The Sweet Corn Festival 5K (Ken Keener Classic) was one of the first races I ever ran in Central Ohio - I first ran it back in 2005 when I lived in Gahanna and had some friends who had a place on Buckeye Lake. The 210# version of me struggled in that race; I remember the first mile being quick and the second mile seeming to stretch forever, going way out into the country before returning to the finish line in some 24 minutes.
Now the SCF 5K is my hometown race, and I run on the race course multiple times every week; it doesn't seem nearly as long any more. Twice I placed in my age group, and last year I ran the course in a then-PR before the race in order to run with my 6 year old son. This year I came with high hopes: a top 20 finish, and hopefully a time faster than 19 minutes.
My first issue came before the race. I am used to running at 6:00 am, and the race didn't start until 9. Meaning the day had three hours to heat up, and heat up it did. Just standing at the start line was enough to make us all dripping sweaty - I began to question my race strategy and how hard I should realistically push. My plan was to push the first mile around 5:50 and to run the last two miles in 6:11 or 6:12. That would put me just under 19 minutes for the race. I ran the first mile right on target, in 5:50, but then the wheels fell off. I needed to back off the pace because it was simply too hot and humid. By rule, I don't take water on a 5K, but I was grabbing water from all the water stops and I really appreciated the guy standing with a hose "shower" for us to run through.
One thing I really loved about this race was the fact that I have been here three years now and am rather well-known in the community. The community support I felt was amazing. I had people cheering for me all along the course. I was constantly giving thumbs-up to people cheering me on. Another highlight was just after the two mile mark. By this time, I was running alone; I had given up on catching the runners ahead of me, and there was nobody near enough behind me to catch me - it was the first time in a 5K that I can remember thinking "maybe I should take a walk break" - but then came the water stop at the turn around. I knew almost everyone there, especially two of my family's close friends, Richard and Bruce. As I came toward the water station, I gave them a "bring it on" motion, and they all threw their water on me. I loved it!
I didn't have much of a kick to finish; in fact, my third mile time was dreadful (for me). I finished in 19:47 (respectable - not fantastic, but good, especially considering the heat), and I was 19th place overall, and second in my age group.
I ran the second and third miles of the course to "cool down" and met some of the walkers and encouraged them (like, "There are thousands of people in this area who not only didn't beat you in this race, but only walked from the bedroom to the kitchen to the couch this morning, and you are doing 3.1 miles."). When I got back by Richard and Bruce, they had cleaned up their water stop, so I splashed my water bottle around toward them. They got a chuckle out of that.
I had to wait to get my AG award until after the door prizes were announced - the SCF usually has a ton of door prizes (including gift certificates for free Weldon's Ice Cream, which I was hoping for!), and I ended up having my name called last... and the only door prize they had left to give me was a warm bottle of Powerade. :-)
Overall it was a good race, and I was glad I ran. Maybe next 5K I'll break 19 minutes. But that will have to wait until after the Erie Marathon on the 18th...