Posts Tagged ‘Running’

Racing in a kilt? Bring it!

warrior-logo-300x217This post gives you a runners perspective on the Perth Kilt Run in Ontario, Canada. This is one of my favorite community races, here’s what to expect if you go. It has a number of unique aspects that make it worth the trip.

Here’s what you need to know about running in a kilt, the Warrior class (running with shield and sword anyone?), and the race in general.

The kilts

Do you actually race in a kilt?

1200px-Guinness_World_Records_logo.svgYes. All runners are required to wear a kilt. This includes the 200 meter Wee Lads and Lassies race for 2-4 year olds. They are so cute!

It started out as a Guinness world record attempt: the most runners in kilts. The race in Perth, Canada would compete with the race in Perth, Scotland to try and set a record for the most runners in kilts. It’s a hassle bringing in Guinness to judge world record attempts, so now they just have everyone race in Kilts because, well because why not!

Where do I get the kilt?

picture of four different color kiltsEven if you have an actual kilt, I recommend ordering one when you register. The race kilts are much lighter than real kilts. I think this year it was $35 to purchase a kilt with registration.  If you do the race again, or you have a friend of similar girth who has run the race in the past, you can just re-use a kilt from a previous year. I keep convincing different friends to try the race, and they often give me their kilts afterwards. I now have about 7 different kilts from friends which I loan out to various runners every year. The kilts change color every year, which adds to the pageantry. You see a fine assortment of kilts at the start line.

Do people wear the kilts in the um… traditional fashion?

Not recommended…. chafing is real…I recommend wearing running shorts under the kilt.

NOTE: If you do the warrior challenge you will have to wade through the water. Most warriors lift their kilts to keep them dry. Speaking as someone who enters the warrior challenge and may meet you crossing the water in the other direction, I ask you to please NOT wear your kilt in the traditional fashion. Once seen, things cannot be unseen.

Does the kilt bother you when you run?SusanKiltRun.jpg

No, you won’t even notice it, but it does make for fun race photos

What are the distances?

it varies from year to year but this is definitely a race designed so that the whole family can participate. And yes ALL races must be done in a kilt.

  • 5 mile/8 km race – The main event
  • 5 mile/8 km Warrior Challenge(more on this later!)
  • Wee Lads and Lassies (in 2018 this included 200m for 2-4 year olds, 200 m for 5-6 year olds, and 1 km for 7-8 year olds)
  • Wee Warriors (a 1 km warrior class division for 9-12 year olds)
  • The royal km (formerly royal mile), a 1 km race for those who aren’t up for 8 km

There was a half and full marathon in 2017, but it is unlikely they will do that again.

Warrior challenge

What is it?

100356-8fb1a5-1002856260The Warrior races include obstacles. The kids warrior class must be completed while carrying a sword. The adult warrior race must be completed carrying a sword and shield.  I haven’t done the wee warrior, but I have completed the 5 mile warrior challenge. It’s a little confusing the first time you do it “Meet by the horse statue at 5:30 PM to get your sword and shield”… uhhhh where is this horse statue? So if you try it, look around for others wearing Warrior challenge bibs and they can help you figure out where to be and when.

The warrior challenge has a limited number of spots and usually sells out. Warriors are usually one of two types of people. People who are competitive and think… awesome I get to race AND carry a sword how awesome is that! and people who are not competitive at all but think oh cool you get to run with a sword and do silly things on the way, sounds fun.  I’d say it’s about 50/50 split between the two.

How hard is it to run with a sword and shield?

Not as hard as you might expect. You can still set quite a good pace if you want to. Each weighs about 3 lbs. You don’t really notice the weight until about 5 km (3 miles) into the race then you start to feel the weight, but even then it’s manageable.

The sword and shield are both made of wood. You pick them up half an hour before the race starts and you return them at the finish line.

You can put your sword and shield into the same hand so you can still get water at the water stops.

Once you start running it’s easier to carry the sword by grabbing it mid blade (it’s not a metal blade) than by the hilt so its evenly balanced. but make sure you hold the sword by the hilt when you pass the race photographers for the best photos.

I have run the warrior challenge 3 times and never got blisters from the sword and shield, but my friend Randy did get a bit of a red spot on his arm from the shield this year (disclaimer: Randy is a little competitive, and was running hard)

What are the obstacles?

These are not your typical mud hero/Spartan race obstacles. Remember it’s a kilt run, so they are inspired from highland games type activities. The obstacles could change in the future, but the past 3 years they included20180623_201254

  • log carry
  • spear throw
  • rock throw
  • hammer throw
  • caber toss (NOT a full size caber!)
  • wading across a stream to a small island to do a shot of scotch

There are prizes for the fastest overall warrior, the best hammer throw, spear throw and rock throw. They used to have a prize for best costume, but I think they dropped that category this year.
The prizes are not your typical race prizes. Prizes include a buckler shield, an axe, a mace and a hammer!

What’s great about the race?

The finisher ‘medals’

20180630_095850One of the things I love about this race is usually they don’t give out finisher medals. One year they did give out medals and I think all of us complained. Over the years I have received a finisher kilt pin, socks, a quaich, flask of maple syrup, a spurtle, and a celtic cross.

I was disappointed this year not to get free shortbread at the finish line. I always looked forward to the shortbread.

The water stops

This race is only 5 miles/8 kilometers but they have multiple water stops. I believe when they started the race local groups could earn a donation by running a water stop and the best water stop got an extra donation. I don’t know if they still do that, but for a small community race the water stops do frequently surpass expectations with a dance team or Minion costumes and great cheering.  I think there were at least 3 water stops this year, which is pretty impressive for such a short race.

BagPipers

Okay, I know some of you are thinking nooooo not bagpipes. Come on it’s a kilt race, of course there will be bagpipes! They have bag pipers along the route (they used to have one at each km marker, not sure if they still do that) and there is a march to the start where all the 5 mile/8 km runners march to the start following the bag pipers and the warriors banging on their shields with their swords

The age categories

Most race provide awards for 1st, 2nd or 3rd in 5 year or 10 year age groups 40-44, 45-49, etc… The Perth Kilt Run only recognizes 1st place in each age group, BUT, your age group is your age. For example if you are a 72 year old guy you are competing against other 72 year old guys, If you are a 17 year old girl, your age category is 17 year old girls. So you might have a better than usual chance of placing in your age group!

Free race photos from Zoom Photo

100356-b30e0d-1002856190In 2017 they did not have free race photos, but in 2016 and in 2018 Zoom photo did the photography and electronic downloads of your race photos are free! I think this is brilliant! I am so sick of being asked if I want to pay $25 for one electronic download. Unless I’m running the Berlin on New York marathon for the first time, it’s highly unlikely I’ll pay that much for a picture. I assume the race pays a fee so we get the ‘free’ photos and builds it into the race registration cost, but I really like this model.

In particular, this is a race where the race pictures can be a lot of fun, run in a kilt, get your face painted, wear a costume or enter the warrior challenge and brandish your sword yelling Freeeeedoooom as you approach the finish line.   My most recent Kilt Run photo is my current Facebook profile picture.  It’s a brilliant bit of marketing really, because the race logo is a watermark in the bottom corner and most of us end up sharing the pictures on social media.

The pre-post race atmosphere

I think one of the things I like about this race is all the little things

  • 2018-07-05_9-00-39Live band
  • Free face painting so you can put on your best Scottish warrior face or tattoo, they always have lots of blue face paint (PRO TIP: Don’t forget you will be sweating, so if you don’t want face paint getting in your eyes mid race, you might want to keep the face paint below the eyes)
  • Beer at the finish for those over 19
  • Haggis Toss competition (this is earlier in the day)
  • Watching the kids races (in kilts of course)
  • They used to have a medieval demonstration in the park, but sadly that was not there this year
  • A decent number of port-a-potties
  • The town crier welcoming you to the race just before the start (sometimes with a little prayer, I’m not religious, and was a little surprised by this, but figure hey roll with it, it’s probably in character for a Scottish town crier)
  • Live fiddle music at the start line to keep your energy up just before the gun fires

Running through the campground

Okay for some reason, I always get a kick out of the stretch of the route that takes us through the campground. Campers sit in lawn chairs beside their RVs and cheer us on. You can smell the burgers on the grill as you go by. Not sure why, but for some reason I always look forward to the campground.

Spectator friendly route

If you have friends or family cheering you on, it’s easy to see you multiple times on the route.  The residents always come out to cheer as well, this means a better than average number of spectators for a community race.

The town of Perth

Bib pick up ends at 5 PM and the race is at 6 PM. This means you are going to have a little time to wander around. Main street has some nice little shops and is very pretty. There is also a nice park with a stream running through it.

After the race you are likely going to be hungry, so take advantage of that walk down the street to scope out a spot for post-race food, and make a reservation if you can. You won’t be the only one looking for food after the race. They are also a great place to sit and relax with nibbles and a drink pre-race as well.

What could be better?

This is a community race, so it’s not perfect, and the experience varies a little bit from year to year. Not sure if that’s because they have different organizers, different sponsors, or different relationships with the village of Perth.

The weather

Because this is a night race (the 5 miler starts at 6 PM) and it’s at the end of June it is frequently hot. Very hot!  The race organizers know it and so do the local residents. Every year I have done it there is a fire truck spraying water and a misting station to help you cool down along the route, and on hotter years you might find a friendly resident with a  hose or sprinkler as well. Given the race is only 8 km, that’s pretty good support.

Organization of awards and results

Trying to find out if you won your age group or if they are giving out awards is always a little confusing. You can look up your race results at Running Goat Timing after you finish but you have to scroll through all the previous finishers results and check their ages and genders to figure out if you actually won your age group.  They usually have the results with age groups posted online in the next day or so. In the past they used to give prizes to first place in each age group but you had to hang around a long time to figure out if you had won and claim them. I have a very nice embroidered towel I won my first year. I don’t actually know if they had prizes for the age groups this year. I had 3 friends who won their age groups but only found out two days later.

If you enter the Warrior challenge you have to wait until the Warrior class organizer (the guy in the brown leather warrior costume who gave you the instructions when you got your sword and shield) has a chance to figure out the results and gets on stage to announce the winners. It’s usually pretty obvious who the fastest male and female runners are, but the only way to find out who won best hammer or spear throw is to wait for the announcements.

Parking

Perth is a small town, so plan on finding parking on the street and walking about 500 meters or so to the start area.

The route and the hills

The hills aren’t really that bad. I have certainly run hillier courses. But I just want to make it clear this route is not flat. It changes a bit year to year, but you can count on a decent number of rolling hills through the neighborhoods.

The 5 mile route does some odd little loops and out and back stretches. Great for the spectators, because it allows them to see their runners multiple times, but a little odd for the runners.  It’s tough trying to set up a community race without disrupting traffic in a small town completely.

If you are a true “road” runner be forewarned there will be a stretch on gravel path or dirt road, and this year for the first time there was a short stretch on grass. Personally that doesn’t bother me, in fact I rather enjoy the change in terrain, but I know some runners prefer 100% pavement.

Another note, the course claims to be certified… but (thank you Randy Chafy for the leg work on this one!) it was the 2012 and 2013 routes that were certified as an 8 km. In 2015 it was certified as a 5 mile race.  The two distances are very close but not exactly the same (8 km is 4.97 miles, 5 miles is 8.04 km). They changed the route in 2018. It looks as though the course was a touch short this year, maybe closer to 4.9 miles than 5 miles. For most runners not a big deal, you are just out there to have fun, but if you are trying to set a personal record or are really measuring your splits, it’s something you might want to know.

Overall

If you are looking for something fun and different I recommend the kilt run. It’s a good race for competitive runners, casual joggers or walkers. This year’s top male runner finished the 5 mile in 26:30 but the last finisher came in at 1 hour and 47 minutes. I have done this race with friends who are very competitive and with a friend who had never walked 8 km before. Bring the kids to do the lads and lassies races, bring granny and grandpa to walk, race or spectate (depends on the grandparent!) or just come out on your own for a little fun.

Here the rest of my running related posts and race reports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surf ‘n Turf Relay (Trenton)

Surf n Turf Trenton Race Report

DSC_7592Relay races are a great way to break up the routine! The Surf n Turf in Trenton gives you a chance to really mix things up with a run/canoe/bike/run/bike/run/swim/run.

One of the great things about being part of a running group is you can usually find allies for relay races. Our coach, JR ran this race years ago. When he told Randy about it, entering became a foregone conclusion (for Randy the tougher and more interesting the race, the better). You can enter teams of 8 people, but since the legs are relatively short, we decided to enter a team of 4 so each of us could complete 2 sections.

Leg1 – 7.5 km trail run (Randy)

DSC_7611Randy was looking forward to the trail run, he is quite happy leaping over logs and splashing through mud. After seeing the route he decided to swap his trail shoes for his road runners. It turns out the trail is basically a packed dirt path. The timing chip is attached to a Velcro strap you put around your ankle so it can easily be transferred to the next team member at the transition zone.

Leg 2 – 4 km  Canoe/Kayak (Judy & Susan)

DSC_7640The second leg is a canoe or kayak. You can only use a kayak if you enter the tin man/tin woman (where you do the race solo) or the tin mate (teams of two).

You drop off your canoe or kayak between 6 and 7:30 AM at the transition area. You have to mark the front right hand side of the canoe with a bib or tape since the bib you wear will be covered by your life jacket. The canoe must contain a buoyant rope, a bailer, a whistle, and a lifejacket for each person. You leave the canoe on the grass (separate section for the kayaks) until it is time to hit the water.

Judy and I used to do a little canoeing growing up, we know how to steer a canoe, so we volunteered to do the canoe leg. Randy crossed the timing mat and Judy ran forward to get the timing chip. We ran to our canoe, carried it about 20 feet into the water and we were off.

We quickly discovered two things: #1 – four km is quite a long way in a canoe; #2 we are slow! Judy and I both have decent upper body strength (she is a swimmer and I do strength training) and we were both putting a fair effort into the paddling but we were passed steadily the entire way (we have decided to blame our paddles, we had wooden beavertail paddles and we saw several paddles with wider blades,  they allowed non wooden paddles this year.) Our time was 56th out of 66 teams on that leg… Well, I guess we have our work cut out for us the rest of the race.

When you exit the water, you have to carry your canoe up the path and then bring your timing chip to the cyclist who must wait in the transition zone. This caused a lot of concern for the tin man/woman/mate entrants who would therefore have to carry their kayaks alone up the path unless they had a support team. Apparently last year you could leave your boat in the water. James was waiting on his bike, but Randy was allowed to come down and help us carry the canoe. Judy ran up to James handed him the chip and off he went on his bike.

We saw a few people carrying their canoes back to the cars right away, but James only had 25 km to go on the bike so we focused on getting to the next transition zone to ensure we’d be ready to go when he got there. The parking lot for the canoe/bike transition zone is about 1 km from the t-zone.  When they arrived, Randy and James rode their bikes from the van to the t-zone.  After James left on the bike, Randy rode his bike back to the van and then drove back to pick up Judy and I as we were still walking towards the parking lot. It’s a bit of a hike and we were wearing water shoes and sandals that were not designed for running or jogging to the car.

In the captains meeting they said you could leave your canoe in the t-zone and come back for it anytime up until 3 PM and their would be volunteers keeping an eye on it….more on that later…

Leg 3 – 25 km bike (James)

DSC_7655There is a map of the bike route on the mobile website, but you can’t zoom in on that map, so the road names were too small too read. They showed us all the maps in the PowerPoint presentation at the captain’s meeting. We thought we would have printed versions of those maps in our race guide, but that was not the case. The only printed map provided was a map showing the recommended driving route for support vehicles to get from one transition zone to the next.  We were slightly worried James might miss one of the turns.

You are not allowed to drive alongside your cyclist since the roads are open to traffic. But we drove the route ahead of James just to make sure the turns would be obvious. If there was a confusing turn we figured we would park and stand there to make sure he did not miss it. (this is a tactic we have used successfully at the Park 2 Brew running relay). As it turned out there were either police or volunteers at all the turns. But we did get a chance to observe a lot of cyclists working hard on the hills!  That’s a pretty hilly 25 km ride, and some of the roads have very little shoulder so you need to be comfortable riding alongside traffic.

James arrived in the transition zone about 10 minutes after we arrived. He was parched, there were a few stretches in the heat where it was hard to take a drink of water because of the climbs. Judy took the ankle strap with timing chip and off for the cross country run.

Leg 4 – 5 km Cross country run (Judy)

DSC_7670Judy brought her cross country shoes complete with spikes. But after seeing the terrain for Randy’s “trail” run, she was concerned she would have stretches on concrete for the cross country run. She removed the spikes. It turns out that was an excellent decision. The last 500 m was along a road and the rest of the race was actually a trail run. Cross country running is usually across fields, maybe up and down a few ditches. This leg turned out to be a proper trail run. Judy arrived at the finish with splashes of mud on her legs from running through puddles and convinced that she would have poison ivy (she saw lots of it on her run) Randy & James who enjoy trail running were quite jealous.

20180614_190228FYI – They mentioned the risk of poison ivy at the captains meeting and said they make an effort to clear it where they can. You have to sign a remarkable waiver for this race with an exhaustive list of risks that includes risk of choking, drowning, hypothermia, heat stroke, allergic reaction to insects, and being struck by a kayak or other participant. We were amused to discover that they missed poison ivy 🙂

The transition zone from cross country run to mountain bike was a bit chaotic. By now it was mid-day and hot. The only shady place to stand was on the road. Every minute or so a car would come through and we all had to move over (it wasn’t clear if these were racers who hadn’t parked and walked up the road like we did or others just using the road). So now you have the team members on their mountain bikes waiting to go and a hundred or so teammates hanging around the finish area moving further out onto the road trying to see if their runner is coming, the end result is a frustrated group of race organizers and volunteers desperately trying to keep the road clear.  If you run the race, make sure you park before you reach the pylons that mark the last few hundred meters of the cross country run so you don’t have to drive through all of that.

Leg 5 – 8 km Mountain bike (Randy)

Randy had his bike helmet and safety glasses as required by the race (we found out at the captain’s meeting that they permit sunglasses as safety glasses). Judy ran over to give him the timing chip and off he went! We knew there was at least one good climb on the route.  None of us do much mountain biking so we really did not know how it would go.

Off to the next transition zone where we all clustered under one big tree, the only shade around. You could see the bikers coming down the last trail, legs covered in mud (clearly a few good puddles on this leg). Randy arrived muddy but happy and James took off for the road run.

We sacrificed a blanket to keep the mud on the bike from getting all over the inside of Randy’s van and took off to the next transition zone.

Leg 6 – 7.5 km Road run (James)

At the captains meeting they referred to this leg as the death run. James listed to the description along the roads through the town. It did not sound particularly nasty, so he asked why she called it the death run. “You do this run at the peak of the day’s heat, all on pavement,  and there is absolutely no shade”  She exaggerated, James said there was a tree that provided at least 15 feet of shade along the route. Yes they did have water stops.

Leg 7 – 500 m swim (Judy)

The swim is 20 laps in a pool. No diving, feet first entry only. The swimmers either need to shower or get hosed down before entering the pool area. We weren’t sure if Judy would have time to change into a swimsuit at the transition zone, so she wore her swimsuit under her running gear for the canoe and the cross country run. A volunteer with a hose washed the mud off her legs. When James came around the corner, Judy grabbed the ankle strap, put it on, and went inside to the pool. They have volunteers to help you keep track of your laps which is great.

You are welcome to go to the viewing area to watch your swimmer as long as you are clean (i.e. if you did the cross country or mountain bike you’ll need to get hosed down).

Your last runner waits at the far pool door. It’s nice not having to rush off to another transition zone. It also means a teammate can hold the swimmers clothes, sunglasses, towel, or whatever.   They call out the bib numbers to the waiting runners when the swimmer comes out of the pool so you have about 15-30 seconds warning before they arrive at the door.

Leg 8 – 3.5 km Run (Susan)

DSC_7679The last leg is a pretty straightforward road run. No shade. Flat except for one the hill that takes you to the finish line.

The last run is only 3.5 km, which means if you want to see your runner cross the finish line you’ve got to get moving. The parking lot for the finish area is about 500 m from the finish line.  I caught up to James, Randy & Judy at the bottom of the hill about 300 m from the finish. Being the awesome teammates they are, they immediately ran with me up the hill clutching their cameras and phones and we crossed the finish line together.

The finish area

The finish area is a good set up, they posted results quickly, they have music, they have ice cream, and instead of the usual post race BBQ burgers and dogs there were some very tasty beef sandwiches and watermelon. My only complaint would be the shortage of water. They had juice boxes and a server yourself cups of water from a drink cooler which ran out.

James calf was giving him trouble so he signed up for a massage. We realized 20 minutes later that each massage table had their own waiting list or line up. When we figured this out, James was still #6 on the list for the table where we had signed up and another masseuse had only 1 person waiting. So if you want a massage make sure you check out the lines for each table, you may save yourself a long wait.

Results were posted quite quickly. We had finished 10th team overall, 4th masters.  So no need to stick around for the award ceremonies. Randy and Judy had gone to pick up our canoe while James waited for his massage. Unfortunately when they got there they found out all the canoes and kayaks left behind had been moved to a tennis court near the finish line. When they got to the tennis court, the gate was locked and we couldn’t find anyone to unlock it.

While they tried to sort out the canoe, I had gone back to the other car to get our draw tickets (strips of paper in the little bag with the safety pins). I wrote down our names on the slips of paper and asked a volunteer where they go. They sent me to the main building in the finish area. Once inside I realized the system. You drop your slip into the bag for the door prize you hope to win. We entered the draw for the local micro brewery and the bike.  We didn’t win, but I will say they had an impressive number of draw prizes this year.

Just after they completed the draw prizes, they announced a volunteer was at the tennis courts so we could retrieve our canoe. All the paddles, bailing ropes, and bailers were in piles to the side. I *hope* I grabbed the correct paddles from the pile (remember we borrowed the canoe and paddles and I had left them in the canoe, I didn’t think I’d be digging through a pile of canoe paddles trying to find them again). Our bailing rope was not in the pile :(, someone else must have mistakenly taken it. Our most excellent tide laundry detergent container/bailer was not there either, I am assuming someone took care of putting it in  a recycle bin for me 🙂

In Summary

Surf N Turf is a fun race. Trenton is a nice town. Try to find a place with a patio by the river for dinner! The race would be easier if you were a local, a lot of directions at the captain’s meeting assumed you knew the neighborhood. I think it would be easier the second time you compete and know what to expect. We managed a respectable finish in our first attempt. Next time I would recommend you print the maps from the website at home before you travel to the race, since it’s hard to read the maps on your phone and the race kit only provides a printed map of the driving route from transition zone to zone.

This race is organized by the military, so they take safety and safety guidelines seriously. That also means the majority of the teams are made up of military teams fighting for bragging rights.  This race is reasonably competitive, not a lot of ‘my first 5 km’ runners. But you don’t need to run a sub 5 minute km to have fun at Surf n Turf… we may be back 🙂

20180615_174120_001

Here the rest of my running related posts and race reports.

 

 

Big Sur Marathon Race Report “Beauty and the Beast”

(just found this post in my drafts…apparently I forgot to publish it last year :))

Apparently the Big Sur marathon is nicknamed Beauty and the Beast. I can’t think of a better nickname! If you run marathons, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list.

I recently ran Big Sur with 5 members of my running club: Faye, John, Mike, James and my sister Judy. James suggested we all do Boston 2 Big Sur this year and at the time it seemed like a good idea 🙂

Tip #1 Give yourself a little time to explore the area

We arrived Friday in Monterey.  The race was Sunday. California lived up to its reputation for great weather. We had lots of sunshine. Yet it was cool enough in the morning and evening for a light jacket and warm enough in the afternoon for shorts and a t-shirt.

We took advantage of the views and the weather to rent bikes and ride along the coast, stopping to take pictures along the way. A sneak preview of the views to come on race day perhaps?
20170429_113910

You won’t regret having a little time to explore the area. You can visit the Monterey Aquarium, check out the shops and restaurants along Cannery Row and  fisherman’s wharf.  The municipal wharf is a good spot to look for sea life and to see fishermen at work (we spotted sea lions and sea otters).  Rent a sea kayak and explore the shoreline. Walk, drive, or cycle to the coves where the seals have their pups. It would be a shame to arrive, race, and leave.

20170501_082834.jpgTip #2 Wear your race gear around town

Big Sur race weekend has everything from a 3km race to a marathon. As a result it seems like everyone in or around Monterey has either run Big Sur or has a friend or family member who ran Big Sur.  Because we were wearing race shirts we ended up meeting a fisherman who tried out for the US Olympic marathon team and got free dessert at a restaurant in Carmel from a waiter who ran the race last year. It’s a great way to meet other runners and to connect with the locals!

Tip #3 Don’t worry about long lines at the expo

20170428_162620

The Big Sur race expo is very small. Don’t worry, it has the essentials for everyone who forgot to pack something for race day: gels, body glide, water belts. It has some nice Big Sur souvenirs including coasters, shirts, and socks. You can buy posters with the names of all the marathon runners. You can meet the pianist who plays the piano at the half way mark of the marathon and buy his CD. They had runners doing seminars. They had Big Sur jewellery. My personal favorite had to be the booth with the Big Sur International Marathon wine! Bottle of red, bottle of white, it all depends upon your appetite! (for the record I picked up a bottle of the Pinot Noir)

Tip #4 Make reservations for dinner Saturday night

With an early start Sunday morning, Italian restaurants are popular places around 5 PM Saturday all across Pacific Grove and Monterey!  We found a fabulous little Italian place in Pacific Grove (my sister said it was the best Pasta Primavera she ever had!). Our restaurant was packed with runners.  Fortunately we made a reservation well ahead of time. Many runners enquiring by phone or in person left disappointed or informed that they could get a seating at 8 PM or later.

Tip #5 Stay on Eastern time

Or if you aren’t travelling from the East to race Big Sur, just go to bed early. The only way to the start line of the marathon is by bus. The buses leave at 3:30 or 4:00 AM. Allow time for your pre-race wake up and prep routine and time to make your way to the location where you board the bus and you should only have to set your alarm for somewhere between 2:30 and 3 AM!

Tip #6 Research where to stay

You can stay in Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, Pacific Grove. You can stay in a Hotel, a motel, or rent a house.  There are options for different budgets, different comfort levels and different wake up times (If you stay in Big Sur or at the Marriott you can catch a later bus to the start).  If you stay in Carmel you have an easier ride home after the race. We rented a house in Pacific Grove and some of our friends had rooms at the Red Roof Inn.

Tip #7 Bring your phone

No20170430_075603t for phone calls or Facebook updates because you won’t have cell reception at the start area, but this is a race where you can set a new PR (photo record).  Yup, if ever there was a race where you want to take pictures this is it! Whether it’s the awesome caricature signs along the route or the amazing views there is a good chance you will want to take  a picture at some point. They even share photo etiquette in the race program (if you wish to take a picture during the race move onto the should of the road on the left side to take your photo, but don’t move too far to the left!) Apparently a number of runners spotted a whale just off shore in 2017! I am told whale sightings are not a common occurrence.

There are a variety of musical acts all along the course, and unlike most races you can hear the musical acts from quite a distance since the only other sound on the road is the pounding of 20170430_090210runners feet, birds chirping, and the waves.

There are points along the route where you can see the road winding for miles ahead of you (which can be a bit depressing knowing you have to run all that way, but try to enjoy them :)). But wow, talk about gorgeous views. Driving the Pacific Coast highway is a bucket list item for many. We have it all to ourselves for this race with nothing but the occasional race vehicle sharing the road.

Tip #8 Bring clothes to wear in the start area

Many people live under the illusion that it’s always hot in California. Well if it’s 5:30 AM and you are sitting in a park in the dark, you may find that a singlet and running shorts are not enough to keep you warm.

Tip #9 Do your hill training

Did I mention the Big Sur has hills? Lots and lots of hills. Big hills. I knew about hurricane point, the big climb in the first half, but I did not realize that the second half of the marathon is basically continuous hills. The good news is after each uphill climb is a good downhill. So practice running uphill and practice recovering as you run downhill.

Tip #10 Forget the PR/PB and just soak up the atmosphere

You can run a good race at Big Sur, but running a personal best or personal record would be quite a feat given the hills and some years, given the winds. They joked at the start line that the PR you set at Big Sur is a Photo Record for the most pictures taken along the race course. The atmosphere is different from any race I have ever run. Because spectators can’t get onto the closed highway it’s just you, the other runners, the race volunteers, the musical acts, and a few locals who live walking distance from the course.  I saw a runner get startled by a mooing cow. The loudest cheer I got from a spectator in the first 20 miles was a lady with a wooden stick running it around the edge of a bowl of burning incense chanting “gooooooo  goooooo gooooo slowwwwww”

You can hear the Japanese drummers at the bottom of hurricane point from about a quarter mile away.  Someone told me you know you are approaching the top of hurricane point when you can hear the piano at Bixby bridge. I remember hearing the song “walking on Sunshine” well before coming across the lone guitarist singing in the field.

The water stops are small, but it’s a small race and I had no trouble getting water. They even had a bit of a local/small town touch because there are volunteers with water pitchers who will refill your water bottle if you wish.  One of the later water stops is famous for its fresh strawberries.

It’s a small race but even a slow marathon runner will pass others because there are lots of people who walk the shorter distances you pass along the way.

Don’t get me wrong, all those distractions and views are great but those endless hills in the last half are brutal.

If I have one complaint it’s that the start are was way too small for the number of runners. trying to figure out where the line for coffee begins is a challenge. Fighting my way through the crowd to the bag check was a challenge. On the other hand the start area had an impressive number of port-a-potties and each port-a-potty had a silly sign taped onto them such as “shoelace repair” or “luxury bathroom facilities”.

I would run Big Sur again. That’s not something I say often. Marathons require so much training, and I only get to do one or two a year why would I do the same races over and over again.  Been there, done that got the t-shirt, got the finisher medal, move on. But, if a friend asked me to do this one with them, there is a good chance I would go back.

I was in the finishers tent, exhausted, clutching a chocolate milk and a cookie, clay finisher medal around my neck, looking for a place to sit down, when someone (who I later discovered was the race director) asked how was my race. I said “that was gorgeous but evil!” He laughed and said and that’s why it’s nickname is Beauty and the Beast.

Here the rest of my running related posts and race reports.

 

 

 

 

Mud Hero (Ottawa) race report

100207-4e5a19-1002625903Mud races or Obstacle course races can be fun! In this post I’ll review the Mud Hero in Ottawa so you have an idea what to expect if you decide to try it.

I’ve run 4 different Mud race/obstacle course type races: Warrior Dash (San Diego), Prison Break (Ottawa), Tough Guy Gal (Rotorua, NZ), and now Mud Hero (Ottawa). Be forewarned, yes, I am one of those runners who thinks this sort of thing is a lot of fun.

I did the Mud Hero ultra 10km , which is the same as the 6 km race but with extra trails and obstacles. There is also a kids race for the smaller tykes. My race day was perfect weather: cool, dry and sunny!

Mud meter 5/5

In some obstacle course races it is possible to do the race and come out with nothing more than muddy feet and legs. The Mud Hero race is well named, if you are not comfortable swimming through muddy water I would sugSusanInMudgest you find a different race (or plan on skipping a few obstacles). There was one obstacle where you walk through a pool of muddy and somewhat smelly water which was around 6 foot deep. I had to swim. In addition the final obstacle this year was a second mud pit that was so thick at the bottom, wading did not work. You basically had to swim in the 2 or so feet of water above the sludge.  If you do all the obstacles, there is zero risk of coming out with a clean shirt.

Level of difficulty – Footing 4/5

I ran this race in running shoes not trail shoes. If I wanted to be more competitive in the race I would definitely wear trail shoes next year for better traction in the muddier sections.  If you are just out for fun, you can absolutely complete the course in regular running shoes, just take your time on the more slippery bits

207635_10150150457676583_1064723_nThe trail sections are uneven with an assortment of logs and roots. The weather was sunny and dry but there were sections of the path that were extremely muddy and boggy. Some sections were extremely slippery mud, others were the  suck you in kind of mud that threatens to pull your shoe right off your foot. Pull those laces tight and use a double knot! Ask my friend Christopher about the dangers of elastic bungee laces and mud races, those are his feet in the photo to the right :)) Obviously it would have been muddier if it had been raining, and the mud gets worse with each wave. So for the best footing, enter an early wave, and stick to the sides of the trail.

Level of difficulty – Hills 1/5

Many obstacle course races are up and down ski hills. This course is basically flat. There were a couple of very short uphills that were basically meant as natural obstacles to clamber up.

Appeal for different levels of ability 5/5

This is the first obstacle course I have run where there were different levels of difficulty for certain obstacles. Mission Swing Impossible had a hard and easy lane (which I appreciated because monkey bar/rings is one of the few obstacles that I still struggle with). Avalanche (the ramp) had an easy lane with ropes to help get you to the top. Walls to clamber over were available in different heights. If all else fails, you can simply skip any obstacles you don’t want to do without any sort of time penalty or burpees.

Appeal to the competitive spirit 4/5

If you are a competitive racer, then the first thing you usually want to know is can Mud Hero be used to qualify for the World Obstacle Racing Championships. The answer is Yes. If you are curious to learn more, check out the OCR World Championships Qualification requirements for Mud Hero and other Obstacle course races. If you want to qualify for OCRWC you must complete all the obstacles. There are volunteers at the obstacles who track the bib numbers of those who do not complete obstacles.

The waves are timed, so age group and overall results are all posted and available, but since there is no time penalty or burpee penalty for skipping obstacles it would be very tricky to do any sort of prizes or awards fairly. This race is meant to be primarily for fun. So there are no award ceremonies or prizes. Just bragging rights!

Photos 5/5

I rate the photos 5/5 for a few reasons

  1. You can search by wave or bib number searching by wave is often necessary since your bib number is likely to be somewhat obscured by the end of the race!
  2. You can search for other photos that match your face That’s how I found that lovely photo of me swimming through the mud. (Nicely done Zoom Photo!)
  3. They are free! How awesome is it to NOT be asked to pay for your race photos!  I am sure my race registration fee was higher as a result, but personally I prefer paying a little more to register and having the option to download any pictures I want from the race.  Especially on something like a mud run, many people run these races with friends or family and the photos become a wonderful and sometimes treasured (Terri , thinking of you and your dad!) souvenir of a shared experience.

Don’t miss the Mud Hero meter photo opportunity right after you finish the race 🙂 I totally messed up by not stopping there for what clearly would have been my new Facebook profile pic!

Swag 4/5

Swag was pretty typical for one of these races, t-shirt, medal and a beer 🙂 They do sell t-shirts and sweatshirts and towels (that’s smart!) on site as well.

Energy level/Party atmosphere

They had DJs,  music, BBQ and beer. 5000 runners came through on Saturday.

I don’t feel I can evaluate the energy level/party atmosphere of the race out of 5, because I ran the 8:30 AM race on Sunday, which was probably the quietest time of the entire weekend and I left shortly after finishing.  All the serious runners do the first wave to avoid lines at the obstacles.

Cleaning up post-race

There are showers to clean up, and change tents for the ladies and gentlemen, but one thing I did not expect, was the $5 fee to check a bag.  It’s for charity, but I would have preferred they just include a  couple of $ in my race fee for the charity and not charge me to check my bag. You are not allowed to use the pond to clean off your mud (and there are snapping turtles in there, not the best place to go wading around!)

I am deliberately not rating the clean up post-race out of 5 because I ran the first wave Sunday, and I was in the first 50 or so finishers. So I had no trouble getting to the showers and there were only 3 of us in the ladies change tent by the time I got there. There may have been line ups for the showers later in the day and the change tents may have been quite crowded, I do not know.

How did my race go?

20180603_094027Well if you are curious. I entered the 10 km ultra 8:30 AM wave Sunday, since my friend Randy was already registered for that wave. Serious OCR (Obstacle Course Race) racers enter the first wave to avoid lines at the obstacles, and yes there is such a thing as a serious OCR racer! There are even classes you can take to get better at OCR. Randy competed at world OCR championships last year. There were clearly a number of runners in that first wave who were taking the race pretty seriously, but still lots of people just doing it for fun as well!

I lined up just in the corral just behind the serious racers. I haven’t run an OCR in 5 years or so, but I’m a reasonably fast runner and I don’t completely suck on obstacles. When we started I found myself passing a fair number of runners because the first few km has a lot of running and not many obstacles. I passed a guy in a red shirt in the woods and said “you’ll probably pass me on the obstacles” sure enough, next obstacle he passed me and called out “I am sure you will pass me again shortly kiddo”. Woo hoo I look young enough to be called kiddo! FYI I never caught him 🙂

In general, I passed and caught up to people when running. I gained a little ground on the obstacles where you had to pull or carry a weight.  I generally lost a little ground on the climbing obstacles. I also lost time on a couple of obstacles where I arrived and there was no-one else around and I wasn’t sure what to do. I guess the advantage of the early wave is no lines at the obstacles, but the disadvantage is you don’t always have someone to watch in front of you to show you what to do. Not every obstacle had a volunteer.

There was a girl right behind me for the first few kms, I could hear her breathing. When we hit the slippery slope (a wall climb in the water). Neither of us could get over it, so we worked together, I gave her a shove to get her over the top and she reached over to try and pull me up.  Unfortunately that was not enough, GettingHelpso I had to call over some guys to give me an extra boost to get me up and over. That is one of the good things about these races, if you are stuck and ask for help, chances are another runner will give you a hand, even in the more competitive waves. Memories of the Tough Guy Gal race in New Zealand where I reached this wall of clay at the end of a pond, there was nothing to grab onto,  I thought to myself how on earth do I climb this? At that moment some strangers pushed my butt and up and over I went! I guess that answered my question… Thank you strangers! If you are a little sensitive about someone sticking their hands on your butt, you can always turn around and request they push you from your feet or sometimes someone can pull you up from the top, but it is much easier to push someone up than pull someone up.

The lack of trail shoes wasn’t a problem until the muddy stretch of trail after the deepest mud pit. A dozen runners must have passed me on that stretch as I focused entirely on staying upright.

There was one tunnel crawl that was hard on the knees, should have worn running tights apparently. But in the end only 2 small scrapes on the knees. Nothing that needed more than anti-biotic cream and a band aid.

The giant slide was a little steeper and faster than I expected, but still great fun. I was more than a little surprised when the event photographer said “Hey Susan is that you?” to the mud covered racer100207-865059-1002625889 wading through the waist deep water after the slide. I wasn’t even wearing a K2J shirt (K2J is my running club and we usually wear club shirts for races, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice my K2J shirt to the mud) Always great to see Joe from Zoom Photo! That made me smile!

It’s a shame the final obstacle is that swim over the sludge because it wasn’t a very fun way to finish.  I think it would have been better to finish with the giant slide splashing into the water! But, I won my age group and was quite happy with my race. Randy won his age group and finished 3rd overall securing him a pro spot at this year’s world OCR championship. My last race was a disappointing marathon, this was just what I needed to remind myself to get out there and have fun running again! Thank you Randy, for that 34417980_10156499856433054_5908170743388045312_olittle nudge to get me out there!

Here the rest of my running related posts and race reports.

 

 

 

 

 

Ack! What did I forget to pack for my marathon!

You decide to run a marathon out of town. It’s cool it’s exciting. But then you realize how much you have to pack!  Every time, I find myself making a checklist and worrying about what I forgot, so I am making this online checklist for myself, and if it helps you that’s great! If I forgot something on the list please tell me 🙂 This list works for Marathons and such but if you are running a Ragnar/Relay race that’s a different story, I’ll have to write a post on that later!PackingForMarathon

Just checked into your race hotel?

Time to take care of a few logisticsraceexpo

  • GPS Charger
  • ID or Runners passport for bib pickup
  • Location and hours of race expo for bib pickup
  • Details on how and when to get to the start line
  • Do you want to check out the finish line area? Maybe walk the last half mile of the course?
  • Suitable spot for supper pre-race?

Don’t forget to buy your pre-race breakfast supplies

  • Banana (Thank you Randy)
  • Bagel
  • Peanut butter (and a plastic knife to spread it)
  • Oatmeal (amazing what you can do with a hotel room coffee maker – you might want to pack a spoon to eat it with (Thank you Jesse), a bowl is nice but sometimes you can manage with the cups in the hotel room)
  • A place to get coffee in the morning?

Waiting around pre-race

It’s all about keeping warm and dry before the race!IMG_20171105_084203

Staying warm

  • Throw away hat
  • Throw away gloves
  • Warm jacket or hoodie
  • Bathrobe or onesie
  • PJ pants
  • Throw away arm warmers (socks with ends cut off work nicely)

Staying dry

  • multiple garbage bags (something to sit on, something to wear)
  • plastic bags and elastics to put over your shoes if ground is wet

Prepping for the race

  • Body glide
  • Sunscreen
  • Sharpie for writing name on bib or arms & legs
  • Pre-race gel

During the raceStartofMarathon

The basics

  • Running shoes
  • GPS watch
  • Race belt for holding bib,  or bib clips for your shirt
  • Running socks
  • Sports Bra or Nip protectors depending on your gender
  • Earbuds/headphones – if allowed
  • Phone and a holder for your phone
  • K tape

Fueling

  • Gels
  • Belt that can hold gels
  • Water bottles
  • Nuun or Gatorade powder
  • Belt that can hold water bottles
  • Salt tablets

Warm weather

(ah yes Grandma’s 2016)

  • Singlet
  • Short sleeved shirt
  • Shorts
  • Visor or hat

Cold or wet weather?

(memories of Boston 2015… not as bad as 2018 which I did not run)

  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Tights
  • Compression sleeves for arms
  • Hat or headband
  • Gloves

Do you want?

  • SunglassesreadingGlasses
  • Compression sleeves for lower legs
  • Compression socks
  • Hair elastic
  • Tampons (hopefully no, but it happens)
  • Moleskin or tape to avoid chafing
  • Pace band (I need to print my own, because the ones they give out at the expo are too small a print for me to read, either that or my arms are too short)
  • Nail clippers
  • scissors

Gear check for post-race

  • Recovery sandals (Oofos or equivalent, if you haven’t splurged on these yet… they are awesome!)
  • Warm shirt
  • Dry socks
  • Loose fitting pants
  • Jacket
  • If there is a change area, underwear and bra

Back in the hotel post race

  • SusanMimosaIbuprofen
  • foam roller, massage stick or yoga tune-up balls
  • post race snack
  • wine or beer to celebrate

Here the rest of my running related posts and race reports.

When does a jogger become a runner and when are you clearly insane

Jogger? Runner? Serious Runner? Or just plain insane?

You put on running shoes you get out there. Well done!  Ever wondered at what point a jogger becomes a runner, when are you considered a serious runner and at what point are you simply crazy?

It’s got nothing to do with how fast you are!

Over many runs and drinks my running friends and I think we have it figured out.  Let me know if we missed any additional questions or categories 🙂

Have a little fin with this quiz (you have to keep score at home, since I am not collecting your data for nefarious purposes 🙂

How do you score points? For each question, read all the answers. Pick the highest scoring answer that applies to you.  For most questions you can score a maximum of 4 points (a couple of questions have a 5 point answer).

Running shoes:

  1. You bought a pair (1 pt)
  2. You have retired a pair and bought another (2 pts)
  3. You don’t know how many pairs you have (3 pts)
  4. You have at least three types of running shoes for different road/trail conditions (e.g. cross-country spikes, ice bugs, trail shoes, etc…) (4 pts)

Workout schedule:

  1. Up to 3 times a week (1 pt)
  2. 4-5X week (2 pts)
  3. 5-6X week + 2-3 strength or cross training sessions (3 pts)
  4. 6-7X week plus 4-6 strength training/cross training sessions (4 pts)

Races:

  1. You’ve registered for or completed a race (1 pt)
  2. You have a designated a place to hang your finisher medals (2 pts)
  3. You have a designated place to hang your marathon medals (3 pts)
  4. You have run multiple marathons in one month (4 pts)
  5. BONUS POINTS You are seriously considering the Barkley marathon (5 pts)

Outfits:

  1. You have accepted lycra into your running wardrobe (1 pt)
  2. Your lycra clothes are not Lululemon (2 pts)
  3. You have compression tights or shorts (3 pts)
  4. You have spent >$400 on running clothes in one visit to the store without purchasing footwear or a GPS (4 pts)

Wardrobe:

  1. You do not run in cotton shirts (1 pt)
  2. You have a designated drawer for running clothes (2 pts)
  3. One drawer is not enough to hold your running shorts and shirts (excluding jackets) (3 pts)
  4. You have more running jackets in your closet and porch than all the other members of your family combined have regular jackets (4 pts)

Cold weather:

  1. You have run in temperatures below freezing (1 pt)
  2. You have run on snow covered roads or sidewalks (2 pts)
  3. Guys only – you know first hand why they make wind-proof running shorts for cold weather (3 pts)
  4. You have put Vaseline or body glide on your face to prevent frostbite during your run (4 pts)
  5. BONUS POINTS You still run outside even though it’s so cold you know your eyelashes will freeze shut (5 pts)

Beating the heat:

  1. You carry water for your run (1 pt)
  2. You carry a drink to top up electrolytes from sweating (2 pts)
  3. You took off your shirt during the run because it was just that hot! (3 pts)
  4. Ladies only – You have put ice cubes down your sports bra to cool down (4 pts)

Rain:

  1. You got caught in the rain, but finished your run (1 pt)
  2. You went out running even though it was raining (2 pts)
  3. Every layer of clothing completely soaked? Well once you are that wet, may as well finish the run, you can’t get any wetter (3 pts)
  4. Thunder and lightning, hail and howling winds, just a reason to run faster (4 pts)

Running buddies:

  1. You found a running group or regular partner to get you out the door (1 pt)
  2. You know all about the lives of your fellow runners from shared stories on runs (2 pts)
  3. You have discussed bowel movements with other runners (3 pts)
  4. You happily join up with other runners but add on extra hills/mileage on your own after instead of joining for coffee/beers because that’s what your training plan calls for (4 pts)

Technology:

  1. You have upgraded from Fitbit/Apple watch to a specifically device designed for runners or triathletes (1 pt)
  2. You get frustrated when you forget to change your auto-pause or lap settings for different runs (2 pts)
  3. You have purchased a charger or borrowed someone else’s GPS watch before a race when you forgot to pack yours (3 pts)
  4. You have purchased a new GPS watch before a race because you forgot to pack yours (4 pts)

Chafing:

  1. Ladies only – you have purchased a running bra (1 pt)
  2. You use body glide or equivalent (2 pt)
  3. You don’t want to borrow my body glide, I know where it’s been (3 pts)
  4. Break out the tape and moleskin, Body Glide doesn’t cut it anymore (4 pts)

Toes & feet:

  1. You own running socks (1 pt)
  2. You own compression socks (2 pts)
  3. You have taken off your compression socks because you had the Left and Right backwards (3 pts)
  4. You have lost a toenail (4 pts)

Race Registration:

  1. You have registered for and completed more than one race (1 pt)
  2. You pick your races based on the medals or swag not based on distance (2 pts)
  3. You don’t tell your significant other about races you have registered for until the *right* time (3 pts)
  4. You collect stories of races your fellow runners are doing so you can convince your significant other the *other* runners are crazy, but you are being reasonable in comparison (4 pts)

Pacing:

  1. You know your Personal best race time (1 pt)
  2. You know the per km/mile pace required to hit your next goal race time (2 pts)
  3. You can guess your pace within about 5 seconds per km/mile without a GPS Watch (3 pts)
  4. Who cares about pace, if I’m not giving 110% in my training runs and 150% in my race, something is wrong (4 pts)

Stretching and loosening up:

  1. Am I supposed to stretch? (1 pt)
  2. I try to do some yoga or stretching a couple of times a week (2 pts)
  3. You understand at least two of the following terms: foam roller, myofascial release, dynamic stretching, voodoo band, alpha ball (3 pts)
  4. Touch your toes? Are you kidding, even after a good warm up and rolling session not a chance! Besides I hear that if you are too flexible it can affect the power of your stride (4 pts)

Physio:

  1. You had to take a break in running because of an injury (1 pt)
  2. You have seen a physio/ART/sports massage to treat an injury (2 pt)
  3. When you train for your next race, it’s not a question of if you will see your physio person but when and how often (3 pts)
  4. You can get a last minute appointment physio person even when they are booked (4 pts)

Vacations:

  1. Vacations are a break from running, but I get lots of steps in! ( 1 pt)
  2. A vacation is a chance to get in a run somewhere interesting (2 pts)
  3. Vacations are selected based on races you want to run… Let’s plan a trip to Chicago in October or maybe London in the spring! (3 pts)
  4. You have no say in family vacations, because you have chewed up all your good will with your significant other by traveling to races. So, to stay in your significant other’s good graces if they ask for a vacation in Hawaii the weekend of your longest training run, you do your longest training run at 4 AM before the flight. (4 pts)

Blisters:

  1. Running gave you a blister (1 pt)
  2. Running gave you a blister but you broke out the bandaids and moleskin and made it out for your next run (2 pts)
  3. Blood blister, ugh (3 pts)
  4. You have popped a blood blister mid-race and kept going (4 pts)

Your attitude towards running when tired:

  1. I got out the door, mission accomplished (1 pt)
  2. I may not feel like running, but I know that after the run I will be glad I did it (2 pts)
  3. Winter miles bring spring smiles, can’t skip a training run! (3 pts)
  4. Embrace the suck! (4 pts)

Running nutrition:

  1. Water is all I need on a run (1 pt)
  2. You use chomps or gels on long runs (2 pts)
  3. You have a favorite gel brand and flavor, but in a pinch whatever your running partner brought will help (3 pts)
  4. You make your own nutrition (gels/snacks) for running (4 pts)

Diet:

  1. I ran, I earned a treat! (1 pt)
  2. I am going running, better be careful what I have for breakfast beforehand (2 pts)
  3. You’ve started reading articles about what to what to eat during training and pre-race (3 pts)
  4. Unless it’s 1-2 hours pre-run anything goes, can’t get enough calories (4 pts)

Score

0-12 points – good for you for getting out there, but try to find some allies to help you get out a little more often

13-34 points – Great work, you are a solid jogger and hopefully feeling fit and strong

35-50 points – You can definitely call yourself a runner, good luck on your next race!

51-74 points – You take your running seriously, you set goals and go after them. Good luck chasing that next personal best but don’t forget even you need the occasional rest day

75+ points – There is no hope for you, but be assured the rest of us love telling stories about this one insane runner we know….

Here the rest of my running related posts and race reports.

 

 

Boston Marathon vs New York Marathon Part 1 which is tougher?

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NYCvsBostonMy friend Christopher and I have had this conversation many times, and it occasionally gets quite heated 🙂 Which is the ultimate US marathon experience Boston or New York? (for those of you who scream neither! Hey perks of blogging, feel free to counter with your own post :)) This year I ran both, so I wanted to take a moment to compare the two and perhaps settle this matter once and for all (if that’s possible). In Part 1 I start by trying to figure out which course is tougher. (if you want to know which is the ultimate race experience check out part 2)

Let’s talk hills…

If I look at the hill profile for each race from my Strava account, it’s very interesting to compare the two races.

New York

NYCHillProfile

Boston
Screenshot_20170430-162846

New York has a higher overall elevation gain: 305 meters vs Boston 166 meters.

Each race has very little that you would truly call flat. You have rolling hills of various difficulty through most of the race.

Each race has three nasty hills in the second half of the race:

  • Boston has the famous Newton hills, 3 solid climbs back to back that start at km 28 (mile 17.5) and end at km 34 (mile 21).
  • New York has the Queensboro bridge at km 25, the Willis bridge at km 33 and the climb to Central Park from km 37 to km 39.

Many runners point out that Boston is a net downhill course, and therefore easier, but I’d like to point out that many first time Boston runners actually regret not training for the downhill. There is a little dip under an overpass just before you reach Beacon street which is a short steep downhill that draws many an expletive from the lips of the runners. Because the Newton hills are so close together many runners either tighten up on the uphill and cannot loosen up and find a downhill stride again, or they run the early downhills in Boston too hard and pay for it later.  Of course, many first time New York runners will tell you the biggest mistake they made was going to fast down the Verrazano bridge at the start and in so doing wrecked their quads and were unable to leverage the downhills later in the race.

What about the weather…

let’s compare the two year over year

YEAR Boston weather Boston Wind NYC weather New York Wind
2008 53-53F Clear W 2 MPH (tailwind) 44-50F Overcast NE 13 MPH (headwind)
2009 47F-51F Parly Cloudy ESE 9-16 MPH (slight headwind) 53-59F Overcast N 14 MPH (slight headwind)
2010 49-55F Partly Cloudy ENE 2-5 MPH (headwind) 46-51F Scattered clouds WNW 12 MPH (slight tailwind)
2011 46-55F Cloudy WSW 16-20 MPH (tailwind) 51-54F Cloudy SW 9 MPH (tailwind)
2012 65-87F Clear WSW 10-12 MPH (tailwind) Cancelled
2013 54-56F Clear E 3MPH (headwind) 51-53F Cloudy N 17 MPH (Slight headwind)
2014 61-62F Clear WSW 2-3 MPH (tailwind) 45-48F Cloudy N 18 MPH (slight headwind)
2015 46-46F Overcast and rain Calm 59-64F Cloudy S 6 MPH (slight tailwind)
2016 61-71F Clear WSW 2-3 MPH (tailwind) 57-59F Scattered clouds NW 15 MPH (slight tailwind)
2017 70-73F Clear WSW 1-3 MPH (tailwind) 55-62F Cloudy ESE 3 MPH (slight headwind)

New York has more consistent good race temperatures than Boston year over year.  Boston has a few years where heat would affect your race.

The wind is an interesting factor. Boston is a point to point race that goes pretty much the same direction the entire race, so a tailwind or a headwind can affect the entire race.  Most years the winds in Boston seem fairly negligeable, with only 3 of the last 10 races reaching winds over 5 MPH. Two of those years were tailwinds, one was a headwind. In New York you go North for two thirds of the course and then turn South for the last third of the race. Conditions in New York have generally been noticeably windier than Boston, but the wind switches between headwind and tailwind (in the table above I indicated headwind if it was a headwind for the longer portion of the course).

Out of curiosity I did a little research on the affect of winds on a runner.

“All else being equal, the drag on a runner created by air resistance varies according to the square of the runner’s velocity through the air. That means that the performance hit from a 10 mph headwind is four times greater than that from a 5 mph wind.

A tailwind helps runners, but not quite as much as a headwind hurts them. One estimate says that, when running at a six minute-per-mile pace, a 10 mph tailwind would increase one’s performance by about 6 seconds per mile, while the equivalent headwind (six-minute miles into a 10 mph wind) slows one down by about 12 seconds per mile. That’s a possible swing of almost eight minutes over the course of a marathon.”

All in all it looks like you have better odds of cooler temperatures in New York, but you are less likely to be battling a headwind in Boston.

Which race posts faster times…

We can’t compare average finish times for the everyday runner because the average runner entering Boston has a faster pace than the average runner entering New York. So the best we can do is to compare the times set by the elite runners.

Men’s Race

The Boston Course record of 2:03:02 was set in 2011 by Geoffrey Mutai when it was 46-55F cloudy with a 16-20 Tailwind (near ideal race conditions!)

The New York Course record of 2:05:06 was also set in 2011 by Geoffrey Mutai when it was 51-54F cloudy with a 9 MPH tailwind for the first two thirds of the race (wow he was having an amazing year!)

Year Boston Winner Time New York Winner Time Difference Fastest race
2008 Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot 2:07:45 Marílson Gomes dos Santos 2:08:43 0:58 Boston
2009 Deriba Merga 2:08:42 Meb Keflezighi 2:09:15 0:33 Boston
2010 Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot 2:05:52 Gebregziabher Gebremariam 2:08:14 2:22 Boston
2011 Geoffrey Mutai 2:03:02 Geoffrey Mutai 2:05:06 2:04 Boston
2012 Wesley Korir 2:12:40 CANCELLED
2013 Lelisa Desisa Benti 2:10:22 Geoffrey Mutai 2:08:24 1:58 New York
2014 Meb Keflezighi 2:08:37 Wilson Kipsang 2:10:59 1:22 Boston
2015 Lelisa Desisa Benti 2:09:17 Stanley Biwott 2:10:34 1:17 Boston
2016 Lemi Berhanu Hayle 2:12:45 Ghirmay Ghebreslassie 2:07:51 4:54 New York
2017 Geoffrey Kirui 2:09:37 Geoffrey Kamworor 2:10:53 1:16 Boston

Women’s race

The Boston course record of 2:19:59 was set in 2014 when it was 61-62F with 2-3 MPH tailwind.
The New york course record of 2:22:31 was set in 2003 when it was 57-66F with 5-6 MPH headwind
Year Boston Winner Time New York Winner Time Difference Fastest race
2008 Dire Tune 2:25:25 Paula Radcliffe 2:23:56 1:29 New York
2009 Salina Kosgei 2:32:16 Derartu Tulu 2:28:52 3:24 New York
2010 Teyba Erkesso 2:26:11 Edna Kiplagat 2:28:20 2:09 Boston
2011 Caroline Kilel 2:22:36 Firehiwot Dado 2:23:15 1:21 Boston
2012 Sharon Cherop 2:31:50 CANCELLED
2013 Rita Jeptoo 2:26:25 Priscah Jeptoo 2:25:07 1:18 New York
2014 Rita Jeptoo (Disqualified) 2:18:57 Mary Keitany 2:25:07
2015 Bizunesh Deba 2:19:59 Mary Keitany 2:24:25 4:26 Boston
2016 Caroline Rotich 2:24:55 Mary Keitany 2:24:26 0:29 New York
2017 Atsede Baysa 2:29:19 Shalane Flanagan 2:26:53 2:26 New York

The majority of the time the men’s times are faster in Boston than in New York. The women’s times are more evenly split across the two races. But the course records are both faster in Boston than New York.

Setting world records

You may or may not be aware, that Boston race times do not qualify for world records. There are two reasons for this:

  • The elevation change exceeds the IAAF limits.
  • It falls outside the rule requiring the separation between start and finish to be no more than 50 percent of the race distance. As a result runners can benefit unreasonably from tailwinds (which clearly occurred the year Mutai set the Boston course record)

So after all that, which course is tougher?

From the data above, I would have to conclude that the New York marathon, despite the more reliable temperatures, is the tougher course.

Let’s be clear though, both of these courses will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t do your hill training, and finishing either is of course a huge accomplishment!

Now which race is more exciting to run…. that’s in part 2!

Here the rest of my running related posts and race reports.