Placement: 1st in the 50 - 54, 47th overall
Race Website: Here
Weather: Mid 60's with slight breeze from the south.
Course Map / Garmin Route: Here
Previous Years:   
|Fast start. Right where I want to be thanks to the downhill
|Let off the gas a bit. A little uphill here but mostly flat.
|Grind uphill. False summit. Hard running here.
|Total Miles: 3.09 - 24:32
One of my summer traditions is doing the Roy Days Royal Challenge 5K race. It is paired with a kids race and a 2-mile walk. The race also coincides with the city's festival, Roy Days. So the event is kind of a big deal and lots of alumni from the high school show up to run the race.
The race is run by the local high school running team / coach. Having done the race a few times now, it is a well oiled machine and the race always comes in on my Garmin as a 5K. The race is really competitive for the younger crowd and it is bargain priced, making it an easy decision for something to do on a Saturday morning.
|The start line
The race starts at 7 AM and I got there around 6:15 to pickup my bib. It was easy but unfortunately they were out of my size of shirts. I really like their shirts as they have the polyester sport brand that are great for running. Supposedly they'll be mailed out next week.
I did about a mile warm-up and a lot of drills. It was pretty warm and I kept the warm-up pretty modest. There were only two restrooms for the entire race, so I took advantage of them early and often.
The race started a few minutes late due to announcements, but it wasn't a big deal. The race doesn't have a chip timed start (but it does have a chip time finish) so I was near the front when the starter's gun went off.
The first mile on this 5K is fast with a net downhill start. It isn't a massive downhill but it definitely is a confidence booster.
I was quickly swallowed up by the younger crowd. I had surveyed some of the competition that I suspected were in my age group, but the over 50 crowd was definitely thin.
A lot of memories hit me as I cruised through the first mile. I've run this race now 4 times and I can remember many of my visits to Roy. The first mile goes through an older part of town and races along a school. It isn't a glamorous part of town, but it is quaint and I love running through neighborhoods for a 5K.
I didn't really pay attention to my watch for the first mile, must running by feel. I know that the first mile of a 5K is always the easiest and I am usually running faster than I expect. I hit mile one in 7:30.
Mile 2 -- the race became more "real". We exited the neighborhood and onto a park lined street. It is flat here and I knew from previous that this mile was mostly flat. I pretty much disregarded my watch and again ran to feel -- pushing when I can and passing by a few runners. I didn't see anyone my age but had guessed that at this point I was in whatever place I was going to get for my age group.
The latter half of mile 2 had a bit of a hill that took the starch out of my pace. And I knew it was going to get even hillier. I was heading my pace on mile 2 in preparation for the final mile. I hit mile 2 right at the mile marker in 7:55, decent, but I felt like I had run it faster.
|You can see the hill that the final mile comprises
I was really determined on the final mile. I knew it was going to be the hardest. I was hurting but I wanted a good time. My best time on this course is 24:13 and I felt completely capable of breaking that time.
The final mile is uphill and it starts off gradually. You can see the hill in the distance and a pair of traffic lights sitting at the top. And I couldn't remember for the life of me how much further after the top of the hill that the race ended. I did know that the race would come in at around 3.10 miles.
It was also at this point that we got mixed in with the 2 mile walkers. So the race route up the main street was a little more crowded. There was some crowd support people as a few people had set up camp for the forthcoming parade.
Occasionally I glanced at my watch and saw some embarrassingly slow paces. I had to give myself credit though -- this was the worst patch of the race. It also isn't terribly scenic running by gas stations, 7-11's, and banks.
Finally, upon summiting the hill, I had a much shorter, less steep second hill. I could see the flashing lights and hear the announcer's voice. I was breathing hard and at this point I am questioning whether I am going to have a heart attack or not.
The finish line sort of snuck up on me. It seemed like seconds after my watch beeped 3 miles but I gave everything I had in the final stretch to pass a few people. I was expecting to see a very low 24 minutes upon crossing the finish line but I saw 24:30 - 24:31... what? But I cruised through and looked at my watch for confirmation... 24:32.
|Pretty happy at the end of the race.
So I had set up my goal pre-race with a finishing time of around 24-flat. I think I would've been happy with anything in and around 24:10. I had missed my goal by around 23 seconds.
I managed to snag a bottle of Gatorade and cooled off a bit before circling back onto the final mile to get some photos of the final stretch and finish line. I also stuck around long enough to get my finisher's card -- I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had finished first in my age group. Score!
|Age group award
It took a while to get the awards sorted out but once they got them going it was quick. They also had an epic raffle drawing with some incredible prizes. I think I have yet to win a prize but they were giving away new shoes, $150 gift certificates and restaurant offers. Post race awards included a medal and a free pick of a t-shirt or hat (see below).
So, I wasn't super upset with my time. The course is a tough one, with a fast start and a painful finish. I just felt like I was in better shape to get a course personal best.
The race was $25 and you got a shirt, a finisher's ribbon, professionally timed, a shot at awards, an awesome raffle (for the winners). Post race refreshments included water, Gatorade, granola bars and bananas.
I really enjoy this race. It is a bit of a drive for me (about 45 minutes one way). But I like the community vibe and it brings back memories of my early days of running when most of the races I ran were community-based 5Ks. I plan on being back next year.
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