This was a first for me...this is truly a non-profit race at its finest. There were an estimated 750 runners and no race fees. Yup, you heard that right. No race fees whatsoever. It was suggested that you did preregister for this race, as on-site registration was expected to be limited. So, I pre-registered a few weeks before the event. The guidance was to arrive with 1) something for the food bank, and 2) bring some food/drink to share. Yup, that was the entrance fee....food.
Obviously, the race still took a lot to put on....and did I say that this was a timed event? So, the expense was real, but because the desire to collect a ton of food seemed so worthy to the Bradenton Runners Club, they put the whole thing together with no expectation of any reimbursement. Now that I have seen it in action, I must say, I'm very glad that I joined this club. Its quite an endeavor to do all of this! Between the cones and the course marshalls, and the police stationed at the half-way point, organizing the medic tent and having the medics drive the course, the street closure, the bibs, the timing, managing/posting the results....all to collect a little bit of food...its certainly a lot of effort!
I digress...so, we got there around 7:30 (race was scheduled to start at 8am). Joe dropped off me and the kids, while he parked. Given that this is a national memorial surrounded by residential streets, the parking required a hike...and given that my son walks as slow as molasses, he just HAD to drop us off. So, we first took our two bags of food donations to the drop space (I cleaned out our pantry last night and identified all the food that would expire in the next month which I don't think we would consume), and then we went to drop off the two boxes of protein bars that I brought to share....then we headed over to the registration table and got my bib.
There were definitely people signing up on-site, but I realized afterwards that many didn't have "proper" bibs (pieces of paper with names and scribbled numbers), so they obviously ran out of them...that being said, I suppose I can assume that the race exceeded 750 runners then. I'm so glad that it doesn't appear that any runner was turned away though!
We stopped by the porta potties and my son INSISTED on using the blue potty (after all, it is his favorite color), and then ran into a few people that I've run with before as part of my sunday runs with the running club. We eventually ran into someone we were expecting to see, Alissa....she has a child the same age as my daughter, so the husbands played while the kids played while the mothers run. The plan was that once we started the race, they would walk the trails throughout the park and play. There are mangroves, boardwalks, and trails right against the water, and its almost entirely shaded with a beautiful secluded view of tampa bay on the southern end. Actually, its a perfect place to bring kids to play, even if there is no playground in the area!
So, we line up....close to the front. I knew we would be passed by a lot of people, but then again, the immediate road was so wide, I don't think we would be in anyone's way...which proved correct. Honestly, I did think I was ok with the pace even though it was faster than normal...about 9:30 minutes/mile. We ran south and then towards Robinson Preserve, and then through some other quiet neighborhoods where there is a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. The water stop was right before the 2 mile mark, and right at 2.5 miles, there was a turnaround...easy to spot since there was a police car there with the lights flashing. On the return, I grabbed some water and slowed for a little walk. I actually was very pleased with my time...first 3 miles was solid. But then, the dreaded wall was hit. The next 1.5 miles was a series of short walks and runs....
had difficulty finding the stamina to continue on under a 10 minute/mile pace. Actually I was quite disappointed in this. Every time I would look at my watch, I'd realize that there was just 17 minutes, 12 minutes 6, minutes, etc to go...and say that I could run that....and then a few minutes later, I found myself walking for 30 seconds.
So, I'm on the final leg...about 4 minutes left and I run the rest without a break....that being said, I found a kick at the end. So, I think the problems I was having was definitely more mental than physical, as I obviously had something left. My final 200 yards was actually nice! It felt solid and fast and gazelle-like! As you can see from the above chart, I was speedy that last portion of the race!
Final official time has yet to be posted, but I think its right at the 50 minute mark. While I wasn't pleased with the walking breaks (yes, they were all very short, but they were also very common...just look at the next chart!), the overall total time was respectable.
In fact, I do think I'll be pushing for a 1 hour 10K in mid-January...and it seems plausible that I could do that with the right training between now and then. I just need to get in the miles and not over-do the front end....so I won't have to suffer on the back end.
So, would I do this race again? Absolutely. First, its so convenient. Second, its a great distance to push yourself, as its after a lot of the neighborhood/regional 5Ks and before the half marathon season. Third, its for a good cause. Fourth, it was a seamless operation...really run well. While yes, its a small race, I didn't see a single area that had to be improved upon, except for maybe seeing some runners come with a single can of green beans and thats all. Sadly, I bet a lot of runners didn't even come with anything, but there is nothing you can do about that...people are what they are.