I ran with Coach Tallent, Lauren, Kelsey, Kasey, Jessika, Robyn, and Amy. I volunteered and paced us through the crowd for the first mile. I was dressed like a highlighter, so it was easy to follow me. Coach was shooting for a PR (or PB for some). We worked the first mile as a group of 4, me, Lauren, Kelsey, and Coach. I was trying to lead at around an 8:15 1st mile for Coach. Kasey got a good line and took off, and Jess got caught in a road block. The Fantastic Four (as I will call us), darted and zipped through any gap that appeared. I'm not sure Coach was always pleased with my path but we were always on schedule. Interval training really helps prep mentally for these crowded races. I like to do both short and long intervals when I train, because of starts like this race where you dash 200 meters, slow for 20 meters to negotiate the crowd, then do it again and again and again.
By the mile marker, things had thinned out enough to run side by side. Lauren and Kelsey took coach through to the 2nd mile marker. I pulled back a little and cruised in a comfortable pace, so I could push the third mile and have a strong finish. It was an uphill finish. I like hills and their challenge-- hence #BlueRidgeMarathon 2012 & 2013. I wanted to make sure I beat the hill, not the other way around. Kasey finished first for our group followed by the Fantastic Four, Jess, Robyn, and Amy. Coach got his PR. Lauren and Kelsey had fun. Jess got valuable experience navigating crowds. Robyn and Amy started their racing season strong.
Benji, Sherri, Kenzie, Jess's Mom cheered us in the race. Spectators at distance races should all be thanked, and volunteers should be thanked. I try to thank everyone I can see or that could hear me. Spectators are awesome. Even if you aren't trying to PR, a "good job" from a spectator really helps lift my spirits. It takes a little of the ache out of the legs, gives back a little wind, and helps me focus a little more. Volunteers are there before I get there to race and clean up after me after I leave a race. It doesn't feel right not thanking them as I race. I'm sure the Anthem 5K got some grief for starting late due to traffic and parking (#Anthem5kFail was pretty popular for a bit on twitter), but overall it was another good 5K. It can be crowded and hard to race, but the camaraderie of runners, staff, and volunteers makes up for a lot of miscues.
Next up in the series is #RodesCityRun10K On March 8th. It was a good race for me last year with a PR (as an adult runner, not even close to my 10K PR when I was 19). I hope to have my Logo shirt by then, so look for Run Across Kentucky and give a holler.