The Potomac River Running’s Birthday Bash 5K celebrated their 11th “birthday” and was held at Fairfax Corner outdoor shopping center where the Heroes vs. Villains 5K was held back in April. Mike and I really liked the paved wide course (we’ve done several trail-style 5Ks in the past) and are always impressed with PR races. This one seemed especially fun with the birthday theme and representation by many brands such as Adidas, Nike and Brooks. We were not disappointed!
We woke up at 5:30 am and were in the car by 6:15 heading out to Fairfax, VA. Matt came along too but didn’t run it. I ate a Picky bar in the car and drank some coffee and water. It’s nice that this race is held in a shopping center because there is plenty of parking! We arrived pretty early for the 8 am start, got a parking spot right by the Start/finish line and picked up our packets. There’s a PR Store in the shopping center and it seemed that most people were picking up their bibs and t-shirts that morning.
The shirt is AWESOME. Although it’s not a running tech tee, it’s Next Level brand so has that super soft broken-in feeling. I had chosen a women’s small when I registered online but it was TEENY. I ended up exchanging for a women’s large. Glad they allowed exchanges!
We used the portapotties and walked around the plaza where reps from Nike, Brooks, etc. were setting up. Luckily we got to the Asics table early – they let you take any one item for free off the table. Mike and I got these cool green Asics shirts!
We warmed up for a bit before getting in the start area a little before 8 am. This race is pretty small – just 500 people. It looked like there were quite a few fast girls around my age so I accepted the fact that I probably wouldn’t place and get a trophy. It actually took some pressure off.
I felt like something seemed off when we started the race. Before we turned onto shopping mall perimeter road, we made many turns I didn’t remember from the previous race on that course – it seemed longer. I then noticed my GPS watch was very off, hitting miles way before the markers. Annoying! After the race, race organizers announced that the course marking was off at the beginning, resulting in an extra 0.3 miles. Not sure if that was due to poor course markings or what – I was just following runners in front of me, not looking for any course markers. Oops! The good news is that the rest of the course was clearly marked with orange cones and lots of volunteers.
I should have brought water. My big regret. It never crossed my mind to bring my small bottle since it was just a 5K. But it was a 5K in July, in Virginia… and it was HOT.
I stopped twice. Crazy. The only race I’ve only ever stopped during was the Richmond Marathon. I kept thinking about how thirsty and hot I felt. The first stop was at a water station about halfway through. I drank about half a cup of water and poured the rest on my head. The other stop was around 2.75. I saw a girl in front of me stop running, and walk, hunched over and holding her head, to a volunteer on the side of the course. I started feeling pretty dizzy and light-headed. I stopped a little ways past where the other girl stopped just to calm my breathing down and steady myself. I’m not sure how long I stopped for – maybe 20-30 seconds. But I was dragging, or felt like I was, for the last stretch. I did keep my pace at a pretty good spot. The heat, hills and lack of shade really made this a tough race.
Usually I am able to dig into the energy reserves and sprint to the finish. Not this time. This is how I felt:
It’s crazy that we run half marathons, but a 5K can still really wipe me out. 5Ks are not easy, especially when you are pushing yourself to go very fast.
Since Mike and I finished fairly quickly, we were able to grab one of the highly-coveted tables in the plaza area. PR did a great job with the whole birthday theme! Post-race snacks included an assortment of cupcakes (full-size – Matt had mine) and bananas, of course. First, I had a sno-cone! Hit the spot.
Brooks was there with an ice cream truck serving up your choice of ice cream treat – awesome! I’d like a mango popsicle after every race, please.
Brooks was holding a raffle and giving out these neat beer koozies!
Mizuno had a photo booth set up (Mike and I got there early and didn’t have to wait in much of a line) and was showcasing their new sneakers, letting people try them out.
Naked juice was giving out samples of their smoothies as well as smoothie/juice-flavored chapsticks – what a cute idea!
Mike got some free kettle korn from Saucony – another delicious post-race snack! We waited in line for free Nike tech PR t-shirts but we were too late spotting them and they ran out before we got one.
While I had 2 Imodium pills to prevent stomach issues, Mike checked out the posted results and saw that we both came in 2nd in our age groups! WHAT. I was SHOCKED. I think I lucked out because the really fast women were either a little older or a little younger than me. We were getting trophies! I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty awesome to get a trophy as an adult.
We were called up on the stage in the plaza to get our award – such a perfect spot for a post-race gathering – and both also got $15 gift certificates to PR Running Stores.
We both spent them on a pair of Balega socks. Mike decided to go for the ultra-lite for his first pair of Balega and I went with my favorite Hidden Contour style.
Overall, we both had a great time at this race besides dealing with the July heat. I guess PR can’t help when their birthday is! PR puts on excellent, high-quality races. The only mistake with this was the incorrect distance and I’m not really sure how that happened. The only other con is that there aren’t many spectators until close to the finish line.
Anyway, some of my favorite things about this race:
+ Price – $30 – not bad for all that you get!
+ Free high-quality race photos posted on flickr literally later on that day – so fast!
+ Awesome post-race “party” with great free food, vendors, raffles and other freebies
+ The shirt! (although they should have included a sizing chart on the registration page )
+ Award ceremony and trophies
+ Family friendly – there was a short sprint for kids after the 5K
+ The cute pin that you get instead of a medal at PR races – great idea!