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?

 

 

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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?

Roller Coaster Race Goals

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!

When I first registered for this race way back when, I had big dreams of a nice 10k PR. My official 10k race PR is just over 1:06, though I’ve run faster than that during virtual races or training runs. The problem is, I didn’t run for three weeks due to my tailbone injury, and I haven’t run more than 5 miles in one go since marathon training.

At this point, all I can hope for is that I am able to finish the race without killing myself. Aside from the lack of training, I have to wake up at 3 am to drive the 2 hours to Lake George on Saturday morning because I can’t afford a hotel stay. I will most likely be exhausted and grumpy, so I can’t really see myself running a snappy 10k.

Still though, I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t lay out some official goals, even though some of them are pretty unlikely at this point. The A goal is my “Holy crap, everything is going perfectly and I can’t believe this is happening right now” goal. The B goal is my “I am super duper stoked about this” goal, and the C goal is my realistic, “unless something goes horribly wrong I can do this” goal.

  • A Goal: Sub-60 finish. I know I can do this. I’ve done it before, just not in a while.
  • B Goal: PR, which is anything under 1:06. This isn’t totally out of the question, but it is nowhere near a given, considering my training lately.
  • C Goal: Finish healthy and uninjured. I’ve been through a lot lately with my running, and I’m just starting to get back to the point where it’s pain-free and enjoyable. I don’t want to throw it away chasing PR dreams.

What I end up doing on race day will be a totally in-the-moment decision based on how I feel at the start line, and I will be constantly re-evaluating throughout the race to make sure that I achieve my most important goal–finishing still able to run. And regardless of how the race goes, I’m very excited to spend some time in the park, riding roller coasters, and hitting some water slides in Splashwater Kingdom. One of my fellow BibRave Pros will be there, and I think a few of my friends have also registered, so I’m hoping to hook up with some people, otherwise I’ll be on my own all day.

Do you set goals for races even if training hasn’t been great?

 

GIVEAWAY: One Entry to Roller Coaster Race Lake George

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!

Hooray, friends! I have a giveaway for you! As you may remember, I will be running the Roller Coaster Race 10k in Lake George on July 16. This is a USATF-certified course, and there’s also a certified 5k option. The race course winds around The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom theme park in Lake George, and your registration also gets you a park ticket for the day plus free parking!

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There’s also the option to “ride” a 5k worth of distance in roller coasters, with a separate medal and t-shirt for the riding race. You can bet your butt that I’ll be going home with TWO medals, because I love love love roller coasters.

If you’re interested in entering the giveaway and possibly joining me in Lake George, leave a blog post comment telling me about your favorite roller coaster or theme park, or both! Your comment is your entry.

***The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered!***

The fine print: Giveaway will be open until 12 am ET on Sunday, July 10th. One entry per person. Winner will be chosen via random number generator. Winner will be notified on Monday, July 11, and will receive a free registration code valid only for the Lake George Race on July 16. The last day for online registration is Tuesday, July 12, so registration code must be redeemed by then.

So What Now?

You might have noticed that I’ve been taking this whole marathon DNF thing pretty hard. I honestly feel like I’m grieving. Like I’ve lost something that I can never get back. I’m still sorting through my feelings and trying to decide if another marathon is a) in the books at all, and b) if I want to do it sooner rather than later. It’s hard to figure out, and I’m taking my time. Of course, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already looking at fall marathons (it’s part of the decision-making process), but NOTHING has been decided yet.

In the meantime, though, I’m trying to find something else to focus on, and THANK GOODNESS I’m already signed up for a 10k race in July.

Coaster Swag

On July 16, I’ll be running the Run or Ride 10k at the Great Escape theme park in Lake George, NY through my association with the BibRave Pro program. There are MANY reasons I’m excited for this race. Here are just a few reasons:

  1. The Great Escape is my favorite theme park
  2. My favorite rollercoaster, the Comet, is there
  3. I’m thinking a 10k PR is a distinct possibility
  4. I get TWO medals–one for running, and another for riding rollercoasters

This week is week one of my 10k training plan, and I’m VERY excited to get back to speed work and running shorter, faster distances.

I also need to re-learn how to eat like a normal person, and not a person who is training for a marathon. For the last several months, I have literally been eating whatever I want, whenever I want, with very few restrictions. For a short while after my chat with Coach Suz, things were better, and then they weren’t. I sort of mentally threw my hands up in the air and said “Fuck it! I’m marathon training. I’ll deal with this shit later.” And now it’s later and it’s time to deal with this shit. Time to back away from the sweets and the booze, dial in portion sizes, and eat a lot more fruits and veggies. Thankfully, summer is pretty much here, so it’s a lot easier to access tasty, fresh produce.

I’ll still being going to hot yoga once a week, which I’m very excited about, and I’ll be trying to incorporate even just a tiny bit of strength training into my workouts, because I know I can only benefit from it. I’m also excited to get back to running with various running clubs again. The Terrible Turtles are all WAY faster than me, but they’re fun and welcoming, so I hope to join them at least once a week for a long run, and maybe a few trail races too, which would be totally new to me.

Do you like to ride rollercoasters?