Race reports

Tell us about your recent races.  Have you been running the Women’s Distance Festival Series this summer?  Did you finish your first race?  Did you PR, place in your age group, or win a race?  Travel somewhere new to race, or run a new distance?

Share your stories by adding your comments.


4 Responses

  1. My first race: Stroh’s 5k Run for Liberty in 1984

    I remember it was a cold clear morning in Anchorage, Alaska. I remember the starting line seeing people in all sorts of clothing, and in all sorts of levels of fitness. Prior to this race the longest distance I ran was 1.5 miles.

    There was great excitement as we waited for the start of the race which actually began with a starter’s gun. Then we were off! I was passing people left and right and zooming along feeling great. Then I ran out of breath and my legs started hurting and I slowed down and was passed by all the people I zoomed by. I don’t remember how I finished.
    I do remember it took a long time to find my car after the race as I was sort of dazed and cold.

    What I remember most about my first race was the exhilaration of getting out there with all those other people and running! What a blast. There’s my blast from the past
    race report.

    -Austin Conaty

  2. Last Saturday I ran the Mason-Dixon 100k challenge. The challenge is to run 100k along the mostly unrunnable Mason-Dixon Trail along the Sequennha River, though leaving it frequently to run up and down hill, in the 15 hours of daylight on the longest day. This report was written for the other runners, so check the website to get some of what I am talking about.

    My aim was to beat the challenge. How hard does 4 miles an hour sound? Hopelessly naïve optimism characterizes many of my plans. Especially since I am seriously bad at trail running – I walk the ups, most the downs, and the flats are a bit of a challenge as well. As a big chap I also find heat rather difficult. So the MDLD challenge is just the sort of thing I like to do, suffering from macho delusions and late mid-life crisis.

    It was a nice start at Rock Creek Mill, with mist floating off the river. At the off Nate and the two Dover Boys dashed off, like it was a race or something. I must admit I thought the Dover Boys had gone out to fast and would suffer later, so kudos to them for keeping it all the way. And beating the challenge too; just awesome as you guys say (I’d say, that’s really rather good).

    The rest of us jogged happily round the corner and onto the trail, where I sploshed through the first water crossing. My coordination is not up to balancing on rocks and stuff – when I did the Catoctin 50k I actually stopped to take off my shoes and socks to make the crossing and ran the short section on the other side barefoot. Up the first of many hills of the day, where I joined up with Seth.

    The various emails on directions were a great help. I remembered there was a vaguely marked turn to the right toward the end of the first mile to take us back to the road (I do have a fair sense of direction which helped sometimes, though not always). So we picked up the down trail, if you can pick up a down. A bit of a road, some flat trail and then onto the old rail road. All very flat and nice. If it was all like that it would have been an easy day. And so on to around mile 4, where my crew, Soniya and her daughter Lara, were waiting for me.

    On to the road for the first climb. Half a mile or so, mostly steep enough to have to walk. Sharp right at the top for a pleasant flat/gentle down. We come to a fork where I say we branch left, but Seth notices the blaze by a gate to the left. So we go onto the farm track which soon becomes a field, with no discernible trail. We cut through the long, wet grass, heading toward the radio mast. Scramble down to the power lines and maybe find the trail as it comes out to the road, though maybe we missed it once we got in the field, I’d like to know. Soniya, Lara and Hunt are all at the mast. We refuel and back in the woods.

    Our first major mistake comes when we get to the power lines, as we think the double blaze on the right means turn right. It’s meant to mean that! We cut down through the long grass, nothing. We have turned away from the river and below us is a creek. I know we have to turn left round the head of the creek, so I cut down to a bush line and into the woods. There’s no trail, but we must pick it up if we make toward the creek head. Seth has gone upward to scout that side. I yell at him to head in the woods and just go straight and we’ll meet up. But I’m not clear and he comes back down, so we head through the woods and soon pick up the trail, which Seth had found just left of where we turned right. A lot of woods follow. We come to Hunt, Soniya and Lara again. Hunt says it’s eight miles and we’ve been out 2 hours already. I had figured that we were weren’t going to make the challenge, but that was slower than I thought. We head round a creek and as we enter the woods the girls come out of the trail on the other side, just a few minutes behind us. Then we climb up into the woods. This bit is rather hazy – lots of woods I guess – til we come out the roads. Another aid station and then onto a main road. We’re meant to take the trail over the hill, but it’s closed [Hunt later tells us it’s passable], so we follow the road that goes round the hill – but it’s still up, so I’m not sure which would have been quicker as it’s a rare section where the trail takes the more direct route.

    We pass Hunt where the trail joins the road, and then another mile on the road til my next aid station. We’re on the road so we run on through there to one of easiest sections, going down hill, turning left into Peach Bottom Power Station. A bit of searching to pick up the trail after it enters the woods, but then pick up the subtly named Atom Road. Off there onto the old tram lines – another bit I luckily remembered from the emails, so pick the left fork even though it’s not marked and then onto the forest road up the hill. There are new blazes at the top of the hill, so we get through Peach Bottom easily, aided by blue ribbons as we come of the hill and down to the road. A mistake at the road crossing as I lead us down to the river. Seth is very good natured about it, as we have to go back up to the junction to pick up the real trail which goes up a ridiculously steep slope into the woods – it’s a literal climb at the start. The climbs are beginning to take the toll. I’m also starting to get a bad pain in my right foot, in fact it started around 8 o’clock. I’m not wearing trail shoes, but a pair of rather light Adidas I got at Costco on my last trip here. Totally unsuitable. I’ve changed socks a couple of times, which gives temporary relief till I slosh through another water crossing.

    Seth and I are walking up a hill on the road – we’re having a nice, chatty stroll much of the time I must confess, but it’s really fine by me. Soniya and Lara are at the top, so we run a bit, but too late as they’ve seen us. Down the other side and round the corner is Seth’s support, plus Hunt. This is the 25 mile mark, which we reach at 11.00 am, that is 5 and half hours – just under 5 miles an hour. That sounds ok, but Hunt tells me we won’t make Otter Creek by 6 pm. It starts nice with some road, we even run some of the hill. But then of course we cut left off the trail onto steep and otherwise unrunnable trail. This was the first long stretch between aid stations – I estimated an hour and a half, which in the end it was. This section has spectacular views of water falls and rock pools which are looking more and more inviting as the day heats up. After some time, I mean quite some time, the trail becomes runnable and Seth takes off – I have been holding him back on the trails for some time. I also run though my legs are now very heavy, so it’s a bit of a slog, and the bottom of my foot is pretty bad. Once I make the road I take a couple of cataflam (an Egyptian equivalent of ibuprofen but stronger). And start on the road – which soon becomes a very steep climb, ruthlessly exposed to the afternoon sun. It’s hard work. I’m over taken by the first of the girls near the top (must have been Jen), but take her back at the aid station. I also see Eva coming the other way at that point – 3 miles downhill she tells me. I pass my own aid station at the fork, where I would have gone the wrong way otherwise (and got a nice short cut, so thanks a lot guys!). To start the road has a reasonable gradient but the surface has melted, so I’m sludging along through the hot tar. It hardens up as I come to the downhill proper. Since I’m well over 200 lbs gravity is usually my friend on the downhills. But this is too steep, so it just plain hurts. I’ve asked my crew to do more frequent stops, so they are the start of the silly car park loop – though actually that was quite a nice loop (= not much up hill). Back onto River Road, up the hill.

    Jen catches me again as we enter the trail. We get lost at the rock climb around the small lake. In the bushes I meet my second snake of the day. Seth and I had met one on the trail, but this was an eight footer wrapped around a bush. Checking it later I reckon it was a Black Rat Snake, but other views welcome. We pick up the trail, the rocks digging into the bottom of my feet really are the last straw.

    I had been thinking of going on to Otter Creek, but at Lock 12 there are seats, cold drinks and lots of people telling me how it’s still 12 miles to Otter Creek – I thought around 10 – and the hardest hills – I thought mostly flat. So I took off my shoes (the highlight of my day) and said I am not going anywhere. They now tell me it’s not so far really etc, but nothing doing. Next year maybe – if not then, when I’ve done enough training and will try for the 16 hour version of the challenge.

    Three people finished the challenge that day; the two Dover boys in 14 hours and change, and Jen in 17 hours plus.

    What doesn’t work:

    · Wrong shoes

    · Not training enough

    · Getting old

    What did work

    · Running with Seth, I think we made a good team in picking the route (except when I led him the wrong way)

    · Changing socks

    · Going slow

    · Lots of food and water

    Thanks a lot to Hunt and Paul for laying this on. This is a pretty unique event. Anyone who attempts even any of it is pretty incredible. And thanks of course to Soniya and Lara. If you fancy something different there is 100k in Egypt in November – it’s mostly flat (there are a few hills including the last km) and temperature no hotter than last Saturday: http://www.egyptianmarathon.com/.

  3. June 15 Manassas Mini Tri

    Swim – 250 yds Bike – 4 miles Run – 1.4 miles

    This was my first triathlon. The distances were very short to give you a taste of how it feels to do all three sports back-to-back.

    The race was well-organized with plenty of volunteers and the bike and run routes were clearly marked.
    Massages were available after the race.

    The swim is in an indoor pool and you swim up and down the lanes. There were no hills (not compared to Greenbelt Park) just some inclines. The run was short but after swimming and biking my legs felt heavy and I just wanted to finish though I did feel relaxed throughout the race.

    I recommend this for a first triathlon. Next up they have a Super Sprint on August 10 that is slightly longer:

    Swim – 400 yds Bike – 8 miles Run 1.86 miles

    You can get information from http://www.TriItNow.com

    My results:

    swim – 8:52 bike 25:49 run 14:10

    Thanks to George and Laurie for recommending this to me after they did it a few years ago.

  4. Summer Track Races and Workouts

    This makes the second summer where I have concentrated on speed and track workouts – all with the goal of doing the fastest 1 mile I can. Last summer, I managed to get below a 6 minute mile for the first time in my life, and finished the summer with a PR of 5:47 at the Potomac Valley Games during Labor Day weekend. So there’s hope for everyone to post a PR as I did mine at age 47.

    My first track meet this summer was the Mid-Summer Night 1 Mile track event held by the Montgomery County RRC at Rockville High School – unfortunately the same night as our club’s Poker Run. I finished in 5:57, which was a good time for me at this point in the summer. I still hope to run under my PR of 5:47 later in the summer. Track races are a lot of fun as you get to see all of the other meets and you find your heart racing before the start due to the pressure of the short nature of the race. They always group runners by expected times, so you are always running with similar runners as yourself.

    My workouts at the track are a mix of 100, 200, 300 and 400M intervals and speed workouts. I do interval training in the beginning of the summer – to build up my strength. For 100M – I would normally do 16 reps in 17 – 19 seconds with a 40 second rest. For the 200M, I would do 12-16 reps in :38 – :39 seconds with a 1:20 minute rest. For the 300M, I would do 6-8 reps at 1:00 with a 1 minute rest. For the 400M, I would 6-8 reps at 1:28:- 1:32 with a 1:30 minute rest. As you can tell, I am simply starting on the whole minute so I can just look at my watch and easily tell when to start the next rep. I am running at about 90% – 95% from my all out running potential.

    To also build up my stamina and strength, I do 3 1-mile intervals at 7:10 with a 1:50 rest. I also do the ocassional hill workout in my neighborhood where I do 10-12 reps up a moderately inclined hill for about 80M.

    I try to do 3-4 track workouts a week with easy days in between where I run slow and easy for 30-50 minutes.

    After I have built up strength from the interval training, I will do pure speed work – running flat out with as much recovery time as I need. You don’t want to do too much of this as it easily leads to injuries. For my speed workouts – I would do 4 x 300M in about :55, 6 x 200M in :35 or 4 x 400M in 1:22.

    My next track meet will be the Montgomery County Track Meet on August 1st at Walt Whitman High School. I encourage everybody to come out and see if they can do a PR for the mile or 2 mile races they will have.


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