Monday, January 10, 2022

Running of the Squares 5K



When all the stars, moons and celestial beings align, and a local race finds you, it's best to act upon it.

Almost always, it's the other way around.

We'd just barely gotten settled into our January snowbird dwelling, when I noticed there was a 5K race happening the next weekend (like, five days away). Honestly, I was not looking for a race. Instead, I was searching to see if there was a local running club nearby and the activity tab lead me to the weekend's upcoming events...and there it was:

The Running of the Squares 5K. 

I mentioned it to the hubby, and (much to my surprise) he said we should both do it. So we did. 

The race site was at Lake Sumter Landing, barely a 15-minute drive from our villa. The start time was at 8:00, so we arrived on the scene just before 7:30. We had plenty of time to grab our race packets, and I was able to sneak in a brief 1-mile run for a pseudo warm-up. 

ready to go!

The morning temps were in the mid-50F's when we arrived. Coupled with the full sunshine, the weather felt cool but comfortable.  


The Villages area, in central Florida, is primarily a "retirement living" establishment, but there was an all-encompassing mix of ages wearing race bibs. I did see several runners sporting gear with the local running club's name and logo. The hubby, having not trained (or even run in several months), opted to stay towards the back of the herd. I moved up closer to the front, though, in hopes of avoiding as much zig-zagging as possible once the race began.

A lot of people were wearing the white event shirts

The past month or so, my right hip flexor has been a little wonky. It's nothing painful, and certainly hasn't kept me from running, but it comes and goes...and it was there, on race day, making its presence known, LOL. Besides, this race wasn't planned, so I'd done ZERO prep work with speed-training. In other words, I had no grandiose goals other than to run strong and steady.

The pre-race vibes were on-point! As I was waiting for the race to start, U2's Where the Streets Have No Name came over the speaker. Let's just say everyone was grooving and dancing to that appropriate song! 

After a beautiful acapella rendition of the National Anthem, we were off and running. The entire race course was loop in and around the Mallory Hill golf course. Not familiar with Florida's topography, I hear a lot of chatter about it being relatively flat. Well, this golf course was not hilly, per se, but it did allow for some mild rolling inclines and plenty of curves, twists and turns.


Even having nudged my way towards the front region of the pack, the first mile was a cluster. There were quite a few walkers and families with little kids (holding hands, none the less) that I passed early on, but kudos to them for participating. 

Overall, I was feeling good. I think the 1-mile warm-up (in addition to some dynamic stretches and drills) were key. 

The first mile took us south out of the town square of Lake Sumter Landing and then a quick turn (going west) onto the golf cart path along Stillwater Trail. After about 1/4-mile, we took another turn, now heading south, alongside Buena Vista Boulevard. There was a lot of weaving and leap-frogging among the runners, LOL.

Once I got past the first mile, the runners seemed to spread out more evenly. I was really glad to have opted for a tank top (with arm warmers instead of a light jacket) because the bright sunshine made up for the somewhat cool temps.

Shortly after the 1-mile mark, the route then turned left, and headed east on the path alongside Odell Circle. Although the cart path wasn't as wide as a city street, it allowed for sufficient space among the runners.

I think it was just past the halfway point when the route took another left turn, this time heading north, and then ran parallel to Morse Boulevard. I tried glancing at my Garmin periodically, but it's difficult to read under the glare of the sun...so I had no idea what my actual pace was. Not a big deal. Since my hip flexor was still feeling a little weird, I doubt I'd have had the gumption to speed up much to hit any particular pace anyways.

About 2/3rd of the way through the second mile, the route looped around a mini roundabout. This took us back onto Stillwater Trail, this time going west, en route back to the finish line on Canal Street. I was still feeling strong, but didn't know how much I had left "in the tank." My legs kind of just do their own thing in the final mile (of any race), so I just let them go.

There was one last curve, going north, taking us back to where we'd started. I'd heard my Garmin buzz, at what I assumed was the 3-mile mark, but it seemed like that final ".1" was longer than it should have been. I could see the finish line immediately after we turned back onto Canal Street, and before I knew it, I'd finished.

My "benchmark" finish time for a 5K is 27 minutes. If I can finish under 27 minutes, without much extra effort, I'm more than satisfied. Upon seeing 27:xx on the clock as I crossed the finish line, I admit was a bit of a buzzkill. BUT, all things considered, I still was content since I hadn't really pushed my pace nor had I even trained for the race, LOL.   


It wasn't until several minutes later, after I'd gotten out of the glare of the sun, that I noticed my Garmin showed 3.22 for distance instead of 3.1. Curious what my finish time would have been, had the distance been 3.1 miles, I pulled up a pace calculator...and it showed my 8:29 pace would have landed me a 26:21 finish time. I know, I know, these are just numbers...but it is nice to have a better idea of how I would have actually finished had the distance been a true 5K. Not a deal breaker, though, because everyone else ran the same distance.

Anyways, here's what my stats showed:

Gun time - 27:30; Chip time - 27:13
79th of 176 (overall)
22nd of 65 (females)
4th of 9 (age group)

Splits:
Mile 1 - 8:26
Mile 2 - 8:32
Mile 3 - 8:30
   (.22) - 1:49

For swag, all participants received finisher medals and long-sleeved tech shirts. I've said it many times before, but I am not a fan of a finisher medal for a 5K, but these medals are nice (see below)! They're definitely much nicer than a generic metallic circle, LOL. The shirts are nice, too. For a unisex-cut, it actually has a good fit (not boxy) and the logo matches the medal.


Overall, I was very impressed with this race. I later found out that this venue was part of a series of races, which all are run from different town squares (hence the name of the event!); there had been a race back in October, and there's another happening in April. There were plenty of volunteers on the race course, and traffic control was a non-issue due to the golf cart paths utilized. Post-race amenities included fruit and cereal bars, bananas and water. The only glitch, in my opinion, was the distance discrepancy (and that wasn't a big deal).


So, that's what happened when I (accidentally) spotted an unexpected local race. The 5K is not my favorite distance because it demands a lot of effort in such a relatively short time. Ironically, a lot can go wrong in those 3.1 miles without much time to rectify things. Thankfully, this race went well for me...I was happy to see my splits were so even. Despite the wonky hip flexor, I felt pretty strong throughout the entire race...trust me, I cannot say that happens in every 5K!

Have you ever done a spontaneous race while on vacation (or, in my case, snowbirding)? How do you feel about the 5K distance - love it, hate it, meh? Ever have a race course measure long?

 I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up


I'm also linking with Debbie, DeborahLisaLaura and Jenn for the Runners' Roundup


By the way...are you following me on social media? 
Let's connect : Facebook Instagram  Pinterest Twitter

34 comments:

  1. Well done, Kim! 5Ks are not my favourite either... they are fast and there's not much room for error.
    Most of my shorter races are just random local races that I find on the internet. I love doing them spontaneously. I view them as a sort of "group training". They're great fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I've ever trained for a 5K (except for maybe in my early years, when a 5K seemed like a long-distance marathon, LOL). The local 5K's are a lot of fun...and they are great group training runs!

      Delete
  2. Well done! 27:13/26:21 is a very good finishing time in consideration of the lack of previous speed works.
    Before the pandemic everytime I went to another place I have always tried to participate in some local competition.
    I remember when in 1990 I had to spent one month in the La Maddalena Naval Base and I participated in a race on the same day of my arrival to the island.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually try to find a local race when we're traveling, but this one kind of found me. We have another race, on the 22nd, we're considering doing when our oldest daughter comes for a visit ;-)

      Delete
  3. It's always disappointing when a course is long or short -- but it happens. Not a goal race so no big deal really, right?

    You did great Kim. A fun way to kick off your stay in FL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, it's really not a big deal, especially since it wasn't a goal race in any magnitude.

      Delete
  4. Well done! I can't think when I last did a 5k race (well a race at all!) but it's fun to just pop round and enjoy yourself, and I do love the medal and shirt!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice job! Sounds like fun and who doesn't like a spontaneous race?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spontaneous races are a great option when there's not much on the training schedule ;-)

      Delete
  6. You know me. If there's a race I'll run it. That happened to me in Naples, Fl in May - a 5k but now it doesn't coincide with our vacation. Darn.

    5ks are hard because I want to be fast except that I'm not as I age. For me that would have been a great finish time.

    It's rare that races are exact. It's the way to run it vs they way they measure. And they always seem to be long!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think 5K's are the toughest races to pace oneself. It's hard not to run with the crowd, especially that first mile. I just try to run "by feel," but even that is no guarantee if I'll burn out before the finish line.

      Delete
  7. Hope the hip starts feeling better soon and sometimes spontaneous events can feel even more fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The hip thing comes and goes. I'm going to just keep the mileage low for awhile (I have no reason to be running long-long runs anyways).

      Delete
  8. Yay! Sounds like a fun event and you did great. I used to hate 5Ks (too much pain) but I'm trying to embrace the distance more now.
    I love the long sleeve tech shirt- I wish more races gave those out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just don't have the competitive drive to run a 5K "fast." I try run them strong and steady, but I don't have the desire to push myself for an entire race.

      Delete
  9. I must runfess that I had my choice of two 5k's for New Year's and the race shirt was the deciding factor. I love long sleeve race shirts for casual wear. I don't expect a medal for a 5k BUT if it has a lighthouse on it then that's a different story;-) I do like 5ks, though I'm far away from my PR right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha!!! Yes, the lighthouse is definitely a nice touch (and I had no idea it would be featured on the medal until it was given to me).

      Delete
  10. I always think its fun when you can race in another state! sounds like a great 5K race and the swag was pretty nice too, but surprised that they gave a long sleeve shirt, especially for a Florida race, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, this is Florida, and it's Winter. When the temps dip below 60F, people need to bundle up ;-)

      Delete
  11. Great job for a last minute race! I can understand not liking that the race was longer than 3.10 numbers. You are off to a great start this year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! IT's a little frustrating when a race distance isn't 100% correct. I've also had races run short, and I think that's worse!

      Delete
  12. Perfect timing! Love it when that happens. Nice job on a speedy race friend. My watch always shows a longer distance. I think it's really hard to run the same way they measure. Nice job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed! My watch is seldom ever in total agreement...though miles 1 and 2 were very close (I could hear the Garmin beeping as I passed the mile markers). This race course would be difficult to run "the tangents" because there were so many curves along the cart path. There was a gal trying to hit all the tangents, and she kept cutting people off, LOL.

      Delete
  13. Great job! I feel like races are almost always long (or at least what my watch reads). It usually makes me feel better to hear other runners after the race say that their watches measured long too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I notice that more often than not as well. I'm glad I had the idea to check my pace with a pace/distance calculator to get a better idea of how I actually fared.

      Delete
  14. Kudos to you for running a fast 5K. Impressive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I felt strong, but it was reassuring to see what my actual 5K time would have been had the course been a bit more accurate. Still, it was a fun race on a beautiful morning ;-)

      Delete
  15. Way to go! My husband gives me the side eye when I look up races or stuff like that on vacation so I haven't pulled the trigger yet. This year we're doing "spontaneous planning" when it comes to races. Put it in the calendar and if all feels good that week, I'll sign up for it. We'll see how that works lol. Great job on that race and hope your hip flexor is feeling better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get the eye roll, too! Ironically, I just casually mentioned this one and he 's the one who suggested we do it, LOL. We have another race on the 22nd as well............

      Delete
  16. It looks like a well fitting shirt - especially being unisex! I can't say I've ever even thought about a race on vacation. :) How fun that it was in your community. Have you seen anyone running in your neighborhood during the week? Maybe you've got your next new running partner right down the street!

    ReplyDelete
  17. 5Ks sound simple enough BUT I struggle with them! As you say, there really is no room for error and I find I take a long time to warm up. By the time I've found my stride, the race is done! Well done on a strong start to the year even with that hip flexor not feeling at its best.

    ReplyDelete
  18. So fun! I love the idea of a series. Most of the races in Florida do give a medal for a 5K, so it's unusual to have one without. In general, I hate the 5K distance, but I would absolutely run one on vacation, out of the blue. Nice job.

    ReplyDelete
  19. When it's warm and not snowy, it definitely makes sense to take advantage of a race on vacation!

    ReplyDelete