Race Recap: DAV 5K, running with motorcycles, no raking required

Posted: 11/20/2013 in 5k, Race Recaps
Tags: ,

Inaugural run.  When I see those two words attached to a run, mulling is required. A lifted-eyebrow look at who is putting on the race and what they plan to do with it. And then usually, unless there is something that really reaches out and grabs me, I decide against it. I’ve done inaugural runs before – and to put it kindly, in my experience, it’s better to wait until year 2 for a run. Let them work out the kinks in planning and set up on someone else’s run/body.

But then – when two different sets of completely unrelated people mention to you that they’re going to do it , there’s some buzz, a little incentive to showing up in the form of saying ‘hi’ to friends you don’t see often – your trainer is doing it – and it’s ONLY a 5k so it won’t last that long if it’s screwed up.  OH – and it’s for a REALLY GOOD CAUSE that is near and dear to my heart – supporting our country’s veterans in any ways needed.

You shut the mulling up and register.

This was the case with the DAV 5K, which I ran on Nov 9th.  I had never heard of that run, but in the space of two days I had a couple mention it over dinner and my trainer mentioned it at Sunday morning workout.  I checked out the website, started seeing it pop up on Twitter and got my registration done. I hadn’t set up anything formal to connect with the friends I was hoping to see, Eric elected to sleep in, and so I was going solo for the whole thing.

The day dawned chilly but beautiful weather-wise.  There was an early packet pickup, so I was able to leave for the run a little later (another run around the ballpark area of Downtown) and got there with about 10 mins to spare on stretching. Then we were off! 

Walkers and runners were heavily mixed in the lineup – so I started out with a lot of bobbing and weaving through the crowd. At run’s end, my Garmin had me at 3.22 – so another 0.12 miles of running sideways around people.  But I started off at a pretty good clip and while I wasn’t on my way to hitting the goal I wanted, I was on track to setting a pace PR – though I felt like I was moving a little slower than the numbers show.  There were soldiers in uniforms with full packs and flags running through the crowd – a thing which I found really inspiring. If they can run with 30-40 lbs of gear on their back, why the heck am I slowing down?! 

I skipped the first water stop as I’ve been trying NOT to stop for water in 5k’s. A solid quality run seemed like it was in the bag.

The second water stop was where I noticed something really interesting – because I did decide to grab a swig at this one since my legs were still feeling heavy. Ya know how when you finish your swig, you dump and then throw the cup – and there is some nice volunteer there to take care of that blatant littering for you – USUALLY? Well, I took my swig, I dumped the excess, I looked for the spot where people were throwing and…

Then I looked for the spot where people were throwing their cups again and…

NO ONE WAS THROWING. There were 2 garbage cans just past the water stop and EVERY SINGLE PERSON was handling their own trash. The volunteer with the cup rake was standing there with nothing to do and a look of disbelief on her face.  She’d expected a mess and didn’t seem to be getting one. Seriously folks – in 6 years of racing – I have NEVER been on a course where everyone fielded their own trash.  Some are cleaner than others, but there’s always trash. I don’t know what it looked like before I got there and I don’t know what it looked like after I passed by – but this was the cleanest water stop I have ever seen in my life! I would like to think it was out of respect for the cause for which we were all running. I probably should’ve expected that a run organized by military-minded people would be clean and efficient.

And then there were motorcycles.  Yes, motorcycles.

As part of the DAV 5k, there was a motorcycle rally that started just before the run. The motorcycles were going to ride the course, kind of like a biker parade of sorts since a lot of vets are riders and since one of the sponsors was Harley-Davidson. I missed the takeoff in favor of staying warm at home for a few extra minutes.

In the home stretch of the last ¾ to half-mile, there were the riders. The bikes were parked to line one side of the course and in front of them – I kid you not – were what had to be a couple hundred motorcycle riders in all their black leather and gear – standing as close to each other as they could in a line – with HUGE smiles and HIGH-FIVING runners as we all passed.  Spanning a distance of about a quarter mile.  You know I went and got my high-fives on from almost that entire line of leather! Oh – to have my camera for that – I wish, I wish. (But I don’t run with it.)

Unfortunately, I was so inspired by the high-fiving that I picked up speed as I went down the line and ended up winding myself. My Garmin says I was at a 7:48 pace (!!!) for that section of run. When you’re regularly a 10:30-ish – that’s not good. Ooops.  So I needed to walk to get my breath back and watched my pace PR disappear. You’d think the sprint would make up the time for the recovery, but a sprint goes by much faster than a recovery. Meh. So what. The high-fiving was too cool for me to care. I’m a sucker for a high-five.  The finish was nicely lined with cheering spectators – and after I finished, I doubled back to cheer people in – specifically 3 guys with packs, gear & flags who I knew were not far behind me – and ended up connecting with 2 friends I didn’t know were going to be there. BONUS!

Official finish time put me at around 10:40 pace – with the added in 0.12, Garmin has me at 2-seconds over my pace PR average. But as we all know – what’s on the Garmin ain’t what’s in the history books.

Again, everything around the finish area was immaculately clean and well-organized. There were nice tents and things of interest to vets set up. My friends and I grabbed a cup of coffee – they had big cups, not the tiny ones (THANK YOU!) and headed over towards one of the rendezvous points that they had for each of the different military branches – which was where I’d parked. As we were walking, there were still people finishing – including several significantly older vets who could barely walk without assistance but were doing the walk.  I started cheering for them, though in retrospect, I wish I’d crossed back over the line and walked in again with them.  They deserve that. Then homeward bound.

REALLY IMPRESSED WITH THIS RACE! If this was their first year, then you know it’s only going to keep getting better as far as participation and offerings. I will note that also for first year races – participation tends to be low in general – usually less than 500 participants (and that’s being generous) unless there is some wacky theme to draw people in. This race had more than 2,000 participants in it’s inaugural run.  It will definitely be on my to-do list next year!

Some things I would change – and it’s a really short list –

1. I would improve the sound system for announcements. I ALWAYS get a little patriotically misty-eye inspired at the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, but I barely heard it before the run. I think – especially for a veteran oriented run, hearing this loud & proud was important. I was mortified to pick up on it being sung in the last 3-4 lines and realize (1) it was being sung, (2) I was missing it, and (3) I still had my hat on as did most around me because no one could hear it. 

2. I would separate out the run start and the walk start times. Getting out of the gate with all the walkers that seeded themselves up front was a little frustrating.  Even 5 minutes between the two would make a difference.

Thanks for a great run experience DAV 5k! See ya next year!

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. We’ll be sure that the race director gets your feedback!


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