Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Washington Crossing 15k

Last month when I started training for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, I signed up for the Rev Run 10k in Washington Crossing. It was the last non-humid day this summer, or so it feels at this point more than a month later. I made the impromptu training plan that each week I would do two 5ks, and add a half a mile to my "long run" for the week. There are many different ways to train for a half marathon. Mine is probably on the wimpier side, but then again I am training for a Disney race where there are lots of stops to take pictures with characters along the way and the main goal is to have fun.

The long runs have been a challenge. There are times I can coordinate with Don and he puts out a water bottle at the half-way point for me. There are plenty of other times I mostly power walk the distance and muddle through with only one water bottle and the occasional water fountain.

When doing the math, I realized the Washington Crossing 15k was perfectly timed as I needed to do 9.5 miles that weekend (or those of you unable to do the math, a 5k=3.11 miles, therefore a 15k-9.33 miles). 

I kept an eye on the forecast and procrastinated signing up for the race for fear of the usual evening thunderstorm (I don't run in thunderstorms). It was nearly 100 degrees at the 5 PM start, and still 90 degrees three hours later when I left the event. Definite heat advisory. The person in charge said he thought about canceling the race, but knew people would show up anyway and this way they were taken care of. Ahhh...

I believe they changed the course. I think it was supposed to be a simple out and back along the canal, and they changed it to a double out and back. The benefit to doing it this way is they had 19 water stations. NINETEEN! That is one every half mile -- much more than I would ever carry. The other benefit was that at the halfway point it was easy to bail -- something 25 of the 95 runners who showed up that day did. Only 70 of us finished. There were at least 8 crazy people who signed up that day (including me), and others who did not make it to the starting line.

The low numbers gave me hope I might placed for the first time, but alas there were three others in my age category and they beat me (by at least 15 minutes, so it wasn't close). Someday I'd like to win an award for most spirited or cheerful or something harder to quantify than speed, or find an even smaller race and place for my age.

As Don and Ashley had left for Canada that day, I was happy to have some camaraderie. Yes, there was a heat advisory and it was not good running weather. On the other hand, the race was supported and if I had troubles, someone would have taken care of me. There was also a huge dinner spread afterwards.

As for the race itself, I did great with my intervals for about 2 miles, then power walked the rest. I could not find my stride. I keep telling myself it will be easier once the fall weather returns. People commented I am a pretty fast walker. I cheered for everyone along the course with thumbs ups and words of encouragement. By the fourth switchback, even the most serious runner was cheering for me, too. I reminded people unlike our soldiers, we are here because we want to be here. 

The volunteers were awesome. One man gave me a wet towel, which I draped around my neck (surprisingly it was very helpful). Each of the three subsequent times when I passed him, he refreshed it. At the halfway point a volunteer told me I had to have water. Um..that time I was planning to have watered down Gatorade. That was okay, too. There was absolutely no shortage of water. I drank at each stop, but never needed a port-a-potty.

At the end Agnes (a 3:1 interval runner who tried my 1:30 second intervals while I was still running) thanked me for getting her through the race. That brought a smile to my face. Being in a category by herself, she came in first. A goal I have if I can only keep running another 15 years and my faster competitors find other activities. 

The course was almost identical to the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Race Don and I did in March, but without the "spiral of death" portion. Sort of ironic since this race's weather made me think of soup. This time with the weather being so icky, and the course so familiar, I did not take any pictures. 

Remember my needing to do a 9.5 miles this week and the race "only" being 9.33 miles? My GPS recorded I went about 9.5 miles instead of the official 9.33 so all is good. Until the last mile, the pace was 13:30, certainly strong enough to beat the Balloon Ladies in Paris, but I need to get stronger if I want to be a "four-peater" at the Princeton Half Marathon. That award for the most improved time among four-peaters is tempting. As I finished in last place in 2015, I have a shot at that award.

Great dinner spread, fabulous volunteer support, and a cool medal, too. Maybe next year will have better weather.

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