Thursday, November 24, 2011

29th Fifth Third Turkey Trot; 24th November 2011

This was to be my final race of the year and my biggest start to date, right in the heart of downtown Detroit. Gordon was signed up for it too and it was to be his first 10k. We had accepted Roger & Sharon's offer of carpooling down there as they had been down to the event before and knew the lie of the land,etc. I got up at 4:30am, which is amazing as I set my alarm for 4:15am, but forgot to switch it on, so that was damn lucky. We got on the road by 5am, planning to meet Roger & Sharon at Sharon's house by 5:30, hoping to get downtown by 6am, I think. We got there no problem and ended up hanging out in the Compuware building at Campus Martius while waiting to start.

Myself, Gordon & Sharon, before the race
We decided with about 20 minutes to go that we should try and find our start corral, Gordon and myself were in 'Dasher', which meant we had a pace of between 8-9:30, we couldn't find out so we just found a place in the middle of the pack to try and hide from the cold wind. Once we got the obligatory national anthem out the way and they started the race, it actually took us a few minutes to cross the starting line and then we were off. I wasn't managing to track pace very well as my Garmin was having some satellite acquisition issues, so we just kept up with everyone else and got on with it. Gordon was keeping great pace so I just ran beside him or a little in front or behind.

Gordon kept going strong, I think he was enjoying being out there. I could tell after about 20 minutes that he was struggling, but didn't want to let me down, so we walked for a little bit just so he could recover. I think we had four short walks throughout the whole 10k, which is really good going as it was his first. I made him promise me one thing, that he had to beat me, which he did with pleasure I think, maybe a little too much. We wanted to come in about 1 hour, which we did. All in all it was a great run, kinda cold, but I'm glad we did it.

I was two seconds behind him, and seven people, just as an indication of how busy it was...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The McWilliams Frankenrace

I'd like to point out some good and some bad points of the various races that I competed in, maybe between them an awesome frankenrace can emerge that would suit me right down to the ground.

Run For The Hills; Farmington Hills - My very first 10k and only it's second year. Packet pickup was quite annoying as I had registered the week before online but they didn't know anything about me. The course was well sign posted and marshalled, although it could have done with at least one more aid station. Pre and post race they had a good selection of snacks. They had a graduated start with the best paced people at the front all the way back the walkers and me at the back. One thing I didn't like about the course was that you could see the finish line from quite far off, which I found quite demoralising, as it feels like it took an age to get there. Got a tshirt and bought a tech shirt.

Milford Labor Day 10k - Packet pickup was at Bakers, which went very smoothly, they even had a small expo where you could buy running gear, etc, and what with it being at Bakers, I even managed to grab a quick beer. Getting to the start line in the morning was a nightmare, but once there, it was very well organised. We started the race to the theme tune to Rocky, which got me chuckling. At mile 1 someone was shouting out your first mile pace, which was kinda cool. The course was beautiful and very challenging. Crossing the finishing line you got given your medal, a bottle of water and the snacks were right there too. Once we grabbed a seat we could help ourselves to free beer and, as a runner, I got a free lunch as well. Kinda cool tech shirt & a medal.

Detroit Zoo Run For The Wild - By far my biggest race so far. Packet pickup was easy, we went the previous day. It was quite a walk from the car park to the starting line, which was a little annoying. The course was very flat and very nice to run around & extremely well marshalled. According to my Garmin, the race wasn't quite a 10k. The finish line was a wee bit confusing for some I guess, but it was nice finishing at the gates of the zoo. Post race, it all fell apart, I struggled to find water and we had to go into the zoo to get any snacks, which was expensive and annoying. Got an ok tshirt.

Oakwood Red October Run - Jings, this was a cold one. I picked up my packet on the morning, which went flawlessly, They had a small expo which kept us going for a few minutes. Find the race start line was challenging. The course was flat and not much to look at. Random people joined the run on a couple of occasions, which was bizarre. At one point a race marshall asked the runners to stop so he could let a car through, which got me furious. The last mile or so was a pain as we finished on the same course as the slow 5k walkers and they wouldn't get out of the way. Post race snacks were good. Got a long sleeved shirt and a medal, I also bought a nice t shirt and baseball hat.

Detroit Free Press Marathon; leg #3 - It was a helluva event, but I have never felt so neglected either before or after a race, no pre or post snacks or drinks, and a really disappointing post race party. The live music and offers of free beer along the way were fun. Really nice tech shirt and medal though.

Plymouth Wicked Halloween Run - Damn cold morning. Packet pickup, parking were a doddle. Pre race we just kind of milled around. The pre race Thriller performance was a nice touch. The start line wasn't quite wide enough and the promised graduated start failed to materialize, which meant that it took a long time to get started and when started the race was really congested for the first mile. Course was very pleasant. Post race I got handed my medal and a bottle of water, I then had to queue for 10 minutes to get a snack, which kinda sucked. I found out later that not all of the medals were colored, but mine was. The tech shirt was cool.

Outrun Hunger - A last minute decision and it's first year. The course was nicely done and very close to home. I ran this one with Iona. Didn't get anything, no electronic timing either.

Ann Arbor Turkey Trot - Getting in to the park was hellish, we had thought we had left plenty time but ended waiting in line for about 40 minutes. Packet pickup and startung line organisation was a breeze, once we got there. The course was very picturesque. Between the 5k & 10k races I had about 30 minutes to kill, I spent most of it waiting in line for the bathroom. Snacks were available between races. Received two shirts, one for the 10k & one for doing the Iron Turkey Trot (5k & 10k races), the post race medal was an unexpected surprise.

Detroit Turkey Trot - Really busy, and I mean really, really busy. The starting corrals were a little confusing, but we found it ok. The course was as good as it could be considering that it was downtown. One thing I didn't like was watching people run down the road that you are running up, as it just goes to accentuate how slow you are going.The end was bedlam, and we didn't even try and get any snacks as it was just too busy.

My perfect race, ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The McWilliams Frankenrace
  • Online registration
  • Plenty parking
  • Previous evening packet pickup as well as on the day
  • Put some stuff in the packet, info on upcoming races, free samples
  • Customized tech shirt,
  • Electronic timing, in bib
  • Pre & post race expo
  • Pre race snacks
  • Graduated start based on pace
  • Cool route with plenty marshalls and no bloody cars
  • Mile/ kilometer markers would be nice and make them accurate
  • Make the route the distance that it is supposed to be
  • If there is a simultaneous 5k, have it start approx 1/2 hour after the 10k
  • Live music around the course as well as at the end
  • Medals for finishers
  • Post race snacks, with free beer
  • Free lunch for finishers

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ann Arbor Iron Turkey Trot; 11/12/11

This was, again, a last minute decision. A colleague was running the Iron Turkey and was all over me to do it, I wasn't sure but it was going to be my last chance of a race before the big Turkey Trot so I decided to go for it, even though it was going to be a farther race than I had ever ran before. The race was being held at Hudson Mills Metropark, so we thought we would leave nice and early and get there in plenty time.

The Iron Turkey Trot means that you run in the 9am 5k then the 10am 10k, totaling 15k, so all we had to do was get in there and go for. The first bloody problem of the day was actually getting into the park, we queued up for at least half an hour to get within sight of the park, traffic was a nightmare and traffic control, almost nonexistent. We got parked and I had to sprint over to the registration area to collect my number, forgetting that I also had, as it turns out, two bloody tshirts to deal with, one for the 10k & one for the Iron Turkey. I ended up running back to try and meet Bren, who was parking the car, dumping the shirts and running back to try and catch the start. It was a hellish way to start a race.

Anyway, got to the starting line of the 5k with a couple of minutes to spare. as they delayed it due to the traffic fiasco going on. The start was incredibly fast and I put in 7:56 for my first mile. The course was tight, but very scenic as it meandered through the park and across a couple of bridges. There was one lingering hill that I never really enjoyed, but what the hell. The 5k was one revolution and I finished in a respectable time.

I had about 30 minutes to kill between races so I grabbed a quick snack and spent most of the rest of it trying to get into the restroom, again not much fun. The 10k start was mobbed, more so than the 5k even. I wanted to start a little slower as my legs weren't quite recovered from the 5k, but I got into the swing of things and kept going. This time we would be doing two laps of the same course as the 5k, which would be my first real experience of multiple laps on a long course. It was cool seeing Bren half way through, I managed to throw her my hat and it buoyed my spirits. The same long nasty hill awaited me, but twice this time, and knowing it didn't make it any easier. The nice race director decided that the final 200m should start uphill on a scree path, which really sorted the men from the boys. I finished, I was knackered.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Outrun Hunger 5k; 11/5/11

This was a very last minute decision to do a local race in its inaugural year. It was getting held at the Commerce Township office, just a couple of miles from the house. As it was so close to the house we decided to make it a family affair, although having learned our lesson at the Plymouth Run, no dogs this time. I went over early to get us all registered which involved me filling out fourteen bloody forms and I hate writing so it really was a blast. We decided that Bren was going to do the mile with Liam, Chris & Emma, while myself Gordon & Iona were going for the 5k. Gordon found a school friend and was going to run with him and shoot for a good time, while I was going to run with Iona.

The kids (L to R); Emma, Chris, Iona, Liam (back), Gordon
 It was a damn cold, but beautiful morning for the race. The course was going to be travelling through Martin Parkway, luckily on the weekend before the new road was due to open. This was Iona's first attempt at a 5k, so I was just pleased that she wanted to try and I was looking forward to being out there. The course was lightly marshalled and well signposted. There wasn't any electronic timing or shirts or anything, but it was a nice morning to be out and about and great to be with the kids.

Just a nice morning
Me in the Detroit Marathon shirt
& Iona in pink pants and a purple jacket