Tag Archives: super 5k

Putting the Fun in February

All right, this isn’t going to be easy. February is like November, only bleaker, colder, and without Thanksgiving. And it’s peak training month for those with spring marathons, which includes yours truly. And yet, it’s been a pretty good month so far. Bear with me.

For the first time in a month, I didn’t have a race this weekend. So I could just do my long run this morning and then rest up until Monday. Of course that meant I had an 18-mile run this morning with temps near zero and no excuses to skip it. Thank goodness for hand warmers.

Antarctica. Or North Campus this morning.

Antarctica. Or North Campus this morning.

Last week’s event was the Super (Bowl) 5K in Novi. The idea is to burn a couple hundred calories in the morning so you can consume a few thousand calories during the game that evening. Which is sort of what happened, except that I was playing Dungeons & Dragons instead. Yes, believe it or not, five men (and one token woman) were slaying ogres rather than watching the Super Bowl. Don’t tell the Men’s Union.

Making the world safe from monsters!

Keeping the world safe from monsters!

I’d planned to run the Super 5K, which I’ve done for the past six years. But about a week out I decided I felt like volunteering instead, and signed up to be a Race Ambassador. I didn’t know that was, exactly, but it sounded cool.

Turned out I was to be a roving course marshall. Instead of standing in one spot on the course sending people the wrong way, I was covering the entire course on my bike, assisting the stationary marshalls and helping mess up everybody.

Does it look like I know what I'm doing? Zat was your last mistake, Monsieur!

Does it look like I know what I’m doing? Zat was your last mistake, Monsieur!

“Your job,” the head marshall told us ambassadors, “is to represent us (the events company) out there.” This meant talking with drivers we had to hold back while 1,800 runners passed by, then escorting them to an exit or to their houses once the runners had thinned out.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. The drivers I spoke with were understanding, once I explained what was going on. And in one instance, I helped a guy trying to get his son to baseball practice on time by giving him an escort out of the course. The best part was that by keeping in motion, I stayed warm. “I wish I had your job,” one of the other marshalls told me.

Also this week, I made progress on some very exciting (to me) initiatives regarding waste reduction at our local running events this year. Nothing finalized yet, but we’re off to a good start. You can bet I will be sharing details later. Watch this space!

2015 Super 5K: 26 and Done

RIDDLE OF THE DAY: What causes schools to close, leads to massive traffic accidents, requires huge trucks and tons of salt to control, but has absolutely no effect on runners?

Meme - Late for Run - Snow

Sunday morning was the 2015 Running Fit Super 5K, and over 1,500 unstoppable runners showed up – because, after all, what else would they do on Sunday morning before the Super Bowl? While they’re all badass, especially the ten runners aged 70 and over, I think the baddest were the 20 who took over an hour to finish. That’s a long time to slog through slush and cold for a medal, pint glass, and a hot dog or two.

Super 5K starting line

The snow had already been falling a while when I pulled out of my driveway and headed to Novi. I gave myself extra drive time and arrived early enough to get my race bib and warm up (somewhat). Thankfully, the venue had changed from the Novi Civic Center to the high school, avoiding the frostbite-inducing quarter mile march of previous years to the starting line.

Super 5K - Me at start

The consecutive streak ends at 26! My bib number was an unintended tribute, I guess.

As the roads had not been fully cleared. I wore my Saucony Peregrine trail shoes for extra traction. Others wore Yaktrax or put sheet metal screws in the soles. While snowy and windy, the temperature was in the low 20s, positively tropical compared to the last four years, so my Heater Hog and a light wind vest kept me plenty warm, once I got going.

The race starts down a main road and tucks into a private subdivision about a half mile in. Although it’s a loop, it seemed like twice as much uphill as downhill, especially in the second half. This actually helped my cause, as I passed a lot of people losing steam on the long, slow rises. I was breathing pretty hard myself, but all that trail running pays off in races like this.

I finished a minute faster than last year, which was in deeper snow. I managed third in my age group, but once again, like in Bigfoot, I beat everyone in the age group below mine. “I wish I were 49 again,” I said to a friend. “I’d be winning my age group!” Maybe I’ll have to start lying about my age. On the other hand, the finishers over 70 got the most applause.

Super 5K finish line

Super 5K finish line 2

The post-race food was junkier than average, by design due to the Super Bowl tie-in. 9:30 a.m. is too early for me to eat a hot dog, but I broke down and had some of the meatballs – and went back for seconds. Dang, they were good. Turned out I needed those calories, as I spent the rest of Sunday, and Monday morning, shoveling my driveway.

This was a bittersweet race for me. It marks the end of 26 consecutive Running Fit events, starting with the 2013 Holiday Hustle through every event in 2014 and the first two events of 2015. Due to other commitments, I won’t be at the Dances with Dirt Green Swamp and Shamrocks & Shenanigans races next month. Ah, well – looking forward to the Pi Day run with my daughter on March 14!

At least this streak continues! Me with fellow PR Fitness racing fiend Michael.

At least this streak continues! Post-race with fellow PR Fitness racing fiend Michael.

Supercooled, the Sequel: 2014 Super 5K Race Recap

Every year on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday, Running Fit puts on a 5K race. Outdoors. The only thing crazier than a race in this kind of weather is the number of people who show up for it, and the Novi Civic Center was packed with close to 2,000 runners.

We're a tough bunch. (The shirt says, "Your workout is my warmup.")

We’re a tough bunch. (The shirt says, “Your workout is my warmup.”)

Last year’s race had temps in the single digits, with a wind chill somewhere between frozen Hell and absolute zero, and people were getting numb just walking to the starting line. This year was also uncomfortably cold, but a bit warmer. To make up for that, there was more ice on the roads. With heavy snow the day before, it promised to be (and was) a slippery affair.

So – freezing cold, icy roads, and running my butt off, all to get a finisher’s pint glass with “Super 5K” printed on it. You could be excused for asking why the hell I was out there.

Okay, what the hell are you doing out here?

Okay, why the hell are you out here?

Well, I’ll tell you. First, this race is one of my annual traditions. There’s something about being a part of an event like this – something I can tell my grandkids, if I ever have any. And second, I was on a mission.

This was my only regular 5K where I hadn’t yet finished in the top five of my age group. It wasn’t for lack of effort. No, actually, it was just that. Each year I would show up telling myself I would run hard, and then find some excuse to talk myself out of it. It’s too cold. It’s icy, I might slip (I never did). I’m getting on a plane later today, and don’t want to be too sore. And so forth, with the predictable results; finishing just outside the awards. This year would be different.

Warming up before the race. (And this was a good road.)

Warming up before the race. (And this was a good road.)

What to wear was a challenge, but I settled on my Heater Hog (acquired at the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race) as my only top layer, with my medium wind jacket over it. It worked like a charm, keeping me warm at 15 degrees with no worries of overheating. For shoes, I reluctantly set aside my lightweight Sauconys and used the thick Hoka One Ones, as they offered the best grip and stability on the snow and ice. Some people put sheet metal screws in their soles, and some used Yaktrax, but I had never used either of those, and a race is not the time to try something new.

I lined up in the front group; getting caught in a crowd had cost me serious time in previous years. As we took off and charged down Taft Road, I glanced at my watch to make sure I hadn’t started too fast. Not hardly – to my surprise and annoyance, my pace was nearly a minute slower than usual. I was running hard and in balance, but the slippery roads made it difficult to get enough traction to push off. Oh, well, everyone else had the same problem.

The main road wasn’t too bad, but conditions deteriorated as we headed into the subdivision. I figured this was actually an advantage for me, as the Hokas plowed through the slush. And indeed, I began to pass other runners, and kept doing so the rest of the way.

I crossed the finish line in just under 23:00, over two minutes slower than my usual 5K time. But in terms of effort, it was one of the hardest 5K I’ve ever run. And it was good for second in my age group. Mission accomplished!

So what's your excuse?

So what’s your excuse?

It was a good time, and the Running Fit Events crew did their usual outstanding job organizing everything and making it run smoothly. My only suggestion would be to improve the post-race food. Hot dogs, meatballs, and cookies? Really? With everyone headed to Super Bowl parties later that day? How about some oatmeal with fruit, or omelets, or even just some scrambled eggs. (That said, the meatballs were actually pretty tasty.)

And hold onto those pint glasses, people – the (at least) three of you who dropped them on the Civic Center floor. You’d never see Peyton Manning do anything like that, now would you?


THE 15 DEGREE FORECAST FOR SUNDAY’S RACE TURNED OUT TO BE OPTIMISTIC. When I arrived at the Novi Civic Center for the Super 5K, my car’s thermometer read 9 degrees. I didn’t want to think about the wind chill. And yet over 1,400 runners showed up. That’s the count of finishers, anyway. I’m not sure how many were dug out of snowbanks by the rescue dogs.

25 degrees - that's not so bad! Oh wait, we're still inside...

And this is what people were wearing *inside* to keep warm…

Usually I warm up for a race with a mile or so at an easy pace, followed by some dynamic stretches and a few strides (short sprints). This time I warmed up by huddling inside with everyone else. When the time came, I reluctantly changed into my lighter jacket and briskly walked the quarter mile to the starting line. With the serious runners also shedding their outer gear, there was a lot of jumping in place in the starting chute. After the gun, it took about a half mile to start feeling warm, although my hands and feet never really thawed completely.

Let's get fired up! Woo! Woo! Woo!

Let’s get fired up! Woo! Woo! Woo!

The route, new this year, took us through a nearby subdivision, which helps with traffic control and normally increases the spectator count. But for some reason there weren’t too many this year. Big kudos to the volunteers pointing the way and handing out the Gatorade; running the race was hard enough, but they had to stand in place the entire time.

Now here's motivation! How could I live down losing to a couch potato?

Now here’s motivation! How could I live down losing to a couch potato?

Following a slow start, I finished in 21:22, which I considered respectable for the conditions. As the streets still had a dusting of snow, I’d decided that staying upright took precedence over a record time. My goal had been to place in the top 5 of my age group, and the preliminary results had me at #4. But that evening the final results showed I’d dropped into a tie for sixth, missing out on an award by 3 seconds. Arggh! At least I managed to edge out the lady on the right. Whew!

There are handy excuses, of course – the temperature, the decision to focus on safety over speed, lack of proper warmup, and so on. But I could have run a few seconds faster without knocking myself out. So that’s what it really comes down to – at a certain level of performance, the winners are often those who wanted it more. I was capable of running stronger – probably much stronger – but that day, I didn’t really want to.

So while I’m a bit bummed about the result, it’s got me thinking about my approach to running races. When I started, I had no particular expectations; winning my age group was a fantasy. Now I’m fast enough to compete for a top spot in races from 5K up to 10K. Do I have to lay it all out every time to feel satisfied? If I don’t place well, can I still say that I ran a good race and had fun? If not, then why am I running races at all? Certainly not for fame and fortune. If it’s the personal challenge, then I need to figure out what’s left to prove.

And then there are folks with no competitive worries...

And then there were folks with no competitive worries…

But while I sort out the cosmic stuff, there’s the next race to plan for – the Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K in Ann Arbor on March 10. Fair warning to everyone in my age group – I’m going to be wanting it this time. Really wanting it.