At the beginning of last week, two of my co-workers told me they signed up for the Run for the Beads 5K which was that Saturday. I had considered signing up earlier in the year, but resisted because I figured it would be freezing cold and possibly snowy during the beginning of February in St. Louis. But when I looked at the forecast after she told me about it, I knew I had to sign up. It was supposed to be sunny with a high of 63 degrees! Perfect running weather!
Run for the Beads 5K is part of the Mardi Gras celebration in St. Louis. Like New Orleans, St. Louis has French roots which is the reason why Mardi Gras is also a big deal in St. Louis. So this race advertised free beads, shots, hurricanes and beer. I was not going to be drinking any alcohol during the race, but I was definitely down for some free beads!
I picked up my packet the night before at a local supplement store. At the packet pickup we got a race shirt and then our race bib. I’m not going to lie, the shirt was nothing to envy. It’s super hot pink and not the softest of cottons. Both my friends that were running in the race told me they would probably get rid of the shirt, and I myself will only be using the shirt for another thing to wear to bed!
So even though the shirt kind of sucked, I still had a fun race outfit – I got to wear my bright purple capris and new gold Sweatband headband! I love my purple Under Armour capris, but they are a little bright and obnoxious so I have only worn them once before. But they were perfect for this race since purple is a Mardi Gras color!
I got to the start of the race about 15 minutes early. I saw my friend from work before hand so we chatted for a bit as we waited for the race to start. There were a lot of runners there with some really fun Mardi Gras themed outfits! (Lots of purple, green, and gold tutus!)
The race started at 9AM, and I immediately sensed that the beginning was going to be quite crowded. The race ran through the neighborhood Soulard (where the Mardi Gras festivities take place), so the streets themselves are pretty narrow and lined with parked cars, so it was really tight when there were over 1000 runners running through them.
And it turned out the beginning was even worse than I thought it would be! It was so crowded for at least the first 1/2 mile and I felt like I was CONSTANTLY weaving in and out. There were also a lot of people there that were just walking, which is totally fine, but they had no idea that they should have started in the back or at least not be walking right in the middle of the pack! I was trying to be understanding that they didn’t know, but it was frustrating because I was trying to run a good race.
So when I got my pace for the first 1/2 mile from my Nike+ app I was a little freaked out. It was about a minute over what I wanted to be! Luckily by that time I had a little more room to run and could speed up.
Even though the beginning was less than ideal, I really loved the race course. Soulard has a lot of interesting looking houses and churches, and we got to run through the Anheuser Busch Brewery, which I have never been able to do during a race. That was really cool, but I feel like the reason races usually don’t go through the brewery is because the smell from the hops is so strong it kind of makes you nauseous. haha. Still a cool experience though!
At the 1 mile mark there was a shot station. No, I don’t mean ClifShots, I’m talking vodka shots! I’m not sure how many people took one, but that was definitely not what I was craving during a 5K! Later, there were even stations with beer and hurricanes! As I ran past them I wondered if anyone took one thinking it was water- if so they would definitely be in for a surprise! The only thing I took during the race was two bead necklaces- 1 blue for the Colts, and another purple one to match my purple capris!
I was running pretty strong and felt like I had a lot of energy as the race went on. I knew I wasn’t going to get a PR because of the crowding that slowed me down in the beginning, but I was trying my best to keep up with the runners around me and finish strong. I did just that and my last mile was my fastest by about 20 seconds! I ended up with a time of 24:11 (7:47/mile). I was pretty happy with this result, and was even happier when I found out I finished in the top 50 overall (49 out 1094), top 10 female overall (10th of 741), and top 3 in my age group (3rd of 143)!
Overall, this was a really fun race and would consider doing next year again if the weather is decent. I would hope next year though that they have better t-shirts and maybe instruct walkers to line up at the end of the pack. Despite that though, I had a blast and it put me in the Mardi Gras spirit!