Race Recap: 2017 Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Elk Double

For the third consecutive year, I ran my favorite race; the Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Half in August. Because I am an ambassador for the race series, I did receive a free entry in exchange for this post, so let me tell you allllllll about it! If you’ve been reading our little blog for a bit, you’ve likely seen my previous recaps of this race here and here. But this year was different for a few reasons, and none of them were easy.

Lake Estes and the glacier topped peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park

Like last year, I completed the Elk Double, which means I did the 5k race on Friday evening and the half marathon on Saturday morning. About a week before the race, I was told my beloved dog, Archie the Pug, had a spleen tumor and might only have thirty days left with us. All my race plans and thoughts went out the window. I almost decided not to run the race at all in favor of spending every minute with Archie. The problem was that after all these years of running, I had inspired some family members to sign up for the 5k too (a post about that is in the works, because it’s the coolest feeling). All of this meant I had an obligation to them to be there, they were counting on me. My husband and I decided that we could maybe include Archie in the race by buying him a bike trailer/pet stroller and we would push him through the 5k and dedicate our race to him.

A few days before the race, we decided to get a second opinion about his tumor because it just wasn’t adding up with what we knew about him and his symptoms. He’s been struggling with some other serious health issues this summer, and we wanted to be positive about his prognosis. Low and behold, he didn’t have a tumor at all, but an enlarged liver! Not a good thing, but certainly not terminal! THERE WAS SO MUCH REJOICING.

At that point, we were all in for the race weekend we had planned months ago with family. I knew this race weekend would be pretty pathetic for me as far as performance was concerned. As you may have heard me say previously, Archie’s health issues require 24-hour care and that means my time for training over the summer vanished when he got sick in June. Although, carrying a 32-pound dead-weight dog to get water, to potty, and to eat does work the core and back muscles.

I had NO expectations for myself other than to finish the races in the allotted time, but a last-minute half marathon course change an unexpected foot issues had other ideas for me, but more on that in a sec. Race weekend arrived and we excitedly departed for a weekend of camping on our property, racing. And of course, looking cute on the course.

Flat me for the weekend, and all in Skirt Sports, of course!

We arrived at the expo and met up with my sisters-in-law and their husbands. After chatting for a few, I headed off to volunteer at the expo. Since all Vacation Races events are cup free, I pitched in at the Hydro Pouch booth to give runners their pouches they’d bought in advance. Showing people how to use the nifty little Hydro Pouch was fun, and I got to encourage lots of runners and welcome them to Colorado and Estes Park. After my stint at the booth finished up, I swung by the merch booth to buy another patch for my Toasty Girl Vest. I can’t wait to add all the Vacation Races patches eventually!

2 down, many more to go!

The 5k followed the same course it has since its inception and took us around Lake Estes’ paved bike path at sunset. One of the things I like about this race, and all Vacation Races, frankly, is the race size. There are usually around three thousand runners give or take, and it makes for the perfect level of comradery between runners and a comfortable race experience. No waiting too long for port-a-potties or being packed in your wave like a runDisney runner.

On the course, Archie was a big hit in his stroller, but my goodness, he HATED being pushed. He actually howled and whined and cried and made other runners laugh, and look at us funny, and some, I’m sure, wondered if we were torturing him. It was pathetic, and funny, and slow going. My husband, who never runs, kept outpacing me with the stroller and at one point was far ahead of me. After playing catch up to him, we kept a brisk walking/running pace, which was a mistake I paid for the next morning. Through it all, Archie looked cute, as he does, and when we finished with a horrible time, we gave him our medals.

Archie’s a finisher! I think he just wants my banana, and Lily (left) just wants a ride.

The half is not only my favorite race, but now it’s also my ‘hometown” race since it’s the biggest race near where I’m building my house. It was so awesome to get up pre-dawn and drive the beautiful drive from my property in Allenspark to the start line Estes Park, a distance of about 20 miles. I saw deer and elk on the drive, and it was so much better than getting up a 3:30 to drive an hour and a half like I had to do in previous years. I’m claiming this race as mine!

My strategy with this race is always the same; run the downhills, walk the uphills, especially the big hill that lasts foreverrrrrrrr. I knew they had changed the course, but the announcement went out the same week as the race and I didn’t have a chance to see what changed.

The start was chilly, it was in the low 50’s, and the music was loud. Coffee, hot cocoa, and bananas were staged at the start for runners and spectators. Warm drinks are always welcome at pre-dawn starts, especially at 7500 feet elevation where there is always an early morning nip in the air. I was feeling good and was ready to walk/run the race. I was having no pain as I waited, and no concerns about my race at all. I expected I’d finish around 3:20. Runners from all over the country come to this race, and their excitement is catching. People posed for photos while they moved around to stay warm.

Finally, my wave started and I was right behind my pacer. Almost immediately, I knew there was a problem. Not even a quarter mile in, the top of my left foot was not having it. I could feel a pinching pain deep in my foot with every footfall. The impact of running was too much. I was in trouble, and started to wonder if I would finish at all. It hurt, and I wasn’t even up the first hill yet.

This is the kind of selfie I take at 5:30 in the morning

About that hill. Remember all the folks from out-of-state who were so excited at the start? Those same folks are walking up the first hill too, angry with themselves that they’re already walking and that the elevation is more of a challenge than they expected. I see it happen every year. This is when I try to engage with them and ask where they’re from. No matter what their reply, I reassure them that the elevation is hard for locals like me, too, because it is. 7500 feet of elevation is no joke, and no amount of training can fully prepare you for it. When you take on challenges like this, be kind to yourself when things don’t go as you hoped or planned.

Just keep smiling!

The half course is all on paved surfaces, and follows the 5k course for the first mile which takes runners on the wide bike path that hugs Lake Estes. The course was the same as previous years for the most part, but in order to avoid having runners cross a major highway, they routed us a little differently. Now, we used a new bike underpass under the highway that took us to the beginning of the dreaded long hill. This course change made the race more safe, but it had a drawback mentally for those of us who’d run this race before. What used to be mile six was now mile two.

I made it to mile three where an ambulance and two EMTs waited to help runners in distress. Unfortch, they didn’t have any Biofreeze for my foot. I stopped for a potty break and to fill my hand-held. Before heading out again, I ran into two of my Skirt Sisters, Deb and Jennifer, who nursed me through the race. Deb was also recovering from an injury so the three of us stuck together the rest of the way. Honestly, without them, I doubt I would have been able to finish. Going it alone and in pain was getting to be totally not fun at all.

We kept trucking along and made our way through the race. Aside from my foot, this was the most mentally tough race for me to date. The reason was the course changes. As we came down a slope that used to lead to mile marker eleven, I could see the aid station next the new mile marker; mile seven. I’ll tell ya, when you’re brain sees scenery it remembers from last time and thinks you’re almost done, but you’re not, it’s a punch in the gut. We trudged on, talked a lot about running injuries and treatment, how much we love the scenery, and of course our devotion and love for all things Skirt Sports. Having friends to race with is always so much better.

Mt. Meeker on the left, Longs Peak next to it.

Fighting through the pain was tough, and after describing my symptoms to Deb and Jennifer, we concluded it sounded like I had pulled a tendon in my foot. Not much I could do but bear it. Luckily, Jennifer did have a packet of Biofreeze that she gave to me. Oh, what a wonderful, cooling miracle that green goop is! It helped me finish for sure.

The new route had us backtracking a bit to get back to the underpass and the lake. Mile eleven was finally in sight! We turned onto the Lake Estes bike path and followed it around the western curve of the lake. For me, this was the longest part of the race. You can see and hear the finish line, and it seems like these last two miles are never going to end. We kept asking (rhetorically) where the heck the finish was. That’s what happens when you take almost four hours to finish, you just want it to be OVER.

Worst race time ever, but worth every moment with great people.

 

Still love Vacation Races medals most!

I was never so happy for a race to be over, and although it was a terrible showing on my part, I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. I’ve been known to quit things, and I didn’t quit. I may have hobbled and grumbled a smidge, but that’s okay. I made it, and had to remind myself that even though this is my “hometown” race and in my backyard, it’s the most challenging course in the Vacation Races circuit in terms of starting elevation and hills. Plus, there’s always next year to chase that PR!

Medal Haul

I’ll do it again next year. The challenges I faced were mine, and part of that is learning how to mentally deal with curve balls like course changes. Even though I didn’t finish like I wanted to (my goal back in February was to beat my PR for the race by ten minutes), I learned some great things about adversity and how to listen to my body. This race was a great experience this year. I always recommend Vacation Races events!

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Steampunk Madam Boba Fett & Darth Maul

Steampunk Stormtrooper

Steampunk Stormtrooper

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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!

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

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And look how prettttty!

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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!