Race Recap: Vacation Races Yellowstone Half

Last weekend, amazing races took place all over the country. Maybe you even participated in one. (If so tell me allllll about it in the comments!) I was lucky enough to be one of those people, and I can’t wait to show you all the pictures from  the Vacation Race Yellowstone 5k and Half Marathon. I had dreamed of doing the Caldera Triple this year, but other obligations (tickets to see Roger Waters) kept me from the mother of all medals. Next year, it’s on!

Disclaimer: while I am a Vacation Races Ambassador, I did pay for my registration for this race and I didn’t receive any compensation for this race review.

I live about ten hours from Yellowstone. Honestly, when the scenery is as beautiful as it was and you’re driving your Mustang, ten hours feels like five.We drove up last Thursday and got into Yellowstone at around seven o’clock in the evening. Along the way, we stopped at an overlook to take in the most beautiful mountain range I’ve ever seen, and keep in mind, Rocky Mountain National Park is my backyard. If you’ve never been to the Grand Tetons, you need to add it to your bucket list.

Jackson Lake and Grand Teton

We came from the south which meant we had to drive through Grand Teton National Park to get to Yellowstone. We decided to buy an annual park pass since we’ll soon be living so close to a national park ourselves. Eighty bucks to support our national treasures was money well spent in our book.

I had signed up for the Bison Double, which meant I was running the 5k Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. My husband and I decided to get up before dawn on Friday to see some of Yellowstone while the light was still good for photography. It was the right choice!

He was the only other guy on the road at 5:30 am. Also, he wasn’t moving for us.

Sadly, the Grand Prismatic Spring was too steamy to see.

Kepler Cascade

Yellowstone Lake and Thermal Vents

A real life postcard.

After a morning of exploring the park, we headed back to the hotel to take a nap and prep for the 5k. The weather forecast at race time was less than dry. I was volunteering at the race expo before the start, so I headed over a little early and met up with the rest of my team at the start. My husband, sisters-in-law, and their husbands all ran the 5k, and exactly none of us were looking forward to running in rainy drizzle and 42 degrees.

There’s some first timers in this pic!

The course was beautiful despite it being wet. I don’t have many pics of this race because the conditions made it hard to snap shots. We started on paved town roads for the first mile then transitioned to gravel trail riddled with puddles and mud for the rest of the race. We had to watch where we stepped so we didn’t slip in the mud. I’m glad I’d packed so much gear, options are so important when the weather is unpredictable. Plus I’d bought an emergency poncho for which I was so grateful! I was slow because of the conditions and I wanted to be sure I was okay to do the half the next morning. My husband and I crossed the finish, then waited for the rest of our team. We were disappointed to learn that the 5k medals had been lost in shipping, but we were assured that they’d be mailed to us once they were located.

The next morning, I woke up to a weather forecast calling for hail and more rain before the half marathon. Yes, hail. Well, tiny little pellets, but still, when they hit your cold cheeks, it hurts! I shook out my disposable poncho and layered up. With some fleece lined leggings, a Lioness skirt from Skirt Sports, and three layers on top, I was as ready as I could be for my first wet, cold trail half.

I knew this race was going to be my hardest one yet going into it. I knew the elevation gain was no joke, and that it was mostly on a trail. I also knew I wasn’t able to train for this race like I wanted to. Since February, I’ve had to focus on selling my house, moving, and finding a new place to live.  Doing all those home improvement projects did get me into better shape than I was in after the holidays, but I was no where near where I wanted to be for this race. Getting a PR wasn’t my goal, not getting hurt was. My strategy was to do walk a brisk pace with some splashes of running until the big hill. Then, I’d walk as briskly as I could up that bish.

Around mile five, it started to get steep. The course was still thick with mud, and I tried to stay on the edge of the trail to keep from getting bogged down. Mile six is where it started to get nasty. Hence my face in the photo below. It was yucky, but at least the sun had come out and the rain/hail stopped! Once I got over that hill, I found one of my Skirt Sports sisters on the course, and I couldn’t have been happier! Kim is the best. We’d run the Skirt Sports 13er together last year and running with her is always so much fun.

After I’d made it over the hill and found a friend, the race took on a new feel. The course turned technical with large rocks as we began to descend in elevation. I took my time through the rocks but still stumbled a few times. The views were completely worth it, though, as the course took us beside the river and through pristine forest.

As I was out there feeling better than I expected to be at mile nine, I took a moment to appreciate my body. I have ridiculous expectations of it. I ask it to do amazing feats of endurance without ever putting in the 100% training I should. As I climbed that hill and listened to those around me struggling to breathe due to the altitude, I sent my body some messages of gratitude and I promised to not ask it to do this again without the proper preparation.

We counted down the miles together, stopped for orange slices at the mile 11 aid station, and were fueled by the thought of our medals waiting for us. Unfortunately, the Bison Double medals and the Caldera Triple medals were lost in shipping along with the 5k medals. But we did get our half marathon medals, so it was great to have that waiting for us at the end along with the always yummy post race fuel box and bananas.

It hurt so much but we did it!

Kim and I hugged goodbye before I took a few family photos with our race team. I think some of them may have caught the race bug! I’m already planning to come back for the Caldera Triple next year, maybe we’ll make it a tradition!

It was a fabulous race in one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Aside from the medals being lost, everything went smoothly and we all had a blast. This race may not be an annual one for me due to traveling, but it’s certainly one I’d like to do every few years. Vacation Races didn’t disappoint, they really now how to pick their locations! It was so gorgeous everywhere you looked that I wanted to share a few last photos with you of your Yellowstone National Park.  Enjoy!

Elk buck

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Bison herd

You could literally reach out your car window and touch them. But DON’T.

Half medal with Old Faithful erupting in the background

 

As a safety reminder, I ask that when you read my recaps of high altitude races to not underestimate the affects of altitude. I’ve lived at over 5000 feet elevation all my life, and soon I’m moving to 8500 feet. My lungs and muscles are acclimated to the elevation despite having asthma. If you do a race at altitude and you aren’t already acclimated, be sure to train appropriately, take precautions against altitude sickness, and be kind to yourself on the course if you don’t hit your pace goals.Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Race Recap: Denver Broncos Back to Football 7K

Something weird happened over the last few years. I started wearing more orange. I began paying attention when my husband was watching our local NFL team games. I found myself yelling at the refs for making shit calls against our guys, and screaming for joy when they won. Somehow, I became a football fan. You may have heard of my team, they won the Superbowl last year.

hat

My new Broncos hat. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to wear!

My family is just as mystified as I am at this development. It’s something I can’t explain or  make sense of myself. But, it’s happened, and so when I found out that the Broncos host a 7k (all hail John Elway) AND that the medal is pretty sweet, I invited a bunch of friends to join my team, the Happy Hoofers!

bibs

We’ve got our bibs!

Waiting in our corral with a ton of other fans in the shadow of the storied Mile High Stadium was definitely a unique experience. We were #UnitedinOrange! It took a while for our corral to go as they were releasing waves every five minutes. We waited over an hour to start and were already pretty hot and thirsty by the time we got going at 9:30-ish. Still, we were excited to be part of the energy.start Collage

When we got the the first water station at mile 1, we were so happy! Until we were so sad. They had run out of cups, and we didn’t have bottles with us. We’d have to wait until mile 3.something for the next aid station. We really hoped they had cups! The course took us through the old Victorian neighborhood that surrounds Sports Authority Field (us natives will always and forever call it Mile High Stadium). I was too thirsty to get pictures. :-p Then we did a half circle along Sloans Lake before turning back toward the stadium to run onto the field!

collage2

Running into the stadium through the Bronco head and being on the jumbotron was awesome but I wish they’d let us snap a few photos before they pushed us through. How often do I get to be on the 50 yard line of my teams home field. NEVER. That’s how often.

finish collage

jumbocollage

Me and my sister on the JumboTron!

 

My goal with this race was to get some folks who might not ever consider “running” a race to try it out. I think for those who have never been to any kind of running race have preconceived notions about what level of fitness you need to participate, and how far a 5k (or 7k) really is. My friends where surprised that it wasn’t quite what they expected and they had more fun than they thought they would. Once folks realize they can do it at a pace they are comfortable with, they enjoy it. Not everyone has to be fast!

bite

They’re real!

I’m not sure I’ll do this one again. As much as I love my team, I felt the race organization could be better. The race didn’t start until 8:30 so it was pretty warm and it took quite a while for us to start. Not to mention, the water station ran out of cups before all the runners had left their corrals, and I saw far too many people cutting the course and cheating. It’s 4.3 miles for Pete’s sake, does one really need to cheat???  I call shenanigans!

It was a success, though, because my group tried something out of their comfort zone and they had fun! They are all so proud of their medals and of themselves! My sister-in-law had such a good time, she’s already signed up for a Christmas 5k, and I hope this is the start of a new hobby for her. I couldn’t be more proud of her! Kudos, Toni!! <3

All photos courtesy of my wonderful husband. Thanks, Honey!

 

What Fall races do you have planned? Who’s your team? I want to know below!

Save

Save

Race Recap – Vacation Races Elk Double at Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park

I want to let you know that this will mostly be a picture post, because this race is just sooooo pretty. Also, I want to formally declare my love for Vacation Races, and this event in particular. VR, I LOVE YOU. If you’re reading this, pleeeeeeeease let me be an ambassador for your race series. Since I live within driving distance of  six out of nine of your events, I would make an excellent representative because I plan to run them all in the near future. But my first love for your race series will always be the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon.

This was the second year I’ve run the #RMHalf. They even added an extra special challenge this year, the Elk Double, which consisted of a 5k on Friday night, followed by the half marathon on Saturday morning. Three medals for two races means I. AM. IN. Many of my fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador Sisters were also running the races, and created a team. Team WTF? Where’s the Finish? I was so stoked to run with a team; I usually run races all by my lonesome.

packing

Packing for the big weekend and Coach Lily the Pug approves of my outfit selections.

In the interest of transparency, I want to state that in my (limited) half marathon experience, this group puts on the best races with the BEST Medals. Dare I say it, even better than runDisney.

I dared and said it. I retract nothing.

For proof, they had free smores and hammocks at the race expo. They had water, electrolyte drink, and Honey Stinger Gels at EVERY half marathon aid station, and at three of those stations, they also had bananas, orange slices, and porta potties.  VR really takes care of their runners!

smores

I was excited to try my new Skirt Sports skirt with bib magnets built in for the 5k. I was expecting to have to adjust my bib as I ran, but nope! The magnets kept it perfectly in place and I didn’t have to put safety pin holes in my new skirt. I was winning at life!

flat5k

5K Outfit: Skirt Sports Race Magnet Skirt, Electric Tank, Injinji socks, NB Shoes

5kstart

At the 5k Start

anglersrunners

Spirit of the Rockies: Anglers, Canadian Geese, and runners share the natural beauty!

Geese

Even the geese were cheering for us!

Here in Colorado, they don’t give out medals for 5ks. They just don’t. Not sure why, but maybe it has something to do with the commonly seen “140” oval stickers on cars. I guess folks here don’t really get behind the 5k distance. So, I’m VERY proud of my first and only 5k medal!

5kmedal

Ummm, so on a “related to the Rockies” note…my high school BFF lives a half a mile from the start line for the races, which was awesome, because I stayed at her house and walked to the 5k start. What wasn’t as fun was navigating the bear in the tree a few houses down from said friend’s house. I think he was sleeping, and he had the cutest bear butt. As long as that butt stayed in that tree.

bearbutt

You can see a casually hanging paw and adorable tail.

I found out later that team WTF? finished in FIRST PLACE for the 5k!!!! No thanks to my slow arse which finished in 38 minutes, but yeah! So I got 2, 5k medals and I cannot even. I had to get the gold 1st place medal from my WTF? team mates the next day, but I was stoked!!  Then it was time to rest, fuel, sleep, and get up at 4:30 for the half marathon!

flathalf

Flat Me for the Half: Skirt Sports Eclipse top, Cougar (Lioness) skirt in Free Love print, two pairs of socks; Injinji toe and PROcompression.

halfstart

I only smile this early in the morning on race days. Trust.

mist

Mountain valley mist rising as the sun rises in Estes Park

halfriver

The weather was perfect, and the course is so gorgeous!

bullelk

I saw an Elk whilst doing the Elk Double! Life is complete!

I always love seeing mile marker 6 because it means I’m almost halfway done!

mile6

In the middle of the dreaded looooooong (3.5 miles-ish) low grade hill.

gorgeous

*heart eyes*

thatviewtho

This view is worth the altitude.

stanley

The course takes you right past the most haunted hotel in America!

lakefinish

Coming up on the finish

finishsupport

dog

The cutest!

finish1

Just a few more steps!

finish2

Team WTF? Where's The Finish

Team WTF? Where’s The Finish

bling

That bling, tho!

Done

This was my big event for the season and there was no doubt in my mind that I’d enjoy the race, but the fact is I came away with a lot more than I expected. My goal was to push myself and I did. I shaved five minutes off my time from last year. But the best part by far was I got to know my Skirt Sisters better, and together, we placed in the race. That’s because #REALwomenmove. Especially together.

What is/was your big race this season? Do you runs with a team at races? Did you visit a National Park this summer? Let’s discuss below!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Race Recap – Skirt Sports 13er & Ambassador Retreat

Recently, I got to spend some time getting to know my fellow Skirt Sports Ambassadors as we celebrated a weekend of strong women accomplishing amazing things. At the ambassador retreat, I learned more about the Skirt Sports message of supporting all women in their fitness goals and beyond. I want to tell you more about that in a future post because the message is amazing, and goes much deeper than the cute clothes they make.

My current favorite.

My current favorite.

The retreat was hosted by the company’s Community Outreach Manager, Noelle, at her amazing mountain home near Boulder. We ate all the yummy food  like berries and mangoes, Einstein Bagels, Justin’s Nut Butters, Noosa Yogurt, Bhakti chai & teas, and granola bars Two Moms  in the Raw.

food

After stuffing our faces, we embarked on a short hike and I made lots of new friends. Inspired by the beauty of our surroundings, we moved though the forest and shared stories of how we came to running and fitness, and why we wanted to be involved with the company. Our colorful prints and pink skirts took over the trail, and the air was filled with our laughter and positivity.

Hike 1

These ladies know how to have all the fun. It was great to put faces to names and learn something form everyone I met. I sometimes have a bit of social anxiety, so putting myself out there like this was a big deal for me. Everyone was so welcoming and genuine.

Hike 2

With views like this, we all wanted to move into Noelle’s basement.

Pano3

After the hike, we mingled and ate more carbs and then discussed some super secret ambassador-y type of stuff that I’ll be sharing with you later. At the end day I had new friends and a new perspective of what being a Skirt Sports Ambassador means. These ladies are good people, and I’m so proud to be among them!

hikegroup

The next day was the Skirt Sports 5k and 13er. One of the highlights of the race is seeing the excitement of the Running Start  runners. It’s a mentorship program that matches a seasoned runner with a new runner for training and motivation The new runners train for the 5k and they run with their mentors. The program had been life changing for lots of women in profound ways that go far beyond running shoes and exercise.

running start

We didn’t get to see them start their 5k since our half started earlier, but we were an excited bunch at the start!

race start

Not far in, I found my pace and two new friends! Anne, (@anniem695) who blogs at Out Running the Fork, and Kim (@kimrunsthistown). We had so much fun together and enjoyed the beauty of the course, which wasn’t as hilly as I expected. The weather was PERFECT, it was overcast which kept it cool, and humidity is something we know nothing about in Colorado. And it was SO PRETTY, you guys!

course1

BoulderPano

They had the best signs out on the course, which was nice, because there weren’t to many folks out on the course cheering with their own funny signs. As we approached the hill, we needed that motivation. However, there were some lovely people out with a tray of gummy worms, which may have to be my fuel of choice going forward.

the hill

We made it to the top of the hill, a.k.a., the bad relationship, and honestly, it wasn’t that bad! I was pretty scared of this hill; it kept me from doing the half last year. It was so gradual that I didn’t notice the incline much at all. (Note: I’m acclimated to the elevation here, always consider the elevation when traveling to a mountain race location.)

annekim

It was a great day and this race is inching to the top of my short list of favorites. With views like this throughout the entire course, who wouldn’t want to run this one? I’ll be there next year with  my Skirt Sisters; and you should add this unique women-only race to your list of destination races. Did I mention there’s amazing gluten-free cake at the finish?

What races have you done recently? What races do you have on the horizon? Do you have a community that builds you up? Tell me all about it below!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

runDisney 2016 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Recap

5K

Last year, after I finished the inaugural Disney Star Wars Half Marathon, I was walking back to the hotel room surrounded by the clanking of medals from Rebel Challenge finishers.  I glanced down at my beautiful, yet lonely, half marathon medal and I vowed that in 2016, I would have all the Star Wars medals.  When the time came to register for these races, I gave all my money to runDisney. I registered for the Rebel Challenge and then signed up for the 5K too.  Because if there’s one race series that I’m going all in on, it’s this one. After all, Star Wars is kind of my thing.

Finally! After all these years…

Finally! After all these years…

The 5K was on Friday morning and I expected the race to be a lot less crowded than previous Disney races.  I’m not sure why, maybe because it was on a weekday at 5:30 in the morning.  Really, I should know by now that Disney races break all the rules.  This race was packed with all kinds of runners!  Especially families.  I was really disappointed I hadn’t signed up my daughter.  I also can’t tell you how excited I was to see so many little girls in their Rey costumes kicking ass in a race whose theme has been marketed as a mainly male franchise.

2016-01-15 05.03.25

Start Line Selfie!

I know this is a big shocker, but I didn’t train as much as I would have liked for these races. I wasn’t too worried about the 5K, but I knew I had those other two, more lengthy races to run in the next few days with Jenn.   I thought of this race as kind of the warm-up.  The course stayed in the two parks and it was exactly what running around Disneyland with a bunch of kids would be like.  I can’t tell you how many times I had dodge tiny Jedi.  I couldn’t stop thinking how amazing this race would be for a kid: getting to dress up like a Jedi and run, literally run, around Disneyland.  It was great to watch these kids finish with their parents and friends.  I can’t wait to force my kids to do it with me next year.

leaishirt

10K Banner

With the 5K was out of the way, I couldn’t wait to meet up with Jenn to get ready for the first race of our Rebel Challenge.  We eagerly prepared our costumes for Jenn’s first ever trip through Disneyland.  That’s right, my friends, Jenn was a Disneyland virgin! That would explain the virgin alarm…

Perfect costume is perfect!

Perfect costume is perfect!

We weren’t quite sure about choosing a parody costume for this race.  We are both lifelong Star Wars fans; she’s the first person I texted my theories to after watching The Force Awakens!  But we’re also both fans of laughing and when Jenn suggested we dress as the Spaceballs duo of Dot Matrix and Princess Vespa, I just couldn’t get as enthusiastic about anything else.  We weren’t sure if anyone would appreciate the laugh as much as we did, but, man, were we pleasantly surprised.

10K Collage

Jenn’s Dot Matrix was just perfect and all race long we were reminded of our favorite quotes as fellow Spaceballs fans shouted them at us as we passed.  My favorites?  “She doesn’t look druish!” and “How many more dunes?” Unfortunately, we didn’t get to reenact our favorite parasol scene.  We didn’t want to risk it with the new costume rules. Because I will definitely use that parasol for something else someday.

10K Collage 2

The 10K was great fun.  Jenn and I talked Star Wars theories while we ran and we cared not about spoiler alerts, because um, we’re running Star Wars!  We were stopped many times to have our picture taken with other Spaceballs fans.  The cherry on top was meeting Dark Helmet at the finish!  What are the odds?  Also, a DeLorean in the parking lot!  Win, win!

10K collage 3

We hit the park after freshening up. I was so excited to show Jenn around one of my favorite places.  We made lightsabers after Star Tours and rode the wildest ride in the wilderness.  And we shopped, oh, did we shop!  Mickey ears for everyone!

12banner

When I walked to the expo and saw this, the fangirl in me GEEKED OUT.

alongtimeago

Because a long time ago in a decade that has long since passed, I fell in love with this franchise at the age of 4.  So this smile? It’s totally genuine.

jenn

And so is this smile, as I wait with the funnest chick in SoCal, Cam, at the start. Cam’s Chewbacca dress and duct tape bandoleer were a big hit! We strive for adorable, after all.

start

The energy was great at the start, and even though this was my first runDisney experience, I assume they always go big. It was easy to forget we were up so early.

All too soon, we were at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The weather was perfect for running, and the pace of the runners was faster than at the 10k. Cam’s costume was getting lots of love on the course, and we even got a compliment from a fashion teacher on our outfits. The seamstress in me was thrilled!

CASTLE

The World of Color is pretty even in the early morning. The weather was perfect for a race, and so was the company! <3 you, Cam!

worldofcolor

Cam answered the many Wookie calls thrown her way with a throaty GRRRRR as we took our time but were mindful of the balloon ladies. After putting in fourteen miles the day before at the 10k and walking the park, both Cam and I had some tired legs and feet. No matter, though, we were having TONS of fun!

mile 5

I had to dance for Mer. It’s what I do.

There were lots of cheer squads and marching bands from the local high schools out on the course cheering us on. They were so excited to be out there dancing, playing, and high-fiving us, it was great!

cheers

The course support was fantastic during the last 5 miles, too, with some astounding cosplayers cheering us from the sidelines. Seriously, folks, check out these costumes.

darthmaul

Steampunk Madam Boba Fett & Darth Maul

Steampunk Stormtrooper

Steampunk Stormtrooper

costumes1

The balloon ladies snuck up on us. All of the sudden, there they were. There was some confusion about the pace they were keeping versus what our GPS watches were saying our pace was. We had to put a wiggle in it to get the race done. I sprinted at the end, beyond excited to get my hands on those gorgeous medals!

mile13

We made it! And we’re so happy it’s done! Because OUCH.

all done

And look how prettttty!

medals

And then we ordered pizza. and drank beer. And then for dinner, I ate this amazing shrimp po-boy. Because recovery, yo.

nomnom

The next race with this girl can’t come soon enough. You’re the best Cam, the best Disney tour guide, the wittiest running partner, and a good friend. Thanks for everything. Until next time, Princess Vespa! <3

IMG_2095

And maybe by then, my sister’s envy of my medals will lure her to the Dark Side. We’re taking on the Kessel Run in 2018.#jointhescootalliance.

What was your first runDisney race? What’s your favorite part of runDisney events? Are you wondering what the heck steampunk is? Tell us about it in the comments!

Race Recap: 2015 Solemates CollaBEERation 5k & Brewfest

Only in Colorado would we combine two of our favorite things, craft beer and running, in one location. Shoes & Brews, half running store half craft brewery, is doing just that. It’s the only place in the nation where you can shop for top-of-the-line running gear AND enjoy a pint of tasty craft beer. It also happens to be a mere 25 minute drive from my house.

merandjenn

Mer and Jenn sampling the brews at Shoes & Brews May

When I found out about the Solemates CollaBEERation 5k & Brewfest hosted by Shoes & Brews and Left Hand Brewing, my husband said he’d run it with me. This made me super excited because my husband doesn’t run; a lifetime of playing hockey makes for uncooperative knees. Instead, he supports me by being my race photographer (because he’s the bestest). So I signed us up, and then we learned were there was unlimited beer samples at the finish!

IMG_1530

I picked up our packets and was thrilled with what was inside, and with the lack of what was inside. Included were a sweet, light-weight race hat from Headsweats, a granola packet from Barbara’s Better Granola, a Honey Stinger Energy Gel, and a coupon for a RoadID bracelet. What was missing was excessive flyers and advertisements and other things that normally end up in the garbage or recycle bin. One of my very favorite things about this race is that it was at 10 am not at 6 am. I appreciated the extra blanket snuggling time, specially since it was cold that morning!

??????????

Warm clothes for the race!

Warm clothes for the race!

I love small races where the mood is fun and festive and this race is both of those things! The crowd was smiling and eager to get the race started.

At the start

At the start

startselfie

Pre-race stretching

Pre-race stretching

The course ran along the St. Vrain Greenway in Longmont, CO, and we enjoyed great views of the Front Range and Longs Peak.

LongsPeak

rick

We ran intervals because my lungs were not happy and my husband was sore from skating. Our pace was 12:31, which is about average for me and I loved being out there him. We held hands when we walked and cheered each other on as we ran. It was one of my most fun races!

stats

We crossed the finish and smiling volunteers cheered for us, all the volunteers were great! The expo was rocking with live music, and we hurried to get our free beer sample because we were THIRSTY!

band

expo1

expo2

expo3

The guy in the tutu wins at life right now.

The free samples ended up being free PINTS, so that was awesome!

IMG_1571 We enjoyed our beer and the band, but decided not to have a second cup. We were hungry and went and ate eggs benedict instead. We opted not to take the shuttle limo, hilarious as it was, and chose to walk the 700 meters back to the parking lot.

shuttle

The shuttle back to the start

This was such a fun race that I think it will be my new favorite local 5k!It had a great vibe and chill atmosphere. It’s a young race so they are working out kinks, (some porta potties at the aid station would be great), but they do a great job and the volunteers were fantastic. I’ll definitely be there next year!

 

Did you run a race this weekend? Were you at Wine & Dine? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Run Army Strong: Army Ten Miler

As my marathon training winds down (it’s this weekend, guys!), I’ve sort of been struggling to keep my head in the running game.

Life gets busy sometimes, and priorities change. Motivation changes. I made the decision a while back that following the marathon, the next couple of months were going to focus less on racing and more on my other fitness goals. Running just isn’t giving me the same balance that it used to.

So, as I’ve been struggling through this “running is meh” mindset, I’m glad that the “I love running!” version of me decided to sign up for a handful of races as part of my marathon training. It’s definitely been a little bit more motivating to have events to go to and publicly accountable reasons to get my training miles in.

In the last month, I’ve done the Navy/Air Force Half Marathon (which I’ll re-cap soon!) and the Army Ten Miler. This is the cool thing about living in Washington DC: lots of opportunities to run really fun, well-organized races put on by different branches of the military.

Obviously, the big one that everyone recognizes is the Marine Corps Marathon – I haven’t run this one yet, but I have spectated it! It’s on my bucket list… maybe next season? If I feel less meh about running then?

But after MCM, the Army Ten Miler is probably the second most well known. At 35,000 runners, it’s the third largest ten miler in the world.

image2 (1)

Yesterday morning, all 35,000 of us descended upon the Pentagon to get things started. Because there are so many runners, ATM does a wave start, with eight waves that start roughly eight minutes apart. It works pretty seamlessly. Both times I’ve run this race, the start was smooth sailing.

The only downside to yesterday morning? It was CHILLY. Like 44 degrees by the time I got to the Pentagon. I had worn capris and a tank to run in (which was ultimately the best call), and had brought a sweatshirt to throwaway at the start, but because I didn’t want to have to check a bag o’ stuff, I decided not to wear anything else to stay warm.

Consequently, that also meant that because I got there STUPID early (I’m talking 2 hours early, folks. I’m an idiot. Or I just wanted to get there and get it over with.), I was faced with the prospect of standing outside in the cold for far too long. So, I decided to huddle in the Metro station until the security guards threw us out. Ultimately, that ended up being about an hour.

I was warm for an hour. And then I was banished outside to wait for the sun to come up and bless us with her warm, inviting rays.

image3 (1)

This is the face of someone who just wants to be warm.

I went to my corral, found a curb, and proceeded to sit on it with my knees up around my ears until it was time to start.

Fortunately, that happened quickly and as my wave rolled forward, I kind of scooted into the wave in front of me and ended up starting with them. Ultimately, this worked out well for me, because it was clearly the pace group I should have been in.

My race plan was to stick to my marathon training strategy: 5-1 intervals, pacing around 10:30-11:00 min/miles. But then I thought about  it some more. “It’s only ten miles.” “You can run faster than that.” “Why the hell not?”

So, I decided to push this race. I had a time in mind to finish by, one that I haven’t seen in a couple of years and knew I was more than capable of achieving. As we started, I kicked it out a bit, not going too fast, but hanging with the swifter-moving folks in our group. Turns out, I banged out the first two miles (without walking) in 8:20 and 8:14. Not mad about it.

After Mile 2, I decided to implement the intervals again, because I know they work for me. So I did. Stopping to walk for a minute every five definitely affected my pace, but I was surprised to see that I was still moving at a good clip. Miles 3-9 were all between 8:58 and 9:30 min/miles. And then I ran Mile 10 straight through, without intervals, to finish that one in 8:20, and ultimately meet my time goal for this race.

I don’t know what happened, but I was pretty stoked on it.

image1 (1)

Today, however, my legs are a liiiiittle tired. I’ll have to be nice to them this week as we go into marathon day.

Here’s to knocking out that last bit of training and looking forward to 26.2!