6:37, 6:26, and 6:18 respectively.
  • I placed 9th overall (out of 231) and 2nd in the 25-29 age group.
  • I had FUN!
Long version:

I was back and forth on whether or not I wanted to run the Downtown Sundown 5k, primarily because Michelle and I had discussed just enjoying the parent event itself, the Summer Solstice Fest. Maybe it was race registration withdraw or the thought of "missing out" as I watched everyone run by but on Monday evening I decided I wanted to run and turned in my registration at RunAbout Sports on Tuesday.  I think the last time I ran a 5k was during my undergraduate time at Tech in the 5KD (2008?!?).  My running last week was pretty low, in fact it was only three runs aside the race on Saturday so I think I was well rested.

On Friday, Michelle and I headed off to to grocery store and on our way stopped by the Dollar Tree so that I could pick up a few birthday cards.  Upon entering the store, I completely forgot why we were there because I was so distracted by their massive selection of glow-in-the-dark products.  I may have gotten a little carried away.  That's the problem with the dollar store, you think "but it's only a dollar" and then you get up to the counter and leave thinking "did I really get 20 items?" Fortunately, I didn't get that carried away and managed to keep the damage to a minimum...aside from the obligatory Harribo Gummy Bear purchase.  They get me EVERY time.  I digress.

And this wasn't even all of it.  Later on, I found a section that had three times the selection!

Sunflower Rye Bread
Saturday was relatively tame.  Michelle headed off early to get in a run with her friend Shannon, which gave me the perfect opportunity to be productive.  I spent most of the day "doing schoolwork" and by doing schoolwork I mean I was editing a video from making pizza Friday night.  At least I was productively procrastinating rather than just sitting around watching TV.  I did make a trip down to the farmers market to pick up some delicious bread. Prepare for a tangent.  I grew up loving bread. On my last and only trip to Germany as a Siemens employee, I had the privilege of traveling with a German colleague who lived in the US and professed her love for dense-hearty bread whenever she returned to Europe.  I thought it was interesting her comparison of how "most" American bread is airy and fluffy but the bread in Europe is more substantial, more of a meal than a side, kind of like a good stout beer.  I think she'd be proud because that's the type of bread I bought on Saturday.

Gillie thought the bread smelled delicious!

Although the loaf looks small, it must have weighed 2+ pounds.  Think about that.  It was delicious.  I suppose this is me professing my love for dense-hearty bread.  I guess you could say that I'm a convert.  Anyways, I always try the bread from Sweetwater Baking Co. but this is the first time I've purchased.  I don't know if I can go back.  Although, I do like making bread in the bread machine.  Right.  The race report.  Yes.  I remember now.

The only area for improvement by race management in my opinion, and this may be entirely my fault for not being more conscious, is communication of packet pickup details.  I completely glossed over the details when turning in my registration.  Fortunately, whomever is in charge of the RunAbout sports Facebook page is GREAT about replying to posts in a timely manner and that is where I found out that packet pickup ended at 7:45.  Michelle really saved me here, as she always does.  She was already at the Summer Solstice fest with some of her friends from school and swung by and picked up my race number, otherwise I would have been in a huge rush to make it by 7:45.

Run from the apartment to Downtown
I decided I would run down to the start of the race from my apartment and packed up my Nathan hydration vest with my Chacos, for after, and surplus of glow sticks.  I found Michelle a little after 8 at Cabo and pinned on my race number and headed off to warm-up.  I usually don't warm-up, mainly because in a marathon or ultra I'll be out there for hours and that happens in the first few miles but I decided with a short race that I should try to "prime" my body for the effort.

Warm-up on the Huckleberry Trail

All glow stick'd up!  Can you tell I don't take myself too seriously?

I was feeling good and excited to race, despite what I had told other people about just taking the run easy.  I wanted to see what I was capable of and what type of time I could put down but I also try to stay humble and understand that sometimes you just have off days and have to take it in stride, pun intended.  I found Michelle at the start line with some Blacksburg friends and hung out for a few minutes before finding a place near the start line.  I situated myself about 15 feet back from the start line, again mainly a humility thing, but I should've just lined up on the line as there was some initial side-stepping as a result.  And without much buildup and a simple Ready. Set. Go! we were off.

Ready.                                                              Set.           


Photo credit:

Most of the first mile is along Draper Rd. heading away from Downtown and is predominately uphill.  The race sorted itself out quickly, or rather the Draper hill did, and by the first mile I was sitting within the top 15 or so and feeling comfortable (read: not feeling like I was going to barf).  I began marking people and closing each gap, giving encouragement as I came up alongside them, although I wasn't  in much of a state to talk as I was not running at a conversational pace so it was more like "Nice *gasp* Race! *gasp*"  As we made the turn onto the Huckleberry Trail, I had that feeling in my legs and I began thinking "can I sustain this?"  I think the mental gains that I have made this spring by running longer distances and off-road far outweigh the physical benefits.  The most significant of which is the ability to push through tough moments in a race.  Knowing the course well was a huge advantage as I knew exactly what to expect and prepare for around every turn.

Turning off the Huckleberry trail (~2.2 mile-ish) and making a right onto Preston, I knew there was only three more hills before the downhill to the finish along Draper.  I felt good and continued to push the pace and was able to catch, match, and pass two other runners in the last mile or so.  The whole way down Draper I was thinking "Don't. Get. Caught!" as I knew I would be kicking myself if I slipped out of the top ten for slacking near the finish.  A couple hundred meters from the finish I could hear the sound of the vuvuzela (Nice Ultra VT!) and kicked to the finish, while retrieving my glow stick wand that I had stowed in my waistline for finish photos!

Gorgeous night for a run!

I was glad to be done but surprisingly didn't feel too awful.  Michelle was there waiting for me, as always, and grabbed a few photos that capture how I really felt:

I suppose my mind was frazzled from the race or possibly in oxygen debt and completely forgot about the awards after the race.  It was not until the results were posted Sunday evening that I realized I had taken second for my age group.  I finished with a time of 19:50, which I was really pleased with especially considering I don't do speed work or track workouts.  I placed 9th overall out of 231 but the field this year was less competitive than last year where I would have been 17th with my time.  I was happiest that I didn't fade as the race went on with mile splits of 6:37, 6:26, and 6:18 for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd miles respectively. Although, I think it helped that the last 1/2 of the race is downhill!

Downtown Sundown 5k - Garmin Data
We hung around and watched a few people finish but both of us wanted to enjoy the festival in its' entirety and what better way then to enjoy a refreshing beverage at Cabo!

Michelle and I post race at Cabo Fish Taco!

I didn't eat much after lunch because I was worried about my stomach.  Great decision!  After the race, I indulged in a wiz wit (yes, with actual cheez-whiz!) from the Cellar food truck.

I love the race shirts, which is funny because it's not anything special (i.e. a technical shirt with wicking fabric) but the colors just make it feel like summer but I did have an observation about them. Do you think the person designing them was enjoying a Bell's Oberon at the time?  The colors are almost exactly the same, despite the picture at the right.  Regardless, they're AWESOME!

It was a really fun race and I enjoyed the change from slow pace of an ultra.  Maybe next year I'll convince Michelle to run it too!

My second place age group medal!


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