Race Recap: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon 2017

What | Where |When: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon | Waterbury, VT | October 1, 2017

Weather: 50’s at the start, mid 60’s at the end. Breezy and sunny.

Pre-Race
I got up around 8, chugged some water, made eggs and toast, and got myself ready. The drive to Waterbury is about 35-40 minutes from my house, so I left around 9:30. I stopped for some iced coffee on the way, and continued to sip water as I drove.

Parking was well-marked and very easy. Also relatively close to the start/finish, which ended up being beneficial, as I went back and forth several times, forgetting stuff, fussing with my gear etc.

Getting my bib was super easy, and all runners also got a jar of Bove’s pasta sauce. I passed, as I didn’t feel like going back to my car again. As I was pinning my bib, I ran into my friend Jennifer, who was running the 5k. It was nice to see her, and she introduced me to a few women who were also running the half, who I ended up running near for quite a while during the middle miles of the race.

I used the potties a couple of times and did some dynamic stretching to warm up. The race started exactly on time at 11 am.

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Miles 1-3 (10:24, 11:15, 13:58)
These were without a doubt the hardest miles of the race. I had seen the elevation profile, and knew that the first three miles had a huge elevation gain, but knowing and seeing are two VERY different things. I ended up walking most of mile three because the hill was just.so.steep and LOOOOOONG. It was super demoralizing. When mile 3 beeped and I saw 13:48 on my Garmin, I pretty much figured my PR attempt was shot, but was determined to keep trying anyway.

Miles 4-8 (9:54, 9:27, 9:41, 10:32, 10:10)
These miles were largely downhill or flat, and I was able to significantly pick up the pace. Any time there was a downhill, I just opened up and let fly. I have long legs and strong quads, so downhills don’t really bother me at all. Around this time I passed Jennifer’s three friends, and we all shared a laugh at how freaking terrible the early hills had been.

I took my first package of sport beans at mile 4, and my second just after the turnaround at mile 8. I sipped water every mile, and felt very well hydrated and fueled the whole time. I wished fervently around mile 6 that I had paid more attention to the course map, because I kept getting faked out thinking “The turnaround MUST be soon,” but it was a lot later than I expected and I got a little frustrated with not knowing where I was.

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Miles 9-13.1 (9:36, 9:25, 9:31, 10:10, 9:12, 7:49)
After the turnaround, I knew that most of the remaining miles were downhill, so I just kept reminding myself that after the first three miles, anything else was easy. I started passing people at this point, which is unusual for me, but I just wanted to be done. I was fairly certain now that a PR was within reach, and I was determined not to somehow mess it up by getting hurt or blowing up.

Just after mile 11 beeped on my Garmin, I realized that I was about to head up another giant hill. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen this pop up on my stories:

IMG_4540

I think that pretty accurately sums up how I felt in that moment. Mile 12 took us out on to a dirt/grass trail that had a few very narrow sections. I got stuck briefly behind a girl, but managed to pass her when the trail opened up a bit.

Mile 13 connected back with our original “out” section, and was almost all downhill, which is likely why it was my fastest mile of the entire race. One of the things I really loved about this race is that they announce your name as you come into the finish. I sprinted across as they announced my name and knew that I had a PR in the bag.

Post-Race
My official time was 2:14:43, which is over three minutes under my old PR of 2:18:06, and I was ELATED. And also exhausted, sore, and hungry. I grabbed half a banana, some cheese, and a bagel, and hobbled over to some grass to stretch out.

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They started the awards ceremony shortly after I finished. They do a “King and Queen of the Hill” contest for the first man and woman to conquer the beastly hills at the beginning, as well as the usual age group and overall winners. As I was stretching on the grass, the most glorious thing happened. A woman approached me and asked if I wanted a gift certificate for a free pair of Saucony shoes. Apparently she had won it as part of an age group, but she wasn’t from the area and knew she wouldn’t use it. Score! The certificate is to a running/outdoor store that I’ve never been to, so I’m curious to see how their fitting process differs from Fleet Feet, and hopefully get some sweet new shoes.

Overall
This course was TOUGH, but beautiful, with great support.

Pros:
– 11 am start
– Cheap registration ($35 plus fees)
– Ample parking near start/finish
– Great on-course support, well marked route, plenty of food post-race

Cons:
– HILLS
– No bling! I somehow didn’t realize this prior to signing up. Maybe that’s why registration is so cheap?
– Shirts cost extra, are cotton

Would you run a half marathon that didn’t give out medals?

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Race Recap: Stowe Craft Brew Race 5k 2017

Where/When: May 20, 2017, 12 pm in Stowe, VT

Weather: Mid-60’s and sunny–perfect running weather!

Pre-Race:
Unlike when I did this race two years ago, I got there plenty early, and traffic was not an issue. I met my friend Megan in the parking area at about 11:20, and we were through the bib pickup line in about 10 minutes. There was a DJ playing music, plenty of porta-potties, and a water station right there at the start. We hung out, enjoying the sun and stretching, until about 10 minutes to noon, when we lined up in the starting chute.

Photo May 20, 11 58 31 AM

On the Course:
The race started right on time at noon, and we set off at an easy pace. Megan hadn’t ever run a 5k before, so we were taking it slow. After the first mile, we took our first walk break. The course was exactly the same as when I last did it; the first mile and a half are on a closed road, and the rest is on the bike path.

There was a water stop at the halfway mark, but Megan was carrying water and I wasn’t thirsty, so we didn’t stop. We took another walk break right before mile 2 to let Megan’s breathing ease up (she has mild asthma). We started running again after only a short break, and ran the remaining mile except for one uphill, and finished just under 42 minutes.

Post-Race:
The finish line was MUCH better organized than last time I did this race. First was a line of volunteers handing out medals, then a line of volunteers with water bottles, and then a final wave of volunteers with Kind bars. It was easy to get one of everything and I didn’t feel rushed or like I had to compete with anybody to get what I needed. Megan and I sat in the grass, stretching and hydrating a bit, before heading to our cars to change for the finish line Brew Fest.

Photo May 20, 1 07 54 PM

I have to say, this year’s Brew Fest was AWESOME. There were definitely more breweries in attendance than last time, and lots more food options too. There was also cornhole, giant sets of Jenga, and a live band. The lines were never out of control, there were plenty of water stations, and it was just a gorgeous day. For the money, I feel like this is a better deal than the Burlington Brew Fest.

Photo May 20, 3 11 48 PM

We did a great job of alternating beer samples with glasses of water, and had DELICIOUS food truck fajitas for a late lunch. Samples were being served until 4pm, but Megan and I both left around 3:30. I had to get down to Stowe village for the Stowe Theatre Guild Season Kick-Off Cabaret (which was SO MUCH FUN), and Megan needed to get home to pack because she’s moving next weekend.

Photo May 20, 12 48 06 PM

All in all, this was a great experience. The Craft Brew Race has definitely addressed a lot of the issues that I had the first time I ran this race, and made lots of obvious improvements. All runners received a medal and pint glass, plus admission to the Brew Fest. There were also festival-only tickets, as well as steeply discounted designated driver tickets, so there was something for everyone. Admittedly, if it had been raining, it would have been a different story because there was no where to get out of the rain, but for the day we had, I have zero complaints, and I would do this race again in a heartbeat.

Have you ever done a Craft Brew Race? If you like beer and a well-organized race, I HIGHLY recommend it.

Race Recap: VT Respite House Jiggety Jog 5k 2017

Finally, right? I ran the race on SATURDAY and didn’t give you a recap until THURSDAY. I’m sorry. I just needed to get yesterday’s post off my chest. Now, onto the thing!

Date/Time: May 13, 2017, 9 am

Weather: Cool and Sunny

Pre-Race:
Because the Respite House moved from Williston to Colchester, it was a completely new location and course this year. The race started and ended at Mallet’s Bay School, so they maintained the nice indoor pre/post race location and real bathrooms–score!

As usual, registration and packet pick up were a breeze. Plenty of volunteers, music and announcements by Top Hat entertainment, plus a Jazzercise warm up. Also nice this year is that I got a hat rather than a cotton t-shirt. I love me a good hat, and have WAY too many t-shirts I never even wear. I also saw some of my CrossFit friends right before the start, which was really nice, and Jamie ended up winning the whole race–he’s SUPER fast.

On the Course:
I set out with the intention of just running a strong race. It’s been a while since I pushed myself to run fast, and I wanted to see what I was capable of. The new course was a bit trickier than the old one, but here were volunteers at every intersection, plus chalk arrows drawn on the road, so I was never unsure about where to go.

I used a LOT of positive self-talk during this race, and I think it paid off. I started out at a fast-for-me pace and just kept going. I reminded myself that the discomfort of running hard was only temporary, that I’ve done this many times before, that I was strong and capable.

As I came into the finish area, I saw my friend Jamie, and yelled “Did you win?” and he said “Oh yeah!” and it gave me such a big smile and a boost coming into the finish.

Post-Race:
My splits were great–9:03, 9:07, 8:46, and the final .1 at 8:36. My Garmin time was 27:47, which is only 17 seconds slower than my PR, so I was delighted. I never bothered to look at my official results, but I started near the front of the pack, so I have to assume they’re pretty similar. I walked around a bit to bring my heart rate down, then grabbed a bottle of water and some snacks, and stretched out a bit.

The awards ceremony started right at 10, and it was so much fun to cheer for my speedy CrossFit friends, and have them cheer for me when I got my fundraising recognition. We snapped some pictures, and then I headed home.

You might think that I felt some regret at having finished only 17 seconds away from a PR, but that is not the case at all. I was and am just SO EXCITED to have been able to push myself for the whole race. I struggle a lot with being uncomfortable, and tend to hold myself back in race situations for fear of blowing up. It’s nice to know that I can be uncomfortable but still successful, and finish without injury or puking. I just had complete confidence in my ability to run hard and finish. I hope I can continue with this feeling for future races, because it was pretty damn great.

Photo May 13, 10 30 28 AM

The Race That Wasn’t

 

I was supposed to run my 4th consecutive VT Corporate Cup Challenge on Thursday night. As you have already gathered from my Manic Monday training recap, I did not. And I am 100% ok with it.

I have a complicated relationship with this race because, while I get free registration, an early release from work, and free dinner, the race itself has a lot of logistical issues. Usually, we have a pretty high rate of participation in our office, but for some reason, this year just didn’t work out. One by one, people kept dropping out due to injuries, illness, or business conflicts. A determined core of 4 of us were still planning to go as of Thursday morning, but I’d be lying if I said I was excited about it.

When our office manager walked into my office around lunchtime and said, “How bad do you wanna race tonight?” I was IMMEDIATELY ready to throw in the towel. Getting into Montpelier for this race is a HUGE hassle that always stresses me out. The weather was really iffy. And quite frankly, I didn’t want to spend my entire evening out and about, driving an extra 40+ miles.

Instead of racing, our team just went out for a nice dinner and drinks on the company dime. The whole thing is about team-building and spending time together anyway, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to get to know each other over dinner than it is during a race. And then I was home at a totally reasonable hour, which was also wonderful.

It’s kind of funny that May was supposed to be this crazy race-filled month, and now I will only end up running 2 out of the original 4. Considering that the two I’m missing are the two I didn’t have to pay for, I’m certainly not that broken up about it.

What do you do when you’re just not feeling a race? Push through, or bail?

Race Recap: 100 on 100 Relay

This is going to be a long one, my friends, so buckle up and settle in! TL;DR, it was hot, we were on track to finish, but ended up with a DNF due to lightning storms.

What/Where/When:
The 100 on 100 Relay is a 100 mile relay race that takes place on Route 100 in Vermont, starting in Stowe, and making its way all the way down to Okemo resort in Ludlow. Teams of 6 runners each run 3 legs over the course of the day. This year’s race was on Saturday, August 13th, and my team started at 6:45 am (teams receive start times based on runners’ projected paces and finish times).

Conditions:
Hot, humid, and overcast, with intermittent rain. Forecast promised high likelihood of severe thunderstorms, and flash flood warnings.

Friday:
The team van picked me up around 3 on Friday afternoon, and we headed to Stowe. The scariest thing for me about this weekend was that I only knew one of my team mates, and the other four people were a) complete strangers to me, and b) had all done this race together numerous times, so I was an outsider. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about. My teammates are all interesting, fun, kind people, and we got along great.

We arrived at our condo in Stowe around 4, and settled in for a bit, eating snacks and having a couple of beers. Team captain Chris and I went out around 6 to pick up the pizzas we had ordered, and check in at registration/packet pickup. It was well-organized, and we were done in less than 30 minutes.

For the rest of the evening, we ate pizza, watched the Olympics, and chatted, and then were all in bed before 11, because we had an early wake up call for Saturday.

Saturday: 

poppins reunion

Rob, center, is executive director of the race–he was also Burt in Mary Poppins with me and Chris!

Our official start time was 6:45 am, and there was plenty of coffee and some yogurt under the tent. Chris was runner number 1, so we lined up outside near the start at about 6:35 for final instructions. Just as we got outside, it started to rain a bit, but nothing too awful yet. Pre-race communications had made it clear that in the event of severe weather, the race would not be cancelled, but teams should pick up any runners if there was lightning/thunder, and make individual decisions about whether or not to finish, and that was pretty much what was reiterated here. Safety first.

Photo Aug 13, 6 45 02 AM

And they’re off!

The first leg is only 2.5 miles, and ends up looping around right back to the start for transition #1, so we hung out, using the portas, drinking our coffee, and giving Melissa, runner #2, a pep talk. Before we knew it, Chris was back and Melissa was off, and we piled into the van.

The way these relays work is that you can’t shadow your runner, so you end up leap frogging down the course, checking in with your runner if they need it, and then ultimately driving on to the next transition point. We made it through the first several legs, and then it was my turn. As runner number 5, my overall description was this:

This running experience is for your long distance runner seeking a “Postcard” tour of Vermont terrain. Yes, Vermont is very hilly and unpredictable, but the three legs for this runner aren’t either. The first leg is a very flat and enjoyable run of middle distance through beautiful Vermont farm land. This is a “Postcard” run that leaves you smiling and fulfilled, without having to work too hard. The second leg is the longest of the event, but mainly flat, with seemingly endless views. Be sure to stop towards the end of this leg at the river for a cooling dip, you will need it after the distance. The third leg is sure to satisfy with an intermediate distance and a lakeside finish. You’ll have seen it all and will be ready for the finish line! Total distance: 17.5 miles.

My first leg would be from Harwood Union High School to the Waitsfield Town Common, a distance of 5.2 miles.

elevation

I got a bit carried away by the downhill in the first few miles, and ended up running miles 1 and 2 in 9:34 and 9:22 respectively. I slowed down considerably in the flats, as it was disgustingly humid, but I still felt ok. My team met me at about mile 2.5 for some water, and I continued on my way. Unfortunately, I had completely underestimated the hill from mile 4 to the finish, and I was absolutely bagged by the time I got there. I power-walked most of the hill, but was able to run through the finish and hand off the slap bracelet to JP.

100on100

I managed a smile for the only course photographer I saw

After a quick stretch, we hopped back into the van. My right Achilles and calf were really bothering me, so I decided not to run in my Nikes anymore. I don’t think they’re going to work out :(. I refueled, drank a bunch of water mixed with Gatorade, and changed my clothes over the next few transitions. It continued to be really humid and spit rain, but we were grateful that at least the sun wasn’t out.

My next leg was from Rochester Elementary School to the Ted Green Ford in Stockbridge, a distance of 7.3 miles.

elevation (1)

This route was mercifully flat, dare I even say mostly downhill? A couple of small rollers mixed in were nothing to write home about, but it was one of the longer legs on the whole course, and it was still gross humid. I was sweating profusely, but I had my Amphipod and took sips of water every few minutes. My teammates met me at about the halfway point with extra water, and I took an unbelievably refreshing sip of sugar-free Red Bull, which totally hit the spot. I was on my projected pace for most of this leg due to the downhills, but I slowed down a bit toward the end because I was so hot. I made it to the transition area with an overall pace of 10:17, which I was super happy with.

I chugged a Red Bull and ate some popcorn, a meat stick, and a slice of cold pizza to refuel, while chugging more water and Gatorade. My clothes and shoes were soaked, and I was glad I had ended up packing three pairs of shoes. I got changed at the next transition, which was also the beginning of the third set of legs, meaning we were almost done.

Chris set off for his third and final leg, which was 6 miles of uphill going toward Killington. We met him at the halfway point, and gave him some water and chews. He was still looking strong and feeling positive, so we drove to the next transition area. A few minutes after we arrived, there was an insane flash of lightning and a huge boom of thunder–the storm was literally right on top of us. We piled back into the van just as a torrential downpour started, so we zipped back down the mountain to find Chris. We was only about half a mile from the transition, and he jumped into the van, soaking wet and exhausted. We drove back to the transition area to try to decide what to do. Technically, by picking Chris up and driving him to transition, we had already DNF’d. He was willing to be dropped off back down the hill and finish his leg, but the weather was looking really bad, and Melissa, who was up next, had decided that she wasn’t comfortable running with thunder and lightning around.

We pulled up a forecast, and the radar showed storm cell after storm cell rolling through pretty much on top of each other for the rest of the night. We decided to skip Melissa’s final leg and drive to the next transition to see if Todd wanted to run his final leg. When we arrived at transition, there appeared to be a break in the weather, so Todd put on his safety gear (reflective vest, rear flashing light, headlamp), and set off. Visibility during this leg was AWFUL. There was a ton of fog, and it was kind of scary thinking of him out running in that. We met him halfway to give him water, and he was fine, so we drove to transition. Ryan was game to try his final leg, so we got him suited up in safety gear and waited for Todd to arrive.

Not 5 minutes after Ryan set out for his final leg (we literally hadn’t even made it back to the van yet), there was a flash of lightning and accompanying thunder, so we drove straight to Ryan to make sure he was ok. It was almost full dark at this point, and spitting rain, but he waved us ahead and said to check in after another mile. More thunder, more lightning, more rain. We pulled over less than a mile ahead, and when Ryan found us, he jumped back in the van. We had a team conference on the way to the next transition, and JP and I, the final two runners, decided that we weren’t comfortable running our final legs with the storms. Things on the road had gotten pretty chaotic at this point; runners were running on both sides of the road, vans were pulling over left and right, and normal Route 100 drivers were NOT happy with the slowed down traffic. I saw several drivers make really abrupt and unsafe passes.

Feeling completely united in our decision, we drove to the finish. As we arrived, there was one of those insane, bright, forked flashes of lightning right over us, one that left afterimages on my eyeballs, and we all just looked at each other and said, “We made the right choice.” Thankfully, we were still able to get our medals, and we partook in the post-race buffet–chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, veggies, sandwiches, pasta salad, and cookies. You could also get a beer or hard cider for $3, or a beer plus commemorative pint glass for $6.

Photo Aug 13, 9 04 08 PM

Left to right: Melissa, Me, Chris, JP, Ryan, Todd

We ate our dinner and drank our beers, and headed to our condo for some showers, more beer, and sleep.

Overall:
Despite our DNF, I had an absolute blast with this race, and if it weren’t so damn expensive (registration, condo rentals Friday and Saturday nights, van rental, food etc), I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. That being said, I probably will do it again, I’ll just have to budget better for it 🙂

It was just such a cool adventure, and the atmosphere was completely supportive and fun. Every van that passed me while I was running honked the horn, rang cowbells, and/or shouted encouragement. Every runner who passed me murmured a “Looking great” or “Nice job” as they went by. Transition areas had a party atmosphere. I never once encountered a porta-potty without toilet paper. My team was awesome. And I know that if the weather conditions had been different, I absolutely would have finished my final 5 miles.

Rather than feeling disappointed in our DNF, I feel extremely proud of all we accomplished. It was a tough day and a tough course–high humidity, intermittent rain, and lots of hills. I’m even MORE proud of us making the best decision for us in the moment, for our safety and peace of mind. There is such a culture of “tough it out, no pain no gain” in running, it can be really hard to look objectively at a situation and keep yourself safe. I know lots of teams finished in spite of the storms, and that’s great for them, but it wouldn’t have been great for us. It’s ok not to continue when you don’t feel safe. It’s ok to get a DNF. At the end of the day, we were all safe and happy, if tired, and that’s what counts.

Have you ever chosen to DNF due to weather conditions? Would you race in a thunder storm?

Roller Coaster Race Recap Part 2: The Ride

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Roller Coaster Race Lake George as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Welcome to part 2 of my Roller Coaster Race recap, where I talk about the “ride” race. You can read Part 1 here.

What Is It?
In addition to the 5k and 10k running races, there was also the option to ride a 5k distance (16,405 feet) worth of roller coasters. They had a handy chart (see below) showing how long each coaster was, and each participant received a wrist band with sections for the different coasters. After each ride, you’d get a hole punch to prove you rode it, and at the end of the day, you checked in at the race tent, where they calculated your overall distance, and awarded you with a medal.

Roller Coaster
Distance (ft) Minimum Height (in)
Alpine Bobsled 1,490 42
Flashback 1,870 48
Comet 4,197 48
Steamin’ Demon 1,565 48
Frankie’s Mine Train 787 42 (none w/ adult)
Canyon Blaster 2,036 48 (42 w/ adult)

How Did it Go?
To be honest, I feel like there were a lot of things that sounded good in theory, but in practice, didn’t work out so well. Part of the hype for the event is that those participating would “Enjoy early access to The Great Escape and select rides, before the park opens to the public!” Now, I assumed, and I don’t think I was the only one, that this “early access” would allow us to get a head start on our roller coaster mileage before the park opened to the general public. I know that I shouldn’t assume, but here’s what actually happened:

After waiting around in the sun until 9:30, we were allowed through security and into the park. Several hundred of us streamed in, only to find that we had been relegated to a fraction of the park, with only one operational set of restrooms per gender, no food vendors, and only three operating rides. The bathrooms were jam-packed with stinky runners trying to change out of their sweaty clothes, and there was only one roller coaster available, The Flashback (formerly the Boomerang), which I know for a fact gives me motion sickness because it goes backwards. I was immediately irritated, especially because by this point, I was HANGRY due to the less-than-stellar post-race food offerings.

I ended up just sitting on a bench and waiting until 10 am, when the park was officially open, and then getting changed and making a beeline for the closest coaster, The Canyon Blaster. I’d never ridden it before, and it was actually a lot of fun. There was almost zero wait because it was so early in the day, and I thought about getting in line to get right back on, but I decided to hop on the Steamin’ Demon since it was right next door. They’re doing this new Virtual Reality experience, which sounds cool, but in reality means it takes about 5 times longer to load and unload everyone, because they have to get the headsets on and off. I opted not to do the VR experience, and I’m glad. I didn’t like this coaster much at all–I was jostled hard and my head bounced back and forth between the shoulder guards a lot, giving me a headache that would stick around all day.

At this point, I headed toward the Comet, for several reasons; firstly, it’s the longest coaster in the park, and only four rides on it would get me enough mileage to get my medal, and secondly, it’s my favorite roller coaster EVER. As I made my way to the Comet, I kept my eyes peeled for a food vendor, because as previously  mentioned, I was starving. As I walked, I was disappointed time and time again by signs stating “Open Daily at 11.” It was only 10:20. Strike one. I passed the Alpine Bobsled, my second favorite coaster, and saw a sign saying it wouldn’t be open until 11. Strike two. I got to the Comet only to find that it was closed, and the attendant didn’t know when or if it would be open that day. Strike three. I was full-on pissed.

Photo Jul 16, 12 54 17 PM

I wanted to steal this lion’s beer.

I wandered for the next 40 minutes, stewing in my hanger and frustration. Eventually, 11 am rolled around and I was able to get my hands on an $8 slice of pizza. Yes, you read that right. $8 for a greasy, crappy slice of pizza. But it was better than nothing. Feeling somewhat better, I headed back to where I’d come from and got in line for the Alpine Bobsled. I waited at least 40 minutes in line, in the blazing sun, feeling more and more discouraged as time went on. If the waits were all like this, there was no way I’d have the patience or the staying power to finish the 5k. My head was aching and I could tell I was dehydrated and still very hungry.

After the Bobsled, I decided to try my luck back over at the Canyon Blaster again, since the lines the first time around had been so short. I waited 30 minutes in line, and decided I’d had enough. I’d take a final swing by the Comet to see if by some miracle it was open, and if it wasn’t, I was going home, regardless of whether or not I’d finished the 5k. As luck would have it, the Comet WAS open, and had ridiculously short lines, likely because it’s way in the back of the park, behind the water park. I rode the Comet twice in rapid succession, but after the second time my head hurt so badly I knew that going again would be a really bad idea. I decided to call it quits. I didn’t think I had quite enough distance to qualify for the Ride medal, but I hoped the race officials would take pity on me. (After going back and doing the math, I was 884 feet short).

Photo Jul 16, 1 33 05 PM

That’s the Comet in the background

Now here is where I got really upset. In order to check in with the Roller Coaster Race officials, I had to completely exit the park. No big deal, as I was planning to leave anyway. I got outside and tried to walk over to the table that I could clearly see not 20 yards away, but was stopped by a security guard telling me I couldn’t go that way. I asked how I was supposed to check in with the race table, and he told me I’d have to go through security again. I’d have to wait in line and go through a metal detector again when I was hot, dehydrated, and quite frankly, OVER IT. I shook my head in disbelief and left without going to the race table. I’m sorry, but nobody should have to go back through security just to get their damn medal. I had literally just exited the park that I had already gone through security to get access to, and I couldn’t just walk over to the table that was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.

I will be the first to admit that I did a lot wrong. I didn’t eat enough of the post-race fare because I assumed I could get food inside the park. I didn’t drink enough water and got dehydrated. I assumed that early access to the park meant early access to the coasters. But the park and the race did some stuff wrong too. When you’ve got hungry runners, you need to make sure they get fed, or at least make sure they have access to food. When you’ve got “racers” trying to get a certain number of rides in, you need to make sure that all of your coasters are operational, and maybe make it easier for them to get in the required number of rides before lines get out of control. And you need to make access to race officials easy. That table should either have been inside the park, or outside the security checkpoint.

All that being said, I would consider doing this race again, especially knowing what I know now. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If I had brought plenty of my own water and snacks, the day certainly would have been a lot more pleasant. And I also would have just ridden the Canyon Blaster as many times in a row as I could while the lines were so short, which would have prevented a lot of me feeling pissy about wait times and being able to ride enough coasters before I wanted to go home.

Did you ever make an assumption about a race that turned out to be incorrect? How did you handle it?

 

 

Roller Coaster Race Recap Part 1: The Run

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Roller Coaster Race Lake George as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I decided to do this recap in two parts, since I technically participated in two races. If you want just a brief recap of the details, feel free to check out my BibRave review here.

What/Where/When: Roller Coaster 10k @ Great Escape, Lake George, NY, 7/16/16

Weather: Mid-60’s at the start, sunny, with 90% humidity!

Pre-Race:
I had to wake up at 3:30 am to drive to Lake George on the morning of the race because I couldn’t afford a hotel stay. It was an uneventful drive and after a stop at Dunkin Donuts for some much-needed caffeine, I arrived at the Great Escape at about 6:15 am. I was really happy that the race offered race day packet pickup, otherwise I may not have been able to do it.

Photo Jul 16, 6 26 34 AM

Packet pick-up was very smooth, and while gear check was available, I just decided to leave my stuff in my car, which was only a short walk away from the start line. There was a DJ booth set up, and announcements were made every so often. I just hung out in the staging area, which was a big parking lot, warming up and waiting to start. I managed to get into a porta potty before the lines got too long. While there were only about 300 runners between the 5k and 10k, the number of porta potties was too low, in my opinion. There were still a lot of runners in line to go when it was time to start.

On the Course:
The course was a loop around and through the park, or a double loop for the 10k runners. I was very concerned about the humidity, but the course was surprisingly well-shaded; I’d say at least half the course has decent tree cover. It’s also a nice mix of packed sand/dirt trails and running on pavement, so it was easy on the joints.

Overall it’s a pretty flat course, with a few small hills, only one of which is truly noteworthy, around the 1.5 mile mark of the loop. I just tried to take it easy and be in the moment. If I felt good, I picked up the pace, if I felt overheated or tired, I slowed down. There were two water stops on the loop, which I think was just enough, but even so, the humidity was awful, and I seriously considered just stopping after 5k.

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Starting loop #2

Somehow I managed to convince myself to finish the full 10k, and repeated the loop around the park. There were some very cool parts, like running behind my favorite roller coaster, the Comet, but on the whole, it’s not a super exciting course. Lots of twists and sharp turns through the park itself. I will say, though, that the volunteers on the course were top notch. The course was very well-marked with chalk arrows, and plenty of volunteers at any of the areas where runners might be confused about which way to go. All of the volunteers were super helpful and encouraging, which made a mentally tough race a lot nicer for me.

During the last half mile or so, I found myself chasing another woman. I didn’t want to kick too early and end up puking at the finish, so I stayed close to her. As we neared the finish line, her daughter was waiting for her and encouraging her to finish strong. She sped up, so I did too, and we ended up racing each other to the finish. She almost passed me right before the finish line, but I kicked it up to a sprint and finished just ahead of her. I’m just a little bit competitive sometimes… My official finish time was 1:03:18, which is a 3 minute PR for me! Woohoo!

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You can see the woman I was racing on the right

Post-Race:

Photo Jul 16, 8 41 16 AMThere were volunteers on hand to immediately dispense medals, and the food tent was a short distance away. My only complaint about the race comes here: all of the beverages were warm. Not one single cold beverage to be found. They had water, three different flavors of Gatorade, and Muscle Milk, but they were all warm-to-hot. All I wanted after such a disgustingly warm and humid race was a cold drink, and there were none. I was so excited to see chocolate Muscle Milk, but when I picked it up and it was warm, I actually said “Ugh!” out loud and put it back. I couldn’t imagine drinking a warm protein shake. Ugh.

I was also a little disappointed with the food. There were bananas, apples, dry grocery store bagels (maybe there were spreads, but I didn’t see them), and cookies. I really could have used something a bit more substantial, especially considering that none of the food vendors in the park opened until 11 am (which I didn’t find out until later), and it was now only 9 am. But that’s a tale for the “Ride” race recap.

I stretched out a bit in the finish area, ate my banana, then went to my car to get my bag with change of clothes etc for my day in the park. And that’s where I’ll leave it until part 2.

Would you drink a room temperature Muscle Milk?