Saturday, May 14, 2016

2016 Frederick Nut Job (5K and Half Marathon)

For the third year in a row I completed the Frederick Running Festival Nut Job challenge.  I really enjoy this event.  For one reason, it is really close to my house so the travel part is really easy and I don't have to get up obscenely early like many races.  But overall the race is very well run, the course offers a lot to look at, the volunteers are amazing, and there is always really great crowd support.

Each year, I do see some small incremental improvements in how the event is run.  For example, the food in the finishers village and other small changes.  Clearly they are listening to the feedback each year which is always nice to see.  Additionally, there were some changes made to the Half Marathon course, but more on that later.

Days before the event started, and even on the Saturday of the 5K, the area had been experiencing lots and lots of rain.  Fortunately the rains parted for both races which made parking in the grassy areas and the event more enjoyable for most folks.

The Frederick Run Fest provides packet pick-up at several area Dick's sporting goods stores which allows runners from areas outside of Frederick to get their packets fairly easily.  For those that live near the area you can get your packet when the Expo starts on Saturday starting at Noon until 5pm.  The 5K race is that Saturday evening at 6pm.  If your running the Nut Job this is your best bet.  Get your packet between 4pm and 5pm, hang around for the 6pm 5K, then head out for a nice healthy dinner before the Half Marathon on Sunday at 7am.

Runners doing the Nut Job challenge will use the same bib for both races.  You also get the shirt for the 5K (usually short sleeve) as well as the Half Marathon (usually long sleeve).  Both of these shirts are comfortable and high quality.  What you don't get, thankfully, is a bag full of stuff (brochures, cards, coupons, etc.) that you end up throwing away.  You will get an email for your virtual event bag which is the direction races seem to be headed, which is great.

If you think the 5k isn't challenging enough, and you aren't ready for a Half Marathon, the Frederick Running Festival does offer a Half Marathon Relay.  This isn't exactly split in half, so you may have to negotiate with your running buddy to see who gets the longer part of the race.

The 5K course is an out and back that starts at the Frederick Fair Grounds on the horse race track, heads down Hughes Ford Road, which is fairly flat), then you make a left onto Monocacy Blvd and head downhill towards the intersection at East Church Street.  After a 180 degree turn around you head back up the hill, right on Hughes Ford Road, turn right back into the fairgrounds and across the finish line.

Strava Map of Frederick 5K

For those of you bare foot runners, I should point out that the horse race track is small gravel.  While it isn't very deep and loose, it does move a little under your feet, so I would say it clearly does impact your pace, and anyone running without shoes is going to notice it for sure.

Overall the elevation gain on the course isn't bad.  According to Strava it is only about 50 feet.  There is one water stop as you started to head down the hill on Monocacy Blvd at about mile marker 1.2 and then you hit that one again on your way back at close to the top around mile marker 2.4.

If you read the other blog posts on my site you will see that for about the last year I have been primarily training for new distances as well as back to back races.  This has been a lot of fun, but the switch to longer consecutive distances has actually seen me slow down some.  Just recently I started to work on pace again so that I can hopefully one day qualify for the Boston Marathon.  My "baseline" attempt will be this September at the Via Marathon.

Anyway, the purpose of that backstory was that I did push a little harder for the 5k to see how I was doing.  Came in a little faster than the year before with a chip time of 23:27.  That put me 5th in my age group and 80th overall out of 1,221 runners.  So, this isn't necessarily a small event, but it doesn't feel crowded at all.

I had a traditional pre-long race dinner of some good roasted veggies, salmon and a white potato.  I wasn't feel great that night but hoped things would be looking up the next morning.  Unfortunately that didn't happen, but I was still excited to get to the course, stretch a little and hit the pavement.

I set my half marathon PR of 1:44:36 at this event the previous year, and while I knew I was running slower, I still wanted to try and get close, perhaps around 1:50:00.  So I put myself with the 1:45:00 pace group.

The weather was cool, but was going to warm up, so I knew I would probably get warm, but the weather was amazing and I was ready to go.  At 7am they let the runners go, right on time, which I love.

I started off fairly strong and did slightly negative splits for the first 3 miles of 7:53, 7: 51 and 7:46.  I skipped the first water stop, but walked through the second water stop, so mile 4 came in at 8:03. I backed off on my pace a little, but I was staying close to the 1:45:00 pace group.  However, at about mile 5.5 I started to get some upper GI issues and had to walk off and on twice between miles 5 and 8 which slowed me down and I lost my pace group.  I started to feel a little better for the next few miles and got my average time back to 8:20s.  But again near mile 11.5 I had to walk for a short stint again which brought my average down to about 8:25/mile for the distance.

At this point I knew I was getting close to I kept pushing, and crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:53:15 which was a average pace of 8:39/min.  I placed 46th in my age group and 646th out of 3,592 runners.  Not exactly what I had hoped for as I start to work on pace again, but given how I felt, it wasn't horrible.  Now I know where I am and can focus on my speed again until the September Marathon.

Overall the course is very enjoyable to run.  You spend a good part of the run in the "downtown" area of Frederick on both Market and Bentz Streets as well as a loop around Baker Park.  There are some great houses here, and if you aren't familiar with Frederick, the amazing shops and restaurants are all on Market Street.  Water stops on average are about every 2 miles which is close enough, especially with the temps usually in the high 50s to low/mid 60s this time of year.

Strava Map of Frederick Half Marathon

As I mentioned earlier there were some new changes for the route this year.  In prior years the course always finished with runners coming up a somewhat steep, but short, hill on Highland Street before you turn right into the fairgrounds horse racing track.  Some runners tended to complain about this finish and so the Race Director (and I assume others) decided to take this hill out of play.  What I find funny is that the new course actually adds 50ft of elevation gain over prior years bringing this years total elevation gain to 244 feet.  Still relatively flat if you normally run a lot of hills.

For those that may have run this race in the past, but missed this year, the changes are as follows:

  • Instead of turning right on Market street past Costco, we proceeded straight to Stadium Drive, turn right and went around Harry Grove Stadium.  Then turned left onto Market and proceeded as usual.
  • The next change is after getting to Dill Ave, instead of turning right to avoid Hood College, we actually proceed straight and go into Hood College, then turn right on Brodbeck Drive and head out of the college and onto Park Ave as in prior years to go around Frederick Memorial Hospital
  • The next change is turning right onto 16th Ave to Schifferstadt Blvd instead of staying on Market Street until the intersection of Schifferstadt Blvd.
  • The last major change is instead of turning right off Schifferstadt back into the communities and then up East street to Highland Street, we stayed on Schifferstadt, did a quick out and back on East Church Street, then right on Monocacy Blvd and returned to the Fairgrounds pretty much like the 5k course.
After you cross the finish line you are greeted with some water just before you enter the finisher's village.  You are presented your medal (or medals if you did the Nut Job) upon entering where you will find Gatorade, pretzels, chips, bananas, orange quarters and a few other items to help you refuel, and if you are so inclined, and over 21, you can turn in your two beer tickets from your bib for an adult beverage.  The village has some areas for photographs, getting your race time, meeting up with your family and listen to some live music.

As only one event in the Corrigan Sports Enterprises series in the Maryland Area, you have the opportunity to run additional events and earn extra "bonus" challenge bling.  Take a look at the Baltimore 10 Miler race, as well as the Baltimore Running Festival.  Running all these races with the Frederick race can qualify you for the King Crab Challenge.  Also this year is a new challenge at the Baltimore Running Festival called the Baltimoron if you run both the 5k and the Half Marathon.  If all of this sounds like too much, just run the Frederick Half and then the Baltimore Half and you can qualify for the Maryland Double.

Again, this is a great event and I highly recommend it.  Weather you run the 5k, the Half Relay, the Half Marathon or both the Half and 5k and tackle the Nut Job challenge I think you will enjoy it.  For those of you that like extra medals and race "series" style events, the Frederick event fits nicely in with the Baltimore events and provides for many challenging options based on your level.

Frederick Half Marathon and Nut Job 2016 Medals

Feel free to read posts about last years Baltimore Marathon and Baltimore 10 Miler if you think you are interested.

No comments:

Post a Comment