Gandy Dancer Fly In Trail Run 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 10:56mile
Last Friday, I took the day off of work and found myself doing this.
Why, you ask? Well ... because the Gandy Dancer Fly-In weekend had arrived, of course!!
You may remember that I mentioned this event two years ago on this blog. And yes, unfortunately last year I had a wedding to attend on the same weekend as the fly-in, so I missed it in 2014. But this year, I was free to attend! So, needless to say, bright and early Friday morning my husband and I packed up Bubba and took off from Flying Cloud headed towards Siren Airport.
Oh, with wonder dog in tow.
It's true, my 15 year old beagle likes flying better than I do. Most the time, once the motor revs up, he just curls up into a ball and sleeps in the back seat. Which just so happens to be the exact opposite of what I do. And ... lets just say, since this was only my second "through the clouds" flight ... well, at least I didn't pee or cry. #WINNING!!
Anyway, after waiting around at Flying Cloud for the early morning fog to burn off in Siren, we finally popped through the clouds and made our arrival. Though, upon landing, we had a little issue with trying to work out parking since the airport was already proving quite full (the day prior to the actual fly-in!!). After about 45 minutes of working to figure out temporary over flow parking and trying to locate loaner stakes to tie down the plane, we were finally settled and headed to the cabin.
Fast forward: race morning.
Much like when I ran this race in 2013, I found myself again quite pleased on race morning to complete check in at the local government center. (*ahem* indoor flushing toilets and running water in the sinks *ahem*)
Check in was also quite smooth, likely due to the fact that most of the 70+/- participants appeared to already be checked in by the time we arrived. This was a good thing because, despite our early registration, we did find a minor error with my sister's information and she ended up re-reporting her age on race day. A little frustrating, as I remember having a lot of issues with this in 2013 as well. But, no deal breaker.
Once we settled my sister's registration information, we were provided our bibs and race shirts - which I thought were much improved over 2013. Though personally, I'm not a fan of wicking shirts, since I prefer to wear my race t's as everyday wear and performance t's aren't really suited for that. But again, no deal breaker. Besides, since this shirt was a nice light color, and I decided it would be perfect to leave at the cabin as a "boating shirt" (IE a nice wicking cover up for when I'm out on the pontoon and likely to get wet).
After check-in in, since my husband was still at the government center, my sister and I went back out to him to drop our "swag" and then queued up for the race shuttle. Just like in 2013, the race coordinators were again using what I assume is their local sports team's bus to shuttle participants to the start.
While I appreciated the shuttle service, I do think they need to make an amendment as to how they manage moving runners to the start in 2016, since the process of getting all 70+/- runners to the off site start ended up taking much longer than it ought to. And unfortunately, this translated into a significantly late start. (As you know, a personal pet peeve of mine). If I recall correctly, I vaguely remember this being an issue in 2013 as well. My recommendation in 2016 would be to either (1) make note on the registration that a shuttle is required to get to the start, with shuttle service starting at 6:45 am and last pickup at 7:15 (just making up numbers here - but that timeline seems reasonable, as it allows for one last shuttle sweep to get later comers to the start before 7:30), or (2) redesign the course into some sort of out and back so that a shuttle is not required. Honestly, if this race grows any larger, I think option 2 will end up being forced on the organizers, as I can't see how they would continue to be able to shuttle so many people to an off site start.
Anyway! I'm digressing.
Despite the 7:30 listed gun time of the race, at 7:40 we were still milling around the start awaiting the gun. This became a bit of a problem as the biting flies and gnats were out in droves, and many people were swatting at the flies as they stood in wait. As we batted around our heads with the best of them, several people approached my sister and I inquiring about our nifty outfits, which were InkNBurn of course.
Finally, the last of the folks arrived on the shuttle, and the race director made his opening speech - which included an explanation of the course and listing off a bunch of sponsors. Then, a second speaker took over to announce how this race was the final event in a series of races called the "Siren Super Cell", and he spent some time talking about how those races were all scored cumulatively with this race as their final opportunity to score points.
Being that we were already 10-15 minutes behind, and the bugs were biting, I was excessively impatient during these speeches. I know they are a necessary evil, since the sponsors make the race possible, but ... what can I say? I just wanted to run away from the bugs!
After what seemed like forever due to the incessant bugs, both speakers wrapped up. Then - BANG! They fired a gun, and we were off!!
As I recalled from 2013, a good portion of this race was run on the Gandy Dancer trail, which is a relatively flat crushed gravel recreational trail that wraps around the airport. Back before I was knocked out of running a little over a year ago due to plantars issues in my feet, I used to occasionally train on this trail. (Here's to hoping that happens again in the near future) Despite my reduction in running in the last year, I still bike on this trail quite frequently.
Within the first quarter of a mile, my sister and I agreed that she was in better running shape and likely to beat me, so we parted ways. Of course, I was frustrated with myself to be in such a deconditioned running slump and carrying extra weight as a result, but I couldn't have been happier for my sister and her monumental running gains in the last year.
As I watched her dart off into the distance, I heard a "hey, are you the one who writes the blog?!" LOL! I happened to interact briefly with a new blog fan and local runner in Siren, which helped with my funk a little. At least until the humidity started to catch up with me.
Unfortunately, the humidity started to bog down my sister as well, so I ended up catching up to her before we hit the water station at the 2 mile mark. There, since the heat was wearing us out, we both decided to take a walk break and fully enjoy a cup of water. You can see where we slowed down in orange on the map below.
On the plus side, that was also when we exited the gravel trail, so running from that point on was much more enjoyable.
And although the final stretch was a run on an open grassy field, that was a tad slick due to the rains the night before, it seems like we never slowed down after our walk break. If you review the chart below, it appears we kept a nice even pace to the end. However, this year, there were no planes flying over as we completed this portion. Aw. :-(
Finally, sweating profusely due to the heat and humidity, my sister and I tromped into the finish. Though it wasn't a PR for either one of us, given the heat and the gravel trail, our finish time was good enough.
Once we cleared the chute, we promptly met up with the rest of our party who had been waiting on us for over 15 minutes (due to the late start), and scurried off to the pancake breakfast that they were eager to eat.
Let's not lie. I was hungry, too. Besides, who can say no to a breakfast with ice cream, AMIRITE?!
After we were all filled to the brim with pancakes, my sister gladly accepted a 2nd place medal in the 20-29 category (hooray to her, but boo - no medal for me), and then we wandered around the air show taking in the sites.
Eventually, despite the fact that Kinetico was there with free water bottles and a tap truck, we just became simply too hot and headed back to the cabin to cool off in the lake.
Oh, and by the way ... somehow, the evening ended like this. Don't know why ...
And that's the story of how race bib #60 joined my collection. All in all, late start aside, this was a great repeat race for both of us. With an improved shirt, a 2nd place medal for my sister, and an always delicious pancake breakfast ... how could we not be happy?
Here's to another race soon ... my first tri next weekend, yikes!