This past weekend, my wife and I competed in a 5k race here in Lakeland.
Unlike the majority of 5ks in Lakeland, this one didn’t take place around Lake Hollingsworth. And while there is nothing wrong with running a race around Lake Hollingsworth, the different scenery/course was a very breath of fresh air.
Not only was the course new, but this was the first time that this particular race had been run. We ran in the 1st Annual, Carol Marsh Kids 2 Camp 5k, which was a fund raiser by First United Methodist Church to help kids attend summer camp. The opportunity to run a new race on a new course for a great cause was too much to pass up.
So I signed up.
The morning of the race was great, although some might argue that it was a touch on the chilly side. Temps were in the mid-to-high 50s, but the breeze was almost non-existent. While we were waiting for the race to begin, members of the church’s youth group praise band were singing songs out on the patio.
I had no plans of going very fast, but I have a hard time not giving it my all when I pin a race number to my shirt. So while a nice, easy 25-26 minute race was what I was shooting for, when the race started I took off a little faster than I had planned. When I got to the 1 mile mark and heard someone yell out 7:05, I thought maybe I should go ahead and push it a little bit. I hadn’t run a 5k in over 3 years, and 25 or 26 minutes would have been a PR anyway, so I kept my foot on the gas and went for it.
At 1 mile, I was cruising comfortably and in about 7th place overall. I was hoping to keep steady with the trio in front of me, and see if I could pick them off towards the end of the race. Instead, I got around all 3 of them before 1.5, and set my sights on the guy in 3rd, who was only a half a block in front of me. I passed him at about the 2 mile mark, and never looked back.
The two guys that were out in front of me were long gone, but I was pretty happy with the way the race was progressing. The last mile was a loop around Lake Morton before finishing back at the church. As I was going around the lake, I took a peek at my watch and knew I was in for a pretty good time. As I came to the final turn and last little bit up a (very small) hill, I accelerated as much as I could. When I crossed the line, I stopped my watch and was a surprised to see a 21:38. A few years ago, my goal was to one day be able to run a 5k in less than 24 minutes. I guess I took care of that.
My time was good enough for 3rd overall in the race (can anyone say slow field?), and 2nd in my age group, and for my efforts I got a pretty sweet prize. The kids in the Neighborhood Ministries program at the church were in charge of decorating the prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers in each age group, and they decorated plates in whatever way they wanted to. Whoever decorated mine did a great job drawing a bunch of colorful spirals all over the plate, which really looks pretty neat.
Plans are already in the works for next year, so I hope a few more people will be able to take part in the 2nd Annual Carol Marsh Kids 2 Camp 5k. I know I’ll be there.
I’ve got a plate to defend.