Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A $15 Banana....

.... (aka Belle Isle New Year's Eve 5K Race Report). 

I'm bitter.  A day ago I didn't want to run this race anyway, because of my sleep schedule being out of whack, and because my hip was bothering me from Saturday's long run.  BUT, I went to sleep super early Sunday night (2am), and slept a good long while (thanks to Benadryl) and woke up at like 10:45 am Monday.  I decided I'd rather be tired at work Monday night then be tired waking up for the race on Monday. 

I went outside when I woke up and it was great weather in Ann Arbor.  Calm, 35 ish degrees, our roads were all perfectly clear from the snow Saturday.  And my legs felt great, because instead of doing a workout video and an easy run between Saturday morning's long run and the Monday afternoon race, I did nothing.  I used the race as an excuse to rest a bit, because I was planning on trying to do well.  Before I left, I was actually pretty optimistic about it. 

And then we got there. 
And I was mad. 

Really mad. 

It hasn't snowed in two days.  The roads in Ann Arbor are dry and clear.  The highways are dry and clear.  The roads in Detroit are dry and clear.  The roads on Belle Isle?  A horrible loop of packed snow/ice because they were never plowed, and then were driven over .  I kind of expected this from the city of Detroit, but I expected more from the race organizers.  They knew this race was happening.  They knew Detroit city services sucked and wouldn't plow (or they should have known).  All it would have taken was a pickup truck with a plow in the front and a quick plow of the course right after it snowed.  Surely they could find/hire/rent one to do that. 

This makes the second run in a row where I wish I would have packed my Yak-Trax.  I'm just going to store them in my car from now on.  Along with a spare pair of running shoes, now that I'm thinking about it.  I've been meaning to do that ever since I accidentally drove to work in my slippers a couple weeks ago.  It's not like I don't have an abundance of old running shoes that could serve that purpose.

Back to the topic at hand.  

Signage directing us to park was terrible.  There was a sign on the right side of the road, after we entered on the bridge, maybe 100 ft before a Y, that had a straight ahead arrow for 5K parking.  So we stayed to the right, couldn't figure out how to get into the parking lot, and then had to drive all the way around the island loop to get back to the same point to try again, thanks to road closures and one way streets.  On the second approach, we made the appropriate LEFT onto Casino Way in order to make a right into the casino parking lot.  Contrast that with the directions in the image below, which were taken from the website, which tell us to go RIGHT (circled in red), which is what we did the first time, which is totally wrong.  On that second approach, we also noticed a sign AFTER THE TURN telling us to turn left.  Thanks, that's really helpful.    (I put purple/pink signs on the image showing approximately where the signs were.  The top one said straight, and the bottom one said left, but the bottom one was really hard to see).  And no, we weren't the only idiots who did it wrong.  There were people in front of us and behind us that had to go the whole way around the island to try it again. 

Moving on. 

I don't have any complaints about packet pickup.  The line was short/quick.  The shirts were nice enough.  (Sorry, there was a photo of the shirt here, but I accidentally deleted it and don't have another copy, and am too lazy to take a new one).  

I did a little warm up with a friend, but then I realized I was way too early for that and didn't bother going out again, because I knew my time was going to suck because of the road conditions.  Lineup was standard start crowding that exists when you don't have pace signs, but that's to be expected at a "fun run" I guess. 

The start announcer cracked me up.  He was going on and on about the "beautiful backdrop of Detroit", and how this is the 43rd annual race, and there were participants registered from 25 states, like this was some kind of epic event.  Yeah.  43 years experience and you'd think they'd be able to clear the effing snow.  I felt bad for the people from the 24 other states.  I hope they were here visiting friends & family for the holidays and didn't make the trip just for this! 

And then we started.  I wasn't in much of a rush to get out of the start crowding.  The first bit of the race was actually clean, dry pavement, but then it got ugly.  People were slipping all over the place.  I didn't see anybody actually fall, but one of my friends saw two people go down.  I came close at least 3 times.  Every time I just got madder.  There was a very narrow patch of mostly dry pavement on the right that some people were running on, so I tried that every now and then, but it was basically "single file" so if you weren't the exact same pace as the person in front of you, you had to go back out into the slippery tundra to pass all the time anyway.  The wind was also much worse on Belle Isle than it was in Ann Arbor.  I hadn't planned on wearing my jacket or gloves, but I'm glad I brought them.  I ended up starting the race with them after all.  I did get hot after about 1.5 miles and took off my jacket, but then on the last mile we were running into the wind and my abdomen and arms were burning from the cold, so I slowed a bit to put it back on for the finish.  Of course I was then immediately too warm again.  It's about as thin a jacket as they come, but it was just one of those days where you just can't dress appropriately.  You're always too hot or too cold. 

I didn't upload my Garmin data yet, but I did look at my splits earlier.  I think they were like 8:45, 8:05, 8:55 or something like that.  I guess the second mile must have been the least slippery.  My official results were 26:52 (8:40 pace), 7th out of 46 in my age group.  The #1 person in my age group only ran an 8:05 pace, but there weren't any age group awards anyway, just top 3 overall men and women.  

There were no water stops on the course.  It was fine with me, because I wouldn't have stopped anyway, but I don't think I've ever run a 5K that didn't have one.  This one had a 5K walk advertised that you registered separately for from the 5K run, so there were plenty of people out there for quite a while that might have wanted a sip. Then, went we went into the casino after the race, there were only a few cups of water left.  The last one was taken just a few seconds after I got one.  "Cups of water" is an overly generous description.  They were like half-filled dixie cups.  They had bagels, bananas, and greek yogurt for finisher food.  No complaints about that.  I like that they didn't have chocolate things.  I eat too much when there are chocolate things.  I grabbed a banana and a yogurt and we headed out.  I ate the banana in the car.  It was pretty good.  I figure I paid $10 for the shirt, $5 for the yogurt and $15 for that banana.  (I feel like the banana was worth the most.  I've been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables.)  

So yeah, I'm a little bitter.  And obviously not really a "glass half-full" kind of person.  Would I run this race again?  Do you really have to ask?  No.  Hell no.  Even if it doesn't snow next year, I'm too mad about this year.  

Okay, that's out of my system. 

In other news, I'm still contemplating possibly going to Chicago in a week and a half for the Polar Dash half marathon.  Tell me what to do.  It will cost me about $300 plus food.  One person I know from one of my running groups is going.  If I do it, I'm definitely bringing my Yak-Trax.  


  1. Should have come up to Flint to run the New Years Resolution 8k with me. I guess that would be pretty far for you. :) Sounds like I had a better experience, though half of this course had compacted snow / ice too. At least they plowed...

    Good luck if you decide to to the Polar Dash race!

  2. Yikes. I appreciate the honest opinion. I always seem to get flack whe. I do a bad review on a race. I've wondered about this race and now know to not ever do it. If they can't gets things right in 43 years, they never will.

  3. Wow, sorry for the bad experience with the race. I was surprised about the amount of snow also. They did contract out for a truck to plow, but it was too much snow for a personal pickup truck with a plow. I'm not sure how they could have gotten the city to do anything. Maybe when the state takes charge of it we'll see a difference.


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