In reading local running stuff, the consensus was that this was THE 5K to run in the area, as it is the NC state championship 5K and thus attracts a big crowd, including a competitive elite group. So, I figured I'd check it out.
First of all, it lived up to the "heat" part.
At 7 pm, the race start time, it was a steamy 90 degrees with a dash of humidity added to make it feel "melt your face off hot." I honestly spent the majority of my pre-race sitting in my air conditioned car. Ruining the environment, but staying cool.
Here I am, pre-race: Out of the car and ready to run!
The start and finish were at Wake Forest University's stadium, and I do appreciate a loop for a race.
What really threw me for a "loop," though (Har-Har!), was the pre-race description that was broadcast over the load speaker beforehand: "Lots of heat today, folks! And, remember, lots of hills on this course! Mile 2 is all uphill! Have fun."
Hills?! Fuck. I'd forgotten where I was. This isn't flat-FL, so I should've expected some elevation, but the RD's course description made me second guess myself: "Should I hold back a little to conserve myself? Will running hills kill me in this heat?"
Thankfully, I didn't have too much time to mull over the course description because it was gun time, but admittedly, it threw me off my prepared 5K mindset, which is generally "run as fast as I can."
Turns out, yes, the hills were killer, and mile two was truly a long, steady incline. Combine the hills with the heat, and even though I was giving it all I had, I was running much slower than I'd hoped, and my finish was almost two minutes slower than I think I'm capable of in ideal conditions (like when a unicorn blesses me beforehand).
Oh well. Not every race can be a PR; plus, I get to blame hills and heat on this one. But, next year, I'll be better prepared for the challenge. So, I'll be back, oh yes, I'll be back! (Insert maniacal laugh.)
As an aside, a guy who finished a bit behind me approached me as I was getting water at the finish and told me: "You ran a great race: I was chasing you the whole way!" I was someone's race bunny? Ha! Kinda flattering.