Sola Hot Mini 5K Race Recap

Free mini doughnuts! A big draw for the Sola Hot Mini 5K. You might be wondering what I was thinking. Seven months pregnant and registered for a 5K.

What I’ve learned over the past 7 months is that things can change weekly, even daily, and it’s important to be flexible and adaptable. Being a planner, this isn’t the easiest thing for me to do. I have to listen to my body first and foremost. So that was my plan with the 5K. I haven’t run in two weeks, with the last run being a 6 mile run/walk. Since then I’ve stuck to walking. I even have some “off” days for walking!

I signed up for it knowing that I could always walk it and was 100 percent fine with that option. I went in with no real expectations. Walking 3.1 could still be challenging and would be a great workout.

Mike and I decided to sign up for this race partly because we love Sola Coffeehouse in North Raleigh. I did think of that latte at the finish line several times during the race. It was also reasonably priced at $28 with a percentage of the proceeds going to the United States Military Veterans Foundation (at the race, we found out $4,000 was raised!). This race is part of the Second Empire Series (we ran Run for the Roses 5K last year) – a series of small, well-run races.

I was excited to be back in the race atmosphere, even if I wasn’t racing, and having it on the calendar was motivating, encouraging me to get out for a run or, if not, a walk. Our March races really feel like the kick-off to spring. There’s something magical about the energy and the camaraderie and feeling so accomplished by 9 am!

Packet pick-up:
What a breeze! I was the first one at Sola on Thursday evening at 5 pm. You could pick up your packet Thursday evening or Saturday morning. If I didn’t work close to Sola, I’d probably opt for Saturday morning since the race is pretty small and packet pick-up would be fast.

The shirt’s fantastic – a Gildan soft style tee with a simple design. It’s nice to have a soft tee for a change, versus tech-style.

A bit snug now - but great shirt!

A bit snug now – but great shirt!

Each of our bags also came with a voucher for a dozen of Sola’s famous “hot mini” doughnuts. We later found out you can redeem it beginning the Monday after the race, not immediately after the race, which was not clear on the voucher.
We got our bibs with the separate timing chip that you tie onto your laces.
One great thing about knowing I wouldn’t be racing the 5K the next day is that I avoided the pre-race jitters and didn’t have to worry about my diet the day before. Usually I avoid certain foods (like dairy) and up intake of carbs and salt (I still had a bagel sandwich for breakfast on Friday).
Ice cream the night before a race - this is a first!

Ice cream the night before a race – this is a first!

Race Day:
Another first, waking up 90 mins before the start of the race – cutting it close! Even though I wasn’t racing, I still woke up excited! It was hard to disconnect my mind from its usual pre-race feelings and remind myself this was going to be different. I’m usually pretty OCD about what time I eat and drink pre-race. This time, I enjoyed some banana bread and a Picky Bar while Mike stuck to a bagel.
Pinning a bib on a somewhat large stomach is a bit tricky – it took me a little while to get the placement right. (More to come in a future post on the body pillow in the background).
We left our house at 7:50 for an 8:30 race! I was pretty anxious. Would we have enough time to use the portapotties? I couldn’t help my usual pre-race feelings from surfacing.
We got to Sola a little after 8 am and parked in the parking lot. Sola’s in a shopping center complex so I popped into Food Lion to use their super-clean bathrooms — nice!

There was still a buzz and energy even though there were only 300ish participants. We ran into some friends from a run club, caught up and then lined up at about 8:28! Small races can be so nice! There weren’t any corrals because of the small size.

Great and unexpected oompah style music before and after the race

Great and unexpected oompah style music before and after the race

My plan was to walk the beginning and then run down the first hill soon after the start. But then, there was no way I could walk across the start line! So I ran the loop around the shopping center parking lot, slowly, and then down the big hill.
Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 12.02.47 PM
Mike had put together an elevation map of the course through On the Go map, a website he just discovered. I’m so glad he did this so that we were able to mentally prepare and plan for the course! That last uphill before the finish was a killer – glad I knew it was coming!

I walked at a brisk pace up the hills and then ran the downhills since I was feeling pretty good, while continuing to “check in” with myself. It reminded me of marathon training – you have to be so in tune with your body. It was relaxing to run/walk with no pressure – no reason to look at my watch (although of course I did), walking if I felt like it, running if I felt like it. Many other people were doing what I was doing – walking up the hills and running down the hills. There were some small groups of friends and family members were were chatting during the 5K, encouraging each other along. I love the race atmosphere, having so many people around you. The energy is infectious.

I think the baby prefers morning workouts because he really cooperated minus one time around mile two when he decided to push my side. I stopped and walked until the feeling went away. So I think the hills actually worked in my favor. Running down hills felt fine! It would have been really rough to run up those hills. This course reminded me of the Ridgewood Turkey Trot course – residential and VERY hilly!

Despite such a residential course, the crowd support was pretty great! Many people came out and sat on their lawns or porches to watch, cheering the runners along and even playing music. There was one water stop around mile two. There were also many volunteers along the course, monitoring traffic and also cheering along the runners!

Mile two was when I started to feel the bladder pressure – something I’d been most worried about. I just told myself I only had one mile to go and that it was just in my head. That helped to some extent. There are no portapotties along the course or opportunities to use bathrooms in businesses, since the course is all through neighborhoods.

The last uphill - STEEP and long

The last uphill – STEEP and long

The sun came out right before I got to the big hill, which most people seemed to be walking up. I was grateful for an overcast morning besides the last hill; the sun was hot! I saw Mike as I crested the hill and started up my run again for the last 0.1 mile. šŸ™‚ It was so much fun to cross the finish line! Even though I ran/walked, that feeling of crossing the finish line is still the same – such an accomplishment!
You can see how my pace corresponds with the elevation

You can see how my pace corresponds with the elevation

Finish Line:
Immediately after crossing the finish line, volunteers asked for our timing chip, trading us for a raffle ticket. After the awards ceremony, about five prizes donated by local businesses were raffled off (Gladiator Boot Camp, Hair Salon Gift Card, Fitness Connection membership, Gonza Tacos gift card, Sawmill taphouse gift card). The raffle helped keep people around for the awards ceremony which seemed a bit late.


There was cold chocolate milk, Sola coffee, chocolate pastries and a variety of cut-up fruit at the finish line. We hung out at the finish and ran into some of my co-workers. This race feels very community-focused and very family friendly. There were quite a few stroller runners, children running and also families waiting at the finish. It’s hard to believe we might be running this next year with a BOB running stroller.

Mike’s training paid off as he came in fourth in his age group (30-39 – this race does 10 year rather than 5 year) with a time of 21:56! I came in 20th with a time of 33:50. My watch showed a pace of 10:30 min/mile for 3.22 miles while the official pace was 11:06 over 3.1 miles.

It was so nice to hang out outside Sola with lattes and some mini doughnuts (we bought six powdered sugar). What a great location for a race!
After running a few errands, we were ready for lunch. Taking advantage of the beautiful day, we ate outside Person Street Pharmacy, recently under new ownership with a revamped menu. We had cream colas and sandwiches (griddled haloumi cheese for me) outside.

Cream cola at Person Street Pharmacy

Cream cola at Person Street Pharmacy

Griddled haloumi cheese sandwich - the saltiness post-run hit the spot!

Griddled haloumi cheese sandwich – the saltiness post-run hit the spot!



  1. David K · · Reply

    Really interesting blog about the race. Your time for walking/running was about the same as mine for running!

    1. Haha well the downhills helped a lot! And you’d be amazed at how your walking pace picks up when people around you are running! Thanks!

  2. This is awesome! I work over at the Chick-fil-A Falls Village and we are hosting a race this Saturday!! If you aren’t busy would you be interested in joining us?? Please email me at and we can chat more there. Thank you!!

  3. […] up relaxed on race day morning! This is probably only the second time that has happened (along with last week’s 5K). I rolled out of bed at about 6:45 am, changed, ate a Picky bar, drank a glass of water and was […]

  4. […] you might remember last spring Mike and I ran the Sola Hot Mini 5K – awesome race! Unfortunately we’ll be out of town this year for it. BUT we will be […]

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