I signed up for the Bele Chere 5k a few weeks ago after I ended up not being able to run my July 4 5k. I had run this race before (different course, though) and was hoping to beat that time. I really wanted to get 28:xx. (Spoiler alert: I did not beat my time. I am okay with this.)
I ran the new course twice before race day. On one of those times, I took photos for this post. You’ll notice it was very sunny. On race day, it was not sunny. At all. In fact, there was thunder and lightning and then ALL TYPES of rain. So much rain that I had to wring out my clothes and pray my shoes would dry in the two days before I ran again. Also I’m not sure if my iPod survived that race. The ear buds sure didn’t.
Packet pickup was for three hours the night before (from 4-7 p.m.) It would have been more helpful to have it start at least an hour earlier so people could pick up packets and still have a chance of getting out of downtown before 5:00. Bele Chere traffic is no joke, y’all. My boss and another co-worker picked up several packets for us so we wouldn’t all have to battle the traffic. It then took me over 30 minutes to drive home (I live 3 miles from downtown.)
Race morning: My boss came to my house and we carpooled to downtown. We arrived at the parking garage before 7 a.m. and were at the start line by 7. It had rained the night before, and was super cloudy/lightly raining before the start. Just before 7:20, they started telling people to move towards the start line, which I thought was at the finish line and realized too late that I was too far back in the pack of people. They started a countdown from 10 to the start and the rain started to pour harder and harder as they counted down.
The start was crowded – like, I was walking for a bit it was so crowded. Once I could get to a sidewalk and pass some people, it was raining so hard I could barely see. And I shoved my iPod behind my iFitness belt in hopes of keeping it a little drier. By a half mile into the race, I could feel the massive amounts of water in my shoes and I was just trying not to slide on the streets.
I made it to the first mile in about 9:20 (or less.) I got to the second mile marker in 18:xx. I can’t remember my splits. My gps on my phone is off because I started it when I thought I was starting, but I was really about 20-30 seconds off. (And then I forgot to stop it when I crossed the finish.)
There are a couple of challenging uphills in the race. I was just excited that I could run up them without stopping to walk. There was one woman with a double jogging stroller. I did comment to her (on one of the uphills) that I could barely run with a single jogging stroller. She really was a rock star.
The third mile had a decent downhill and the rain was letting up/stopping. I was afraid to really attack the downhill because of slick streets. Rain + oil + streets = Not a good time to fall. I saw the mayor on the last turn into the finish, and of course the finish of the race was on a gradual uphill. (I’ve been through this before. Almost every race I’ve ever run in Asheville finishes on an uphill. We’re cursed.)
For the last half mile, I heard a guy behind me pushing a girl to give it her all. At one point, I was ready for them to pass me and then in the last 100 yards or so, I pushed even harder to be sure I didn’t get passed.
At the finish, they had tons of water and a flavored water and then there was a tent set up with food. It was fairly well organized. We didn’t stick around too long. I waited for Stacey to finish, met up with her and we grabbed my finish photo (and one of her) and were on our way. I was home by 8:30 and the race started at 7:30.
I would definitely run this race again, and train harder on the hills. My final time was 29:17. Not bad at all, given the conditions. I felt like I gave it my all. I was truly tired at the finish. The day after I was thinking about it, wondering if I had given it my all on the course, and I think I did. I’m still a little sore two days later.
The last time I ran this race was in 2007. My finish time was 28:46. I was in better racing form, and working to lose weight before my wedding. I was almost 20 pounds lighter and obviously I ran that race before I had a baby. I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come in the past two years.
Edited to add a link to Julie’s take on this same race. (Her race photos were actually taken on race day. It was so wet!)