Monday, October 6, 2014

#33 - Fit to Food 5K, about the race and return from social networking

Anne (left) and Maritza (right) placed 2nd and 1st, respectively in the 
50-59 Age Group. Maritza finished in 22:54.
I apologize that it's been over 10 races since I last updated this blog. I thought I could just recap my races in Facebook because many of my friends are already there and can quickly respond to each post. It’s also easier for me to load pictures and short stories from my phone to Facebook versus updating this blog. However, social networking sites have limitations.

First and foremost, posts made via Facebook are not searchable. If you were interested in reading about a race from 2 weeks ago, you may have to scroll endlessly through my timeline to find it. Second, there are so 
many stories in my newsfeed, and so little time to read all of them.

Medals and gift certificates were
awarded to top 3 men and women
overall and each age group
I tend to skip those that are over 100 words long.  Chances are, my audience are doing the same thing. Studies show that longer Facebook posts tend to be less engaging.  I don't want to bore my Facebook followers, and I definitely don't want to hog their newsfeed.

I have several recaps of varying degrees of completion and I’ll post them as soon as I finish writing them. I aimed to post a recap as I finished a race, but it takes me a hundred times longer to write a post than to complete a race.  Also, some of my reviews require more info from organizers. Some race directors respond immediately while others never answer.

Anyway, I’m back!

Cotton shirt for all participants.
Race #33 was held on Sep 28 in Chatham, New Jersey – about 70 miles away from home. I was apprehensive about traveling this far for an inaugural race, and a 5K at that. I’m always a little wary of newly organized races. There's no history, and little or no information on many important things like the course, number of possible participants, results - are they available immediately, etc.  You never know how things are going to turn out.

I signed up for this race because I won free registration to it. This is the third free race I earned as a member of  My first free race was Peggy’s Run in NJ, and second was Beat Beethoven in PA.

This was an impressive production. Organizers did a fabulous job! I give it an A++ for:
  • Accuracy - course was a true 5K (3.1 miles)
  • Punctuality - started on time; online results were available immediately onsite
  • Energy – hosts and volunteers were engaging and amiable
  • Structure - well-staffed/marked route; showed turns and mile indicators
  • Post-race nutrition – provided enough water, banana and bagels for everyone
  • Website – had imperfections but still managed to present the bare essentials
Timing chip attached to bib (left) and chip worn on the ankle (right)
I was especially excited about the timing technology they used: chip timing. This is my favorite because it usually produces an accurate report of race times. A chip is a very small device that can be worn in different ways. For this event, the chip was attached to the back of the bib. Unlike traditional timing where 1 clock starts ticking as the race begins, the chip acts like a personal clock. It starts ticking only when you cross a timing mat at the starting line and stops when you cross the finish line mat.

This course was 1 big loop. We finished exactly where we started.

Sections before the starting line were 
marked to help participants 
position themselves by speed.
Armed with a chip, I didn't feel the need to position myself in front of the pack to shave a few seconds off my time. After a brief countdown, we were off. As I approached the starting line however, I noticed other participants walked around the timing mat instead of over it. Perhaps they didn't know that you had to go over the mat to activate the chip.

While running towards the finish line, I looked at the race clock found at the finish/start line. This always motivates me to run faster. I was surprised to find out later that my official finish time was exactly the same as the clock time, 29:48 (minutes:seconds). I expected lesser numbers because I crossed the starting mat later than other runners.

Then it dawned on me that I was the clueless runner. Other runners who went around the electronic mat when we first started knew that it wasn't active. The mat was only activated for the end of the race. So the official time is still based on a universal clock. The chip only served to facilitate the processing and reporting of time.  

I don't remember seeing these details on the organizers' websites. I wish I had known.

Have you ever finished a race and wished you knew something beforehand? If yes, what was it?

This was my 2nd race of this weekend. I ran a 10K the day before and won 3rd place in my age group. Although I did not win anything in this 5K, I am happier because I know I gave it my best.  I ran it the way way I planned it, that is, last mile = fastest.

For anyone looking for a good challenge, this is for you.  It starts with a ginormous hill. After about half the course, the fun begins – it’s all downhill. Well, almost all.

More pictures


Race Facts

Address484 Southern Blvd., Chatham NJ 07928

Date and Time: Sunday, Sep 28 at 10 AM

Cause: Proceeds benefit the Community Food Bank of New Jersey

Course: asphalt with 210-foot elevation; mile markers

Kids Fun Run: none

Organizers: Chatham Club, New Jersey

Parking: Free and plenty

Participants: 115; includes runners, walkers, dog walkers, stroller joggers, children

Post Race Nourishment: water, banana, bagels, pretzels

Price: $25 

Prizes: medals to top 3 men, and 3 women overall and each of the following groups:

  • 14 and under
  • 19-29
  • 30-39
  • 40-49
  • 50-59
  • 60-69
  • 70-79

Results: immediate; Online results were also available right after each participant crossed the finish line

Restrooms: health club facilities

Shirt: cotton t-shirt

Timingchip timing, by Best Racing System; active mat only at the finish line

Water Stations: 1 station accessible after about 1.5 miles


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