Cautiously coming off rest

I hadn’t meant to leave it this long to update on progress. Originally when I signed up for the Newport 10k again as an official blog partner, I was hoping that the race might be my comeback. In my last blog post I explained why I was taking some time off.

I was stretching, doing core work, riding the Halfbike, doing classes at the gym, etc. in the meantime but my muscles remain (seemingly) as tight as ever. A couple of weeks ago I was very surprised to notice that my ankle was slightly swollen again. How was that possible? If I had run I would have put it down to that again, but this time I hadn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary and it’s been a couple of months since I finally shook that off.

The swelling didn’t last long, but I decided it was enough to call for a visit to the doctor. He sent me for some blood work which all came back clear and is sending me to PT, so we’ll see where that leads.

In the meantime, if it’s not the running causing the problem, I might as well get out to run again. I started by keeping it short, with only about 2.5 miles at a time (about when my lower back starts aching slightly), I’ve extended runs this week to just over 3 miles, with one run of almost 4.5 miles but my Achilles tendonitis has returned.

My speed won’t be there for Newport, or any other race I’m signed up so far, which includes the Grape Gallop on April 23rd (see my last post for a coupon code for any of the 3 Grape Gallop races this year), but it looks like I will probably be there if I can keep things under some sort of control.

Grape Gallop races (run and taste)

I was recently contacted by the organizers of the Grape Gallop series of races to see if I would be interested in running one of their races, and to offer a discount for my followers (RUNNJ17 will give $3 off any of their 2017 races).

I had seen these races advertised last year and Alba Vineyards location was appealing, but it didn’t fit with my schedule. Being sidelined a little this year, it seems like a perfect opportunity to run there.

The races are a little more expensive than your typical 5k (the October 21 race is actually 3.5 miles – an unusual distance, but an automatic PR perhaps?) but, if you plan to make a day of it, what you get for your money adds up to make it seem more reasonable.

The location is great. I’ve been to festivals at the Alba Vineyard before and it’s a beautiful area. The races run around the vineyard which makes a change from the usual road races, and you get a wine glass, wine tasting, entry to the food festival, as well as a tote bag and the more typical race benefits of race shirt, photos, and your name on your bib if you register in time (you can enter for $15 less without the wine tasting and glass). They are also partnering with the Lustgarten Foundation for pancreatic cancer research.

The race organizers have offered me a free entry for the October race, but I’m looking forward to it enough that I have decided to run on the April 23rd race too (at my expense). I plan to make it a family day out so let’s hope the weather is good that day!

If you sign up, don’t forget to use code RUNNJ17 for $3 off.

Don’t hesitate if you want to sign up for the April 23 race – the price goes up at midnight tonight.

Garden State 10 – spectator recap

Sunday morning saw the inaugural Garden State 10 mile and 5k races. As I am not able to run I was there to support RVRR members in the races. The last time I attended a race without running I had a lot of fun taking photos. Since then I replaced my 11-year-old Digital SLR camera with a new Nikon D7200 so I took it along.

I cycled the 9 miles or so to the race in part because it seemed like parking was going to be a nightmare and I also wanted to get some exercise. I’m glad I have large panniers to accommodate the camera.

I arrived not long before the start of the 5k and after riding around to find RVRR runners among the crowds I decided to set up around the 2.5 mile mark of the 5k to take some pictures.

It surprised me that there were still cars coming through the park when the 5k was already underway and this seemed to continue with some cars having to navigate their way through oncoming runners.

The 5k race leader, Kyle Price, enjoying his run

Click here to see all my 5k pictures.

The timing of the races was such that the 10 mile started 45 minutes after the 5k. Some were participating in what they called the “half marathon challenge” so most had some time between races.

As I rode out to find a good first location for taking 10 mile pictures there were still slower 5k participants out on the course who were soon going to be faced with an oncoming stream of 10 mile runners (I’m sure they would have had to move to the side). I was also surprised to still see some cars arriving and being able to drive through the park.

I set up around the 1 mile mark and took photos there until I thought it was time to leave to try to catch people at around the 4.5 mile mark (avoiding riding on the course) which was also roughly the 7.5 mile mark. I got there at about the same time as the lead runner, Joshua Izewski, who had been ahead from the beginning and had a large lead by this time. I stayed there until I decided it was time to head to the finish to catch the first RVRR runner coming in (Drew Pennyfeather).

Apart from the traffic and parking problems (which were probably difficult for the organizers to avoid) the race was well-organized and I hope that it is on the calendar again for next year. I hope I’ll get a chance to run it then.

Click here for my 10 mile pictures.

The GS10 official pictures now include my images, so when runners collect their images, they will get mine too.

Time to rest and reset

Today I did this:

Despite overall progress I decided it was better for the long-term for me not to run a half marathon.

My 6 mile run this weekend, shorter than planned, ended with some pain in my ankle. The pain did go away when I stopped running, but it was enough for me to review my strategy. For weeks now I have made improvements to then find some twinge of pain creeping back in.

It’s time to rest (or at least, to not run).

I’m going to use the next few weeks to make more progress on flexibility, upper body strength, and improve any imbalances. I will make a plan to gradually come back into running. I will have to be restrained. In the last month or so I have probably tried to do too much (and I knew it at the time), but when I felt good I wanted to do more, most likely due to the NYC Half that was on my calendar.

Now it looks like my first race of the year will probably be the Newport 10k

In the meantime I’m hoping the Halfbike can keep me in shape enough to make it a fast one.

Race processing fees

Recently I read Madeline Bost’s Running Column post about race processing fees titled “How’s that again? A fee to do it yourself?” and there were aspects of this article that bothered me.

The fact is that race sign up sites charge a fee – part of that fee is for the cost of processing credit cards and clearly the companies offering the registration sites need to make money.

It is a convenience to the race organizers because the data is easily put together in one place as she rightly points out. She then goes on to say that if you send in a paper application, the race has to pay someone to enter the data. I would argue that a lot of races are still run by volunteers, or put on by charities with employees who are probably working extra hours for no extra money to put on events like this.

The fact is that people respond to convenient ways to sign up to races, and it is often a difficult choice for the organizers whether or not to include that service charge in the fees, or to have the registrants pay the fee. The costs of putting on races seems to be on the rise, and anything that cuts into the races margins can make a huge difference. It’s particularly true when the race is for charity.

RVRR runs a Summer Series of races, and alongside the main race there are kids races. The margins are so low on this that in the past online registration has not been offered because of the fee (all other RVRR events absorb the fee in the event cost). However, each year parents ask me why there isn’t an online entry option. When I have told them about the fees, they tell me that they would willingly pay the extra not to have to print a form, fill it in and mail it. Some have missed the series sign up because they never got round to it.

It’s fair enough that people may want to save themselves money on entry if the race is asking them to pay the extra fee, but also consider whether the race is likely to have the staff to handle that data entry, or if you are just creating work for volunteers, or worse, forcing a charity to pay someone to do it for them if they do not have the resources.

I believe it will be more and more the case that races do not offer paper/mail in entry because of this, and I would be completely understanding of the reasons. I just believe it is unfair to complain about the fees without considering the reasons that the race is imposing them on the runner. With the cost of races increasing, it may simply become standard to account for these online registration costs in the price of the race.

I’m proud to say that the Highland Park Run in the Park 5k and RVRR races have tried to maintain prices year after year while absorbing the fee but as it seems to get harder and harder to cover race costs something is probably going to have to give.