Archive for the ‘race reports’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving.  Today I am thankful for being healthy and able to run.  And remembering my gloves.  It was a brisk..OK, cold.. morning and I had a last-minute change of plan and ran the 5 mile Philadelphia Insurance Companies Turkey Trot on beautiful Forbidden Drive, my home trail.   This race  benefits Face To Face.   I came in 3rd in AG as usual (sigh) with a very mediocre 8:03 pace but got my picture taken with Mayor Nutter (yay!)

Here’s the Race Report:

First, the all-important “Three P’s” (Parking, Porta-potties, Prep)

Parking was surprisingly good (I normally get there a little early and park in one of the lots on Bell’s Mill road, which gives me a 0.5 mile warmup walk to the starting line.  Other options are to  get there really early and park at Northwestern, or try  the big lots at Chestnut Hill College.  Four porta-johns for 1000 people = long lines.  Race started on time.  If you’re not paying attention, you might miss the start because there was not really much of an announcement.  Especially if you are in the porta-potty.  Luckily, I noticed that everybody had started moving whilst I was still busy fooling with my iPod Shuffle (which, it turns out, doesn’t lend itself to adjustment with gloved fingers).

The Basics:

  • Organization: Very good.  There were plenty of volunteers and race-day registration was quick.
  • Size: 1100 registrants; probably about 1000 runners.
  • Terrain: flat, fast, wide non-technical gravel bridle-path. Not much elevation change.

The Extras

  • SWAG:  Thank you Nolan Painting for the running gloves and popcorn.  Awards were pretty minimalistic-a certificate!
  • Refreshments: Again, minimalism was the order of the day (granola bars & bananas), which is probably a good thing, given the potential for thanksgiving over-eating.

In a Nutshell:

No-nonsense, low-key but well-attended Turkey Trot with some very strong competition and a fast course.

The Highlight:  Definitely Mayor Nutter!


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OK, first off, it snowed.  It seems like the weather goddess is having some fun with me, because my last race featured rain and flooding.  So after scraping, hacking and shoveling the 4 inches of snow off my car without a scraper, and crawling in through the back because the front doors were frozen shut, I made my way to Evansburg State Park for the 10 mile trail race.  The state park roads were plowed and the race started at 10:10, because of ice in the parking lot, after the usual Ron Horn amusing pre-race pronouncements about the risk of death and dismemberment etc.  I started at the back, not feeling the need to really compete, as I mostly just wanted to not fall down this time.   And I succeeded.   In addition to lots and lots of mud, this race featured something I had not experienced before: snow balls falling from the sky, or possibly the trees.  Two of the stream crossings planned were eliminated because of current and the risk of hypothermia, but there were a couple of smaller stream crossings, and plenty of mud holes.  Only at one point was the snow deep enough to really present a challenge, and it mostly felt like trying to run in loose sand on the beach.  In any case I finished  without injury in 1:39, I think.

At least the parking lot was plowed!

The good:  10:00 start (much better than the usual 8am), really well marked course, handy stream crossings to wash the mud off, WARM and clean indoor rest rooms!

The bad:  Nothing really, unless you don’t like snowballs falling on your head.  Wear a hat.  Hot coffee at the finish would have been nice, though.

Note: This race is part of the USATF off-road series.

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Chronicles of RagNarnia

Friday I volunteered  at Exchange 4 of the Inaugural Pennsylvania Ragnar Relay, Lancaster to the Poconos, which was at the Twin Brook Winery in Gap.  I was volunteering on behalf of Team 11 Mustangs and a Sally, aka 8 Mustangs and a Sally (there were a few drop-outs).  On my way there I passed a wave of runners from the 9AM start, one of whom was running in a full gorilla suit, which seemed appropriate since earlier I had passed a giant banana on the run.  On one of the roads near the exchange, there was a gaggle of about 15 Amish kids sitting on a fence watching the runners go by.   It was a beautiful day in Lancaster County and the runners seemed to enjoy the scenery, and all the out-of-towners got a big kick out of the quaintly named Intercourse, PA.

So, the challenge of running a relay exchange can be summed up in 2 words: traffic control.  Dressed in an alarmingly orange T-shirt and luminescent vest, you get to wave an orange flag, tell the  van  drivers where to park and people where to stand (basically: Not in the road!).  The goal is to keep anyone from being run over on your watch.  At least, that was my goal.  Also,  you  get to check off the runners as they come into the chute, and chat with runners during the busy times.  During the lulls, you sit in the shade of a tree and read.  Occasionally you are pummeled by a shower of black walnuts falling from the tree onto your head, but this is good, because it ensures you don’t doze off and miss an incoming runner.  I volunteered with Geeta and Linda from the GSK Team “There’s a Pill for That”.  GSK sounds like a fun place to work.  Now I’m asking myself why Penn didn’t have a Ragnar Team.   Hmm..  Anyway, I think my favorite team theme was the team on which everyone had a mustache.  Even the women.  My favorite names?  Gang Green and Chronicles of Ragnarnia.

Anyway, definitely a fun way to spend an October afternoon.  Next year, I think I have to run.

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(Read my experiences doing this run)

Green Ribbon Trail Prediction Run

  • Distance: 8 miles, give or take, point to point
  • Terrain: Mostly flat, trail  several stream crossings, a short stretch of residential neighborhood street
  • Benefits: Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association http://www.wvwa.org/

The Basics:

Easy to get to, plenty of parking, well organized, well marked trail,  lots of volunteers on the course directing runners, buses from end to starting point, gear transport

The Extras:

Coffee and great food afterwards, Nice tech shirt designed by one of the runners,

The bottom line:

A small but nicely organized run on  a mostly flat course with views of the Wissahickon, which should be fast in good weather.

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(Read the review)

My first “mud run.”

I woke this morning at 6:30 to pouring rain, and briefly wondered if that meant I would not be running the 8 mile prediction run to benefit Wissahickon Watershed Association.  I had signed up because (a) it was a prediction run, meaning I didn’t have to be fast to win, I just had to know exactly how slow I really was, and (b) I had never run the Green Ribbon Trail and bought this would be a good way to get familiar with it.

At 7 AM the web site posted a message saying the run was still on, so off I went, getting there 10 minutes before the 8AM start, just in time to hear the race director proclaiming that the start would be delayed 30 minutes to “let some of the water run off the trail.”  Hmm.   But as soon as I had gotten comfortable in my nice warm car again, they decided to start the race at about 8:10.

Because of the rain and recent flooding, there was plenty of mud and plenty of water.  And this wasn’t, you know, clean mud.  The aroma could best be described as fetid. I would say 90% of the time, we were running though either mud or standing water..sometimes ankle deep, or crossing a stream, sometimes almost knee deep.  There were plenty of board walks (thank you Wissahickon Volunteers)  and rocks and planks, but those were wet and slippery.  In some places I was pretty sure the swamps harbored at least giant blood sucking leeches, if not gators, but in the end I saw only a few tadpoles.  To make a long story short, after stomping and slithering through the mud, falling down once, crossing raging streams (ok, maybe not raging, maybe just lightly perturbed) and negotiating a narrow trail over looking the Wisshickon that had been eroded to about 6 inches wide, for more than an hour, I finally reached the last stream crossing, only to be turned back by the race officials because of unsafe conditions.  They moved the finish line, which luckily only  added about .4 miles to the distance.  Anyway, I finished with nothing more serious than a bloody knee from falling on a rock.  So all in all, a success, but nowhere close to my laughably optimistic prediction time.

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You can skip to the Summary at the bottom, or read my personal musings first.

August 21: This was my second time running the Radnor Red Steeplechase, but the first time running it officially.  Yes, last year I was a rogue..I arrived late after the race had started, but decided to run it anyway, since I was there and all, and had paid my fee..and had a pretty good time.  It seems that being really really late provided just the incentive I needed to run fast.

This year, I was nice and early..early enough to stop in and visit the horses in the barn, and the hounds, who were barking up a storm, and to gawk at the humongous fox statue.    It occurred to me that actual fox hunts might take place here.  It was hotter than I thought, and I made the mistake of running without a water bottle, thinking “Ah..it’s only a 5K”, but  the obstacles and the humidity took their toll. Speaking of obstacles..it seemed like there were an awful lot of them, and they were, of course, sized for horses instead of 5’3″ humans.  The most challenging ones for me were the things resembling the peaked roof of a submerged house, because I had to sort of balance on the peak before coming down the other side…I’m sure there’s a secret to getting over those things quickly but I haven’t figured it out yet.  But, it was fun, and really different from the usual 5K.

Anyway, I finished second in the age group, but at least a full 3 minutes behind the first place runner.  Oh well.



Course: Medium-challenging for a 5K, no hills of consequence,  mostly grass, many obstacles

Basics: Started on time, plenty of PP, expect to wait for the kid’s run to finish if you want to stay for awards.

T-shirt: black tech shirt, no girly style, no extra small

Interesting Features: Horses all over the place, kids race after the main event



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