race recap – downtown willoughby 5k


I have to begin by saying yesterday’s Downtown Willoughby 5K was a fabulous race! This was the inaugural year, and I hope that they keep this race going. Honestly, based on the response, I don’t know how they couldn’t; the race sold out! From the atmosphere of downtown Willoughby to the charity (Make A Wish Foundation) to the course to the goodies (cupcakes and 3 free drink tickets), it was hard to beat. But I will gush more later. Now on to the race recap.

My plan was to shoot for a 5K PR for this race, so I have been working on getting a little speedier. However, I am also in the throes of training for two half marathons (October 6 and October 20), and I needed to get my long run on Saturday. I went back and forth as to whether I wanted to do my long run Saturday and compromise my 5K race or run the race and get the extra miles in after. In the end, the long run won. I went to the gym Saturday morning with the kids and cranked out a 10 miler on the treadmill. I knew that if I didn’t do the run on Saturday, I would probably make some excuse to not run it later, so that PR would have to wait. It has stood for 4+ years, so what’s another, right?

Saturday was also a girls’ day out. My cousin Halle is getting married in two weeks. She didn’t want a party or a shower, but there was no way we were going to let her get out of having something to celebrate her special day. As her bridal party, we took her out on a wine tour of Geneva and had a blast! With having the race on Sunday, I volunteered to be the DD. The thought of running the next day made it easier to pass up all of that delicious vino.


The kiddles and I stayed at my parents’ house on Saturday (they were the babysitters for my Saturday excursion and Sunday race day…thanks, mom and dad!). I woke up at 6:30 because I like having plenty of time to get ready. I like to eat breakfast, get dressed (in my lucky running skirt), do my hair and make-up (this is a must for me), and just relax. Sare and Rhett came around 8:30, and we were out the door shortly after. We were able to snag a good parking spot thanks to our friend who has a law firm in downtown Willoughby. We parked and made our way into downtown.


sare and me pre-race

Raymond wasn’t able to run due to being injured, so I was very happy when he said he signed up to volunteer. We met up with him that morning at packet pick-up to say hi before doing our pre-race ritual of stretching and a bathroom break.


packet pick-up. didn’t notice when i took this pic, but that guy’s keg shirt is amazing.



pre-race with mark and marie

There were a lot of people, and even though I am not fast, I didn’t want to get lined up behind people who were walking or running much slower than me (no offense, people). I tried to work my way closer to the front but only made it about halfway there. That would have to do. After a few minutes of waiting, they started the countdown, and we were off! The first quarter mile or so was spent weaving through people who were either slow joggers or walkers or some who stopped all together. I have no problem with people who are slower, but it is a lot easier for other runners if they start farther back or stay to one side of the street. When I finally got through the sea of people I looked at my watch. Holy crap, I was in the 7 minute per mile range! I told myself that I should slow down, but I wanted to try and make up some of the time I lost earlier in the race. I kept going because I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable at that pace.

The first mile was done before I knew it, and I checked the watch – completed in 8:18. Oh my goodness, this PR thing might be possible! My quads were already starting to hurt from Saturday’s long run, but I kept going. I was thankful to see the water stop around mile 1.5 because I was hot! It sounds crazy, but I kept wishing I had my running belt with water bottles throughout the whole race. I am also horrible when it comes to dressing for the weather during this time of year. I wore a long sleeve running top and was sweating my butt off at this point. I felt a lot better after that drink and pressed on.

My body was starting to get really tired, and I was happy when my watched beeped for the second mile. 8:00 minute pace exactly – I can’t believe that I got a little faster. At this point, I knew that I was going PR unless something horrible happened. I smiled to myself at that thought. I was very thankful for that extra time cushion because I was done. My legs were sore and heavy, and when I saw the uphill stretch before the turn to the finish, I was actually worried that I might have to walk. For the first time during the race my time fell into the 9 minute range, and I started to feel a little defeated. I made it up the hill and made the turn for the final straightaway.

I tried to make my body go faster at this point, but it was having none of that. I saw the clock in the distance, and the seconds kept ticking by. I tried to muster up a sprint, but it felt like an awkward jog at best. I crossed the line with 25:19 on the clock. Even though I felt like hell, I did it – I had a new 5K PR!!! Party time for me!

After crossing and trying to catch my breath, I saw Raymond off to the side. I went up to him, and he was very surprised to see me. He wasn’t expecting me for two minutes or so, so he missed my big finish, which wasn’t a big deal to me because I am sure I looked like death. We didn’t need pictures to commemorate it. The race bibs had a QR code on the back to see your instant results. He scanned the code, and I was floored when I saw the results. Chip time 24:56, which works out to an 8:02 pace! I DID IT! I completely crushed my old PR, which was 26:40 at the Ohio City Run in 2009!

Downtown Willoughby Results

We then stood off to the side to wait for Sare and Rhett. And we waited and waited and waited. The more time that passed, the more worried I got. Poor Sare has a bum knee due to an ACL replacement and no meniscus, and it has been giving her problems lately. I thought maybe she got injured on the course and had to walk the whole thing. While we were standing to the side, we did get a chance to see my cousin who ran two 5Ks that day! Great job, Kathy! We also saw a man wearing a shirt with this sweet saying, and a pic was necessary!


the answer is a resounding YES!

Finally, we saw Rhett and her walking toward us. We missed their finish! I don’t know how this happened because we were standing right there the whole time, but we did. Turns out they were looking for us, and in the meantime, had already gotten food and water. When we checked their times online, Sare was so pleased. She also had a PR by about 30 seconds per mile! And Rhett, who never runs races, did a great job, too (they ran together). All of these PRs called for some serious celebrating!

V__FFD2While we were out enjoying our hard work, I saw Jessica, one of my blogger friends from the Cleveland Marathon who also rocked an amazing PR at the race. I really like her blog, and you should check it out. She is currently training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so I can’t wait to read more about that. She also gets bonus points for being a fellow Sparkly Soul lover.


if our eyes look weird, it’s because it was dark in the bar or you could say we were still pumped about our PRs!

There were only a few nit-picky things that I have to say about this race, but they were so minor to me that they didn’t impact my overall impression of this great race. The first thing would be to have more bathrooms. I think this is just a first year mistake, and a few more could have made a big difference, especially if they were put on the opposite end. The second would be to have flags or markers at each mile along the race course. With having a watch, I could monitor where I was in the race, but I heard people commenting about this as we were running. The third would be to have men’s and women’s technical shirts. I really liked the shirts that they picked, but I am swimming in a men’s small. Next year, perhaps. (Note: After writing this, we received an email from the race coordinator thanking participants. He also said that mile markers and gender-specific tech shirts are part of the plan for next year. And there will DEFINITELY be a next year!)

Okay, now back to gushing about the race. I was completely amazed at how the local community pulled this all together, and the fact this was the first year made it even more amazing to me. It was not just a race; it was an entire downtown affair with activities for the whole family! Downtown Willoughby seems to be such a close community, and it really showed with their sponsorship and coordination of this race. I was also happy that their charity was Make A Wish Foundation. I am a sucker for anything that helps children, so I loved that part of my entry fee went to this charity. Another really cool thing that they did was open an additional 100 spots after closing the race. Those runners paid $60 each to register, and the money raised from those 100 registrations funded one child’s wish. How awesome is that?!

Thank you, Downtown Willoughby, for an awesome experience. I sincerely hope you continue this race next year, and you can expect a registration from me! It’s things like this that make me proud to say I am from Lake County!



4 responses »

  1. Pingback: happy blogiversary! | steph plus 4

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