Last weekend we went with my parents to Winterthur for one last visit to the Downton Abbey exhibit. If you are into Downton Abbey, live nearby and have not seen it, go before it ends on January 3, 2015.
On a lark, we emailed our friends Bill and Jean to see if they were free for dinner as we were in the mood for some kangaroo meat and mac and cheese from Matilda's near the University of Delaware. As luck would have it, they were free and we had a great evening catching up before we returned home.
Over dinner Jean mentioned a 10K race to support Friendship House ("Friendship House is a non-profit Christian corporation committed to making a difference in the lives of the homeless people of New Castle County, Delaware through the traditional spiritual ministries of hospitality, education, empowerment and community.") It was called the Waffle Cone Race (a 5k was also an option).
She caught my interest. My training for the Princeton Half Marathon has not been going very well. I was hoping to do a hilly 10 mile run. Personal attempts have had me running out of water and talking myself out of going farther than 7.5 miles.
Jean promised the route was fairly flat (hmm...I was hoping for hills), and that the sponsor (Caffe Gelato) provided a wonderful post-race brunch.
She was right on one account. It was a hilly 10 MILE race with a wonderful post race brunch.
A cold snap was predicted for the day, with temps expected to be around 39 at the start. Fortunately it was closer to a sunny, yet breezy 50. I left the sweatshirt in the car and braved the elements.
Before the race I met Meaghan. She said she would not do as well as she usually does in this distance because it is a trail race. It didn't register what she meant until I was on the course. I think I've gotten spoiled by Mercer Meadows, because that is a nicely paved trail run. This was not.
Okay. these pictures make it look very nice -- wide paths, well-paved, and flat. Trust me, my new friend Jennifer and I were dodging unmarked tree roots, holes, stepping on large stones and rocks -- all covered with leaves. My foot got snagged on a tree root. I saw a runner down with a twisted ankle. The path was very narrow at points (with poison ivy in sight), and had large drop-offs to the river/stream. It was a windy day. The most amazing feature of this out and back race was that it was uphill both ways -- or so it seemed.
I met Meaghan prior to the race. We bonded over Sparkle Skirts. She introduced me to Jennifer, who was also wearing a Sparkle Skirt. Jennifer and I kept pace for most of the race. By the time I snagged my foot, which jarred my shoulder, I was committed to walking the last two miles.
The run was beautiful. Turns out we crossed from Delaware to Pennsylvania and back again. I missed the sign.
My friend, Jean, not only met me at the finish line, she let me sleep over and take a post-race shower before heading home. As she said, "anything for Friendship House," a charity near and dear to her heart. I added, anything, but actually run it herself. She agreed (sorry the picture is blurry -- it was at the end of the race after climbing a hill).
The day before the race I decided not only to buy new sneakers, but to wear them for the race. Turned out to be a good move. It wasn't until mile 8 when I remembered I was wearing new sneakers. Even then it wasn't in a bad way. Had it been a bad move, I would have been complaining sooner. I only did this because I was able to buy the same model I had been wearing, and did not have any issues breaking the old pair in earlier this year. As a bonus -- they were on clearance!
After the race Jean drove me to Caffe Gelato. In that time, Jennifer walked the quarter mile distance from the finish line. It was still nice seeing Jean. I hung out with my new running friends and met their local legend -- 68 year old Betty who tends to place for her age. Unfortunately this time the organizers went home before she finished near the end of the group. Having waiting until my 40s to start running, I aspire to be "Betty" someday.
The post-race food included bacon, eggs, sausage, potatoes, soup, and (of course) gelato served in a waffle cone. I chose salted caramel. It was good.
My wishes for the race were that they provided long-sleeved shirts (as advertised) instead of men's cut short-sleeved one and that they had medals (not advertised). I feel any distance above a 5K deserves a medal. I'll collect two more over the next two weeks. This is the third race this year I did without a medal (the others were 5K). I like my bling. Mile markers would have been an asset, too. They had a huge marker for mile 1, and that was it! Fortunately my Nike+ watch kept me on track.
The race was exactly what I needed. My time was only 8 minutes slower than my PR for this distance (2:08 and change), and that was a flat course. The overall pace was 12:50 min/mile. One of my worries with Princeton is being able to maintain a 14 minute pace (new requirement this year). This race helped me regain my confidence, while also making new friends.
The ice cream was a nice post-race treat.
With this race, I added a new state to my list states in which I have raced: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, California, and now Delaware. I also added my first international race in Montreal and my first virtual one. It has turned out to be a busy racing year after all. Two more coming up this fall. Stay tuned.