Sunday, October 03, 2010

10-mile Race Today

There is a local organization called Step and Stride that has the goal to help people get fit by walking. Their events are not necessarily races, though some of them are.

Today Step and Stride hosted its first 10-mile race that was the featured event at the end of a 10-week walking training program. (Other walkers were invited to enter the race, too.) I entered this race along with 5 other members of the Buckeye Striders. The race went through Glacier Ridge Metro Park, which is just north and outside of Columbus.

It was pretty chilly this morning with no indication it would warm up before the end of the race. It was 47 degrees at the start with cloudy skies, strong winds and a threat of rain. I was pretty cold, and not quite sure how to dress, assuming that at some point I would probably warm up. Thursday there were about 450 people registered, but we decided the weather must have kept some away. It looked as if no more than 300 people showed up.

Before the race, I thought I might have a chance to win my age group. After the start of the race (once we got free of the bottleneck), I was surprised at how many really fast walkers there were! There was no way I was winning anything in this crowd!

Deb and I had originally planned for today to be just a training walk. Still, we got caught up in the excitement of the race, and at times tried to go faster than our original plan. In fact, on our way out we even walked a 12-min mile! Considering that we were barely breathing hard and had not broken a sweat, we knew immediately that the mile markers were off. (On the way back from the turnaround we had a 10-min mile, so they were wrong in both directions.)

Glacier Ridge is a pretty park. It has lots of trees, lots of "plains," wetlands and no real hills. At the same time, it can feel desolate -- especially in the fall. I also find it VERY confusing and if a race is not marked well (this one was marked very well), it would be very easy to get lost. When we were in the midst of the trees, the wind was nothing, but once we hit the "plains," the wind was brutal! So with no wind, I was overdressed. With wind I was under-dressed. This is why fall races can sometimes be frustrating.

On the way back to the start after the turnaround at the 5-mile mark, the unceasing wind was blowing in our faces. Wow! We were pushing, but we were barely moving. It really wiped us out! It was when the wind eased a little that several walkers who started out behind us began passing us. Oh, well -- this was supposed to be a training walk for us.

We finished strong somewhere around 2:23. I had a watch malfunction -- somehow I had over 10 laps for only a 10-mile race. I must have hit the watch a few too many times, or maybe my coat sleeve caught on it (that has happened before). That might also be why I had so many unrealistically fast miles.

As we crossed the finish line, we received a very nice Victoria's Secret canvas tote! There were only 75, and I was thrilled to be in the group that got them. The after race food included delicious bagels, bananas, trail mix, Nutri-Grain bars and plenty of water. There were also leftover training program T-shirts and Dick's Sporting Goods reusable shopping bags available. (The Dick's bags were used as the goody bags. Nice!)

So, overall it was a pretty good race. The weather was miserable, which race directors cannot control. The venue is a little boring the second time you do a race there. But it was well-marked and flat and there were enough water stops. The other walkers were very nice and the finish line food was good.

The race T-shirts are cotton, long-sleeved gray shirts. The logo on the front is nice. The size small is a little bit large on me, but I can shrink it. It has been a long time since I received a nice, long-sleeved cotton shirt and I was thrilled! I would rather get a really nice cotton shirt than a cheap, ugly technical shirt that doesn't fit and that I will never wear. Race directors -- please take note.

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