Wednesday, March 6, 2013

02/09: Dashing for the Beads 5K

Ten Notes on Dashing for the Beads 1. One of the hidden benefits to running races is that it takes me to neighborhoods I might not have visited before. This was truer in the old days, when there were so many neighborhoods I hadn’t visited and when races didn’t seem to be as clustered around White Rock Lake and the Katy Trail. At any rate, the Dash for the Beads runs through north Oak Cliff just west of the Bishop Arts district up to the Kessler Parkway, and is the first race I’ve run completely within the boundaries of north Oak Cliff. 2. This was the fourth running of this race, which I wanted to do last year and I think the year before, but things never quite worked out. For example, last year I’m pretty sure it was too damn cold for my delicate constitution. 3. I registered for the race at packet pick-up but the t-shirts weren’t available until race day, which they really weren’t worth the wait. They look great, but the image on the front is kind of plasticky and heavy; when you wear the shirt, it also feels like you’re wearing a bib. 4. Parking and race day logistics were chaotic but not irritating, although clearer signage would be helpful. I stood in a line to pick up my t-shirt that I wasn’t totally sure was the correct line, but I got a t-shirt so I guess it was. 5. Do not run this race, or at least this course, in search of a PR. It’s not that it’s constantly hilly, but the hills that you do run are daunting. 6. I read somewhere that this course was new for this year; if they stick with this general idea, they may want to consider reversing the direction in which they run it. There’s an out-and-back on the Coombs Creek Trail early in the second mile that was crowded. If they ran the course in the other direction that section would be late in the second mile and runners would be a little more spread out. It would alleviate the bottle neck although it wouldn’t eliminate it. 7. I didn’t know anything about this Coombs Creek Trail and still don’t, really, so I should probably check it out more closely sometime. According to the Dallas Parks page I found, it hasn’t been built yet. 8. They had beer after the race, good beer from Rahr and Sons in Ft. Worth. That would be the good news. 9. The bad news is that the beer wasn’t exactly free, at least so far as I could tell. You had to get in one line to buy a cup, and then get in another line to get the cup filled; I don’t know if you were allowed to bring your own drinking vessel. The problem with this set-up, for me at least, is that I don’t tend to carry my wallet, or any money, on me while running a race. And because this is a fairly popular race in a location with no parking lots, I was parked three or four blocks, which would only be a hassle on most days but was genuinely problematic on this particular day – I was on a sort of tight schedule partially because the race started at 10:00 am. 10. If I do this race again I’ll be easy to pick out. I’ll be the dude running with the Oktoberfest stein.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

01/26: Hypnotic Donut Dash

I’m not a big fan of Mellew Productions, which probably isn’t something they lose much sleep over, and the inaugural Hypnotic Donut Dash didn’t help me see the error of my ways. I walked into the Embarcadero Building in Fair Park 45 minutes before the 5K was scheduled to start, followed the sign to race day registration, and got into a line that was longer than my standards usually permit me to join. A few minutes later a dude came along and pulled people who still needed to register, like me, out of the megaline, which was just for packet quicker picker-uppers, minus the quicker part. He led us over to a laptop that I had walked past because it looked abandoned; that was where race day registrants were supposed to enter their information before moving over to another table to pay, and then a third to pick up their shirt. So I was registered and done inside of five minutes while those poor bastards stood in that line for I don’t know how long, but the 5K started 25 minutes late to give the line time to clear.

I think there were two main reasons why they had such a packet pick-up logjam. I’m pretty sure they only had limited pick-up prior to race day: Friday from ten in the morning until two in the afternoon at three locations, which were Hypnotic Donuts on Garland Road in Dallas, the Hyatt House Lincoln Park at Caruth Haven and Central Expressway in Dallas, and the Aloft Hotel in Frisco. If you happened to be west of I-35E during those hours, you know, like because of your job or whatever, you were hosed. Also, it looked like they were assigning bib numbers to people as they got to the table, an extra step that increased the transaction time. I’m not saying that they screwed all this to hell because I don’t know what resources they had available, but if they want to avoid similar delays at future races, these are the two areas I’d try to address.

Given the limitations of a Fair Park 5K – all you’re going to do is run around Fair Park – the race itself was fine, and given the limitations of my current capabilities, my performance – 28:05 – was acceptable. I ran two sub-nine-minute miles, walked for three minutes, and ran the rest of the way in. Which is encouraging in some respects but also sad-making: Sub-nines are now what sub-eights used to be, which probably means that sub-eights are now what sub-sevens used to be and sub-sevens are now a pipe dream. Getting old, being injured – I can’t say I’m a fan.

After the race and after going back to my car to find my way into a drier shirt, I returned to the Embarcadero Building in time to see the band breaking down the stage, which seemed early but maybe they were asked to leave for playing too loud or for playing “Ah-ah, Yawa Em Ekat Ot Gnimoc Er’yeht” or for committing some other major transgression. Whatever, the important thing was that the Deep Ellum Brewing Company people weren’t breaking down their kiosk so I joined their line and a few minutes later found myself holding a Dallas Blonde[1], proving once again that the best things in life are, if not free, at least included in the entry fee.

1. It’s a beer, people.