Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 Dublin Irish Festival 5K

Last week I ran the Dublin Irish Festival 5K, which kicked off the weekend festival activities. For those of you not in the know, this is the Dublin, OHIO festival. Nope...I wasn't just over in Ireland. This was a Thursday evening race. I drove to Dublin early to pick up my packet and met Shelly, Nikki and Nikki's daughter Elise there. This was going to be Shelly's first 5K.

Nikki, Elise, Shelly and me before the race
Pre-race selfie

The weather was nice for standing or sitting around outside, but it was August, and I knew it would feel hot running. At least the sun wasn't high in the sky. We hung around while the kids dash took place, and then the 5K participants made their way to the start corral. The national anthem was played, and then we were off.

Start corral
Walking to the starting arch

The course was an out and back, mostly on a residential road, and partially on a road with office buildings. We had an equal amount of uphill and downhill. One hill was steeper than the others, and it was nice to go up it before getting to run back down it. I stuck with Shelly for the most part and we did run/walk. Nikki and Elise mostly walked, so they were behind us, and we got to see them a couple times on the course.

Selfie with Shelly and the corn statues in the background
Nikki and Elise on the course

This was a nice community race with runners and walkers of all different levels, and there were quite a few young kids who ran the 5K. However, there were not a lot of spectators. Mostly, it was a peaceful run on a summer evening.

Toward the end I ran ahead of Shelly to the finish, where I was able to get some pictures of her as she crossed the finish line of her first 5K. We stayed in the finish chute for a little while longer to see Nikki and Elise come in. They did a little mother-daughter sprint in the last yards of the race.

Shelly finishing 
Elise and Nikki finishing
Race shirt and medal

After receiving our medals, Elise and I got ice cream from the CD 102.5 ice cream truck. I had seen people eating ice cream before the race, but didn't think that would sit well in my stomach before running. After ice cream, we all walked over the the Brazenhead for post-race beers for the adults and food for all. Unfortunately, service was incredibly slow. I guess they hadn't planned ahead for all the runners hitting the pub at once. We didn't even get menus for at least 15 minutes because they had run out. Still, it was nice to celebrate our finish over a beer (when they finally came). And I think Shelly might even be up for another 5K in the fall!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Brokeman's Summer Solstice Run - Where the Wild Things Are

Another catch-up race report is for the Find Me Where the Wild Things Are run (not really a race, as it's completely untimed and unscored). This was the summer solstice run put on by Brokeman's Running Company.

Just a little fun with a bronze buck (it's a "wild thing", right?) before the run kicked off (photo credit: Matt Alley)

My friend Matt is out in Colorado now, but comes to Ohio regularly, so he suggested doing this run together on one of his recent trips. It took place on the evening of the summer solstice and was a night event starting at 8:30 PM. Brokeman's promised a route of approximately 4.5 miles, though my Garmin clocked it at slightly less. That didn't really matter as this was a fun run, there were no prizes and we were all just out there to enjoy the summer evening.

Runners getting ready at Land Grant
Pre-run selfie with Matt
Katie makes her announcements before we start (photo credit: Matt Alley)

Runners converged at Land Grant, one of my favorite Columbus breweries. We set out on a fun route that traversed trails along the Scioto riverfront and bridges crossing the river. Much of the course was on the path from Bicentennial Park to Scioto Audubon Park. It was fun and scenic, with lots of great photo opportunities. While I was busy running, trying to maintain a good effort, Matt was running back and forth taking pictures. He got some great ones, and I'm including a few in this post, but the others can be viewed here.

We ran under and over bridges; note the group of runners under the railroad
Skyline view with runners coming toward me

I was having a little trouble with the heat and humidity, and after a few miles I ended up walking more. I could have pushed a little harder, but I was happy to simply enjoy the run and take some photos of my own. This was an excellent evening for views of the Columbus skyline and the river, and I took it all in.

City view from Scioto Audubon Park (photo credit: Matt Alley)
I'm running under another bridge (photo credit: Matt Alley)

Views of the river and the ColumbUS lit up on the COSI steps
Ha ha! I'm in front of COSI, having no idea that my photo was being taken; the woman in front of me keeps popping up at all my local races and we're about the same pace, but I have yet to meet her (photo credit: Ben Ko Photography)

Back at the finish, we were treated to water and a Body Armor coconut water sports drink. There was a food truck for people who wanted that. But after stretching and recovering for a few minutes, Matt and I headed inside for our free beer. We could only choose from five of the core beers, but who's complaining when it's free? Cold beer feels great after a hot run!

This was my first experience running a Brokeman's event (though I previously volunteered at their inaugural Beer Mile). I have gotten to know Katie, the founder, a little. She's all about putting on a fun event for runners, but without all the bells and whistles. Her lower-key events cater to people on a budget, or just people who don't need or want all the bling. That doesn't mean that the events are haphazard. The Brokeman's races I've seen are well-organized with very creative artwork and t-shirts, thanks to Katie's husband Abraham. For fun, they also did a "photo booth" shoot inside Land Grant.

I think we look like deer in headlights in this photo booth shot at Land Grant
Fun t-shirt artwork; my camera washed it out, but the shirt is actually a nice, icy blue shade

By the time Matt and I were finishing our beers, we realized that the food truck was shut down. Oops. But that was OK, because I think we did better to scoot over to the downtown location of Condado Tacos. It was my first time at Condado, and I was quite pleased with the choices of vegetarian taco fillings...not just one option, but choices! We were impressed with the food, the outdoor patio and the service. It was a fun evening to run around town on the longest day of the year and cap off the evening with beer, tacos and friendship.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

2017 Shawshank Hustle Race Report

Back in June I ran the Shawshank Hustle 7K. How could I say no to a race that was fairly close to home and based on one of my favorite films, The Shawshank Redemption? The Shawshank Hustle looked fun from the first moment I discovered it. The race takes place in Mansfield, an Ohio town I'd never been to, but it wasn't too far from Columbus; in fact, I drove up race-day morning. The race festival was held at the Ohio State Reformatory, the historic prison where The Shawshank Redemption was filmed. It's a beautiful backdrop, and race participants were able to take a self-guided tour of the building either before or after the race. They played up the theme, routing the course past several local sites where film scenes were shot. The t-shirt and medal also reflect the theme. And this year there were guest appearances from a couple of the minor actors in the film (Renee Blaine who played Andy's wife, and Scott Mann who played her lover).

Finish pic with medal, in front of reformatory

The hustle is advertised as a 7K race, which would be 4.35 miles. My Garmin clocked 4.67 miles. I know that GPS watches aren't ever 100% accurate, but this time I think my watch was closer to the actual distance. I believe the race organizers bill this as a 7K distance because it is the closest actual kilometer for the course design. The route is basically an out & back from the prison to the park in downtown Mansfield, Ohio, utilizing one downtown street for the "out" portion and looping over to another street for the "back" portion. Rounding down the distance would not have been possible, and rounding it up would have required adding some weird extra bit of course. Anyway...

I got to Mansfield early to ensure that I had no problems parking and getting my packet. There was plenty of free parking about a 5 minute walk away. I had plenty of time to walk around outside the building, eat my breakfast, check my bag and talk to other runners before the start. It was going to be a hot day, so I decided to take it easy and just enjoy myself.

Pretty sure this is the closest I'll ever get to Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman

In the start corral I saw many runners dressed in costumes like movie characters, or versions of prisoners and security guards. There were a lot of custom t-shirts with movie quotes and the like. Everyone seemed to be into the theme. I wore my black and white striped compression socks, which were my nod to old-school prison uniforms. The announcer mentioned that in two years it will be the 25th anniversary of the film, and they are hoping to get Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman to come out. It will also be the 5th year for the race. I'm not sure how likely it will be to get these A-list actors out there, but I'd love to go back if they do.

Pre-race area on my way to packet pick-up
Start corral
In start corral - I think she was going for the sexy prison guard look

We started out on a long uphill, then we had a long downhill. There was no cloud cover and it was already hot outside. I ran my run/walk intervals, skipping some of the walk breaks on the downhill portion. The first mile and a half weren't terribly scenic and there was no shade.

On the way into town
Runner dressed as a prisoner

Then we made it to the edge of town and started a steep uphill. But this is where we began to pass movie scene sites, which were all marked. And then we came to the carousel. Runners had a ticket on their bibs for a free carousel ride either during or after the race. Since it was hot and I had no time goal for this odd-distance race, I took a break to ride the carousel. It felt good to get out of the sun and feel the breeze as we spun around. Next to the carousel we saw other runners passing by. I guess they didn't think it would be fun to stop.

Running uphill in town
The carousel
Selfie at the carousel before it was my turn
I rode the lion

The carousel ride added about 9 minutes to my official time, but I didn't care. Afterward I jumped back onto the course, which was still going uphill. But shortly afterward we looped past the park and then began the trip back to the prison. At this point we were going downhill again and I was passing a lot of people. We also passed Phoenix Brewing, which held a post-race party. So now I knew exactly where the brewery was located; good info for later. The last mile or so was tough. The sun was higher and hotter, and there was that uphill section before our final downhill. As I ran toward the finish line, the prison was in front of me. That's a pretty cool finish!

Ran past Phoenix Brewing

For a short distance race, these guys really took care of the runners. There were adequate aid stations on the course. At the finish there were water and yogurt smoothies, fruit and lots of snacks. I was happy to see Almond Nut Thins. And...the drinks were all ice cold, which was very nice. I ate my water and crackers and recovered for a few minutes before going inside for my prison tour.

Post-race pose with a real cop
This year's medal honored the famous oak tree that was destroyed by weather last year

As I said, the Ohio Reformatory is a beautiful building, but I was surprised by how run-down it was on the inside. The rooms where The Shawshank Redemption was filmed were in better condition than the others. But even through the layers of dirt and peeling paint, I could see just how amazing this building was. Built in 1886, its style is Victorian and Romanesque. It was an operating prison until 1990 - that's over 100 years! There is so much character, amazing woodwork and high ceilings. Care is being made to restore the building, and part of our race registration went to the effort.

Inside the warden's office you can still see people in the finish chute outside
Not part of the movie set, but this is an indication of how rundown much of the building has become
The boarding house room set was actually located inside the reformatory
Nuff said
There were 5 or 6 tiers of cells in each cell block
Close quarters, especially if you had a cellmate
With the warden...I'll behave

After my tour, I found my car and drove to the brewery. There were no freebies or discounts for the runners, which was a little disappointing. They did have a band on the patio, but it was hot and I chose to sit inside at the bar. I had a flight of beer, along with lots of water and more crackers. And then I drove back to Columbus.

Beer flight in the shape of a coffin

I would definitely do this race again. They did a great job with the theme and everything was well managed. If I'd change anything, it might be to start a little earlier because of the summer heat (start time was 8:30 AM). If you want a fun, themed race in a historic venue, this would be a great Ohio race for you.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

2017 WABA CommUnity 5K

Here's another delayed race report. In late June I ran the WABA CommUnity 5K, a local neighborhood 5K on the West Side of Columbus. This was a tiny little race with only 30 or so participants in the 5K. They also had 1K and 3K races, which were mostly attended by families with kids and walkers.

Me, Sunshine and Ray before the race

I decided to do this race because it was very close to home, and two friends from the Columbus Westside Running Club would be there too. It started near the Giant Eagle on W. Broad Street and was an out & back heading West on Broad, turning off to Westland High School, and then back to the start. It was going to be a hot day, but it wasn't too bad when we started. Sunshine lined up in front, and Ray, who walks, lined up behind me.

Sunshine, before she kills it

As soon as we started, I felt the very slight uphill incline. It wasn't steep at all, but I noticed it and I felt sluggish. My original plan was to actually push myself at this 5K and see how well I could do, but I knew almost immediately that I wouldn't be able to go as fast as I wanted. There was no shade, and the asphalt on Broad Street was hot. We reached the 1K turnaround point and I kept going. We reached the 3K turnaround point and I kept going. Then we made the turn that would take us to the High School. As I was nearing the school, I saw Sunshine coming back. She was in the lead! And not just as the female lead, but as the overall lead. There was another fast woman behind her, but not extremely close. The second half of this race looked promising for Sunshine!

Sunshine on her way back
Ray nearing the halfway point

I turned into the school and got to the halfway point. Then very near where Sunshine had passed me, I passed Ray. He's a walker, and was doing well in relation to the other walkers. At about this point I realized that I was playing leapfrog with a female runner that I've seen at several local races this year. Because I keep running into her, I had been meaning to say hi. We are very close in pace, but because I do run/walk intervals, she often passes me when I'm walking and I pass her when I'm running. It seemed like every time she got close to me or passed me, my watch interval told me to run again. I made it a point to tell her briefly that I wasn't trying to one-up her, that I was simply minding my intervals. Eventually I passed her for good, as the last mile was a slight downhill grade and I went faster.

Sunshine was waiting for me when I crossed the finish line. She won the race! We chatted for a few minutes, and then I wanted to go find the woman I kept passing on the course, but she went straight from the finish line to her car and drove off. Maybe another time I'll see her and say hello.

Just crossed the line

I drank some water and waited with Sunshine for Ray to finish. He earned a 5K PR for his performance. Great stats for our run club buddies. As for myself, I wasn't as fast as I wanted, but I finished in 9th place overall. Of course, my positioning was due to the fact that there was a tiny field for this race. Even if I hadn't been in the top 10, I still think I had a good race, once I got over my initial sluggishness in the first mile.

Medal and shirt - not bad for this tiny race

And that's about all there was to this race. We got a decent t-shirt and a basic medal, which were fine for an inexpensive neighborhood race. Post-race food was bananas, granola bars and water. There would be a parade a little bit later on Broad Street, and the high school bands were arriving and getting organized in the parking lot. We thought that it would have been nice if they'd come a little earlier and played for the race least a drum line. Maybe next year. And maybe next year the race committee will do a little more publicity. I think they could have gotten more people out for the race with some additional effort. If not...hey, show up and run even marginally fast and you, too can place in the top 10 next year!