Elf Classic Race Report

Wow!  I actually can write a race report!

I ran my first race after my hip surgery last night.

At night you say?  I solemnly nod.

I really chose a bad race to return on.  I wholly admit I chose this race because it had very few people signed up, so I knew there was a chance at an Age group award.  Really a little silly of me.

Anyway,  after I registered, I started to hear that the course had holes in it and that it was very very dark.  I optimistically figured that all these were last years issues and had certainly been solved.  So…

All week, I was really so excited, the idea of the race would intrude on my thoughts all the time.  “Can I really do it?  will I be humiliated by being last by an entire mile?  Will I get hurt?”  So I was really glad when Saturday came round.  Of course…being a night race I had a definite odd Saturday.  I didn’t want to go to the gym or any of my usual stuff so I ended up taking the dog on a super long walk  and getting the laundry done etc.

I finally got everything together.

Clothes for after the race, the usual Garmin and cell phone, another shirt for the race, and quarters for all of the toll roads, the index card has directions to the race site.  My headlamp was also in there.

i got to the race site with no problems.  I was about 2 hours early for the race, so I took the opportunity to look around the park.  Moss Park turned out to be a very nice place in the middle of urban Orlando.

I took a few photos.

Moss Park is home apparently to a lot of wildlife, but all I saw with this.

A Duck,  fairly domesticated.  Still My favorite sign and thing I saw in the park was this sign…

Apparently no bathing for personal hygiene is allowed.  And indeed if your bathing attire draws merited criticism, you may be in trouble!

I think though that very few people would want to bathe for any purpose here.

After a while I checked in and asked about the course.  The lady looked at me and said, well, it is a trail run.  Apparently it was classified as a “double track” course.  I looked at the parts of the course I could see and they seemed to be paved, but with sand and fine dirt scattered on it.  I did notice a lot of pot holes.  I was assured that there were lights out on the course and with a headlamp I should be doing fine.

Awesome Cute new T shirt!

I realized then that this was probably an error.  My physical therapist would have had a complete cow if he had seen that course. We would have had it out.

I briefly considered changing to tomorrow race which was in the morning.  This would have been the smarter thing to do.  Unfortunately, I had some friends coming to cheer me on, so I figured it might just be best to get on with it.  The tenK race was first, so I sat around and stretched out my one tight hamstring and broke my headphones entirely (I pulled the ear bud off the wire!)  In retrospect this was the best thing that could have happened, as I then heard all race directions!!!

My friends showed up, and I felt somewhat inadequate, being at a race when you are not a racing person can be boring.  They seemed to be enjoying looking around and processing all the things that we find normal at races- the funny outfits and post race foods.

The relatively few 5K runners all bunched up together at the Finish/start line.  Everyone was commenting on how dark it was.  I was thrilled with the fact that I had a headlamp, as we really couldn’t see.

Here is a photo of the course I ran.  Good gracious…it really was dark.  the light you see is coming from the flash from my camera.

I charged out at the beginning in an attempt to get off the grass track and on to some pavement.  The pavement was actually uneven so it was not much better. I probably should have quit for Safety’s sake, but I didn’t.   At first things were pretty well marked and as I ran along it was easy to see where I was supposed to go.  We bunched up as a group and about 5-6 of us ran essentially together.  Every few minutes I or someone else would make some involuntary “ooops!  or Oooh!”  as we ended up in a pot hole, or a dip that was hard to see in the road.  because of this, I soon stopped worrying about pace or anything except remaining upright.

The course was supposed to have Glow sticks to mark the way.  This was actually pretty effective, as I could see them from far off, and so I could anticipate turns and such.  They were totally ineffective, however, at showing the lumps and bumps of the trail.  In addition, the children involved in the race were tempted and could not help but gather up a lot of the glow sticks, so a good portion of the trail was completely unmarked.  I can’t really blame the kids, GLow sticks on a dark night are really tempting!

It is a little hard to explain but while running I started to think of a variety of people I know who actually purposely run trail runs that take them through the night with no markings at all.  SO a Huge shout Out  to Kai, Cassie, Ultrathoner, and many many more who do this sort of thing all the time.

Midway through the course when I was running on a sandy dirt road with trees encroaching on either side in total darkness except for my weak headlamp, I decided this was actually dangerous, and sort of stupid. I couldn’t stop though because it was really dark and I was disoriented to anything but the trail a few feet in front of me (headlamp!) In fact, I find it hard to believe that no one got hurt, and I also found it hard to believe that the race directors put on this race without describing it more fully on the web site.  Usually there is some sort of fluffy description that alerts runners to less than stellar conditions.  This one could have included something like, “An opportunity to run under the stars!”  or “Challenge yourself on the trails at Moss Park”.  I also think that the course itself is probably very nice in the day time.  If I do this race again it will be in the day light.

Me looking pensive and nervous before the race!!!

At one point I did run off course, but I was the front runner of a cluster of about 5 ladies who all shouted out, “Go right, Go right!!!”  so even before I had run a quarter mile off the course I was able to correct.  The best part of this race was the camaraderie of the group.  Everyone wanted to help everyone make it through and no one seemed to care about winning or anything but surviving this course.

After I ran off course which was at about mile 1.45 or so I got flustered for a bit and had to stop and walk.  I was really embarrassed as I had forgotten my Singulair, so I was huffing and puffing more than normal, and was pacing right behind two ladies who were just chatting.  I am SURE having a heavy breather right behind them wasn’t that fun.  They probably tolerated it mostly because they could use the light from my headlamp!!!

Eventually I did turn off to the finish.  The finish was well lit with Tiki torches and huge Holiday lights.  I actually enjoyed charging down the grassy finish, partly because I knew I would soon be done, and partly because the torches and such were pretty neat!

Afterwards, much to my surprise, I placed first in my age group.  I also placed last in my age group!!!!  It was a small race.   For my efforts I was rewarded with this.  I do want to emphasize that I was not last!!!!  I was close but not last!

I admit, I LOVE having a plaque with the words CHAMPION on it, for my first race after the surgery!  Despite my slow time 36 minutes  and some change for an over all pace of 11.41 minute mile, I felt like a champion.  It took a lot of hard work to just get to the point where I could line up at the start, and then the race itself was quite a challenge for me in my condition.   A friend pointed out that while it was a bad choice, it was also a great one because I couldn’t get carried away and sprint due to the conditions.  So true!  So yes, I am a CHAMPION!

So On the Plus side for this race:

*event staff were super friendly!

* Runners were super friendly

* supportive, if small crowd!

* T shirts were ultra cute (photo to come!)

*Post race fuel was plentiful.  I didn’t partake as we went to Outback!

*results were posted really fast!

* the pre race music was really neat, it was all Christian Music but they had versions of some popular top 40 Christians tunes that had somehow been sped up to a more appropriate running pace.  I did wonder if that music would bother anyone, or if anyone else noted the choices?

* NO one made fun of my time.


*Dark, bumpy uneven trail with inadequate lighting.

* no actual time clock at the race.

I really enjoyed this race a lot.  I love racing with this company as they always “do it right” as far as organization, food, timing.  I am not so thrilled with the darkness and uneven-ness of this course.

So, big question.  How does MG feel today?  Well it was my first race in shoes that were not Mizunos.  I feel pretty sore, and am icing, but not much sorer that my last 3 mile run.  My plan is to ice, and hit the pool and elliptical a little later and get back to running on Monday. After all, I’ve scouted out a new race in January….this one on asphalt and in the morning!!!!


16 thoughts on “Elf Classic Race Report

  1. Awesome, Holly! Glad you managed to avoid those pot holes. The nice thing about running in the dark is that it makes you feel so much faster. 🙂 Funny about the glow sticks and the kiddos. That’s a great award!

  2. Congratulations! You really are brave—I don’t like walking in the dark, let alone running! I didn’t think the kids running off with the glow sticks was that cute, since getting lost in the dark is no fun either. But it sounds like the race was a perfect challenge for you. You had to take it slow and cautious, as did everyone else. And I’m guessing it was cooler, so you didn’t have to deal with getting overheated?

    But yeah, don’t tell your PT about this. I’m sure he’d have a fit. 😉

    • Yeah. Apparently the woman who won the 10K does PT for home health or something, so I expect she already Told on me. I’ve been thinking of creative ways to tell him…

      • “I didn’t know the route was going to be that bad?”
        “I thought it was a kiddie run—you know, the Elf thing?”
        “It’s Christmas, gimme a break!”

        But jeez, shame on the winner for ratting on you. I mean, she got in first, so why pee on you?

  3. Funny thing HG, instead of getting a reprimand, he gave me a high five. I knew deep down he thought I could do it, but officially, he needed to say out loud, “do not do that” . I was glad that I could be honest and share the race experience, since it was so bizarre and such. Even the receptionist was like, “Did you do it? don’t tell him!” I think it’s part of being independent again.

    • Ha! it would have been nice if he told you that in private, instead of making you all paranoid about racing and his finding out. .But awright with that! I guess you are the best judge about what you can do and how you feel about it.

  4. Well, You know, in a way it was for the best, because I’ve not been making a whole lot of decisions about running on my own, so now I have a lot more confidence that I can judge when to start and when to stop…sort of… I did hear that word aggressive again today in PT…

  5. Hmmmm……

    -Choosing an event with potholes as your first race back after hip surgery….

    -Choosing a race because it is small and you may have a good chance of winning your age group….

    -Choosing a race that requires you wear a headlamp….

    -Finding amusement in the park rules and signs….

    -Stopping “worrying about pace or anything except remaining upright.”

    -Thinking that….”The best part of this race was the camaraderie of the group…”

    From reading all of this, I can tell you right now that you are definitely thinking like an ultramarathoner.

    Your 11:41 min/mile pace might seem slow for a 5K but it’s a perfect ultra pace. Actually sub-12 is kind of fast. Speed goat.

    The glow ring photo was cool. I never run in races with many glow sticks. Maybe one or two. Of course in the races I run, I am so dang slow that if there are any glow sticks they are all burned out by the time I get to them (or the sun rises).

    I have come close to hallucinating glow sticks and other things that weren’t there, however. What pretty colors.

    Oh yes, if you win or place in your age group, remember you are not obligated to inform how many were in your age group unless someone asks you straight out.

    What a great plaque!

    First is first… even if it’s number one out of one! No one needs to know.

    Finally, if you enjoy placing in your age group there are many more chances to do so in some of the smaller ultramarathons (Hint…hint).

    There are not a lot of crazy people like us. We welcome other crazy people to come join us. Insanity loves company.

    Anyway, sorry for not reading/commenting on your blog for a long while. As you know, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on this past year.

    Take care and run well.

    • It’s a treat to hear from you! I only hope some day to get to run part of an event with you! I had been thinking what real ultra runners would think of glow sticks hanging from trees etc…there is a little trail run being advertised here in the un-flat part of Florida, I am thinking of tackling it in March. distances start as low as 4 miles, so…it should be fun.

      Take Care.

  6. I’m just catching up with you … congratulations on completing this. I would be worried about potholes in that lighting – you wouldn’t want a broken ankle!! 🙂 That’s a nice photo – I don’t think you look too worried – and I love the cute tee shirt.

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