Saturday August 23rd I ran the Run around the Square 5k in Regent Square. Don’t hold me to this, but I want to say this race is the largest neighborhood race in Pennsylvania. Normally they cap the race off at 1500 people, but this year they decided to cap it at 1800. There is always a good amount of really good runners that show up for this race.
The swag has gone down a bit but who cares. Now all you get is a short sleeved tech shirt, your bib, and chip at packet pick-up. They have went to the virtual bags like other races for your coupons and things. They do make up for it though with the medals and trophy’s they give out.
This race is great for so many reason: It is very family friendly. Besides the 5k race there is a 1.5 race in which you are allowed to run with your dog. They also give awards for the 1.5 mile race. How many races do you know actually give awards for the shorter distance race? It is very few that do. The 5K offers a course that starts out on the brick roads of Regent Square and takes you down into the trails of Frick Park. Just within the first mile you have family’s cheering you on from their porches and sidewalks and live bands playing for you as well. As you enter the trails right before the 1st mile marker there is a beer and champagne stop. That’s right not a water stop a beer and champagne stop. No need to worry though there is a water station just up the trail and a second one later on the second half of trails. The post-race party is one of the best around. D’s six-pack and hot dog shop is the main sponsor for this race and provides free hot dogs and beer. If you are not a drinker you can still get your normal bananas and water in the post-race area as well.
So now onto my race experience for the day. The race had a 9:00 am start. I arrived around 7:45 am so I could get some stretching in and a little warm up. I ran into my friend Don @DonnieBRunnin as I was standing around waiting for the start of the 1.5 race. I love watching the little kids shoot out of the start like they are running a 100 meter dash. The competition in this race is not all that good anymore. At one point the Woodland Hills Cross Country team would come and run this race, but those days are gone and now it is mainly young children who run with a parent or someone who wants to run with their dog. The winning time was around 10 minutes. After watching the race I started to actually do my warm up. I did my stretching as I watched the finished of the race. My warm up didn't go as I planned because one thing about this race is I know a lot of the people running it. So as I would run down the street I would run into someone I haven’t seen in a while and we would do some catching up. Before I knew it there was 10 minutes to the start and I needed to get to the start. The past 2 years this race has went to a staggered start to give people some more room. I lined up about 10 rows back from the front and once again found myself talking to people I had not seen in a while. Don told me he was going to try and get around 22 minutes so I figured I would just pace with him for the race. I had some neck problems and didn't want to push myself to hard. As we stood waiting for the gun to go off a lot of us were complaining about the humidity. This course isn't the easiest around and being hot and sweaty is not going to help.
The gun sounded and we were off. Within the first 100 meters Don slipped on the brick road, but was able to stay up and keep running. He told me he was nursing an ankle issue so I was nervous when I saw this happen. As we entered the trail right around .75 miles I noticed Don had pulled up and slowed down a bit. I passed him and begun my journey through the first trail. He later told me that his ankle was giving him some problems and he wanted to play it safe. I don’t blame him he also has Columbus coming up. As I passed the beer and champagne table I had to stop myself from making a B line to the table and grabbing a tasty beverage. That damn table is like a magnet. I passed up the table and thought to myself the quicker you finish the quicker you can have one. As I passed the 1 mile marker and exited the trail I saw the first water stop. It is very rare for me to take water in a 5K, but the humidity was getting to me so I grabbed a cup and dumped it on my head. My first mile split was a 7:22. The second mile of this race is the hardest. It is almost all up hill. As you exit the first trail you head onto the street of South Braddock Ave and quickly make a left onto Forbes Ave. Both of those roads are slight up hills. You really don’t notice it, but in this race you will. Once on Forbes you make a right and head back onto a trail for the remainder of the race. At this point I got a little nervous. It rained the night before and I kept having visions of me slipping on the wet surface and getting hurt before my marathon. I pulled back and took mile 2 slower than I would have liked. My split as I approached the second mile marker was 16.22. I ran a 9 minute mile for mile 2. I regret doing this now. I should have just held my pace and hoped for the best. As I passed the mile 2 marker the woman who was yelling the splits said “water stop is just ahead and then it’s all downhill.” I approached the water stop and once again grabbed a cup and dumped it on my head. I felt really good and knew I had to make up some time on the downhill section. I picked up the pace and started to play the fun game of pick off the runner. If you were in front of me and in my line of vision I was coming for you. I still was running cautious though, afraid I would slip. As I exited the trail and saw the finish I turned on my kick and sprinted to the finish in a time of 23:27. My pace overall was a 7:34 and my last mile was my fastest of the race. When I saw my time I was disappointed because I felt so good and thought I ran a really good race. This is what happens though when you play it too safe like I did on the second mile. Oh well, lessened learned.
After I crossed the finish I quickly and when I say quickly I mean I ran like someone told me there was gold at the other end of the field I was crossing, and grabbed a cold beer. Now that I had my beer in hand I was ready to go watch my friends cross the finish line. First to come across was my good friend Kari. Kari doesn't get to run that often and even joked with me that she only got to do 2 training days for this race. Her time was 27:27. Kari is a mother, so training comes harder for her. I always say if she trained properly and had the time, she would be a force in the woman’s field. Next to come across was my cousin’s wife Gab in a time of 29:58. Followed by her husband, my cousin Mike in a time of 31:00. Not far behind was my running partner in crime Anna who ran a 31:48. Anna is another person who has a young child so doesn't always get to run as much as she would like. I always tell my good friend, her husband Charlie that Anna is better than she thinks and needs to train better. My cousin Katie came across in a time of 34:58 which is not bad for not getting in too much training as well. Once we all were in the finish area it was time to start the drinking. Me and Anna joke every year about this race and how much we are going to drink. This year we both had our fair share of beers. I may not have won the race, but I may have won most beers drank by a runner. Too bad they don’t give out an award for that.
|Mike, Katie, Me, and Anna|
The only negatives I can say about this race are: passing is a pain in the ass. If you get stuck behind a slow pack on the trails you basically are screwed. Also I wouldn't really call this a negative but this race doesn't go to a charity. The positives out weight the negatives be far: It is very organized. Awards for both races. Good crowd support and entertainment on the course. Girl finishers all get a carnation. Awesome post-race party. So if you live in Pittsburgh or are in the area next year mark this race on your calendar. It is a challenging race with so many unique and cool things. Plus we can throw a few cold ones back at the post race party…
CHEERS MY FRIENDS!!!!!