I’m getting really tired of having to put ** next to my time. This marks two weeks in a row of me racing on a short course. Why oh why is it so hard for races to make sure the distance is correct? Last week at the Chocolate 5K other people claimed they had the right distance and the race director claims that they measured it three times and got a correct distance. However enough people told me they had a short course that I am hesitant to believe it was a full 3.1. At the i5K, my TomTom watch also recorded that race as short. I wasn’t the only one who clocked in a short course either. I’m not talking about 3.09 or something close to 3.1, I clocked a 2.96. That’s incredibly short!
So now my last two weeks have been “PR’s” but I refuse to count them because they had a short course. With that being said, if I maintained the pace I was at the i5K, I still would have PR’ed regardless. I would have seen something around a 21:20 and my official (actual distance of 3.1) PR is 21:47. It’s just frustrating to have great times at these races and know deep down that it wasn’t a full race. Thankfully I don’t have another race for 3 weeks and that race I’m positive is a full 3.1 course. That gives me time to focus on speed and make sure I maintain this pace for it. Now on to the actual race…
This is one of my favorite races that I do every year. The first year I decided to do the i5K was because my husbands company took part in it. A lot of my friends that work with him were signed up to run it as well and I thought it would be a lot of fun to actually get to race with my non-runner crazy friends. That year I set a PR of 21:47 for myself, then the following year (last year) I was pregnant with Valerie and raced it for fun with a time of 25:08. This year I went out there with a goal or two. First was to see 21:xx, I planned to race this one as hard as I could and see where the speed work has gotten me. Secondly, I needed to beat Darryl. You all remember from a couple of years ago #crushdarryl. Darryl works with Tony, and the i5K started out as a friendly race competition between the two of us. The first year I beat him by 6 seconds. Last year he beat me but there is an asterisk next to that because I was also racing with a human being inside of me. This year I was a worried Darryl was gonna beat me, even though I would never tell him that. He was showing Tony his latest runs and they were faster than my most recent race paces. I had been doing double speedworks with Lana though and haven’t had a chance to really test myself by running full out, so this was going to be a true test of my abilities. Of course when I ran into Darryl two nights before the race he immediately started the smack talk. I gave it right back to him but deep down I wondered if he was gonna crush me. Refresher– I’m extremely competitive. The thought of Darryl actually beating me sent chills down my spine.
Wednesday I went to pick up my race packet at the Foot Store in Mount Pleasant. I packed up the girls and promised Fiona that if she was good for me, we could stop at Marble Slab and get some ice cream afterwards. I was able to easily get my race packet even with a crying toddler on my hands. Anytime Fi falls asleep in the car, she wakes up straight miserable. I mean, no reasoning with her, screaming at the top of her lungs over everything, the world is going to end, kind of miserable. She stood in the Foot Store just sobbing. Then one of the workers tried to talk to her. Oh boy, she freaked out in a meltdown. I’m used to it, so I just ignore her. Everyone in the store on the other hand was looking at me in shock and horror. Eh. It’s called having a three year old. After calming her down and some “sorry mommy”‘s, we had our ice cream and then headed out to do some more shopping.
The swag for this race is pretty awesome. They always do a great job at the amenities with this race. We got a nice shirt, a cup, a Frisbee, sunglasses, a light up band for running in the dark by google and a hook. Included was our race bibs & a wrist band for the after party.
This race is a little different because it falls on a Thursday evening. Not a lot of races besides Race the Landing Series happen at night here in Charleston. So I got up Thursday morning and instead of my typical race morning bagel, I had my normal breakfast since I had 10 hours before the race. I had my protein pancakes with a banana and lots of water. I’ve been doing the gallon challenge (one gallon of water per day for 30 days) so I was pumping the water in. I also managed to sneak in a diet coke to get my caffeine in my system. After my big breakfast I decided to take it easier throughout the day and just lightly snack to keep my stomach from being over full. I had lunch at 12 and waited until 4:30 to have my pre-race snack. This is what I would normally have first thing in the morning when I wake up before a morning race. I had two pieces of toast with peanut butter & cream cheese. I did my normal stretching, foam rolling, and hip exercises about an hour before I was ready to go. I grabbed some more water, loaded the girls up, and off to the course we went.
I met Tony there early so we could get the girls all prepared in the stroller. Having two little ones means taking twice as long for everything. You never know when the toddler is going to need a potty break or the baby is going to want to nurse. So I arrived with ample time, we got the girls in the stroller with snacks and blankets and we headed to the starting line. I’ve done tons of races at Riverfront park so I was very familiar with where we are going. If you don’t remember, just a month ago I was doing (terribly) at the Bosch 5k there. Once we got settled in we found Blackbaud’s tent of people. This race is mainly put on and ran by a few tech companies in the area. Mostly Blackbaud, Sparc, Benefitfocus, BlueAcorn, Google, PeopleMatter, and Boomtown. There are competitions for a spirit award which is won by a company team and there is an award for the fastest average of the top 10 runners from each company. There are lots of people dressed up in costumes and the companies usually each have some sort of theme. I’ve seen everything from pirates to suits. It’s a pretty fun 5k with a great atmosphere around it. I chatted with a bunch of our friends from Blackbaud. Saw a couple of colleagues from my Blackbaud days. I eyeballed Darryl and gave him “the look.” I still knew in the back of my mind he was likely going to beat me but maybe I could mess with him mentally before the race.
Once I saw it was 6 pm I decided to go for my 1.5 mile warm up. The adrenaline was flowing and my warm up was faster than I had hoped for. Usually I try to stay around an 8:00 pace for warm up with a few quick sprints in there to get my muscles firing. I ended up finishing my warm up averaging 7:40 pace. I couldn’t help but freak out wondering if I had just used some of my fast juice to do the warm up. I was hoping I still had enough in the tank to push it out for 3 miles. I headed back to the start, stretched, and found William. He’s a local runner who has helped me push through a few races here in Charleston. I think the last one we met up at was the Lifepoint 5k and we helped pace each other the entire way. I told him I was gunning for a 21:xx and told him to not let me slack off. We headed to the front of the pack and off we went.
Mile 1 William stayed with me the entire mile. It was the best thing ever. It was just like I had Lana by my side. Having him there kept me from slacking and it kept me focused and happy to have a running buddy. We headed out towards Coast brewery and when we hit the 1 mile mark I checked my watch: 6:42. “HOT DAMN!” A few thoughts crossed my mind: 1. I started out way too fast and I’m going to regret this at the end of the race 2. Maybe if William stays with me, I can keep this pace going 3. Maybe my speed work with Lana is paying off and this is my new race pace 4. I’m probably going to die after this race 5. I’m definitely going to die after this race 6. F*** Darryl is somewhere behind me, KEEP GOING
We crossed over by Coast and all the people out drinking beer cheered us on. That was a nice boost of adrenaline because at this point William was starting to fall behind me. Afterwards I found out that he had cramped up and had to scale back. I was hoping to have him alone with me the whole way. At the halfway point I was on my own. I also was the current female leader. I was still with the boys at the front of the pack so I knew that I was the only female up there. I just kept reminding myself to beat Darryl and hold my place. If I could hold my pace, I could hold onto first place. I checked my watch far more than I care to admit but I was a little pace crazy. I didn’t want to fall behind at all.
Mile 2 clocked in at 6:52. I was hoping to stay around a 7:00 pace so I was pretty stoked to see my first two miles under my goal pace. We had looped and were headed back towards Riverfront park. I was keeping up with two other guys who were trucking along at my pace. I kept these two in my sights so that I wouldn’t fall behind. At this point I just kept focused on the fact that for the first time ever, I had a chance at taking home 1st female overall. That has never happened for me before. I knew I was going to PR this race based on where my pace was at and I knew I was still ahead of Darryl. All was good in the world.
Once we started to loop to the front of Riverfront park I checked my watch. I knew that there was no way we were going to hit 3.1 miles for this course. I told you that I’ve run this course plenty of times, I knew that for the distance we still needed to cover, there was no way we were gonna do that before hitting the finish line. I checked my watch again to see I was running closer to a 7:07 pace. I was starting to slack. I just kept thinking about Darryl being right behind me and beating me at the finish line. I saw the 3 mile marker (it wasn’t 3 miles so I have no split to give you) and I kicked it into overdrive. I dug deep and pushed out with everything that I had left. I saw Tony and Fiona near the finish and yelled and waved as I came in to the finish. I saw 20:16 on the clock and this time I said some swear words but in a good way! “F*** yes” could be heard under my breath. I knew the course was short, I wasn’t aware how short, but I knew it was still short BUT I knew that regardless, based on my pace, this was a PR for me. I raced it all out and gave it every single piece of me. and of course…
I beat Darryl. * smirk *
I stood at the finish line, sipping my water, tapping my toe, looking at my watch as Darryl came running in. I gave him a good job and then went “can’t touch this.” You have to understand that this is all friendly competition for us. This is how we act with each other. It’s all good and I would never do this to anyone other than Darryl. I high fived Tony and began to let it sink in that I was the female winner of the course. I, for the first time ever, won a course. It’s just so hard for me to wrap my mind around. Prior to 3 years ago, I had never run longer than the 2 miles I was forced to in the Army PT test. I despised running back then and now here I am loving my sport, training hard at it, and accomplishing goals I’ve set out for myself. I was on such a runners high the rest of the night is kind of a blur and I wasn’t even drunk.
The post race party for the i5K is really what draws in the appeal. Grimaldi’s came and had pepperoni and cheese pizza for all the runners. A few local breweries came and had different beers on tap. As well, there were buckets around with canned local beer on ice. I grabbed myself a Holy City Washout Wheat and slice of pizza and hung out with our friends until the awards ceremony. There is music and dancing also going on. This year they moved the location to Riverfront park which had it’s perks. There was a playground for Fiona to play on and it was beautiful scenery. We didn’t have the problems of parking downtown either. However, I did enjoy the crowds we had when we were running downtown through the battery. It made this course a little bit more boring but I’ll take a playground for Fiona over a crowd any day. My only downfall about the post race party was that the pizza couldn’t keep up with the demand. Either they need to bring one more warmer or they need to start warming up the pizzas a bit earlier. The line for pizza was always super long. I mean, it’s free pizza so I’m not really complaining, just saying that is one place they could improve on next year.
As we all hung out, Valerie started getting tired and fussy. It was past her and Fi’s bedtime. So I threw on a sweater and then strapped Vale to me in the Ergo Carrier. I thought it would look pretty bad ass accepting my award with a baby strapped to me. After chatting with friends, enjoying pizza, and some cold brews, the awards ceremony was about to begin. Mind you, I’m pumped about my first overall female win! Then I hear ” second place female- Michelle Knopp with a time…..” I didn’t hear anything else he said. I walked up to the awards table like a robot and accepted my award, had my picture taken with what I assume is the most confused look on my face, and walked back to my friends. I listened for 1st place. “Brittany Chanco” … no one walked up to the awards table.This happens. This happens a LOT at this race. Remember I told you that a lot of companies will pay for their employees to run this race. That means that a lot of employees back out at the last minute and will email the company and say “hey we have an extra bib if anyone wants it.” Especially since this race sells out. Most of these people are non runners or non competitive runners and don’t think anything of bib swapping or how its going to effect results and awards. Here is how it effected me big time. Brittany Chanco’s bib had to have been being worn by a male. I was with the front of the pack to know damn well I was the first girl to cross the finish line by a margin.
Some people around me were congratulating me for my win and all my mind was doing was going off in places of “how on earth did I take second.” I spoke up and said Thank you but I’m positive I took first place. After I went home, I worried that I came off as kind of a snob. I PROMISE I was not trying to push aside anyones congratulations. I was just confused at the time and trying to go through in my head how I could have been wrong about taking first. I didn’t mean to be rude, ignore anyone, or seem bratty by waiting around at the awards table to speak with one of the directors. Please know that I am rethinking how I acted afterwards and I hope I didn’t make anyone who congratulated me feel that way. I was just caught up in the moment. I decided to go talk to the girls handing out awards about it. Thankfully the main person remembered seeing me be the first girl across the finish line and after all the awards were handed out she swapped mine with the 1st place overall female.
I got some really nice awards! This year they had medals that were very nice. Before, it used to be just a printed piece of paper (booooooring, we want our bling!) I won a 6 month membership to O2 fitness, a gift card to Edmunds Oast, and a Bass Jump 2 which is a nice USB-powered subwoofer. I’m going to love the O2 fitness membership, I’ve missed my body pump class with Lauren on Monday nights.
I was so happy to get the right awards but a piece of me was so sad that I missed out on my recognition. I know that people will say that’s not what running is about, and they are true to an extent. Running is about the love of it. I LOVE my sport. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t put hours of sweat and hard work, blisters, foam rolling, strength training, speed work, and hill repeats into it. But let’s be real here for a second. It is a RACE. I am RACING against other people. Running is a sport, it is competitive, you are racing against other people, you are trying to win. It’s just like any other sport. When you play a soccer game, you’re trying to be the team that wins. When I race, I’m trying to be the female that wins. I’m also trying to set my own personal records but at the same time, I’m out to win. Since I consider myself a competitive runner, the competitor in me was so heart broken when she missed out on hearing “First overall female- Michelle Knopp” on the announcements.
Now that I’ve had time to think about it though, I’m okay. I’m okay because I know I will hit the pavement and work my ass off to hear my name called as first overall female again one day. Look, I’m not a dummy. I know I’m not the fastest girl in Charleston. Heck I’m probably not even top 10. So yeah, if the right girls come out to race, I’m not even going to place in my age group. I get that. but at this particular race, on this particular day, of all the people that did come out, I worked my ass off on that course to come out as first female. I left it all on that track to hold on to first place. I’ll do it again someday hopefully. Or maybe Melissa, Amy, and Caitlin will all decide to do other races one day so I can have my moment again 😉 (We have some speedy girls here in Charleston that keep me on my toes!)
After all of that, speaking with the race directors, writing to the timing company, everything has been fixed and “Brittany” is now listed as a Male and the results reflect me as the first overall female! YAY!
I know this was a long post, but I had a lot of feelings about this race. I don’t want people to take what I’ve said and be discouraged from this race because of the bib swapping. Just understand that it happens a lot at this race. With that being said, the after party makes this race worth it. Remember that I’m all about getting the most bang for your buck in races. You get a lot of swag in your race bag, you get Grimaldi’s Pizza, you get lots of local beer, you get dancing, if you place you get some really nice awards, and it’s a ton of fun to see people in their costumes.
I’ll see you next year i5k and Darryl!