This morning was a first of many things for me, a new pair of trainers thanks to the great exchange rate to $, some new running shorts, my first paid for 5K race, my first race abroad, and my 2nd time ever running abroad (1st time was a 2 mile leg stretch just a few days ago), and most importantly the first time the race briefing warned to keep an eye out for tortoise and alligator in the ponds we were running past. It was a warm morning at 19C and 94% humidity, but after 10 days in the heat already and a 2 mile jog earlier in the week, I like to think I had some acclimatisation to it!
The run started at the local primary school – Pine View which is a school for the gifted and talented (you have to have a high IQ to get in). The first thing I was most surprised about were the number of people warming up. Almost everyone was running, stretching, doing exercises which was a total shock compared to the usual scenes I witness back in the UK, and the complete opposite of my pre-run routine, at school I was always taught that the run was our warm up and cool down, and I’ve always stuck to that. After the briefing, which included a long list of sponsors to thank, a group of students sang the national anthem whilst runners stood in silence or sining along with their hands on their hearts – very American!!
The race started almost exactly at 7:30am, and I’m so glad it did, it was already hot and humid with little areas of shade on the course. The gun went, and off we set. I started out in a nice comfortable pace but I’d quickly discovered that I started too far back, which involved lots of running in and out and dodging other runners to find a clear path, so it took a while to find a nice steady pace. Settled in nicely, and turned my watch to the underside of my wrist to try and just go with the flow rather than run at any defined pace, I’m sure many people that have run with me are aware of my awful habit of continuously looking at my watch. The run left the school and went out onto the highway, heading back into the local residential area running past our house we were staying at, although it was too early for any personal cheerleaders on route. We ran past lots of lovely ponds, which was an amazing view with the sun rising and steam rising from the water (luckily no alligators today!) After turning back on ourselves just over half way, we ran back through the neighbourhood and took a final turn onto a trail, coming up behind the school to finish with a lap of the track.
The race was fast and flat, with just 1 lap, and a good range of speeds of runners around me which I used to pace myself. Watch came up short at 3.07 miles, but this seemed to be the case with many people loosing signal through the trail at the end. So whilst it’s not a ‘Garmin’ or ‘Strava’ PB, it is my new PB at 25:48! Something I thought I’d be a good few years away from! I finished 3rd in my age category of F20-24, with first and second coming in around 18 and 24 minutes. All in all, I’m a very happy Jogger today. And in true spirit, whilst not there in person, I did go out and drink – just goes to prove I run best when hungover!