Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lighting the Night - Sorta

Last night Walter and I ran the Light the Night Against Crime 5K in Balboa Park.

The nighttime run threw off my schedule for the whole day. I guess I've become a creature of habit, and my current Saturday habit is to get up at the butt-crack of dawn and run at least five or six miles. So yesterday, after my successful, early morning trip to the Apple Store, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the house, trying to figure out what to do. What to eat. WHEN to eat.

I did take a nice nap.

In all honesty, I prefer the Saturday morning run and all things being equal, I wish I'd gone to run with the track club, which did another beautiful morning run on Coronado as I certainly could have run 5 or 6 miles with the track club and the 5K that night (oh sure you could Alice...oh sure you could).

Anyway, as I frittered away most of the day on FB, napping and a quick trip to Tar-jay, Walter had beers and watched the Aztecs beat Colorado State (the one local team that seems to have the capacity to win a game right now), and both our kids made plans to hang out with friends rather than run with us. ( games or running, what will they chose?).

Finally, by about 6:00, we headed to Balboa Park for the nighttime run.

As with lots of local runs, the field gets larger every year. While parking was easy in Balboa Park, by the time we got there, there were a few thousand people milling around. Walter and I managed to find Elsie and Alberta before the race as we picked up our bibs and t-shirts. Then Walter volunteered to run the t-shirts back to the car since we had about 25 minutes before the race.

Big mistake. That was the last I saw of Walter until the end of the race.

We're still trying to figure out how we missed each other because we finished within about a minute of each other, but with 3000 or so people running at night, and even though I was wearing the neon-lime-green-race shirt, we still somehow couldn't find each other. GAH!

As for the run? It's a pretty simple out and back route. 1.5 miles up Park Blvd and another 1.5 miles back. Also, as with some of the local, smaller run, there was no chip timing and it doesn't look like the website is going to report results, so I'm going completely with my Garmin here.

Here's my report.

Mile 1 - The first mile is mostly up a small grade, but it's uphill nonetheless, and even though Elsie, Alberta, and I were toward the front of the field,** we started pretty slow and had to zig and zag just a little bit to get around walkers***. I found what I thought was a quick but somewhat comfortable pace as I looked around for Walter.

Thoughts along the way:
  • Where is Walter?
  • Why is this kid skipping in front of me?
  • I wish I could actually see my Garmin so I would know how fast I'm running.
  • Where is Walter?
Mile 1 - 10:32 pace

Mile 2 - Most of the race is in front of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd, which is a four lane city street, divided by a grass median. At about 3/4 of a mile, we had crossed over to the west side of the street...then at about the 1 mile mark we could see and hear the police car in front of the lead runner telling us to cross back over to the right side of the street, which meant going back up and over the grass median, two curbs and a grassy area, in the DARK.

By about 1.5 miles, I could see all the runners who were headed back. I saw Stoney who was running fast, but it was pretty dark (didn't remember it being that dark last year), so he didn't see me. I think I was still pretty close to Elsie and Alberta (and her friend Shelley). At the turnaround, I kept my eyes peeled for my husband, figuring he was probably somewhere behind me, but couldn't spot him. I really need to put him into a neon-lime-green-dayglo shirt for future races.

My thoughts?
  • (as I ran up and over the grassy median) - Oh, this isn't good. Someone's going to trip and get hurt.
  • Where is Walter?
  • How fast am I going now? Damn...still can't see the Garmin.
Mile 2 - 10:28 pace

Mile 3 - The last mile was painful. My foot was really starting to hurt, and just like last year, my foot pain started not the bottom/heel part, but the tendon top of my foot. I know now where this pain is headed, so I slowed up a bit, still looking around for Walter. I was past the water station, which was cleverly hidden in one of the darker parts of the road, before I noticed it was there. But figured it wasn't a big deal. Running three miles w/o a water stop is not an atypical event for me.

My thoughts?
  • Ouch...foot hurts...Shiz, shiz, shiz...Mostly, in the last mile I was concerned with the foot.
  • I'm feeling pretty spent. Maybe I went out faster than I thought I did.
  • I really want to walk right now, but I REFUSE to walk in a 5K.
  • I'm guessing not eating much since breakfast was an error.
  • Where the heck is Walter?
In about the last 1/2 mile, I just tried to pick up the pace and finish strong. At the 3 mile mark, I FINALLY see/hear a person with a stopwatch calling out times. I hear "Thirty-two, fifteen" and I think "Really? That's close to an 11 minute pace and I'm pretty sure I was going faster than that...WHATEVER....I'll just finish"

Mile 3 - 10:32

Finish - Crossed the finish line and saw the race clock say 33:15, which sorta matched with what the mile 3 person was calling out. Some race photographer was taking pictures****, but I'm sure I didn't have a look of confidence or glee, mostly I'm sure I was grimacing, but I was glad I was done.

But here's my second big bitch about this event...the finishing chutes, or more accurately, people's behavior in the chutes. Typically it's good etiquette to stay in the order that you finish, right? Not last night. People just kept barging past me, crossing over lines...I mean WHATEVER...I'm not doing this race for a time or a medal (clearly), but everyone wants to get to the end to meet their friends and family, not just you tall dude who almost threw an elbow in my face. pffffft.

Hate rude people.

I finally looked down at my Garmin and realize I never stopped it, but it probably auto-stopped when I stopped running. It read 32:58. Not my slowest 5K ever, but certainly not my fastest either.

As I made my way to the end of the chute, I could see Elsie in the bright neon-lime-dayglo-green race shirt and standing next to her is...


Sweaty as all get-out, but finished ahead of me!

I was so happy to see him that I gave him a sweaty kiss and hug. I mean I really felt bad because I convinced him to run with me, then we got separated and we ran alone. It wasn't how I envisioned the night going. We tried to figure out how we didn't see each other, but like I said, it was a crowded field and it was dark. Also, we discovered later that he lined up on the north side of the start and we were at the south, but he had the same experience with crossing over the median at about the same time I we figure we were near each other the whole time, but at the downhill end, he still had legs (despite having beers) and I didn't.

Ah well.

Afterward we went to Nunu's and had burgers, wings, and beers...which made it a good night after all. Walter and I came home. I iced my foot, then we sat in the hot tub and slept.

So, overall? The event itself was pretty poorly run, even for a smaller event. I'm not sure if more people showed up than they were expecting or what the story was, but really, for a race that cost $30, I expect more than the obligatory t-shirt and one water station. There was a new race organizer this year, some outfit called Generic Events. which seems to run the Xterra series, and I've never read complaints from those of you who run in those events, but there were lots of problems last night.

  • The course was either incorrectly marked or someone made a major error in having us cross over to the left at the wrong time, then cross back over to the right over a dark, tree-lined, grass median.
  • The water station on the course was only on one side and was hidden in one of the darkest parts of the course.
  • The finish chutes were undermanned which led to lots of people pushing through and crossing over to other chutes.
  • At the end there was no water. There were some vendors giving out flavored waters and other recovery beverages, but they were warm.
  • The post-race expo was just vendors or services at all.
  • Today, no "official" results on the website, nor is there an indiction that there will be.
  • Once again, no chip timing.
Sorta makes me yearn for Kathy Loper events. Although their smaller events don't do chip timing either, at least they have reasonable water stations and post-race services.

Next up is the Shelter Island 5K in two weeks (a KL event, so I'm not expecting chip timing). I've got two weeks to get my foot in shape. Time to start doing those lunges and squats I keep writing about.
* You can feel the thrill of running with me if you click on the link to Garmin Connect's website then click on the Player.

** We learned from last year to start toward the front...and even still, there were people walking who were in front of us.

*** I have no problem with walkers, or with dogs in a race, or with strollers, I just think that those who are going to stroll the race ought to start toward the back of the field.

**** I took no pictures because true to form in my week of technological failures, my camera battery was dead...GAH!


  1. My thoughts exactly! Except I was wondering "Where's everyone?" as I ran along. In the dark. With no water. Dodging dogs on long leads.

    Makes me wish I was going to be in town for the Shelter Island race. If you are not going to provide water @ the end of the race, then there needs to be the promise of champagne!

  2. i don't care for evening runs either.

    not surprising you couldn't see each other in the dark, though. Bet you would have known where he was if it was light out

  3. I've never done an evening run but I'm with you, I don't think I'd like it. Sounds like a bit of a cluster!

  4. So instead of "Where's Waldo?" It was "Where's Walter" huh?

  5. I have never done an evening run either. Don't know if I would like it.

  6. Sorry I missed it, but it sounds like a mess. That race used to be lots of fun when it was smaller! But now you and Walter can play with your glow-in-the-dark shirts :)

  7. I saw the coverage on the news of some of the event and I thought of you. It doesn't sound like an event I like. I prefer to run in a mob that I can see.

  8. Sorry I missed the race - even more sorry that I missed Nunu's!

    At least you got a run in! I'm glad you took it easy the last mile because it is easy to go too hard on that downhill.

  9. Last night Walter and I ran the Light the Night Against Crime 5K in Balboa Park.

    Good start to a race report. sister, but a better start would have been:

    Last night Walter and I ran the Light the Night Against Crime 5K in Balboa Park ...and we got mugged!1!

    Best start:

    Last night Walter and I ran the Light the Night Against Crime 5K in Balboa Park and it was hard (that's what SHE would have said but SHE GOT MUGGED!11!).

    I have run exactly one evening (not quite dark yet) 5k. It was also a trail run. Didn't much care for it. But now I can say I did it, which is why I'm doing so here:

    Woo-Hoo! for me! I ran a race at dusk!

    Woo-Hoo! for you, too!

    And sweaty, beery Walter.

  10. I had one evening race (a 10 miler) & same thing - I was at a loss the entire day until the event!

    Sucks about the poor planning. And getting cut off at the finisher's chute? PET PEEVE!!!

  11. I wouldn't consider 3,000 a small event, chip or no chip. Sounds like the organizers weren't quite as organized as they could be. I've done nighttime races and they are usually a lot of fun, but never the obstacle course you had. Let's hope things improve for next year.

  12. race ettiquette is important. i especially don't enjoy the folks that block the whole path and stopping short at the finish gate totally sucks - they should be docked some time.

  13. Sound like the type of event and enough darkness to go toppless... OH... did I say that outloud?? oops..

  14. Good job on the 5k!!! I hope that your foot is feeling better!!

  15. Ugh. I don't mind a cheap t-shirt, or no chip timing, or lots of people. But I really detest lack of organization. That's what the organizers are supposedly paying for right? The whole purpose of the finish chute is t maintain your finish position so that the times on the finish machine can be matched to a bib.

    If I were you, I would have made some pumpkin pancakes.

  16. It sounds like that race needs to undergo some reorganization. I have never run a night race, but it sounds like something fun every once in a while.

  17. This race sounds like almost every race I've ever done in ATL.

    Y'all are so spoiled with your chips and technical Ts.