Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fall Fest and Across the Bay Bridge 10K Run 11/8-9/14

Running multiple races in a weekend is a lot of fun.  I imagine it's a good test of resilience to be able to race and bounce back.  Of course it's all dependent on the level of exertion and I admit I didn't go 100% on the first few but I did have a nice recovery and great race on Sunday.

Saturday was Fallfest 2014.  The culmination of the Special Olympics' Long Distance Running and Walking (LDR/W) season.  Kristen was active with the Young Athletes Program and I was present as a Unified Partner, racing with our team's athlete Nathan.  Nathan was pretty psyched to have me run with him again as we did pretty well at the Bucks County meet a few months back, netting him a few golds.  Nathan's a quick runner on his own and I knew from the Bucks event, we were up against some strong competition again in their coach/athlete duo.

I was also excited to race.  Bucks' coach Tim is a great runner and would  be a good competitor to race against.  I only chased Tim once in the 1500m and was about 20s slower.  I had yet to race in the 5k and 3k.

The day's events went in the order of longest to shortest.  We practiced at the course a few weeks prior to be familiar with the course set up at Villanova.  It's not very flat so I knew I wouldn't be around 20 minutes.  I also expected to beat Tim and just be content with that so I could conserve for my 10K on Sunday.  I led the 5K for almost the first full mile.  Tim took me down and I couldn't keep him within reach so I settled down and finished with a 22:10.  Not too bad.  Nathan made up for my 2nd place finish and our combined times were good enough for gold.  (Unified teams are placed by total combined time)

The 3K was next, with about an hour of rest, we were at it again.  Almost a carbon copy of the first race but now with a new competitor.  An athlete, Kyle, raced out to the front and stayed there almost the full race.  Tim made his move at about the same spot and passed us both on a downhill.  Kyle stayed out ahead of me and I took 3rd but again, Nathan picked up my slack and we took another unified division gold.

Almost an hour of rest and we hit the course for one final lap around 'Nova for the 1500m.  It's so great to see the competitiveness of all the athletes we coach line up and put forth a great effort  Again we lined up, I chased Kyle, Tim passed us late and we finished 1-2-3 again to conclude the days' events.

The Montco team did well and it was a perfect day to race.  I look forward to track and field in the spring back to just being a coach.

With a quick stop home to shower change and pack, we shot down to Annapolis at the Navy Marine Corps stadium for packet pickup for the Across the Bay 10K (and apparently an unadvertised fun run).  We picked up our packets, a (total BS) parking pass for $10 and wandered the mini expo before doubling back to Baltimore where we fueled up on lasagna and beer at Adam's.  We were up early for a quick breakfast but in no rush to get out to the race.  We'd decided we'd drop back to the final wave.  I was seeded in wave 1 based on my expected finish time of 47 minutes.  Kristen was in wave 3, Adam... wave 10.  The race officials were insistent that no one would be permitted to advance their start time but it was cool for anyone to drop to a later wave.  Even special requests were denied.  It turned out, there would have been no way at all to police that rule.  The joke was on us but it was a fair way to seed runners.  We knew we'd be finding ourselves winding through a herd of runners the entire course.

I was expecting a fairly easy course.  Adam had driving it a few weeks ago on his way to the beach and told me the climb was rough.  I thought it couldn't be as bad as the Ben Franklin Bridge run.  When we approached the bay, we could see that the bridge was far less arching than the BF Bridge.  It would be much easier, aside from the "fun runners" that were milling about all over the bridge.

With races like this, it's hard to take a wave of 2000+ runners and order them in any fashion based on speed.  We just moved along with the pile of people and worked our way to the starting line at that weird half walk - half jog because you have nowhere to go.  The column of people took up the entire width of the road so it was very challenging to get to the bridge itself at a running pace.

Once on the bridge, Adam, Joe and I were finding more room to run.  The next 5+ miles was nonstop dodging walkers and people that inexplicably stop to take in the view or take a picture.  It was mostly like running a 5 mile bridge while navigating 10,000 zombies milling about.  Kudos to them for signing up for the a 10K.  I'm sure their fees went to a great cause.

I happened to finish at the same exact time as the previous week's bridge run and it was kinda fun, almost like an obstacle course. I'll focus on the trail runs and smaller races... except for the Nashville Rock n Roll Half in April.

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