Slowly but steadily the days of our holiday are slipping by. On the one hand, that means we’ll have to go home soon, but on the other, it means that on Saturday I got to take part in my favourite summer holiday race: Cool Summer Mornings 5k. Last year I won my age category, but there was no way that was going to be repeated this year as I continue to battle injury. My aim for this was to get round in one piece, perhaps a little faster than in the Run Thru Hell last Sunday but still slower than my usual pace.
Once more, it was an early start to get the 4 of us to Clermont on time. Clermont is about 30 minutes from the house and the race starts at 7:15am so we had to leave at 5:45 to make sure we had enough time to drive down there, get parked, register and organise ourselves for the race. Dad had checked the weather forecast the night before (not that it was going to affect my kit choice as there really only is one weather condition here in the morning – HOT!) and learned that there would be 100% humidity. As we pulled into the car park, dad was having to use the windscreen wipers not for rain, but to clear the moisture from the humid air, and stepping out the car the air was tangibly “damp”. With not a breath of wind and the final mile taking place alongside the lake with the sun reflecting off the water, it was going to be a tough one!
I had again opted to race in a crop top as I just can’t bear having too much fabric close to my skin in the heat. I also chose my new running skirt I got on a shopping trip earlier in the week, my purple Brooks Ghost shoes and a brand new pair of pink Balega socks (2 new pieces of kit for a race? What a rebel!). I had my orthotics in my shoes and taped my leg up for a bit of extra support.
As soon as we arrived we realised that it was far busier than in the previous two years, which meant we were parked a little further away from the race registration/start than usual, but we had plenty of time. Picking up our race packs at registration is really quick so we were able to get these, nip to the toilet then head back to the car to get organised. Since it was already getting hot, the lake (which would be used for the swim leg of the tri taking place alongside the 5k) looked very inviting!
Before I knew it, I was lining up ready to start. This race is part of a series of 4 (June, July, August and September) and each race has a different theme. Last year the theme for the July race was Americana, presumably because it takes place so close to Independence Day, and this year that was tweaked to be 50s Americana. This meant loads of people were dressed in red, white and blue and, just like at the Watermelon 5k, we started with a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Knowing that the race would begin with an uphill section, but not sure how comfortable I would be running on my forefoot to climb it, I started further back in the pack, but as I got started I began to suspect that I had been a bit too conservative. Yes, my leg was still bothering me, but it was the most comfortable it has been recently and I was able to run uphill in my normal style. That said, just like on Sunday, I stuck to landing on my heel for the flatter/downhill sections to protect my leg a bit more.
Although still struggling a bit with my fitness, the undulating first two miles of this race really suit me as it is more like the terrain I train on at home. Having felt slow and plodding recently, I was surprised to complete the first mile in 9:14. I paused at the water station to get some ice cold water then tackled mile two just a little faster in 9:04, again pausing at the water station for a drink. The second mile of the course continues to undulate, but ultimately brings us down onto the waterfront and the water station marks the far point of the course before it doubles back on itself for the last mile to the finish. As I arrived on the waterfront path I saw dad heading the other way so we waved to each other, then as I turned to head back a few minutes later I could see mum coming down the last hill towards the waterfront.
It was at this point, though, that I started to struggle. I always find the last mile of this race tough due to the heat, humidity and glaring sun, but add in a niggling injury and a loss of fitness and you’ve got a real tough mile on your hands. Since I don’t want to push myself too hard right now, I opted for a couple of walk breaks to drink my High 5 and try to cool down a bit – I certainly wasn’t alone in this either! Mile three took 9:53, which although slow for me was quicker than some of my recent shuffling efforts.
Finally I was directed onto the grass for the finish. I could hear Steve shouting that there was someone behind me but I just didn’t have a sprint finish in my legs. I crossed the line in 28:44 (much faster than last Sunday!), collected my medal and a nice cold bottle of water before joining dad and Steve.
My first port of call was the “cooling zone”, a gazebo with some chairs, fans and misting water to help cool me down. While I cooled off, I drank a chocolate milkshake dad had picked up for me. I can’t remember the brand, but it tasted similar to the For Goodness Shakes I drink after my long runs at home and was just what I needed as I hadn’t yet eaten but was too warm to contemplate food. I also discovered that I had somehow managed to snap my tape while I was running which I found bizarre. I had been aware of the tape “shifting” at one point, but given that it’s quite strong, I’ve no idea how I managed to snap it! Perhaps because I only applied it a few minutes before running and it didn’t have quite enough time to adhere. Since I was sitting down, it was a good chance to remove the tape completely.
Once cooled, we took a couple of photos (my hair is wet from the “cooling zone”):
We then joined the queue for some food. Steve got stuck into a hot dog, but I was far happier with some watermelon to rehydrate and crisps to replace lost salts. This was also a good time to take some photos while dad went off to watch for mum finishing.
Steve thought he might have come in 4th place overall so we thought both he and dad might have age group prizes. This meant a bit of hanging around until the results were ready and the prizegiving could take place, but fortunately there was plenty to keep us occupied. There was a couple playing 50s music, photo ops and, of course, plenty of food as well as some vendor stands to look at and the cooling zone to revisit.
At last the results were published. Dad was third in his age category (beaten by one of his “rivals”) and Steve was third male overall (he was initially called out as second, but there was an error in the results which was quickly rectified and he was fine with it as he knew there was someone else ahead of him). This meant both of them got to go up and collect their plaques and stand on the podium for photos:
With that done, it was time to head back to the car for the journey home (and another quick photo of course!):
Despite my injury issues, this remains my favourite of the three races we take part in while in Florida. It’s a great location, well organised and I really like the route (even if the last mile does seem really tough!). I’m pleased that I have been able to (sort of) run during my holiday and I think that my tibialis posterior muscle is now much better. Unfortunately, there is still an issue which I think is now a shin splint which was previously masked by other problems and my Achilles is grumbling a bit so still a little more rest and treatment before I can really get back to proper training again. Hopefully soon I’ll be back out there trying out my new running gear, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of my race swag: