Monday, May 30, 2011

"Race" Report: 2011 "9" Mile Tour de Memorials

I had no shortage of Memorial Day Weekend racing opportunities:

  • There was a 5K starting at 11:59pm on Friday Night. I'd had a good 8-mile run that morning, though, in hot and humid conditions and thought that might be overdoing it.

  • There was a 5K starting in Wrightsville that crossed the Susquehanna on Saturday, but I opted for the bike ride instead.

  • There was the MCVET 5K & 10K Sunday morning. I can't say enough about what a good event this was when I ran the 10K in 2009, but I had cat adoption center duty that afternoon, and I thought would make for a rough day.

  • And I saw that this morning (Monday) there was a 5K and 9-mile untimed training run that passed all of York's memorials.
I thought this last option sounded cool. Despite living most of my life in York, including all the time that I've been a runner, I've never really done a race that went through downtown. I've run a lot of 5Ks so far this year, and I'm also stuck in a rut lately in my training as the weather warmed, unable (or unwilling!) to push myself past 8 or 9 miles.

The 9-mile "Tour de Memorials" sounded like just what the doctor ordered. Except that my dislike, to put it politely, of running in hot temperatures is well known, and this was a brutally hot and humid day for a run.

I regretted my machismo within the first two miles. I was taking it easy according to plan, but there's no such thing as easy for me when it's almost 80 degrees at 8:00am. I had my camera phone, and I'd planned to stop and take pictures of the monuments and have a nice tour of the city, but once I got underway my only thought was to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I had completed the course. I really can't think of a single intelligent thought I had the whole time I was out there running.

(This is how I felt at mile 2.)

(This is how I felt at mile 6)

My pace was slow (9.5 miles in 1:36) and I felt close to overheating at times, but I did run the whole time. On a day like this, I'll take it.

I'm an easy grader, but there were some issues with this one. The website claimed both courses were mostly flat. Again, I think race directors and runners (at least this runner) have vastly different definitions of flat. The total elevation change may not have been much, but there was a lot of up and down on the course. (A commenter who ran the 5K said it was not flat, either.) But, the cold (hot?) hard fact is that I don't live in a flat part of the country. Of course, I may feel differently after the Druid Hill race (which sounds like it's supposed to be torturous) a few weeks from now.

Secondly, a snafu along the course, when the fairgrounds was closed where we were supposed to go in, changed the distance and added a half a mile. Really, it was not a big deal. If the change in course had caused a water station to be missed, I would have been much more upset about it on a day like today.

There was a lot to like though, too. Basically, for the same price ($25, which goes toward developing a garden to honor the fallen soldiers of York) as the 5K, there was a challenging, well-marked longer distance run that was a nice tour of York, despite me really failing to appreciate it. Runners had some flexibility; the same bib numbers could be worn for either distance, so you didn't really have to decide which distance you were running until the gun (Which was actually the York Revolution's home run cannon fired by Cannonball Charlie) went off. The t-shirt is nice, and the very, very much appreciated water at the two water stations was ice-cold.

Would I run it again? That's what it always comes down to, right? I'm not sure. Any judgement of this event that I have is going to be clouded by the fact that it took place in weather conditions that, in my opinion, are pretty much the worst possible conditions to run in. If it were 10 degrees cooler, which is more typical for this time of year here, I would probably have had a better time, and I might run this course in the winter to shake up my routine. Race directors are very powerful beings indeed, but they can't control the weather or flatten out a not-so-flat city. The things they could control went generally well. I think I would run it again, but I would probably choose the 5K on a day like this.

(I thought they did a nice job with the race shirt.)

Now excuse me, I'm off to get some iced coffee and a donut.


  1. Wow. All those options! I had Spring Lake 5, or nothing. (I chose NOT to pay to run 5 miles in the same place I run several times a week with 9,999 other runners...)

    I like running in the heat. My previous 5k PR (I beat it this March) happened on a July day when it was 94 degrees and 98% humidity. I am learning that even though I like the heat, my body's physiology can't cooperate during long runs the way I'd like it to. And I picked a June marathon!

  2. I ran the 5k and it was definitely not flat - around mile two the course went uphill towards a bagpiper in the woods (not sure what the bagpiper symbolized - I was too busy being out of breathe). I'm with you though, not sure if I would run the York Gold Star Run again.