Sunday, May 3, 2009

Night Run for the Arts - 8k @ 8pm, Scottsdale 5/2

During Ragnar Del Sol, I was lucky enough to have a 17-mile leg starting at 2am. I use the term "lucky" because it was really a magical experience. By that point in the race, the teams were spread out so far that I only saw 3-4 other runners during that whole run. Since then, I've been looking for a reason to run at night again, and the Night Run for the Arts seemed like a good one!
Any race that has been around for 24 years has to be doing something right, and this was a very well-run event. The location couldn't have been better; the start was on the grounds of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts - a little park with with a grassy hill and a live blues band on a stage set up... over water. As for amenities; there was plenty of water, a long row of clean port-o-john's and vendor booths with free samples & stuff. I was especially pleased with the Honest Tea bottle after the race was over. My only knock is the registration was a bit slow and the race-day reg had 1 woman that was really on the ball and two older ladies that probably weren't too familiar with the registration process. They actually slowed the organized woman down as she continually explained what to do. I'm only bringing this up as a kudos to her; she kept a smile on her face while she did all the work. :)

The event had a 3 mile and a 8k; I found it a little strange that they would mix the units of measure like that when they clearly could have billed it as a 5k & 8k or 3 mile and 5 mile. I had to google "8k" prior to the run to see how far it actually is, I've never run an 8k before. The 3 mile kicked off at 7pm on the dot, and there was plenty of time to relax and stretch to get ready for the 8k - they even had a yoga instructor take the stage and lead a stretching clinic at 7:40. Aside form the distance, the difference between the 3 mile & 8k was the sunlight slowly fading, by the 8:05 8k start it surely felt like a night-time race.
The mood at the start line was pretty festive; this didn't seem overall like a very serious race. There were a few gazelles up front, but I saw quite a few recreational joggers at the very front of the pack. There were a couple guys who caught my eye for different reasons; one was the mid-70's guy wearing only a pair of flag-covered running short-shorts and matching cap. It seems every established race has one or two characters like this that become part of the local running fabric - I knew a few of these who I ran with back in CT. I'm not sure what twists my life would have to take for me to turn into one of "these guys". The other runner who I noticed at the start was a 60+ guy who was in the very front of the pack (also shorts only) and was doing some warm-up sprints before the gun. I've seen elite runners do this pre-race ritual, and figured this guy was a serious runner. When I caught him from my mid-pack position before mile 2 I was really surprised. Another running style I'd never seen before was the dude in front of me running with his hands clasped behind his back - he actually looked like a cuffed perp running from the cops. I wondered if he was doing it as a bet: "I can beat you with my hands tied behind my back" and he kept it up for almost 3 miles and then ran with arms at his side about the time I passed him.
The course was great; it was fun to run through Old Town Scottsdale in the dark and take in a couple sections of a park on the way to the finish. Every mile was marked and water stations were well stocked. I didn't happen to see the mile 2 marker, but I think it was at a water station where I had a drinker step right in front of me; it was actually my hardest collision to date in a road race. We both apologized - no harm, no foul. My only question about the course is whether it was truly an 8k / 5 mile distance.
Here are my splits:
  1. 6:43
  2. 13:20
  3. 20:20
  4. 27:35
  5. Finish: 36:45??
I know I didn't bonk in the last mile; I was pretty sure by the number of people I passed that I was moving along pretty well and still on a 7:00ish pace. I was really hoping to break 35:00 for a 5-miler, and was on pace for the first 4 and never let up... maybe my legs were playing tricks on me. I'm still trying to find the results online; but they had a big screen with instant results scrolling -- a very nice touch. Kristen said I was a 7:0-something pace, but I was just really disappointed with the "36:45" and didn't check out the mile/pace. I was 20/99 for the 30-39 age group, and as a 38 year-old guy I guess that's ok. I'd like to see where I would've placed in the 35-39 group. The blurry photo above is me sprinting to the finish alongside Eric, 14 year-old I ran with for the last 2-3 miles. It wasn't my intention to sprint with him to the finish, there was a 3rd runner (not in the picture) that tried twice to pass me on the home stretch and once I got sprinting I wasn't backing off till the finish line. Eric's dad was really cool, he offered to email us the picture he took of us finishing together. We're going to surprise Eric with free entry into our next race. :)

No matter when you normally run, this race is a great excuse to get in 3-5 miles at night in beautiful Old Town Scottsdale. A very well-run event, and I'm looking forward to the 25th anniversary next year!


  1. I've known people to practice things with their hands behind their back (running, skating) to work on keeping their shoulders and chest open; but never in a race. Interesting race strategy he had going, lol.

  2. Great race report! It sounds like a fun event and it's always neat to run in new places. (It seems like every other event is in Kiwanis Park.) I was thinking about it but waited too long to make up my mind. I guess there's always next year...