My wife and I wanted to run a race within a few weeks of the upcoming Brooksie Way half marathon to get some practice running in a race environment while (ideally) maintaining a steady pace. We had considered doing the Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo 10K, but we had a conflict that day so we decided to try the Rochester Rotary 10K, a smaller race that didn’t conflict with our schedule.
It was a little chilly the morning of the race, and we were both split between wearing short sleeves or long sleeves. I tend to favor short sleeves if I think there’s any chance I’ll get too hot during a race, so I went with short sleeves. It ended up being a good decision because it warmed up nicely between the time we left home and the time we finished the race. I ran about 1.5 miles for a warm up, then met my wife near the start line to get ready for the race. It was a pretty small race, so there were no problems at all figuring out where to go and picking up the bibs, timing chips, and shirts. There were some issues with the bibs though, as the numbers we were originally assigned – numbers 2 and 3, respectively – were not available and we got replacement numbers (and corresponding timing chips). The woman in charge of the race marked down our names and numbers so she could verify that we showed up properly in the system after we finished. Some other runners had an issue where two or three of them had been assigned to the same number, so they had to scramble to get the replacement numbers sorted out and assigned correctly, but I think it ended up working out OK in the end for everyone.
The race started at one of the entrances to the Rochester Municipal Park and ended along a sidewalk within the park, not too far from the start line. There was a 5K and a 10K run concurrently, but the race was very small so the combined start wasn’t crowded at all. I had no idea what pace to run, so I ran with my wife and hoped to help pace her to a steady race. Stupid me forgot to take my Garmin out of power save mode until the race actually started, so my time and distance were off a little bit. I ended up using my wife’s watch data for the distance and the official results for my time. The finish was chip timed, but the start was not otherwise I would’ve just waited behind the start line until my watch acquired a GPS signal.
The race started just outside the park and wound through downtown Rochester putting the runners and walkers on the Clinton River Trail less than a mile into the race. The Clinton River Trail is a pretty flat former railroad with nice scenery. We stayed on the trail for a couple of miles, turning around where it changes into the Macomb Orchard Trail at the Oakland/Macomb county line. We retraced most of our outbound route on the trail, turning back toward downtown on the connector to the Paint Creek Trail. While we were told there would be water at the two-mile mark, we didn’t see any. Maybe that was for the 5K runners and walkers, whose route had turned off the trail and were on their own part of the course by the two-mile mark. When we reached the turnaround in the 10K race, we saw a case of water on the ground, but the case wasn’t opened yet (it had heavy plastic wrap covering it) and no table for water cups or anything. I didn’t mind because I don’t usually drink anything during 5Ks or 10Ks, but I know a lot of people like to have at least three water stops along a 10K course.
We were running pretty comfortably, averaging in the 7:30s, and as we approached the turnaround we saw two other runners who had already turned around and were well ahead of us by that point. That was it. The 5K route had turned off toward the Paint Creek Trail around the one-mile mark, and from that point on we hadn’t seen or heard any other runners from our race (the two leaders were already out of our view by that point). So we were in third and fourth place approaching the halfway point, and when we turned around there were some other runners not too far behind us. My wife and I have both dealt with nagging injuries all spring and summer, so neither of us was in all-out race mode. But we at least wanted to maintain our respective positions and not get dropped like a sack of potatoes during the second half of the race. We kept a pretty steady pace for the fourth and fifth miles, and I felt like maybe my wife could approach her 10K PR time as we turned off the Clinton River Trail and headed toward the Paint Creek Trail and back to the park. I was pushing the pace a little bit to keep the PR within reach, but trying to not push it to the point of making it intolerable for her.
All was going well when we hit the five-mile mark and the first (and only) water stop. There was a short uphill section coming up that my wife hates, and I figured that once we hit that section we would have less than a mile to go and could pick up the pace for a strong finish. Then we were directed into the park where we realized the finish was less than 100 meters ahead. So much for a strong finish when the finish line is right about where you want to start picking up the pace to lead to your kick! According to my wife’s Garmin, we ran 5.57 miles, which is just short of 9K. At least she got her PR…for a 9K, haha. I don’t know how the course was measured that poorly, but we were pretty disappointed with it being a full 1K short, and we did run the correct route. Oh well – there was nothing we could do about it, so we promptly went for a two-mile cool down. The people working the race were very nice and apologetic for the mix up with the bibs, and I don’t think any of the people with whom we spoke after the race were responsible for the short course. Based on the results, I think the 5K course may have also been short (unless there’s an unheralded runner in the area who went from the 21:00s in July to a sub-14:00 in September).
Other than the course being short, my only other problems with the race were the lack of snacks at the end (no bagels, bananas, etc. . . . just some water and Gatorade) and the tendency of volunteers along the second half of the race to not tell runners ahead of time when they needed to turn. There weren’t signs for those turns; we relied on the volunteers to direct us for each turn on the second half of the course. I’m not a speedster by any means, but when I’m approaching the last part of a race, the last thing I want to do is put on the brakes because I went a few feet past a turn before the volunteer who was standing there watching me approach told me to turn there. Those aren’t big issues, but I do appreciate being clearly told (or having clearly marked signs) where I need to turn at least a few seconds before I get to the turning point!
This was another case where we were happy to support a local organization, and we told ourselves that the lack of amenities just meant they could use more of the registration fees for their charitable endeavors. I don’t need Big Gulp-sized water bottles along a
10K 9K course or a buffet at the finish line, but I do appreciate at least a couple of water stops along the way and a snack or two at the end. We had a good time though and I enjoyed the scenic route. It was a nice training run on a beautiful day, it helped my wife realize that she’s probably in better race shape than she thought, and we saw dozens of ducks congregating at the edge of the park after the race . . . not a bad morning at all.
Chip time: 42:05 (5.57 miles)
Age group: 1/7