On Saturday morning, my friends and I lined up with about three hundred other runners for the Fiesta 5K and 10K which just happened to land right on Cinco de Mayo. The race was put on by Ashburn Village and benefited Smashing Walnuts, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for childhood brain cancer.
Packet pickup was Friday afternoon at the Ashburn Village Sports Pavilion. After work I had errands to take care of in the area so it was easy peasy to run in and grab my shirt and bib.
It was 64° when I arrived at Fincastle Field at 7:30 AM for the 8:15 race. After stalking the weather since Monday, I was thrilled that the 70% chance of rain forecasted all week held out, and we had delightful spring weather for our race. Once out of the car, I pinned on my race bib, grabbed my water bottle and headed out with my friends Lupe and Cindy for a warm-up run. Lupe and I run together regularly, but I hadn’t seen Cindy in a couple of years (we usually only see each other at races). After a little over a mile, we gathered back at the park with our MRTT friends and my husband Bill for our 8 AM pre-race photo.
After our picture, we still had ten minutes until race time so I fell in line behind the one person standing in front of the porta potty. Hardly a line, ten minutes to spare – perfect timing. Just as I came out of the restroom, I heard the announcer say that they were ready to start the race as soon as they played the National Anthem. Say what? I sprinted toward the crowd of runners and self-seeded toward the front of the start corral just before it was time to put my right hand over my heart.
The announcer gave us a backwards countdown which ended with the wail of an ambulance siren, and we were off – a couple of minutes ahead of schedule.
We started the relatively flat race on a slight downhill grade. I waved to Bill as I ran past and noticed that I was running at a 7:45 pace. I slowed down slightly as we leveled off, hoping to maintain an average pace of somewhere around an 8:30.
We ran past the Sports Pavilion, then the shopping center, and crossed Gloucester Parkway and the 1-mile marker just as we hit the bottom of the hill leading up to the bridge crossing over the W&OD Trail. Once across the bridge and about one hundred yards down the other side, the 5K runners made a u-turn while the 10K racers continued along Ashburn Village Boulevard. Since I was toward the front of the pack, runners behind me weren’t quite used to the two-way traffic and it got a little crowded. Some of the 5K’ers jumped up on the sidewalk, but most of us chose to stay on the softer asphalt road, facing runner traffic.
Within a quarter mile, the 5K runners turned left onto a neighborhood street and away from the congested two-way traffic. By this point I was in my grove and scoping out women around me wondering if any were in my age group. Hardly in 5K shape, my goal was to push my pace without burning out before the end of the race. I took a quick break to gulp down a drink at the water stop and then continued on my way.
Just after the 2-mile marker we made a u-turn and for a short distance we had two-way traffic; however, traffic had thinned out greatly so it was hardly crowded. I saw my friend Beth ahead of me and cheered her on as we met. After my own turnaround, I saw Beth’s husband and second grade son not too far behind! There was a slight uphill grade as we came back up the street until we turned right onto another street leaving the two-way traffic behind.
During our third mile, we crossed back over Gloucester Parkway and hit a very gradual downhill as we wound our way back to Fincastle Drive and the finish line.
Finishing three minutes ahead of me with an age group winning time of 24:19 was my friend Beth. We used to train together years ago, but sadly, hardly ever see each other these days.
The race was on the long side so I was surprised when my watch beeped three miles and I couldn’t see the finish line up ahead. Two tenths of a mile later, I saw the finish banner and Bill, camera pointed in my direction, standing to the side. I picked up my pace as I made my way those last few hundred yards.
Checking out my Garmin, I was pleased to see I’d maintained an 8:18 pace even though I haven’t been doing speed work and have mostly been running alone since January.
- Mile 1 – 8:23
- Mile 2 – 8:30
- Mile 3 – 8:19
- Final .29 mile – 7:20 pace
- Garmin information – distance 3.29 miles, time 27:18 (8:18 pace)
After being handed a finishers ribbon, I retrieved my water bottle I’d tucked under a sign and walked back to my car, more exhausted than I’ve been after a race in a very long time. I was out of gas and pleased that I’d pushed so hard. I wiped my face, took a few swigs of my sports drink and returned to the finish line to find my friends.
I quickly found Cindy and Beth and we chatted with Bill while we waited for Lupe to finish the 10K.
That’s Beth’s son Anthony photo-bombing us. He ran the course with his dad and a few weeks ago won his age group in the Mighty Mile. With such speedy parents, it’s no wonder Anthony is so fast!
After visiting with friends, we saw Lupe coming in from her 10K. In the bottom left of the picture you can see a guy’s foot. We were screaming for her to beat the guy, but I think that just gave him more motivation to run faster! Lupe finished second in her age group!
While milling around after the race, I ran into some of my Van 1 teammates from the 2016 Ragnar DC and chatted with them for a while. I love that I know so many people in the running community and races are often a mini reunion for me!
I hadn’t gotten around to checking the race results when Cindy came running over to me to tell me I’d placed first in my age group. In my head, I’d calculated that I was third place at best because two ladies who looked about my age finished in front of me. It turned out that one lady was 58 and actually won the 5K women’s division with a time of 22:40 (7:18 pace). The other lady had finished 7 seconds faster than me, but was 59. Boom! It pays to have already turned 60!
The first place male and female award for both the 5K and 10K was a Bowlero bowling pin without the name of the race or anything special written on the side; however, first place age group awards were $20 gift certificates to Potomac River Running Store. I’m not sure if the overall winners also got gift certificates or not, but I surely hope they did; otherwise, they got the short end of the stick.
Wanting to run six miles for the day, I tacked on a little more mileage after the race to add to my race and warm-up distance. Can I just say my legs were shot after pushing so hard during the race! Once home, I had a relaxing rest of the day, and enjoyed chicken fajitas and a margarita that evening to complete my Cinco de Mayo celebration!
- Have you run a race celebrating Cinco de Mayo?
- Do you prefer small local races or big city races?
- What’s the best or worst age group prize you’ve seen given away at a race?