Let’s get UGLY, Philly!

Last month Jess and her fam took to the San Francisco streets (or well, close by) for the Ugly Sweater Run. This past weekend I got to have my very own experience! Cold temps, inflatables, and the most awesome ugliest sweaters imaginable: it’s the Philadelphia Ugly Sweater Run.

usr1

Jay and I arrived at 6:30 for an early morning packet pickup. There was no line and we got a fantastic parking spot. Score! Usually I’m a fan of doing packet pickup before the day of the race but this was super laid-back and easy. While waiting in our warm car we got the chance to check out a lot of ugly sweaters of all different varieties.

usr2nd

usr1st

About a half hour before the start we wander toward the start area. Techno Christmas carols were pumping and there were photo opportunities for all. This run partners with Toys for Tots and many runners brought unwrapped toys to place by the inflatable Christmas tree.

usr2Soon we found all the members of our team, The Ho Ho Hos (I giggled good and hard when we came up with that name) and got the obligatory “we’re in it to win it” picture.

Brandi, Jen, Megan, me, Cyanne, and Alissa

Brandi, Jen, Megan, me, Cyanne, and Alissa

Seriously business runners, right here! I’ve know Brandi, Jen, and Megan for awhile now – we met in Stroller Strides and “graduated” to running races together through the past couple of years. And I finally got to meet Cyanne and her friend, Alissa! Team Sparkle in the hizzy!

We chatted for a couple of minutes about our race strategies (um, none) before heading to the start line, which was a wave start. It was chilly so we all wanted to get moving to get the blood flowing.

usr4

usr6

Soon enough we were off!

usr5

The course was pretty dense at the start and it lasted for about the first half mile or so. I had told Jay that I’d stick with him throughout the race. He’s got (stupid) plantar fasciitis and I’ve been dealing with some (stupid) foot pain of my own so we were taking it nice and easy. Cyanne stuck with us too, which was rad because we got to chat throughout the entire run and it just confirmed what I already knew through our Twitter/blogger friendship – she’s awesome!

Of course, we took all the pictures.

usr7

The point of this picture was to get the snow. I failed. Totally. But Cyanne is adorable regardless.

Thanks to Cyanne for this pic!

Thanks to Cyanne for this pic! (She didn’t fail!)

About a mile and a half into the run, we came across the water and hot chocolate station! We chose water but it seemed like there were a fair share of people getting hot chocolate to warm up.

usr9

And we came across a little Christmas tree going for a ride in a wagon. Because hey, why the heck not?

usr8

Two miles in, we entered the “enchanted forest”. To say we were enchanted would be putting it mildly!

usr10

Three enchanted ugly sweater runners are we!

Sadly, we had to leave the forest and continue on our way to the finish line. The Ugly Sweater Run website says that the run is “approximately” 3.1 miles. That is accurate. We crossed through Smith Memorial Arch and were surprised to see the finish line just ahead!

usr11

Jay's "what the what, we're at the finish already?" face.

Jay’s “what the what, we’re at the finish already?” face.

After the finish, there was the post run party, which included Sam Adam’s beer and cider and hot chocolate. There was a crazy long line for the beer area but we figured out where the secret second line was! Woo to the hoo!

usr13We found the rest of the Ho Ho Hos and chatted about our romp through the park. After sharing a post race drink, toasting to our successes as rocking the ugly attire, and warming our hands by the fake fireplace, we were ready to really warm ourselves in the heat of our cars.

Last year I had committed to running 12 races in 2012. I didn’t make the same goal for 2013 but when I got home from the Ugly Sweater Run, I realized that I’ve completed 13 races in 2013. What’s next? Continue my run streak for the rest of December and think of my goals for 2014. I’d like to be more specific this year. What are some of your goals for the upcoming year? Have you met Twitter/blogger friends in person?

It’s Electric! The Electric Run DC

There’s no greater compliment that I can receive than “you inspired me to run”. Sometimes I hear feedback like, “Well, I was going to bail on this run but then I heard a voice in my head that sounded very much like you telling me I can and I will and I kept going!” And other times apparently people are cursing me in their heads. Either which way, I’ll take what I can get!

My high school bestie, Keri and I were chatting a couple of months ago while she was doing the Couch to 5k program and I told her that she should pick a race and we’d do it together.

ER1

Meet my friend of 21 years, Keri! We don’t see each other nearly enough but when we do, it’s like no time has passed.

Keri picked the DC Electric Run, we signed up as soon as registration opened (in April) and began planning! In July I happened to be in Philadelphia, where I run many of my races, when their Electric Run got shut down because of a particularly bad thunder and lightning storm. It was the same weekend as the Philadelphia Zoo Summer Ale fest and Jog ‘n Hog and I saw many disappointed runners throughout the city. Thankfully we didn’t have the same fate but I definitely felt for those people (as we all ran through the rain together in search of taxis!).

We paid the extra $5 for race day pick up since neither of us are particularly close to the packet pickup locations – National Harbor is about forty minutes from Keri’s abode – and arrived super duper early to claim a good parking spot in one of the garages. Our first stop was packet pickup and since we arrived right at the beginning of the time window, we waltzed right up and got hooked up with shirts, bibs, glow bracelets and glow glasses. It’s worth noting that the women’s shirts run fairly small (I got a XL, for reference).

For the love of Pete, somebody help this giant!

For the love of Pete, somebody help this giant! The Awakening.

Since we had plenty of time, we wandered around National Harbor before settling at McLoone’s for dinner. Perfect weather lead to eating outside where we got to see other Electric Run participants, a wedding party, boats, and all around general awesomeness. We saw a couple of the Electric Run’s “Worlds” set up and ready to go!

After our dinner we ditched our race packets in the car and readied ourselves for the run. We came prepared with at least 60 glow bracelets which adorned not only our wrists but our necks (two hooked together), shoes (pretty sure this isn’t what SKORA had in mind), and hair.

er3We headed into the corral area a little after 7pm where they were checking bracelets to make sure that everyone was on the up and up. Finding ourselves close to the starting line, we knew that we’d be going out in the first wave.

er4

Now… it was time for the sun to get the heck off our lawn so we could Electric Run! GO ON, sun. Shoo!

er5

There was a really, really tall dude standing right next to us. Keri isn’t shy (*I’m so demure*) so she asked if he’d take a picture for us. I love this picture because it really gives you an idea of the sheer magnitude of the crowd. And what an awesomely diverse crowd it was!

er6

Getting darker! We were antsy at this point – time was creeping along but the Electric Run’s DJ, MC, and staff did a great job keeping the interest going with giveaways of glow sticks, glow rings, hats, and other fun stuff.

The race started around 10 minutes after 8pm and we were off into the Electric Run experience!

er7

Something I’ve noticed during “fun runs” like the Electric Run and The Color Run is that there are a lot of people who plan to walk the entire course, which is GREAT, because they are out and moving. However, I think that as walkers, many don’t realize the etiquette that runners have come to expect during events (walkers to the right, runners to the left). It would be pretty rad if the event coordinators could make mention of this, perhaps in both race documents and while the participants are lining up and they’re hyping the crowd.

Once the crowd thinned a bit, we were able to find a really nice, comfortable pace and take pictures along the way.

er8

Each of the “worlds” had speakers with music pumping! I think the phrases “HOW FREAKING COOL IS THIS?” “SO FREAKING COOL!” were the only ones that Keri and I uttered for awhile. It was very “Dude!” “Sweet!” of us.

er9BECAUSE… IT WAS SO FREAKING COOL.

er10

Once we went through a couple of tunnels, we found ourselves on gravel, right along the water. I have to say that this course ranks in the top three favorites. (And there were hills, so I think that really says a lot.) It was absolutely gorgeous! There were volunteers along the course, pointing us in the right direction. I suppose the “wrong” direction would have been swimming and since none of us had signed up for an aquathon, we continued along on the path.

The first hydration station we reached had Rockstar Energy Drink but we were in search of plain old water. Thankfully, there was a lovely table of water cups just ahead!

er11

Soon after we hit the water station, we got to a really gravelly portion of the course. Not to mention, it wasn’t too well lit. And oh, there was a hill. We took this part slow and tried to see where we were going based on the glowing luminaries ahead. It might have been helpful to have little luminaries along the path in the particularly dark areas. Oh, if only I were in charge of the world!

er12

I think that Umbrella Land was one of my favorite parts of the course. Just as we arrived Coldplay’s “Paradise” started playing and it was just so perfect. It was dark, the night bugs were talking, the umbrellas were floating in the trees (that’s not something you see every day) and we were running. Honestly, it reminded me a bit of when we used to dance in the headlights of our cars at night. Yes, we really used to do that. I blame Footloose and being theater geeks.

Keri and I were talking after the run and she said she couldn’t stop smiling (like the first day she rode a bike as an adult) and I agree. IT WAS REALLY FREAKING COOL. Ahem.

er13

See how cool I am?

er14

Just after we ran under the glowing arches, we came to light-up walls with projections on them. Ran through that and wound up right near a father and son duo. The son was probably around eight (my older son’s age) and the dad was giving the pep talk that I’ve given so many times. “Just a half mile to go! You’ve got this! You’re looking strong, buddy!”

er15

Keri wasn’t sure the significance of the mouse – but we rolled with it! When the dad said we were only a half mile out, it made both of us kind of sad. We wanted it to go on forever!

er16

Just after we went through these lit up trees, we hit a steep uphill. But there were actually spectators at this point in the course and we knew that we were nearly done so naturally we tapped into their energy and RAN up that hill. I think Keri might have actually said “WEE!” at one point.

And thankfully, where there’s an uphill, it’s usually followed by the downhill! We flew through the streets of National Harbor, lined with spectators and picked up steam as we went. Faster and faster, we ran through an area of fog (thanks to the fog machine) and then saw the FINISH arch! Keri was so happy speeding along, she nearly missed the fact that we were AT the finish!

er17

We grabbed the post race water and granola bars, took a very glow-y picture, and made our way to the post race par-tay!

Thanks to Keri for this video – I was dancing. Naturally!

I’m so very grateful that not only did I get to experience this race but that I got to run it with Keri. I think I’ve said this before; I was the girl who walked the mile in gym class. Keri was the girl who walked right next to me. For us to do this and enjoy it all these years later? Ah-maz-ing.

Ever do an Electric Run or night race? My next night race will be runDisney’s Wine and Dine! And I’ll be cheering at the Philly Rock ‘n Roll half marathon this weekend – look for me with my bright yellow sign, hopefully with a Scoot a Doot shoe logo if I’m able to get crafty. ūüėČ

It’s About to Get Ridiculous Up in Here

Belly Flop Drop. ¬†Tarzan Swing. ¬†40 Bounces to Freedom. ¬†No, these are the latest dance crazes. ¬†They’re obstacles, just 3 of the many from the Ridiculous Obstacle Course 5K I participated in the race this past Saturday. ¬†I’ve ran in mud. ¬†I’ve climbed hills. ¬†I’ve ran tires. ¬†But I’ve never ran a muck like this before.

When I signed up for the race, all I knew was there were trampolines. ¬†I don’t know about you, but I love trampolines. ¬†And anything that incorporates day-glo wear with trampolines is my kind of activity. ¬†My friend Amy signed up with me and enthusiastically sported our vibrant tie-dye in an effort to stand out.

the girls

Unfortunately, we were ill-prepared. ¬†There were teams of minions, brides, prom dresses, zombies; pretty much any and every costume you could think of. ¬†I was shocked to see so many runners looking so, well, ridiculous. ¬†Had I known, I’m sure my propensity for ridiculousness would have reigned supreme. ¬†Next time, ROC, next time…

The race was located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego.  We were signed up for the 11 am start time and were herded into the starting gate.  Yep, the very gates used for the horse races.  We had to wait a bit, they were letting runners go in small groups to lessen the wait time at the obstacles.  Even though I had thoroughly sunblocked, I was already feeling the heat on my shoulders.  It was dusty and hot and I was looking forward to those water obstacles.

obstacles.jpg

The Wrecking Ball, the Inflatable Water Slide and the Moon Bounce.

The first obstacle we hit was Tunnel Vision, which is exactly what it sounds like, a tunnel.  Out of the tunnel, we came to 40 Bounces to Freedom,  a series of trampolines that escalated in height.  You had to jump down and across the tramp to a high platform, getting higher and higher until you came to the end.  The only way to get down was to slide down a pole, which I had never done before.  And kind of freaked me out.  But it was either down or back through the traffic and there was no going back now.

We ran on.  Amy, my ridiculously fast friend, sprinted off ahead but I hung back with the group.  We hopped some hurdles and scaled a gigantic mountain of dirt and then it was time to slide.  For the obstacle named Cool Runnings, we had to grab an inner tube and run it up a hill, then proceed to slide down a water slide.

After the refreshing little dip, we had to run some more. ¬†We climbed more walls. ¬†I attempted to cross some monkey bars and cross a muddy pool on a rope swing. ¬†I failed at both. ¬†I was ready for more water by the time I got to the Aqua Drag. ¬†Basically, it’s a four-way slip and slide. ¬†You run as fast as you can and then dive onto this inflatable water slide, hoping to make it to the end. ¬†I neglected to build up enough speed and I hesitated, which resulted in a less than spectacular display. ¬†I got stuck on the slide about halfway down and had to inchworm my way to the end. ¬†Thankfully, I destroyed any documented evidence of this fiasco.

It seemed like we ran a lot in the beginning, but about halfway, the obstacles started piling up. ¬†And we started having to wait. ¬†After the longest tire run of my life, we ran up a ramp over the race track and into the Moon Bounce. ¬†It’s a bouncer for adults. ¬†The world’s largest, in fact. ¬†After bouncing across, we had to stand in line for the Wrecking Ball. ¬†The obstacle consisted of barrels strung across a pool of water. ¬†You had to cross the barrel bridge and avoid the two huge rubber balls that were flying around your head. ¬†I made it about halfway before I bailed. ¬†The last obstacle was the World’s Largest Inflatable Water Slide. ¬†I climbed to the top, where they scanned my timing chip before sending me down the slide. ¬†Best way to cross a finish line ever.

Not only was the race itself totally epic, but the after-party was amazing.  Lots of vendors, with all kinds of food and drinks.  Many products available for sample. And a soapy hose down for those who needed it.

The Salmon Ladder.  These two were trying to win a free race entry.

Alpha Warrior: The Salmon Ladder.

We met up with Amy at the Alpha Warrior exhibit and then it was time to get our free beer and do a little dancing. ¬†Amy had placed 3rd in the women’s¬†division¬†for our time slot and had to pick up her awesome medal. ¬†We people watched some more, ate a delicious artichoke on a stick, and were able to see all the best costume winners. ¬†My vote goes to the couple who dressed up as Indiana Jones and the Boulder. ¬†484805_10151379989246481_888811857_n

after party

Registration for the Orange County race opens on May 15th and I’m seriously considering running this again. ¬†It was a blast, like being on a giant playground. ¬†And I want another shot at that ridiculous costume contest!

Would you participate in a race like the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge? What would your costume be?

ROY G. BIV – Colorful Runs!

Have you heard of Holi?

Holi is a Hindu religious festival, one in which brightly powdered colors that are thrown amongst participants in addition to bonfires, chants, and the celebration of spring.

Photo attributed to Jorge Royan: http://www.royan.com.ar/Royan/Home.html

Photo attributed to Jorge Royan: http://www.royan.com.ar/Royan/Home.html

Not long after I’d first learned about Holi, I saw a brightly colored ad for The Color Run, which began in January 2012. Touted as the Happiest 5k on the Planet, it was first inspired by Disney‚Äôs World of Color, paint parties, mud runs, and festivals throughout the world. The Color Run is known in the industry as a “paint race” and promotes healthiness, happiness, celebrating individuality and giving back.

And not too long after that, I heard about other color runs! Color Vibe, Color Me Rad, Run or Dye ‚Äď the color powder is a‚Äôplenty and the party-like atmosphere is a good one.

"Color runs are awesome because you sweat rainbows." - Cam

“Color runs are awesome because you sweat rainbows.” – Cam

A couple of the Chicks have done their fair share of color throwing thus far; Jess, Cam and myself (Mer) took part in The Color Run 2012 San Francisco.

"Color runs are super awesome because everyone's there to have fun and get colored and give high fives." - Jess

“Color runs are super awesome because everyone’s there to have fun and get colored and give high fives.” – Jess

I volunteered at The Color Run 2012 New Jersey and soon I’ll be running at Run or Dye Philadelphia.

Bec‘s done both Color Me Rad 2012 Boston and The Color Run 2012 Boston and has another Color Me Rad coming up this summer.

" Color Me Rad is the perfect name for it. It was totally chill (as chill as an 88 degree July day can be), and I love that it was about playing and color and FUN. No timing, no pressure, just getting down for some good, clean (errrr) fun." - Bec

“It was totally chill (as chill as an 88 degree July day can be), and I love that it was about playing and color and FUN. No timing, no pressure, just getting down for some good, clean (errrr) fun.” – Bec

However, Victoria has yet to experience a color explosion and so we thought she’d be the perfect, unbiased, candidate for our comparison post!

Ring the bell and meet our two contenders in the COLOR THROW-DOWN!

colorvibe

VERSUS

colorrun

Color Vibe was founded in March of 2012, first under the name Graffiti Me Color Series before later changing to Color Vibe. Both races encourage the wearing of white (even after Labor day – GASP!), do not have timing chips, and encourage their participants to have THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER.

Victoria, we hope you’re ready to party!

Color Vibe and The Color Run have both graciously provided entry for Vic’s experiences and she’ll be coming back here to share everything with the Scoot a Doot readers. Not to fret, this is a friendly competition where the boxing gloves are more like fist bumps and everyone is looking to have a good time.

First up is the Rochester Color Vibe which takes place today, April 20th.  Vic is looking forward to it and will report back next week!

Will you be there or at another colorful event this spring/summer? Have you been to a Holi celebration? Let’s hear about it!

While Color Vibe and The Color Run have compensated Vic for the races, this post and all others regarding it are not sponsored. All thoughts/opinions expressed are our own.