The Valentine’s Day Dash remains my favorite race for the month of February. After all, where can you find a woman at the starting line wrapped in a shower curtain with fake blood on it — and accompanied by a man with a huge knife? That certainly had to be the best outfit for 2017.
This 5K has drawn some of the most interesting cupid-inspired costumes I’ve ever come across. A few years ago, a couple somehow finished the race together inside a large wooden, heart-shaped contraption. It certainly must have been a costume contest winner, but it looked most uncomfortable. Another year, I got beat by a runner wrapped up as a Hershey’s chocolate.
And where else can you do a run where 70 percent of the participants are women?
But for last Sunday’s 13th annual Valentine’s Day Dash, I wanted something different. So I signed up for the event’s inaugural 10K run. I’ve done the 5K run 10 times since the race started in 2005.
The 10K turned out to be OK, as I got a good training run in, and the weather was overcast, but dry. But I was one of only 122 finishers, with nearly 900 others opting to do the 5K. And it was a challenge to fight through all of the non-race pedestrians and dogs on that second loop around Green Lake. I think I will go back to the 5K next year.
Second loop a battle for running room
Green Lake, Seattle’s gem of a park on the city’s northwest side, remains the venue for this event and is just too busy for any distance beyond a 5K.
When the 5K and 10K runners are together for the first loop, it’s crowded, but with packs of runners all going the same way (clock-wise around the lake). There’s power in numbers. It also doesn’t hurt that most of this first loop is on the outer streets that rim the park. The second loop moves mostly to the inner trail that surrounds the lake.
Since the vast majority of runners preferred the 5K, it was a slimmed-down race for that second 3.1-mile loop. I ran mostly alone — and against the groups of non-event recreational runners, walkers, strollers and dogs going the other way. It’s taxing and a bit frustrating running around and through people and dogs (although I got a few cheers and thumbs-up from people for persevering).
I not only fought pedestrian traffic around Green Lake to get to the finish line, but also a nagging cold that had slowed me down the week leading up to the race.
Consequently, I finished in 1:22:14 (13:16 per mile), one of my slower 10K times, but not my worst. And not a surprise, either, given how I felt last week. (My 10K PR is 51:44 in 2004; my post-surgery best are the 1:16 times I did in two different races a year ago.) Full results are here.
Low turnout may doom 10K event
I’m not sure the race organizers will want to stage another 10K race at this event. We’ll see. Some 888 runners and walkers completed the 5K, compared to the 122 who finished the 10K, a meager turnout for the longer race.
The combined number (1,010) is better than the 803 finishers for the 5K a year ago, but these turnouts are well done from the 2,000-plus participants in 2012 and 2013. However, the ratio of women to men — 704 women (70 percent) and 306 men — represents the same nice odds (for me) as that of past Valentine’s Day Dash events.
One thing that wasn’t similar: I saw no one I knew. What were all my runner friends doing last Sunday? It’s rare that I don’t run into someone I know at this event.
What’s next: Chilly Hilly
I’m happy to have completed my 207th road race without a DNF. But now I’m eager to get back on my bicycle for the first big ride of the year, the Chilly Hilly on Feb. 26. I need another good-sized training ride first; hoping to get that this weekend.
A week later, on March 5, I’m back running the Hot Chocolate 15K, ready or not. I’ve never done a 15K (9.3 miles) before. At least I will have friends from Allytics joining me on this lengthy jaunt through downtown Seattle and up and down Aurora Avenue.
I’ll do an race at the Mercer Island Half Marathon after that on March 19; not sure whether I’ll do the half marathon of the 10K, for something different.
All of this, of course, is subject to my gimpy left ankle holding up. So far, so good. Knock on wood.
Thanks for reading! Till next time.