5K races are, to some, a big part of being a runner. For me, running on treadmills and on trails by myself makes for good workouts, but sometimes I feel isolated from the rest of the world. Running 5Ks not only helps me see how my running has improved, but it puts me in the running community, where I can meet people to run with me and motivate me.
This year on New Year’s Eve, a friend brought up the St. Pete Glow Run, and I didn’t hesitate to sign up. Running a nighttime race with black lights, glow sticks, and neon clothes, it would be impossible not to have fun. And it was completely untimed, I couldn’t stress myself out over how out-of-shape I had gotten over the holidays. I had only 11 days to prepare before race time on the 12th of January.
The day of the race I was nervous. Did I give myself enough time to get ready? Would the other three people I was with think I was slow? It seemed I was too preoccupied with proving myself to my runner friends to focus on myself. But once we got to the Dali Museum, where it would all begin, I relaxed. There were two major groups of people there. The first was the elite athletes who seemed to take the race seriously. The others were the ones there for fun, some prancing around in neon tutus and covered head to toe in neon LED lights and glow sticks. This would be awesome.
Those racing totaled over 3,000. We raced down the streets of downtown St. Pete, running past USFSP as we did. Glow sticks that racers had dropped and left behind scattered the streets. There were several areas with huge black lights, blaring music to motivate the crowd. I was running faster than I intended so I wouldn’t fall behind and get lost in the sea of glow runners. My friends were there to motivate me though and my spirits were high. This experience was definitely one of a kind! Finally, the end was in sight! I raced faster, nearly sprinting, and immediately my energy was drained. “Come on,” I heard someone yell, “don’t slow down now!” There were cheers from people standing near the finish line. I pushed myself harder, and before I knew it, I had crossed the finish line. I was handed a glow-in-the-dark medal and a bottle of water. I soon proceeded to the beer garden where there was free beer, although the supply ran out before many racers had even finished. There was an party with music, more black-lights, and a dance competition for prizes.
The Glow Run was a very different race experience than any I’ve ever had. The one downside (even though I liked it at first) was that the race wasn’t timed. I was kicking myself all night for not timing myself; I think I made a new personal record! I will definitely be participating in this race yearly, and I encourage all running enthusiasts to as well.
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