eRace the Stigma: Fun race, important cause

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Eastern Shore Running Club members, including me, gather after running the eRace the Stigma 5K on May 12. This didn’t include all members who ran, and some of the people in this photo we hope will be future members. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Although I run the 5K distance very often, it’s not as frequent that I race a 5K. So, when I headed to eRace the Stigma on Saturday, May 12, it was my first 5K race since the Run, White & Blue 5K back in September.

I was hoping for a time that started with a 25, since it’s been a long time since I did that — the last time I ran a 5K faster than 26- or 27-something on a course of at least 3.1 miles was in 2014 — but I was happy with my 26:59 at the race.

Last year, I started out the summer with races in the 27s and ended in the 26s, so I’m hoping I might be able to bring my time down some by the end of the summer.

This race is important to me because of the focus on mental health. It’s such an important topic and I think some do not realize how many people are affected.

My friends Lynn and Harlan are the race directors, and last year I was involved with race organization meetings; this year I stepped away because I have too many commitments. However, I did pick up the Rise Up Coffee on the way, bring a cooler of water and post information on the race Twitter account.

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In addition to the 5K, there was a Mental Health Expo on the downtown Salisbury Plaza. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I got into the race early for $20, and not long after that, a $5 discount code was provided for members of the Eastern Shore Running Club — which is awesome — thanks, Lynn! We had a nice group of members who came out to run.

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Here I am with an eRace the Stigma sign. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

The spring is always busy for me when it comes to races, and in the four weeks before eRace the Stigma, I’d run races in three of those and volunteered at a race the other weekend. For two of those races, I paced, and although I love pacing, it was nice to feel that there was really no pressure for this one. I would try to run well, and if I failed, I wouldn’t be affecting anyone else’s run but my own.

I ended up staying up very late the night before, but it didn’t seem to affect my race effort. I did take a nap afterward, though.

The race is in downtown Salisbury, and this year, it included a Mental Health Expo with various vendors relating to the topic as well. The 5K course, which my watch tracked as 3.12 miles — I was super pumped about this because I always want the course to not be short, but obviously not too long, either, and this was about as perfect as you can get — included three loops. We started a little bit further back, then crossed what would be the finish line before running a loop in the downtown area three times.

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Here I am with some coffee after finishing the eRace the Stigma 5K on May 12. (Veronica James photo)

It was nice running through the plaza three times, because we’d get support from the people who were set up for the Mental Health Expo along with the people at the finish line. The loop was also clearly marked, had volunteers at turns to point us in the right direction, and seemed to go by somewhat quickly.

I ran the first mile in 8:21, and if I had been able to keep that pace up, I would have ended up with a time sneaking by just under 26:00, according to this Runner’s World chart. However, I know myself, and usually, my first mile of a 5K is the fastest. Also, it felt hot out, and I know not to push myself beyond my limits in the heat because I have had issues before.

Either way, I felt pretty strong, and I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I should have, given the heat. I ran the second mile in 8:45.

I had been thinking about whether to get water, and I was considering skipping it, but I did end up getting a quick cup of water because of the heat. I was glad that the water stop was there.

I ran the last mile in 8:48, and then the last part in 55 seconds. The Garmin Connect app shows that I ran that last 0.12 miles at a 7:51 pace, which I think is a pretty nice finish for me.

Because the race was chip timed, I started my watch when I crossed the start line, and logged a finish time of 26:51. However, I didn’t think about the fact that there was no mat to cross at the beginning — the chip timing was simply to more easily log finish times. So, my finish time on the results was 26:59 — I’m glad I squeaked in just under 27 minutes!

This was tracked as an 8:42 pace, and between my late start of my watch and the extra 0.01 or so, my watch logged an average 8:36 pace.

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Here I am receiving my award from race directors Lynn Sande and Harlan Eagle. (Veronica James photo)

I surprisingly ended up as the third overall female, after two runners who had times in the 23s. Someone else had finished just ahead of me, but on the results, I showed up as third.

After the race, I had some Rise Up Coffee, a doughnut and some other treats that were provided. I also won a $25 Vernon Powell Shoes gift certificate when my bib number was called during door prizes, which was a nice prize (that I have already used!)

I definitely plan to return to this race next year.

If you are reading this and happen to be one of the many who struggles with a mental health issue, please reach out for help. Taking this step can be tough, but talking about what’s plaguing you can go a long way. Think about it this way: You can’t leave a health problem alone. Wouldn’t you treat a broken leg, or the flu, or cancer? The Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

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Here’s the race shirt with my third place medal. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Splits: 

Mile 1: 8:21

Mile 2: 8:45

Mile 3: 8:48

Last Part (watch logged 0.12): 0:55

Total: 26:51 on watch; 26:59 official time

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