A race recap


NAME: Ahoskie Heritage Festival 5K

WHERE: Ahoskie, NC

WHEN: Second to last Saturday in September

COST: $25 on race day/ $10 for kids’ race

COURSE: Asphalt, small inclines, one section (about 100 feet) of trail

RACE SWAG: T-Shirt, hand sanitizer and bottle cozzie

AWARDS: Top award for overall male and overall female. Age group awards broken appropriately into groups of 10 years, except 0-14 and 15-19.

WEBSITE: Ahoskie Heritage Festival

Course description

The race starts at the Vidant Health Center, about two miles from the actual finish line. There is a shuttle available at the finish line that takes you to the start. Or you can part at the start and take the shuttle back after the race’s awards ceremony.

The race is mostly on the road, with a quarter mile on sidewalk. You wind your way through some of Ahoskie’s beautiful tree-lined neighborhoods for about two miles before heading into the town’s recreation complex. Then you run in the complex and eventually run on some of the park’s trail. From the trail, you run down the main road heading to the complex’s amphitheater. Since you’re at the Heritage Festival, you see and smell a lot of fair attractions, such as the food vendors, craft makers and possibly some activities to enjoy after the race.

These aren’t blocked roads, so you have to watch for traffic some. Volunteers are at every turn to tell you where to go. There are water stops at mile one and mile two.

There is babysitting available at the health center, but it ends at 10 a.m. If you rely on the shuttle, you’re screwed, as the shuttle doesn’t leave until after the awards ceremony and the kids’ race.

The kids’ race starts at 10 a.m. and is located near the finish line.

My recap

This was my first race since my February two-day trail race. To be honest, my goal was to not walk at all.

The morning started off cool, but as we’re in the South, it got hot quickly. After helping someone through the first mile of the race, I was confronted with something I’ve seen too often as someone who is trying to get fit. Someone said, maybe not in the exact words, that I don’t belong. So I gave into my side-stitch and speed walked, as I argued with myself. I unfortunately was too much in my head at this point and tried to run, testing out my side, but giving in to the pain. Eventually, I let it go of both the physical and emotional pain, and started running with a slight throbbing in my side. This was my race, I could run how I wanted and cross the finish line on my terms — either triumphant or in defeat letting negativity win.

I attempted to make up time, but I’m not sure if I actually did. The speed walking, while it felt like I was making good progress, cost me a lot. So, I aimed for my next goal, running the rest of the way. I also wanted to break the time of my first race in 2012, 36 minutes and change.

I broke that, coming in at 35 minutes, according to the timer. Sweat was in my eyes. I felt accomplished, but ran over by a truck. Emotionally and physically, I left it all on the course. It was a good feeling.

I brushed aside my feelings enough to finish the race on my terms. And I’m happy with that. The other things I experienced on the course were things to learn from and bury with the dead.

Our family ended up running back to the start, as we didn’t know about the shuttles running so late. We had to get to the Mountain Boys before the end of babysitting. Eventually, one of the race volunteers gave us a ride in the back of his truck. The breeze felt great.

The volunteers at the race were awesome. They were friendly and some were dancing at the water stations, cheering us on.

Ahoskie is a pretty town. It was a fun place to explore. I hope to run there again soon.

Lessons from the race

  • It gets hot quickly in the South. Hydrate for several days before the race to help compensate for what you’ll lose in sweat.
  • Enjoy the scenery and company you keep. The race is supposed to be fun and a challenge.
  • Just run. Keep out of your head. Running is a time to put worries, fears, opinions away for a while.
  • Cold water down a shirt is a good thing. I kept cool by dumping water on myself at the water stops.
  • Always check the shuttle schedule for a race. This is especially true in circumstances in which you have to leave a race early.