We usually like to fit in a couple of 5k races, sometimes 3, every year when we come to Florida and we decided to try a different race this year. Cool Summer Mornings is a staple race for us and Allison’s dad usually comes up with a suggestion for the other. Last year we did Chocolate Sundae 5k, had thought about doing Parkrun, which uses the same route as Cool Summer Mornings but we were recommended to do the Caped Crusaders 5k in Clermont, part of the National Training Center Lace It Up Series instead.
With a 7am start, we left the house at 5.25am to be there before 6am to collect our race numbers and get organised. It’s mostly 5k races that take place during the summer months due to the heat and humidity and there are plenty going on every weekend, which is great news if you’re a runner going on holiday to the USA well, certainly in Florida anyway! The 5k races are usually pretty busy and they encourage walkers to take part as well so that makes it more appealing to get everyone moving. This race started and finished in the grounds of the National Training Centre – a fantastic complex that includes a hospital, Live Well Health Club and Sports Science Lab.
There were around 100 runners taking part including a team of beginners from a local couch to 5k program who were doing their first 5k. After pausing for the national anthem, we were soon underway. The route was more or less a run round the block on pavement, which is much bigger than what we are normally used to in the UK. We came out of the arena, took a right and followed the road network with a nice downhill stretch in the first mile.
As in any race, where there’s a downhill there’s an uphill to follow and vice versa. The organisers had done their best to select the flattest route they could, which in Clermont is a very tricky thing as it’s surrounded by rolling hills! The hills are nothing compared to what I’m used to in Perthshire but a gentle slope is pretty tough in hot and humid conditions and sticks out more as Florida itself is as flat as a pancake. After the initial downhill, we hit a short, steep uphill before another right turn and a flat stretch. After this bit, I was aware that it was just me and two other guys at the front, judging by the shadows on the ground. I don’t tend to look over my shoulder that much when I run so this was an easy way to check.
All was good in the first mile but I started to struggle in the second mile as I didn’t think I had drunk enough water before the race and also the heat and humidity made it feel harder. There was a water station at mile 2 with water in cups and the fact the water was warm suggests how warm it was on the day! Some cold water would’ve been amazing! I had been in the lead from the start mainly as no-one else wanted to lead so I took it on but the other two guys quickly passed me. I was hoping to stay within touching distance but as we reached 2.5 miles, the guy in 2nd was just enough of a distance ahead of me that I wouldn’t be able to catch. That and the steady climb for what felt like eternity made me glad the finish line was close! I did look over my shoulder as I finished the climb and the next runner was a good distance away so it was more of a steady jog to the finish rather than gear up for a sprint.
A prize for 3rd place and a double celebration with Allison finishing 2nd Female made it a great day for both of us. Knowing the course, I’d prepare better for this race if we’re to do this one again next year but that will be a decision for next year. It was a good race although I’d much prefer to do Parkrun next year so I can pack my barcode!