Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015 Burning Pine 5K Race Recap!

Race shirt on top; burned trees on the left; medal on the right.

On Saturday, Jeff and I, along with Cary, Cristy, Julia, and several hundred other participants, ran the Burning Pine 5K/10K race in Bastrop, Texas, which is located about an hour and a half west of where we live.  We drove in that morning, which meant a 3:50 am wake up time, ouch.  Once we arrived in town, we met up at a park just outside of the state park, where the race was to be held, and then got on a school bus for a little ride to the starting area.
Cristy, mom Cindy, Cary and Julia on the bus.
The fire-damaged trees were all around us, as you can see in this picture, but there were signs of new growth as well.

This race was created as a benefit to provide funding to replace the trees that were lost in the 2011 fire - over 97% of the trees were lost in Bastrop State Park; many homes and businesses in the town were destroyed as well.  It was a devastating fire and we were glad to help contribute to the recovery effort.

Cary, Brian and Cristy ran this race last year (Jeff and I wanted to, but couldn't since I was Organizer of our running club and needed to be with the group), and they said the route had some killer hills.  Based on their descriptions, I decided to sign up for the 5K, even though I knew it meant I'd most likely be running by myself.  I am so glad I went with my gut on this one, because these hills were the steepest I've ever run!  Jeff and the ladies were crazy enough to sign up for the 10K...more power to them, but this was definitely the right decision for me.
The weather felt so good - it was unexpected for this time of year.  There were some nice areas of shade on the course - naturally, there would have been a lot more had most of the trees not burned down, but there you go...that's why we were there in the first place.

The 10K group started 15 minutes before the 5K group, so I was able to get some pictures of them as they ran past Cindy and I:
Jeff was being goofy, running with robot arms.

It wasn't until the 10K runners went by me that I started to get a little nervous about my race - there weren't a lot of runners, and I worried that I'd get lost on the course.  I wasn't familiar with the area, and in my mind, everyone around me would suddenly bolt and I'd be all alone.  Luckily, that was not the case, as a lot more people ran and simply walked the 5K - whew!  Cindy got a shot of me as I started; it was so crowded that I had to maneuver around people just so I could run:
I was practically walking here - a few seconds later, I zipped over to the left and went around this group.

The race started out on a level surface, and since I knew hills were coming, I decided to ignore my run/walk intervals and just run until I needed a break.  I hit the first hill and was still running, trying to do the technique that CC, Loretta and I have been using, but the hill was so steep that it quickly became apparent that I would be walking it.  This part of the course was an out-and-back, so I looked for my crew and soon saw Jeff.  He was on the downhill side, so he was running (although I later learned he ran up this section both ways).  I got to the top and began to run down the hill, but holy moly, it was even steeper going downhill, and I had to slow way down just so I wouldn't fall!  I saw Cary and Cristy walking up at that point, and then I saw Julia walking too, which made me feel better about walking up these hills - they were no joke:
See that sharp drop at the beginning?  That's where I would usually gleefully run downhill, but it was a little too scary!  

I got to the first turn-around, where they had a water station.  Grabbed a cup of water and went on my way - I was able to run a bit, until I came back to that blasted hill again.  I never normally take pictures while I'm running a race, but since I was walking, I took out my camera and got a few shots:
 About halfway can't even see the drop off, that's how dang steep it was!
Looking ahead - still climbing, and still walking.
View to one side, although this was the way it looked everywhere.

I finally got to the top, and told myself that when I reached a certain orange cone in the road just ahead, I'd begin running again.  I didn't know what to expect as far as more hills for the rest of the race, and I was surrounded by people who were just walking, so I could have easily finished the race doing that and not have been alone, but you know what?  I've been running a lot since July, so I figured I probably had it in me to get the rest of the race done in a timely manner, even if I encountered another monster hill.  So I ran.  We'd just passed the one mile marker and soon I was running by the starting area again, where Cindy got a great shot of me:
I love this because I actually look like I'm running (which I am...but with my short stride, I usually look like I'm walking in pictures). 

I ended up doing the rest of the race sometimes sticking to my 2:1 intervals, but sometimes I ran through a walk break.  I probably could have pushed myself even more, but honestly, I didn't know what to expect, so I was a little conservative.  As it turned out, while there were more areas of elevation, the worst of it was in the first mile.  I headed toward the finish and suddenly I was done - my only complaint, and it's a little one, really, is that the finish line wasn't much of anything.  There were flags beyond the finish line, and that's where I thought I needed to run to, but nope - the finish was just before the flags.  I would have kicked it sooner had I known that!  I walked a few feet and was handed a cold bottle of water, a small towel, and a medal, which was nice to get for this race.

Stats:  Finish time - 45:42, average pace 14:29
Mile 1: 14:57 (walked a lot here with the hills)
Mile 2: 14:32
Mile 3: 14:02 (should have pushed it a little more, oh well)

I headed back onto the course to wait for the rest of my crew to finish:
There was one last hill around mile 5.5 of the 10K route that was a bugger, but these guys powered through it for a strong finish!

After the race, we enjoyed some treats, courtesy of the race sponsors:
Donut holes and coffee?  Sure, why not?!  First breakfast, done.

Post race group picture:
 Their tagline was too real, as my glutes were sore after that race!

We waited around to watch the award ceremony - after making Jeff leave the Armadillo Dash earlier this year, when he did win an award, there was no way I was going to leave this one, just in case.  Turns out, he placed 4th in his age group - so close, as they gave away hats to 1st through 3rd finishers.  Oh well.  Since the school bus wasn't at the shuttle area, we ended up walking back to our cars, which was close to a ended up being a nice way to stretch out our muscles at that point.  We drove into downtown Bastrop for breakfast at Maxine's:
Their pancakes - excuse me, griddle cakes - were bigger than the plate!  I didn't have a banana for scale so I used my hand.  Everything was excellent and there was so much food that we all took home leftovers; Jeff and I enjoyed breakfast again on Sunday morning!

This was a fun race, and another great adventure with most of our JFR Crew.  If you live anywhere in the area, I'd recommend running it - the entry fee goes toward a good cause, and the park is really pretty to run in (even with the killer hills).  It's already on our list for next year!


  1. Looks like you had a good time running that race hills and all! Congrats on your race.

  2. What a great race and great cause! You all did awesome!

  3. That race looks great! Honestly, there are very few places to run around here with no hills so I was giggling at your description and the photo of no drop off. Sounds like you had a good time followed by a delicious breakfast - what more could you ask for? (Besides a defined finish line, I guess.)

    1. We did have a good time, and I honestly don't know how much of a runner I would be if I had hills like that on a daily basis - egad, they were steep!

  4. I sure was a fun race, I liked reading about it and looking at the photo's. Even on the photo's you can see those were some serious hills. Great race Shelley.

    1. It's usually hard to show how steep a hill is in a photo, so the fact that you CAN see this one really goes to show that yes, it was crazy hilly!

  5. Terrific race and a great cause! The pics are all great especially the breakfast ones. :))

  6. You are really a great race reporter! I thoroughly enjoy your race reports. And side benefit to me? I've been worried the past two days that I am not doing anything to help recovery efforts. I can't quite make myself leave home for too long. But your report showed me that there will be lots of time in the future for me to make a difference.

    Big pancake = YUMM :)

    1. I've found that once the immediate needs (shelter, water, food) are met, there's plenty of time to assess what else can be done to help people. I have no doubt you'll find some way to contribute to the recovery efforts. The fire still isn't out, right? Plenty of time for help...

  7. Love that shirt "run your ash off" haha! You're not kidding about that steep looking hill/drop off.

    I'm running a 5k this weekend ( a local one) and i'm a bit worried about it.

  8. You killed it with those hills! Nice job!!!!

    And what a great event. Are they going to try to replant a certain amount of the trees?

    Love the run your ash off slogan, lol!

    1. I think it's just an ongoing reforestation, with the race funds helping out.

  9. Remind me --- you're running both the BCS and Houston races again this year, right? (Just curious)

  10. Great job on the hills! We can't really go any direction around here without some sort of hill and we judge where we go on how hard we want to work LOL! I hate how hills in pictures never look as steep as they do in person.

    One thing that always bugged me about races is how people that planned on walking the whole time would start at the front of the pack and create a huge clot of people going slower than those who planned to run the whole thing and it makes it hard to get around them.

    1. Yeah, I should expect clumps of walkers in 5Ks, but I always end up placing myself too far back and get mixed in with them. Would be easier if I started in front, but then I'd get mowed down by the speedy runners, LOL!

  11. That was the first thing I noticed when I signed up for a 5k in my neighborhood - my old neighborhood was flat as a pancake and I never noticed how hilly our area was until I had to run it! Good time with those hills! Mmmmm....pancakes. :D

  12. Great job on the race! Oh my goodness- hills while running... they can be empowering when you make it to the top when you didn't think you could- but they always wear you out! Looks like a fun time. :)

  13. Wow a hilly race, sounds good( for calorie burn) But, it looks you had a good time :)

  14. Great job on the hills! You look great in the "running" picture :)

  15. Looking good!!! I know you said you don't normally take pics during a race but I'm glad you did...Pretty pics!

    Love the pancake pic! There is a place I like to go in Lancaster county PA. The first time I went there I ordered two pancakes and then sat there fuming when the waitress declined my order and said she would order one for me. She didn't tell me why and I was annoyed because I wanted TWO! She brought my ONE pancake on a meat platter and the pancake was STiLL flopping over the edge of the platter it was so huge! Yeah, I couldn't finish my one pancake. :-)

    1. Can you IMAGINE if she actually brought you two? You'd be eating pancakes for days, LOL!


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