TCM - Loony Challenge

Registration: Loony Challenge Registration is at a weird time.  After marathon registration opens but way before the 10-mile Lottery.  I'm friends with TCM on Facebook and there were plenty of notices about it. Online registration was super smooth.

Packet Pick Up and Expo: I took the unusual step of also volunteering at the expo this year.  I volunteered with my friend whose blog name shall henceforth be Olive.  Olive and I hung out in the official merchandise store.  It seemed to help that we had out of town racers who weren't expecting it to be 35*, so they bought some nice thick TCM jackets to keep warm.  The rest of the expo was a typical expo.  I didn't buy anything from any of the vendors, nor sign up for any raffles.  I missed the Bolder Options table but I find it hard to believe they weren't there at all.  Olive's favorite part was looking at all the posters from the past years.
Goal: Volunteer.
Outcome: Done.

TCM 10K: The 10K is an out and back along Summit Ave, also the final 3 miles of the marathon course.  I felt odd running a race near a Jewish Synagogue on Yom Kippur.  There were signs up asking spectators not to stand in front of the Synagogue so I guess it was mildly respectful.  I ran this race evenly, and passed a bunch of people especially towards the end.  I remembered the phenomena of starting off slow and even and then staying even and passing people from the 3-Way Challenge in Cincinnati.
Goal: Be back in time for the 5K.
Outcome: 15 minutes to spare.

TCM 5K: The 5K is a shorter out and back.  This time I got to hang out with Olive.  Thank goodness because I was not looking forward to running up that hill a second time.  Olive has a nice habit of not letting me do stupid things when I run so she kept me nice and even.  Past the half way mark Olive wanted to walk and sent me on my way.  I accidentally ran a 10:35 final mile.  Oops.
Goal: Stay with Olive up the hill.  Save something for tomorrow.
Outcome: Yes.  Though the last mile had me a bit nervous.

TCM 10 Mile: This race was a wild card.  I knew the course was really challenging.  I wanted to work hard, but not hurt.  I wanted to work hard enough to see the pain train up ahead in the distance.  My plan was to ease back on the up hills in the first 3 miles of the race because they are nuts.
Goal: Finish in under 2 hours.
Outcome: Undecided.  My GPS has me running a 1:57:xx 10 mile split.  My official time is 1:59:xx.  But the course was officially 0.14 miles short.  TCM's Facebook page blames it on the lead car taking a wrong turn.  My official position is the lead car probably wouldn't have turned down a street that had been properly barricaded.  But I digress.  Had the course been the correct distance, I don't know if I'd have made the course in under 2 hours.  I was flying at the end so it would have been close.  And then they ran out of finisher shirts.   So I didn't get one.

Loony Challenge: I really liked these distances.  It felt so much more sane than running a marathon, even if it involved two days of racing.   From what I can tell the Challenge was way better organized than its inaugural year. 

What I Liked:
  • I got my Loony Challenge Sweat Shirt in April, although I superstitiously wouldn't wear it until I'd actually completed the challenge
  • One race bib for both the 10K and the 5K on Saturday.  That was really slick.
  • Racing both days made me feel more involved in the events overall and the whole weekend.
  • The Back Tags so everyone knew who was running Loony Challenge and TC Summit Challenge.
  • The Obvious 'Loony Challenge' Tent inside the finisher area so I knew where to get my medal.
  • Free Beer at the Finish Line!  I didn't even care that I needed photo ID.

What Could've Been Better:
  • Two days of sweat drop offs means two bags. The sweats check bag ripped on day 1, leaving me some creative problem solving to check my sweats for the 10 Miler.  When I was volunteering at the expo, I saw several people whose bags had ripped between packet pick up and the merchandise store.
  • I can't find my 5K results online. This seems to be true for all Loony Challenge participants.  Sort of confirmed by the fact that I got emails for my 10K results and 10 Mile results but radio silence on this race.
  • Running out of finisher shirts.  I was actually more shocked at this than the course screw up.  Not having enough shirts or medals for finishers ALWAYS impacts back of the pack runners.  It's generally a lousy way to treat participants.  I was shocked because this is actually a pretty big screw up and TCM is usually so organized.
  • The 10 Mile Course being short. 'Nuff said.

Overall: All the things that I could control went really well.  There were a couple of big let downs after all the racing was done that took away some of my excitement.  I feel like I want to come back next year and try the 10 Mile Course when its done correctly and let them work out some of the other kinks too.

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