My May race was a new race to me, but a race not new to the Atlanta area as the Brookhaven Bolt was celebrating its 10th running. The race benefits a local elementary school and because of that, there were a lot of parents running with their kids. It was also a dog friendly and stroller friendly race, so that probably helps attract participants. There were over 1,700 finishers which I think is pretty impressive for a local race.
I arrived by 7am as I wasn’t sure there would be a lot of parking at the Brookhaven Village and I also didn’t have my bib yet. Arriving early allowed me to easily find parking and get my bib and then check out the festivities. This was another impressive area as the organizers had a lot of support from local vendors. The craziest part was the herd of Chick-Fil-A cows who were in full force taking in the festivities. While wandering after finding a brand new porta potty to use was meeting a mom and son who were both carrying the American Flag on their run. I high fived the boy as that is just awesome.
It was rough being a cow, too.
At about 7:45, there were attempts to line people up by pace, but asking strollers to start in the back was just a big fail. I met someone with the sweetest golden retriever (most popular breed of the day) and when I found out the dog was running, I commented on the dog making it, but the man was more concerned about himself making it. I offered some encouragement and continued to wait for the start. I admit May was a rough month training as I had issues with a pretty high heart rate at times, so while I was convinced I would be okay on the hills given there were a few similarities to the Resolution Run, but this race was going to test all of those limits. And the heat didn’t help as it was a significantly warmer morning from January. I am learning to take early congestion in stride and allow it to help me from starting out too fast. Luckily, course congestion wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked to be and I settled into my 60:30 intervals, adding in more runs on the downhills.
While my pace was conservative through the first mile, my body was giving me signs that this race would not be my best. The heat seemed to be getting to me already, but mile two had the good downhill stretches and I took advantage of for improving my pace. Then mile three happened. Mile three had some tough hills that I was not strong enough for this day. The best part of mile three was the little boardwalk bridge we crossed between streets. Volunteers kept saying we were almost there and I saw the mile three sign up on another hill. I knew I was close to my personal worst (not counting runs with my kids) from that very first 5k and I took my last bit of energy to push up that hill and make the turn to the finish line. I beat that worst by 12 seconds. I was feeling pretty defeated by the month of May after this, but I still finished and without a personal worst and I can’t complain about that. I’d definitely like to give those hills another go in the future because this was a really fun race experience. Anytime I can pet some dogs makes a race a good one.
Have you ever had a bad race? Were you expecting it or did the wheels come off unexpectedly?