While I have a goal of a race per month, I knew June would be extra special as my birthday fell on a Saturday, which meant I could run a race for the big day. Given that it was a big birthday, it was even more important. But, races were slow to be added on active.com likely due to it also being Father’s Day weekend and I was close to signing up for a different race, but when I saw the words “I ran a flippin’ 5k,” I knew I had my race. It benefited a local gymnastics place, Zenit Gymnastics, and given that I’m a huge fan of gymnastics, it was meant to be. That and it was super close to home.
The race was held at Etowah River Park which is connected to Heritage Park via a bridge over the Etowah River and a path, so I hoped the race would stay within the parks because of a long hill out of Etowah River Park, not to mention the park route was as fairly flat. After arriving on race day and getting my bib, I was able to ask someone about the course and found out my hopes of a two park run were right. The good news of the day was there was a steady wind to cool things off and make the race more bearable than the week before. I was still planning to take it easy on pace so I’d been better at the end.
We got started and headed down the park to loop the soccer fields before heading across the bridge. On that loop around the soccer fields, I was lapped by the eventual race winner, but the best part was my late arriving cheering section showed up with big old black balloons and a giant 40 balloon. I gave my daughter a high five as I looped back towards the bridge that promised me mile marker 1 and soon after, water. I hydrated a lot in the past week, but I was ready for that water after the sunny park route. Luckily the path was shady and I was able to push a little harder, and I was passed by the race winner heading back. After the water stop, it was the long loop at Heritage Park in a lot of sun before more water (and finally getting told Happy Birthday) by race volunteers who noticed my “birthday girl” shirt. Unfortunately the path back to the bridge had more of the uphill (or maybe I was tired?), but when I came off the bridge, I was hoping I could speed up enough to beat 40 minutes. I didn’t have quite enough and actually finished a few seconds worse than last week, but I felt worlds better.
The kiddo ran the last bit with me and then finish line volunteers sang Happy Birthday, so it was a memorable finish. I totally recommend running a race on your birthday if ever given the chance. It will be a few more years before I can do it again, but I will gladly do it the next chance I get.