I ran this local charity race for brain cancer in 2019 and participated virtually last year. And in 2021 it was my first in-person race in over a year! I hadn't participated in a race since The House Next Door 5K on March 7, 2020. Even though I'm not running pain-free quite yet, it was super fun to get out and experience the exciting race atmosphere with fellow athletes, cheer on other runners, and cross a finish line once again!
Melissa's Race is put on by Melissa Vosburg, Inc, a charity devoted to supporting brain cancer research through awareness education and fundraising. Last year's event was originally scheduled for April but pushed back, and eventually went virtual with runners encouraged to participate on what would have been Melissa's birthday in September. This year the event was able to proceed in-person, with COVID-19 safety protocols for participants, volunteers, and vendors.
On race day, I was about 10 days out from my second COVID-19 vaccine shot. Small and mid-sized local races have been proceeding for many months now with safety protocols in place, but I felt more comfortable waiting until I was vaccinated before participating. Protocols were similar to what I had understood other events to implement, like runners and volunteers required to wear masks in the start/finish area but could be removed when running; social distancing required at all times; no race-day registration; staggered start times to avoid crowding; number of participants capped at 650 (looks like we had 400 actual finishers out of 471 registered for in-person); water offered in bottles and snacks presented self-serve. At this event, mask wearing was hit-or-miss among participants but in the outdoor setting I felt safe and thought that others were being respectful.
Training & Goals
Following physical therapy in January 2020, my Achilles injury was starting to feel better and I was looking forward to building up my running stamina. As the pandemic began, I was running on my own and seeing improvements. Yay! But in mid-May I started to feel the injury return. I was very wary of catching coronavirus so I postponed getting help for that, and for my aching knees. In my current shape (also having been yo-yo dieting during the entire pandemic and currently carrying more weight than I'd like) I had very low personal expectations for this event. I was going to go with 30/30 run/walk intervals, and hoped to come in under 45 minutes.
Race Day: April 24, 2021
I hadn't picked up my packet prior to race day, so I made sure to arrive in time for that. I managed to shuffle back in time for our group photo. The first runners started at 7:30AM. It was about 66°F with 88% humidity and bright sunny skies when my wave started at 7:40AM.
Mile 1: 12:59
Oh joy, to be in a race again!
Mile 2: 13:19
Mile 3+: 13:56, 1:39*
I went out too fast so I added a few extra walking breaks and had to slow down a bit for each mile. Mile 3 was especially tough. Bummer, but being overweight, under-trained, and out of shape will do that! In the end I was pleased I came in under 42 minutes but I wish it wasn't so hard.
This is a well-organized local race for a very good cause. I hope it will be back as a large event in the coming years. Recommended.
Chip time: 41:46
Placement details: 19/41 in Age Group, 205th overall out of 400 finishers
Race Amenities: Swag included a nice cotton t-shirt, finisher medal, and drawstring backpack
Report written April 25, 2021
Branded photos (c) Almost There Photography