I ran the Lucky Charm 5k March 18 in Harrisburg, PA. It was the first race in a challenge that I issued to myself. I plan to run a series of 5k races to see if I can wake up some long dormant fast-twitch muscle fibers and improve my times. This race is my baseline.
The race had a noon start time (fabulous!), so my husband Bill and I could sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, walk Benji (our dog), and get ready for the 45 minute drive to Harrisburg. Because there is a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Harrisburg after the race, we had to park on City Island, about 3/4 mile away from the race start. We have done many races in Harrisburg, so we had no trouble finding the parking lot. We arrived early, so we could have time to walk across the pedestrian bridge to pick up our packets, walk back to our car to drop off our goodies, shed our warm up clothes, then jog back over to the start of the race.
Our plan worked perfectly. We arrived at the start line on Second Street about 10 minutes before the race started. We were surrounded by people wearing green tutus, green hair ribbons, kilts, sparkly shamrock tattoos and St. Patrick’s Day-themed tights. It was a party atmosphere. I wore the only green-ish running shirt I own, a race shirt from a 50k that I did last fall. The horn blew, and we were off. I have not run a 5k in over 2 years, so I had no idea how to pace myself, but I settled into what I thought was a comfortable pace and followed the crowd.
We first did a little out and back in front of the state capitol building, then ran north on Front St. along the Susquehanna River. The roads were all closed to traffic, which I appreciated, and the course was almost completely flat. We reached a turn around and headed south, then descended to a paved trail beside the river. I felt good, especially since when we were going south, we were going slightly downhill with a tailwind. We came back up a short hill to get to street level and headed for Second Street. For some reason, I thought we had about half a mile to go. I was very pleasantly surprised when I turned onto Second Street and saw that we had only half a block to go!
We collected our very pretty and substantial medals and got some water. The only disappointing aspect of the race was the post race food, which consisted of a small paper cup of Lucky Charms cereal and dry green or rainbow bagels. A tag on our bibs allowed us to get a free beer at a local bar, which we happily took advantage of. I wound up placing first in my age group with a time of 26:35. Bill took second in his age group. Our award was a nice pint glass.
I would definitely recommend this race. It was very well organized, the race director responded quickly to emails, it had a fun, festive atmosphere, and a flat, traffic-free course. You get a very nice medal, a cool gender-specific shirt, and a free beer at the end!
Now that I have a baseline time, I must get to work trying to speed up. My race time was over 3 minutes slower than my time from 2 years ago. I plan to add more hill work and intervals to my training routine. We will see how these legs respond! Next up (tentatively), Turkey Hill Country Classic 5k.