Carmel Half Marathon 2012

It’s been a while since we’ve posted a race recap!

We participated in the second running of the Carmel Championship Weekend, Christopher the half marathon, and Emily and David ran the 8k together. This was David’s longest race to date.

I stopped by the expo at the Monon Center Friday afternoon to pick up our packets. I entered the eastern building, where the expo was the previous year, just as a big rain storm let loose. Apparently the location had been switched to the west side of the building, which was no problem, except for the face that I had to dart across to the other side through the rain. Oops. The organizers had set out three or four 3-ring binders, one for each of the 8k, half, and full, with listings of participants and their numbers. With so many participants trying to look up their number, there was a rather irritating backlog. I had to wait in two lines because our family was participating in both the 8k and the half. Many events will email participants with their number, and if they sent one, I missed it. For a medium-sized event like this, it sure would have been nice.

The spring running season officially started for thousands of people the next morning. It was quite a chilly start. Pre-race details seemed well-planned for the most part, including adequate parking and bathrooms near the start. My only gripe was that the corrals for the half and full seemed rather small. There was a lot of room on the street, but the pace groups were all crammed unnecessarily close to the start line. The only way to enter the chute was from the rear, so the chute was clogged with people who were unable to move up to an appropriate starting location. Spacing out the corrals more would be a great improvement for next year. After the chute is full and people are organized into their desired pace groups, then people can start to sardine towards the start. There’s no reason to cram until right before the countdown.

The first mile or two of the route was on a fairly narrow street, further exposing the importance of being able to line up according to pace. Several runners had to use the sidewalks for the first mile to adjust their position in the pack. When faster runners can line up closer to the front, and walkers can be closer to the back, everyone can have a safer and more enjoyable start. Regardless, these things sort themselves out eventually. I’m just sure that walkers don’t appreciate runners darting through and around them any more than runners like to risk injury by weaving around others.

Weaving through side streets and neighborhoods was a pleasant way to start the race. While it was clear that later on in the race, some residents were greatly inconvenienced by having to take an alternate route through their neighborhood, the few folks in the early miles of the race who were actually outside were quite friendly. None offered to share their hot chocolate with us, however.

I really enjoy races that follow stretches of trails. The tree-lined Hagen-Burke trail in Carmel is very nice. It’s built to the same standards as the Monon Trail — wide, and built of smooth asphalt. It meanders more than a rail-trail, lending it additional interest. Inexplicably, the mile markers along this trail were lying flat along the shoulder, just as they were last year. Are there some kind of funny Carmel regulations disallowing these signs from being put up? And speaking of strange Carmel-isms, this trail had a handful of roundabouts, which did not have arrows marking the turns for the race route. Toward the front of the pack, runners were spaced rather far apart, and at two of these roundabouts, I did not have a direct line of sight to the runner in front of me. Fortunately, I guessed correctly at which way to go, but a little more signage, or even just an arrow spray-painted on the asphalt, would have given more assurance.

From the Hagen-Burke trail, the route turned onto the Monon Trail, which is a favorite of mine. Apparently too much so, because I passed right by the right turn onto 136th. Just as I crossed the street, I snapped out of my focus and realized that something didn’t feel right. I looked behind me and realized that I should have turned. Strangely, the volunteers didn’t yell at me, either before or after I passed, that I was being a dummy. Oh well. My GPS watch caught me overshooting the turn as I was heading south on the trail.

And more strangely, 136th, a two-lane road with little shoulder to speak of, was open to traffic in both directions. There were traffic cones down the center of the street, but that only meant that cars had to stay in their lane, making it impossible to overtake and pass runners safely. That had better change next year, or else someone is going to get hurt. There was a car between me and the next runner in front of me, and it was clear that the next runner was very uncomfortable with how closely the car was following. Crabby drivers, two-lane roads, and runners do not mix. Now, I am fully aware that it is difficult to close so many streets in a city of this size, but the race organizers need to make sure this street is closed and direct traffic to alternate routes, or change the race route to avoid this stretch of road. As it was, that route is unsafe, and I won’t participate again next year if it is not changed or closed to traffic.

One other weird thing about Carmel is the creepy statues depicting people out and about on the town. I’ll restrain from further comment on how tasteful they are, but the statue of the police officer directing traffic at the Monon Trail crossing, complete with a fluorescent yellow-green vest that perfectly matched the real police officer directing traffic just 10 feet away, was just weird. I don’t know whether that statue always has the vest, but I can’t imagine who in the world thought that it was a good idea to have a statue, who is just realistic enough to be distracting, help “direct” traffic at such a busy pedestrian crossing.

Fortunately, the rest of the race was uneventful. We passed by a motorcycle class in a school parking lot, something I remembered from the previous year.

After picking up the finishers’ medal and requisite orange cracker and peanut butter package at the end of the chute after the finish line, the Medals for Mettle group was soliciting people to donate their medals. We have a number of medals tucked away in a box at home ready to donate to this worthy cause, and I did not know they would be collecting them at the end of this race, or we would have brought them with us. So they caught me by surprise. Doubly so, because I had already crammed a couple of the aforementioned orange peanut buttery crackers in my mouth. Of course, it’s impossible to chew them after a race without also swigging some water. I was wandering around trying to get my water bottle open when I reached the end of the chute where the Medals for Mettle folks were standing with their collection buckets. They asked if I was willing to donate my medal, but I was unable to say anything at all because my mouth was frozen solid with orange cracker and peanut butter. I tried to say that I’d instead like to give them some other medals we had already reserved to donate, but all I could do was mumble a bit and spray some orange dust all over the place — gross! Embarrassed, I just gave them the medal I had and scurried off with them laughing at me. I didn’t even get to look at the medal, oh well.

I milled around for a few minutes and saw on my phone that Emily and David were nearing the finish of their 8k, so I started up to meet them as they crossed over the last little hill before the finish line. They were doing great, David alternately running full-blast and meandering in circles. He was clearly having a great time, and I was very proud of him for going the whole race and for enjoying it. They crossed the finish line together, and David got to keep the medal that he and his mother earned.

We walked around for a bit afterward, looking at the army ambulance and paying a visit to the Molly’s Great Chicago Fire truck for a breakfast sandwich and a hot dog, and then hoofed it back to the car because we were all really cold.

Even though I had some suggestions for improvements, make no mistake, I enjoyed this race. I love being on trails, and while there were not many people in the neighborhoods who were outside, it was nice to see the friendly faces who were out. The course is flat, with just enough hills to be interesting.

Turkey Trot 2010

In advance repentance for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Grandma, we spent the morning participating in Austin’s annual Turkey Trot. Thanks to the generosity of Grandma and Papa’s neighbors, we were able to borrow a jogging stroller so David could come on the 1-mile walk after his Kids’ K.

David had been talking up how he was looking forward to his race, so I was also looking forward to running along by his side. Not too much of a surprise, however, he decided part-way through after starting to drag his feet a bit that he’d rather ride on my shoulders. We passed under a train, which he found quite impressive. We turned around at the half-way point, and I warned him that he would soon be his turn again. He ran the last third flat-out, and I had trouble keeping up with him at times. When he decides that he is into it, there is no stopping him. So much so, in fact, that I had some difficulty getting his attention so that he would cross the finish line on the right half of the barricade in order to get his finisher’s wrist band! Papa was toward the side near the finish, and I did not even see him while trying to keep David aimed at the finish line amid all the fun and chaos.

The grownups’ race started shortly afterward. This year featured a new course, presumably to accommodate the record 15,000 participant turnout. The previous course, starting at Waterloo Park and winding around the UT campus area was pretty nice, but I think the new course nicely features some different areas of town. Using the Long Center for the start and finish area offered a lot more room. Due to some sort of last-minute mix-up, the course was a half-mile shorter than the advertised five. I’m not complaining, since I found it to be quite hot and humid compared to Indy’s recent weather. Later that day, keeping the shortened course in mind made resisting that fourth slice of pie a little less difficult!

Indianapolis Half Marathon 2010

The Indianapolis Marathon deserves its reputation as a well-respected race. We found it to be well organized, and several nice touches showed attention to detail on the part of those who ran it.

We had a minor hitch getting to the expo and packet pickup due to construction confusion at the YMCA, but it was smooth after that. We arrived just in time too, since we observed that the parking lot seemed completely full when we left a short time later. The entry area to the expo was lined with mums and heaters, a nice but unnecessary touch, as the weather was mild that day. The expo itself was on the small side. We had no trouble walking right up and getting our packets and t-shirts from the friendly and helpful volunteers. The relatively small number of other vendors was no problem for us — less to traffic to dodge on the way out!

We owe a big thank you to the Zembrodts for watching David on race morning. We could not have both participated had it not been for their help. I’m glad that David got to play with his friends Jake and Toby on a Saturday morning, too.

After dropping off David on race morning, we were prepared for heavy traffic on 56th Street. By the time we crossed I-465, traffic was flowing smoothly. The kids directing traffic in the VA parking lots could have coordinated better and filled more spaces, but we didn’t have a problem. People arriving later might have had some difficulty finding parking spots, however. We stayed in the warm car, and Emily did some grading while we passed some time before braving the cold morning. Perhaps we should have left the car a few minutes sooner so that we could have made one last pit stop before the start. The lines were very long!

As the race started, the temperature was quite cool. No complaints though, as the sun felt glorious between the trees. The quiet environment while running in the state park was enjoyable, just the sound of footsteps and concentration. After a while, the park became more challenging for me. First, the hills were more than I am accustomed to, particularly the one at mile 10.5. Second, the design of the course led to some doubling-back even on the half-marathon course, which tends to sap my motivation. Still, the scenery was undeniably beautiful.

The food in the finishing area was a pleasant surprise. Both Emily and I thought that we had to have bought an additional ticket to enter, but we were wrong. All participants were allowed to have a hamburger or bratwurst lunch. Cool, how nice! And a well-earned brat it was. That’s why we run.

US Air Force Marathon 2010

Last year’s Air Force Marathon was such a good experience that I chose it again for this year’s marathon goal. Overall, I am glad that I ran it again this year. I had some issues with last year’s event that I hoped could be improved upon, and this year I had some different issues.

It was a beautiful morning for a run, about 55° at the start. It grew warmer as the day went on, to about 75° by the finish.

One of the most memorable aspects of last year’s event that made me want to participate again was the opening ceremony. The emotional rush from the paratroopers with their enormous flags, the pin-drop silence during the national anthem, and the F-18 flyover were unforgettable. Unfortunately, due to the biggest snafu of the day, the opening ceremony and the start of the race was spoiled for many participants. I’m sorry to say it, but the traffic and parking situation before the race was an unmitigated disaster.

Last year, we planned to arrive about an hour prior to the starting gun. We left the hotel 75 minutes before the start, and drove right onto the base, found a parking spot, took a short shuttle ride, and arrived with plenty of time to stretch, relax, get our minds in gear, and make that final pit stop before the race. It was as smooth as anyone could imagine, highlighting the best of what one would expect from military planning and logistics.

This year was a stark contrast. Our hotel was a bit closer to the base, so we chose to leave the hotel 60 minutes before the start. As soon as we turned left out of our hotel’s parking lot, we were sitting in a mile-long line of traffic that was going absolutely nowhere. As our safety margin quickly eroded, I asked Emily to continue ahead in the through-traffic lane and just drop me off at the next intersection nearest the gate, and I would run to the start. She did, and I jogged to the start, arriving just as the national anthem began.

Meanwhile, Emily and David did manage to re-enter the line of traffic somehow to get onto the base.

The cause of all this mess was anyone’s guess, but apparently only one of the three main gates along the south side of the base was open for people to enter. There were no parking shuttles this year (again, we do not know why), so they trekked across the field and old runway from their makeshift parking spot along with a throng of other runners and spectators. Emily reports that as they heard the announcer’s “ready” signal, there was a collective expletive all around her from all the runners who were stuck in traffic and unable to reach the start in time. I wish there had been some kind of warning that the traffic flow was going to be so different. What a disappointing way to start the morning.

Once we were underway, the day improved quickly. Again, it was a beautiful morning, and the B-52 circling overhead was an inspirational kick in the rear to get moving. While it wasn’t completely effortless, the first several miles ticked past faster than expected. I was trying hard to control my pace and conserve energy because I did not feel well prepared for this race. I had missed a number of the longer training runs on my schedule due to travel, sickness, and self-inflicted injuries. Apparently being mindful of this helped, because it wasn’t until after the halfway point that I was aware of anything worth complaining about.

The crowds in Fairborn were great! Four buses shuttled spectators from the starting area to Fairborn shortly after the start of the race. Four buses does not seem like a lot, considering the number of people in the area, but Emily and David boarded one and headed to one of the few spots off the base that friends and family could see their runners. They enjoyed some hot chocolate while they waited on the pack to pass by. I’m glad I got to see them, and they didn’t even look too bored!

As with last year, I cannot say enough good things about the volunteers along the course. Since friends and family could not be along the majority of the course that was on the base, the aid station volunteers and safety personnel where just about the only form of mental support that could be found. They did an outstanding job. The Nerd station, alien station, 80s station, the ladies at the station near mile 16 yelling their brains out and having fun were all memorable and lightened the experience.

I was tapped out by the end of mile 20, near Huffman Prairie. I wound up walking on and off for the rest of the race, a little over a mile in all. Next time I will be better prepared (by not getting sick, cracking any ribs, or having any last-minute travel). Sounds doable, since I’m so firmly in control… sure.

The Dayton Daily News has a small gallery of photos from the day’s events. The Garmin Connect widget below has an interactive tour of my trackpoints. If it’s not visible, here is a direct link to the activity page, which can export to KML for toying with in Google Earth.

Geist Half Marathon 2010


Sometimes the bear eats you.

The first half of this spring, the IU Mini, was rainy. The second, the 500 Festival Mini, was very windy. So, I was hoping for the third half marathon of the spring to make up for the bad weather of the other two. Unfortunately, this time around, the factor that gave me trouble was the heat. We have had such a mild spring for training that I found the heat and humidity to be especially challenging, despite having brought extra water with me. Runners were given good warnings to start off easy — good advice. Even so, I had a lot of difficulty preserving my energy.

During the first couple of miles felt so good to finally be moving that I did feel like I was restraining myself. Later, I realized that I should have tried harder to hold back, because I was going faster than my goal pace for the entire first 5k, when it is important not to waste energy. Maybe I was rushing to pass my family, who was waiting for me to pass them in front of Scotty’s Lakehouse, where they ate breakfast after I got to wave to them. I’m glad they had a chance to have a fun breakfast, but I would like to have been able to join them!

Shortly after that point, I started to go downhill. I started feeling tired, and never seemed to be able to find any energy boost. Slowing down helped, but even that can be an effort because it requires concentration. At the halfway point, which was at the southern end of the reservoir, I threw in the towel. Courageous Drive has a rather steep, long hill, and I just could not live up to the name of the street. I took the first of several walking breaks until I reached the top of the hill. And once you take the first walk break, your pride is so shot that it’s hard to keep going. After that point, it is too easy to say I can’t do any more hills, and then just walk all the rest of them. Which is pretty much what I did. Oh well. At least I finished!

I was passed by a lot of kids from Belzer Middle School. These kids show up at all the local races, and it’s really cool to see them, even when they blaze past you. Their parents wear bright T-shirts and cheer loudly for their kids. I’m proud of them too, and I always wish I had started running sooner, like them. More good programs like theirs are what Indianapolis needs to get out of the unhealthy slump we’re in. This morning’s news cited the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual list of the cities with the healthiest lifestyles, on which Indianapolis fell embarrassingly from 36th to 44th place.

While my own effort was weak, the race was well run. The medal and shirt were nice (last year’s shirt was weirdly defective, with misproportioned dimensions and unmatched sleeve lengths), the volunteers were friendly and helpful, and hey, who doesn’t like starting off a race with SpongeBob SquarePants waving at you from a boat?

500 Festival Mini Marathon 2010

What a windy morning! I’m glad that we did not allow ourselves to look out the window when we woke up. If we had, seeing the trees bending over in the crazy gusty winds would have sent us straight back to bed. For that matter, we were lucky to wake up on time, after a three hour power outage during the night. (Pop quiz: how do you figure out what phone number to call to report a power outage if the internet is out too? Oh yeah, the phone book. So, if I program the power company’s number into my phone, can we finally get rid of the last phone book?)

The temperature was fine, just windy.

Since the 5k started before the half this year, there was some shuffling around of corrals before the half. This was not a big deal, however, the corrals close to the front filled up more slowly than usual. As runners trickled in, there was less open space, and huddling more effectively blocked the wind. Presumably because of the wind, the huge flag that was usually over the course just after the start suspended from two ladder trucks was not there. That was too bad, because I love running under it. Also due to the wind, there was no archway over the finish, so the finish line was unadorned — a bummer. We heard later that it had been set up the night before, but blew over at 2:00 AM.

Not surprisingly, the Speedway was a major swirling wind tunnel, but after that, the wind was to our backs. It’s nice to finish with a tail wind, but the tail wind certainly did not compensate for the head wind during the first half!

The t-shirts this year were upgraded to technical fabric, nice! The Geist Half last year also had an upgraded shirt. However, the Geist Half shirt I got was some sort of reject with really weird proportions. It was wider than it was tall, and one arm was shorter than the other. The Mini shirt was made right, and is usable. Bonus! I think the tradeoff for the nicer shirt was that the medals were not “interactive.” There were no moving race car bits like in years past.

I really appreciate that Rose-Hulman had a tent set up in Military Park to block the wind as I waited for Emily and Sarah to return. It was neat to watch her cross the finish line in her first half marathon, and to see that she was smiling and talking about the next one. Will she catch the bug? I hope so.

IU Mini Marathon 2010

Rainy and hilly. That’s the most succinct statement I can make about Saturday’s IU Mini Marathon.

Save for one nasty hill on Winslow Road on the southern part of the old route, I have found the IU Mini to be an enjoyable race in past years. Affordably priced, appropriately-sized, and well-organized, with a scenic course, it has been a good all-around event. We missed last year’s IU Mini because we were attending the long-anticipated wedding of some good friends of ours, but we returned this year to find some disappointing changes.

I was prepared for a revised course. However, with so many turns, I had no hope of memorizing the route, which was almost exclusively on the campus of Indiana University. The campus is pretty nice, and there is some nice scenery, but the Winslow hill that I did not like had been replaced by seemingly endless ups and downs on twisty campus roads. The entirety of miles 2 and 3 were up one long hill that banked to the right, obscuring the view of the course ahead. I thought several times that surely the summit was approaching, only to disappoint myself. At one point, I spotted a cell tower and thought that would be at the top of the hill, but no, it kept going for another half mile. With the cloudy sky, I became disoriented a number of times, not knowing which direction I was heading. It helps me to have a general idea of where I am, in addition to simply knowing how many miles remain to go. Instead, I just followed the shoes in front of me the whole way and watched the miles tick by slowly on my watch. I was a bit disappointed that the southern, off-campus portion of the course was removed, because it passed a number of nice neighborhoods with friendly people holding their morning coffee mugs, waving at their friends, students, and family. Even on campus, the fraternity and sorority houses were dormant.

Emily and I were both left with the impression that this year’s race was thrown together at the last minute. I did not hear the announcement before the start of the race, because the loudspeakers were not facing the starting corrals, but they warned that due to the Easter weekend, they were short on volunteers, and that some of the water stops might be self-serve. I appreciated the warning, and I can certainly understand that many of the people who would otherwise volunteer would be with family instead. One wonders, then, why they chose to hold the race that weekend. I did not find the shortage of water stop volunteers to be problematic, as I brought my own water bottle, in keeping with my goal of reducing water cup waste. If I remember right, only one water table seemed especially short handed. Fortunately there was adequate course coverage by safety officers.

There were some mixups with registrations and bib numbers at packet pickup, no banners at the start and finish lines, no national anthem sung prior to the start, no medals for 5k finishers, and the goodie bags were empty, save for a white IU Mini t-shirt. I mention these things not out of indignation, but because they were conspicuously absent this year, where previous years included these niceties. It just seems like there was more of a story behind all this besides a last minute shortage of volunteers.

So, the rain. We had kept an eye on the forecast, and were pretty confident that we would be able to finish before the rain came, and it wouldn’t be a lot of rain, at that. Not so. I do not remember exactly when it started, but probably only 45 minutes had elapsed. It rained progressively harder through the second half of the race. Of course, this was out of everyone’s control, and everyone pressed on. I escaped without any blisters, but one small nick from an adjacent toenail managed to dye my entire left shoe red because the rain helped spread the color. It vividly illustrated how well modern materials disperse moisture away from the skin. Two thorough washings with Simple Green the next day got the new shoes looking new again.

All told, the event was a mixed bag. We enjoyed visiting with friends, being together, and starting our little half marathon season, and we hope that next year’s IU Mini comes together as smoothly as it did for its first three years. Hopefully we will all be healthy enough to enjoy the 500 Festival Training Series 15k on Saturday and a long bike ride on the Cardinal Greenway in Muncie on Sunday. Next month we’ll have the Mini and the Geist Half marathons to look forward to!

View in Google Maps

Security 5k 2010

While at a trade show in Las Vegas this week, I participated in the inaugural Security 5k benefitting Mission 500, a charity founded by members of the security industry with the goal of sponsoring 500 children through the World Vision program. The organizers said they were expecting around 100 participants, however, 249 showed up on race morning. They had to start late in order to accommodate everyone who showed up. I’m glad to see a stronger than expected turnout, despite minimal advertising. However, with nearly 40,000 exhibitors and attendees, one would think that more publicity could yield significantly more than 249 runners. I tried to talk two others from my company into signing up, but they wisely did not show up. The night before was our annual rep and distributor meeting at a Las Vegas brewpub, and let’s just say that running was a bit unpleasant the next morning.

It was a cool, dry, and gusty morning. The wait before the race was quite gusty, though the wind died down a bit while we were running. The route was a “scenic” jaunt down Industrial Road, which is exactly what it sounds like. It was a busy six lane road servicing construction for new hotels and the hotels on the west side of the Strip on one side, and seedy nightclubs on the other. I realize that it is completely impractical to hold a race on the Strip because it is so busy. I did get a chance to run along the Strip early the day before. We also got to experience a freight train go by for a little fun. There were a couple incidents with impatient drivers trying to turn across the route or not paying attention to the traffic cones and mass of runners. The police had their hands full keeping things moving along smoothly, but they managed to do so.

I am not sure whether the race organizer plans to post official results on the web somewhere, but they did send results to participants via email. The editor of Security Systems News also has results in a blog post, but they’re not searchable. What I really would like to have seen would have been results associated with the companies represented. How many ways can my company find to beat the competition? We may not be huge, but we are respected in the industry, we are closing an excellent sales month, and we’re hiring. And we’re faster than all but nine others.

The race sponsors included lots of trinket trash in the post-race goodie bags, which I normally would not have taken, as I do not like throwing that much stuff away, and I was trying to travel light since I did not want to check my luggage after the last flight experience my family had. However, I took a goodie bag anyway this time because I thought it would be fun to take home some extra “what did you bring me” stuff to give to my son. Along the lines of trying not to throw so much stuff away, I also kept to my word and brought my own water with me so I didn’t waste water cups along the race route. It’s not much, given the excesses of the place where I was, but I tried to stay honest. It’s a good thing I brought my own water, too, since I needed a lot to balance the combination of the dry air and the effects of the previous night’s meeting. I hope that my thirst did not have too much of a negative effect on Lake Mead’s water level.

(Aside on water consumption: is it necessary to line a business park with bright green grass and palm trees? The landscaping in the area around my hotel used so much water that the bark on the palm trees was bleached and rotting away up to the levels of the sprinklers’ spray pattern. What part about “desert” doesn’t compute? After being full a decade ago, the Lake Mead storage has steadily declined to the point where it is less than 50% full right now.)

The last time I visited Las Vegas in 2007, I also serendipitously found a midweek race associated with a trade show. That one, I think, was for vascular surgeons. Of course I signed up and ran, but it was a very small production. There was no RFID timing, and I had left my GPS watch at the hotel. I had told some other people about the race who were at the show with my company, and one of my parent company’s Latin American representatives came along too. He was training for the Chicago Marathon at the time, and he was used to running at crazy altitudes in Mexico City. I was able to keep up with him for a bit, but then he poured on the gas and smoked me.

View route in Garmin Connect

View route in Google Earth (8 KB KML)


View 2010-03-25 Security 5k 2010 in a larger map

Mini-Marathon Training Series 10k 2010

Today was the second in a series of three training runs for the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. The weather conditions were good for the most part. The air was really crisp at the start, below 30°F. This is in that funny region between shorts and pants weather. I opted for the latter, and except for standing around waiting for the race to start, I think either would have been fine. I had some lightweight gloves but took them off with a couple miles to go.

The sky was clear, and the sun is rising earlier these days, so the sun was in our eyes a lot. However, I prefer that to dreary cloudy days any time. It seems like we have not seen the sun around here for an entire month. The humidity at the start felt pretty high, and combined with the somewhat chilly temperature, my trachea felt like it was getting lined with frost. I could see the breath of everyone around me.

And let me get something off my chest. I like runners. I like being a runner. I think most runners are neat people. On the whole, they’re cheerful, respectful, and friendly. Of course there has to be the occasional spoiler, and one made himself known today: the starting horn shover.

For the last 15 years, most races of any size have used RFID timing, which times runners based on their actual net time between the start and finish lines. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re lined up in the front row or halfway back. Each runner’s clock does not start until he reaches the start line. So why the shoving? I would hope for his sake that he planned on winning the race if he was going to shove me out of his way, but he only finished a few seconds ahead of me. It was hard to bite my tongue, but saying something would not have done much good, especially considering how I just said I like runners because they’re friendly!

Speaking of RFID timing, I’m happy to see that the race organizers appear to have dropped the cheap, flimsy, crummy ChronoTrack D-tag disposable timing tags. D-tags are too vulnerable to damage. Instead, today’s race bibs had two RFID tags permanently attached. The tags appear to be based on the same UPM Raflatac DogBone UHF tag product as the ChronoTrack product, but away from runners’ feet, where they are prone to get snagged, bent, or lost. Presumably the additional distance from the antennas on the street to the RFID tag on the bib makes them less reliable, so adding a second tag makes up the difference. I wonder what the actual difference in reliability is.

I feel worse and worse about the amount of waste produced during a race. Between four water stations and the finish line, each runner had the opportunity to take five paper cups and a plastic water bottle. Multiply that by 1,700 runners for today’s event, and that’s a lot of waste. The volunteers always do a great job of cleaning up, so it’s not litter that bothers me, it’s the waste. Maybe it’s time that I just use my own water bottle and hydration belt so it doesn’t contribute to the waste. I am not sure why I have resisted in the past, because carrying my own water or Gatorade never bothers me when I run alone. Okay, new resolution, then.

I didn’t quite meet my 45 minute goal time today, but I’m not too disappointed. I was under the weather for a solid two months during the winter, so it’s taking a while to get back up to speed. I am a little concerned about being ready for the IU Mini in just four weeks, but I don’t plan on setting any records there, either. Just to finish, enjoy the ride and have a nice visit with our friends in Bloomington that weekend.

Spring is clearly on its way, and we’re ready.

View in Google Earth (16 kB KML)

Official race results

View in Garmin Connect


View 2010-03-06 Mini-Marathon Training Series 10k in a larger map

2010 Mini-Marathon Training Series 5k

I was not looking forward to the first race of the new year! Weather forecasts promised that it would be very cold, so at least I was prepared for that. This morning as I was getting ready to head out, I received an Indianapolis Knozone email (the first since early last summer) warning about elevated levels of fine particles in the air. Great, so it was going to be 12° and foggy, with the added bonus of hazardous dust. Sounds like a fine morning in the making.

As usual with the Mini and its associated training series, the event was well organized and everything flowed smoothly. Saturn was conspicuously absent as a sponsor, but I suppose being run out of business will have that effect. In the place of the sponsor’s cars was a big American Red Cross van, whose EMTs were hopefully not needed throughout the morning. I appreciated that Ortho Indy was handing out headband/earmuffs to participants who had registered for all three of the training series races. I took advantage of it!

The streets were dry and almost completely free of ice in the travel lanes. Of course there were patches near intersections, but volunteers helpfully yelled out for people to take care in certain places.

Per my usual early season folly, I went out way too fast in the first half mile (hey, it was cold, and I was trying hard to warm up), but then had the good sense to rein it in. My nerd watch tracks are in the map below.

View in Google Earth (12 kB KML)

View in Garmin Connect


View 2010-02-13 Mini-Marathon Training Series 5k in a larger map