First Timer at Fifth Third River Bank Run

May 13th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Brian Reynolds, Team OAM Now Multi-sport Athlete

One race that has been on my bucket list for the past 5 years is the Grand Rapids Fifth Third River Bank Run. In previous years, both my training level and other races, such as the Kalamazoo Marathon, have interfered with the River Bank Run and I didn’t want to race unless I knew I could put in a good effort. I finally made my bucket list item a reality this past week. River Bank was an “A” race for me, so I tapered my training leading up to it. To make things more interesting, much like everyone else right now, my allergies were bad during training; I had a sore throat and achy body for a few days. Luckily, I felt better by race day.

Fifth Third Finishing photoOn the day of the event, I arrived at Grand Rapids 1.5 hours before the race. With the thousands of runners and spectators, I was quite lucky to find a parking spot near the start. It rained the entire morning, but that did not stop thousands of runners from competing. I walked to the starting area, about 45 minutes before the race, and was soaked by the time I arrived. The temperatures stayed cool, around 63, so there were no worries about overheating. After warming up for about 30 minutes, I made my way to the start line. I talked briefly with a few runners who I knew and appreciated the start line atmosphere, which felt relaxed; everyone was smiling and chatting with one another. I lined up behind the elite runners, who started 30 yards ahead of the racing field.

When the gun went off, the field spread apart quickly. I felt good and relaxed over the first mile. My goal for the race was to enjoy the experience and finish strong. To finish strong, I needed my starting pace to be conservative. For the first 5 miles, I was just under a 6 minute pace which is conservative for me. The effort felt easy, but it took awhile to find my rhythm. For miles 3 – 5, I had a interesting conversation with a 51-year-old gentleman named Eric who finished 3rd at River Bank in 1986 with a 1:33:28 (6:01 pace). After mile 5, the race chatting was over and it was time for me to get to business.

It wasn’t until mile 7 that I settled into my real race pace. I crossed the halfway point at 46:03ish and my 2nd half was a 44:15 which is a significant negative split considering the 2nd half of the race is hillier. I got too aggressive on mile 11, when I ran a 5:33 mile which, unfortunately, tired me out for the next mile. In total, I passed 8 runners in the 2nd half of the race, and no other runner passed me. At mile 12.5, I had to cross a 4-inch deep water puddle that soaked my feet, resulting in blisters on the back of my ankle. I ended up in 40th place with a finishing time of 1:30:18; it’s a pretty solid time for me, given my training leading up to the race.

Overall, besides the rain, the race was a great experience and I enjoyed the course. This is definitely an event I want do again, but in the future I’ll be in better running form.


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