Posts Tagged ‘BC Athletics’

Longest Day Road Race

Through my relatively short running career, I’ve come to realize that I’m not a short distance runner. Yet, when the opportunity presents itself, I can’t help being lured by promise of finishing a race in under 30 minutes. Sooner to the finish line, sooner to the food! And while the Longest Day Road Race didn’t start out on my priority list in 2016, I decided to throw my hat in the ring before the final price increase!

One of the other things that attracted me to this race is its role in two BC Road Racing Series: the Lifestages Lower Mainland Road Race Series and the BC Super Series (by BC Athletics). By running a minimum number of qualifying races, runners have a chance to compete in these age-group based series. And while I’m by no means fast enough to place, it’s kind of cool to be ranked against the speediest runners in the province!

I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty rough week. By the time Friday rolled around, I was cranky and disinclined to do anything but sit on the couch…let alone run a race on a Friday night. And with the promise threat of rain, my resolve started to waver. However, Kristin to the rescue! She offered me a ride – and some delightful company. So I rushed home after work, did a quick change, and we were off to the race!

The Good

Having only done the 5k once before (in 2010), and participated in the dreaded double-loop 10k last year, I was glad to have Kristin to point us in the right direction to the start line (which was not at all where I had expected it to be!). There were lots of familiar faces – my peeps from Forerunners, the West Van Run Crew, and a few folks whose names I don’t know but whose faces I’ve seen at many local running events.

Longest Day Road Race

Forerunners galore!

I won a prize! But since it was a gift certificate for a women’s clothing and jewellery store, Kirstin was the lucky recipient.

The race itself went reasonably well. There was a slight uphill at the beginning, a short, steep slope at about 2k, and a very brief incline to the finish. Otherwise, it was pretty much flat or downhill. I’ll talk about results shortly.

Post-race, there is a BBQ. Lots of food, including (lukewarm) veggie burgers (or meat burgers for the carnivores), veggies, fruit, brownies with ice cream, cookies, drinks, pudding…pretty much anything you could ask for. And since the weather turned out to be quite ideal for an evening race, we enjoyed it all while sitting on the grass in the sunset.

That’s right…sunset! No rain at all!

Longest Day Road Race Longest Day Road Race

The Not-So-Good

Generally, I’m quite positive when it comes to my race reviews, and try to give the benefit of the doubt when things don’t go as well as expected. But having participated in a fair number of races in the past few years, I’ve become a bit more…discerning. And, unfortunately, there were a few things about the race organization this year that left me wanting.

Setup – Although Kristin beelined us handily to the start line, things unravelled a wee bit at that stage. Weirdly, the entrance to the race area was through the finish line…there didn’t really seem to be any other option, with fences and whatnot. We started looking for bib pickup, and wandered around for quite a while before finding it rather hidden amongst a bunch of other sponsor tents. There were no signs or volunteers pointing us in the right direction. I was confused.

Longest Day Road Race

Gear Check – To be fair, we may have dallied before heading to gear check, but we gave ourselves about half an hour. There were just two stalwart young volunteers at the gear check, fielding request/demands from some of the 1,000 runners attending the event. They desperately needed help, but no one was around. Although we got our bags checked in time for the race, we left a long line behind us, and I suspect others weren’t as successful. I saw a few folks running with backpacks, which I don’t imagine was their intention.

Start Line – The Start Line was down the hill about 100 metres, and the only way to get there was by walking through the Finish Line…just as the Kids’ 1k was finishing. I found this exceedingly odd, and the poor kids were dodging hundreds of adults heading in the opposite direction. Unlike last year, when the 10k started about 15 minutes after the 5k, we all started together. Crowded in and unsure how far forward to be (I mean, the 5k-ers might want to head out faster, right?), there was an unassuming cap gun – no announcement, no warning, and a minute before the scheduled start time – and everyone was off.

Longest Day Road Race Longest Day Road Race

…And within metres of the Start, an SUV heading down the road towards us. Because, somehow, they ended up on the course. No worries, they stopped, but we all had to flow around them. Something went wrong.

Rubbish – I’ve already mentioned the BBQ. It was great. Food. Yum. And then it was time to go and nary a garbage can or recycling bin in sight. Seriously, it wasn’t a huge space, and we wandered about for almost ten minutes carrying our trash, trying to find somewhere to put it. In the end, we had to go against the flow of people who were still picking up their food, to find the one bin at the end of the food line. It made no sense. I was frustrated.

The Race

In the end, for all my whining and complaining, I enjoyed the race. I had very low expectations for my own performance, having done very little absolutely no speed training in the past month. But as I approached the Finish Line, my running hero Rob Watson was there shouting ‘Sprint! Sprint!!’ and I did and I surged uphill and passed at least three people and got there sooner than I imagined I would. It was not my best time, but it was not the flattest course, and I was pleased with my results. And it was all over in less than 30 minutes!

Longest Day Road Race

Longest Day Road Race

Rob Watson giving me a thumbs up!

This race has been around for at least 10 years. It’s a good race, great local representation, and good food. I was disappointed this year…but I believe with some small tweaks it can be made better. Last year was better. I trust that next year will be better, too.

Final Results

Chip Time: 24:05
Average Pace: 4:49 min/km
Place Overall: 168/715
Age Category Place: 38/104
(I mentioned this last year, too…rather than 5- or 10-year age groupings, I was in the 40-59 category!)

Longest Day Road Race

*Special thanks to Debra Kato for pretty much every photo in this post!

Longest Day Road Race 5k – Quick Review

Social Media: There wasn’t a lot of social media activity, but regular email updates kept us abreast of the event as it approached, and the pre-race instructions were quite detailed.

Packet Pickup: Although there was package pickup at the Running Room on Thursday, I just went to the pickup table (once I found it) on race day.

T-Shirt/Swag: You could get a t-shirt for purchase – but I have more than enough race shirts, so no need to buy one! No swag or medal for this race.

Course: A fairly straightforward loop of the UBC campus – slightly uphill at the beginning and end, and briefly in the middle. Otherwise, a substantial downhill in the first kilometre, with everything else reasonably flat.

Post-Race: A great BBQ with loads of good food, music, festivities…quite a good bit of fun! Draw prizes, too!

Organization: As noted in more detail in the full report, this year’s organization left a lot to be desired. The ‘festival’ setup was extremely confusing, bag check was understaffed, and the start line was chaos. I really think there’s some room for improvement, with just a few tweaks.

Would I Run It Again? I’m kind of on the fence. While I’m glad that I ran the 5k after 5 years, the rushing from work to get to a race kind of stressed me out this time around. Let’s give it a solid maybe.

WeeklyWrap

A bit late in the game, I’m joining the Weekly Wrap-Up with MissSippiPiddlin and HoHoRuns!

Longest Day Road Race

The last time I participated in the Longest Day Road Race was 2010. It was one of my earliest races, and I ran the 5k in just under 29 minutes. At the urging of my Forerunners group leader, Lucy (who has been my guest blogger twice – see Chicago and LA), I signed up for this year’s 10k.

The Week That Was

Before I get to the race, I’ll do a quick recap of the week. And also jump in to mention that I’m teaming up with Tara at Running ‘n’ Reading for her Weekend Update linkup.

Monday
With uncharacteristic aplomb, I got myself out of bed before 6am and went out for a run. Not far – just 5k – but I figured it made sense to start the week off right. I was still sore from the gym workout that Jill and I had done the previous Friday, and Jill was delighted to know that I wasn’t the only one who had suffered the curse of the squat.

Tuesday
I had fully planned to go for a run, and even brought my gear to the office. Then I remembered a promise I had made to meet a friend for lunch – a friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 years (despite the fact that she lives in North Vancouver). Friendship trumps fitness, and we had a wonderful time catching up!

Wednesday
Jill is going on holiday, so this was our last chance for the next few weeks to get to the gym together. It was a somewhat abbreviated workout, but it invokes kettle bells, some decent upper body work, and the dreaded squat.

Thursday
A double day. Lana and I were joined by Andrea, and we completed nearly 7k around Lost Lagoon and Second Beach pool. And, as I had promised, I got back to my personal training with Lisa at the YMCA. During our lunch run, I told Lana I wanted to work on upper body – in particular, I said, I’d love to have those biceps that fill out the sleeves of a T-shirt. Her no-nonsense response?

Buy a smaller T-shirt.

Nevertheless, Lisa fulfilled my request, and focused on upper body and overall strength. We did back squats, dead lifts, rows, chest press, flies, shoulder raises…enough to keep my muscles burning for the foreseeable future. Commitment renewed!

Friday – Race Day!
The Longest Day Road Race is true to its name – it’s held the Friday before the summer solstice, and is held in the evening to prove that our days are long and beautiful. I was suffering from the various workouts of the week, plus full days at the office. But I had signed up, and this was not going to be my first DNS!

Thunderbird_Logo_2015_small+tshirt

Longest Day Road Race

The race is held on the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC), at the far west side of Vancouver. I rushed home from work, threw together a smoothie, and booked a car (see Modo) to drive the 20-some minutes to UBC. Because there was a football game happening concurrently, we were encouraged to park some distance away, and the walk to the start line took about 20 minutes as well.

A few shots of campus:

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What I’ll call the ‘festival’ area included all the food tents, package pickup, a kids play area (with a giant blow-up slide) – all close to the start/finish lines. Ran into Elinor (@goodbyeclutter) and Jean, and then went to grab my bib. There was a giant lineup…but I realized it was for the 5k.

Festival Area

Festival Area

The 5k is popular for a couple of reasons. It’s part of the BC Road Running Series, 14 races held throughout BC. You score points for each race and, if you run 5 or more of them, you have the potential to win a prize.  Also, this race is the BC Athletics 2015 5K Road Race Championship – with accolades and prizes for the age group winners. In short, it’s a big deal.

I had signed up for the 10k, and since I was early the package pickup was quick and painless. I grabbed some free popcorn (which I would later regret), watched the start of the Kid’s Mile at 6:30pm, mingled with some running friends, and lined up to cheer on the speed demons as they headed out at 7pm for the 5k.

5k Start

5k Start

With the 10k beginning at 7:15pm, I gathered in the corral with a few of the Forerunners gang. I was feeling a bit anxious about how I would perform, so it was great to have the camaraderie and encouragement of my team.

start 10k start

The Race Route

The 10k is a double loop. I’m not a big fan of double loops, since you can anticipate the pain that’s coming the second time around. It starts with a downhill, past Thunderbird Stadium (where a football game was taking place = lots of traffic!), around the south edge of the university, and back into the heart of campus – West Mall and then Main Mall. The route is great because you’re running past forested areas, and then looking at the varied architecture of UBC – some of the oldest buildings on campus, and some of the newest. At the very north end of the route there’s a distant view of the ocean.

Lap #1

And we're off!

I started out too fast. My first kilometre was 4:20, which is not a sustainable pace. I could see Lucy’s swinging ponytail and brilliant yellow shoes for the first few kms, and then she was gone. Karen, one of the owners of Forerunners, was cheering us on at about 2.5k, which was awesome. Just before the 3k mark, there is a short, steep uphill – unexpected, and tough. There are also a couple of little out-and-back sections to add on distance, before reaching the 5k mark and starting all over again. I was cheered into the second half by Coach Carey and a few others.

5k

Halfway there!

Lap #2

By now, the crowds had thinned. On the fast lap, we were still catching up with some of the 5k stragglers. This time, it was pretty quiet. Around 6k, a guy came up behind me and, pointing at his GPS watch, said: “This thing lies like my first wife. Just told me a did a 10-minute kilometre!” – which was clearly not the case, as he barrelled past me. The popcorn I had eaten before the race was fighting back a bit, so I didn’t feel great. Karen was still there on the second loop, though, and her encouragement really pushed me forward to that horrible uphill.

My legs felt like rubber. I think all the squats of the last few days were finally taking their toll.

I was just getting ready to push to the end when one of the course marshals directed me down the final out-and-back…I had forgotten about it! Nevertheless, I kicked it up a notch and made it to the finish line. But not in record time.

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The Party

The real draw of the Longest Day Road Race is the food! Included in your registration is a full-on buffet of burgers (including veggie burgers) or hot dogs, raw veggies, salad, fruit, chips, ice cream, cookies, drinks, and even a fudge brownie! I took advantage of everything, cramming it onto the single paper plate, and stuffed myself silly. The burger was cold and I was a sweaty, sticky mess – but it didn’t matter! There was a $5 per drink beer garden, but I didn’t partake. I was exhausted. We walked back to the car, and headed home. What a fun night!

Food

This picture doesn’t do it justice…SO MUCH food!

Final Results
Chip time: 48:42
Average pace: 4:52 min/km
Place overall: 86/403
Age category place: 33/92

(NOTE: the age grouping, usually in 5-year increments, was 40-59 for me this time…quite a spread!)

Saturday
I think about 10 folks from Forerunners participated in either the 5k or the 10k. And we were all there on Saturday morning for our clinic, an easy 15k to Lost Lagoon and back. I’m impressed that everyone was out in force – shows how much we love running!

Sunday
Happy Father’s Day! I actually wrote an ‘Ode to Dad‘ for the blog, and we did our best to not make each other cry when we spoke in the evening. Otherwise, most of the day was spent on the balcony, enjoying the longest day.

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RACE REPORT

Overall
Simple and straightfoward race. Well organized. Fun and festive, with good announcements and decent communication from registration onward. Price is the same for 5k or 10k – just $33 for earlybird, or $38 regular. That includes food.

Packet Pickup/Expo
It’s possible to pick up your package at the Running Room on Thursday night, but it was simply easier to show up a bit early on race day. The lineup for the 10k pickup was short, so it took like 2 seconds.

T-Shirt/Swag
You can buy a tech t-shirt, but I’ve got enough as it is. No medal for this race (unless you actually place).

Course
As described, it’s a painful double loop. Mostly flat, with a nice long downhill at the start and a challenging (but short) uphill at 3k/8k. Scenic and enjoyable, particularly in the cool evening weather typical of the summer solstice time of year.

Aid Stations
There was one aid station at 3k/8k – I think they had both water and energy drinks, but I didn’t slow down to partake.

Post-Race
Great food! Wonderful selection of stuff. I think the burgers would have been fresher/yummier for those finishing early (i.e. 5k runners) because by the time I got there, everything was kind of cold. But it was quick and efficient to get through the line, and I really enjoyed it. There were door prizes, too, but I didn’t win anything.

Race Management
In terms of what I needed and expected of this race, I think it was very well put together. I liked the fact that we got cheap ($4) parking on a campus where it’s very expensive to park – but with the discount code it was reasonable, if a wee bit far from the start line. Volunteers were great. Sponsors were great.

 

Have you ever run an evening race? Do you prefer racing in the mornings or evenings? What’s your opinion of double loop races?