It was a hot, steamy night in China Grove for the 13th annual Main Street Challenge. I dislike cold weather so much that I really don’t like complaining about hot weather at all, and since we all knew it would be a steamer before we got there, it’s all part of the adventure. Like it or not though, the wheels don’t seem to turn quite as quickly when you’re running on a hot summer night with a temperature of 85 degrees and I think quite a few folks ran slower times than they normally do although Jordan Kinley, the overall race winner, blazed the trail at 15:05.
I’ve been stuck in the 21-minute range in 5k races for a while and didn’t feel great going into this one, so I was happy to finish in 20:57 and win my age group just ahead of Steve Staley. Steve always provides me with a little extra motivation and since I knew he was right on my heels it helped me stay focused. Other than one or two gentle inclines that are barely noticeable it’s a flat out-and-back run all the way with the only turn being the halfway point of the race where you run around a barrel to head back in the other direction. This year’s race wasn’t nearly as dark as the one last year. I remember last year not being able to see where I was stepping but that wasn’t an issue this year. I think they had enough temporary lighting set up to eliminate the problem.
It was still dark enough though that I couldn’t read my Garmin, even when I turned on the backlight. I could wear my glasses and see it, of course, but what fun would that be? I’ve been monitoring my heart rate in races for the past few months. When I first started experimenting with it I would raise my heart rate to 166 — about 92% of my Maximum Heart Rate — then try to stay right at that level throughout the race. Over time I’ve begun to fine tune my 5k heart rate, finishing the first mile at about 166 beats per minute (bpm), then building up the second mile to around 168 or 170 bpm, then gradually going up to 172 or 173 bpm for the third mile. Of course, not being able to read my Garmin I had to go by perception instead of actually looking at the numbers, so I was surprised to find that it worked according to plan in the race, with my heart rate averaging 169 in the second mile and 173 in the third mile.
This is a fun race and one of my favorite local races. I’m using the term “local” loosely because it’s about a 40-mile drive but I consider anything within 50 miles or so local since we can get there within an hour. The town of China Grove really gets behind this race with support and it’s a first class event all the way. The word is apparently spreading about what a great race it is, and this year there was a record crowd of 531 finishers as opposed to 390 in 2009.
Before the 5k race begins at 9 p.m., there is a Tot Trot that starts at 8:00 for the toddlers, followed by a half mile fun run for bigger kids. Other pre-race activities include several inflatable bounce houses for kids (I think there were three of them), lots of music, and a free Krispy Kreme donut booth where you can design your own by dipping them in chocolate or add sprinkles or whatever.
The post-race food is some of the best you’ll find at any race including fresh watermelon and cantaloupe, free Pizza Hut pizza, cookies, bagels, bananas, oranges, sports drinks, Cheerwine, and more.
This year’s T-shirts were nice as well — gold colored tech shirts. There were nice trophies for the Overall, Masters, and Grand Masters, and nice custom-made medals for the age group winners as well as gift certificates from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
I still prefer morning races but the change of pace to a nighttime race is nice occasionally, and this is one that I’ll keep on the schedule for next year.
3 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
8 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
10 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
9 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
9 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
7 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
TOTAL – 98
Mile Splits: (1) 6:35 — (2) 6:51 — (3) 6:46
Age Group: 1 of 10
Overall: 52 of 531 (9.8%)