My first races – cozy and fun

In the first post I talked about how and why I got into running, and in the last post I covered my first few months of running – which only began last spring. In this post I’ll share some experiences from my first road races over the summer months.

Not wanting to get in over my head, let’s just say I kept things cozy and fun with these first few races. My first race was the Husson Run for the Gold 5K. I actually finished in 2nd place as there weren’t a lot of runners, but I went out way too fast in the first mile trying to hang with the leader and eventual winner (some high school kid). As you can see from the Strava activity, I had the opposite of negative splits (ie, I got much slower each mile), but I was pretty pleased with having run a 7:32/mile pace over the entire race — which resulted in multiple personal records (PR’s) at the time.

Oh, and it was a family affair. One of the joys of running have been the times when I could include the whole family!

The whole family (and Maddi) at the Husson 5K (2017)

Next up was the Walter Hunt 4th of July 3k — a fast mostly downhill “dash” from Brewer across the bridge into downtown Bangor. While a 3K is only 1.8 miles, I was pretty happy with the result of this race having run 6:24 the first mile on the downhill portion, and holding on for a 6:55/mile pace over the final flat 0.8.

Again, this race was also a fun family and friends event with my wife and oldest son joining in — and since it takes place before the Fourth of July Parade in Bangor, there’s lots of crowd support!

Me, Sarah, Max, and Marion.

The next race was the Ronald McDonald 5K, also in downtown Bangor. This was the first year of this race, and the course was relatively hilly. This was my most solid race to date as I ran a pretty even 7:44/mi pace throughout. I did develop a side-stitch in the final mile that prevented me from finishing as strong as I would have liked, but I gutted through it.

Max also participated in the kids fun run before my race started, and he took home the victory!

A funny story with this race is that I actually “won” as well, finishing as first overall male because two faster guys took a wrong turn and went off the course. I didn’t realize this until it was over (they were out of my sight when the wrong turn occurred), and when Sarah said I was the first man that had crossed the finish line I didn’t believe her at first. Oh well, I’ll take it — my first (and still only) road race win.

In August, my only race was the Champion the Cure Challenge in Brewer. This was a large event, but it was still cozy because it wasn’t officially timed, and everyone was running for a good cause (cancer research). I chose to do the 10K, which was my first — and to date I have yet to run another 10K. I was pretty happy with the results, but I did fade a bit in the end once I hit the Parkway South hill in Brewer. I ended up with a watch time of 49:12 (having run a little bit extra to get in the official 6.2 for Strava), which is 7:52/mi pace. I’m looking forward to running another 10K soon to set a new PR at this distance, as I recently ran a Half Marathon in December and ended up at the same 7:52/mi pace (more on that race in a later post).

I ran this race with my brother-in-law Jon, and also met Brad (aka, #Bradcrazy) for the first time in person (the guy in bunny ears). A good time was had by all!

I finished up the summer racing series with the Bangor Labor Day 5 miler. This was really the first “serious” race I competed in, and I gutted it out to a respectable finish. There’s one really steep section of this course that really got to me, and I ended up walking a bit to bring my heart rate down. I also had relatively tired legs as I had just completed a long run the day before. My official time for this five miler was 37:53 at 7:35/mile pace. Not too shabby.

So what’s the takeaway in sharing about these races? I hope to show how running doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) a solo sport. The running community is warm and welcoming, and road races are a fun way to be involved in something bigger than yourself. I really enjoyed this first summer of races, and can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring in the same regard.

Next up, I kick the races up a notch to finish out my first year of running with two half marathons (MDI and Millinocket) — as well as the Brewer Turkey Trot in pouring rain for good measure.

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