Amblin run, Frostbite 5 miler: Race Report

Well, after  the Disney Goofy I decided that I should start back to my speed work.  Well, for the most part this means upping the pace on my training runs but the best part is that it means I get back to the races.  Those shorter runs with lots of people that go out way to fast and push you faster than you should go.  I was looking around at Races2Run for some February races and found the Frostbite 5 miler up in Ambler, PA.

What could be better I love 5 mile races.  The Fairmout Park Turkey Trot, Bedford 5, and St. Malachi’s 5 have been some of my favorite races over the past couple of years.  The bonus was that it is just a few miles from Space’s parents and we could stop by afterwards and visit.  Also, I could get a quick shower as well.  They have bigger hot water tank and that is awesome.  Either way, it was a plan.

So there I was signing up for the race.  It is put on by the Ambler Area Running Club.  Nothing special to it.  Sign up, pay money etc.  I am done.  Then a confirmation e-mail comes.  To my surprise I am actually reading the confirmation e-mail and it announces that this year it will be Champion Chip timed.  I look down at shoes and see my bright yellow chip just staring up at me wagging its tail.  Wait that is my dog.  The chip was there waiting patiently on my shoe to be activated by an over-powerful, invisible, cancer causing radio frequency transmitter/receiver mat.  The curious part is there was no place for me to include my chip number on my registration.  Well, all that planning involved in getting my own chip so I do not have to worry about putting a temporary chip on and getting it off was for naught.  No matter, I just wonder what will happen when my own chip goes over the mats.  We’ll see. 

Race day comes up and all is ready just an hour long drive to get to the registration.  Nothing really special.  The Blue route is still a bear to drive and I am sure it is Philly’s version of Cleveland roads.  The real best part is that Ambler has no places to park.  It is that old town feel with a main street and a train station.  That was it, the train station.  It was saturday and nobody was commuting to Philadelphia for work.  So… here was the Frostbite 5 miler parking. 

Registration happens, a nice t-shirt, chip goes on right foot, number gets pinned, porta-john christened and we walk to the start line.  There is still traffic and the chip mat is in a parking lot not set up.  Ah, last minute start line.  I am milling about which means getting into the mood for racing and Rachael is playing hopscotch with out a hopscotch lay out.  I love that girls imagination.  Either way it is distracting me a little. 

Racing is like Method Acting.  You can’t just go out and race with out throwing yourself into it completely.  It must consume you from the moment you start till well after you finish.  You know the outcome and if you don’t play it out to the obvious conclusion then you are in danger of only getting critical acclaim or worse a golden globe.  Which in running translates to a lack luster race and the potential for a DNF or just a bad run that you wait too long to write a race report about.  So here I am getting into The Race and they start talking.  “Blah, blah, blah, and then someone will sing the national anthem”  The really funny part is right after those words the entire crowd walks away.  The start line is set up and it is 10 yards away from our singer.  We all mill toward it and then start listening to the veterans of the race.  I hear about the hills.  Awesome, a couple of challenges. 

The race starts and there is screaming to the runners to make sure they step on the mat. Funny stuff.  The real funny part is that I am surrounded by a bunch of people at about the right pace but they are surrounded by those that are slower.  Seem like a bunch of people with no idea of their pace got in front of me and my pace group.  Weaving happens.  Nothing real hard but a few tight squeezes but all is good through the main street of Ambler (Butler Pike).  Then I see the biggest Afro ever in a race.  I mean the amount of product this guy must use must be phenomenal.  Must have been a weave. 

Turn and the then the first hill.  Nothing special but a good reminder that I am not in Cleveland anymore.  I hit the first mile in 8:25.  A little slow but all is well.  I lost some time at the start and that would be expected.  The description of the course included a small paved path that had me worried.  It connected to roads and these things are rarely kept up.  This was no exception but it was only about 10 feet long and no big issue.  I made it through and we were in a new neighborhood.  The people were actually at their driveways cheering us on.  Cool.  Up another hill and then the 2 miler marker.  What, no split time?  Argh!  No matter things feel good and I just need to keep it up.

We come up to an intersection and people ahead are turning right.  No big deal you might say but it is.  We don’t turn on the road but the path that sort of parallels the road.  This is no side walk or short unkempt paved path it is a frozen mud path that goes on for about a mile.  What in the world is this mess.  Nobody said anything about trail running.  I entered a road race I am a road racer.  (remember this is it will come up again)

Well, through the fallen branches and the very uneven frozen mud the path comes to and end and there it is.  Space’s old high school, Wissahickon High School, on the right.  We go past and then we turn right and there is Space’s old middle school.  You guessed it, Wissahickon Middle School.  Okay so they are building that have absolutely no significance to me but they were there and so was a water table.  The the Wissahickon School District in their infinite short sightedness put speed bumps on the road bisecting the schools.  I had to slow down.  I could have sprained something if I didn’t.  Oh the valuable seconds lost.

It wasn’t long before the 4 mile point came and there was someone with a stopwatch yelling out splits.  Awesome.  I hit mile 4 at 32:20 something.  I was right where I needed to be.  I was ready to really push.

BTW, I lost count of the miles and thought the 3 mile marker was the 4 mile marker and already started to kick.  That stopped when I saw the actual 4 miler marker. 

So push I did, because it was the big hill I had heard about at the start.  Nothing killer but enough to make you breathe funny on the way up.  Oh well, I got past the hill and turned into the funniest moment of the whole day.  Some Jack-Ass was trapped by runners and had gotten out of his truck to yell at the volunteer cops about holding him up from the things he had to do.  I have yelled at cops before and only a few times has it come out to my advantage.  I am sure this guy did not get the upper hand.  Idiot he was.  Thanks volunteer cops for helping us out. 

A few more turns and down hill to the finish.  A sprint finish and done with a time of 40:20 in 311th place.  Not bad for my way back to speed.  By the way, the guy in 310th place was someone they refered to bandit.  I like to refer to him as “My Left Foot.”  Yeah, that’s right, my own chip got to the mat just before the race chip did.  I refuse to believe that I am better than… myself.

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