This annual 5K race run in Winchester, VA is on of the area’s most popular local races. Hosted by the great Shenandoah Valley Runners club, the race is held early on the morning of July 4th promptly at 8 a.m. It’s a great way to start off the holiday celebrating the birth of America…and to burn off some extra calories prior to enjoying some 4th of July food (turkey burgers for me!).
This was my second time running this race. Last year the weather was hot and humid, but overcast, and I finished with a time of 22:10. My goal this year was to at least beat that time. A PR is never likely on this course as not only is the weather usually very warm, but the course is a tough one. Running through Jim Barnett Park in Winchester, the first mile is pretty much a long down hill. However with any race, what goes down must come up, so miles 2 and 3 are full of some pretty tough hills with a total elevation around 148 ft.
This year the sun was out bright and early when I left the house around 6:50 a.m. to head on over to the park. It was going to be a hot one, so I made sure to hydrate as soon as I woke up all the way up to the start of the race. I arrived at the park around 7:15 a.m. to pick up my bib and race shirt (awesome shirts this year by the way…I love the eagle logo!). It was going to be much hotter this year than last year so my plan was just to give it my best effort without causing injury.
At 8 a.m. the race was on. The first .25 miles takes you down a slight hill and then up another slight hill before you run downhill up past the first mile marker. My first split was 6:36…but I knew not to expect a PR as some major hills were about to follow. Mile 2 took us through the campus of Shenandoah University and it was getting hotter by the minute. As we started to hit the inclines some runners started to tail off, but I kept pushing and using quick steps to get up the hills. I usually never grab water during a 5K, but right before the 2 mile mark I wanted to be safe due to the heat, and grabbed a cup of water from the only aid station on the course for a quick sip, dousing the rest over my head.
My mile 2 split was 7:02 thanks to the increasing heat and the hills. With less than a mile to go I kept moving and passed a young boy (probably around 12 years old), hearing him mumble to himself “how much longer is this race?!”. I tried to encourage him by saying it was less than a mile to go…hopefully it helped him out. Another large incline followed and I kept moving, knowing I was slowing down (as were many other runners). I saw the 3 mile marker not far off and tried to give it one last surge with a high school runner getting a slight edge on me before the finish line. My 3 mile split was 7:40 and I finished with a time of 21:56.
While my time was 30 seconds from my PR, I improved my time from this course last year by 14 seconds. I was happy with that due to how tough this course is for a 5K coupled with the brutal heat. I stuck around just to make sure I didn’t medal in my age group (I was close…5th out of 22 in the Male 35-39 range…there are some fast runners in their late 30s!), and then headed out to meet Christie and the girls for breakfast at Dennys. Now where are those turkey burgers?…
Overall: 34 of 383
Male: 30 of 192
Male 35-39: 5 of 22