Yesterday I ran the Armed Forces 5k in Harrisburg, PA. Hubby and I ran this race last year and I liked it. Since he's not allowed to run currently, I ran this one solo this year.
We got there plenty early because it was day-of packet pick-up. I was number 275 and it was a quick pick-up as they had the bibs in groups of about 25. The shirts this year were new and they are nice. Same design as last year, but a pretty blue color that is very soft. It's not a tech tee, but it is comfy and I may wear it Thursday to the Rev's game for Armed Forces night.
This year, there is a real starting line. I was happy about this since last year there wasn't one. I had no idea when to start Garmin because as much as they had chip timing, it was just a gun time chip timing. Turns out the same this year, but at least I knew when to hit start.
As I walked to the start, I chatted with a nice lady who was also running. We talked about our normal race routines and wished each other luck as we heard the air horn. I crossed the line and just couldn't move. Too many people in too narrow a space. The course was different than last year and we ran counter clock-wise around City Island, then over the pedestrian bridge. Up the steep hill we came and I saw hubby waiting for me. He grabbed a couple pics and then off I went with everyone else past Metro Bank Stadium to the end of City Island, around the bend, past the mini golf course, and back where we started from.
This is the first time around. The building in the background is the Harrisburg Senators ball park. They are the minor league affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
After we did a lap around the park, we headed off to the bridge.
Once over the bridge, we stayed to the top path along Front Street and crossed across the Walnut Street Bridge. Then we kept going until we hit the turn around point. We headed back and went down to the path along the water front.
As we went down the path to the waterfront, there was a gentleman who kept asking the volunteers where we were on the course in terms of distance. I yelled back 2.4 according to my Garmin. He ran up to me and said thank you. He continued on to say that he had been using me as his pace runner, saying to himself follow the girl in the white shirt and black pants. Now he was going to run with me to the finish. Wow. I'm a slow runner. I do not say that to put myself down, I say that because my times are slow. I'm ok with this. Sure, I'd like to be a bit faster, but I'm still out there and that's what counts.
So, my new friend and I were off! We ran for a bit when he stopped to walk. I kept going, then he caught up. We then basically ran the rest of the race together. I learned that this was his first race. He mostly does lifting, but tries to add in the elliptical. He then said his name was Chris. Ummm...what? I had to laugh when I said, "Me too." How ironic, huh?
We both walked up the last steep hill before the bridge, then we turned the corner and ran. I was feeling a bit tired at this point. But, we were off across the bridge and came up to the finish line.
There's me in the white t-shirt and there's my new friend Chris to my right. We came up to the finish line and he kicked it a bit and finished just before me. I'm ok with that. He was so happy to have someone to run with at the end that I was happy for him.
There's me just before the finish. It was a good run. I was really happy with all my times, except my finish time. I know that doesn't make much sense, but...here's why:
.5 mile: 5:33
1 mile: 11:11
1.5 mile: 17:23
2 mile: 23:--
2.5 mile: 30:16
3.1 mile: 37:29
Those early times are crazy fast for me. I don't ever remember running a half mile time at 5:33. I guess helping Chris that last half a mile is what caused me to slow up and miss my goals. Initially my goal was a sub-35 minute, but I know I didn't train for it. Going into the race, I wanted to beat last year's "official" time of 37:09. I missed both.
But, here's the thing. I ran this race in honor of my dad and my grandpop who were both in the military. My shirt is the Coast Guard logo since my dad was in the Coast Guard when I was born. He also served in the army during Korea, but that was a bit before my time. My grandpop served in the Air Force during WWII. Both had since passed away, which is sad, but I like running this race in their memory and honor. I really wanted to PR it for them. But, after thinking about it, I think they would both be proud of me for helping someone else in their first race. Someone who wasn't sure how this whole race thing worked. (At one point, I was asked if there would be water at the finish.)
So, I still ran this race in their honor and memory. And while I didn't actually achieve either of my race goals, I think I achieved something just as special.
* Nice, new shirt (very soft)
* Course different from every other race in Harrisburg
* Military members free (not me, but I think it's a great thing!)
* No early packet pick-up
* No chip timing (start and finish)
* Food/water far from finish line with no signs/volunteers to direct you
I like this race basically for what it stands for - honoring the military - and that it raises money for the YMCA. They do good work. I'll do it again next year, schedule permitting. It's a good race and it's local. I like the local part. Maybe sometime soon there will be start and finish chip timing.