Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Strawberry Classic 5K

by Meghann on March 23, 2014

Whoops! I almost forgot I signed up for a 5K this weekend!


The Strawberry Classic is a 15K, 10k, and 5k organized by the Tampa Bay Runners. It’s a great local race – just minutes from my house! – that benefits the pediatric cancer society. I ran the 10K last year, and when I was looking to register again this year, I noticed there was a “pet friendly 5K.” I signed up for the 5K, excited that Maddie could run it with me. Unfortunately they later changed the “pet friendly 5K” to a “pet friendly 1 mile walk.” Boo. Maddie can’t catch a break!

I was so upset about the change that I debated not doing the race at all, which is why I think I forgot about it. Then I received the reminder email Friday afternoon and decided why not. I was planning to run 3-4 miles anyway, might as well get a medal and some strawberries out of it.  (Yes, I could have done the mile walk with Maddie, but I was being selfish and still wanted to do the 5K. Sorry, Mads!)

The 5K had a late start (8:45 is late for a Florida race!), which definitely threw my morning race routine off. I still had to pick my packet up, so I set my alarm at 6:30, with the plan of leaving my house at 7:00am. I think I’m so used to race starts being so far away – and busy!- that I definitely overestimated how much time I needed.   It took no time at all to get to the race and park. I had my packet in hand by 7:15 and went back to my car to kill the hour and a half until I needed to be at the start line. I could have easily slept another 30 minutes. Darn.


That is a BRIGHT race shirt!

After catching up on Instagram and Facebook, I headed back to the race start about 40 minutes before go time and took advantage of the free 5 minute massages being offered.


One of the perks of a small race – no wait for a massage!

The “start line” was a line drawn with chalk on the road next to the school. Runners started gathering about 5-10 minutes before the start. There were about 350 5K and 150 10K runners all starting at the same time. The start was very casual, it seemed like most of the runners were neighbors and this was just another Saturday fun run for them.


The race director got on the bull horn with instructions for the race. The course was marked with spray painted arrows. 5Kers should follow the green arrows and 10Kers should follow the red arrows. Of course, no one could hear him so it turned into a game of telephone where one person would shout “5K green, 10K red” and instruct those behind them to pass it on.


The race started on time with an old fashioned air horn signaling “go.” I was near the front and tried my best not to be pulled with all of the runners starting fast. It’s so easy to get caught up in that mentality of “this pace feels great, I could totally do this” only to not feel so great a 1/2 mile later and struggling to run at all.

I had no goals for this race, just to go out and have fun. Despite my best efforts, I ran the first mile way too fast and gradually felt my pace drop as the race went on. I hate 5Ks, they burn! Why the heck was I running this, again? I’m not in shape for this.

When I felt it was hurting too much, I walked for a few seconds. The great thing about doing a no-pressure run, is I honestly didn’t care about my finish time and was a-okay with walking. I took a 10-15 second walking break every 1/2 mile and didn’t feel guilty about it at all.

Luckily the three miles went fast and before I knew it, I could see the turn for the finish line ahead. I kept pushing and finished giving it the last bit of power I had in my legs.


I grabbed the medal from the volunteer and did a couple of walking circles around the finish chute. Man, that hurt worst than it should have. I’m getting old.


They had a kiosk set-up to check on live results and I was pleased to see I placed second in my age group!


Again, I love small races. A 5 minute drive to the race, no issues with parking, plenty of room at the start, and placing in my age group – win, win!

Oh, and the food!

Dunkin Donuts


And all the strawberries you could eat!



They were practically begging runners to take strawberries home. You didn’t have to tell me twice.


Unfortunately I had to get to work, so I couldn’t stay for the age group award ceremony. Sigh.

All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday. If you’re in the Tampa area, I highly recommend the Strawberry Classic as a no-fuss, well run 5k, 10k, or 15k. 🙂

What are your favorite local races?




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