Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Frederick Women's Distance Festival 5k

This past weekend, I ran a 5k as part of the Frederick Women's Distance Festival.  I just signed up a couple weeks before the race as a friend of mine lives near Frederick. Maryland and wanted company for the race.  It's not that far from me so I figured, why not?

Well, it ended up being one of the hottest days of the year.  Once I saw that forecast, I began to regret my decision.  But before we get to the specifics of my experience, a little about the race itself.  From their website - "In 1979, the RRCA started the Women's Distance Festival in response to the lack of distance running events in the Olympics Games for women.  The first Women’s Distance Festival events were held on July 13, 1980, the date of the men’s marathon at the Moscow Olympics. Today, the Women’s Distance Festival celebrates the history of women’s rights to participate in running events at any distance and at any age. While women’s participation in distance running nearly matches that of men, the Women’s Distance Festival continues to serve as a celebration of the determination and dedication of women runners across the country."

Race day included a 1k run for girls and then a 5k run/walk.  It is part of the Maryland Women's Distance Festival Grand Prix series which has a total of nine 5k races across the state.

5k race map

Back to my experience and it being one of the hottest days of the year.  It was already 80 degrees by the time I left the house at 6am.  Frederick was a bit of a drive for me but I got there around 6:45 and easily found parking.  The race was at a local community college which made the logistics really easy.  There was plentiful parking.  Also, there was an air conditioned inside area where race registration and packet pick up was being held.  I went in, looked up my number, and got my bib with no problems.  My car was also close enough that I could just run back to the car to put the shirt and bag away.

Warm up

At this point, I found my friend and we did a quick 10 minute warm up.  We had planned to do around 2 miles (hence the getting there so early) but it was so hot that we were sweating just from standing outside.  So we shortened the warm up and then just stretched and chatted a bit while watching a bit of the kids 1k.  There were a lot of cute kids and cute dogs wandering around to keep our attention.

A lot slower in mile 3!

The 5k started at 8am.  It was hot, humid and sunny.  The race was essentially 2 loops, the first loop in a neighborhood and the second around the community college.  There was unfortunately not a lot of shade during the second loop and my time definitely slipped as we got further toward the heat of the day with no shade.

But the race was really well organized.  There were 2 water stops, and there were plenty of volunteers, who were all enthusiastically supportive.  There were some rolling hills and uphill the second half of the race but the elevation changes weren't too bad.

After the race, we were given a cold bottle of water and it felt like the best thing ever.  I poured half of it over myself and drank the rest.  We were also given a carnation and then I walked straight into the air conditioned building. 

There was the standard food options in there, such as bananas, watermelon, and bagels as well as more water and bottles of chocolate milk.  There was also free ice cream!  I had some lime sorbet and it was just what I needed.

We then walked around and checked out some of the sponsor tables.  There was a little photo booth set up so we got our photo taken.  There was a lot of stuff being raffled off, but alas, we did not win anything.  There were also sponsor tables outside in the parking lot so we checked them out on our way back to the parking lots.  One of them was a local running store where you could do challenges against employees to win prizes.  I did push-ups and my friend did wall sits.  We both won and received a coupon for 15% off running shoes.  I have a sneaking suspicion that they let us win.

So that was it for the race.  I had a good time overall but the heat was just killer that day.  There isn't much the race could do about that but here's my summary.

Pros - Well organized, easy race day bib pick up, lots of parking, great volunteers, varied course with the neighborhood and then the community college.

Negatives - 8am start in August, I really wish the race had started at 7am.  Also, lack of shade, particularly on the second half of the course.  I wonder if the course could be reversed so that there is more shade toward the end of the race?