Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chestnutwold Chase 5K

A couple of weeks ago I run the mammoth Broad Street Run but today a tiny local race.

Chestnutwold is an elementary school in the Ardmore section of Haverford Township.  It is the school that kids from my neighborhood go to and the race director is the same women who organizers the buses that took us to Broad Street so it was a natural for me to do it.

It was damp, dreary, drizzly the whole morning but no hard rain.

The first event is a kids' mile run.  They had a great turnout despite the drizzle.  And it look like all the kids had a great time.

The 5K course is very simple.  It uses the "busway"  - this is a stretch of road that was a trolley right of way last century but was paved and is restricted to bus traffic only.  Since the buses don't run on Sundays it is perfect of recreational uses.  It crosses on busy street but the police do a great job of controlling traffic there.

The busway passes the back of St. Mary's Laundry (now an art center).  A few years ago I learned that by Grandfather and his brothers worked there when they emigrated from England in the late 19th century so it is always kind of neat to see the place and the ghosts it holds.

The participants are mostly kids and their parents and there is great spirit.  Lots of cheers and enthusiasm from the spectators.   It is not a flat course but the inclines are moderate and there are limited turns so you get these long straight aways.

My best 5k in a while - 27:49 - 8:58 miles.  I have for awhile wanted to run 9 minute miles in a 5K so I liked the result.  (Wish I could say the miles were consistent but it was more fast downhill, slow up hill.)  Since I was the only runner over 60 a medal was a sure thing (came with a gift certificate pretty cool for a small race) but I was also faster then anyone in the 50/60 age group so that was cool.

Post race there is a pancake breakfast in the school cafeteria and surprisingly the pancakes were very good.
A fun if soggy morning.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Well I wasn’t going to write about Broad Street because I was a little disappointed by the results. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good run – I had a very good run and it was a great day. I just thought I would be faster. There is a long standing rivalry between Philadelphia and Boston (see (the author was a teacher of mine in college).

But Sunday was all about Philly supporting Boston as thousands of runners sported red socks and … well read below.

 I had been training using a Galloway walk/run. Four minutes running; one minute walking. Just before Broad Street the organizers had a twitter feed with Jeff Galloway and I got a chance to ask him about the ratio for a ten mile run and he said 4/1 was about right. In hindsight I wish I had tried 5/1. I think the walk/run did work in that I felt great throughout the race and at the finish. There was none of that “I’m dead exhausted” at the end. The problem was that my running pace wasn’t fast enough to counter the walk time. The other problem was that the course was so crowded that transitioning from walk to run was difficult as I had to pass runners not going at my pace. This was especially true in the finally mile when all the runners are pressed into the southbound lanes of Broad Street. (For the past couple of years runners have been able to use both sides of Broad Street even south of City Hall.)

(Some background on Broad Street:  a ten mile course, on Broad Street one of the longest straight streets in America.  Big race (32,000 finishers).  Finishes in the Navy Yard [now called the Naval Business Center])  The race is mostly flat (don't buy the hype there are no hills but there is a net elevation drop).  Perfect weather this year.  Cool with some cloud cover.

 Let me back up. I got to the race not on the subway (tradition is to park at the sports' complex about a mile from the finish and take the subway to the start) but by a chartered bus. The buses leave from the local high school just a couple of blocks from my house. This is very nice – no parking hassles, no crowded train ride. Two of the buses were school buses but one (mine) was a nicer – cloth, bucket seats, (with seat belts if you were so inclined), and, unlike last year, the driver knew where he was going. I left some gear on the bus but I also used the race’s gear bus for my phone, camera and dry shirt. (We weren’t sure with the added security whether the buses would be allowed in the Navy Yard.)

 Just before 8 I got into my corral (grey) – looking back I wish I had waited to closer to start time (8:30). Unlike Diane I started mid-pack – last year I started at the front of the grey corral – terrible idea since it resulted in a much too fast first mile. Couldn’t hear any of the early announcements – missed the moment of silence and caught just a couple of refrains of the national anthem. But as we moved forward could hear they were playing Sweet Caroline….on an endless loop (God bless the poor neighbors on Broad Street). Someone near said can’t they play something else until someone explained the significance. When we lined up for our start the crowd hand pumped and sang ‘so good, so good’ with great energy. This year the start seemed just right. I know that Galloway insists that it is important to do the walk breaks early and I did but boy was it hard walking and being passed by dozens. I’m not sure when I became aware that Diane and I were close to the same pace. Did I pass her or did she pass me while I was walking? But once it started it was kind of fun – we did a hopscotch down Broad Street. She would pass me walking and I would pass her running but we were never far out of contact. Whether it was the beautiful day, the novelty of following the walk/run intervals, the joy of the runners (everyone seemed to be having a good time – the beauty of the back of the pack), the enthusiasm of spectators (see below) but the time just flew by. There are relatively few spectators the first few miles but where there were they were great fun. At Temple University good crowds including kids in wheel chairs. Then quiet until you get near Broad and Spring Garden. From the old Inquirer building on the crowd get louder and louder. More Sweet Caroline as we went around City Hall, with arm pumps and so goods, amazing – lots and lots of noise. Down the Avenue of the Arts, (Academy of Music, Kimmel Center, Union League ….). I had temporarily stopped the walk/run and skipped an interval just because it was so crowded. I felt great and thought my pace excellent – out of the corner of my eye I caught a white hat bobbing in the southbound lanes (I had stuck to the northbound) Diane was about twenty yards ahead and pulling away. So either I had slowed (quite possible in the crowded conditions or she had a mini-surge.) I wouldn’t see her again for a couple of miles. The race had given out heart shape stickers which began to fall off about mile four (mine made it to the end and then I lost it somewhere on the parade grounds) so the course was marked with hearts.

The next couple of miles are a blur – I usually hate miles 7 and 8 but this year they didn’t seem so bad and suddenly (or so it seemed) I had passed Pattison Ave (9 miles). This is where they push all the runners northbound. At some point I realized Diane was just ahead and I wondered if I could make up the difference. I did. So just before the Navy Yard entrance (about ¼ mile left) we were running together. Dianne surged a bit and I told her sprint – she moved ahead and I thought this is how the elites feel when after 26 miles their competitor makes a finally surge. However, to my surprise I felt I had more in the tank and began to close the distance and spurted pass just a second or two before the finish ending our Broad Street duel. 98 minutes was considerably slower than I thought I could accomplish, but on the other hand it was the most enjoyable Broad Street ever.

Great organization funneling the runners thru the refreshment area after which Diane and I went to our after parties. Despite the extra security our buses were in their usual place just yards from the finish with some liquid refreshment and, despite a ban on alcohol, a motorcycle officer checked us out and then went on his way (bless him for his tolerance). The only remaining glitch – getting out of the Navy Yard – we were directed out the back gate which dumps you on Passayunk Ave and directly on the Schuylkill Expressway which was the crawlway for five or six long miles. At that point despite the early hour I had a beer in my hand and was content to relax and enjoy the happy buzz all around – much better then pushing thru that mess in my own vehicle. Last thoughts: some runners like races, some hate them. Some especially hate the hassle of really big races but for me the celebratory nature of 30,000 runners pushing down the same course in the heart of a big city is very special. Runners down somewhat from last year (but more than 2011) but there seemed to be plenty of spectators along the course and at the finish. I think the city (the race is done by the recreation department) did itself proud. Kudos to all.