Trying a Tri

This morning we did something new—a triathlon! It was on our list of things to try this summer, so when we had the opportunity to sign up for a small, local race we jumped on it. Because we don’t have much to compare with, we decided against doing a full recap. Instead, we opted for a quick overview.

Registration: This was completed online and relatively easily. Signing in at the race was also easy. There was a brief meeting before the race began in which we received directions for each of the routes.

Swim: This was in a pool, whew! Violet almost lost her swim cap and needs to practice getting out of pools without using the ladder 😉 . Charcoal was on her toes and enjoyed the swim.

Transition 1: Charcoal was crafty and ready to go with her shorts already on for the swim. Violet wasn’t that prepared and added a few minutes in the transition in order to wrangle some bike shorts.

Bike: This went smoothly. We didn’t get lost or have any accidents or flat tires. The traffic was manageable and the course was pretty well marked (even though we remembered most of the route from the meeting earlier in the day).

Transition 2: This was easy–just put our bikes back on the rack and changed headwear.

Run: This also went smoothly. The course was well-marked, although we remembered this well, too.

Finish: The finish line was casual, but still had some spectators and course support on hand.

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Race Recap: Gorges Ithaca Half

On Saturday, June 17, we did the Gorges Ithaca Half Marathon. This was the second year we ran this race, making this our first repeated half marathon! (But it was a different course, so it may not fully count?)

Registration Cost: The race registration was $70, regardless of when you registered. We did have a coupon code for $5 off and there was an incentivized date cut-off for registering with a t-shirt guaranteed.

Packet Pick-Up: This was easy and done on the day before the race, with packet pick-up being held at the Finger Lakes Running & Triathlon Company Store in downtown Ithaca, NY. The packets came as reusable drawstring bags, Gorges Ithaca Half magnets, some promos/coupons, t-shirts (there were three design options to choose from), and wristbands for the after party.

We ended up opting for tech t-shirts with the race logo on the front and sponsors on the back; the shirts are comfy, made from 100% recycled materials, and made in the USA–so pretty fancy for race shirts. The other options included 50-50 cotton-polyester shirts with either the race logo or “13.1” on the front. These were also made in the USA.

Pre-Race: The course featured a point-to-point format. There was an option of purchasing a $10 ticket for a (school) bus ride to the starting line, or you could get dropped off. We got dropped off at the nearest intersection at about 7:15 a.m. for the 7:30 a.m. start. We saw about four school buses, and many other people getting dropped off. The course started on the road, with open fields nearby and some porta potties there, too.

The race start was casual. We were near the back of the starting corral and heard an announcement, but couldn’t hear what they said. Shortly after, people started running so we did, too… except the people who were still in line for the porta potties, but we assumed they got their start, too.

In terms of pre-race communication, there were a few emails leading up to the race, but not many. We had received the info for packet pick-up immediately after registering and didn’t receive other reminders with that file.

Course: The first mile was on the road. For the people in the porta potties, it may have been difficult to make the first couple of turns because there weren’t many officials along the first mile or so.

The next five miles were held on the newly finished Black Diamond Trail, which is a fine crushed gravel trail that connects Taughannock Falls State Park with the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. There were many small waterfalls along the sides of this trail, along with a bison farm. This was a shaded area as well.

The final portion of the course went along the Cayuga Waterfront Trail along the Cayuga Lake inlet and lake itself. The last mile went by Ithaca Falls and ended just shy of the Ithaca Commons.

Overall, this course was downhill and/or flat–which was a big difference from last year’s course that went up a big hill! There were five or six water stops along the way that also offered Gatorade and/or Tailwind or Gu. Two also had strawberries. We both carried a handheld bottle with us and the water stops were all great with refilling the bottles when needed.

For on-course entertainment, there were two bagpipers at about mile 8 (they could be heard for parts of earlier miles depending on traffic and wind). There was also MegsRadio at about mile 11.

In terms of spectators, there were some but mostly looking for specific people. This was also a bit different from last year, but probably due to the change in the course (last year’s went through more of the city).

Finish Line: There was an announcer at the finish line. Immediately after crossing the finish line we were given our reusable Gorges Ithaca Half water bottles that were filled, along with the finisher’s medal, and coupons for an entry for a Saucony giveaway. The finisher’s medals are pretty cool–they look like they could be used as coasters as they are that size, printed(?) with a local scene, and sealed(?) on some type of light wood.

Post-Race: Right across the street from the finish line there was a walk-up food tent that had water to refill your bottles with, along with freezer pops, Ithaca Yogurt (many flavors to choose from!), and two kinds of really tasty cookie bars–one had cranberries and white chocolate chips and the other had chocolate chips.

The rest of the post-race party included pulled pork, salt potatoes, scrambled eggs, and fruit. The wristbands had two tickets attached for Ithaca Beer Co., which we used for ginger beer (yum!). There were also post-race massages, kettlebells and foam rolling, live music, and a Saucony tent with shoes to try on and the giveaway raffle.

This was one of the best post-race events (again this year–we thought the same last year).

Weather: It was sunny and in the 70s to 80s, we think. By the time we were at the post-race event, it was in the mid-80s and getting a bit humid.

Apparel: Charcoal wore one of our special race tank tops, compression shorts, running shorts, Roo Sports pocket, and a running cap. She also carried a Nathan QuickDraw insulated bottle. Her footwear for the day included Balega socks and Saucony iSO Triumph 2 shoes.

Violet wore one of our special race tank tops, compression shorts, running shorts (with a lot of pockets–even though they weren’t as full as they were a few weeks ago!), a Roo Sports pocket, and a running cap. She also carried a Nathan ExoShot bottle. Her footwear included injinji 2.0 women’s toesocks and Asics GT-1000 4 shoes.

Run Recap: The Big Run

On Wednesday, June 7, Violet did The Big Run, hosted by Buffalo’s Fleet Feet (Charcoal had to work late that night. Boo!). The recap is included below!

Registration Cost: This run cost $10, so it was quite affordable. Nice for a mid-week run!

Packet Pick-Up: The run was held in Buffalo’s outer harbor area. Parking can be a bit tricky, so by the time I got there (rush-hour traffic can also be a bit tricky!) and parked, I was jogging up to the check-in tent to get signed in before the run. I got there with a tiny amount of time to spare and got my wristband without any problems.

Pre-Race: I’ll admit that I was late on registering for this–deciding whether I wanted to go by myself (yes, but it would’ve been more fun with a driving/running buddy!), especially after the marathon was a tough call. As it turned out, I decided to go because who doesn’t want to run on Global Running Day? So since I had no reason not to, I went ahead and signed up. That said, I didn’t get any info about it until the day before. I’m not sure if this is because I was slow on registering or if the info didn’t come until then!

Course: The run started at Wilkeson Pointe and went around the Independent Health trail. It was a lovely run with one water stop at the turn-around.

Finish Line: Getting to the finish line was a little confusing–we had to go an extra loop around a circle to finish, rather than getting to go straight there (that’s what it looked like we should do!). That said, there were lots of people around who were also cheering at the end so that was fun.

Post-Race: There was water by the finish line and a line to get the event shirt and (giant!) medal. The concessions stand had some specials for people with the event wristband, with bottled water for $2 and pizza for $3. I didn’t pay attention to the other prices, but I think beer was $5 and soda $3-ish? Fleet Feet also had a special going where if you went in the store with your medal by the end of the week (Saturday’s the last day), you could get 25% off Brooks apparel.

Weather: It was sunny and in the 70s, I think. Great evening for a run–especially by the water!

Apparel: I wore shorts and a tech t-shirt from a previous race. I also had my Roo Sports pocket for cash and keys. For my feet, I had Darn Tough socks and Saucony Guide 9 shoes (I had trouble deciding what to wear for shoes, but had to say when I registered because the form asked for that info… so I went with my trusty Guides!).

Race Recap: Buffalo Marathon

With an early wake-up at 4am, on Sunday, May 28, we ran our first marathon! As we write this, Charcoal is curled up on a couch and Violet is sitting in a living room chair with her feet soaking in epsom salts. We both have watermelon and strawberry seltzer. Yum!

Registration Cost: We registered early and don’t remember what we paid. But it was worth it!

Packet Pick-Up: We went to packet pick-up late in the morning on Saturday. We picked up our packets without trouble and enjoyed the expo. At the expo, we did a little extra shopping and sampling, which is practically a requirement. We also appreciate that there was nearby free parking in one of the garages in downtown Buffalo.

When registering, one of us checked the box saying that it was our first full marathon. The one of us who checked that box thought it was just for statistical purposes. As it turned out, the personalized bibs said “1st Timer” on the ones that had checked that box. That was an unexpected surprise, but nothing that a little White-Out couldn’t handle! Luckily one of us has a pretty good stash of office supplies 😉

Pre-Race: We arrived at the convention center between 5:30-5:45am for the 6:30am race start. We again appreciated the free parking in the garage, with easy access to I-190 for both arriving and departing. When we got to the convention center, we checked our gear bags and waited in a restroom line. We were pointed to a different restroom location with a shorter line by one of the convention center employees. That line took about 8 minutes to get through, so not bad!

We headed out to the starting area at about 6:20am and got in our pace area. We appreciated that there were several pacers for the course. We also enjoyed the pre-race fireworks. When else are you going to see them before 6:30am?!

Course: The course goes through much of the Buffalo city area, including Delaware Park. There are many nice homes and other notable architecture around the course. The course is also well-supported with many volunteers, police officers, and other officials. For the first half, there were water stops at every two miles. After that, the water stops were at each mile. They had lemon-lime Gatorade and water at every stop, and gels at some. Every stop had many volunteers and they were all great!

The support along the course was also helpful. There were also medical aide stations throughout the course stocked with Vaseline and we aren’t sure what else (thankfully we didn’t need these!).

Finish Line: There was an announcer and many volunteers at the finish line. Along with water, there were finisher metals, finisher keychains, apples, chips, and pizza. They also had the warming blanket/sheets and a bell to ring if you got a PR or Boston qualifier.

Post-Race: The after party had lots of bananas, oranges (cut into sections), water, beer,  and pizza. It looked like earlier in the day there may have been chocolate milk.

Weather: After having the possibility of rain earlier in the week, it ended up being sunny with some clouds and in the 70s. It was 55 degrees when we were driving by a thermometer at about 5:30am.

Apparel: Charcoal wore a race tank top, Old Navy capris, a running cap, Balega socks, Saucony iSO Triumph 2 shoes. She also wore a “throw-away” long-sleeve tech shirt that was on its way to being donated (this made it until about mile 5). For fuel, she used a Nathan Trail Mix water belt with a Roo Sports magnetic pocket.

Violet wore two tank tops, compression shorts, Asics shorts with a lot of pockets on the back (well-stuffed!), injinji Women’s 2.0 toe socks, Asics GT-1000 4 shoes, and a running cap. In the morning, she wore a zip-up sweatshirt to toss when it warmed up (mile 2). She carried a bottle of water that could be recycled when she got tired of carrying it (around mile 22).

Race Recap: Night Nation Run

On Saturday, May 7, we did the Night Nation Run 5K. This is advertised as the first running music festival (very punny?).

Registration Cost: With the coupon code, it was about the same as most other 5Ks in the area. Also, this was billed as a fundraiser for Stand-Up to Cancer, so presumably some of the registration cost may get contributed to that organization.

Packet Pick-Up: We had opted for the Friday pre-race packet pick-up (because day-of pick-up cost an extra $5). There were several reminder emails sent with the information that was needed. Charcoal wasn’t able to go to the pick-up so Violet got both packets. This ended up being easier than the race FAQs led us to believe. Although the website said we’d need a copy of Charcoal’s license and a signed waiver, it turned out that Violet just needed the registration confirmation email with the barcode to scan.

The pick-up line was a bit slow because many people were picking up multiple packets. Otherwise, it went pretty smoothly.

For swag, there were cotton t-shirts and a glow necklace.

Pre-Race: There were a lot of emails and the communication was not bad. The highway exit for the race area was closed and we needed to go one exit further to get there. Related, we ended up parking where there was a space available… and as it turned out, this was about 1.5 miles away from the race start. There were no other lots available (this was on-street parking), and this was the best option. Seriously?! It was a long walk, both to and from the race start–not what we were expecting based on the information in the emails. More specifically, the emails said there would be ample free parking by the course. Although this was free, it was not close.

We didn’t try to take bags into the race area, but they had security at the gates to check. The security guard also needed to see our numbers before we were allowed into the race area.

Once we were in the race area, it was a little confusing to tell where the line to the start was–there was just a big group of people who were standing around. It was hard to tell if they were in line to start or if they were in the “party” area. There were some food trucks in this area.

When we got into the line to start, it took a while to get to the starting line because they were letting people go in waves every couple of minutes (not sure how many people were in a wave, but there were employees at the start lines to regulate this). There was an emcee/DJ who was at the starting line, along with two young women who were kind of like Night Nation Run cheerleaders.

The release form indicated that protective eye-wear should be worn at all times on the course. We were rebels and didn’t wear our safety goggles, but we saw one person who had them. We weren’t sure what they were for–most likely for the strobe lights?

Course: This was a bit treacherous with potholes and puddles. It was a two-loop course, meaning that we could have finished in half the time. But we didn’t. As it turned out, we ran through a muddy connecting area to start our second loop. Not surprisingly, the course was much emptier the second time around.

There were about four stations along the course where DJs were playing music, there were strobe lights, and selfie stations with blacklights. There was also one water stop that was in the mud between the first and second loops. Rather than having a paper cup with water, each person was given a 20-ounce bottle of Aquafina.

Approaching the finish line, there were a lot of people cutting through to get out of the mud. As you can see, this course was not very regulated and was not timed, adding to the party atmosphere.

There were some nifty arrow lights to point the way along the course. There were also some other lights along the course to help with the non-music areas.

Finish Line: It was a little unclear where this was, but there was a selfie station with blacklights, and another water stop (that also gave out whole bottles of water).

Post-Race: The after-party was nearby, with a stage where the DJ and cheerleaders were interacting with the crowd. There were some giveaways with glowing sticks/swords. We didn’t stay at the party to scope out the food trucks or other festivities.

Weather: It was cold (40s-50s), rainy, and windy by the water.

Apparel: Violet was wearing running tights from Target, a light fleece-lined C9 turtleneck, a fleece jacket, Smartwool socks, a rain coat, and Asics GTX 1000-4 (goretex) shoes.

Charcoal wore reflective running tights, a long-sleeved technical t-shirt, an activewear sweatshirt, and Brooks PureFlow shoes.

Race Recap: Seneca7

On Sunday, April 30, we ran in the Seneca7 with five other people. It was a long day, but a lot of fun in our rented minivan.

Registration Cost: A bit expensive (at $77/per person). Also, unaccounted for, the cost of getting up at approximately 6am on the day after a half-marathon last fall (a Monday, too!), to try to get registered. As evidenced by our recap, the registration was successful, but still worth mentioning.

Packet Pick-Up: This was a zoo. Both of us went to the Smith Opera House on the day before the race with two other two members for our packet pickup and the pre-race meeting. It was a little confusing because we had to find our team number before we got our packet and once we got that, only one of us was allowed to go upstairs to retrieve our bag. On the plus side, we got two bags of trail mix (while the chosen one went upstairs) and had the chance to swap shirt sizes.

For swag, each team member received a long-sleeve hooded t-shirt, a 77.7 sticker, a piece of chocolate, and a single-serve pack of almond butter. Collectively, we also received one reusable shopping bag, one cowbell, one vehicle sign, some gels and electrolyte fizzes, an eraser, and two bags of trail mix.

Pre-Race: The pre-race meeting was packed and contained some information that was helpful. Overall, it was mostly helpful and didn’t drag out too long. The race directors did a fairly good job of conveying this information in the meeting, which was good due to the dismal state of their website. Finding information online prior to the meeting was a lengthy endeavor because the website is broken into several pages so you end up looking all over. We also had to make sure to enter our team information online by specific dates in order to proceed with the race, which meant we had to stay on top of deadlines between October and March.

For pre-race planning, we had come up with a list of food that we would bring. As it turned out, we had way too much food. We ate a couple of muffins and “breakfast cookies” that Charcoal made, a couple of mini bagels with peanut butter, pretzels, small pieces of a turkey sub, some chocolate-covered espresso beans and other candy, and some fruit (bananas, grapes, watermelon). And we only used about half of the water that we had taken.

Course: This relay starts and ends in Geneva, NY. The course was relatively well marked overall. The course guide was pretty useful for both runners and drivers. We didn’t run into excessive traffic at the exchange points and didn’t really get lost on foot or in the van. We had some time at the exchange points, but didn’t find ourselves there for long stretches with nothing to do.

One concern for the race is having enough porta-potties; there were some at most exchange points. More importantly, the Glenora Winery (we think that’s the one) had real bathrooms and free coffee/tea in the lobby for runners. We appreciated that a lot–thanks, Glenora! We also stopped at a gas station along the way, where there was a restroom available. We did skip the pit-stop where bathrooms were also available. Toward the end, one of the exchange points was at Bottomless Brewery, where there were also real restrooms available. At one of the other ending exchange points, the building was closed and we were sad.

Finish Line: Our team gathered at the team reunification point and awaited our final runner. We enjoyed getting to see other teams join up and finish and were equally happy to see our teammate coming through the park. We all crossed the finish line together (or as close as possible). There were announcers on hand and immediately afterward, we received our medals and had our photo taken by a volunteer who was on-hand to take team photos.

Post-Race: We had cornbread, cookies, and juice. It looked like there had been chili earlier in the day.

Weather: Was a bit challenging. It was cold and a bit rainy in the morning (we started at 6:45am, in the 2nd wave). As the day went on, the sun came out and it was fairly nice. By the end, it was a bit chilly again. Most of us went through at least one change of clothes over the course of the day.

Apparel: Violet started out with C9 capris from Target, a technical t-shirt from a previous race, 1/4-zip shirt from Target, a running jacket, Merrell merino wool socks, and Brooks PureCadence 4 shoes. Outfit number 2 consisted of Old Navy capris, a technical t-shirt from a previous race, and Saucony Guide 9 shoes. The jacket came and went through the day 🙂

Charcoal went with Old Navy capris, a technical t-shirt from a previous race, a jacket that came on and off through the day, and Saucony iso Triumph 2 shoes.

Race Recap: Shoes for the Shelter 5K

On Sunday, April 23, Violet ran in the Shoes for the Shelter 5K (sadly, Charcoal couldn’t make this one. Boo!). It was the day after a long run, but a fun race with gorgeous weather. The general re-cap is summarized below!

Registration Cost: This race cost about the same as most 5Ks in the area.

Packet Pick-Up: I picked up my bib and t-shirt (and dropped off a pair of shoes to donate!) at Canisus College’s athletic center on the day before the race. Parking was available, though it was a little tricky to get to the door that I needed. Picking up the packet was easy once I was inside the building.

Pre-Race: When I got there in the morning, parking was quick and easy in a nearby lot. I opted to park in a lot up the road so I would get to warm up a bit on my way to the starting line. There were markers for your approximate pace group. They asked runners to remove their hats before the beginning for the national anthem, and their were uniformed members of the campus ROTC (I think) there.

Course: This race starts and finishes near the Canisius College campus, going down to the Delaware Park area of Buffalo. All of the running was done on the road, with one lane closed to traffic. There were plenty of police officers and course officials on hand to help with traffic. Because this is Buffalo, NY, the course was pretty flat. There were a couple of little slopes. There was one water stop on the course.

Finish Line: The finish line was on a slight uphill! There was an announcer there, with a table where volunteers were handing out cups of water. There were also bananas.

Post-Race: I didn’t stick around too long after the race, but it looked like the post-race party mostly consisted of the water and bananas unless I missed something!

Weather: It was sunny and probably in the 60s.

Apparel: I wore shorts, a technical t-shirt from a previous race, and a 1/4-zip shirt. My all-important footwear included Darn Tough socks and Saucony Guide 9 shoes.