Turns out, February is similar to January in terms of trying to find races … they’re relatively few and far between. And since my planned race was cancelled, there was a bit of a scramble hoping to find something that worked. Fortunately, the Taconic Road Runners have two (count ‘em!) options – a 5K and a 5-miler that they use to kick off their season and call the Freezer Fives. The races are held two weeks apart in FDR State Park in New York … I chose the 5K on 2/2.
So … this hasn’t exactly been the strongest lead-up to a race I’ve ever had. This winter running thing, frankly, is kicking my ass and I’m starting to get frustrated about it. But, given that January was such a slow month, I decided that my race strategy this time was to not really have a strategy – just go have a good time with it.
A couple of things about this race were different than recent races and also the last month in general. First, because I guess they are worried about the weather, the race didn’t start until 10am. And second, the high on Sunday was in the upper 40s and sunshiney. Seriously perfect weather for a 5K. And these two things led directly to something else unique about this one – my wife and son got to come with me, for the first time since my very first race last March. Having a cheering section is … awesome.
The start line was down the road a bit from the finish line, and that wasn’t all that clearly communicated – after I got my number and shirt I just kind of followed the herd and got there. There were no formalities at all – no national anthem, no “5-4-3-2-1”, nothing. One minute we were standing there, and the next thing I knew all the people in front of me were running. And so off we went.
I decided to go ahead and run it hard – no expectations for a PR, but given the conditions it felt good. The course was another loop with an out-and-back spur, and because it was within the state park we had the whole road with no traffic anywhere … making for a quite pleasant run. The little out-and-back spur started within the first mile, and featured a big hill. Up and over, get to the bottom, turn around, and then up and over again. Yay. I met the leaders on their way back just about the time I topped out and started back down, which was a harbinger of things to come.
So, after that up-down-up-down, there was a short straight stretch into another decent hill that looped around to yet another decent hill … and then past the start line with half a mile or so to go. My winter training struggles bit me on the ass on that last hill, and (spoiler alert!) kept me from a PR … but I’m not broken up about it. Overall, this course certainly lived up to its billing as “challenging”.
My official finish time was 31:31, which is only 16 seconds off of my PR. I’m thrilled with that time given all of the apparent weaknesses coming into this race. One of these days I want to progress to being in the top half of finishers, but this one was only good enough for 218 / 284. I’ll absolutely take it.
– After all of that polar vortex crap last week, we seriously got a perfect day – warm and clear and perfect. And then got a foot of snow overnight that night, and two days later another 6 inches plus sleet and freezing rain. Winter training is killing me, and I’m officially fielding job offers for warmer climates.
– Having the family there makes it better, officially. Because this was just a big park, my son was way distracted … and apparently wasn’t too happy about his Mommy making him stop long enough to cheer as I ran by. But it was great, all the same. Hopefully they’ll get to come to a few more of these this year than they did last year.
– This is my first Taconic Road Runners race, which is something I’ve been looking forward to. To the extent that there is a running club around here that would be my local club, the TRRC is it. And I was overall impressed – everybody was friendly, bib pickup seemed efficient, and it really was a very good small race. No chip timing, which is fine, but in general a very well run race.
– Speaking of timing, an interesting thing happened in terms of my official time. When I crossed the finish line, the clock said 31:28, and my watch said 31:12 … so I thought I actually had a shot at the PR depending on how much time they gave me to get across the start line. I’m not sure how it works that they added 3 seconds to the time I saw … but whatever. I’m certainly not bitching, just find this curious.
– Another thing about the TRR – they keep costs way down. $18 for me, a non-member, and I think the member cost was $12. Of course, for that you don’t really get swag – just the t-shirt. It is, however, a nice long-sleeved cotton shirt with a neat graphic and no sponsor logos, so pretty cool. Also, the bibs are TRR bibs – they say Taconic Road Runners and have the orange and green color scheme. Bibs like that are just so dramatically better than the generic RoadID ones.
– So, that was February’s race, which brings the streak to 12 months. Last March I ran my first ever 5K. Since then, I’ve run an official event each month for a full year. I find that almost hard to believe. And I’m registered for March, April, May, and June races … plus the Ragnar in October.
– Next race: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon, Washington, DC, March 15th