Every year, Matt volunteers for the Art Fest, a huge festival featuring artists of all kinds from all over the world. He started as a lowly "tent sitter"; his job was to babysit the artists' tents when they needed a lunch break. He's since been promoted a few times, and now he helps the judges behind the scenes.
When Elisa told me that she was going to sign up for the Art Fest's first annual 5k, which would be her first race ever after completing C25k, Matt and I were happy to sign up with her. It meant supporting the arts and supporting a friend.
My expectations for this race were low, but not low enough. My lungs are still really congested and the course went over one of the biggest bridges I've ever run, the Edison Bridge. The elevation rises to 55 feet in just half a mile, and it's pretty formidable even when you're not coughing up a lung. The course map showed us turning around at the top of the bridge, hence only having to run up the bridge once, but this was a cruel lie on the part of the race website.
|I probably misread this map...the turn-around being in the middle of the water led me to believe that was the apex of the bridge, but I was sadly mistaken.|
The race started at 8:15, which was a little late for Florida races, but the cold morning made the late start perfect.
We all met up at the start, then Matt and I moved to a closer starting spot, as was the agreed-upon plan. I told Elisa I'd see her at the finish.
|Downtown Fort Myers is pretty old and the streets are narrow, but the start went very smoothly!|
I started out really strong all things considered, but the first incline on the bridge really did me in. When I got to the turn-around and saw the bridge looming ahead for the second time, I decided to walk.
|Sean volunteered at the race today and got this fun picture of me just as the bridge began. I believe I was in the middle of recognizing him and shouting/waving, "Hey Sean!" haha.|
|Because I walked the second ascent, I was able to get a nice photo of the racers.|
|From the Run to the Arts website; not a shabby view, really.|
I had forgotten to put my inhaler in my pocket and I didn't want to struggle up the bridge a second time and risk an episode. So I walked about 3/4 of the second ascent, and ran the rest of the way in.
|The home stretch. Matt finished in just over 27 minutes and was waiting for me at the end.|
Obviously, my time suffered. This is the slowest 5k I have ever run.
|My time was 33:58 with a pace of 10:57. Definitely not my best.|
But as I was giving myself a hard time, a stranger came up to me and totally changed my perspective. He thanked me for keeping a good pace; he said I was his "rabbit" and I helped him run the 5k much faster than he had expected. I immediately felt better about everything and extremely humbled.
I waited for Elisa about a quarter mile from the finish and we ran it in together. There were tears as she crossed the finish line. Is there anything like finishing your first race?!
Afterward, Matt and I explored the Art Fest for the rest of the morning. I'm glad the Art Fest decided to add a 5k to their usual weekend festivities. It brought 700+ people to the show that otherwise may not have come. And for an inaugural race, it went very smoothly!
|Matt and Sean check for times. Matt finished 5th in his age group and was just a minute behind 3rd!|
|Racers were encouraged to "leave their mark" on these silk paintings.|
|I'm responsible for 50% of the pink in this painting.|
|Matt and Sean discussing...something...as we wander the Art Fest.|
There was a drone flying overhead so I hope there will be some really great photos to share this week. Despite how hard this race was for me, I placed 11 of 26 in my AG; I just can't complain about that.
The first race of 2015 is in the bag, and next weekend's half is looming. I'm not feeling very confident about it, but hopefully I'll at least be able to breathe by then.