Pretzel City Sports
Chilly Cheeks 11k Trail Run
Mt. Penn, Reading, PA
My first 11k race
My fifth race of the year was a new race distance for me, an 11k. I have done several 10ks in the past but there aren’t really many 11k races out there.
Since I had not run this specific race before, I did my research and checked out last year’s results and some Strava data. Having run a few other trail races on Mt. Penn (including a night 10k) I knew about what to expect and made my 3 goals for this one:
-Finish under 1:15:00
-Finish in the top 50
The week leading up to the race…
Coming off of my 50k last week, I kept this week lighter than normal. I took Monday as a rest day; then I got a decent run in on Tuesday afternoon, but I still felt some soreness in my hips, knee, and ankle. I’m guessing that was why I decided to take another rest day on Wednesday. Usual short run on Thursday then headed to Trexler Nature Preserve Friday after work and got in 10+ miles on the trails and hills. It was very slushy and muddy so I was definitely working harder and using some different muscles for that run. I decided to sleep in Saturday morning and thought I might go for a run later in the day, but I ended up doing some stretching/strengthening/mobility exercises later that night instead.
Monday- 8:33 of sleep, rest day, 2738 calories (= 548 over net goal)
Tuesday- 7:27 sleep, 4.72 mile run, 2667 calories (139 under)
Wednesday- 8:08 sleep, rest day, 3085 calories (861 over)
Thursday- 6:20 sleep, 3.1 miles, 2640 calories (21 under)
Friday- 7:31 sleep, 10.69 miles, 3055 calories (589 under)
Saturday- 8:17 sleep, rest day, 2431 calories (162 over)
I slacked on my nutrition this week and had more junk food than I should have. This is still something I need to really work on improving.
I prepped my gear the night before, as usual. The forecast was calling for temps in the mid 30s, and warming up into the 40s. I didn’t want to be too warm and wanted to make sure I had enough freedom of movement to tackle the trails so I chose not to wear any leggings for this one. Here’s what I went with:
Under Armour Horizon RTT trail shoes, teal UA Launch SW 7″ shorts, teal UA Qualifier HexDelta short sleeve shirt, Hawaii blue/green CEP compression socks, Aegend Lightweight Running Gloves, and of course my Optishokz, and Garmin Forerunner 235. (I also wore my Cougar Sport warmup pants and jacket for my warmup run).
After I got everything ready I started to wind down for the night and went to bed around 11:30pm.
I woke up at 7am, so I felt well rested. I got in the shower, got dressed, and then had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I got everything gathered up, and was out the door and on the road by 8:15. I knew my way well since I had done a few races at this location.
I got to the Reading Liederkranz right around 9:15 and I was shocked to see that most of the parking lot was full already, but I was able to find a spot. I did my usual pre-race pee in one of the porta-potties outside and then headed into the activity hall to pick up my bib number, and my shirt and hoodie. Inside there was plenty of room to hang out and stay warm, and there were indoor restrooms as well. I then headed back to the car to get ready. I put on my Body Glide, and then I mixed my Accelerade and filled my handheld bottle with it. I pinned my bib on my shorts, and then did my stretches before my warmup run. I got in a mile with two strides at the end. Then I ditched the warm-up suit and started the quarter mile jog from the hall to the race start.
When I got to the start line I saw Justin and Stephanie who are a couple of my Strava/Insta friends. We chatted for a little as we waited for the race to begin. Then we settled into our starting places, I was more towards the front but was in the middle of the row, and they were back a little farther. Race director Ron Horn made his humorous pre-race announcements and then we started off at 10:13 am. (Oh no, I had forgotten to take my usual pre-race pics! Oh well).
I quickly realized I did not pick my spot very well. It was rather congested at the beginning and there were some slower people in front of me, which were hard to get around. I should have started on the outside edge so I had more room to pass. I managed to make a cut to the inside edge on the shoulder of the short section of paved road though and made up a few of those lost spots. The course quickly transitioned to double/triple track trail for maybe a quarter of a mile where I was able to gain a few more spots. Shortly after that though was the first climb. It was fairly steep (up to a 45% grade at one point according to Strava) and it was a bit muddy. That definitely slowed me down some. Once we got up the hill we came out of the woods into a parking lot and had another short section on road before we transitioned back to some double track trail. My overall pace for the first mile was 10:13, but my GAP (Grade Adjusted Pace) was 8:33.
We continued on the mostly flat trail for about a quarter mile as we passed a little below the Reading Pagoda. Then we headed down a steep and gnarly section of bike trail that had some gravel jumps on it. We came out back onto another very short section of road and then got right back on the trails and made our way back up the side of the mountain. My mile 2 was a 10:29 (8:28 GAP).
Mile 3 started with another steep descent, then right back up a short hill, then right back down. It leveled off a little bit as we came to another short road section where the first water stop was set up. Just past the water stop I saw Justin sitting on the curb. I asked him if he was okay, to which he replied “nope, I’m done. I think something’s broken.” Oh no, total bummer! The course then went back into the woods and started the long climb back up. Most of the next 1.5 miles was uphill.
Right around the 4 mile mark was the 2nd water stop, and it also had some “alternative” bevarages also. I didn’t stop though since I had my handheld bottle and had been taking sips of Accelerade as needed. There was then a fairly flat section for about a mile and I averaged a pace of 9:09 (8:21 GAP). Then right around the 5 mile mark we made our way up the steep climb to the top of Mt. Penn. It was about a 200 ft. ascent in 3 tenths of a mile. Once we got to the top we were right near the William Penn Memorial Fire Tower, and had a great view of the city. That was one of my favorite parts of the race.
We ran down Skyline Drive for about a quarter mile before cutting back onto the trail to complete the 450 foot descent down the mountain. We come out on the road and ran back past the starting area, and back onto the trail then made a left turn on the trail, climbed over the guard rail and across the road before making that last climb back up to the finish at the Liederkranz.
I crossed the finish line at 1:12:42, accomplishing my goal of finishing under 1:15:00. However, I finished 64th overall so I missed my top 50 goal. Also, I thought I was 2nd Clyde but I was actually 3rd; and had Justin not been so unfortunate to break his foot I would have been 4th.
In the pavillion at the finish area I believe there were the usual light refreshments: water, Gatorade, cookies, and candy, but I didn’t bother to have any of those. I did a half mile cool down then drank my Endurox R4, changed my shoes and put my warm-up suit back on before heading inside the hall for the included breakfast. There was pancakes, scrambled eggs, and toast.
I sat down with Justin and Stephanie and asked how he was doing and what happened. He said when he ran down one of the hills he landed awkwardly on a rock or something and his toes kind of wrapped around it. He continued to run for a little bit but then it started to feel squishy so he knew something was wrong. He made it to that first water stop and could tell there was something seriously wrong. We chatted for a bit while we waited for the awards which I think started sometime around 12:30 or so.
Overall this was another fun event put on by Pretzel City Sports. The community feeling at these are always great. It was a challenging course and I am looking forward to coming back next month for the Ugly Mudder 13k.
No previous 11k races
Ratings based on the following scale:
2- Below Average
4- Above Average
Course- mostly single track trails through the woods; rolling hills, switchbacks, some gravel roads
Course Markings: 5
Aid stations: 4
(2 water stops on course)
Post race food: 4
Pre-race communications: 4
Results: 5 (results board on-site, on-line same day)
Start time: 3
Awards timing: 3
Shirt: 4 (options included long sleeve tech shirt and/or hoodie)
Finisher Medal: N/A
5 races down, 95 to go!
Next race: Saturday 2/1; NJ Trail Series Half Marathon, Morristown, NJ
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