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I ran the Blueberry Festival 5K and 10K

Pam LeBlanc

Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 12, 2013

I’m back from my annual trek to South Haven, Mich., where I spend a week every summer avoiding the Austin heat and visiting my 76-year-old mom during the National Blueberry Festival.

Every year for the past 15 years or so, I’ve entered the festival’s 5K run.

Back when I first started, the race was the one time every year that I lined up at a starting line on dry land. I’d done plenty of swim races, but running wasn’t my thing.

Early on, I’d consider it a victory if I could make it through the entire 5K without walking or getting a side cramp. I’d be so sore afterward that I could barely go up and down a set of stairs.

About six years ago, though, I started running regularly. My time got a little faster. Eventually I could run it in less than 30 minutes, then 25. A few years ago, I finished fourth in my age group. Then it happened again.

This year, race organizers added a 10K to the line up. I decided I’d run both - which would give me about 15 minutes to recover between races. My plan was to run hard in the 5K, then relax and enjoy the 10K.

Which is what I did. And for the first time ever, I placed third out of 43 women in my age group in the 5K. My time was just 12 seconds off my personal best at that distance. Fewer people entered the 10K - just seven in my age group - but I got third in that one, too, even though I was way off my PR pace.

The photo shows me celebrating with the South Haven lighthouse in the background.

I like the idea of racing the same event year after year. It gives me a way of measuring my fitness - and something to keep me motivated.

I love this particular race, too, with its views of Lake Michigan and the finish line reward of fresh blueberries. Next year I’m shooting for first place!