Great Pumpkin Run, a Wrapup

Well, another fun 5K in the books.  The Great Pumpkin Run, held at Savidge Farms by Sour Fish Events, proved to be another interesting race experience.  And since we are such good parents, we enrolled our children to tag along as chaperones.  The course was a winding adventure through corn fields, some woods, fields again, a pumpkin patch and wrapped up with a cattle chute finish through a narrow corn maze.

The good stuff:
The event itself was fun and family friendly. Make no mistake, we enjoyed the atmosphere and thought all-in-all the course was challenging and exciting.  Our chaperones did okay considering this was their first “off-road” course.  It my rookie mistake only training with them on smooth paved trails. The rocky fields and wild corn husk now and then of Savidge Farms, proved to be a little more tricky than dodging cyclists on our home training grounds.  Despite having to stop to fix a shoe, walking in sections that were deeply rutted by farm equipment and my irritating words of encouragement, the kids maintained a 14 min pace.

If you read my previous post about 80/20 running, my slow runs are around 11:30-12 min pace, so this was a good test of remembering to slow down.

The not-so-good:
The course was fun, but certain sections bottle necked runners close together. (Small rant Warning) I’m all for loving thy neighbor, but there seemed to be a lot of people in a hurry to catch a PR and made for rude attitudes, yelling, and a few elbows in the way.  Now, mind you, this race has your typical waves, so the more “advanced” runners should have put themselves in an earlier wave or at least started at the very front of the slower waves.

Just a side note: If you want to catch a PR, sign up for the first waves dedicated specifically for Running. Leave the Run/walk waves to those of us with kids that just want to have fun.

I realize I’m just complaining about circumstances out of the event organizer’s control, so take everything I’m saying in strides.

The race metals were pretty sweet, (see picture above) but I think the shirts lacked a little something.  The screen printing on some of the shirts were damaged and I noticed a few people went to Facebook to complain about the quality of the tech shirts.  Again, all minor details, we had fun and that’s what counts.

Family Finish Time: 44 mins 40 seconds

Advertisements

Garden Spot Village Half Marathon

Well, here it is, my Race Recap of the Garden Spot Village Half Marathon – and I have two words for anyone considering this race: THOSE HILLS! Yes, oh my God, now I’m saying it too.

When I told people I was racing in the Garden Spot Half Marathon, everyone said the same thing; “watch out for those hills”. I heard that so much so, that whenever I told people which race I was signed up for – I would interrupt them and yes, “yes, I know, hills – but I ran the Hershey Half and dealt with my share of hills”.  I was confident I had trained well and was prepared.  However I learned, confidence only gets you so far.

First off, let me start by saying Garden Spot Village (GSV) does a race right. The venue is perfect, the accomidations – awesome, the staff and support – out of this world.  My hat is off to GSV for putting together such an awesome event. I enjoyed every detail before the race, I enjoyed every mile during the race, and I thought post-race recovery was done right.  Kudos to their entire team and sponsors.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk racing. I woke up bright and early the day of the race and had a decent breakfast protein shake (Vega Vanilla and Greens, Banana, Quick Oats, Cocoa Nibs, Maca Powder, and Peanut Butter). After taking the pooch out for a walk I came home and donned my running gear.

Typical of my pre-race ritual, I arrived early.  In fact, I was the first runner to pull up to the empty parking lot at 5:55am.  The parking lot attendants clapped and yelped and told me to park anywhere I wanted.

Arrive Early: Check.
Score Amazing Parking: Check.

I waited in my car, meditated, rested my mind – it was hard since I was pumped up and ready to go.  I waited until about 40 mins before the start of the race to emerge from my car and hit the porta-john before flocking over to the tents and excitement. Not that these are excuses, but I had two setbacks I feel like I could have avoided had I done better preparing on my part. I did arrive early and I made sure to use the facilities when I got there, but I forgot to make one last pit stop before the race started. I wanted to make sure I was hydrated so that extra bottle of water in my belly would come back to haunt me. When the race started I immediately had to pee… ugh, not how I wanted to spend the next few miles.  Every two miles GSV had setup a water station and bathrooms, and of course, the first stop was already occupied. Other than having to pee, I felt pretty good, I was breathing a little heavier than I would have liked, but this was a race after all and I will keeping a good pace of 9:30 min/mile among the crowd.

Miles 1 – 4 are pretty uneventful, aside from having to pee the course was proving to be somewhat hilly and challenging, but nothing I couldn’t manage. As I wrapped up mile 5 into 6 and feeling good coming down a huge monster hill it dawned on me that I was going to be turning around at some point and running right back up the monster I just traversed. At this point my body was not pleased with my bathroom choices and forced me to stop at the next water station to empty what felt like a gallon of water – and of course there was a little wait so this added more time to the clock.

Once I exited the porta-john I thought I saw the turn-around and my spirits instantly lifted.  I popped some Honey Stinger snacks into my mouth and enjoyed the sugary high they brought.  My joy was very (very) short lived once I realized that what I saw was not the turnaround, but another hilly drop ahead, with the realization that the second leg of the race was mostly uphill. I made it to the turn around and starting noticing that evil voice in my head telling me to just walk for a few minutes to catch my breath before the hillclimb from hell started.  I did my best to ignore this voice – my average pace was right around 9:45 – 10:00 min/mile and the thought of beating my 2:14:00 finish was in sight… or so I thought.

Mile 7 was the kiss of death, I hit that first steep hill and slugged my way up it. I quicken my pace but then used what energy I had and gradually ended up slowing down faster than I expected. Walking, my own personal no-no. My pace went from 9:53, to 11:26, to 16:00 min/mile and I hit the 9 mile mark with a lap time of 14:24 min/mile.

More Honey Stingers. Check.
More Nuun Water. Check

From that point on my moral hit rock bottom, I tried to quicken my pace to at least finish with my same personal best of 2:14:00, but with each slow step the goal grew further and further.  I finished in 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 40 seconds – 13 minutes longer than my personal best. I wasn’t upset, but I wasn’t happy with that time.

So what did I learn? First and foremost – Not all half marathons are the same! And you can never be too prepared – next year I intend on beating my time as this was not where I thought I would end.  I left that race saying “never again” only to find myself saying “next year” a few days later. GSV Half Marathon is no joke, train for hills… serious hills.  Also, I’m not sure carrying my own water was necessary – with water and Gatorade stations every 2 miles, what was I saving myself by toting that extra weight? Next year, I need to ditch carrying so much stuff.  Pee, pee, pee – make sure you pee right before you race even if you have to force it, bathroom breaks kill me. Oh and arriving 2 and a half hours before the event started was awesome – but being so close to home, it was a little overkill, next year an hour extra should suffice.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the Hershey Half this fall, and I intend on beating my 2:14:00 finish – at least I know there won’t be the same hills as GSV. Now, back to training – The Hard Cider run is just two weeks away!

Hot Chocolate 15k – Follow-up!

Oh man, I’m I excited to share with you all my Race-recap of the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philadelphia! This is the second year I’ve run this race and I have had a great time so far!  Oh and best of all, this race counted as my long run prior to my half marathon so I basically got rewarded for training.

If you are planning on doing the HC15K in Philly, here are my tips for the newcomers:

  1. Parking is a horrendous nightmare! Get there early and look for parking near the backside of the art muesun. If you are daring, feel free to park on the street, bonus points if you make your own parking on the concrete islands that serve as lane dividers. Tip: This seems like a no-brainer, but- Get there early.
  2. The inflatables attract a lot of attention, so if you want your picture with the giant marshmellows, do it first thing when the crowds are small. Again, early bird gets the worm.
  3. If you arrive early and want to stock up on Merchandise- buy gloves and hats before the race because these are the first things to sellout. Tip: Wait until after the race to buy clothing (sometimes they’ll have a discount rack to move product faster).
  4. Bring layers! April in Philadelphia can be unpredictable, but so far every year it’s been biting cold and rainy in the morning and then getting nicer at the conclusion of the race. Tip: Wear old clothing you don’t mind discarding, they’ll donate discarded clothing to the local shelters. 
  5. When you have to use the bathroom, the port-a-johns closest to the starting gates are always packed. Tip: Take a few extra steps and walk toward the end of the long line of facilities and you’ll either have a short wait or not wait at all. 
  6. At the end of the race, collect your medal (you deserve it!) and head to the tents to collect your finishers mug! Tip: Again, take a few extra steps and walk away from the crowds to the lines furthest from the finish line- there’s usually never a wait.

Cheerish these tips, they have served me well! Now, about the race: the course is fairly flat, so this is a great time to turn up the speed! In my case this counted as a long training run before my half marathon next week, so I took it easy. I ran at an average 10:22 pace but found myself passing a lot of people along the way. If your like me and carry your own hydration, stay to the outside of the course and just keep moving along. There are several hydration stations and bathrooms along the way, and also the park is alongside the entire course so if you want to avoid the crowds or take a break there is a walking trail that parallels the course.

There were over 6,000 participants so the event can seem a bit crazy at times. Kudos to the event organizers for keeping things moving and keeping the crowds under control.

I usually start in the corrals near the back: One, I know I’m not super fast runner so starting in the front doesn’t mean much to me. Two, I like to pass people vs. getting passed repeatedly. 🙂 Lastly, it gives you a chance to walk around and take it all in.

I started off nice and slow, with an average pace around 11min/mile just to get warmed up and a feel for the pack I was running alongside. After the second and third mile I picked up the pace and started to focus on my cadence and breathing. In through the nose and out the mouth, feeling good. Miles 4 and 5 were closer to 10 min/mile pace- I wanted to go faster but just didn’t want to over do it.

Mile 6 into 7 I started to hydrate – I didn’t feel thirst, but I could tell my mouth wasn’t was moist and my nose wasn’t as runny as it normally was during the beginning of the race. My pace slowed slightly because now I was catching the large crowds that were in the corrals ahead of me. At some points during the congestion I was trying my best to navigate through the walkers and abrupt stoppers.

Mile 7 into 8 I started to feel a little tightness in my calves, but nothing that warranted stopping so I pressed on and picked up my pace a little.

Coming into the final stretch I realized that the course barely had any photographers- in fact it wasn’t until I approached the finish that I saw the event photographers. Not that I wanted photographers catching me every 10 minutes, but just an observation I picked up on from last year. The last and final approach is on an incline, so just remember to save a little bit of extra umph for a strong finish.

I had a great time, picked up a little extra swag afterward and enjoyed getting out and running the 15k for another year.