On Sunday, April 21, I participated in the 13th Annual Burgh’s 10K/5K Run on the Montour trail. I signed up for both the 5k and 10k forever ago, after hearing nothing but good things from my friend Alicia. This race was on part of the Montour that I had never run, out in Cecil Township. I was really looking forward to running a new trail.
I had convinced my other friend Angela to run also, so we planned to all stick together. Then, as race day approached, Alicia expressed her desire to run a sub-30 minute 5k, and the flat rail-trail was a good place to try. I offered to pace her, since I’ve become something of a pacing goddess during this training cycle. Angela wasn’t entirely convinced of nailing this pace, but she decided to stick with us as long as she could.
I originally thought that these races were on a Saturday, but after looking at the calendar realized it was in fact going to be a Sunday. This meant I could run my usual Saturday run with the Steel City Road Runners, and then race Sunday. However, since it was the beginning of our taper in anticipation of the Pittsburgh Marathon, I decided to skip running with the group.
We didn’t want to miss out entirely, though, so Alicia, her fiancé Mark, and I volunteered to man (woman) a water stop along the 11 mile course. Despite the completely insane wind and hail, we had an awesome time!
The runners wore blue and yellow (Boston Marathon colors) and had bibs with the photo in this picture – “We are all Boston Marathoners at heart.” I had printed out this picture the day before, in anticipation of taping it to our table, and when I showed up in the morning, they had the exact same thing on the bibs. It was awesome.
After seeing everyone running, we were ready to race on Sunday. As usual, I agonized over the details: would I get lost? (I had a rental car with no GPS) What would the weather do? Would I be able to pace the girls well? Where would I park? I’m a mess before races, especially new ones.
I arrived about an hour early, found rockstar parking, and Alicia pulled in like three seconds later. We headed to registration to get our bibs and awesome shirts (purple!) before finding a bathroom. It was really chilly – probably around 40 degrees – so we decided to hang out in our cars until it was time to run.
I decided to hit the bathroom one more time before the race start, but ran into Angela on the way, so I hung out with her in line while trying not to chatter our teeth out from shivering. Before I knew it, it was about time to head to the starting line, so I had to jog back to my car to get all my stuff ready to go.
I had planned on wearing my new SCRR singlet with arm warmers and gloves, but standing outside convinced me I would be too cold. I decided to wear the singlet over top a long sleeve shirt with gloves. By the time I got to the starting line and spotted a fellow SCRR member, Francie, the sun was pretty warm and I decided to ditch the long sleeve shirt. People were looking at me kind of strangely, but I was actually pretty comfortable. Besides, I get unusually warm when I run, so I knew that I would be fine later.
Angela, Alicia and I found each other, which was impressive because there were over 500 runners alone – not counting spectators. That was a lot of people to cram onto on a narrow rail-trail. Fortunately this was a chip-timed race, so we didn’t have to worry about the accuracy of our times. It was an out-and-back, so the start and finish line were the same.
Francie wasn’t running, but instead was what I like to call a spectathlete. She also had her camera, so she was going to take lots of photos. Yay! I love photos. They make blog posts way more interesting. Francie generously offered to hold onto my shirt, and soon she became Coat Lady for several other people. She was awesome.
For a sub-30 5k, I had told Alicia that we should try to maintain a 9:30 pace, which would have us finish around 29:30. We of course took off faster than this, with the excitement of racing and the crowd of people.
Alicia stopped to tie her shoe about a half mile in, and I slowly left Angela behind while trying to keep the sub-30 pace. I wanted to keep the pace so that if Alicia was behind me, she could see the pace (her watch was acting up), but I decided at the turnaround, I would stop and wait for the girls. They had maintained a very respectable pace because I didn’t even see them as they flew by the turnaround! I ran to catch up. Alicia was having some trouble – her heart rate was too high – and Angela wasn’t accustomed to running this fast. We decided to reign things in – after all, we still had a 10k to run after this!
We ended up finishing in 30:53, which is still a sub-10 minute pace. Alicia was happy with that, so I was happy too! I was worried about her, though, with her heart rate. She had donated blood earlier in the week – apparently you need blood to run hard. Makes sense, but it was something she (or I) had thought of before the run.
We stood near the start/finish line, had some water, and tried to stay warm. I had worked up a good sweat, but the air was cool, so I became a bit chilled. Alicia still wasn’t feeling right, so I ran down the hill to the pavilion where they had all the post-race goodies. I found an orange and ran back up to the girls. It was pretty good for me, because it kept me warm.
Soon enough, it was 10k time, and we set off at an easy pace. We decided to run comfortable, and walk if we needed to do so. It was so much fun, especially when we saw the race leaders heading back our way. We walked a bit, enjoying the scenery (seriously a beautiful part of the Montour) and chatted. Close to the turnaround point was a creepy tunnel that we had to run through. It was dark, dripping water, and chilly inside – perfect for a Halloween race.
It was a bit warmer at this point, and we enjoyed the sunshine. I distinctly remember telling the girls that I would cry tears of joy if marathon day weather was that perfect. After our turnaround, we enjoyed a noticeable downhill grade for awhile. I also noted that we were running a few miles at my goal marathon pace.
Soon we neared the finish line, and there was Francie with her camera, and Sam, Angela’s husband, cheering us on! We were pretty happy that so many people were still out, cheering on the finishers.
After the race, Sam and Angela headed out. Alicia and I decided to find the promised finish line beer! Down in the pavilion area, we bumped into Tom, another fellow SCRR member. He had run both races as well – in fact, he runs races almost every weekend, doubling up also. He had run a half marathon the day before. He’s a badass and I basically want to be him when I grow up.
We got some food and sat in the grass, enjoying the sun and listening to the awards being announced. I never before realized how delicious pasta with red sauce topped with salty potato chips could be. In case you’re wondering: GLORIOUS.
At the end, they began drawing race numbers to give away raffle prizes. It seemed that a lot of people had left because hardly anyone was claiming prizes. To improve this situation, they decided to just call out numbers that they could see. It became a huge mess with everyone climbing over each other to get their bibs in the announcer’s line of sight. I was annoyed, and we didn’t win anything. Boo.
All in all, though, an awesome couple of races, and I look forward to running both again next year. I hope to run both for speed, as it’s been a long time since I’ve run a flat 5k, and I have yet to run a flat 10k. See you next year, Burgh’s 5k/10k!