Guess who won third place in her age group at Fleet Feet’s first annual RUNapoolza?
We’ll get to that shortly!
I arrived at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College around 8:30 a.m.
As I took in the surroundings, I couldn’t help but to reflect what happened here four years ago. Anyway, since I picked up my tech t-shirt and race bib yesterday, I got to bypass the registration lines this morning.
Preceding the 5-K race, the kids’ fun run kicked off the day at 9 a.m.
One poor guy tossed his cookies literally 100m from the finish line. I felt so bad! After the kids completed their 1-mile run, it was time for RUNapoolza to begin! Although not completely flat, this two-loop route was reasonable; the only tough spot was a 300m gradual hill.
I love loop/out-and-back runs. During the first loop, you can warm-up, assess the terrain, and take note of any hills and inclines; the second time around, you can truly attack the course. These types of routes are a strength for me—as opposed to a cross-country/off-road course—so I mentally prepared to run the first loop comfortably fast and lay down the hammer on lap two. Ultimately, I though this would be a good time to go for a new PR.
As the nearly 1,200 runners toed the start line, the emcee encouraged everyone to have fun, follow their limits, and most importantly, not to try to PR because the temperature was climbing—shortly before 9:30 a.m., it was close to 80 degrees. This suggestion took me aback. Yes, the race marshals knew the course and took the weather conditions into consideration, but I felt loose and ready to push myself; I didn’t feel like a PR—or, at the very least, a sub-24-minute finish—was out of the question. I weighed my options, and I knew I couldn’t ignore the fact that this wasn’t my only race this week—I’m running the Cazenovia 4th of July 10-miler, and I’m tackling the Boilermaker 15-K a mere four days later. With this in mind, I settled on not going for a PR; I wanted to push myself and get in a quality 5-K run, but I didn’t want to run this “like a race.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures during the race, but the race organizers totally decked out the course. In addition to the water stations, there were a handful of musicians sprinkled around the loop who provided a good soundtrack and words of encouragement. Fleet Feet volunteers also manned the route, clapping and cheering for the runners. My favorite part of the course décor included the inspirational phrases written on the pavement. The colored chalk made exclamations like “you’re my hero!” and “to do today: drink, run, drink” pop. There were also a handful of technique points like “heel strike” and “go into glide mode.” These phrases were a nice touch and definitely helped me stay focused and mentally in the race.
For the first 1.5-mile loop, I maintained a steady pace (I’m guessing around 8:20) and assessed the terrain. Taking a cue from my iPod mishap during the Nate Race, I ran “naked”—or sans music—and without these beats numbing my senses, I was better able to tune into my body: My calves were a little tight, but nothing to be concerned about; I knew I could run through it. After the first lap, I slowly picked up the pace (maybe close to 8:10) and cruised through the downhill. At this point, I went into a “running coma” of sorts; I really don’t remember anything until I approached the final water station. This is when my inner-competitor started talking: Carrie, what are you doing? Let’s pick up the speed! Far from exhaustion—my effort level notched in at a seven out of 10—I decided to go for broke and pick up my speed for the final 400m. At the very least, this was a good opportunity to practice my finishing kick. However, I knew this surge came too late to hope for one of my better times. During the final 200m, I picked off five or six people and crossed the finish line: unofficial time was 24:34.
While chugging water and eating two bananas, I watched other runners finish, and it was great to see so many folks who completed Fleet Feet’s No Boundaries Beginner 5-K program. For the past 10-weeks, these individuals have been learning how to run and training for their first-ever 5-K race, and RUNapoolza served as the spring session’s culmination. Way to go, everyone!
Around 10:15 a.m., the race results were posted: With an official time of 24:24, I took third place in my age group! No medals, but I received something more practical—a RUNapoolza pint glass!
At the post-race party, Enter the Haggis—a Canadian Indie/Scottish/folk rock world-fusion band—took the stage and performed before the prize drawing.
I’ve never heard of them before, but there were a ton of devoted fans jumping and singing in the crowd.
Overall, RUNapoolza was a ton of fun! It definitely wasn’t the best race (time-wise) I’ve run, but it was a gorgeous day, the volunteers were super friendly, and the vendors—think SOS, New Balance, and Muesli Fusion—distributed some great swag. When can I sign up for next’s year race?