So yesterday I ran the Lake County Captains' Grand Slame 5k and I had a blast doing it! This race is a 5k through the area surrounding the minor league ballpark, where the last tenth of a mile is on the warning track, finishing behind home plate. Additionally, the race directors were able to book Carlos Baerga (former 2B for Cleveland Indians) to hand out medals, and to do a meet and greet after the race. The race was only $25 to enter and all participants got a shirt, a medal, a meet and greet, a ticket to any Captain's home game, burgers/hotdogs/beer, and discount tickets for their friends and family.
For me, I had a 15 miler the day before, so I knew I would not be trying to run a PR! I talked with my running partner, and he told me "no faster than 7:30. But that doesn't mean you have to do 7:30 if you aren't comfortable. No racing." When I woke up on Sunday, I actually wasn't that sore, so I was feeling like I would be able to push through it at a decent pace. I met my mom at the park (she was walking the race because she is a huge baseball and Indians fan, and loved watching Baerga play) and we went inside to check it out. I saw the finish line on the field which looked exciting. I ran into my Insta-friend Steph and talked to her a little, and then I ran into Veronica, another insta-friend and talked with her a little as well.
When it got to about 10 minutes to go, I headed to the start line and found a place about 5 or 6 rows back. I then saw a Cleveland West member, Hasani, standing near the front and I went to talk to him. He's ridiculously fast and was running this as part of the NERC racing series. Apparently they caught our conversation at the start in a photo!
I headed back to my spot with about 5 minutes to go and loosened up my ankles like I always do. Carlos Baerga came out to greet us all and counted down from the last 10 seconds. The horn went and we were off! I really was checking my watch because I am notorious for taking off too fast in a 5k. Sure enough, we were at 6:45/mile and I backed down as people went zipping by me, telling myself that they would all be coming back to me in no time. I settled in at about 7:25-7:35, which felt comfortable. Sure enough, halfway through the first mile I was passing people who went out too fast. By the first mile, I was at 7:35, which I knew was pretty comfortable. I stuck with it and continued passing people, feeling pretty good, and around 1.5 miles, I really loosened up. There was a slight hill, on an otherwise flat course, from about 1.7-1.9 miles. I used it as an opportunity to pass more people, because I tend to handle hills better than most. Mile 2 came in at 7:40. The first half of mile 3 was mostly down hill and when we rounded the corner at .4 miles, I knew we were on our way back and started to kick it up a little. I passed a couple more people and suddenly I was pretty much alone, with a pack far behind me and a pack far ahead of me as we turned into the parking lot for the ballpark. We looped around the back of the park and I realized I had begun my kick too soon and was getting worried if I could maintain it, but then we suddenly turned and headed down the ramp onto the field. My watch dinged at 3 miles and I saw it was a 7:27. Being on the field was awesome and I started my final sprint in and around the track. People were cheering and the announcer was awesome and I sprinted across the finish at 23:29 (7:34/mile). Not a PR, but pretty solid for the day after 15 miles!
After I got done, I talked with Steph, whose boys won their age group! And then I talked with Hasani who rocked it with a new PR of 18:53 (told ya he was fast). Then I waited for my mom to cross the finish. When I saw her walking in on the warning track, I yelled run in! And she actually did!
We then grabbed some food and made our way to the autograph line to meet Carlos Baerga! The line was very organized and moved pretty quick and we were able to get our stuff signed and take a picture with him. He was super nice and just happy to be there, congratulating all runners on a great race.
All in all it was a great race, with a super flat (PR -worthy) course, and lots of fun! Definitely a great value race too, but what else would I expect from Lake Health Running? They always put on great value races. Happy Fourth of July! And good luck to anyone racing today!