Sunday, September 28, 2008

09/26/08: Race Judicata 5K

The Race Judicata 5K, put on by the Dedman School of Law at SMU and run through neighborhoods north and east of the campus, is an obscure yet pricey race that feels almost like crashing a private (but not snobby private) party, only without any alcohol. Most of the runners, and sponsors, too, for that matter, had some connection to the legal profession, which I haven't had since 1993. And that's not a pleasant memory, not counting the dismissal.

Since the race was near the aorta of the Park Cities, it behooved me to ascertain that my car's registration and inspection were up to date, particularly since I drive an older (2002) vehicle that isn't of upscale lineage. My Honda just came out of the shop Friday; I'd have kept the rental car (a Chevy Aveo - but a registered and inspected Aveo) for the race if my car hadn't passed inspection. I think I've received two tickets for expirations in Highland Park, in about ten minutes of driving time spread out over many years. Now if something's out of date I avoid those towns completely.

This race was much smaller, with fewer than 100 runners, than last week's Oktoberfest run and the weather, although numerically similar, felt more comfortable, probably because most of the streets were shaded. There was a better opportunity to run fast; I just didn't feel like I was the person to do it.

I ran 21:41, which for me would be very fast now that I'm old, maybe one of my top three times for the past seven years. I think the course may have been short.

The race organizers handed out course maps before the race. They said the course was clearly marked by flour on the ground but they were just as clearly worried that people would go off course. They had reason to be concerned - we went off course. We took a wrong turn maybe 2.5 miles into the race and returned to the finish by a different route than intended. Perhaps they forgot to give a map to the operator to the lead vehicle, not that I actually remember there being a lead vehicle. At any rate any distance lost by this deviation was probably minimal; we missed out on a slight jog to the north and picked up one to the south instead.

A Map My Run of the planned route showed a distance of 3.06 miles; if that was the distance I ran then my time would extrapolate to 22:02 or so, which is still better than I'd expect right now. Of course I'd have a better idea if my Garmin's batteries hadn't died early in the second mile.

Nobody was collecting race tags or compiling results afterwards although the first male and first female each won a $50 gift certificate to Luke's Locker. Unless they contracted out the tabulations to a psychic, I wouldn't expect to see any results on line. Certainly not accurate ones, in any case.

For any perceived bitching and moaning that my have come across, I should say that it was a fun race and I'm glad I showed up, except for maybe squandering a 21:40 in a lesser race. Small races can have some appeal and this one did; a fun run through pleasant neighborhoods in a non-competitive environment. People I talked to before and after the event were unfamiliar with the racing scene and here they got an introduction without being overwhelmed.

Thirty bucks for race-day registration is a little steep, though.

Monday, September 22, 2008

09/20/08: Oktoberfest 5K

If you travel north on Midway Road from Beltline Road in Dallas, you’ll go under a modestly cool-looking bridge that wasn’t designed by Santiago Calatrava. I used to be ignorant of which road took you over that bridge but now I know – it’s Arapahoe Road and I ran over that bridge, both going out and coming back, while running Addison’s Oktoberfest 5K. Some – me, for instance – would say that the bridge is the only interesting thing about this race while others might make a case for the free beer afterwards. To my mind free beer is more good than interesting.

I don’t want to slag this race; it’s a fun, well-organized event and the bib number gets you into the more traditional Oktoberfestivities later in the day. I wouldn’t choose to run here if I was looking to run fast, though – it’s too large (900 chippie finishers plus however many who couldn’t be bothered to pick up their chip) and there’s no effort made to give the more competitive, or at least time-conscious, runners room to maneuver. I didn’t see much in the way of mile markers, either, just a chalk mark scrawled on the ground at mile one. For all of that, though, I wasn’t dodging many walkers early on. Despite starting slow (first mile at nine-minute pace), I was weaving in and out of traffic a lot but the vast majority of that traffic was at least jogging.

We started facing west on the side street to the north of Addison Circle Park, turned south on Addison Road and then back west on Arapahoe. There’s a hairpin turn maybe a half-mile past the bridge, which is the only hill on the course except you have to go over it going out and coming back so I guess it’s the only two hills on the course; after the hairpin turn the course doubles back on itself – the start is also the finish, and doesn’t that sound zen. They had people handing out water bottles just before the finish which I thought was strange, but I took one anyway because I thought maybe there wouldn’t be any available on the other side of the timing mat. There were.

Besides the beer and more usual postrace food like bagels and bread, they had soft pretzels. So I guess that would be another unique feature of this race, and another one of which I approve. I like soft pretzels.

It had been slightly cooler than usual for this time of year but today the temperature was closer to normal. I felt uncomfortably warm over the last half of the race although that was probably also due to having picked up the pace: according to my Garmin, which I believe when it’s in my favor, I ran the last two miles and change at 7:30 pace. I finished in 25:34, which was acceptable given my conservative strategy and current condition; if I’m still running this slow in about a month, then I’ve got a problem. I finished 13 out of 44 in my age group, 152 out of 463 in my gender, and 190 or 191 out of 891 overall. The age group listings and the overall listing give different results.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

09/07/08: South Nyack Ten Mile Race

At 7:30 in the morning, or thereabouts, I was standing on a side street of a side village in New York, down the cliff from 9W, waiting for the start of the South Nyack Ten Mile Race. I ran four miles the day before but it didn’t go well. Fortuitously, Tropical Depression Hannah, which was depressed because it had suffered through two major demotions, came through over night and cleared out all the humidity that had dragged me down during that run.

I was happy to drive down from 9W to get to the village of South Nyack; I knew the course was an out-and-back with the turnaround on a pier and I was afraid we would start off down a humungous hill that we’d be struggling back up at the end. As it turned out we would face a daunting climb towards the finish but first-time entrants, at least, were blissfully ignorant and wouldn’t spend the first eight or nine miles dreading it.

The race had 386 runners and it was semi-chiptimed, meaning that we wore chips but they only had timing mats at the finish. If I had to guess – and since I don’t know, I either have to guess or ignore the question totally – I’d say that they didn’t have mats at the start because it was on a road still open to traffic. Most of the course, except for a trail section at the end and maybe the pier, was open to traffic but that was probably more of a pain in the ass to motorists than a significant hassle for runners. One lady leaned out the window of her Dreadnought to tell me I was going five miles per hour; she threw me a frowny face when I was passing her at the time. If it makes her feel any better, I was probably going close to, but not quite, seven miles per hour.

The main road we ran on, which was the main road through South Nyack and Piermont, was crowded and narrow with shops and restaurants. The street would not have looked out of place on Cape Cod except for the lack of souvenir stores. At any rate we ran along there for a couple of miles until we got to the Piermont Pier, which was not the rickety wooden structure I was expecting but rather a paved road surrounded by foliage extending out into the Hudson River. We passed the five-mile mark after the turnaround, closer to the mainland end of the pier, which meant we were going to have to deviate from the outbound course if we were going to make the ten-mile total. I didn’t dwell on this thought which is why I was surprised when, late in the ninth mile, we turned left away from the start and had to climb a moderately monster hill – steep, but not too long. I walked it but in a shorter race I could have run it.

Climbing up the hill took us up almost to 9W which meant we were now uphill from the start; the race finished on a soft dirt trail that was well-shaded and sloped gently down to the finish less than a mile away. Ignore these results – there was no timing mat at the start and I don’t insist on being in the front – I finished in the middle of the pack in 1:31:54 (according to my Garmin! Ask Spareribs - page 24!), running the first seven miles or so reasonably well and staggering through the last three.