Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Race Recap: Riverside Dash 15k

There are not many 15k races in the area, so it's not a distance I get to race often.  In fact, it had been over two years since I last raced a 15k and it was actually at this very event.  I remember it being a smaller, local event that was well organized and a lot of fun, so I was super excited to run it again this year.  There were a few changes since the last time I ran it, but it was equally awesome, so here is a recap of the event and my experience running it this past Sunday.

Signing Up with Ease
Let's start with registration because it is always a plus when it is an easy and inexpensive process.  I signed up several months ago using a coupon code I had received through my Moms Run This Town chapter.  I had also noticed periodically discount codes on their Facebook page as well as in various other race packets.  I believe I paid around $40 for the event, which in my opinion is very reasonable for a mid distance race with a tech tee and finisher's medal.  Registration was through, and if you already have an account through that site, signing up for the even is incredibly simple.  I also signed up my kiddos for the FREE kid's run and they recieved their very own race bag and t-shirt.

Packet Pick Up
They offered packet pick up at Academy Sports in Lake Mary on Friday and Saturday before the race, as well as race morning.  I was able to attend the Saturday one and thanks to the store coupon in my packet, I was also able to do a little shopping ;-)  The shirt, in my opinion, is pretty ugly.  I'm not usually a fan of the white shirts, and the design is a little plain and strange.  Also, it's a women's fitted so of course on my Amazon self, it is way too short.  Probably won't get to wear, nor do I really want to.  But oh well, I have an abundance of race shirts, so I'm bound to have some bad ones here and there.

Driving and Parking
Sanford is about 30 minutes from me, and mostly interstate driving, so getting to the location was fairly simple.  They had sent out several emails leading up to the event indicating road closures as well as where we can park.  Not being too familiar with the area and nervous about enough parking, I got there a little over an hour early.  I had no problem finding a parking spot at the lot the website and emails had suggested, in fact I could have parked even a little closer in some of the side street spots.

The sun wasn't up when I got there, so it was cold and dark.  They were still getting set up in the expo area but they did have the registration and packet pick up table set up as well as a tent with coffee and donuts, whoohoo.  Since the race expo was being held at Fort Mellon Park, we did have access to the public restrooms there, and I tell you what, it was so nice to get to use an actually bathroom!  It is the little things that make us runners giddy.  There were also several port-a-potties available on the other side of the expo, but most preferred the well-light and clean restrooms.  Though they were still preparing for all the post race festivities, they DJ was in full effect blasting out upbeat dance music over the loud speaking and making race announcements.

I was able to meet up with several of my MRTT mamas before the race for pictures.  Because we were right on the waterfront, it was windy and cold for us Floridians, so we were all bundled up together!
Freezing MRTT mamas!
The Race
The race started right on time just as the sun was coming up.  It hadn't really warmed up much and the first couple of miles we dealt with a solid headwind.  We ran along the water then through downtown Sanford, on brick streets (which I'm not a huge fan of but it was for such a short period of time).  There were two sharp turns shortly after the first mile and we were on a straight away for the next several miles.  These miles were all along the waterfront, which was absolutely beautiful.  The sun was coming up and there wasn't much shade, but on the way out it was perfect since it helped warm us up and make the headwind feel less bad.  The road was on a slant (to the right on the way out, left on the way back) which was a little uncomfortable, but luckily it was straight and there were no hills.  I felt like I was able to keep a good 7:25 pace on the way out.

They had us turn around at the zoo around mile 4.5.  Knowing it was an out and back course, I now knew exactly what to expect on the way back.  The sun had really come up by this point and it was nice and bright in my face.  It was was warm though, so I appreciated that!  After the turn around, I was able to see a lot of my friends out there running too!  I was handing out cheers and high fives left and right, it was a blast!

From miles 6ish-8ish, I had passed most of the runners coming up on my opposite side and there really wasn't much runners in front or behind at this point, so I got a little lonely.  But I had his a good stride from the excitement of seeing all my friends out there and had managed to keep it up.  By this point, I was holding on to a steady 7:21 pace.

Around mile 8, we did our turn to get back into downtown and on the brick.  There was a hydration station there and the folks volunteering were hooting and hollering for us since we were almost there!  After leaving the brick and closing in on the 9th mile, I tried to kick it into high gear.  But as we rounded the corner to return to the water front and finish that last .3 miles, BAM came the headwind again!  I was like The Little Engine That Could at this point.  "I think I can, I think I can" With all my might I thought I could sprint through to the finish line, but that dadgum wind had other plans for me. I gave it my all and still came in pretty strong with a finish time of 1:08:38, average pace 7:21 and second place in my division.  My goal was to get a sub 1:10, which would have required sub 7:30 minute per mile average, so I was ore than pleased with my performance.
Exciting to run into old friends at these events!

The After Party
As far as smaller, local races go, this one had a pretty impressive little after party.  It's very well organized in a large loop in the open park.  They had beer in real plastic cups, not solo cups (pretty classy), pancakes for the runners to enjoy, music bumping and plenty of vendors with freebies.  They stuck to pretty close to their projected schedule of having the kid's run on time and handing out the awards.  The fact that the sun was shining bright, the temps were cool and we were right on the beautiful waterfront certainly helped the ambiance as well.

Results for the race were posted at the event shortly after the race and posted online later that day.  Pictures for the event were made available for purchase through within two days of the race and we were even offered a discount code for purchases made within the week!
Yey for new runner friends made along the course!

Final Thoughts
Just to recap, here are a few pros and cons...

Well organized
Easy to get to and park at
Same day registration and packet pick up
Cute medal (for both 15k and 5k)
Good after party
Stuck to the schedule
Flat, fast course that was very scenic

Ugly shirt
Slight lateral slant to the course
Not much crowd support for those who enjoy that
No finish line photos

All in all I would say it was a great event that I highly recommend. Definitely think this will become a yearly event for me and hopefully I can shoot for a sub 1:08 next year!

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