A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Lake Wehrspann 10K & Local Race Tips

on August 4, 2015
Today’s Tuesday on the Run topic is a free topic time so I thought it was a good time to recap this weekend’s Lake Wehrspann 10K, as well as share some thoughts on small local races as they can be quite different from larger, more corporate affairs. Thanks as always to April, Erika and Patty for hosting!
Tuesdays-on-the-run1I had a 6 mile training run on the schedule for Sunday and kept seeing notices about the Lake Wehrspann 10K in my Facebook feed thanks to the Omaha Running Club, so I decided to check it out as a) it was only $23 to register and b) I like doing races for training runs because I’m not as likely to wimp out and not finish the run. πŸ™‚

Local race tip #1: Follow your local running groups on social media, even if you aren’t a member. This can be a great way to find out about smaller, less advertised events.

I did the usual packet pick up at the running store on Saturday, with no swag for such a small race other than my blindingly orange t-shirt. I sort of love it. πŸ™‚ I don’t have a photo for some reason but will be sure to share on later this week! The race started at 7:30 am, at a park that was new to me about 15 minutes from my house. The Chalco Hills recreation area includes a lake and a nice paved path, but I had never run there since a similar park/lake is closer to home. I arrived at around 7:15 and headed down the hill to the starting line from the parking lot. As soon as I got to the starting line, I realized that this might actually be the smallest race I’ve ever run (105 people)!

I was surprised by how small this group was!

I was surprised by how small this group was!

Local race tip #2: I’ve found that for a lot of these less-advertised local races, the bulk of the racing group are going to be the die-hard local runners and therefore a speedier group than your average corporate 5K. If you’re running a smaller local race, check out the prior years results online if you can to see what the paces are like. I knew going in that I’d be the back of this pack, so I lined up accordingly whereas I’m more middle of the pack for things like the Diva Dash. IfΒ  you have any concerns about walking a race, you can always email the race director to ask if there’s a closing time for the course.

We took off without a lot of fanfare right at 7:30. I actually didn’t have either my music or my Garmin set when we took off! I loved that the instructions for the course were essentially “keep the lake on your right.” At least now I know a nice 6 mile loop for local runs πŸ™‚Β  There were signs all along the way, of course, in addition to volunteers at the very few branch points to be sure we weren’t led astray.

This really is a lovely park - I'll be back to this park for sure.

This really is a lovely park – I’ll be back to this park for sure.

Local race tip #3: A small race pack could be a good opportunity to PR – unless you need the “push” of a crowd. With a race this small, it wasn’t long at all before I was essentially running alone. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your style. There was no crowding or dodging around people. I could really run whatever pace I wanted. If I was interested in a PR, that would be a nice perk. As I was actually actively trying NOT to run too fast, it was also a good thing in that I could just run my own race. However, if you like to pressure of having people to pass, it might be less fun, especially if you’re in the back of the pack where it is less crowded.

We'd spaced out this much by mile 1 of the race.

We’d spaced out this much by mile 1 of the race.

After mile 3, I was able to pick off several people at the back of the pack, which was fun. My only goal was to pass people and that they would STAY PASSED – ie no letting up and letting them get by me again. πŸ™‚ Otherwise, I enjoyed the scenery and the fact that this path was almost half in shade, which was much appreciated in August! I was soaked with sweat and gritty by the end as it was.

It really was a gorgeous day!

It really was a gorgeous day!

There were three water stops, great for a summer 10K, with cheerful and lovely volunteers. There were also volunteers at the turn to the finish helpfully warning us that it was an uphill finish (the one big down side to this course!).

It's always nice to see such pleasant and responsive interactions between the race directors & the runners - very common in my experiences with local races!

It’s always nice to see such pleasant and responsive interactions between the race directors & the runners – very common in my experiences with local races!

Despite being a small race, it was still chip timed and you could get your official time as soon as you finished. There was also water and Gatorade at the finish. From the pictures online, there were apparently also bananas at some point but they’d run out when I got there. It was nice that there were still a lot of people hanging around the finish to cheer for the final finishers. They also waitedΒ  until all the finishers had come in to hand out the awards, which is always a kind gesture.

Can you appreciate in this pic how steep the finish was? Holy cow!

Can you appreciate in this pic how steep the finish was? Where the path drops out of site, there’s a STEEP hill we climbed. Holy cow!

Local race tip #4: With smaller races, there may not be a huge variety of post-run snacks available (although this isn’t always true – I’ve had some great ones!) so be sure to bring along anything you might need. I had a bottle of water and a Larabar waiting for me in the car, which were much appreciated.

There was a photographer at the finish who shared all of his photos in Shutterfly album, which is also a nice perk of local races - free pics!

There was a photographer at the finish who shared all of his photos in Shutterfly album, which is also a nice perk of local races – free pics!

I finished in 1:16:28, a slow 10K for me, but good pacing for a long run (12:19). I would definitely run this again, maybe a little faster so that I could do the kid’s race with O afterwards as they also had a 1K kids run that morning.
All in all, I think small local races are a lot of fun but if that’s going to be your first experience and you’re a mid-to-back of the packer, you might want to bring along a friend to keep you company. If you’re stressed about being at the back or being last, a bigger event with a wider spread of paces may better fit your needs.

Do you prefer bigger races or the small local variety?

11 responses to “Lake Wehrspann 10K & Local Race Tips

  1. I actually used one of your goals in my last race–when you pass people, make sure they stay passed. It worked well! It’s nice that you got to try out a new running route while getting your scheduled run in. I like small local races best. I like to just do my own thing at the back of the pack!

  2. I love small local races! They are low key and fun to do for sure.

  3. chasingdownhealthy says:

    Great tips! I always check out the previous year’s times before registering, just to make sure there are other slow people. I ran a 5K with about 45 participants in July, and it seemed weird to me. I like the bigger crowds I guess, or maybe just the bigger chance that there are more people like me. That’s a nice time for a 10k πŸ™‚

    • I’m working on convincing a friend to try her first 5K and just pulled up the list of last year’s times. She was reassured by seeing that not everyone who runs is speedy. πŸ™‚ We just need to get out there!

  4. What a fun race! I’ve *finally* chosen my first race, and it’s a fairly large 5k in New Orleans in October. My husband’s going to run it with me, so now we have a few months to train and hopefully run the whole thing. I’m looking forward to it, and hoping that afterward I’ll have the confidence to sign up for smaller races.

  5. […] I-35 challenge in the fall and if I find a race where I can actually set that PR, even better! The Lake Wehrspann 10K is usually sometime over the summer, so maybe I’ll do that one again – even if it did […]

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