Sunday, April 15, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Hershey 10K

So...hello blog. It's been awhile. I ran the Hershey 10K today, but first, I'll catch everyone up on my boring running adventures.

When I last checked in here, I was worried about some left leg problems that seemed to be related to the mystery bump (varicose veins for any new readers) on my left upper ankle. I crashed and burned on Monday of last week after only a mile and a half. On Wednesday, I suffered through three miles but had a lot of pain in my ankle and left shin. It turned out that I had a pretty painful flare up of gout (more on this in another post) in my left two that peaked Thursday and Friday. I think dehydration (which seems to be one of the contributing factors to my gout flare-ups) also seems to make my ankle/shin problems worse, and I think the swelling from the gout made my mildly sprained ankle hurt more. I was going to run last Friday, but I took one step and knew my toe was too inflamed.

I hydrated carefully through the weekend, did lots of stretching and foam rolling, and made a decent comeback this week: 5 miles on Monday, 2 on Wednesday (cut short due to rain and I think a little sleet, which stopped as soon as I got back to my car), and 6.2 on Friday, though my legs felt very tired and weak, though not sore, during it.

I thought I could make it through the Hersey 10K, but I wasn't expecting great things.

Race Day
The start time for the inaugural Hershey 10K was 7:00am, and we wanted to be on the road around 5:15-5:20 to give ourselves plenty of time in case there was congestion around Hershey, since there were potentially 2500 participants (the race ended up not selling out). This means I got up at 4:00 so I would have plenty of time to get ready, eat half a peanut-butter sandwich, drink some water, and do all my IT band stretches.

It turned out, there was nothing to worry about. We left a little late, but there was no traffic and we got to Hersheypark Stadium at about 6:20. The temperature was in the mid 50s (I'm was supposed to be 60 but it felt cooler than that) and it was misting a bit. The humidity would prove rather oppressive, but the temperature and rain wouldn't be too much of a problem.

I ran this race stupidly. The gun went off a few minutes after 7:00am, and I made some important tactical errors very early in the race. Typically, I line up too far toward the back of the pack, and find myself weaving through the crowd like Brian Westbrook. Today, I was too far toward the front. I found myself sprinting out of the gate and going full-tilt for the about the first 2K. As a result of my poor pacing, I found myself hurtin' very early in the race.

We're running two 10Ks in back-to-back weekends (Next weekend is the Sole of the City 10K in Baltimore), and my plan was to go hard for a PR in one of them.

I'd felt this race would be flatter and would give me a better shot, despite my pre-race tiredness. Well, after burning myself out early, I hit the 5K mark right at 27 minutes. While that wouldn't be one of my better 5Ks, it did put me on pace to finish under 57:37, my current 10K PR. But I was tired from my too-fast start, and the course was hillier than I was anticipating, with a long, soul-crushing incline up Hersheypark Drive before a brief respite right around the 5K mark.

Still, apparently, I rallied. I hit the 8K mark at 40:48, under my 8K PR time at the flat-as-a-board Shamrock 8K. I knew that as long as I didn't completely crash, I had a significant PR on my, feet and if I could run a great last 1.2 I could finish under 50 minutes.

Well, I crashed, but not completely. Though I felt like I had nothing left, I ran the last kilometer, entering the stadium and finishing the race in 52:33, a PR by over 5 minutes, meaning that I actually had a nice negative split on this race! I ended up running that last 1.2 miles at about my normal pace. Not bad at all considering that I felt like death.

I'm quite sore now, much more sore than I should be after this distance. I'm really thrilled with my time in this one, but it's clear that especially after what was basically an unplanned week off last week and a kind of mediocre week this week up until today, I'm not yet back in condition to have run this race this fast. I'll plan on taking it a little light this week, probably a 3-miler on Tuesday or Wednesday and then hopefully a 6-miler on Thursday. I'm not going to press myself for a PR at Sole of the City, just have fun and probably finish in about an hour.

Race Review
My enjoyment of this race was pretty much hampered by my idiotic sprint at the start, which left me in considerable discomfort for most of the race. I thought the Hershey 10K was a good event, and I'd run it again or recommend it to others. The course was hillier than I anticipated, but not terrible. It's fun to run through the park. (The course loops around the Hershey Entertainment Complex parking lot past the Giant Center, up Hersheypark Drive toward the outlets, and through parts of the park and then through the tram loop back toward the stadium). The race shirt is nice, the goodie bag is nice, and you get to see the Hershey Bears' mascot, Coco (Bears Bears Bears Woooooooo!). Mid Atlantic Timing had chip time results visible on a screen just past the finish line and had results on the web by the time we got home.

There's a few things I would change. The course markers were in kilometers. I've run two other 10Ks and both were marked in miles. I think in miles (I mean, come on! This is America.), and I forgot Garmin. The race directors did mark the course very thoroughly. In addition to large flags marking each kilometer, there were smaller signs marking distance every quarter-kilometer. However, the last quarter-kilometer seemed badly mis-measured. It was half a kilometer if not half a mile. I don't think it was just me -- I heard several other finishers talking about it as I watched for Chris to make the turn into the stadium.
Still, basically I'm an idiot who can't pace myself and I'm a double idiot for not remembering my GPS.

I also wish Coco would have stuck around longer after the race for photos. What's the point of an adorable -- I mean intimidating! -- anthropomorphic hockey-playing bear mascot if he doesn't hang around for pictures?

(Coco in his natural habitat.)

Overall, though, good race and thanks to the race directors for a good time. Time for a nap.

Note: My apologies to my two Bad Race Photo Contest contestants. I'll announce winners and get prizes sent out this week.


  1. A 5 minute PR is fantastic - congratulations, that is just awesome! You've earned the right to enjoy next week's 10k after this one. Nice job!! :)

  2. Great job on the PR and I completely agree that it makes zero sense to mark a race in kilometers! Looks like we both made the same mistake of going out of the gates early this weekend!

  3. Loved your post about Hershey. I'll see about maybe running that one next year.

    Hope you had a good time at Sole of the City yesterday. That was my first 10K and thought it was a great event, although I heard about crowding at the front through the first mile or so. I also heard everyone commenting about the hills and thought to myself (in best teenager voice), "really"? :) Personally, the hills on the other side of Baltimore (away from Pratt Street) are what have scared me from running for decades, LOL. I'm a newbie, old, AND slow runner so what do I know?

    Hope you're feeling not so sore today. I personally plan to take it fairly easy today and then hit the gym again on Monday.