On Saturday I ran the North Coast Challenge 5-Miler in Westlake, Ohio. I signed up for this race on a complete whim. As in, I signed up Thursday night around 10 p.m. before online registration closed. I don’t even remember how I stumbled across this race, but somehow the appeal of racing something over 3.1 miles sounded great at the time.
Enter Saturday morning. I went into this race with few expectations. Race logistics were really good for this one. Ample parking, a clean start and a clearly-marked course. Weather-wise it was an armpit outside. It was very humid at race start, giving the air a thick feeling.
North Coast Challenge
Official Time: 1:00:59
Overall Pace: 12:12/mile
Age Group Placing (F 25-29): 17/18
Overall Placing: 406/431 –> People were FAST!
Mile 1 – Like many of my “longer” races, the first mile was mostly a warmup. Despite eating my typical toast with nut butter, along with an Espresso GU just before race start, I felt sluggish and even a bit thirsty. I chugged along.
Mile 2-3 – These were my best miles. Actually around Mile 2.5 I felt really awesome. Like I was going for the gold on this one. We entered into a shaded wooded park and despite the woods (leaving no breeze) I felt really cool. I was already eye-balling 10 or so folks slightly ahead of me with intentions to pass then near the finish.
Mile 3-4 – Things were going great at the North Coast Challenge 5-Miler until we hit Mile 3. Enter gravel and grass. Yes, grass. I don’t run trail races and have run very few road races where there was gravel on the course. I can actually only think of two offhand, both of which were in Indiana. I rolled with the punches here, knowing the turf would probably impact my time a little bit. I still felt on pace to hit a finish around 55-minutes.
Mile 4-5 – Everything went to “you know what” here. My left IT band began to flare up. BAD. I have not run 5-Miles since the Bay Days 5-Miler on July 4th. I’ve had maybe two 4-milers since then and a lot of 2-3 mile runs. Still, I figured I would be fine to handle 5. I was wrong.
The IT band can be so unpredictable, and this was no exception. I tried run/walking, and I even stopped for a brief moment to try and stretch. Nothing was working. The pain was pretty bad. I didn’t have that adrenaline flowing feeling like I did at my first half-marathon. when I also had IT band pain. Instead, all I could think about how crummy this was and how long the last mile seemed.
Soon I realized any hope of coming in under one hour was fading. I was able to sprint at the finish and then sought refuge again in walking (walking never hurts my IT band, only running). An aid station volunteer asked if I was alright. Did I look that bad?
Overall, the North Coast Challenge 5-Miler was a great opportunity to get out there and get moving, which is mostly why I sought this race out very last-minute. I was disappointed by the humidity and my IT band issues but they really had nothing to do with race logistics. As a result of my pain, I took part in my first ever post-race massage. I asked the massage therapist to specifically work my left IT band. OUCH.
Editor’s Note: This race has been renamed “Celebrate Westlake.”