Race Report – Howard County Striders Women’s Distance Festival 5K

Yes, I raced this weekend too.  In the ridiculous heat.  I’m not even sure what race start temp was, but when I got in my car at 6:30, the thermometer read 85 degrees.  And the race started at 8.

So this was the third of my four WDF 5ks.  And that’s the only reason I didn’t bail because of the heat.  I wasn’t looking forward to the race at all, but I was looking forward to seeing friends and enjoying breakfast afterward.  And if nothing else, all the sweating would clean out my pores, right?

My plan was to show up and walk the race.  But when the race actually started, I thought “Well, let’s see how this goes.”  I had a frozen water bottle with me (keeping both my water cold and my hand cold) and I was wearing my heart rate monitor, so I decided to try an easy 1:1 Galloway pattern.  And it went well.  My first mile was significantly faster than the later two miles, mostly because of some well placed downhills.  I eventually caught up to Jen and we slowed up as the heat and the hills increased.  I’m not sure what I finally finished in (didn’t look up the results yet), but I think it was probably faster than the Baltimore 5k I ran two weeks before.

I was definitely glad to be carrying my own water though.  The race organizers had promised extra water and ice as well as a sprinkler at one of the water stops.

Well, there was only one water stop.

At mile 2.

For a normal 5k, that wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but we’ve had record heat.  Lots of heat warnings.  A friend’s triathlon for the same day got canceled because of the temperature.  And we were running a 5k that promised extra water and provided one water stop.

These races are new runner friendly, so it’s not unheard of to have someone moving at a 15 minute mile pace or slower.  And while some will say that slow runners should carry their own water, this race promised extra water and ice.  And new runners don’t always know better.  So some people went half an hour or more without water in the heat.  I was very disappointed.

I’m a firm believer in planning ahead.  I race all my races with my own water, having run a race where they ran out.  In long races, I certainly don’t carry enough to sustain me for the whole run, and usually top off when I hit water stops, but I like not having to worry about it.  Should I have to do this?  Absolutely not.

I hope that these race organizers re-think their strategy for the next hot race.

Update: Prior to publishing this post, I commented on the organizer’s Facebook page regarding the water issue.

Me:  I think a lot of people were a little shocked that the first water wasn’t offered until 2 miles in, considering that we were told there would be extra water. I carried my own, so was fine, but noticed a number of other people struggling.

Them:  Every runner is different and conditions affect people differently. For most races, including marathons, it is unusual to have water any closer than 1.5 to 2 miles a part. For WDF, one of the safest spots for a water station is once on Su…nny Spring road. Owen Brown road doesn’t lend itself to a particularly safe stop and 2 miles in is about where the course water stop was situated. What we made sure occured is that we had extra water and ice at the water stop so that no runners came through without being able to drink. This is different than what has occured in some very major races including the Chicago Marathon I believe in 2005 that ran out of water at stops. Let’s hope that next year is a little kinder in the summer weather.

Yes, I know how water stops typically work.  I also know that when conditions warrant it, races, including marathons, will have water stops earlier than planned.  The WDF is billed as a series that is friendly to newbies.  This sort of thing is not so newbie friendly.


Race Report – Baltimore Women’s Classic

This summer, I’m running four 5ks for the Women’s Distance Festival.  This was my second, and definitely the biggest.

Running in Baltimore is always a lot of fun.  It’s a beautiful area, and this race finishes along the harbor, which is gorgeous (and also fun to threaten to shove your running partner into the water). And this race is HUGE!  It had a bigger post-race expo than most of the half-marathons I run.  Of course, size has good and bad elements.

First off, this race is known for having a great goody bag.  Personally, I wasn’t hugely impressed.  Sure, it’s more than most races do, but… eh.  The race swag included a shirt, a reusable shopping bag (of which I have too many) and in the bag were a few different samples from companies.  Definitely things I will use, but nothing to write home about.

One great thing about the race is that it’s newbie friendly.  Lots of first timers out there.  Lots of people out there who really don’t know race etiquette either.  (I should do a post about race etiquette for first-timers.  They don’t make me angry because they’re not intentionally breaking etiquette, they just don’t know better.  But when I was a newbie, I would have liked to know these things.)

The crowds and the walkers who started too far up meant that we ended up just walking most of the race.  That was fun though – I ended up walking a lot of it with a friend’s young daughter.  She was exhausted from swimming the entire day before, so this was a struggle for her, but she got through it.  And like with my recent 10k, it’s always fun to help another person get through the race.

Will I do this race again?  If I’m doing the WDF, then yes.  It’s a good way to get in another 5K and a lot of my friends come out for it.  It’s a pretty course and it’s fun to see new runners finish their first races.  But I just have to remember that this race wasn’t built for speed.

Race Report – Run for Roses

I got sucked into the Maryland Women’s Distance Festival this year.  All across the state, there are women only 5K races (no, I wouldn’t call a 5K a distance race, but I love that it gets new runners out there).  If you do four, you get an award at the end of the season.  I like awards, so you know I’m in.

My first race of the series was the Run for Roses in Wheaton.  I don’t run a lot of races in this area, even though this is technically my local running region.  I really liked this race though.  Inexpensive and friendly.  And chip timed!

I hadn’t looked at the course beforehand, so I didn’t realize how hilly it was going to be.  Typically, I don’t mind hills, but there were some steep downhills on gravel paths, and that was more scary than fun.  I definitely walked down those hills.  But aside from that, the course was beautiful.  It was held in Wheaton Regional Park, which is amazing.  I want to go back just to stroll.  At times, I felt like I was in Epcot during the Flower and Garden festival with all of the educational signs pointing out veggie bearing plants and homes for various types of butterflies.  It was really a gorgeous course.

At the end of the race, everyone received a beautiful rose (mine still looks great days later) and a cute printed finisher’s certificate – something that will probably get recycled in my home, but an awesome memento for a first-timer.

I finished in a reasonable amount of time – right around 40 minutes.  Not my fastest by far, but not my slowest either.  I was just taking it easy (or trying to) and enjoying the run, but I struggled to keep my heartrate down.  One of the perils of running in the summer.  Just something I have to keep an eye on.

I ran this race with Jen and Betsy, and I am so excited that Betsy is back in the area.  I’m glad to have another local running friend to spend time with, and I hope she doesn’t mind that I drag her to random races all across the state!

Afterwards, we hit up the all important post-race requirement – BREAKFAST.  After all, I had another race the next day. Definitely had to refuel.