5k #17: Shanty 2 Shorts 2016

I have about a million things to say about Saturday’s race, but I’ll just jump right to the good stuff:

finish line

I’m still kind of in a state of disbelief. I remember when I was trying to break 30 minutes in a 5k. And yet, somehow, here I am. A sub-20 5ker.


This was the fourth year that my husband and I ran Shanty 2 Shorts. The course is very PR friendly. It is a point to point race from Shanty Creek Resort to Short’s Brewing Co. The first 1.8 miles is all downhill (elevation loss of about 335 feet). The course then levels out; there is no uphill. I have PRed every single year.

Going into Saturday I was the two-time reigning champ. I was definitely thinking three-peat, but knew that winning would ultimately depend on who else shows up. I also was worried that the wind would be a factor. The wind was out of the north which would create a strong headwind from mile 1.8-2.55.


Kendall and I got to Shanty about an hour before the race started. It is a small race (<200 runners in the 5k and 10k) so packet pickup is a breeze. There was a board up showing all registered runners and I said good-bye to any chance of winning when I saw Emily on the board. In 2013, the first year I ran the race, Emily won with a time of 19:12. I’m not that fast. This was definitely a blow to my confidence, but I tried to stay focused on getting a PR.

pre race

My warm up consisted of about 2 miles of easy jogging followed by a few strides. While I was warming up I ended up chatting with Emily. Turns out she was running the 10k this year. I might still have a shot!

Mile 1 – 6:10.9

Race day adrenaline + downhill = starting WAY to fast. It felt comfortable, so I went with it. I could see Emily and a few guys in front of me, but I knew I was the first female running the 5k. When my watch buzzed that the first mile had passed, I didn’t check my time because I was still a few steps away from the first mile marker. After the long course in Toledo I didn’t want there to be any confusion. As I passed the mile marker my watch read 6:15.

Mile 2 – 6:21.1

I knew that I should back off the pace so I didn’t crash and burn, but there was a woman in a bright pink jacket just off my left shoulder. An occasional glance backward confirmed she was holding a steady pace. I didn’t know if she was running the 10k or the 5k, but I wasn’t ready to hand over the lead so I just kept pushing.

When the course levels out at 1.8 miles it really feels like you are running up hill. Add in a 90 degree turn into a headwind, and it just sucked the life out of my running. I slowed slightly but still managed to finish mile 2 feeling strong. Mile 2 on my watched lined up perfectly with the mile marker, so I assumed the first mile marker was slightly misplaced.

Mile 3 – 6:50.9

I was really hurting at this point and continuing to slow. I knew that just over half a mile from the finish line I would be turn out of the wind, so I did my best to just stay positive and keep moving. When pink jacket came up beside me, I got a good look at her bib and confirmed she was running the 5k. I thought she was looking strong and that this would be the end of my race. We ran together for a few strides and then she pulled ahead. Once she got in front of me I realized that she actually didn’t look as strong as I thought. “Stick with her, ” I told myself.

As we approached the final turn of the race (0.55 to go!) pink jacket slowed to take the corner. “This is my chance!” popped into my head and I reclaimed the lead. My pace had dipped into the 7:00s but I thought I still had a shot at 20:30 if I held it together. As I ran I alternated trying to calculate how close I was to twenty minutes and how close pink jacket was. Halfway down the straightaway I had finally built a gap on pink jacket. I knew I had the win.

Final 0.12 – 0:37.01

I stopped glancing at my watch as I approached the finish line. I could see the clock at the finish line was still in the 19:00s. I stopped my music so I could take in the moment. Dig deeper! Dig deeper! I was closing fast, but it was going to be so close.  Dig! Dig! Dig! A few more steps, almost there.

I crossed the finish line knowing I had a huge PR, but I didn’t know what the clock read as I crossed the line. I hunched over trying to catch my breath as my family congratulated me on my win. Hunching wasn’t cutting it, and I found myself kneeling on the ground. I finally remembered to stop my Garmin at 20:12. I realized I was still in the finish chute, so I crawled off to the side so I could continue to regroup. My mother in law brought me a Gatorade and made sure I wasn’t actually dying.

post race

Post Race

I was so happy with my win and so happy to have earned a huge PR that it almost didn’t matter if I had made sub 20 or not. Well, almost. As we waited for official results to be posted, I scoured the pictures my family had taken to try to figure out if I had made it. One picture shows me half a step from the finish line with 19:59 on the clock. Another picture shows me on the finish line with 19:59 still on the clock. This race only has a finish line timing mat, so there would be no net time. It was too close for me to celebrate without seeing the official results.

finish line 2

I looked down the course and realized that Kendall was in the home stretch. I jogged back a ways on the course to cheer him in. I had told him that a good goal for this race would be sub-25, about a minute and a half faster then Glass City. With the correct distance and a downhill start, I thought that sounded reasonable. He smashed it with a 23:41.


Finally, finally official results were posted by the timing company. I nearly lost my mind when I saw my official finish time of 19:59.9. Barely a sub 20, but I did it!



Awards are presented in Short’s Brewing Co, which works well because I totally earned a celebratory beer (or two)! This is a later race (10:00 start time) so we ordered lunch as well. I also was able to congratulate Emily on her 10k win (first overall – including men! She is crazy fast!).


I still feel like I have a million other thoughts about this race and what this means for the rest of my 5k racing season, but this post is already long enough. For right now I am just going to sit back and celebrate accomplishing one of my long term running goals.


23 thoughts on “5k #17: Shanty 2 Shorts 2016

  1. Congratulations on an amazing, amazing time! No lie, as soon as I saw your pic I scrolled down to click “Like” on this blog post but wanted to love it ;). Obviously it rocks to run that time, but to get photographic proof is even better!

    You ran a really good race and even though you went out a little fast, you were racing the course on the downhill and the competition. It’s so different running for time vs. running for place (or running for both in your case). I know that other lady behind you had to be motivating and pushing you too! Plus a run that ends at a brewery is pretty awesome for celebrating and you had a lot to be proud of after this.

    I hope you’re having a good recovery, and good luck crushing the other goals!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Amy! Without that lady right on my tail I definitely would not have broken 20. I thanked her after the race for keeping me motivated to work hard. I don’t have a lot of practice with racing to place, but I’m hoping it is something I’ll get better at along the way.


  2. CONGRATS, 3X champ!!!! That’s so awesome! And of course congrats on the PR and your sub-20! What a day for the history books!

    I seriously love that picture of you reacting to the official timing results! Priceless! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats Heather!!! What a race! It sounded excited – you had me hanging on your every word as you described that final mile. You are such a beast at the 5k! I’m so glad your hard work is already paying off for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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