Race Recap: Frostbite 5 Miler

This weekend was the Frostbite 5 Miler, hosted by The Ambler Area Running Club. LogoFor me it was my first official run of the year. The next few runs I am training for are a 10 Miler in May and Half Marathon in June. So I thought it would be good to get myself out there with a 5 Miler early on the year. In fact I have written this previously, but I do not see myself running many 5K’s in 2015. Instead I would like to keep 5 Miles the shortest distance I run in official races for the year.

As I mentioned I am in the beginning of a training plan for two 10+ mile races so my training for this run was just a part of that. So this race came at the end of the 4th week of my training plan. Based on my plan (in a perfect world) that would have given me 4 weeks to train for this race. And by train I mean start running again in 2015. Based on my Nike+ app (add me!) I only ran a total of 10 miles in January. So as I mentioned in a perfect world that would be 4 straight weeks of running to prep for this run. Unfortunately this world is not perfect. Realistically it was 3 weeks because I spent a week on a cruise in the Caribbean.

Plan

The first 4 week of a 10 week training plan

None the less I got a good amount of training in before hand and ultimately had a good race. I completed the race at the time I expected and overall the cold wasn’t as bad as expected. It is also important to note this was the first run I did outside since I think November. I have been training solely on the treadmill (more on that experience in a future post).

Waking up in the morning was a true shock. I have lived in the Philly area long enough to know what the cold feels like. And last year I ran in snow regularly. However having not done it in months I didn’t think I would make it. In fact, if my girlfriend wasn’t with me I cannot 100% guarantee I would have ever gotten out of bed. The cold sucks, there’s no way around it. Regardless I trudged out there and dealt with the weather. I even made the ridiculous decision of taking off and handing my jacket to my girlfriend as I got in the starting line (I was certain I was going to run in it up until the last minute).

The race director said go and off we went. This was also my first run using my Nike+ Sports Watch so for about the first 20 steps I fumbled with that (and my music) and was finally getting going.

The course was great. More hilly than I thought it would have been, but the hills were good. They were spaced out enough that when I thought I was cruising along, they snuck up to give me a challenge. Within the first mile or two my body started warming up so the cold din’t become too much of an issue. Minus of course the fact that breathing in the cold air made my lungs feel like they were on ice.

But back to the course. It ran through a mix of rural neighborhoods and some main streets. The Running Club did a very Mapgood job at blocking the road of two way traffic to let the runners through and had more than enough volunteers to help direct both runners and cars. Also since the runners ran through neighborhoods there were a good amount of spectators out during the course cheering the runners on. I remember specifically one woman at mile 2 or 3 out with her son and a radio playing music. Reminded me for a quick second of the Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon.

The only complaint I had was nothing to do with the course or the Running Club itself. I believe at one point I heard a volunteer yell out to a runner “run don’t walk!”. While I will assume you were doing this to cheer them on, now is not the time to try your hand at being a running coach. Some people incorporate a run/ walk method into their runs. Just because you see someone walking a part of course doesn’t mean you should be discouraging them from it. Clapping your hands and shouting “you can do it” is good enough.

After the run the Running Club had a mini expo set up at the local high school gym it was held at. I didn’t spend much time in this (I wanted to get in my warm car and home immediately!). However my girlfriend waited in there before getting to the finish line in time to see me finish. She said they had a few local running shops that were set up selling items and offering discounts to their stores. Also they had a DJ set up and a table to exchange your race shirt. So while I didn’t spend much time in here, I think that was really cool for the running club to set something like that up. At most local suburb races (under 10K) it is usually just a table with drinks and bananas set up and you are gone.

The food line looked impressive as well. I saw people with chili, hot dogs, bananas, chips, etc. They seemed to really go above and beyond the post race festivities. Again, the line for food was long and I wanted to get home and warmed up so I didn’t stick around.

BibThe pre race swag/ set up was great as well. The Friday night before they set up a bib location pick up at the local movie theater. You could pick up your race shirt and bib from 5-8 pm. My girlfriend is usually not a bib pick up fan. She never understands going out of the way to get something you can just get the day of the race. So I bribed her to go with me by taking her to dinner at a local BYOB in the area. Win – win. The bib pick up was very easy. You walked in and they had multiple tables split between bib numbers. And if you (like me) didn’t know your bib number they had a board to find it. So I walked in and in less than 2 minutes walked out with my bib and race shirt. I liked the bib. They put the running logo, the logo of their main sponsor and a QR code to pull up results. As someone who has kept all my bibs for every run I have run I enjoyed it. The race shirt was very nice as well. It was tech material and long sleeve. So a perfect shirt to help with winter running.

Overall I was very pleased with this race. The Ambler Area Running Club held it with no issues whatsoever. And if there were, they were not very noticeable. They offered a great course, awesome post run experience and picking up your pre-race materials were super easy. I would recommend this race to anyone who wants to challenge themself with something beyond a 5K, especially in the winter weather. It is one thing to run a race when it is 72 degrees out. Another when you are sucking in frozen air and your muscles are tight because of the weather.

Finish

The finish line

Beard

So cold out my beard formed sweat-cicles.

Why going from a 5K to Half Marathon isn’t as hard as you think

Ever run a 5K before? If so you can run a Half Marathon. Here’s why…..

Plan a 3 mile (5K) running course that starts at your house. Now you’ve run those 3 miles and need to get home, what are you gonna do? You’re 3 miles from home are you really going to call for a ride back? No, you’re going to either run or walk (or a combo of both) back home. There, you just ran 6 miles.

If you can run 6 miles, you can run a Half Marathon.

Go do it…….




Disclaimer: Make sure to give yourself enough time to train for 13.1 miles. This article is intended strictly for getting past the mental hurdle of going from a 5K to a Half Marathon and not being advertised as a training plan. If you need a plan, here you go.

Half Marathon #3 Weekend Is Here!

In 2 days I will be completing my 3rd Half Marathon. The Philadelphia Half Marathon. And I could not be more excited. Being able to hang up my 3rd Half Marathon medal after only starting to run in July 2013 is an exciting thought.

However this will be my first winter half marathon. And what I learned is training for a half in the winter is hard. Not the running part. Luckily if it gets too cold both my work and my apartment complex have gyms on site so it isn’t difficult to get a run in. For me it’s hard to find the motivation to run. By the time I leave for work it’s bitter cold and pitch black out. To say seasonal depression has kicked in would be an understatement.

So training has dipped off a bit. I have really only run a handful of times in the past few weeks. And with any luck I will get a run in today to remind my body what running feels like. As a result doubt has crept into my mind. Will I be able to do as well as I know I can? Am I ready? Can I even do it?

Luckily I have faith in myself. By no means am I a half expert, but I have been to the dance before. I know what 13.1 miles feels like. I know that by mile 3 I will be doubting if I can even run any further. I know at mile 7 I will start to get so hungry I could eat a full Thanksgiving turkey. I know at mile 10 I will be convincing myself “only a 5K more!” And I know by mile 13 I will sprint my hardest .1 mile I know I can. So from that standpoint I have been through the motions before and know what I am capable of.

I also had a 10K run a few weekends ago and walked away from that experience feeling very positive. My time was good, I handled the cold weather well and the course was very hilly and I didn’t let that stop me.

So naturally I am just going through the nerves anyone experiences when they know they are on the doorsteps of something very important to them. And as long as I am confident in myself, don’t get too high, don’t get too low I know I will complete my goal.

#3 is on its way!

Broad Street Run Recap

This weekend was the Blue Cross Broad Street Run held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is labeled as one of the most popular 10 mile runs in the country. And they aren’t kidding. This year there was 40,000 people who flooded the streets of Philadelphia for the run. If you aren’t too familiar with the city of Philadelphia, Broad Street runs right down the middle in a straight line throughout the entire city. So carving out a 10 mile stretch to run isn’t too difficult. And the majority of the road is 4 lanes so it doesn’t get too overcrowded.

First let’s talk about the pre-race details. You could pick up your race packet in the city of Philadelphia or get it mailed to you if going down there was too difficult. I chose to go into the city to get mine because I like race expo’s. I like going down there and getting to see everything being offered and just getting myself involved with the race community. If you have read previous posts of mine, you will know I have never really felt like a runner, regardless of all the runs I have done. So to go to the pre-race expo’s makes me feel more a part of the community.

I picked up my race packet and it had my race bib, t-shirt, a booklet on the history of the race and your standard ad’s promoting future races in the area. Overall I wasn’t very impressed with the race packet. Broad Street prides itself as being the premier 10 mile race in the country. I felt like if you are going to make that claim than you should be held to higher standards. So as such I judged the pre-race packet to some other runs I have done (rock and roll half marathon, hot chocolate 15K and others). And overall the packet didn’t compare. The bag was just a clear plastic bag with a draw string on the top. Since the bombings at the Boston Marathon clear bags have essentially been made mandatory, and for good reasons. But, for example, the Philadelphia Half marathon was able to accomplish this by making it back pack style. Whereas the bag for broad street was essentially a clear grocery bag with a draw string at the top. So the bag got thrown away once I got home.

The official T-Shirt wasn’t as impressive either. The cotton style looked like one of the cheaper options the t-shirt company who made them was offering. There was no print on the back, so they crammed the logo and the sponsors on the front of the shirt. It didn’t look awful, just a bit cluttered. Again, you are branding yourself as the premier 10 miler, higher expectations are going to be placed on these things. I wouldn’t say the pre-race packet was awful. If I had to give it a grade out of 1-10, with 10 being the best, I would give it a 6.

Now onto the race….

When you have 40,000 people (plus probably a quarter of that in spectators) heading into a city, logistics can be a nightmare. But I can say the city of Philadelphia handled this well. Public transportation was made available at no cost to everyone running. So getting down there didn’t cost a dime. And once you got to the main starting area there was enough room to move around. Except of course in the bathroom section. They made sure to have multiple areas for portable toilets, but again we are talking about 40,000 people, so the lines were long. And the tough part of the bathroom section I used was the entrance. Hundreds of people were trying to get in while hundreds were trying to exit out of the same area. You could imagine the nightmare.

A few posts ago I made a comment about how the running community was so tight nit. People cheering others on and supporting complete strangers, it is refreshing. Well that goes all out the window when you are trying to shove through a crowd of people. Basic human instinct kicks in and we all revert back to our animalistic natures of pushing and shoving. Nothing awful, just funny to see when the running community is branded as so close nit.

So the race started really without a hitch. The course was great. Broad Street is a straight flat road with little to no hills at all. I’ve only been running for a year so I don’t know how much I can compare it to, but as far as I was concerned the course was perfect. And the city of Philadelphia knows how to come out for a party. This race easily had the most spectators I have ever seen. It almost felt at one point like there were more spectators than racers. But again, this is a big deal for Philadelphia. Local celebrities come out and run and the city essentially shuts down for it.

So I have to say the city did a really good job accommodating 40,000 people the way they did. There wasn’t any issues on the course (as far as I saw) everyone seemed to get their post race goodies at the end, and there was enough room at the finish line to meet up with your group and get pictures and what not.

I would probably give the race day experience an 8 out of 10 overall.

If you are a runner I would put this run on the bucket list. Or if you are ever thinking of doing a half marathon, but are nervous this is great to break you in. It is mostly flat so you won’t struggle as much and it’s only a 5K away from a half so you can get the feeling of what that distance is like. I don’t know how popular the 10 mile format is, but it is definitely a great experience. The city of Philadelphia shuts down and it is like, for a brief moment, you feel like you own the city. Philadelphia can get a bad reputation for being a bit tougher, and rightfully so, but on this day, for at least a few hours, the city bonds together and you really learn what the “City of Brotherly Love” really means.

The starting line!

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I think the best part of the day was that this started my 12th month of consecutive running. A year of running capped off by such an amazing race!

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I am officially a Broad Street Runner!

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