Monday, May 7, 2012

A weekend with Playmakers

Playmakers is our local running store, and they host most of the area's running events (at least most of the ones I participate in). This year is the 11th year in which they've hosted a local race series. If you compete in 7 out of the 13 races you get a long-sleeved tech shirt. I decided, after talking about it for several years, that this year is the year for me to complete at least 7 races in the race series. I started on Friday night at the Mason State Bank 5k in Mason, MI.

The Ingham County Courthouse and Playmakers flag.

Mason is the county seat of Ingham County (where Lansing is located). I've only been there a couple of times in the six years I've lived here - mainly to visit the cool antique stores in town. The race was on a Friday night, which was somewhat unusual, but we headed out after work to downtown Mason.

Downtown Mason has tons of cute shops and restaurants. Lansing has lots of eateries (mostly catering to the legislative/state employee lunch crowd), but very little retail. I was surprised at the significant amount of retail in Mason. There were a number of great stores in the downtown. The most impressive is Kean's, a charming store (also a Hallmark) that's been downtown Mason since 1928. We looked around inside Kean's before the race - such a great place.

Shops in downtown Mason

Friday was a warm and muggy day, so the race was sure to be an interesting one. I have a goal of breaking a 25 minute 5k this summer (my PR is 26 minutes on the dot) but I generally run around 28 minute 5ks. Being in the middle of marathon training, I was hoping to run somewhere between 27 and 28 minutes.
Before the race started

All smiles at the start
The course ran a loop through cute neighborhoods in Mason before heading back toward the start downtown. I am generally a relaxed 5k runner, but I started hard and kept going hard after running 8:20 miles the first two miles (that's VERY fast for me).

The finish was up a short hill back in front of the courthouse. I was very focused knowing that I had a good time (for me). I crossed the finish line at 26:33. That's 8:33 miles - which for me is very fast. With some solid speed work I should be able to shave a minute and a half off my time this summer.

Totally focused.

And done.
I was really excited with my time. As usual Playmakers did a fantastic job organizing the race. I picked up my packet before the race, and all of the volunteers were knowledgeable and friendly. Everything about the race seemed to go effortlessly.  This is why I love doing races sponsored by Playmakers.

Of course there were clowns.
On Saturday morning I headed out to attend a Playmakers group 20-mile run to finish my last long run of marathon training. I should already be tapering, but some health issues have been messing with my ability to get all the long runs in. 

We met at Hawk Island Park in Lansing. There were tons of people there from all ages and fitness levels who were running various distances. Because I'm not a member of Team Playmakers I had to fill out a form with my contact information and emergency information. I'm sure this was a relief to my husband who is always worried about my safety on long runs.

The run was as organized as an actual race. There were markers at each mile (along with inspirational quotes - I loved that), aid stations, and the company of lots of other runners along the route. Playmakers has a running team that gets together regularly, and many of the runners clearly knew each other. I realized then that I'm definitely joining Team Playmakers. I can't believe it's taken me so long.

My muscles are still sore and achy from the 5k/long run combination, but I'm feeling confident and ready for 26.2 in a few weeks. I am grateful to Playmakers for (without their even knowing) playing a huge role in motivating me for that last run. On to Green Bay!

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