Saturday morning I ran the Lady Track Shack 5k with my mother. Lady Track Shack is a women’s only race that has been happening every year since 1978. It is held to celebrate women’s health and fitness. The race started at 7:30 am so I got up at about 5:30. It was already 45 degrees out and didn’t get much warmer by race time. I dressed as warm as I could with arm warmers and compression socks (I don’t like racing with my jacket on) and headed to meet my parents at the hotel that they stayed in to be closer to the race.
I started to get a little worried on the way there because our exit off of I-4 was backed up onto the interstate. We ended up arriving later than we planned because of that. We eventually made it to a parking garage and then walked to Loch Haven Park where the race was located.
I just had enough time to stand in the porta potty line and then head to the start of the race. Track Shack races aren’t that huge, well compared to Disney races they aren’t. There were 2655 finishers, so no need for separate corrals. Everyone lines up in the same area behind the pace marker that matches their pace. I went straight to the eight minute mile sign and my mom went to stand behind the ten plus. There was a ton of empty space around me so before the race started they had everyone move closer to the start line. After Jon and Betsy Hughes spoke, the Nation Anthem was sung and performed in sign language. After it was finished I started getting really nervous. Carissa Bealert started the countdown and then we were off.
At first it was a little crowded; I had to weave a bit to get to the pace that I wanted. It wasn’t long before I got to a good pace that I wanted to maintain. I planned on going by feel and not watching my Garmin often. I was extremely surprised when I made it to the first mile maker and it said 7:39! Before that my fastest mile on Nike plus was 7:44 which was done during a training run last summer. I just kept thinking that I had to maintain that pace and only two miles left!
I didn’t realize that the course was actually in downtown Orlando. On the map it looked a little north of the downtown area, so I didn’t anticipate all of the brick roads. At one point on the course there was an older gentleman standing on the side, pointing at the road and saying, “watch out, hole there,” repeatedly. I hope no one tripped on the bricks because it can be a bit tricky. There were also a lot more hills than I would have thought. I am proud to say that my hill training paid off! I got a bit nervous when I saw the inclines, but as I ran up them it didn’t feel so bad!
Mile two I slowed down a bit. I looked at my watch every so often for my distance, but I tried not to look at my pace. When I did glance at my pace it was in the 7 minute range every time! A little over half way through mile two there was a water stop. I don’t stop for water unless it is a half marathon, so I ran right through. A little ways after that there was a dj playing music and encouraging the runners. I kept thinking, “over halfway there!” Every so often there were groups of people cheering. It was really nice that people came out to support the runners. My second mile was my slowest at about 7:55.
I got really excited when I entered my third mile. It was the first time that I thought I was really going to finish with a great time! My goal had been to finish in under 25 minutes. During last year’s Enchanted 10k at Disney my 5k split was 25:02. I figured that if I can run a 5k that fast during a 10k, then I should be able to run a 5k by itself that fast. My only timed 5k race was 27:39 and that was my first 5k ever. I feel that I have come a long was since then. When I entered the third mile we passed the other runners going the opposite way. I looked for my mom, but could not find her in the crowd. For some reason in my state of exhaustion I thought that this meant that the race was almost over even though I had a mile left to go. On the plus side I motivated myself to run a little bit faster. I completed the third mile in about 7:41 according to my Garmin.
The end of the course was really nice. It went over a bridge and then wound under some trees back into the park. As I turned a corner and saw the finish line, I heard Carissa announce my name (and she actually pronounced it correctly!). I have to say that I teared up at that moment seconds before I crossed the finish line. I had squinted to look at the clock and I couldn’t believe that I had finished as fast as I did.
I accepted my medal and then went to the refreshments table. They had all kinds of stuff including, water, Gatorade, strawberries, and bananas. I took one of each and then Chris and my Dad came over and we walked to the sponsor tents. We had a little bit of time until my Mom finished so I was able to get bagel bites from Einstein Bros. Bagels, a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and a protein drink. I had a couple finisher photos taken and then we headed back to the finish line to see my Mom. After about five minutes she came running by. We were able to get photos of her as I cheered her on.
We waited around the finishing area for the results to be posted. I didn’t expect an age group award, but I didn’t want to leave without finding out for sure in case I did receive one. There was a little bit of an issue with the results, but they finally printed them out and I saw that I was ninth in my age group. No award, so we left.
I ended up finishing with an official time of 23:59! I am extremely proud of that and can’t believe that I ran so fast. That is a 7:43 overall pace! I was the 51st finisher out of 2655. My Mom finished in 43:14 and I am extremely proud of her. I really loved this event and the course was amazing! We couldn’t have asked for better weather even though it was a bit cold. We hope to run Lady Track Shack again next year and hopefully my sister will be able to join us.