I waited exactly one week before I ran my first post-marathon race. Ha! First, this is a huge improvement over my marathon debut in 2015. After my first marathon, I couldn’t walk, I had a toenail that was squishy and likely to fall off (though it would be months before it actually came unattached from my toe), and I was essentially chewed up and spit out. To say my recovery has gone well after the Marine Corps Marathon would be an enormous understatement.
Second, I had no real plans to run any miles at all except maybe 3 or 4 miles after a week of complete rest post-marathon. I ran four miles on Friday with my friend, Carole, and then decided to sign up for the Autumn Leaves 5-Miler in Kirtland, Ohio on a whim. All felt well, and I was itching to run again. Plus I knew a ton of people that would be there (Carole and Sara included) and it was a cross-country style course. I knew I had to give it a go.
Third, I want to shout out to my friend, Carole. I don’t know if she reads my blog but she was one of the races’ biggest supporters on Sunday and one of the loudest spectators cheering me in. Due to injury and a big race coming up she was unable to run on Sunday. Please send her healing vibes and well wishes!
Autumn Leaves 5-Miler Review
My review of the Autumn Leaves 5-Miler is based on the following criteria: parking, swag, crowd support, course, and post-race party/atmosphere.
The Autumn Leaves 5-Miler is held at Farmpark in Kirtland, Ohio. There’s a huge parking lot and it’s a relatively small race, so parking really isn’t much of an issue. I pulled in, found a spot feet from the starting line, and was good to go!
The swag for this race is awesome — it’s a long sleeve t-shirt hoodie. Win-win! Plus this year it’s navy blue which just so happens to be one of my favorite colors.
There was a surprising amount of crowd support. It wasn’t through the entire course but for the parts that went through the main area of Farmpark, there was a nice crowd gathered to cheer on runners.
The course was challenging. I had been told by three separate people, in fact, that it was challenging. And they were absolutely right. Cow pastures (complete with pies), a corn maze, gravel roads, paved roads — varied terrain and something for everyone!
The post-race is where it’s at for the Autumn Leaves 5-Miler. Hot soup, smoothies, muffins, popcorn, hot chocolate, coffee — it was the best post-race food ever. Plus there are door prizes after the race prizes are given out. Tons of fun. Plus mingling with my running pals and seeing old friends (and new!) is always a blast.
Autumn Leaves 5-Miler Recap
My recap will be short and sweet. I already established the course was challenging. It was one of the reasons I was hemming and hawing about signing up in the first place. I wasn’t sure my body was ready after a marathon. I knew the course would be like my cross-country days (which I loathed, by the way) and I was concerned my recovering body wouldn’t adapt too well. But since I had been warned, and since this was just a fun run for me, I decided to take the bull by the horns and live my cross-country glory days. Ha!
I didn’t have any time goals at all. I just wanted to run by feel and have a good time. The sun was shining when I left my house but it was cool and cloudy a little farther north where the race was held. I met my friend Eugenia and we got ready to race.
Mile 1 flew by. Eugenia and I ran together and caught up on each other’s latest life-happenings. I heard my watch signal the first mile and I was shocked it went by so quickly. The terrain was packed dirt road and a net downhill. Easy.
On an unrelated noted, I’d like to draw your attention to my arm sleeves. They’re not very clear in these photos, but what I’d like to point out is that these particular arm sleeves are my “throw away” arm sleeves. They’ve now made it there and back through three separate races of varying distances: Northern Ohio Half Marathon, MCM, and now Autumn Leaves 5-Miler. Next time I wear them to a race, I will indeed throw them away when the need arises!
I swear I was glancing at my watch every quarter of a mile. After the packed dirt road, we were dumped out onto a pasture with very tall grass. It wasn’t too terrible but I know how farms operate — it’s not smooth land under the grass. I kept expecting to turn an ankle so I was very worried about it.
Mile 3 took us through a corn maze. It was actually really cool — on our way into the corn maze we saw two deer bound through the field (obviously terrified at all the runners heading their way!) and duck into the maze. I kept thinking we would run into them when we got in but we ran through the other half of the corn maze.
Mile 4 took us onto paved road (briefly) and back onto the packed dirt road. We made our way to a large pasture for the last mile.
To most people that were racing, the last mile was the hardest. It was a net uphill through a pasture (yes, cowpies — like, seriously) and it just didn’t quit. At the end of the pasture Eugenia was so eager to get out of it that she started running faster. We were so close to the end I cheered her on. She’s just as competitive as I am and I knew she wanted to sprint it in, which she did. One of the spectators told me I could run faster and catch her to which I replied that I wasn’t racing, just having fun! It’s always fun to cheer friends on from the course.
Crossing the finish line was awesome. I kinda wish I had been racing because so many people were cheering me in. It was a really great way to end a race! I love the local running community here. They’re fantastic people.
Overall the Autumn Leaves 5-Miler was a great race. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Official finish time: 51:25
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Did you run cross-country in middle or high school?
Have you run one as an adult?
Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run, and HoHo Runs and MissSippi Piddlin’ for the Weekly Wrap. Also linking up with Nicole, Annmarie, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday, and myself, Susie, Debbie, and Lora Marie for the Running Coaches’ Corner linkup.