Siren Freedom Five 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 11:01/mile
Ah yes, the Siren Freedom Five. You may recall I have run this race a few times now, with previous completions in 2011, 2013 and 2014. And, if your memory is extra good, you will recognize this year's costume is a repeat from 2014 as well (though this photo is not).
Yeah, I jumped right into it. And I didn't even dance around talking up what I wore - I went straight to business. That means: get ready. Because this is about to become the most meme'd race recap I've ever done.
And they're not even memes I looked up on the internet ... they're all real life and of my own making!!
So I have to admit, it's a little hard to take race day seriously when you're driving to the start line and you see this.
No, that's not a meme I Googled off the internet. That was the actual sign we passed on the way to the start line from the cabin where I stay while in Wisconsin. Needless to say, that sign pretty much set the mood for me on race morning. Well, that and the fog that was so thick we could barely see 100' in front of us on the drive.
Speaking of the fog, I was cautiously optimistic that the hazy skies would make this year's race actually tolerable. The two previous times I have run this race, it has been unbearably hot. So much so, in fact, that I actually skipped the race in 2012 (sacrilege, I know). You'd think a race like this in rural Wisconsin, starting at 8am, would be reasonably cool. But somehow northern Wisconsin doesn't get that memo, and the morning of July 4th always seems to start out at with a temperature of at least 70 degrees or more, and full sun ... which is a real treat when you're running on an unshaded highway where the sun can bounce right back in your face off of the asphalt to make you extra hot.
Anyway, on the drive in to town, I was in a remarkably cheery mood despite the fact that my stomach was terribly unsettled from dinner the night before and I got about 10 minutes of sleep prior to gun time. I'm not sure why, but I just didn't sleep well on Friday night, unfortunately. And my unsettled stomach was due to eating much too late and having far too many beers prior to bedtime. (Hm. Now that I say that, maybe I've discovered why I didn't sleep well. But it was only 4 beers all afternoon / evening - honest!) Luckily, none of that was getting me down and I was ready to go!
Since I had done packet pickup the day previous, my husband drove me right up to the race start right around 7:45, which proved to be more than ample time to line up for the start scheduled for 8am. We spent some of our spare time people watching, which proved disappointing again this year. Well ... not 100% disappointing. We did see an elite runner who ran the entire distance with red, white and blue elastic suspenders and shorts (no shirt). And apparently, there was a "strong man" running who had a 4 wheeler tied to his waist, per my husband's report (I didn't see him). But, overall the attire was remarkably drab given the festive nature of the race. At least we were amused by the race announcer, who always proves to be an excellent entertainer.
Eventually, with about 5 minutes until go time, the announcer called all runners to the start line. I said my goodbyes to my husband and moseyed over to the start.
This race always proves challenging to seed at, since many walkers participate that do not understand race etiquette and start towards the front of the pack. Not sure where to stand, I ended up putting myself just a few feet back from the lead runners. I felt guilty about that for all of 30 seconds, at which point a handful of grannies pushed in front of me and proceeded to talk about their walk plan. Oh, and then took my photo without even asking. By the way, I get it, my race costumes are funny. But please just ASK before you snap a photo. Walking up and shoving a camera in anyone's face is just plain rude.
As the crowd started to settle in for the gun, I began to wonder if the race had shrunk in numbers for 2015 - the crowd felt smaller than I had remembered in years past. In discussing this with my husband after the race, he said he thought it was comparable to 2015 ... which seems accurate if you consider the photo he took at the start line.
And so the race begins.
In the three years that I've run this race, the course hasn't changed (read: I'm going to omit maps and splits this year, so if you want to see that info check out my 2014 report). So, just like the last time I ran the Freedom Five, we spent roughly the first mile weaving through the town of Siren. And just like in 2014, when we passed the first major spectator's area, my Statue of Liberty costume got lots of cheers.
Speaking of cheers, knowing that my outfit was likely to attract a fair amount of attention, I decided at about the half mile mark to take my music out of my ears. I knew that would make the run more challenging for me since I'm in terrible running shape right now, but I didn't want someone to say something to me and totally miss it (thus coming off as a non responsive jerk), so I sacrificed.
This decision immediately paid off. As we cleared the mile mark, I found myself running next to 2 young boys, about 8-10 years old. At first, I hadn't really been paying attention to them, but for some reason their conversation suddenly caught my attention. I noticed they were lamenting about how their friends were ahead of them by a fairly wide margin. The conversation ended by the one boy turning to the other boy and saying "Of course they're beating us. They're younger than us. They have more energy."
LOL! That HAS to be a meme somewhere. I died.
Not long after the lamenting boys, I found myself approaching the half way point and water stop, which I gladly passed by. It was around this point, however, that I started to have costuming difficulties.
Now, you'd think that those difficulties arose from carrying my torch. Which I did, in fact, run with the entire race. And, much to my own chagrin, I never got around to attaching a handle to, so I had to actually grip it the entire run. But that wasn't the problem at all.
Instead, the actual problem came from what I thought was a race day blessing - the fog. You see, the longer I ran, and the more time I spent in the fog, the worse and worse my vision got. The fog was strangling the lenses on my Statue of Liberty sunglasses.
At the halfway point, I thought I could simply just tough it out and deal with my limited vision. By then, it wasn't terrible, as the fog was only hazing the outside edges of my vision on the sunglasses. But with each quarter of a mile, the haze grew larger and larger. By the time I got within the last half mile of the course, my lenses were totally clouded over. I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until I tried to glance down at my GPS watch and noticed I couldn't see the numbers on the display. Yikes.
Given there was only a half mile left on the course, and I didn't want to give up a major piece of my costume, I decided to
It was worth it, though. Because obviously, I looked good.
Needless to say, after the above photo I crossed the mat and completed the course. Though my time wasn't spectacular, I enjoyed my run ... which is why I do this anyway, so suck it slow pace. (And yes, it was really slow. I placed just below the 50th percentile in my age category and ran a personal worst for this course.)
To celebrate another race in the books, my husband and I crossed the road and got some breakfast.
And then, after partaking in a few other local festivities and a hot shower, I donned my hideous forest green race shirt and went fireworks shopping. Because 'Merica, that's why.
Which, by the way, let's hope the race organizers take my design suggestion to heart for 2016. This race's shirts are just the worst. There is so much more they could do with a 2 color design and a Fourth of July theme.
And that's the story of how race bib #59 joined my collection - here's to another race soon! Who knows, maybe it will finally be a triathlon!!