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Valentine’s Day Stoplight 5k 2014

by Daniel Johnston

The Valentine’s Day Stoplight 5k will always be one of my favorite races. After all, it featured more than a 5 minute improvement from my last race just a week prior. More than 5 minutes!

I’ll say more about that in a minute. For now, though, let’s talk about the race itself.

After finishing in 26 minutes at the Hot Chocolate Dash, I decided to start running. One of the best decisions I ever made πŸ™‚ It was like once I started running, even a little bit, there was no stopping!

So I signed up for the Stoplight 5k. I made a nice little green pin to show that I was single. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any female attention πŸ™ Not my own age, at least.

This was a more serious race than others I’d been to, and there were less than a hundred people. I got there early before the race, and got talking with a guy who apparently was friends was a couple of my friends. That’s always cool!

The race itself started and I fell in line next to a couple of speedy ladies. There were looking at their Garmins and throwing around terms like PR and talking about how we were going at a really fast pace, and I figured I should run them, they seemed to know what they were doing.

This proved to be an extremely smart move because they turned out to be the speedy ladies Josse and Ericka, who also happen to be friends with Janae Jacobs of Hungry Runner Girl.Β All of them wrote recaps (Janae’s, Josse’s, and Ericka’s). Ericka’s recap directly mentions me, which is cool, but makes sense because she’s one of the woman I ran with.

I couldn’t believe I was going so fast (remember I just ran a 26 minute 5k only a week prior), but I knew I could speed up a little and so I passed Ericka and another guy. I had some small hopes I had won, but of course not πŸ™ The race was actually won by the same guy who won the Hobbler Half I raced in the summer before. At that race he got 18:17, but at this race he finished in an incredibly fast 14:45! Wow!!! Even the race director couldn’t believe it. “That is FAST!” He exclaimed.

I did, however, finish in 20:45!!!!! I could not believe it! I SHAVED OFF MORE THAN 5 MINUTES OFF MY TIME! I couldn’t help calling my parents and my aunt to share my excitement with them. I just could not believe it. It goes to show that running outside is way more effective than treadmill running.

After the race, Janae’s group was a little worried the race was short because everyone was getting PR’s. Their Garmin showed only 3 miles, not 3.1. The race director said they had measured the course 3 times, though, and my phone showed it had indeed been 3.10. To be honest, though, I didn’t start and stop my phone right at the line, so it probably was more like 2.9. Really, though, it doesn’t matter; .2 miles is not going to make a 5 minute difference.

It was awesome because EVERYONE was getting massive PRs. Even the guy I met before the race finished in 24 and a half minutes, much faster than his previous efforts. I was shocked that 20:45 was only good enough to earn me 12th overall.

There was some nice food after the race, although nothing too special. The organizers were very nice and gave out some cool prizes. I even got a $25 gift certificate to UtahRun! Unfortunately, it ran out before I got the chance to use it.

The organizers were so nice that when I was waiting for my friend to pick me up after the race, they kept asking if I was ok, and at one point even said, “I’m your ride, hop in.” I had to assure him that my friend was on the way and I would indeed be fine!

This race was like entering into a whole new running paradigm for me. It was being introduced to the world of serious runners, and becoming one myself; and a fast one at that! I still feel proud of myself for this race.

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