Saturday, November 17, 2018

Run to the Lights 5k

The Run to the Lights in Silver Dollar City has become a favored family tradition each year. We first ran the race in 2014 and it became Thomas' favorite race of the year. We've now run it 5 years in a row, read about the other years: 2015, 2016, and 2017. The best part of the race is getting into Silver Dollar City before the race starts and watching the kids have a blast. Riding to the race with Thomas is always fun because he gets so excited and his excitement is contagious. He decided to leave work early so he could ride with us and I was so glad because just hearing his excitement as we neared Branson got me pumped up for the race! I was sick with a stomach bug the Friday through Monday before the race which is on a Friday. I was still catching up with eating and would get shaky and jittery before meals because I was behind on calories, I guess. That made me a little nervous for the race because I was worried I was still weak from being sick. For some reason checking the weather and seeing the wind chill was projected to be in the low 20's made me not as nervous. With less than ideal conditions, I really couldn't put much pressure on my time!
We made the mistake of stopping at Chick fil A in Springfield because the signs made it seem like it was right off the highway. It ended up being way out of the way and wasting a lot of our time. I got grilled chicken nuggets which was a much better pre-race dinner than the buffet we had last year. We also ate closer to 6:30 which gave us almost 4 hours before the race started rather than just 3 hours like we had last year. It's tricky running an evening race because you need to eat dinner but it's a fine line with how much to eat. We didn't make it to Silver Dollar City until after 7:00 due to that but we didn't have to take time to eat once we were there so we had about the same amount of time to play as we have in the past. The kids had a blast at Fireman's Landing and then we headed to the rope area. Carter went through once and then we rode the carousel. He was bummed to find the rope area closed when we got off the carousel so we rode the carousel again before heading out. I had already changed into my race clothes but I walked out with Ty to help him get the kids and stroller loaded into the car. Then I moved Thomas and my bags over to mom and dad's car so we'd have them after the race. Thomas and I ran a mile warm up together before the race. I kind of wanted to run another mile but it's hard to get much of a warm up or cool down in as you aren't allowed to go back into the park very far. I also didn't want to get sweaty because then I'd be really cold standing around at the race start. Our mile warm up ended up being perfect. The temperature when I last checked before the race started was 23 degrees with a feels like 17 degrees. I told myself this was my kind of weather because it was almost exactly what the temperature had been when I ran my half-marathon PR at the Aquarium Run!

I kept my sweats on until they started walking to the start. Then I took them and the neck gaiter I'd borrowed from my mom off and stashed them in the jail near the start area. Thomas and I saw Jeremy and we all ended up together. Jeremy didn't have anything to shed so he headed to the start while Thomas and I stashed our stuff. The race is supposed to start between 10:10 and 10:15 but they just start it whenever the parking lots are clear of cars. I figured it would start early this year because there weren't as many people as usual at the park due to the cold weather. This was the first year I'd ever run the race in tights, I'd always run in shorts before which means it was always mid 30's-40's for the race. Everything worked out perfectly to where I never felt cold. My toes had been numb but my warm up warmed me up enough that they were fine when the race started. Just as I'd predicted, the race started before 10:10. It took off super fast. Thomas had said he planned to go out really fast and then die. I joked I'd be seeing him in about a mile. In actuality it wasn't until about a mile and a half that I caught up to him. The first half mile is all downhill and my hamstring was not pleased. Between the cold and the pounding of the downhill I felt it tighten up almost into a knot and I was worried. Thankfully when we reached the bottom of the hill where we turn around in a parking lot and run back uphill it loosened up and was fine the rest of the race.

Jeremy and I were running similarly for the first 2 miles. I'd pass him and then he'd pass me back. There was a steady stream of shirtless runners with their shirts tied around their heads or necks who passed us at the beginning on the downhill and we passed a lot of them back later in the race. They seemed to be from a high school team and mom said all their yelling and chanting before the race got her super pumped up and she took out too fast. My first mile was 6:24. My fastest time on this course was in 2016 when I ran 19:45. That was also the year I ran my 15k PR so I figured I'd be significantly slower than that. Last year I ran 20:40 and I knew I could beat that. I assumed I'd be somewhere around 20:15-20:30. I knew in 2015 I ran the first mile in 6:25 so I was a little under that time and knew I could run a stronger last 2 miles than that year. Jeremy and I passed Thomas on the out and back section in the parking lot and I saw I was 3rd overall female. Jeremy pulled ahead of me up the first big hill. I was glad to have a flatter straightaway after that hill so I could get up to speed after all the turning. I was slowly catching the 2nd place female who had a decent lead on me after the first mile. She was wearing a light up vest like Jeremy which made it easy to zone in on her.

Jeremy and I were running side by side as I went through the 2nd mile in 6:54, I knew outside of 2016 I had run the 2nd mile in over 7:00 every year so I knew I was going to run a faster time than 2015 or 2017. I pulled ahead of Jeremy entering Silver Dollar City and kept looking ahead to the runners in front of me. There are a bunch of turns once you enter Silver Dollar City and I always feel a little frustrated during the last mile that I just can't ever seem to get up to speed because as you make it around a turn you go into the next one. There were a couple times where I wasn't sure where to go but then I caught sight of the girl wearing the light up vest ahead of me, thankfully. I felt like she had a good 15-20 second lead on me but I knew it wasn't out of the question to catch her, especially if she died. I passed quite a few men as we weaved our way around Silver Dollar City. My Garmin battery was really low so I had been worried it was going to die during the race but it was still going strong. The lights in the park are so amazing and I find myself in awe every year as I run through them. We hit that last big hill going up toward the finish and I didn't have anyone near me so it was hard to find the motivation to push up it. There was a volunteer standing about half-way up it cheering for everyone and he was really awesome. I smiled at him and he really hammed it up for me. I took off once I crested the hill and sprinted with all my might toward the finish line and around the turns. The spectators were awesome and were going nuts, I loved it. I was shocked when I neared the finish line and saw the clock just switching over to 20 minutes. I had no idea I was running so well. I was expecting to finish closer to 20:30 or so.
I turned around to cheer for Jeremy and was surprised to see Thomas right behind him. I dry heaved as I tried to cheer. I grabbed a water and once my mouth wasn't so dry I was able to cheer just fine. I couldn't believe what an awesome race everyone had had. We went over to get our sweats and missed dad finish. I chugged a Powerade, giving myself a brain freeze, and then headed out on my cool down to run in with mom. I ran her in and then finished out my cool down. I found the tunnels of lights and ran through them multiple times on the cool down which was a blast! When I came back up to the finish area I was able to get a hot chocolate and cookie without even waiting in line. I searched for my family but couldn't find them and decided to just wait until awards and then follow Jeremy back to them when he went up to get his. Jeremy finished 26th out of 820 overall and 1st in his age group with a time of 20:33. Thomas finished 27th overall and 2nd in their age group with a time of 20:39. I finished 20th overall, 1st in my age group, and 3rd overall female in 20:04. I've finished around 20th place pretty much every year here, outside of the year I was pregnant, which I just realized this year and thought it was interesting. I finished 21st overall in 2015, 20th overall in 2016, and 31st last year. The race was a little smaller this year because there are usually over 1,000 finishers! I guess the cold scared some people off! Dad was 73rd overall and 5th in his age group with a time of 25:03. Mom was 341st overall and 7th in her age group with a time of 35:06.
Jeremy was 1st in his age group.
Thomas was 2nd in the same age group.
1st in my age group.

I showered in my parents' room when we got back to the hotel so I wouldn't wake the kids or Ty. It was so sweet to see the kids nestled together sleeping in bed. I was so pumped about how my race went I had a hard time falling asleep. This race was exactly what I needed after my painful and disappointing race at the Tulsa Run. I was so miserable during that race and felt so awful I didn't really even want to run the marathon anymore. After this race I was excited to run again and it gave me my confidence back that I can run a good race with minimal pain! I definitely needed that and I'm so glad I ran this race!


  1. I'm glad you had this confidence boost before your marathon - and now we know how awesome your marathon went! I train some with the girls who were first and second places, and we all have the NoxGear light up vests. I saw a pic of Elise wearing hers at this race and thought that was a great idea! I'll have to tell her you were able to follow her on the course. :-)

    1. If it hadn't been for her light up vest I would have taken a wrong turn at one point! It was so helpful!!!