Race Recap: Holiday Trifect Leg 3 – WhoNELLville 5K

A few hours later, we continued westward to the WhoNELLville 5K for the final leg of the trifecta. To summarize the trifecta, the Selfless Elf was by-far the biggest event with more than 1,300 runners. As can be expected, the parking was the most difficult for this race but still not bad (we parked on a street near the start/finish area). There was also the most swag with this race–with the bags including t-shirts, elf socks, and many samples/promos. The finisher’s medal is made from a ceramic-type material with cut-outs for the wording.

It’s a toss-up whether WhoNELLvile or the Santa 5K was smaller; they were likely about the same size, but the Santa may have been a little smaller? The running community in Ithaca may be a bit faster and more serious, though. For swag, the Santa run had Santa hats and the finisher’s medals (they are wooden ornaments for a tree with a handstamped Santa on the front). The WhoNELLville run had a t-shirt.

Best cocoa of the day goes to the Selfless Elf, though to be fair, we didn’t try it at the Santa run. But the coffee in Ithaca was good (and we by the time we got to Hornell, we had already had four cups of coffee each so we didn’t try that option there)!

Best local decorations goes to the WhoNELLville, though that was enhanced by being an evening run. For the size of the race, WhoNELLville also had a good spread of food and beverages post-race.

Alternatively, the Santa 5K offered a hat decorating station in the post-race area that was available and popular with the kids at the race. By default, the Santa 5K also had the best clown. We tried to keep a safety margin so we can’t comment much further than that 😉

Our usual rundown (for the WhoNELLville) follows.

Registration Cost: This one also cost about $25, with the proceeds going to a local hospital. This race was also sponsored by Wegmans so hopefully most of that money will be seen by the hospital.

Packet Pick-Up: We picked up our packets about 30 minutes before this race start, too. This was quick and easy, although the ladies at the tent weren’t sure if we had entered the correct ages! We didn’t mind 🙂 We got our t-shirts and glow stick bracelets without problems.

Pre-Race: There were some emails sent with reminders about this race as well. The pre-race area had a tent with an announcer and Christmas music. It was getting chilly so they moved along and got the race started on time (if not a little early).

Course: This course goes through downtown Hornell and had volunteers at each turn. The course was mostly closed to traffic–and where there were intersections, cars were patient to wait for runners. It was dark by the time we were running, but there were enough street lights and holiday decorations to have it pretty well lit most of the way (neither of us had a headlight or other light and were fine).

Finish Line: There was an announcer at the finish line and many people around. The race results were being posted promptly.

Post-Race: There was a tent with with water, bananas, oranges, granola bars, and mini bagels that had been donated by Wegmans. There was also a table with free hot cocoa and coffee from a local coffee shop. The announcer waited until all participants had completed the course to do awards. We waited for this because Violet won her age group (and didn’t have to show her ID). The prize was a fleece blanket embroidered with the race name.

Weather: The temperature was in the 30s and fairly clear, which was nice with the full moon.

Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of holiday leggings, running shorts, a long-sleeve Smartwool shirt, an elf t-shirt, a fleece sweatshirt, elf knee socks, and Saucony Guide 9 shoes, gloves, and a running cap with a Santa hat on top.

Violet wore holiday leggings, running shorts, a long-sleeve Redram baselayer shirt, a 1/4-zip fleece, an Under Armour running jacket, elf knee socks, a Santa hat, and gloves. For shoes, she–again–stuck with her Saucony Guide 10s (but wore Birkenstock clogs between races…).


Race Recap: Holiday Trifecta Leg 2 – Selfless Elf 5K

A few hours after the first leg of our trifecta, we went westward to the Selfless Elf 5K. For this leg, we met up with a couple of friends and ran as a group.

Registration Cost: This one cost about $25, with the proceeds going to the food bank. This race is sponsored by Wegmans as well as many other local businesses so hopefully most of the money goes to the charity.

Packet Pick-Up: We picked up our packets about 30 minutes before the race start. This was quick and easy, which is impressive given the number of participants. There was also an option to pick them up last night at Wegmans.

Pre-Race: There were several emails sent prior to the race and updates for the pre-race area. Parking was the most difficult part, due to the number of people there. The emcee was directing runners to get into the appropriate pace groups about 20 minutes before the race start. There was also a warm-up that was led by a fitness company that was going on for people in the starting corral.

Course: This year, the race was held in Horseheads rather than Corning, which was nice–especially because the course was closed to traffic. There were volunteers on course to direct runners and vehicles. The course also had two water stops.

Finish Line: There was an announcer at the finish line and many people around. The actual finish line was an inflatable archway that looked like wrapped Christmas gifts. There were several volunteers at the finish line to hand out medals. Live race results were also nearby.

Post-Race: There was a tent with hot cocoa provided by Wegmans (this also included a sugar free option) and sugar cookies; there was a table with bottled water and sports drinks. We didn’t check them out, but there were tents with stretching, a beer/wine tent, and you could visit with Santa in a nearby location. If you wanted to enter the costume contest, you were instructed to walk in front of the announcer’s gazebo.

Weather: The temperature was in the 40s and cloudy.

Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of holiday leggings, running shorts, a long-sleeve Smartwool shirt, an elf t-shirt (from last year’s race), elf knee socks, and Brooks Pure Cadence 6 shoes, gloves, and a running cap with a Santa hat on top.

Violet wore holiday leggings, running shorts, a long-sleeve Redram baselayer shirt, a 1/4-zip fleece, an elf t-shirt (from last year’s race), elf knee socks, a Santa hat, and gloves. For shoes, she stuck with her Saucony Guide 10s.

Race Recap: Holiday Trifecta Leg 1 – Santa 5K

On Saturday, December 2, we embarked on the second running of our holiday 5K trifecta. In the first leg, we completed the YMCA Santa 5K.


Registration Cost: We registered for this race during the early-bird registration period, which was $20.

Packet Pick-Up: Race numbers were given on the morning of the race, along with Santa hats. This was quick and easy as there weren’t many participants there.

Pre-Race: Water and other refreshments were available. There were announcements prior to the beginning of the race, including directions for the course and instructions for where to run. There were bathrooms open in a nearby church. A clown was juggling fire batons and was on hand to blow a horn to start the race. Christmas music was playing prior to the race start.

Course: The course ran along roads in downtown Ithaca, with some of the roads closed. There was one section where we were on the sidewalk, but mostly roads. There were several volunteers on hand to help with traffic and directing runners.

Finish Line: The finish line was marked and there were several people around, there was one person watching for race numbers and yelling them out for results. Rather than having a chip time, this race used the bibs’ tear-off portion at the end. Violet was greeted by the clown upon finishing (she sped up to get through the chute quickly).

Post-Race: A food truck was on hand and provided free coffee for the participants. There was also a tent with water, hot cocoa, and cookies. There were handmade finisher’s medals (that will double as ornaments) on hand, though it was up to runners to get one from the bin.

Weather: The temperature was in the upper 30s to low 40s and cloudy.

Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of holiday leggings, running shorts, a long-sleeve baselayer shirt, a Smartwool t-shirt, and a sweatshirt, and a running cap with a Santa hat on top. For shoes, she wore Newton Kismet 2s.

Violet wore C9 running tights, Nike running shorts, gnome knee socks, a long-sleeve tech t-shirt from a prior race, a 1/4-zip fleece, Under Armour jacket, a lightweight running beanie with a Santa hat on top, gloves, a neck sleeve (no wonder why I was so sweaty!), and Saucony Guide 10 shoes.

Running Places: Downtown Dallas


This wasn’t for a race (I wish!), but I was in Dallas on a work-related trip this past week. It was getting to be dusk and I didn’t want to run alone in a new place, so I visited the gym at the hotel where I was staying on the first evening. The second day, I put in a couple miles of walking to get to know the area (because… on this kind of trip, there’s not so much time for exploring!).

I was excited because the following morning, a mini-group run had been coordinated with others. I ran the mile or so to the meet-up point, then joined the group for 3-4 miles to and from the Katy Trail. This is a paved, multi-use (former rail) trail that would be great for running or biking. I’m not sure of the total distance, but it looked like it covered quite a bit of the Dallas area.

The next two mornings, I put in a few miles solo in the areas surrounding my hotel. This allowed me to find the Dallas Farmer’s Market (I returned after breakfast and a shower–funny how I have to wait for things to open–and browsed a bit) before I flew out. I also got to run past some nice parks and other areas that would be worth exploring on a more vacation-oriented trip.

Overall, I’d rate downtown Dallas as a fairly running-friendly area. There were some other early morning runners out (especially as it got closer to 7:30-8:00am on the weekend), and pretty intuitive street layouts. The signage for the Katy Trail was helpful and there are plenty of DART stations around town if you get lost/need a ride back to a starting point. There were some other people around town and on the sidewalks, but I didn’t feel unsafe while running (there were also police officers and safety patrol bikers throughout the town).



Race Recap: Run for Puerto Rico 5K

On Sunday, November 5, we ran in a 5K hosted by the Ithaca High School class of 2018 as a benefit for Puerto Rico.

Registration Cost: This race’s registration cost $20, with the proceeds being directed toward Puerto Rico disaster relief. Ithaca High School students and staff prices for registration were $10. The registration was easy; we signed up yesterday (we just heard about the event earlier this week).

Packet Pick-Up: Race numbers were distributed on the morning of the race, with payments also being taken (cash or check) in person. Runners were directed to arrive 30 minutes early in order to have this take place, even if you pre-registered online. There were shirts, but we aren’t sure what the cut-off for getting one of those was.

Pre-Race: There was water available and music playing. The 5K started and finished in Ithaca’s Stewart Park, which is right by Cayuga Lake. There are public restrooms open and sheltered areas.

Course: The course was an out-and-back on the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, with an extra loop in Stewart Park. There were volunteers at the turns and cones to help with two-way traffic. There was one water stop at the turn-around point.


Finish Line: The finish line was marked and there were several people around. Rather than having a chip time, this race used the bibs’ tear-off portion. This took a couple extra seconds at the finish line to get those off. The bibs were then stapled on a board for the results.

Post-Race: There were bagels (with cream cheese, peanut butter, and two types of jam), apples, water, hot water for cocoa and tea, Gatorade, and coffee. For being a small 5K, the food spread was pretty good! We did, however, see one competitor double-dip in the peanut butter after eating a glob off a spoon (ewww, glad we stayed out of the peanut butter!).

The finishers’ bib pieces were being stapled to the board when we left, but the coordinators said they would email the final results to everyone.

Weather: The temperature was in the upper 50s, but with the wind it felt colder. There were some clouds, but it was a nice morning for a run.

Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of C9 running tights, a Hot Toddies technical long-sleeved t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a running cap. For shoes, she wore Newton Kismet 2s.

Violet wore C9 running tights, a C9 long-sleeved t-shirt, a Columbia 1/4-zip long-sleeve shirt, and a running cap. She wore her trusty Saucony Guide 9 shoes.

Race Recap: Niagara Falls International Marathon

On Sunday, October 15, we did the Niagara Falls International Marathon. This was our second, and final, marathon of 2017 (and our second total).

Registration Cost: We were on the fence about registering for this race, due to having completed our first marathon in the end of May. Once we decided to enter, the race registration was about $100 (USD) by the time we were done (tax and processing fees), though we did have a $10 coupon code.

Packet Pick-Up: We went to the expo on the afternoon before the race, located at a convention center in Niagara Falls. Getting there was pretty quick and easy, even with crossing the border. It cost $5 to park for the event, but they did make change (in Canadian coins) for the currency exchange, which was unexpected.

For the marathon, we needed to show our passports to border crossing guards before picking up our numbers. This allowed us to cross the Peace Bridge from Buffalo, NY to Fort Erie, Ontario during the race. The process was very quick and easy, with the guards just checking the passports.

The numbers also needed to be scanned to verify our information and (maybe?) activate the timing chips. Shirt pick-ups were done at a separate table, but that also went easily. An exchange table was available if needed for a different size.

We browsed some in the expo, which included trying some shoes. We ended up leaving without any purchases.

Pre-Race: We had a friend pick us up and take us to the race start location, near the Albright-Knox Art Museum. This was because we had left a car on the NY side of Niagara Falls on our way to packet pick-up. Getting dropped off made it so we only needed to retrieve one car 🙂

The museum had a lobby open for people to enter, but they couldn’t get further into the building. Porta-potties on the lawn were the only option for restroom facilities. The pre-race area had bottled water, bananas, and some donut holes available. There was also a lot of room to wander as this is near the Delaware Park area in Buffalo, with some pond-side seating.

Course: The course was pretty well-marked, with volunteers and/or police officers at most of the intersections. The roads were mostly closed throughout, as well. The highlight was getting to run across the Peace Bridge, therefore crossing an international border en route. This was probably the only time we will do that–especially with the border guards out applauding for us as we crossed.

Charcoal’s big excitement on the Peace Bridge was seeing a tractor-trailer full of celery! She wanted to chase that with peanut butter 😀 (Violet didn’t have as exciting of a time there… just ran across, even though it was time for a walk-break! It seemed fitting to run across and not walk until getting to the other side!)

Once we were in Canada, the course went mostly along the Niagara River and Parkway. This provided a scenic route that was relatively flat, too. The roads were a bit slanted in the earlier portions of the race, which we felt in our knees and ankles for a while. Overall, it was a good course that offered some scenic areas in both Buffalo and the Niagara-Fort Erie region of Ontario.

The aid stations had several volunteers. The offerings included water, Nuun, and Clif Blocks (at some); toward the end of the race, some of the water stations had run out of water. The stations’ spacing was about every 2km. Near the end, one of the stations had bananas and oranges available. At the half-way point, one of the stations had baby wipes available.

Porta-potties were available along the way. There were also some musical performers along the way and some crowd support, but not as many spectators as there are at some other races.

Finish Line: There was an announcer at the finish line and crowd support for the final turn. The announcer left at 6 hours on the dot. There were mylar-type blankets handed out right after crossing the finish line, along with the medals. Water and cartons of chocolate milk were also given in the finishers’ chute.

Post-Race: There were bagels, Nuun, and more bottled water near the finishing area. A tent with results, awards, and beer was nearby. Tim Horton’s was one of the race’s sponsors and was giving away coffee and hot chocolate near the finish line as well.

At the end, they were trying to clear out some of the extras so we ended up with a couple spare bags of bagels and a case of water. We were offered bananas, but declined due to having to cross the border with them (U.S. customs is fussy with produce)!

Weather: This was a challenging element! In the week leading up to the race, the weather reports had been forecasting a warm, windy day with an 80% chance of rain! By last night, the forecasts were predicting temperatures in the upper 70s with a wind advisory from 2-11pm. The rain was supposed to roll through with a thunderstorm in the late afternoon. This made deciding what to wear a tough call.

Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of C9 compression shorts with Nike running shorts and a tank top, with an Old Navy 1/4-zip shirt for the first 4ish-km (after that she rolled it up and tied it around her waist). For shoes, she wore Saucony iSO Triumphs with Balega socks. She also used her Nathan Trail Mix water belt, her Roo Sports pocket, and a running cap.

Violet wore Marika compression shorts with Asics pocket shorts over them (with the pockets full of nutrition), a mesh-backed tank top, with another C9 tank top over it. She had a zip-up long-sleeved shirt that she got from the Salvation Army to wear and toss when it got too warm–this morning, that was at the first mile! Her footwear included injinji 2.0 women’s toesocks and Saucony Guide 10 shoes. She also carried her Nathan ExoShot bottle.

Race Recap: Queen City Women’s Half Marathon

On Sunday, October 1, we did the Queen City Women’s Half Marathon. This was our final half marathon of 2017 (we think!).

Registration Cost: The race registration was about $65 and we had a coupon code that gave us $10 off (which was about the cost of the online processing fee so that evened out quickly!). For early entries, the cheapest registration cost was about $50.

Packet Pick-Up: This was held the afternoon before the race at a local Cabela’s store, which was an unexpected location for this type of event. The pick-up times went from 3-5pm and there were no lines when we arrived (at about 4:30pm). The pick-up process didn’t require ID or any paperwork, just telling the person running the table our names. From there, things became a bit more disappointing as they had run out of shirts in the size that Violet had specified at registration.

We were assured they would have the shirts at the pre-race pick-up. There were some shirts in the next size up and Violet would have been happy to take one of those (because these shirts seem to run rather small, even for women’s cut shirts), but was told that was not an option.

Also, the race website and information stated that participants would receive a “high tech t-shirt” for completing the race. When we were registering, the sizing options included only women’s-specific Small, Medium, and Large. We heard several comments about how small the shirts were, along with the discrepancy in shirt materials. Specifically, the shirts that were given out are 100% cotton and white (not our favorite shirt color!). The shirt and numbers were the only items included in the packet.

Pre-Race: Parking was close and free, and there was plenty of room in the parking garage–that was a nice bonus! It was also nice that the parking was close to the start and finish lines.

We went to the pre-race packet pick-up area and were able to get a shirt for Violet. We were also able to switch sizes without a problem. There wasn’t a bag check for this race so thankfully we were early and close enough to take the shirt to the car. We decided to go back to the building with the pick-up area to use the restroom. The lines were moving slowly and we ended up not having enough time for that.

Course: The course was probably the best part of this race–it went through the harbor areas in downtown Buffalo, including near Canalside, the Erie Basin Marina, and also went to the outer harbor area. This gave some variety in Buffalo’s scenery as it went through some parts of the area that aren’t covered during the Buffalo half-/full marathon.

One downside was that the mile markers seemed a bit off, probably by about half a mile. This threw us off a bit, especially during the first few miles. There were water stations at about every two miles and course support from police officers and other race officials at intersections and road crossings.

Finish Line: There was an announcer at the finish line and lots of crowd support for the final turn. Upon crossing the finish line, we received our medals and there were bottles of water/energy drinks and some fruit. The medals can double as a wine bottle stopper.

Post-Race: Based on the race’s publicity, we were expecting a big post-race party… but we were wrong! There were apples and oranges at the finish line, along with some gluten-free nut crackers (that tasted better than they sound). There had been bagels and bananas earlier in the day, but we didn’t get there in time for those.

As promised, there were finishers’ wine glasses, which could be filled with red or white wine. Beer and water were also options, although we were told they ran out of beer at some point. There were picnic tables and shaded areas for eating, but no food! Haha!

Weather: It started out with frost on the windshield and temperatures in the 40s this morning. By the time we started, it was sunny and probably close to 50 degrees. By the time we finished, it was likely approaching 60 or slightly above. Altogether, the weather was pretty nice, especially considering the heatwave we could’ve been running in last week!

Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of capri running tights, a tech t-shirt, and a quarter-zip long-sleeve shirt (though she took that off at about mile 5). For shoes, she wore Saucony iSO Triumphs. She also carried her Nathan quickshot insultated handheld water bottle and used her Roo Sports pocket, and running cap.

Violet wore running tights, a tech t-shirt from a prior race, a quarter-zip long-sleeve shirt, and a running cap. In the morning, she also wore “sock gloves,” that she made from old, holey socks… those stayed on until about mile 6 and then ended up balled up in the sleeve of her Nathan ExoShot bottle. Her footwear included injinji 2.0 women’s toesocks and Saucony Guide 10(!) shoes.