This coming weekend, I’ll be running the Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries (SMARM) 5K for the 4th time. I very much enjoy this race, despite the challenging terrain because of my history with it.

I ran the inaugural race as my first 5K back in 2009. Having just finished the Couch to 5K program, I was excited to run the entire race without walking.  I finished in 33:59, and immediately began looking forward to improving my time. A pattern which has continued over the years.

The following year, I ran the race again. With the hills and terrain variations in our area, an apples to apples comparison for race times is practically impossible, save repeating a race the following year. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was incredibly anemic for SMARM round 2, and finished slower. My  36:48 time was disappointing and should have been a red flag of my illness.

I skipped the race in 2011 but managed to finally break through to a sub 30 finishing time at a different race. I had high hopes in 2012, but circumstances made this race only a 3 second PR – 29:17. On race day, my friend Christie O. was having cancer surgery, so I wore this tutu (crafted by Mrs. O herself) in her honor.

I’ll just tell ya, rain and tutus don’t mix. We got hit with a monsoon at the start line, and I lost my fluff. Instead, during the race I fought to keep the tulle from going between my legs and chaffing.

For 2013, the year of the half, I chose to travel to Ohio in quest of the illusive sub 2. No SMARM for me.

I’m excited to be tackling the race again this year. I know I’m a stronger runner than ever, but I’m not sure where my speed puts me in relation to my current 5K PR (25:50). I’m excited to see what I’ve got! I’ve ran the hills a couple of times this past week or so. Knowing the course well can’t hurt!

Your turn: Do you have any races/challenges coming up? Do you prefer running the same race every year, or tackling something new/different?