The day before this race was jammed packed with excitement. Not only did we all take a trip up to Pennsylvania to visit and pet a SLOTH (so cute), but my alma mater, University of Baltimore County (UMBC) became the first ever 16 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament to knock off a 1 seed. The UMBC Retrievers beat top-seeded University of Virginia 74-54 in one of the biggest upsets of all time.
People all the time ask me where I went to college and no one has any clue about UMBC (especially since I live in Virginia now). But after this game, anyone who follows March Madness definitely knew about my school!
Waking up and feeling super stoked about UMBC’s win, I proudly donned my UMBC hoodie and decided to use it as my race day attire. This 5K was held by Winchester’s Youth Development Center. Originally scheduled for before Christmas as the Apple Capital Jingle Bell 5K Run, weather forced them to postpone the race and move it to March.
Making my way into Winchester that morning it was cold, but not frigid (temps were in the upper 20s / low 30s). After grabbing my race bib and starting to warm up, I immediately started getting comments from race participants, course marshals, and police officers about my UMBC shirt. I think one particular police officer was a UVA fan as he yelled “I knew I would see one of those shirts today!”.
The course for this 5K would go down Loudoun Street in Old Town Winchester, loop back around to the starting point, and then make a larger loop up Cameron Street heading north before returning along the same path. With my North Carolina marathon only a week away, my race strategy was just to enjoy this course and get in a nice 3.1 mile run at an easy brisk pace. There were roughly 70 participants in the race and I had no clue as to what levels the other runners were at.
Running Faster than Anticipated
After giving the ready, set, GO…I started out with the front pack of runners. One elite runner (a college track team member come to find out) was well out in front, which was a good thing as I was not sure where to turn on the initial parts of the course. Another gentleman made his way into a comfortable second place position, and I found myself running with two other runners for the first mile. One of the course marshals yelled “you broke my bracket!” as I ran by one of the turns (a nod to my UMBC hoodie).
Heading into mile 2, I began to realize I had a legitimate chance at actually placing in the overall division in a race for the first time in my life. Figuring that I could not let this opportunity pass me by, I decided to push it harder than originally planned and separated myself from the other two runners and made my way into the third place position. Mile number 3 was mostly a slight decline coming back down Cameron Street, and I felt my legs getting a bit tired, but knowing I could finish 3rd overall in a race motivated me to pick up the pace even more. I finished in a lone third place with a time of 21:16…two seconds off my 5K PR.
I was really happy with this race having avoided injury and added an overall placement to my list of running accomplishments. Knowing I am not an elite runner, placing overall will sometimes depend on being in the right place at the right time. This was one of those times, so I took advantage of it while I could.
The YDC also did a great job at putting on this race. From great volunteers to a wonderful little awards ceremony with refreshments in the back room of Piccadilly Brew Pub, I hope that they put this race on again…either in December or March (depending on the weather).
Place: 3 of 66
Third Place Overall Winner