Race Reviews

Rock n Roll Seattle Race Recap

Back in February, I decided to run my first marathon.  Due to work constraints and timing issues, I chose the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon to be my first, on June 21.

I trained using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan, and for the first time in my life I actually followed a training plan almost exactly.  I had a couple of weeks where I skipped a short run, and even a week where I skipped a long run when I was worried about injury, but I arrived in Seattle confident that I would finish the race.  From the beginning, I was hoping to run in 4:30 or less.

When I registered for the race, my friend Junior volunteered to pace me, and over the course of my training, his goal time for us kept getting faster.  LOL  I knew it was a lofty goal, but set out on race morning with Junior’s 4 hour goal as my goal too.

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The race started at the Space Needle.

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Junior had a bunch of running friends who were also running RnR Seattle, so we met up with them before the race.  They have a pre-race tradition of taking over one of the early start corrals at RnR races, and Seattle was no different – we gathered in Corral 2 for a group picture, then stayed there for the start.

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Starting in Corral 2 was a very different experience for me in a big race.  It was wonderful to not have to dodge and weave around huge crowds of people for 2-3 miles (or more), and it helped us start out at the desired pace – we were aiming for about 8:40/mile through mile 18 or 20, to build a cushion for the last few miles.  And we started off right around that pace… in fact, we ran mile 2 in 7:40, which is my fastest mile split since high school!

The course was beautiful.  The first half was relatively flat with a few hills, through downtown Seattle and along the lake.  Check out the views!

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Around mile 7 or 8, Junior tripped and fell on the uneven pavement, and I had to jump out of the way so I wouldn’t trip over him.  I tweaked my knee a little bit, but it only hurt for a couple of seconds, so I assumed it was ok, and we kept on.

We made it through the halfway mark and were still on pace for a sub-4 hour finish, although just barely.  To that point, every single split of the race was a PR for me (5K, 10K, and 13.1) – the half split was a PR by 11 minutes!  Unfortunately, I started to fall apart not long after that.  I hadn’t followed my race fueling strategy to that point – I’d planned on fueling every 4-5 miles, but didn’t use my first gel until mile 7ish, and my 2nd one at mile 12ish (or possibly later), and I just wasn’t able to overcome the energy deficit when I finally started fueling regularly.

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(selfie somewhere in the first half of the course)

Around mile 14 or 15, the course shifted to highway running for about 10 miles.  Highway running, if you’ve never done it, kind of sucks.  I was having a hard time finding level ground to run on, and was really struggling by this point.  I definitely was doing more walking than I’d wanted to do, and we were falling way behind our 4-hour goal pace.

After what seemed like an eternity, we began to go back into downtown Seattle.

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By this point, I was counting down the remaining distance in half-mile increments, mentally fighting with myself to run it in.  The race ended on a fairly steep uphill, and Junior took off sprinting up the hill.  I dragged myself up the hill behind him, saw the 26 mile marker and the finish chute, and dug deep.  Somehow, I found the energy to run fairly hard into the finish – not my typical finish line sprint, but definitely a much harder run than I’d been able to manage over the final 10K of the race.  Junior finished about a minute ahead of me, and managed to get some pictures of me crossing the finish line.

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All in all, I’m pretty happy with my performance overall.  My official time was 4:31:26, so I was pretty close to what I’d hoped for from the beginning.

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My overall positions were pretty good – top 35-50%, depending on category.  As I mentioned before, my splits through the halfway mark were all PRs (and I guess technically, so were the 2nd half splits, since I’d never run an official race over 13.1 before, LOL).  I wish I’d executed my race strategy a bit better, especially with fueling.  I definitely learned a lot about myself, and about longer distance running, so hopefully I’ll be able to do better next time.

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(Junior & me after the race)

After the race, we found part of the group, grabbed a beer in the beer garden, and then watched the headliner concert: Sir Mix-A-Lot!

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It was a great end to a great day!

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Rock n Roll Dallas Race Recap

On March 23, I ran the Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon.  While I PR’ed (woo-hoo), I just barely PR’ed.  It should have been a lot faster, based on the times I’d been running in training, the weather, the course… but I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let me go back.

So, in late February I ran the Cowtown Half Marathon, and kicked off the first official week of my full marathon training (Rock n Roll Seattle, here I come!).  Training for Cowtown, and then in between Cowtown and Rock n Roll Dallas, I was actually *gasp* mostly following my training plan.  At Cowtown, I tied a PR on a much more difficult course, and my training run paces were continuing to increase, so I was optimistic going into RnR Dallas.

We had a busy weekend leading up to the actual race.  On Friday night, we had a potluck dinner with my local running club.

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 Saturday, we went to the race expo (SO MUCH FUN!), home for naps, then back into Dallas for dinner with some of the coolest people I know… the Runner’s Corner peeps.  We carb-loaded at Spaghetti Warehouse and socialized.

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Then it was back home to get the kids in bed for the early morning ahead.

Sunday morning found us up EARLY.  The race started at 8, but the shuttle allegedly stopped running from the parking lot to the start line around 7, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it.  I got up around 5 to get ready, then got the kids out of bed at 5:30.  We headed out around 5:45.  Luckily, we didn’t run into much traffic, and we were parked in the lot by 6:30 or so.  This is where the day started to get long for J – spectators weren’t allowed on the shuttle, so he was stuck in the car with the kids while I went to get on the shuttle.  Ordinarily, the family wouldn’t go with me, but the headliner band happened to sing my 3 year old’s favorite song, so I couldn’t leave him at home.  More on that in a bit.

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I easily made it to the shuttle on time, and arrived at the start line area around 7:15.  I had 3 groups to get into photos with, all scheduled at the same time.  Luckily, 2 of the groups were meeting in the same spot, so I headed there first.

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(With my MRTT group)

Then headed to the meetup spot for Runners Corner.  I missed the big group picture.

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(The big group picture. I’m not in it)

But we took another picture right before heading to the start corrals.

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(Not many of us left. Ignore that I’m standing weird.)

Then it was off to the corrals.  I think there were 14 or 15 start corrals.  I was assigned to corral 7, so right in the middle.  I had hoped to be able to run with some of the Runners Corner people, but it didn’t work out that way.  So I ran alone… as alone as one can be in a sea of 10000 people.  I felt pretty good for the first 5 or 6 miles, but something felt off.  I usually hit my groove around mile 3-4, and then stay pretty steady for the rest of the distance.  But my pace was all over the place, I’d run a “fast” mile and then a “slow” mile, with no real reason for the change.  It was a disappointing run for sure.  The course was nice, though, and pretty well supported, although they could have used one or two more water stops to space them more consistently.

I ultimately finished with a new PR by about a minute.

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Then it was off to the finisher festival.  I grabbed some snacks and beverages on the way to the stage to refuel, then stood around while they presented the awards to the top finishers.  And then it was time for the headliner concert, the reason I dragged the kids out of bed before 6am:  American Authors!

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I took about 40 pictures of them performing, but I’m only going to share this one.  Of course, they saved their hit song, Best Day of My Life, for last, and that’s the one G wanted to hear.  After they performed, they also signed autographs and posed for pictures.

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It really was the best day of G’s life.  He STILL talks about the guy with the “funny hair” picking him up for the picture.  Seeing his excitement as they sang “his” song and as he took a picture with them was worth the early wake-up for sure.

Overall, it was a good event and I’d run it again if I wanted to see the headliner act perform. Or maybe even if I didn’t.  RnR races are pretty expensive, even on the day registration opens, but I enjoyed it.

Have you ever run a RnR event?  Do you think they’re worth the money? What’s your favorite race so far this year?

Oh yeah, I’ve updated my race schedule for 2014.  Any suggestions on good races in the months where I don’t have anything planned?

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New Year’s Double Race Review

When I registered for the New Year’s Double, I had a lot of doubt that I would actually be able to complete it.  My friend Lisa over at WhiskyBaker was planning a trip to Dallas from Toronto to run it, and she asked me if I would mind picking up her race packet for her.  I decided that since I was going to go to packet pick-up anyway, I should run one of the days.  While I was trying to decide which day to run, I saw the bling:

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(stolen from the New Year’s Double FB page, again)

My mind was made up: I’d run the double.  That is, two half marathons in two days, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  There was also an option for double FULL marathons, but I’m not that crazy (yet).  I approached the training mostly as though I was running a single half marathon, hoping for a PR on New Year’s Eve, and intended to mostly walk on New Year’s Day, although I did do a couple of back-to-back long runs during my training.  I also decided to stay in a hotel near the race site so I wouldn’t have to drive an hour each way two days in a row.

The whole experience (well, except maybe for the looped course, lol) was amazing.  From the beginning, the communications from the race organizer were outstanding.  A few weeks before the race, we had a major ice storm in Dallas that is still causing shipping delays.  Libby immediately emailed out that she might not get the last shipment of NYE half marathon medals and warned us that the last 40 or so finishers on NYE might have to wait for their medals to be mailed.  In my opinion, this was really going above and beyond, and was so crucial to making sure no one was disappointed on race day (as it happened, the medals arrived in time, but the heads-up was great!)

(screen shot of the email Libby sent out)

On Saturday, December 28, I headed out to packet pick-up.  This was, perhaps, the most organized packet pick-up I’ve ever attended.  First of all, the volunteers were AMAZING.  Everyone was happy and friendly and helpful.  Second, it was very well organized.  We were asked to know our bib numbers when we got there, so I had looked up mine (& Lisa’s), and I made sure I printed the email from Lisa giving me permission to pick up her stuff.  Once I had the bibs, I headed over to the shirt table.  On the back of each bib was a label with our names and the shirt size we’d selected at registration. This is genius, really.  I’ve attended a number of races where they were already out of my requested size at packet pick-up because either people don’t remember what they’ve chosen or they decide they really need a different size.  I greatly appreciated this small detail, especially since I was also picking up Lisa’s.

Packing to go to the hotel was probably the hardest part for me.  The weather conditions were unpredictable (in the 20s-30s to start, up to the 40s+ by the time I expected to finish) and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to wear, or which shoes I wanted to run in.  So I made a list.

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I actually packed a few things in addition to the list, too (namely full-length running tights) but forgot one really important item: my foam roller!  It would have been so nice to have after day 1!

We headed to the hotel after picking the boy up from daycare on Monday, December 30.  Once Lisa & her husband arrived from the airport, I took her race bibs & shirts to her, and then we all went out for dinner (tried for pizza, but the wait time was too long, so we headed to a great Tex-Mex place) and then went back to the hotel for an early night.

My alarm went off at 6:15 (perhaps my favorite thing about these races was the 8:40am start time, so I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn!) and I quickly (and as quietly as possible) got dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast.

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(NYE flat runner)

I had my normal pre-race breakfast of toast with peanut butter &  honey, and waited in the lobby until Lisa was ready.  She wanted to get to the race site a bit early to make sure she was in the Half Fanatics pre-race picture at 8:20, so we left the hotel about 7:45.  We missed a turn because we were talking (oops) but it only set us back about a minute.  We got parked in plenty of time.  Here’s a picture Lisa took of me right after we parked the car.

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Notice the gloves & the ear warmer – it was about 28 degrees at start time!

Lisa headed over to the picture meet-up spot, and I took care of my final pre-race preparations and took some pictures.

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(walking towards the starting line)

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(pre-race selfie)

I was in corral D for the NYE race, with an anticipated finish time of 2:15.  The “corrals” weren’t really marked, so I lined up behind a bunch of people who had a “C” on their bibs and waited for the announcement that it was time for corral D to go.  I started my music & Nike+ app when corral C started, and started the Garmin as I crossed the timing mat at the start.

I started off a lot faster than I intended, in the 9.5 minute/mile range, but I felt good.  I decided to keep that pace for as long as I could once I couldn’t force myself to slow down.  The course was mostly flat, except for a tunnel that went under a major road, and was all sidewalk & paved trail, so there were no cars to dodge or worry about.  Out on the course, the volunteers were still amazing.  The water stops were a lot of fun (one was manned by the Frisco Running Club and one by the Allen HS girls Lacrosse team), and there were some great spectators on the course both days, too.  The personalized race bibs were great, because the spectators could cheer for us by name, which I found really motivating.

The BEST spectators on the course were from an online Facebook running group I’m part of – the Runner’s Corner.  Zane was out with his camera both days getting pictures.  Here’s one he got of me on my 2nd loop (around mile 10 probably) on NYE.

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The first loop of the course was great.  By the second loop, I was starting to get bored.  I felt really bad for the people running the full marathon who had to make 4 loops of the course – there’s just no way I could have powered through that.  🙂  According to the Garmin, I was maintaining about a 9:45 min/mile pace all the way through the end.

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For the first time ever, my Garmin time matched my official time nearly exactly!  (2:11:02 compared to 2:11:03).  I finished 17th in my age group (out of 36) and was the 107th woman (out of 417) and 217th runner overall (out of 633).  Not only was it a 9+ minute PR, it was my best race finish ever.

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After the race, I went back to the hotel for an ice bath followed by a hot shower, then we went to lunch (pizza at Grimaldi’s!) with Lisa and her husband.  Lisa also ran a PR race by about 6 minutes.

We called it an early night on NYE.  With the whole family in one hotel room, we didn’t have much choice, so we were all in bed by 8:30.  Around 12:15, I got woken up when the girl threw up all over me.  :/  We got her cleaned up, I took a quick shower, and thankfully she was back to sleep quickly.  I managed to get about 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep until my alarm went off again at 6:15.  Again, I got dressed quickly and quietly, then headed downstairs.

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(NYD flat runner)

Again, I had my standard race day breakfast and waited in the lobby for Lisa.  While I was waiting, I met two members of the Runner’s Corner FB group (Lee Ann & Mia) in person for the first time.  Lisa & I left the hotel at about the same time this morning as yesterday, and got to the race site with no mishaps on day 2.  🙂

I was in a much slower start corral for NYD, having predicted a finish time of around 2:45.  I didn’t think much of it as I was waiting, but once we started, I regretted that decision.  I should have put down a faster anticipated finish time for Day 2.  Not because I thought I’d be faster (although I was) but because most of that start corral started out at a 13-14 min/mile pace.  While there was a time, not that long ago, where that was my comfortable pace, now it seems PAINFULLY slow, and on the narrow course, it was really difficult to get around the slower runners and into a group running a similar pace to me.

I intended to run intervals on day 2, but felt better than expected at the start, so I decided to run as much as I could before starting the intervals (this messed up my Garmin stats, since it was set to run intervals, but isn’t really a huge deal).  I made it a little over 3 miles before walking my first interval.  I made sure I was running every time I passed Zane and his camera, but although I was sure he got some pictures of me on day 2, there are none to be had.

Around the 4 mile mark, I was starting to feel defeated.  My legs were feeling tired, and I was nearly positive I wasn’t going to be able to finish the run.  Then I saw Junior, another runner from Runner’s Corner.  He was on his 2nd FULL marathon in 2 days, after celebrating the New Year until the wee hours of the morning.

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(This is Junior.  He ran 13 miles in the coconut bra, apparently)

He was a bit ahead of me, hard to miss, and then he stopped for some video.  I ended up right next to him and I believe I called him crazy.  We began to chat, and he basically paced me for the next 2-2.5 miles, where my average pace increased by nearly a full minute/mile.  Without that short distance at the faster pace, which got me through the halfway point and into the start of the 2nd loop, I’m not sure I would have kept running.  (I still would have finished, but I would have walked the rest of the way)

The Runner’s Corner folks were still the best spectators – they had a makeshift aid station with candy, cookies, and MIMOSAS!!! on the course.  As I passed them for the final time on loop 2, about 2.5 miles from the end, I grabbed a mimosa and walked a bit so I could drink it without spilling.  🙂

Again on NYD, my Garmin time was only off by 1/100 of a second!

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A bit slower than NYE, but still my 3rd fastest half marathon ever.  I was 37th in my age group (out of 65), the 177th woman (out of 395), and the 305th finisher overall (out of 610).  Overall, still a good finish.

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(post run on NYD, the sun created a lot of glare, sorry about that)

The BLING, all assembled:

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Although I could barely move after finishing the NYD race – man, was I sore! – I would do this race again in a heartbeat.  The loops were annoying, but the volunteers and spectators were so awesome, it was worth it.  I think next year, I’ll try for the double-double (that’s a 5K each morning BEFORE the half, too).

It was an awesome way to ring out 2013 and ring in 2014 on the right foot.

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McKinney Mini Half Marathon Recap

I know, I know, I owe a bunch of updates.  This school year is really getting in the way of life in general, LOL.  I’m trying to be better about it, though, I promise.  I have several races coming up, and I need to blog about my training for accountability!

Yesterday, though, I ran in my 3rd half marathon – the McKinney Mini Half.  It was the inaugural year for the event, so of course there were some minor glitches.

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(flat mama for the race)

Shelly & I were up EARLY for this one, since it was about an hour from home.  We met at 5:30 to carpool to the race site.  We felt good.  We had a plan.  We got lost, then figured it out.  We were parked by 6:45 in close proximity to the start/finish line.  We found  Sara and our other MRTT mamas.

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Yes, those are strollers you see.  Jessica & Alyssa ran the relay with their boys – Jess ran 5.5 miles pushing the double, and Alyssa ran 7.6 miles pushing a single – and they finished 2nd place female relay team, and 3rd place overall.  They’re rock stars.

The race was supposed to start at 7:30.  But, they didn’t even start setting up the timing mats until about 7:15, so we started about 10-15 minutes late.  The start was really difficult for me – it was very narrow and there were a LOT of people.  We started out faster than we had intended – we wanted to average 10:40 minute miles, and had been advised to do the first 3-4 at about 10:50… and our first mile was just over 10:00.   I was worried, since our goal finish time was about 2:25, but we settled into a comfortable pace by mile 2.  The course was fairly flat – even the big hills weren’t big – and there was only one area where it felt like we were really going up a hill.

Somewhere around mile 8, while we were on the one part of the course that forced us onto a windy sidewalk (instead of the street), I ended up getting ahead of Shelly.  We’d talked about our race plan in the car, and agreed that if one of us got ahead that we should just keep running the race, so I never looked back to see how far ahead I was.  I just made sure to stick to the plan, fueling every 3 miles or so, and watched my average pace on the Garmin.

There was a “surprise” hill around mile 12 – I didn’t remember it from the course elevation map, or from the beginning of the race (it was basically and out-and-back course).  I powered through it, though, and despite a lack of attention from some volunteers almost causing me to go the wrong way right at the end, I finished strong.

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Not only did I hit the target finish time, I crushed it!  A 16 minute new PR!  Official time was 2:20.53

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After I finished, I discovered a few other small glitches: they had NO water at the finish line (only warm Powerade) and the only food available at the finish was some extremely greasy pizza.  I really would have liked to have some water and a better variety of snacks – at least some bananas or granola bars or something.

Overall, I think it was a pretty great race for an inaugural event, and I’ll likely run it again.

What’s your preferred fuel during a race?  If it were up to you, what would be provided in a post-race area?

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Tower of Terror 10-Miler Recap

Ok, so I’m really slow with the updates, but I’ve finally got some time to write a recap of the runDisney Tower of Terror 10-Miler that was held on Saturday, October 5. 2013.  Overall, it was a really fun race, and I’m glad I did it, but I’m not sure I would do it again.

We had a 4-day weekend from work (luckily), so we headed to Orlando early early Friday morning.  I mean really early.  Like, we had a 6:15am flight, which meant waking up at 3:15 and leaving our house before 4:00.  With two kids under the age of three.  Possibly not the brightest decision we’ve ever made.  LOL

After a somewhat rough flight, thanks to the little one, we landed in Orlando around 9:30.  Headed to baggage claim to get the double stroller, then boarded a Disney’s Magical Express bus to our resort.  I love how easy Disney makes the arrival process.  We got to the resort, Old Key West, in about 45 minutes, and then got checked in.  By this time, it was around 11:30a, when the expo buses were scheduled to start running, so we decided to head straight to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports for the expo & packet pick up.

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We arrived at the Expo site right at noon, when it opened, and the line was outrageous.  Both kids fell asleep in the stroller within 5 minutes of getting off the bus, so my husband volunteered to just walk around the ESPN complex with them (since strollers weren’t allowed inside the expo) so I could pick up my stuff and look around a little bit.  I took some pictures while waiting in line.

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After a short wait, I was finally inside the arena and could see the expo layout.

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While large, this expo was only about half the size of the expo when I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2012, amazingly.  First things first, I headed over to packet pick-up to get my bib, then over to pick up the bibs for the runDisney kids races, since we’d entered both kids into their very first race (more on that later)!  Then, I went over to pick up my race shirt.  I’d ordered a large at registration, forgetting that the shirts were all men’s cut.  So my next stop was the shirt exchange area.  I traded for a medium, but should have tried it on – by the time I realized I needed a small & made it back to the expo the next day, they were out of smalls for trading.

Once I had all my race stuff, I tried to look around the expo a bit.  But, knowing that John was waiting with the (sleeping) kids, and seeing the REALLY LONG LINES to check out in the official race merchandise area, I decided to head out to find the family.  (I would regret this decision, as by the next morning, they were either sold out of my size or completely out of everything I wanted to get).

After leaving the expo, we headed over to EPCOT for the International Food & Wine Festival, and some character greetings & rides for the kids.  I’ll do a separate post on that later so this one doesn’t get too long.  Suffice to say, we ate & drank quite a bit of phenomenal food, then headed back to our resort once I got the text that our room was ready.  We had dinner at the resort and then settled in for the night.  It had been a LONG day and we had to be up early on Saturday morning for the kids races.

First, though, I had to get the kids’ race stuff ready.

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Getting to the kids race on Saturday morning was a bit stressful.  Trying to get two really young children up, dressed, on a bus, into a stroller, to the far side of the ESPN complex (a LONG walk) and into their start corral by 9:30am is a lot harder than it sounds.  The kids races are so cute, though.  The boy took off sprinting down the track because Pluto was at the finish line… I had no idea he was so fast!  And the girl waddled down the track just as fast as her little legs could go!  At the end of the 100m, they both got a medal, and we went to find daddy.

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And then we had to find Mickey, of course.

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We decided to go back into the expo and walk around for a little while, then (after I discovered that everything I wanted was sold out, boo) headed back to EPCOT for lunch at the Food & Wine Festival.  We were trying to have an easy day, since my actual race had a 10pm start.  We took the kids to the pool for a bit in the afternoon, and I sat in the hot tub to relax my muscles after all the walking I’d been doing (by the time we got back to the resort, we’d walked about 4 miles on our “easy” day, oops) and then just lounged around the room.  I started getting ready to go around 7pm.

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I think I headed out to the bus around 7:30, I was meeting up with some other Moms RUN this Town members for a pre-race photo at 8:30.  I found the person who was organizing the meet up, wandered around the pre-race area a bit, took a picture, then we headed to the start corrals.  The corrals opened at 9:30p.  I was in Corral E, with an expected finish time of 1:50-2:00 – my proof of time predicted a 1:56 finish, and I managed to convince some of the other MRTT girls to start back with me so I’d have someone to run with since they were aiming for about the same overall time.

At about 9:45, we started walking from the corral area to the start line, where there was some pre-race entertainment.  And right on schedule, the first corral started at 10pm.

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My corral started around 10:10 I believe.  The course, overall, was pretty good.  It was nearly all paved roads, starting right outside of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, going down the road to Disney’s Animal Kingdom parking area, then over to ESPN Wide World of Sports, and finishing back at Hollywood Studios.  There were a few places with really sharp turns, and a few other places where the course felt much too narrow for the number of runners that were holding about the same pace as I was, and there was one short section going in to the ESPN complex that was more like a trail.

There were characters along the course every 3/4 mile or so.  We only stopped for two – first, the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, and then again with the HYENAS from The Lion King, my all-time favorite Disney animated film.

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I ended up crossing the finish line at 2:02.58 officially, and 1:59 running time by the Garmin.  After crossing the finish line, there was still over a mile of walking that we had to do to get back into the main part of the theme park for the after party.  I’d hoped to stay and ride some rides, but since the kids had fallen asleep & my family wasn’t at the finish line like we’d planned, I only managed to stay for about 30 minutes after the race.  I headed back to the resort around 12:45am.  It was a really peaceful night at the resort when I got back.  I took this picture as I walked back to the room.

photo 5

It was a fun race, but I don’t think I’ll ever run another nighttime race, especially at Disney.  I can’t go to Disney and leave the kids at home, and I can’t do a night race without resting all day before hand, and that’s just not an option at Disney.  Between the heat/humidity and the tired legs, that was one of the hardest runs I’ve ever done.

What’s the hardest run you’ve ever done?  Have you ever run a race that you swear you’ll never do again?

Up next:  A picture of the race bling, and a quick report on the 5K I PR’ed in this morning.  🙂

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Running Mad! (and Life Gets in the Way, Again)

On Saturday, July 27, our local MRTT chapter hosted the summer virtual run called Running Mad!   Our wonderful chapter leaders set it up so that we’d have chip timing, designed the courses (we had options for 5K, 10K, or half marathon distances), arranged for post-race snacks, and set up some awesome swag.    Given that it’s July in Texas, we had an early start – 7am.  I elected to run the 10K option.

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(my flat mama for the race)

Because it was an abnormally cool July morning (around 70 at go time), I started off really fast – under 9 minute/mile pace for the first half mile, then started to slow down.  But, 5 of my 6 miles were (well) under 11 minute/mile pace, with just mile 3 as an anomoly.  The first half of the course was rough – uphill and into a strong headwind, which might explain that mile 3 split.  I finished my first-ever 10K in 1:03.47.  My Garmin measured the course a bit short, but some of the other girls’ Garmins measured it a bit long, so I’m choosing to believe it was exactly 6.2 miles.  😉

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(Garmin stats)

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(post-race goodies, including the medal)

I got home from the run around 9:30am, hopped in the shower, fed the baby, and then loaded up the car.  We were headed to San Antonio for a quick weekend trip with my parents to celebrate their anniversary (7/21 – 44 years!) and our anniversary (7/26 – 5 years!).  As a result, I haven’t gotten much running done in the past week, although I’ve walked A LOT – the San Antonio Zoo and Sea World are both pretty big places!  We got home Tuesday night, then yesterday went to the Dallas Arboretum to use some tickets we bought on Groupon before they expired.  According to an app on my husband’s phone, we walked almost 3 miles yesterday!

Tomorrow, I have to try to find my groove.  Just 2 weeks until the end of summer vacation, and I need to get the routine down before I go back to work.

How do you balance work & your running/exercise routine? 

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Too Hot to Handle 15K Race Recap 2013

My first-ever 15K race is in the books.  I completely surprised myself with my performance.  It helped that it was 72 degrees & overcast outside, strange weather for mid-July in Texas.  I feel certain that I wouldn’t have been able to do so well with “normal” weather.  Also, I hooked up with some girls from my local MRTT chapter, who I had never met before but who run about my pace.  By the end, 2 of us were still together, pushing each other through to the end.  I couldn’t have achieved the finish I did if it wasn’t for C!  When the dust settled, I ran a 1:44.47 (official time), which is an average pace of 11:07/mile – by far my fastest race pace yet.

photoTHTH finish

Race Review

The Good

This is a great course.  Overall, it’s pretty flat – a few small hills, but nothing worth complaining about.  The scenery is beautiful on the 15K route as nearly the whole thing is along the lake.  The water stops were abundant – one every mile or so – and some of them had sprinklers and/or cold towels for the runners.  The sponsor village at the finish was set up nicely, plenty of room to move between tents and it never felt crowded.  There were only about 500 people still on the course when I finished, and all the sponsors still had plenty post-race refreshments left, so I feel pretty confident that most of them didn’t run out.  And have I mentioned how nice the weather was today?  It sprinkled & then rained a bit, which I didn’t mind, there was no direct sunlight, and it was in the low 70s for the duration of the race.  I couldn’t have asked for better weather on a race day in July!  The race organizers were amazing as well, and unofficial results were being posted almost as soon as people crossed the finish line – I was able to see my preliminary time within 30 minutes of finishing, and official results were online within an hour or two of the last finisher crossing the line.  Oh, and the race swag was good too – a nice running hat at packet pick-up, a tech shirt for finishers, and a really cool medal.

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(the swag)

The Bad

Although the course was beautiful and flat, it was along a very popular biking/running path which was not shut down for the race.  There were a number of other runners on the course, as well as cyclists.  The cyclists were the problem.  While it’s understood that cyclists have the right of way under normal circumstances, this was a race with over 1500 runners.  Several times, I witnessed cyclists nearly force runners off the path because there just wasn’t enough room.

The Ugly

Only two really bad things to report.  The first was the parking situation.  The race started at 7:30 this morning.  To give us time to get there and get parked, we left our house at 6:00.  The race location is about 30 minutes from our house.  When we approached the park where the start/finish was located at about 6:35, there was already NO parking in the immediate area.  The lot was full, the street parking was full… it was horrible.  We ended up parking the car about 10 minutes later, at least a mile or so up the road, and had a 10-15 minute walk to the starting area.

Slide 1

(This is the parking map provided by the race officials.  The pink X in the upper left corner shows where we parked.)

The second big issue was the finisher tech shirts.  At registration, we had to list our shirt size for the finisher shirts.  Unlike many races, where you can pick up your shirts with packet pick-up, this one holds off on the shirts until after the race.  The problem was, they didn’t print enough shirts.  By the time I finished, they didn’t have any women’s cut shirts left.  We were given the option of taking a men’s shirt (the only difference was the neck, women’s cut had a V-neck) or taking an “order form” of sorts to request a women’s cut that we could then pick up in a few weeks.  I took the men’s small, but it certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.  There must have been a lot of last-minute registrations or something, but it was really irritating to be so “slow” that I couldn’t get the shirt in the size I requested at registration.

Overall Impressions

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(MRTT “Sole Sisters” before the race)

I would definitely run this race again, and would recommend it to others.  Overall, the snags weren’t horrible, just irritating.  I know now to leave my house earlier next year for a better parking spot, and to expect the cyclists along the course.  And hopefully the race organizers will figure out the shirt problems before next year’s race.

What are the best & worst things about races you’ve participated in?  What are the “dealbreakers” that would keep you from repeating an event?

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