Race Recap: Popsicle Run (5k) 2021

This was the first in person race I’ve done since the pandemic started. There have been just a few in my area and some that even happened last fall but before now I just wasn’t ready. Specifically I definitely wanted to be double vaxed before I participated. When the email came through for this one I was backing up the work truck, full of mulch on a pristine very steep lawn. My initial thought was no since it would fall in the period of intense marathon training but then I saw the shirt and the medal! At that point I switched to ignoring everything else trying to give these people my money as fast as I could before it sold out. By the time the race got here I went back to the fist line of thinking a bit but I’m so glad I participated in the end!

A bit about the race: This race was put on by the same people that stage the Bluenose Marathon. This year they have been holding smaller events for all the reasons that come with COVID. If anyone is actually listening from the organization I urge you to keep it up. Since they are so good at the organization side of things and even though they are small they are super well done. Almost like one of those bigger shinier races and this one at least supported the IWK (children’s hospital). I would love it for Bluenose to keep offering this sort of event because they are great and because they are absolutely perfect for people who would love all that organization but get intimidated by huge events, like new runners.

Parking and weather: Downtown Halifax isn’t the easiest place to park. But… Sunday morning for a smaller event is about as good as it’s ever going to get. Since my mom and stepdad came with they drove and we parked pretty close. On street parking is free on the weekends and there are a few paid lots that serve the Seaport Farmers market that would be very convenient too. As for the weather personally I think it was kinda crappy. It was 22c (72f) with 92% humidity and no wind. That’s a feels like temperature of about 28c. That’s a little stuffy for an all out effort if you ask me! We did have the last little bit of fog hanging around and creating a bit of a haze. Not being in the beating sun was definitely a big plus. But as long as this is held in August expect it to be a warm one!

Course: This race took place along the Halifax waterfront. While it was flat there were so, so many 90 degree turns! Usually I use my own data for the route map but I’ve done something weird so much of my data is missing. Instead enjoy a route map from the website. The out portion of the race takes you along Upper Water St. past the Casino and over to the DND base and the back takes you along the waterfront. I did the second heat so there was minimal pedestrian traffic on the course. I imagine the first heat would be the clearest while the third might actually have quite a few other walkers along the way. There is a bike lane all along the way for ‘passing’ but obviously use this with great care. The majority of the second half of the race is along the waterfront boardwalks which has 24! 90 degree turns! If the idea of that many tight corners makes your joints hurt then maybe this is not the race for you. If that’s fine in your books then the course really is quite beautiful.

Cheer squad: That’s a big no on this one, well mostly a no, but if it continues it probably won’t stay that way. Due to COVID restrictions there were no spectators allowed and the number of participants was kept really low! Some cheerers did stand on course here and there, some with signs which is always nice. This course is on water street and the boardwalk which isn’t very residential so I don’t think that even in the normal times you’re going to have a lot of people stacked up on the course cheering for all the participants. It’s also a 5k though so I think we can all live with that and on some sections there isn’t a whole lot of space. It would be nice to have honey there to hold my (and everyone else’s) stuff though…

Logistics and support: Let’s get the elephant out of the room here first, the COVID stuff. Last year Bluenose submitted a plan to public heath last year for their main event and it was denied. Obviously I don’t know what they submitted or why it was not allowed but I suspect it had to do with the sheer size of the event and congestion in the city. For this event they separated us into three heats of about 200 people and had us line up on strings by anticipated pace, 6 feet apart in masks. Once we left the start line there was some congestion and since we were to stay on the sidewalk too. As we finished we were also to put out masks back on and leave the finish area. This was my first person event and I’m double vaccinated for a while now. The organizers did a great job but… there were some moments that sort of freaked me out here and there. Maybe I’m just not used to it anymore. Our COVID situation is once again great in Nova Scotia with single digits a day and about 50 cases active at any one time. Virtually all cases are tracked and related to travel or are close contacts. I mention this because I’m not sure I would be totally down participating if the situation here was significantly worse at this point. For this year there was no water on the course and I can tell you we all really missed that! All of the tables at the end (water, medal, “free banana and granola bar”) are self serve but someone does hand you a popsicle which was amazing at the finish line!

social distanced start

Race goals: The day before I had just completed my longest run ever at 3.5 hours and 26 km. Which is to say I didn’t have any strong goals for this race. I honestly contemplated just running with my mom and stepdad this time but I decided to go it alone as originally intended. Logically I planned on just covering the distance as a regular training (recovery) run but I also knew that I have a hard time resisting the race day energy so I figured that I would in fact end up faster than that. So that’s where my head was at before the race at least. It should be noted that I did put on my race day playlist for the first time in two years so maybe I was lying to myself just a little bit. It was within the first km that my body just sort of took over and that ‘regular training pace’ was off the table. It certainly didn’t cross my mind to go for a PR until the run was already well underway!

Swag: For this race I was all about the swag! After two years I just wanted a super cute new medal and a race shirt. Plus the idea of getting a popsicle ‘for free’ at the end was weirdly attractive to me. I love, love, love the medal and shirt design for this one and purple is probably my favorite color if adults are still allowed to have one. In addition to that we also got a Goodlife mini towel in our kits. The cost for this race actually seemed really good for the value, maybe better than most events out there really. The shirt is totally usable for runs going forward although mine will be incorporated into a race quilt. The medal and ribbon were high quality as well. The little towel is useful for everyone for it’s intended use or as a super absorbent rag around the house so everyone can find a use for this. As for snacks you walk away with a full size water bottle granola bar, banana and of course a popsicle and a chip timed race, I believe this one was about $40. I would say given the high degree or organization of the event the value for this one is really great!

Results:

Time: 27:45 (PR!)

Overall: 84/217

Category (F 30 -39):19/45

Shoes: Asics Gel GT-2000

Km 0-2.5: I slipped into the cue near a couple of people with similar bib numbers to me as instructed but I guess I was next to a few fast kids. I also didn’t get my watch started until about a half km into the race as my app was glitching ever so slightly. I think this is why I got off to a faster than planned start. I did realize how fast I was going about 1.5 km in and at that point I thought well let’s keep this up a while longer then.

Km 2.5-5: Around km three is was definitely feeling it but I realized if I even dropped back to my regular 5k race pace of 6 min/km I would still PR and maybe even if I was a little slower than that too. So I figured I might as well start looking for tangents. As hard as I was going it could all be over in 11 minuets so why not push. There was two very steady runners in front of me so I just focused on staying with them. I’m sorry that this time I didn’t get to say thank you to those lovely ladies! Once I crossed the line I’m not going to lie I HAD to sit down for a minute and THEN pick up my medal! 

Yes my mom and I are rocking matching skirts!

Looking back: I would 10/10 do this again but it’s rare I don’t give that sort of rave review. I mentally really needed this personal win at this point. Taking almost a minute and a half off my 5k PR really gave me some confidence that all this training I’ve been doing really is making me a better runner in better shape than ever before! That ‘nothing is impopsicle’ tag line really gave me all the feels in the end. For now at least I’ve also decided that if this stands as my 5k until I die then I’m okay with it. This race would be amazing for someone visiting to run through some of the most iconic and scenic parts of Halifax although I’m not sure it’s worth planning an entire trip around. So if you get the chance do it, and all the races in July and August should hand out popsicles! See you on the next start line!

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