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2017 St. Joseph Academy Earn Your Spots 5K Race Recap

30 May

After my great experience at the 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon, I was eager to get back into running regularly again. When I sat down to plan my race calendar for the next few months, I saw that there are two 5Ks—the St. Joseph Academy Earn Your Spots 5K and the St. Mark School Run for the Arts 5K—in my neighborhood in less than a week. I felt bad about spending the money to run two races in a week, but I figured that both of these races support valuable institutions in my neighborhood and that it was money well spent.

The first 5K on the agenda was the St. Joseph Academy Earn Your Spots 5K. I had a great time at this race in 2014, but I wound up missing it in 2015 and in 2016. Needless to say, I was grateful that we were in town this year and that I could run it. My indecisiveness meant that I had to wind up registering on race day, which is something that I’ve never done before. I got to St. Joseph Academy in plenty of time to register, and I wound up pacing around like a bored dog because I had so much time before the race started. I’m not used to getting to the starting line so early!

I will say, though, that it was nice to line up where I wanted to line up instead of starting in the back because I arrived late. I lined up in the middle of the pack, but then I saw that the majority of the people at the front were younger and that there were very few individuals my age near the front. I figured that the worst thing that could possibly happen if I lined up at the front was that I would go out too fast, wind up running out of steam during the race, and spend the rest of the race watching people pass me. In the grand scheme of running, I can think of many more things that are worse than having one bad outing at a 5K because I tried a new race strategy, so I decided to go up to the front and give it a shot.

The race started well, and I had a ton of positive energy coming out of the gate because I didn’t arrive at the starting line feeling flustered because of lateness. Around the quarter-mile mark, I was passed by someone (I think she turned out to be the top female finisher), but at the time I thought, “Shoot, here we go…I’m running out of steam already.”

Mile 1 went well. I was proud of the fact that my tangents were strong even though this part of the course is a bit curvy. I felt great when the race official called out the mile split as I ran past because I was running faster than I had expected and because I had plenty of energy left in the tank.

At the start, I saw someone with a St. Mark School Cross Country shirt on. I have an entire blog post planned about fear holding people back in life, so I’ll elaborate on this more in the future. That said, my motivation to run hard grows exponentially whenever I see any St. Mark School Cross Country or Track shirts or yard signs while I’m running. My stepmom suggested that I try out for one of those sports during grade school, but I didn’t because I used an inhaler at the time and because I figured that I would stink at both of those sports since I was always the slowest one in gym class and basketball practice. I wonder if and how my life would have been different if I had started running in grade school? In any case, I’m a huge advocate of the phrase, “It is never too late to be what you might have been”, and that phrase always comes to mind when I see a yard sign that says, “Proud Home of a St. Mark Cross Country Runner” or a shirt supporting the team.

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I hope that I am running–and running happily–when I am as old as the individual in this picture! (Photo obtained from daimanuel.com)

Mile 2 was great because it contains two long, straight stretches. One of the stretches passed the boyhood home of one of my good friends from high school. As I ran past, I thought about how we used to play basketball and football all the time at his house during my grade school and high school years and how I used to get so frustrated at always being the worst player in the game. I’ve said this before, but I’m so thankful that I found the “sport” at which I can excel…even if it did take me over 31 years to find it!

Mile 3 is always brutal on a sunny day because much of it is spent running into the sun. The weather forecast said 64 degrees, so I wore a shirt with sleeves. In retrospect, I wish I had worn a sleeveless shirt because the temperature was far from 64 degrees. I really felt the heat and humidity during Mile 3, and I began to worry that my fears of losing steam were going to come true. However, I kept telling myself that I had less than 8 minutes of running left and to keep pushing hard. Around Mile 3.75, I saw the individual in the St. Mark shirt again, and this helped give me a final boost of energy. I reminded myself that I had conquered Amber with little difficulty during many training runs that were done after work and that I was running it now with fresh legs and positive feelings. Sheila and Bear were waiting on the corner of Amber and Rocky River Drive, so I got to see them twice since the race loops up and down Amber. When I said goodbye to them, I knew that I was nearly done!

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This finish line didn’t have a giant inflatable arch over the timing pad, so I had a bit of trouble figuring out exactly how far I had left to go when I entered the St. Joseph Academy property. I pushed as hard as I could, but I was pretty much out of steam by this point. Once I identified the precise location of the timing pad, though, I was able to summon the energy needed for a final push through the finish line!

Sheila and Bear joined me shortly thereafter. Prior to the race, I had intended to get a few more miles in between the race and the awards ceremony, but I was totally exhausted and decided to abandon that plan. Over the years, the competition at this race has been relatively strong, but I was very hopeful that I won an age group award because I had only seen one person pass me during the race. The time between the race and the age group awards ceremony flew by, though. We saw fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Jessica, her husband Ryan, and their cute dogs. I also met two runners whom I follow on Instagram but had never met in real life.

The age group ceremony went very efficiently, and I almost missed hearing my name called as the first place finisher in my age group with a time of 22:20!

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I haven’t run a 5K at anything close to this pace since July 2016. Needless to say, I am very pleased with my time, especially considering the weather and the fact that I was a bit overdressed. I am looking forward to keeping my legs loose and limber so that I can have another great showing at the St. Mark Run for the Arts 5K on Saturday!