Archive for the ‘race reports’ Category

Nobody panicked, nobody got frostbite, but yes it snowed for the Tyler Arboretum Trail Run today.  When the gun went off it was just cold drizzle..then it turned to sleet.. And by mile 4 there were big fat flakes of snow falling.  Days like this I wish I had a GoPro because there was a moment when we emerged from the woods into a snow covered field with daffodils..that I would like to see again.   Space blankets were distributed at the end and I managed to stop shivering in the car on the way home.   Lesson learned..never forget your extra shoes.

This is always my favorite race.


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I found myself in RIchmond VA last weekend and I decided to run in the James River Scramble, which was billed as a 10K trail race.  It was actually part trail and part road and part really scary suspension foot bridge.  The James River is wide!


In any case, it was my first time running in a  race with a wave start, and clearly I have not mastered the wave start; I was at least one wave too far back, and did not get into the first line of the wave I was in,  leading to some frustration until I managed to pass a bunch of people going up something called the Mayan Ruins (no idea what it really was but it had a bunch of steep steps.)    Compared to the Schuylkill, the James isn’t very picturesque, in my humble opinion, but I’m no doubt biased, and it’s always interesting to be in another river city and see the sights while running past them.  An unimpressive finish, 5th out of 22 in my age class, but I’ve run a race in Virginia now..only 45 more states to go!

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Thursday I split my miles again; 3 in the morning on the road, about 5 or 6 in the evening on trails.  For some reason I was keeping my mileage low this week…can’t remember what my reasoning was now.  No LST Saturday; instead I did laps around the field behind my house.  (Clearly I’m desperately for a change, because I’ve always hated running laps.)  Sunday I ran the Radnor Red Steeple Chase in the morning, and did a 5 mile slow run in the evening, in keeping with my new plan.  Won another awesomely tacky bobble-butt horse (or ass) trophy for 1st place in AG.

Two more races in the off-road series, but the next one isn’t until October.  So September is wide open to do whatever I want, without worrying about injuring myself and not being able to run a race.


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So the Philadelphia area is in the midst of a heat wave, and last weekend’s LST and all my other runs in the past week have been nothing more than attempts, mostly unsuccessful,  to acclimate myself to hot weather.  Yesterday’s temperature was over 100, and I didn’t even bother to go out.  Not only have the heat and humidity been bad, but the air quality index has been in the “unhealthy” range.  So, I wasn’t expecting to do well at today’s Double Trouble 15K race at French Creek State Park.  In fact, I was sort of feeling like I’d be lucky to finish.  But the trail gods were smiling and it turned out OK.  Here’s my capsule review:

This race, put on by Pretzel City, is about 50 miles from Philly.  It’s called double trouble because you can run either 15K or 30K and you can decide after the 15 if you want to keep going (I didn’t).  The 15K was part of the USATF off-road series and that’s waht I ran.  It was supposed to start at 9, but we waited around for 5 or 10 minutes because there was thunder and the race director was waiting to see if there would be lightning (there wasn’t).  Eventually he started the race after some staged rivalry between the 15K and 30K runners, and the usual Ron Horn jokes of questionable taste.  The race had 3 water stops with Gatorade, and the course was super well-marked and not terribly challenging.  There was one hill maybe 2/3 of the way through that most people seemed to be walking.  It seemed to me that the temperature got better as the race progressed, but maybe that was my usual weirdness..I always feel better in the second half of a race.  At about mile 7 I was overconfident on the downhill and lost my footing.  I managed to remain upright by means of a wing-flapping bicycling sort of routine, which must have been very entertaining to the people behind me.  I took it a bit easier for the rest of the race.  ( I’m pretty sure it was my Performance-Enhancing Kokopelli temporary tattoo that saved me from an embarrassing encounter with the earth.)  Anyway, I came in first in my age group (thanks,  again, Kokopelli) and got a nice medal.  The after-race food was copious and carb-loaded, though I didn’t have the stomach for the grilled hotdogs, bagels with various spreads, PB&J, Tootsie Rolls, oreos and Twizzlers on offer.    There was music as well and and it was all in view of the beautiful Hopewell Lake..  The downside: not enough potties.  The verdict: nice course, well organized,  good food, worth the trip.

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Waving at Clay Wells, the most excellent Wanderers photographer.

It was a fantastic day for the Wissahickon Trail Classic, the annual 10K trail race held in the Wissahickon to benefit the Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers.  This race is part of the Mid-Atlantic USATF Off-Road Series, and is organized by the Wissahickon Wanderers, who were out in force, monitoring the course, manning the water stops, guiding people to parking and registering runners.  The race drew about 600 participants.  This was my first year running it with Greater Philly Track Club.

I got to the Bell’s Mill road parking lot at about 8:15ish, and found parking and a clean port a-potty with no line.  Bell’s Mill is 1/2 mile from the start.  I ran to the start line with Wanderer Barb, and noticed that there was  a really long line for packet pick-up, but  no line for in-person registration.  So, that’ll teach me to sign up in advance!  (There is no Friday-night packet pickup for this race.)  After obtaining my really, really bright Kelly-green race t-shirt and my bib, I ran back to the car to stow it, then walked back to the start, so I had a 1.5 mile warm up, whether I wanted it or not.   Sadly, the porta-potty line at the start was too long to accommodate all the runners and I’m pretty sure there were still people in line when there race started at 9 AM.  I gave up waiting.

The course has a steep hill 1/2 mile  from the start, and unfortunately I didn’t hit it soon enough to beat the crowd.  At the top is single-track so I ended up in the back of a conga-line snaking through Houston Meadows.  Most of the course after that was in the shade of the woods and not too technical.  There were no stream crossings, which was likely a good thing given the heavy rain the night before, and very little mud.  All in all it was a pretty fast course.  My one little mini-rant involves the bunch of young guys who were taking it easy on the uphills, then decided at the very end of the race on a down-hill, that suddenly it was really really import for them to beat their buddies, so they went careening down, elbowing me out of the way in their fight for supremacy in the last 2/10 mile.  On the other hand, there was that really nice guy who helped me up that last hill, so all the karma evens out.

I came in a disappointing third in my AG, and was, of course, beaten out as usual by my arch-rival in the 50-59 AG, but I have a plan.  Since she is older than I am, all I have to do is wait until she progresses into the next age group.  Anyway, I won a lovely flowering perennial, courtesy of WRV, to add to my Race Garden.   Thanks, WRV and thanks Wanderers for a great race!

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I’ve been distracted from blogging by various things, but not from running.  So I’m back, with  a review of the Tyler  10K Trail Run, put on by the Delco Road Runners.  This is usually the first trail race that I run each year, so it serves as sort of a baseline.  It’s normally my slowest race, and it gives me the opportunity to see just how much ground I’ve lost throughout long winter.  Maybe I should start by explaining my training regime.  I have none.  I don’t train for races, I just sort of casually run on some schedule that seems to make sense to me,  and if I do a race on the weekend, then that’s either my long run for the week, or what passes as a speed workout for me.  So, usually I start out very very slow in spring races, and by mid-summer I’m, well, less slow.  I run my fastes race typically in August.  Anyway, back to Tyler.

The race, which is  capped at 400 participants,  is a low-key  event, at the beautiful Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA.  The TTR is part of the Mid-Atlantic USATF off-road series, ( I ran for the Greater Philadelphia Track Club).  It’s a true trail race, an up-and-back with lots of elevation change, and four shallow stream crossings.  The secret to this race, I think, is in the stream crossings.  The streams are really shallow, so it’s completely unnecessary to cross on the rocks, in fact, it’s probably harder to run across the rcoks because they’re slippery, yet there’s always a backlog of people waiting to cross on the rocks.  So, just run through the freakin’ water!

The lowdown: it starts on time, there’s pre-race coffee, enough rest rooms, the food is good, and award ceremony is reasonably timely.  I like that participants receive a native plant or tree courtesy of the arboretum.  This year, I brought home an Echinacea, which I planted in my back yard.  (I’m developing a Run Garden, with all plants from both this race and the Wissahickon Trail Classic.)  If you do this race, don’t forget to  enjoy the trees and flowers of the Arboretum.   (As seen in the pictures below, the skunk cabbage was in full-swing during the race, but luckily the course didn’t take us through any skunk cabbage because it’s pretty stinky when stomped on).

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Normally, my first race of the season isn’t until March,when I typically do a cold and muddy 10K trail run.  Then again,  normally, it’s freezing cold in February.  This year it was balmy, and to counteract a particularly slow winter, running-wise, I thought I’d run the Fireside Frosbite 5-Miler, put on by the Ambler Running Club benefitting The Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association,  and also the Kelly Ann Dolan Foundation.  This year is the first year it’s been called “Fireside “, but there were no fires.  Fireside Bar & Grille is a big sponsor of the race.  Here’s my review.

This is a road race, though there is a little tiny bit of unpaved trail between mile 3 and 4.  The whole course is closed to traffic.  It starts at Wissahickon High School,  which brings us right to the ever-important issue of bathroom lines.  There were none.  The race organizers had access to the high school, with its numerous bathrooms, so there were no porta-potties and no waiting.  Yay!  The course winds through suburban streets and through the older streets in the Borough of Ambler.  Ambler was established in the 1850’s as a railroad depot, and has that small Pennsylvania town look and feel feel about it, so I particularly enjoyed that part of it.   There were a good number of spectators, many of whom were ringing handbells.  An Ambler tradition?  The course is pretty flat (at least compared to my normally running spots) and the roads are wide enough so that it wasn’t too crowded, though there were about 1500 runners.

The organizers did a great job starting on time with a minimum of standing around waiting for the gun, the race was chip timed and there was no backlog at the finish line.  I think there was one water -stop, though I wasn’t paying attention since I run with water.  At the finish, you were greeted by Frosty the giant pengun mascot who was high-fiving runners with his flipper-wing.  Post-race ceremonies started quickly, which is always a good thing, and there were lot of door prizes, including a really fantastic one..a Motoactv GPS and heart- rate monitor thingy that I really really want.  The post race food was impressive: hot dogs, sandwiches, fruit, coffee and the excellent donuts of Ambler Donuts, (which do not at all resemble those boring franchised donuts who shall go nameless but whose initials are DD).  So far every race I’ve run in Ambler  has involved hot dogs, and I’m not sure why ..another mysterious Amblerian tradition, I suppose.  I personally prefer some  carbs and coffee after a race, but lots of people seemed to be in the hot dog line.

Anyway, though I’m not much of a road-race person, as a way to jump start the running season, this is a fun and low-hassle run, for a good cause.

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