First Race of the Year: the 5th Line 5K

It's February and my start to 2017 running has been slow. My first race was yesterday. I ran the 5th Line 5K in downtown Columbus. It was a Columbus Blue Jackets themed race. We started outside Nationwide Arena, where the NHL team plays, and we finished inside the arena.

Medal in front of the cannonball wall; the Blue Jackets fire a cannon for every goal
This race coincides with the Blue Jackets' All Star Winter Park festivities. I happened to be down that way recently and saw them setting up the tents and rink for the park. The name of the race comes from a popular hashtag #WeAreThe5thLine, meaning that the fans are the 5th offensive line and are behind their team.

Setting up for the Winter Park

On race day, the sun was out, but it was cold. Because of the wind, I decided to wear a jacket. And that jacket makes it easy to see me in the starting line video below. At about 3:07 I'm seen crossing the starting line while zipping up my bright blue jacket, and running next to pacer Beth.

As with many of these shorter races, I didn't have a time goal. I hadn't raced since the Hot Chocolate 15K in November, and I hadn't run much either, as I was busy wrapping up my job in DC and moving myself and the cats to Columbus. So, I just wanted to finish feeling good. I found the 35:00 pacer in the corral and struck up a conversation with her. Beth is a pacer and coach with Fleet Feet's "Marathoners in Training" program. We chatted a little bit about the program and I asked her how I could become a pacer for Columbus races. I'll follow up with the Fleet Feet pace team. Beth said that most races in Columbus, even 5Ks, have pacers. I've usually only seen pacers at marathons and half marathons. Hmm...there could be some new opportunities here...

We started out running out of the Arena District and into the downtown area. We ran across the river, past COSI, and then back across the river. Finally, we headed back north to the arena. The day was beautiful and I was glad I had my jacket for the times we ran into a strong headwind, but eventually I got too hot and had to tie my jacket around my waist. I chose to do walk breaks, so I leap-frogged with Beth, falling behind on my walk breaks and catching up on my run intervals. In the end, I finished at 32:52, which felt good for me on this day, as undertrained as I was.

Setting up the finish line before the race 
The start corral 
Columbus view along the course

So, about the race finishing in the arena... We ran 3 miles outside, and the 3 Mile marker was exactly at the entrance to the arena. As we ran inside the building, the course narrowed to the width of a hallway that snaked around and eventually let us out onto the ice. Running into the building was strange. We got a blast of warm air, which didn't feel great because we were hot and sweaty from running (yes, even on this cold day), but the final .1 of the course was brief. The ice was covered, so there was no threat of slipping and sliding. That would have been a sight.

I took this pic before the race; you can see the course narrowing to enter the doors at  Mile 3

After crossing the finish line there was a mass of runners trying to get to just a few metal detectors, which we had to walk through to get into the stands, then walk up a level to where the medals and refreshments were offered. Lots of spectators and faster runners were sitting in the stands watching as the remaining participants came onto center ice. You could watch them on the Jumbotron.

Mass of people at the finish
We were all waiting to get through this metal detector to get into the stands 
Farewell to pacer Beth (ick...don't I look a little sweaty and overheated)

There wasn't much of an after party, just a warm place to hang out with other runners while drinking a bottle of water and eating fruit snacks and a granola bar. I didn't see anyone I knew, so I grabbed my bag from bag check (I brought my race shirt to exchange for a different size), and headed home.

Medal selfie with finish line and Jumbotron in the background

The finish of the 5th Line 5K reminded me of the Ohio State 4 Miler finish back in October. In that one, we ran into a tunnel to emerge in the stadium for a finish at the 50 yard line. This race was fun and a good one to get out there in the cold February weather. A bonus: with our registration we got a voucher for two tickets to an upcoming home game. I think I'l be redeeming mine to see the Blue Jackets play the New York Rangers next week with my friend Shelly.


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