Sunday, August 24, 2014

Race Report: Crim 10 miler!

Yesterday was the Crim!  The Crim is one of my favorite races.  This was my 3rd time doing the 10-mile race, which is held in Flint, MI.  You know it must be a great event, when an end-of-August race is one of my favorites! (Heat and humidity are not my friends!)  This year was a little different because I registered as part of the A2Runners team on the "team challenge".

Flint is about an hour away from Ann Arbor, but because it is such a large event it is worth it to me to drive out the day before the race to get my packet.  This time, I picked up my own and 10 other packets for some other team members and friends so they wouldn't have to drive out there.  I wanted to take Justin to the expo anyway, because it was his first "big" race and I wanted him to experience the expo.  The expo was nice, except for the lighting was SUPER dim, which was really annoying.  Justin bought a 10-mile oval bumper sticker (to put on his kayak, lol) and a pair of sunglasses.  I got sunglasses, shorts, and a tank top.  We also picked up a few free things, like a collapsible water bottle, a first aid kit, and some snacks.  Justin tried to hustle a volunteer for a free teddy bear trot t-shirt, but was unsuccessful.  (He's always hustling somebody for something.  He got a free volunteer t-shirt at his first race by sweet talking some girl).

Expo shot.  It wasn't nearly as bright as it looks in the photo.  
My very own personal bag carrier, perusing the booths. :P 
Justin showing off his race shirt.  I do really like the shirts! 
 My team had 3 vehicles going to the race, including mine.  I just had me, Justin, and Lina in my car.  We left from the northside of Ann Arbor at 5:30 am and got into Flint at like 6:15-6:20 for the 8am race race start.  I wanted to get there early because I wanted to try to get a good parking spot.  Past years when I've done the race I parked at one of the designated lots about 1 mile away from the start.  This year they offered shuttle service for the first time from a lot a little further away (2.2 miles).   I hate dealing with shuttle lines, and the lack of control in terms of timing for getting through the lines and to the start gives me anxiety.  So I decided to try to park downtown on the street this year, and I was successful!  I ended up parking about 2 short blocks from the start line, a stone's throw away from the porta potty lines.  It was really nice to be able to hop over to my car as many times as I wanted before and after the race!

Here are some early morning pre-race photos, before the crowds showed up (and the sun, for that matter...)
For the record, I bought this boy legit running shorts for his birthday, but he forgot them at home in his dryer.  
Lina and JD 
Finish chute, check out all the medals on the left! 
Because we were in the team challenge, we had access to a "private" pre- and post-race area, right by the finish line, where there was a gear drop, indoor bathrooms, and seating.  The team challenge costs $110 for the team of up to 10 people, but you get 2 wristbands per person (a guest for each person), so you actually get access for 20 people into the team headquarters.  Next year, I'll put together a "team" of 20 people to share the cost more broadly, and basically charge everybody $5 for their bracelet, instead of $10.  

Justin and Lina hanging out in the team headquarters before the race. 
I didn't really have a goal or plan for this race.  My paces have gotten so fast (for me) recently that I really have no idea what to expect anymore.  I definitely would have been unhappy with anything over 9 min/mile, but other than that I didn't really care.  My plan was to run by feel without a watch, put in a solid effort, and see what happened.  Lina decided to run with me at whatever pace I ran.  We ended up lining up near the 9:00 pacer and started in the 3rd wave.

Start line selfie!  Justin, Iko, me, and Lina. 
I warned Lina not to tell me what pace we were running and I took off at what felt like a comfortable jog to start.  It was really congested at the start and took several miles to open up, which was a little annoying, but expected at a race of this size.  It's the price you pay for getting the amazing crowd support, and having people running near you in the later miles.  

Somewhere in the first half of the race we passed the 8:30 pacer, so I knew we were going faster than that (especially since he started quite a bit ahead of us), but I felt fine so I kept on going.  The Crim course is known for being pretty hilly, but I actually love it.  There aren't any huge hills, and the ones that are there are nice rollers with some good downhills to follow.  It's a nice variety of terrain on your legs, but not enough to really slow you down. 

The other great thing about the Crim is the crowd support!  There are spectators throughout the whole course, and bands and other local entertainment.  (There was a dance/cheer crew, a high school band, a church group singing, a DJ, some traditional bands, etc).  There were also multiple groups handing out "unofficial" race refreshments, such as beer, champagne, snacks, and water.  Usually I see krispy kremes being handed out somewhere, but I didn't see them this year.  There are sprinklers set up at several points on the course, as well as some friendly residents with hoses.  The temperature was actually really pleasant/cool this year, but normally it is excessively hot so all those spray downs are really necessary!  There were water stops about every mile, and each one was well-staffed and stocked.  I felt like a lot of that went to waste this year because of the cooler temps, but again, it is better that they are prepared, because usually we're all roasting to death in the sun and dying of thirst! 

Sometime around mile 6 or 7 or so I realized there wasn't much race left and I still felt great so I picked up the pace a bit.  I lost Lina sometime after that, sorry!  Lina was thinking I'd go a lot slower than I did.  (Her plan was a slow/easy training run at 9:00-9:20 min/mile), which I messed up for her by going way faster than that. (But, I did warn her that I was "racing"....just didn't know what my pace would be.)  You guys HAVE to read Lina's review of the race, including her mile by mile thoughts.  SOOO FUNNY.  

I still felt great coming into the last mile and the finish, and really went in hard/fast at the end.  I wish I would have had my Garmin on for the post-race analysis and to see my splits, but oh well.  I do have the splits from the timing mats on the course:

Unfortunately I don't know what mile marker "Hill 1" and "Hill 2" are at, but you can see that I ran pretty much a consistent 8:20 pace over the first 3 splits, and then must've sped up over the last split in order to drop the average over the whole 10 miles down to 8:10.

Needless to say, I'm very happy with my results at this race!  It wasn't very long ago when I would have been happy with an 8:10 pace for a 5K.  Best of all, I didn't even feel spent at the end, or particularly sore today (the day after).  There's more improvement to be had here, ya'll!  :)  The only thing that could have made it a little better would have been beating Justin, but he's 2 for 2 at beating me at races so far, despite having only been running since I got him started on it like 3 months ago.  (Sub 8 min/mile pace on his first double digit run ever.  He's a natural!)

In the finish chute, there were ice cold towels, bananas, yogurt, granola bars, water, and popsicles.  The ice cold towels and popsicles are usually heavenly after the heat of this race, but again, it wasn't that bad this year!  They also have some sprinklers set up in the finish chute for the runners to enjoy.

10 second video of the finish area. 

On your bib, there is a coupon for a free slice of pizza and a beer post-race, but I didn't use mine.  We didn't go over to the "main" finish line party. Instead, after the race we returned to the team challenge headquarters, which was awesome.  They had an amazing buffet spread of food, as well as draft Coors light, cans of Mike's black cherry hard lemonade, and Redd's apple ale (plus non-alcoholic beverages like iced tea and lemonade).  I would definitely recommend registering on a team.  I definitely will continue to do so in future years.  (Team headquarters was the Flint Journal/MLive office.  MLive was the sponsor, thank you!)

Awesome food spread at the MLive office.  There were picnic tables outside in the back, along with all the adult beverages.

We hung out with the team and celebrated for a while after the race.  Lots of photos of those shenanigans: 

These two fools felt it necessary to show off their food babies.  Can't take them anywhere! 

Justin and Lina again. :)  I love my people.  And gif's courtesy of Google Auto-Awesome.  :P

Some of the boys with their celebratory beers.  (Justin, Chris, Mack and Rick, left to right).

Me and Lina hanging out in the street.  

 Goofing off continues....

A "serious" photo.  :) 

And a couple of A2Runners team shots to wrap up the day. 
So, all in all another great race put on by the Crim folks.  Best time (and finish time!) I've had there yet.  Can't wait for next year.  If you live in Michigan and haven't done the Crim yet....what are you waiting for??  Definitely a must-do local event! 

PS: Somebody give me a pat on the back for getting this report out in a timely fashion!  (Nevermind that I have 3+ old reports left to do.... ssssshhhhh.) 

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