Sweetheart 8K Race Recap

This weekend I ran my first race of 2017 – and my last race in my 20s!

Originally, I was supposed to run the Frostbite 15K back in January. Unfortunately, the race fell on the weekend of my grandmother’s funeral services. Since I was out of town, I emailed the race director to see if I could transfer my entry to this race. Given the circumstances and the fact that the 8K was much less expensive than the 15K, I thought it would be fair to allow me to transfer. They agreed and I was really happy to at least get a race in before March’s Shamrock festivities.

sweetheart

I didn’t have any type of plan going into this race. I had heard there were a few tough hills on the course, but I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I thought I would just go in and run hard and see what happens. The weather was gorgeous for a February morning ā€“ it was 63 degrees, mostly cloudy, and a bit humid. I probably should’ve worn a tank top instead of a short-sleeved shirt, but it just feels weird doing that in February!

The race started near a cafe in a very small shopping center. My husband came with me and was able to get some coffee there which was nice. I did a mile warm up heading out down the course and back up to the finish. I had heard there was a big hill at the end of the race, but during my warm up I learned it was a half mile climb to the finish. Yikes! I dropped my sweatshirt off with my husband, there was a quick kids run, and then we lined up on the main road to start.

This was a small, no-frills race so there was no corrals. This was the first year they were using chip timing, too. I chatted with some people and then they pretty much just yelled “GO!” to start. We started out going downhill and I was careful not to start too fast. At the same time, I knew there was that climb at the end and that this wasn’t a negative-split course so I wanted to make sure I went hard enough on the downhills to keep my time down. The course turned into a nice neighborhood. This is the first smaller race I’ve run that runners were calling out “car up” and “car back” while on the course and I thought that was really nice. We ran downhill again to the first mile marker (7:50).

The course continued through the neighborhood and a series of rolling hills. I passed someone at the top of an uphill and he commented, “Nice hill” to me. It caught me off guard and I mumbled something back to him. Everyone on the course was very friendly and there was a nice camaraderie to the race. I rode the downhills hard and relaxed on the uphills. I was feeling pretty good, but the course was much tougher than what I’m used to. I hit the second mile marker and was surprised with my split (7:39).

I was working hard and knew I was going to be tired going up that last half mile, but I didn’t want to hold back when I knew I wouldn’t be able to go fast even with a lot of gas in the tank. I was passing a lot of runners, but wasn’t sure what that meant because I didn’t know how far back in the group I had started. The humidity was starting to set in and I was wishing I had worn a tank top. Luckily there was a small water stop at this point and I poured a little on the back of my neck and took a sip. I was still feeling pretty good at this point. (7:45)

I started to fade in mile 4 and the humidity was really getting to me, but I refused to give up and kept pushing. I was running side by side with another woman for a bit during this mile before I finally just let her pass me on an uphill. I was starting to feel the hills and didn’t want to crash and burn. There were two elements of this mile that slowed me down a bit. The first was about a tenth of a mile that went through a little wooded area from the neighborhood before going back on the paved trail of the park. The beginning of it had a lot of roots and there was no way I was going to let myself trip, fall, and get hurt during an 8K. The second was a little tunnel. I can’t really explain it, but there was very slight step ups between concrete slabs that I didn’t want to trip on and the concrete at the end of the short tunnel was wet. I did end up getting a second wind during this mile, but I was really happy to hear my watch beep and know I only had one mile left! (8:02)

Finally, the last mile. I was tired. Everyone around me was tired. I reached the pond and could see the main road and knew that all that stood between me was that half mile climb to the finish. I passed the woman that had passed me earlier and kicked it until I got to the bottom of the hill. Running up the hill felt like crawling. I just kept saying to myself “Don’t stop running. Keep going. Don’t stop running. Keep going.” I picked a few people off, encouraging one girl to keep pushing as I ran past her. Knowing the finish was at the top of the hill kept me going, but as I reached the top I was out of steam. I ran as hard as I could, which wasn’t very hard, into the finish (8:12). I saw the clock read 39:XX and felt pretty satisfied. I found my husband right after the finish and told him the course was really tough. He said he’d heard a lot of runners comment that. According to my Garmin, there was 305 feet of total elevation gain with 102 feet being in that final half mile.

Course elevation
Course elevation
It was definitely the toughest course I’ve run. My official time was 39:31 and I came in 8th out of 29 in my age group. I’m really happy with my effort and how this race went. Mentally, it was a really big challenge and I’m happy I didn’t give up and kept pushing through to the end.

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Afterward, we went back into the cafe so I could get some breakfast. I had some scrambled eggs with cheddar and rosemary and some toast. I also got myself a decaf coffee and a chocolate milk! After I finished, we went back into the finishers area and I had a home baked cookie. They also had bananas, but I have plenty of those at home!

Post-race breakfast
Post-race breakfast
There were iPads set up at a table in the finishers area where we could look up our times which I thought was a great touch. I knew my time wasn’t fast enough to place in the top 3 of my age group (I had looked up last year’s results prior to the race), but I wanted to see how my official time measured up to my Garmin time.

Despite the tough course, I really enjoyed this race. This was a no-medal race which I think there aren’t enough of nowadays. It was only around $25 to register and the shirt wasn’t a tech shirt which means I can actually get some use out of it. When tech race shirts first became a thing, I thought it was really awesome. But they’re never that great of quality shirts so I always just end up sleeping in them. This shirt is a nice, long-sleeved tee that I can actually wear.

The course volunteers were very positive and encouraging and I really appreciated that they didn’t just stand there. They cheered, gave high-fives, and called out words of encouragement.

One other note about this race. When I went to pick up my number and shirt the day prior, the volunteer noticed that my shirt size was penciled in instead of typed in. She turned around and asked the race director about this since shirts were only guaranteed to those that registered by a certain date. The race director said, “Oh, you’re the Frostbite 15K runner, right?!” I told her yes and she said, “Yes, she gets a shirt and I have something else for you, too!” She came around and handed me my Frostbite 15K shirt! She told me she had felt so bad for the reason I had to miss the race and I thought it was really sweet.

I didn't run it, but I still have the right to wear it given the circumstances... right?!
I didn’t run it, but I still have the right to wear it given the circumstances… right?!
Overall, I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a fun, challenging course. I’m happy with how it went and I am excited to see what I can do on a bit of a flatter course.

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9 thoughts on “Sweetheart 8K Race Recap

  1. Pssst, little secret: I have and wear a shirt from a race I didn’t run. Oops. I registered for the MKE Run Fest 5k that was held this past November. I had just started running again after my break, so I went through the trouble of picking up my packet only to wake up the next morning and decide I wasn’t feeling it. Sure it breaks some sacred running rules but, whatever, I paid for it – plus, this year they’ll probably be giving them out as free promo gifts for anyone who registers like they did this year for last year’s race (I got a free one just for registering for the 5K at another race’s expo). I mean, if it were the shirt for a marathon I didn’t run I wouldn’t wear it, but it was a 5K and I like the shirt, so suck it haters, I’m keeping it. Anyway, long story short, that was so nice of them to give you the shirt. Gotta love local races with heart!!

    That’s a killer time for all those hills – nice job out there!

  2. ^ sorry, I did not word that very well: I meant that when I registered for last year (2016)’s race, I got a free tshirt from the 2015 race and I assume they’ll do the same this year. I’m sure you understood and it doesn’t matter but that would just keep bugging me if I didn’t clarify.

  3. I think if the race director personally hands you a shirt, you are allowed to wear it regardless of if you ran the race. Also this race and race director sound wonderful!

    Great work on those hills! I mentally struggle with keeping the pace up on hills…this would have been a really challenging course for me.

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