This past May, Coley and I ran the Fifth Third River Bank Run. This race is probably the largest race in Grand Rapids every year and is one of the largest 25K races in the country. According to their website, there are over 21,000 participants in this race, which includes a 25K race, a 25K Relay, a 10K, and a 5K walk and 5K run, as well as a Junior race. If you're a runner in Grand Rapids, the River Bank Run is pretty much a rite of passage. So, since Coley and I had decided after last summer that we were "real runners," our next step was to sign up to participate in our first River Bank Run!
Me: So, what race did you sign up for?
Coworker: Oh, the 25K.
Me: Wow! Really? I'm impressed...
Coworker: Well, I figure I'm already running one half marathon, so what's one more?
Me: Umm... You do realize that a 25K is LONGER than a half marathon, right?
Coworker: WHAT?!?!?! (Insert exclamations I won't repeat in case of small, child-like ears...)
Yeah. In case you don't know a 25K is a 15.5 mile race. As opposed to a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles. Not a HUGE difference, but enough of a difference to matter. :)
Once race time was upon us, Coley and I ended up downtown to pick up our race packets and check out the vendors at the exhibit. Since this is such a large event for the area, the pre-race is almost as big as the race itself! There were several hundred vendors, from local sporting goods and running stores, to physical therapy and massage companies, and other racing events there to promote their own events. We probably spent a couple hours there after picking up our packets, just hanging out, eating free food samples and meeting new people.
Coley and I had decided ahead of time that we had wanted to keep a 10K pace, so we got up near the 10K pacers and set out! I won't lie, I struggled about 1 mile in to the race with some pretty bad side cramps. I had promised myself I wouldn't stop and walk for any part of the race, so I had to slow my pace down to work through it, but I breathed through it and kept on trucking. Coley ended up a little bit further ahead of me because she's a) younger and b) in better shape than I am. Not gonna lie. :)
Towards the end of the race, I caught back up to Coley though and we had decided to finish strong. Earlier in the race, we had been getting passed left and right by people setting out at a quick pace, but coming down to the last mile and a few hills, Coley and I had built up enough stamina and we were able to overcome some of the people who hadn't planned out their race and started fading. Our plan was pretty simple and one we still use when racing: pick the person ahead of you and pass them. Then pick the next one and pass them. Repeat until the race is finished. It works well for us. :)
We pretty much sprinted the last half mile, and although we finished with a slower time than we had hoped for (We both had wanted to finish in under and hour), we were pretty satisfied with how we had done. According to the chip timing, my official time was 1:04:38.29. I finished 2,889th out of 4,191 10K runners, and 1,597 out of 2,553 female 10K runners. Within my age group, I was 354th out of 534 (age group 25 - 29).
The set up at the end of the race was really good. Everything was arranged in a row just past the finish line so it was easy to find. In addition, each racer gets a free drink afterwards, and if you're old enough that drink was a beer. Only problem was that after the race, Coley and I were too cold and it just seemed wrong to be holding a cold beer at 9:30 in the morning when it was only 50 out. And we're pretty serious beer drinkers, so that was saying something!
One thing we did get to do though was to watch the finishers for the 25K. Anyone who runs the River Bank Run 10K or 5K or just goes to watch should make it a point to see the top finishers for the 25K. It was AMAZING! These are some intense athletes from all over the world who come to participate in this race and they are inspiring.
Overall, it was a great experience and Coley and I have already decided that we would like to run the 25K next year. It just feels like the next progression after running a half marathon this fall. Plus, we want to get the really cool medals that they hand out after the 25K. :)
So - May 10, 2014! Watch out! Because I'm coming for you!