The 45th Annual Tradition Run 5k
January 26th, 2014
This is how they describe the race.
This is an un-race. It's not a fun-run because it's no fun, and it's not a race because times are not recorded and the results are listed alphabetically. This run does not cater to the fair weather jogger or the PR seeker. There is no first prize.
And they just about nailed it. I ran this race last year and it was brutal, but very much the epitome of winter running. Everyone comes out for a good challenge and camaraderie. We don't care (much about the pace or placing.
I describe the race and how it began more in last year's race report, which you can check out. This year, I'm getting right to the nitty gritty. The freezing cold nitty gritty.
There are three major points to make about this race.
1. It's free. You don't pay a thing! Doesn't get much better than that (unless you're a pro and get paid to run).
2. The race starts at 10:30am. Therefore, you can sleep in, take care of the kids, get some work done, or whatever you'd like to do beforehand. There's no need to set your alarm for a crazy time in the morning just to arrive on time.
3. It's always a challenge! There is a 700 ft elevation gain (679 fit NET gain according to my Garmin) which never ceases to be a challenge. You're not going to PR here, so relax, have fun, and enjoy the run as much as you can.
I woke up around 8am without an alarm and had my typical breakfast - 4 eggs and a banana with peanut butter. Then I spent 1.5 hours caching up on some emails, browsing Facebook (which always takes 300% longer than it should), and getting ready.
The Weather Channel's hourly forecast predicted 10 degrees with a 1 degree wind chill, so I went with my thermal running tights, a long sleeved tech shirt, my wind breaker, and my Brooks Utopia mittens. Given that last year I got to the top to find no water station as they said there'd be, I opted to run with my hdyration pack as well with about half a bottle of water in it for the end of the race.
At 9:30a, I packed up and headed out.
On the way there, you get a glimpse of where you're running to.
|The finish line
See the castle tower on the hill. Yes, the one inside the red circle. That's what we are running up to.
I arrived at Hubbard Park in Meriden, shed all my warm clothes, and went to register which is how they figure out how many people come, where they come from, and obtain waivers from everyone. The race had 240 registered runners. Obviously some ran/walked without registering, but I was impressed with the number either way.
|Registration (aka, waivers)
I hung around inside the facilities building until 10:25am. Hey, it was warm(er) in there than outside, so it made sense! Then after a quick trip to the bathroom, I headed to the start line.
Do you see the kid in short shorts? Yeah, he's nuts! But he also won the race, so maybe the shorts were a good idea. I'm still happy with my decision to wear my tights.
With very little ceremony, we had a local state congresswoman give us the "Ready, Get Set, and GO!" with a cap gun. Here is what we had coming...
There is a 700 ft. elevation gain, 500 of which are in the final mile. Therefore, you will ALWAYS start this race out faster than you finish. That is unless you really pull back in the first 2 miles!
About 5 seconds into the race, there were 3 guys out in front; short shorts, the guy in blue who's looking at his arm in the above picture, and pink shorts who is levitating on the left of the above picture. I was in 4th.
It was about here that I realized my toes were numb. Nearly 100% loss of feeling. Great!
About 30 seconds later, the first two started separating from pink shorts and I began to close the gap between us. About half a mile in, I passed pink shorts for third, but was quickly passed by another guy who was quickly making up ground! I passed mile one in 4th place.
Not long after, two other guys caught me on an incline and passed me; now I'm in 6th. One of them I happened to know of, Mike. A friend of mine works for him. He was running with his dog, which I thought was cheating until the dog stopped to take a dump. Haha. Ok, not so much of a help then I guess.
Along this section, we did have a nice view of the Merimere Reservoir.
As well as our destination...
Do you see the red circle on the left side? We still have to climb all the way up there!
We had a couple more rolling hills and then a nice straight away over the Reservoir. I'm much more of a flats runner, so I easily overtook Mike and his dog here, but they quickly took that back once we hit the big hill.
Once you're on this hill, the mantra is simply "Do not stop to walk!" It doesn't matter how slow you keep running, but if you stop to walk you will not want to run again! And I did just that. I slowed my pace and stuck to a steady rhythm. Soon after, I hit mile 2, which even had a guy standing on the side giving splits. That was a nice new perk this year! He yelled out "Fourteen Fifty" as I went by and I waved.
14:50 overall time
7:25 min/mile average pace
As I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I started to notice that my toes were regaining some feeling. Yay!! I haven't lost them forever. The memory of the same sensation from last year came back to me as well. It wasn't until the hill that I could feel them and it repeated itself this year.
I starting using the walkers who had started ahead of us as targets. I'd run to the group of three and then to the guy in orange and so on. That worked very well! I also noticed that my body had adjusted to the effort. It felt like I could maintain this pace (aka, I had dipped back into an aerobic state). I glanced down and found I had finally dipped back below a heart rate of 180. That could very well be my anaerobic threshold. I made a mental note of that and kept pushing on.
Faster than I remember, I hit the top of the big hill. There was a guy there calling out splits as well but it was short of mile 3, so I wasn't listening. But there was a fun snow smiley to greet us!
|Smile, you conquered the Big Hill!
From here, the finish wasn't far. A left turn, a quick downhill, a steep uphill, another left turn, and a slow roller to the castle.
24:31 overall time
8:10 min/mile average pace
Man did it feel good to see the finish line! Pictures were taken from the left. Times were called out on the right. And the castle was dead straight ahead!
25:09 overall time
8:08 min/mile average pace
6th place overall
6th place overall
Once I stopped and caught my breath, I immediately found my throat to be a little rough. I was thankful for deciding to carry my hydration pack with some water. It was a much needed relief. Of course, I then took some pictures at the castle.
|Just after finishing. That's Castle Craig.
|Panorama of the Castle Craig view
|Proof I was there.
They had announced at the start that if you wanted to get a ride down instead of walking/running back, you would have to sit in the back of a truck, but that they'll get you down. Last year, I made it back down the hill before I saw any of the vehicles coming down. Of course, I wasn't going to take a ride down anyways, but I was impressed that one did actually pass me on the way back to the start. This year, they definitely improved the race!! Kudos to the Meriden Parks & Rec Department. Remember, this race is free, so you can't expect much.
After maybe 5 minutes, I made my way down the hill and took all the pictures that I showed you above from the race course.
I went straight to my car and changed into a dry shirt, winter jacket, and a hat. I also downed a Powerade and a Clif Bar. Then I went back to the facilities building to have a piece of that cake, a couple doughnut holes and a cookie. I know! That was a lot of sugar. I felt it hit my system very shortly afterwards.
I also picked up my "swag."
Instead of medals, they offer a patch and a certificate. I still haven't figured out how to display last year's patch, so this will be added to the lot for future craft ideas to come. If you have any ideas, let me know!
On a couple of the tables, they displayed the newspaper clippings and previous patches from past years.
This was again, the 45th running of this race and it has been held through a very wide range of weather conditions!
Overall, I had a great race and look forward to running again next year.
Many thanks to the sponsors!
1. Do you have any free races in your area? Do you do any of them?
I am impressed that this race has gone on for 45 years without even a simple $5 fee. I would gladly pay it and I'd see it as a small money maker for Meriden. But I'm impressed that they've maintained the nature of the run. It's all in the name, the Tradition Run. It's tradition! Why break it?
2. What's the toughest 5k or race that you've done to date?
This is easily the toughest 5k I've done. I think others trump it by sheer distance/time, but as a 5k, you don't get much harder than a 700 ft. elevation gain.
3. What's your favorite post-race refuel?
I used to love chocolate milk, but since going Vegetarian, I've cut out milk. I would love to find an alternative, but haven't yet. Obviously sugar doesn't do it for me. But I can't say no to cake!!
DREAM. BELIEVE. ACHIEVE.