This past Saturday I ran the Downtown Sundown 5K in Blacksburg. As the name suggests, the race takes place at sundown, with a start time of 8:30 PM. I asked my running buddy, Kim, if she wanted to run together on Saturday or Sunday and she said Saturday worked best. I figured that worked well for me, as it afforded me a chance to practice for the DC Ragnar Relay this September. So we met up and did 5 miles at the Dora Trail on Saturday morning. I spent the rest of the day doing some errands and hanging around the house waiting for race time.
Finally, it was time to head up to Blacksburg. Just before we left, Barry informed me that he had decided not to run, since his feet were bothering him from our trail run earlier that week. So he became my race cheerleader and official photographer. 🙂 For a hot minute, I considered also pulling out of the race, but I ended up having a pretty good race and I’m glad I didn’t bow out.
We got to Blacksburg and parked in our usual place for this race. I hadn’t pre-registered, so I needed to actually register for the race. Unfortunately, they did no have any shirts for runners who were not pre-registered, so instead they gave me a random XL shirt from a different year’s race. Oh well.
I got ready for the race, and then we had about 45 minutes to kill. So Barry and I walked around the Summer Solstice Fest and looked at all of the booths and vendors. We came across two college-aged guys doing card tricks on the side of the road. I’ve never seen up close magic in person like that, and it was so cool! I was still telling Barry how cool it was as we headed over to the start line and I got ready to go. At 8:30 on the dot we were off!
The first mile is mostly uphill. Since I’ve run this race twice before, I knew exactly what to expect. I also knew not to go out too fast. The steady climb had my legs feeling heavy and tired before we even hit the first mile marker. That was a bit worrisome, but I pushed it to the back of my mind and focused on keeping a steady pace. Mile 1: 9:24
The second mile was mostly downhill and flat, and I used to that to catch my breath. I also used it to pick up the pace some more! I knew the third mile was going to have some more hills and that I needed to bank some time while I could. As I ran down the Huckleberry Trail, I got a nice surprise from Barry. I wasn’t expecting to see him until the finish! Mile 2: 8:49
For the final mile we looped back through an adjacent neighborhood before heading downtown for the finish. We had a nice long uphill section during the first part of mile 3, on a road that runs parallel to the road we ran up during mile 1. But they changed the finish this year so we didn’t have to run as far up this road before heading back into town. Thank goodness, because I was really losing it on that hill. I dug deep, and the gradual downhill to the finish helped me power through. Mile 3: 8:51
No smiles or waving during mile 3 of a 5K, haha. It’s always during the final 0.1 miles where I start thinking to myself “why do I sign up for these short 5K races? They hurt so bad.” But then you cross the finish line and promptly forget about all of that. Finish time: 27:41 for an overall average pace of 8:55/mile.
There was a water cooler at the finish line for water. When I finished, the water had gotten so low that everyone was just standing around it dipping cups in (very sanitary). My post-race brain immediately dubbed this area “the watering hole.” It was kind of comical to see all these sweaty, delirious runners standing around it trying to get water. The above below is a reenactment after the water ran out (which was shortly after I finished). Luckily, they soon brought water bottles for everyone.
Barry and I hung out at the finish line for a little bit. We chatted with a friend and watched the awards. Then it was time to hit the road home.
Once we got home, I was still pretty keyed up from the race. Probably high on endorphins. I was proud of how I had run during the race, and how I had pushed harder when it got tough instead of giving up. I do most of my weekly running in the evening after work, and it always just helps me relax and unwind. But I guess running a fast race, and being excited about the results, had the opposite effect. I finally got to sleep around midnight.
Overall, this race was a really good confidence boost for me. It was a reminder that I can do hard things. I also proved to myself that I can run more than once in 24 hours, at odd times, and still do a decent job. Lastly, it gave me a good idea of what kind of shape I’m in and what kind of marathon goal I should base my training on (more on that tomorrow).
Do you typically pre-register for races or use race day registration?
Have you ever run a race at night or in the dark?
If you exercise in the evening, does it help you unwind or does it get you keyed up?