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Race Recap: Inaugural Titan Strong 5K

Posted in Race Reports

This inaugural race was put on by the Titans Athletic Booster Club for University High School in Orange City, Florida. The fundraiser event had both a 10K and 5K race.

Training & Goals
August races are few and far between here in Central Florida and I figured I'd be itching for a race around this time, so I signed up for the 10K. The nearby location and the great supporting cause certainly help in my decision to register for this race.

But as far as running the 10K.... I bet you can guess what happened... I dropped down to the 5K, for various reasons... mostly due to lack of longer runs... which was mostly due to laziness... which was mostly due to outside stresses that I've totally given into and let bring me down. It's been a long funk. Anyway, dropping down to the 5K from the 10K at packet pickup was no trouble, thankfully.

Race Day: August 17, 2019
It was a quick short drive to University High School in Orange City on the morning of race day. The 10K runners started a bit late, just after 7:30AM. When the 5K started at around 7:45AM it was 77°F with mostly cloudy skies and 89% humidity.

Relive 'Titan Strong 5K'


Mile 1: 11:43
We started out on the high school track, then ran a bit around the campus before heading out on West-Side Parkway to the sidewalk along Rhode Island Avenue. It wasn't fun running on the sidewalk, which had some overgrown weeds we had to dodge in some places. Even though I had taken a break from running after my July runstreak I was disappointed at how quickly I felt winded in this race. I started out with a 2:1 run:walk ratio but slipped into 1:2 after about a half mile.

Mile 2: 13:00
Still on the sidewalk along Rhode Island Avenue, at the start of our 2nd mile we hit an out-and-back portion where runners from both races were heading back. Passing others on the weedy sidewalk was a bit tricky in places. Once we hit 17/92 we looped back on a side road before joining up with Rhode Island to return towards campus.

Mile 3+: 13:19, 0:49
Once back on University High School property, we ran a bit around a parking lot and then an unexpected long piece in grass leading up to our return to the track for the finish. The turf terrain was pretty uneven so I walked this entire part.

After the Race
Results were available online in real time. When I checked I was shocked to see I was 2nd place in my age group (45-49). Yay for small races. I had a banana and a water and chatted with fellow WVR club members as we waited for the awards to be given out. Our club did very well and a lot of use received Age Group awards in both the 10K and 5K.


Impressions and Recommendation
Even before race day I was impressed with communication from this race. Interested runners could sign up to be notified about registration and other key pre-race dates, and pre-race emails were informative and timely. The race itself was fairly well done with an okay course and okay course support. I was glad I dropped down to the 5K not only due to my own issues but because the 10K was just two 5K loops which I don't find any fun at all.

This race had very good swag, especially for an inaugural event. Finisher medals were custom, and the participant t-shirts were gender-specific tech. Even the bibs were full color custom jobs, very nice. A full assortment of Age Group awards was also nice to see for this inaugural event.

It was fun to start and finish on the school's race track. I will probably sign up for this again and would recommend it to others, especially local runners.


Chip time: 38:47
Placement details: 2/6 in Age Group; 72/128 overall
Race Amenities: Gender-specific tech shirt, custom finisher medal
Cost: $33.20

Report written August 22, 2019

July 2019 Runstreak Highlights

Posted in Misc Running

I had a runstreak in July. I did this two years ago with a minimum of one mile per day; this time I ran a 5K a day or more. Not much more; I ended up with 102.3 miles for the month.

HIGHLIGHTS
I ran 32 miles with West Volusia Runners in July, mostly at Mill Lake (8 times), counting towards the Summer Challenge.

I ran three races for about 10 miles total: the Firecracker 5K in Daytona Beach on July 6th; the Saturn 5K at Kennedy Space Center on July 14th; and the FLX Gemini Springs Trail Run here in DeBary on July 28th.

Early in the month, between the Spring-to-spring Trail and DeBary Hall, the path was resurfaced. It had been bumpy from tree roots so it was a welcome improvement.

I didn't experience any extra pain in my Achilles during the streak, but I could start to feel it in my knees. My speed didn't improve either but I'm still glad I did the streak. After a few days of rest I'll get back into it on Monday.

Cheapskate Runner: Cooling Wristbands

Posted in Gear Reviews

I sweat a lot when I run. I often use traditional terry cloth wrist bands to help mop sweat off of my face. I decided to try out some cheap cooling wristbands I found for sale on AliExpress, a Chinese online retail service known for selling merch at low prices.

Order & Shipment
I purchased two of these cooling wristbands branded RIMIX from the "Day Day Up Globle Store" (LOL). I placed my order on May 29th, 2019. I received the wrist bands on June 10th, 2019.

Availability & Price
I think the main reason most people shop on AliExpress is for their low prices. Regarding these cooling wrist sweatbands, however, I've never seen anything like them in stores or via other domestic online retailers.

Prices on AliExpress tend to fluctuate; I paid $1.68 for each wristband, with an additional $0.32 for shipping.

Note that sometimes ordering through the mobile app gives better pricing than via the desktop interface. I usually do my shopping on a computer and fill my cart from there. I can login via the app on my phone and compare the total price between the two before placing my order.

Using the Wristbands | Review
These cooling wristbands are made of the same kind of synthetic material found in cooling towels. They aren't stretchy, so putting them on is a bit tricky to do without ripping the seams. Once they are on my wrist, they're comfortable. I don't notice an extra cool feeling on my wrist when I am wearing them, but they wick away moisture just like any good tech garment. And they are a lot lighter than a terry band. Those can feel hot on my wrist; these cooling wristbands definitely do not.


Recommendation
I am very happy with this purchase. Especially when compared with traditional terry sweatbands, I really like these cooling bands, with their cooler feel, lighter weight, and wicking material. The price is extremely affordable. Recommended.

I have since ordered a few more bands so I can wear them more often on runs. They come in four different colors (lime, pink, blue, and black); I wish more colors were available.


If you go shopping for these on AliExpress, note that there are several different merchants offering the same or similar bands, and prices fluctuate.

Trail Race Recap: FLX Gemini Springs 5K Run

Posted in Race Reports

Well, here's another trail race report. I generally don't like trail running, but apparently I suffer some kind of periodic trail race amnesia.

My beloved nearby Gemini Springs has a special place in my heart. I have spent many hundreds of hours there birding. Even if I'm not birding, I'm there several times a week during regular training runs (the paved trail!) and bike rides. So this was another reason I found it hard to resist signing up for this trail run. I was curious to see how the race director handled the routes and what others thought of the park and the run.

This race was put on by FLX Florida Adventures.

My face when I realize I've signed up for another trail race

Race Day: July 28, 2019
I rode my bike over in the morning and got my shirt and bib. It was about 77°F with sunny skies and 94% humidity at the start of the race at 8AM.

Mile 1: 12:53
We started out the run from the OK Corral pavilion behind the dog park and headed out onto the paved trail. We ran along the access path to the primitive campground and then crossed the paved trail to run on the grass along side DeBary Bayou. The wild hibiscus were in bloom everywhere. We ran here in full sun but after this we had a mostly shaded route. We did a loop around the Bayou and as we hit a turnaround on the paved trail some faster runners came back, apparently lost. A few of us got confused and went the wrong way back down the paved trail. I remembered from the pre-race briefing what the route should generally look like so I went back and got back on the right course. The route was pretty well marked here so I'm not sure how others got lost and I was mad at myself for following the others when I knew the right way to go.


Mile 2: 14:06
We crossed the spring dam and the water stop in the middle of Gemini Springs park, running around the backwoods trails.

Mile 3+: 16:01, 7:59
The last mile took us back through the center of the park, over a couple of spring run dams, before returning to the start/finish area by the OK Corral.

Relive 'FLX Gemini Springs Trail Run'


After the Race | Recommendation
Lots of people got lost, including those who ran the 10K. For the most part, I thought the route (for the 5K at least) was well-marked.

The course through Gemini Springs is beautiful. We were lucky with a relatively cool morning and a dry course for the 5K. Often during the summer the path near the bayou by all of the wild hibiscus is completely flooded, but it hasn't happened so far this year. The backwoods trails have a lot of tree roots in the path which make for some tricky footing but for the most part it's an easy run.

Awards were given out after a while. It was apparent that folks who did not run the entire route were eligible for awards. I know they ran the required mileage (and much more in some cases), just not on the same route as everyone else. A 10K award was given out to someone who dropped down to the 5K distance on race morning (I dropped down as well, but my results were correctly attributed to the 5K distance). I don't blame any of the runners who accepted awards. The race director talked about getting lost like it was a badge of honor (and for trail running, I guess it is, though the very few other trail races I've run didn't seem to have this problem). I feel that runners who got lost and did not complete the race course as designed should not be eligible for awards. I didn't like the disorganization and super casual attitude from the race director. It seemed like no one else was bothered by this, so I guess it's just me. For this reason I will avoid FLX Adventures races in the future. Until I come down that recurring amnesia, at least!

Manual clock time: 49:22 (for ~3.54 miles)
Placement details: N/A
Race Amenities: Tech FLX branded shirt, generic FLX medal for all finishers
Cost:
$30

Report written July 30, 2019

Cheapskate Runner: Replacement Garmin Watch Band

Posted in Gear Reviews

I love my Garmin 235 running watch. I've been using it for all of my runs since December 2016. I've got a simple black one.

I decided to try out a replacement Garmin wrist band from AliExpress, a Chinese online retail service known for selling merch at low prices.

Order & Shipment
I purchased the "Black Flower" design from the "FlySerina Store". I placed my order on May 29th, 2019. I received my band, shipped straight from China, in a small padded envelope. It arrived on June 21st, 2019.

Price
Although you can find unique merchandise on AliExpress, the main reason I purchased my watch band here was for the low price. Prices on AliExpress tend to fluctuate; I paid $3.17 for the watchband, with free shipping. Note that sometimes ordering through the mobile app gives better pricing than via the desktop interface. I usually do my shopping on a computer and fill my cart from there. I can login via the app on my phone and compare the total price between the two before placing my order.

Replacing the Band
The replacement came with a couple of mini screwdrivers to remove the hardware from the watch in order to make the switch. You're dealing with a very small screw going into the holding pin but it's not too hard to remove and replace the bands. The replacement band didn't come with any instructions but the process is easy to figure out. It's a good idea to do the change over a table or tray since there's a chance you might accidentally drop the tiny screw or pin as you're working on it.


Product Review
The replacement band is much more supple than my standard issue band. It bends naturally around my wrist without having to be "broken in". My RoadID fits on the new band perfectly. I like having the pattern on the band. It adds a bit of flair without being too flashy. I've been using the new watchband for about a month and I don't see any signs of wear and tear at all. It seems pretty solid. I was able to give my old watchband a good cleaning, which was needed. Since there was nothing wrong with it, I saved it so I can use it again.


Recommendation
I am very happy with this purchase and I will probably look to buy other replacement Garmin watch bands on AliExpress in the future. Recommended.