Monday, February 2, 2015

2015 Dog Gone Cold 5k Race Report

A few weeks ago my husband sent me an email suggesting this race, so I figured why not? I like running. I like dogs. I like being cold. Everything seemed great. So I signed up for the 5th annual Dog Gone Cold 5k put on by Hopeful Hounds Inc in Augusta GA. Since I'm already in the middle of training for a half-marathon next month, I didn't really do anything extra to prep for a 5k, but a couple of fast (for me...) workouts left me really hoping to break 30:00.

So the appointed day came, and we all showed up at the Julian Smith Barbecue Pit, scenically located right between the projects and Lake Olmstead, to find a muuuuuch busier since than at my first race. There were hundreds of brightly-dressed people just milling about. And the dogs. My God.

There were dogs everywhere. I mean, I guess that's just to be expected, what with Hopeful Hounds being a dog rescue group and all, but I swear there were more people with dogs than without. I ended up wading through a crowd of Bernese Mountain Dogs, greyhounds, pit bull mixes, and the odd papillon to get into the barbecue pit.

Inside the blessedly-warm building, I waited in line briefly to get my packet, which consisted of a bib with a chip in it (did I mention that this race is certified and chipped?), a long-sleeved t-shirt, a bandana, and a sample-sized Larabar (Sticky Bun flavor!). The Larabar looked awesome, but it turned out to just be a bunch of nuts stuck together with sugar. Boo. Would not buy.

Anyway, it turned out that we got there pretty early, so we walked over by the Greenjackets stadium so I could warm up a little. On the up side, there weren't many people over there (other than another woman warming up with a Weimaraner and a whippet). On the down side, my 3-year-old was distraught that he couldn't run the race and wouldn't let go of my hand. If you've never tried to get a decent warm-up with a preschooler clinging to you, let me tell you: It's not super effective. But I did my best before making my way over to the packed starting line.

I'll give the race directors credit for organization. Even with all the commotion, the race started precisely on time. The first half mile or so was kind of a pain, what with dodging all the dogwalkers who had apparently ignored the pre-race instruction for dogs and walkers to go to the back.

Honestly, even most the people who were actually running with their dogs were a bit of a menace. I think a lot of the people who came out were runners who thought that running with their dog sounded like a good time but had never actually done it before. The result? A ton of dogs that were just freaking out: Dragging their owner, getting dragged, trying to run off the path repeatedly, getting all intimate with other dogs, and just running rampant and tangling their leashes around everybody. This was especially nightmarish with those foolish people who brought extendable leashes. Next year, if I run this thing again, I'm totally lining up closer to the front to avoid the dogs, even though I'm pretty slow.

Slow traffic and crazy animals aside, the race was pretty pleasant. The course was nice, flat, lined with trees. There were TONS of volunteers giving out water, yelling times at the 1 and 2 mile markers, and just standing around being encouraging. I was hoping to get under 30:00 and had a vague plan of doing the first mile in 11:00, the second in 10:00, and then just booking it for the last 1.1, but it didn't work out. The first mile was great, even a little fast. The second was right one track. But I totally overestimated my 'booking it' ability for the last bit. So I wound up finishing in 31:27 - still a PR by 1:37. After the race, we left pretty quickly to appease the kiddies, but not before grabbing half a bagel and a piece of orange from the amply-stocked tables.

2015 Dog Gone Cold 5k Results
Time: 31:27
Place (Overall): 102 out of 316
Place (Women): 42 out of 205
Place (Age Group): don't know because it only listed the winners in each group and I'm too lazy to count

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Harlem Hustle Turkey Trot 5k Race Report

My first 5k ever was the 2nd annual Harlem Hustle Turkey Trot, held in scenic Harlem GA. No, seriously, it is kind of scenic, if you like ancient little southern towns. Harlem's got a cute little downtown about a block and a half long, a lot of overgrown magnolias, and a whole bunch of somewhat run-down stereotypically-southern houses with giant porches and balconies. Really, it's kind of charming. If you like that kind of thing. Which I do.


I picked this race because it looked like a small, casual affair, which I figured would be nice and nonthreatening for my first race. Plus there was a t-shirt, and it's always nice to support the local high school basketball team, right? Right. My suspicion that this was going to be a super-friendly event was confirmed basically as soon as I registered. The dude running the race, Wade something-or-other (I think he's maybe the coach of the basketball team), sent out a LOT of emails. Not like an annoying number, but an endearingly enthusiastic number, with lots of requests for input and advice. It was kind of sweet.

Unfortunately, they had the bad luck to pick basically the coldest day of the year for the race. Seriously, it was about 15 degrees out that morning. That's not much in the north, I know, but for Georgia in November? Dude, that is fucking cold. But I was totally tough. I put on the only jacket I could find and tried not to whine too much about not having any full-length running pants while my husband stuffed both kids into the warmest things they own.

After the three-minute drive to the race site, I picked up my packet at the little folding table they had set up next to the starting line. And I have to say, the packet totally exceeded my expectations. Sure, there was a perfectly adequate cotton t-shirt featuring everything notable about Harlem (basically a basketball for the team and a bowler hat to represent Laurel and Hardy, the only famous people to ever come out of the town), but there was also a fitness band (not that I'll use it) AND a box of fancy spiced pecans from Lucky Lady Pecans. It was all I could do to not eat them right there before the race.

Thirty minutes later, all forty or so of us lined up at the starting line. The clock ticked down to zero, and...nothing happened. Wade Mysterious-Last-Name stepped up to tell us that they were still waiting for the volunteers to get to their positions. So we waited another five minutes. THEN the countdown began again, someone yelled "Go!", and we were off.

Unfortunately, my watch quit working that very morning, so I had no idea how fast (or, more accurately, slow) I was going. I just hung toward the back of the crowd and kept things comfortable. The course was pleasant. It wound through the residential areas around downtown. It's pretty hilly back there, including one particularly steep, windy hill about half a mile after the start. I was pretty pleased with myself for passing lots of people (by which I mean maybe 10) on the hills.

It being early morning and all, there wasn't a lot of activity to be seen out there, but there were actually a couple residents turned out to watch the action, including one 2-year-old kid with a cowbell, which was basically the cutest thing ever. Honestly, it felt like a pleasant easy run in a new place for the first couple miles, and since there were no markers, I didn't realize how far I'd gone until I got to a sign pointing 10k runners to the right and 5k runners to the left for the last quarter mile.

So I picked it up at that point and passed one last person. Wade Something-Something cheered me in for a finish with a time of 33:04 on the clock or 34:34 as recorded by the helpful people at the finish line. Due to the frigid nature of the morning, I knocked over not one but TWO glasses of water and felt like a bit of a buffoon, but other than that, everything was dandy. I'll run it again next time, and I hope they have a bigger turnout and better organization next year.

2014 Harlem Hustle Turkey Trot 5k Results
Time: 33:04 or 34:34, depending on whether I believe the timer or the volunteers
Place (Overall): 25 out of 41
Place (Women): 8 out of 17
Place (Age Group): 6 out of 9 women under 50