Marathon training called for a 5 mile run this week. I planned on just going down by the river to do a normal training run, but this week I found a 5 mile race and thought this would be a fun way to get the miles in instead. I registered for the race on Thursday, so it was a very last minute decision. I also felt that I needed to get in a January race to kick off my quest for 30 races this year. Another reason I decided to sign up for this is I wanted one last race in the coveted 25-29/20-29 age group!
The race was about 1 hr and 10 minutes away, but it didn’t start until 11am, which was a big factor in me signing up for it. The Chilly Cheeks Challenge offered a 2.5 mile fun run, 5 miler and a 10 miler option. This was a very affordable race as well. No matter which distance you chose, the cost was $18.00 plus that oh, so lovely race fee from the sign up sites, it came in at $20.50. Located in Hermitage, PA the race took place along a 2.5 mile loop in Buhl Farm Park. Since I didn’t know the area, I had no idea what to expect about the course.
The drive up to Hermitage was quick and easy and along the way, I picked up the boyfriend so he could come enjoy the fun as well. We got to the park around 10:30am. I followed other runners to a pavilion, where they were giving out race items. With such a low cost race, I wasn’t expecting much. They handed me my bib, my timing chip and a cotton long sleeve race shirt.
I had about 20 minutes until the race start, so I went back to the car to get my shoes on and get myself together. The temperature said it was about 24 degrees but felt like 16 degrees. Luckily the sun was shining brightly! I went with a short sleeve tech tee and my new purple fleece lined 3/4 zip top along with fleece lined long spandex. I opted for ear warmers and my running gloves as well.
The start line was a bit confusing so I just became a salmon and followed the group. I thought we were starting by the finish line, but we had to walk about a quarter mile up another path. All of a sudden the race director said the 2.5 mile and 5 mile race start line was back down the path. So we all turned around and walked a little further down. Finally we got to an area that looked great for a start line. I never actually saw something that signified the start line was there. There was also no timing mat at the start line since there were two different ones, so I opted to start my watch when the whistle blew.
Since the loop was 2.5 miles long, the 5 mile race was two laps around the park. The loop was essentially the main road through the park and they technically didn’t shut down the road for the race. It wasn’t an issue though, as I never saw a car coming through the course. I was worried the course was going to be covered in snow but 90% was perfectly cleared. The other 10%, which just so happened to the big downhill also, was not cleared.
Since this was a training run, I did not plan to ‘race’ this race, but I did have a goal of going sub 58:00. This is something I am obviously still working on. Of course I went out WAY TOO FAST. My first mile was a 9:59. WHAT?! This was suppose to be a long slow run and about a 11:30 to 12:00 minute miles. For the most part the course was flat or very small bump along the course. Since the road was along the park perimeter, it was a nice way to see everything that the park offered. I got to pass a great playground area, Lake Julia (which was covered in ice and ducks), Football field with a large set of bleachers and what looked to be an amphitheater.
There was one major hill that hit at mile 1.5 on this first loop. As we turned the corner to the hill, I immediately thought, “Oh Crap”. I was running next to two ladies who decided to start walking the hill, but I wanted to try and run it, so I dug it and up I went. Once we got to the top we had about a quarter mile until the point where we got the snow packed part of the course. I really pulled back on this part as I am not the most graceful runner. Running on the snow and going downhill didn’t seem to mix well with me, but luckily I stayed on two feet. As I was coming to the end of the loop, I thought to myself I should have told my boyfriend to have water for me. Luckily the race had a table out and the race director was handing out water.I grabbed a cup of water and walked a few steps so I didn’t throw the COLD water on my face. I finished the first loop in 27:27.10, which was well below my target time.
Hold on to your hats folks, I have a big surprise to reveal here. Loop 2… WAS THE EXACT SAME AS LOOP 1. Whew, now that I got that out, I can continue.
As I started loop 2, I realized I have never actually done a loop race before. All of my other races have been point to point, one large loop or an out and back. Knowing what was coming helped a little bit I think but it got a little boring around mile 3. For the most part I ran by myself. It was a small race with less than 200 runners, so the herd quickly thinned out as we started.
The hardest part of loop 2 was going up the hill again. I will admit that I hate going uphill. I dread them and this needs to change, especially with Pittsburgh Marathon Training. Going downhill though is completely different. I know many runners hate the downhill as it’s more on your legs, but I’d much rather go down than up. As I started up the hill for the second time, I decided to walk 1/2 the hill. I thinkI actually went up faster speed walking up the hill than if I would have done the uphill running shuffle. Going into the snow packed downhill, there was about a half mile left in the race, so I decided to not hold back and let the legs do what they wanted. I didn’t fall, but it was interesting! I finished the second loop in 26:08.0! Negative loop times!
Overall, this was a fun race! It was very low key and a great course in a beautiful park. With a low number of runners, you weren’t battling others for space on the road. I am not sure I could handle doing 4 laps for the 10 miler though. Boredom might kick in on lap 3 and SQUIRREL! After the race they even provided hot coffee and bowls of potato soup for the runners.
Next week my training jumps to my longest run to date on the training schedule: 9 miles! Hopefully the legs will feel as good for that run as they did today.
Official finish time:
4/6, 20-29 Females