The Ridgewood Turkey Trot feels like ages ago, so Mike and I have been anxious to run another short race before some longer races this spring. Through fellow run clubbers we heard good things about the Run for Roses 5K, hosted by the North Carolina Roadrunners Club (NCRC) and one of the oldest races in the Raleigh area. At only $25 (or $20 or $30 depending on date of registration), the race registration is very reasonable and supports charities including Canines for Service and Team Red, White and Blue NC.
We picked up our packets the day before the race, on a Saturday afternoon (2-6 pm), at the New Balance store in Raleigh. The packet pickup tables were well staffed with friendly NCRC volunteers. We got our bibs (with pretty retro looking foam timing chips on the back), coupons for free coffee and bagels at Bruegger’s Bagels and our long-sleeve tech shirts. I had requested size small of the unisex shirt but realized it was too big once I got home. Later, talking to some other runners, I learned some other girls got large youth sizes and pushed up the shorter sleeves. It would be great if NCRC could have both male and female shirt options. Other than the sizing issue, the tech shirt and design are great.
So a strange thing about this race is that it starts at 2 pm! I’d never heard of a race starting that late in the day. Since I have to be very careful about my diet before running and prefer running in the morning with not much in my stomach, I was pretty nervous about potential stomach issues during and after the race. I had two eggs and half of a bagel at 10 am followed by a Picky Bar at noon. We arrived at Dorothea Dix Campus/future park in Raleigh at 1 pm, an hour early, since we didn’t know what to expect and wanted a parking spot close to the start/finish. We had no problem getting a good parking spot. Volunteers helped direct cars arriving onto the campus. Dorothea Dix used to house NC’s first psychiatric hospital and now the buildings sit empty among the beautiful park space.
The weather was gorgeous and abnormally warm – about 70 degrees! It felt great to just wear a t-shirt and shorts! We wandered around to explore, use the bathroom and find the start line. It’s a fairly small race with about 850 runners so everything – food, drinks, bathroom, great dj, start/finish line – was all in the same area. We did a short warm up run, stretched out and then found some fellow Blue Run Club runners. Since it’s not a huge race, there aren’t corrals so you just line up wherever. I wish there was a speaker near the start/finish so we could hear the DJ while waiting for the race to start.
And all of a sudden we were off! Since we were pretty close to the front, we didn’t have problem settling into our pace right away. The course is on a wide paved road around the campus so we had plenty of room to spread out. The course is set up with an out-and-back part and then a loop part. About around mile one, after a turnaround, we shared the road with runners heading the opposite direction, but had the road to ourselves again at about mile 1.5 for the loop portion. We had heard the course was pretty hilly but saw on the website, noted in bold italics letters, that last year’s course had been updated with the largest hill avoided. Since we’ve been running around Raleigh for a few months, we’re more used to hills than we were in November when we ran the Ridgewood Turkey Trot.
Mile 1 of 5Ks is always tough for me. Even though we did a warm-up jog, it’s still tough to get going so fast so quickly. I immediately regretted not chewing gum. I haven’t been doing this as often as I used to (basically for every run and race), but with the very dry air, my mouth felt instantly dry. Minty gum also helps subside any nausea feelings which sometimes happens to me during 5Ks. At least I brought my small Nathan water bottle! Mile one felt surprisingly flat-ish. I couldn’t believe I ran 6:39 for the first mile! Could I keep this up, at least below 7:00/mile? At mile 2, I felt pretty close to the finish and still enjoying the flat-ish course, wondering if I’d be in for a rude awakening at mile 3. Yes. Mile 3 was rough – all uphill. At least we got beautiful views of the Raleigh skyline from our hilltop location. The photos from Carolina Snapshot Sports Photography came out pretty cool at this part during the race, with the skyline in the background. I honestly almost stopped during mile 3 several times. My legs felt so heavy; I felt like I was barely moving up the hill but felt good that people weren’t passing me. I had all those typical 5K thoughts run through my head (I prefer longer races) during mile 3: “Why do I do this to myself? This will be my last 5K. This is not how I want to spend my Sunday afternoon. Focus on the finish. I need to stop. No, don’t stop. Just for a second. No. Keep legs moving. Take a drink of water. Focus on song lyrics. You’re doing great. Maybe I’ll just stop to catch my breath a bit so I can finish strong. No keep moving, slow down if you have to. No don’t slow down, push hard to the end.” Of course, all these thoughts disappear after I cross the finish line and I think about the next 5/8/10K planned.
There were big crowds near the finish line supporting and cheering on the runners. That helps so much! Also, there were many friendly and supportive NCRC volunteers along the entire course. The uphill leveled off as we approached the finish line. Usually I can do a big push with my energy reserves near the finish, but for this race, I was depleted of my energy and just wanted to get across the finish line. All female runners receive a rose upon finishing. I saw Mike immediately and some super fast Blue Run Clubbers who had already finished. I grabbed a water and bagel and sat down for awhile, hoping I wouldn’t have any stomach issues. The bagels at both our NC races so far have been excellent – Bruegger’s for this race and for the Ridgewood Turkey Trot. It’s nice not to have the typical hard, bland bagel. This race had many different types of bagels cut up in quarters, bananas, bars, sports drinks and water.
The kids fun run was at 3 pm followed by raffles at 3:15. Most of the races we’ve run have the kids runs prior to the main race but this seemed to work out fine, as well, just leading to more time hanging out after the race. Very family friendly and community-focused, the Run for Roses 5K offers face painting for kids throughout the event along with the fun run. We hung around with the Blue Run Club through the raffles to hear the winners announced afterwards. Many people had already left by that time. Race results were posted in the nearby gymnasium just prior to the announcements. Mike got 3rd in his age group and I got 2nd place in my age group for 22:02, behind another Blue Run Club member. We received gift cards to the New Balance store.
– price of race entry
– lots of NCRC volunteers – smoothly run race
– good post-race food
– long-sleeve tech shirt
– difficult course (pros and cons to this – probably won’t PR on this course)
– 2 pm start (personal preference – I prefer early AM races)
– t-shirt sizing (wish there were women’s sizes)
After the race, we went with some Blue Run Club members to Boylan Bridge Brewpub to enjoy the rest of the beautiful and warm day. Fried pickle chips and beer hit the spot!