Saturday, April 27, 2013

Disney Enchanted 10k and Glass Slipper Challenge!

Yesterday, Disney announced the addition of the Enchanted 10k, and the Glass Slipper Challenge as part of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend! There will be the Enchanted 10k race on Saturday, followed by the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. If you register for the Glass Slipper Challenge, you will get finisher's medals for both, plus the Challenge medal!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend will be February 20-23 2014, and registration opens June 11. I can't wait!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dirty Girl Atlanta 2013

Saturday I did the Dirty Girl 5k Mud Run in Atlanta! I was originally planning on going with a group from work, but due to recent events, I ended up going with my friend Mel instead.
When registering, I registered with my team for the 1pm wave on Saturday. There were waves about every 15 minutes, and we didn't want anything too early. My friend Mel had registered for 11am, though, so the Thursday before I tried to change my wave time. The site wouldn't let me, so I decided to just wait and see what happens the day of. We got about 3 emails the week before the event with updates on parking and check-in, and reminding us to bring a change of clothes!

Mel and I left Augusta around 6:30 on Saturday morning, and got to Lake Lanier around 9:30. The event was taking place in the same area that the Iron Girl was held last May, so it was all pretty familiar. We parked, walked about 10 minutes up to the parking lot where registration was set up, and waited. There was a HUGE line of people trying to check in, and the line seemed to be hardly moving at all. Some recon showed that each of the 2 registration tents had a guy with an ipad checking people in. They were mostly volunteers, and didn't seem too familiar with the system. Bibs weren't customized or organized by team, rather, each check-in volunteer just had a stack of bibs and was handing them out when you checked in. After standing in line about 45 minutes, we finally checked in, got our bibs, and moved on. The next stop was for swag pick up. We picked up cotton t-shirts, which were general Dirty Girl t-shirts, not customized for the day or location, and a Dirty Girl necklace. Here's the swag:

The bib also had tear-off tickets for bag check, and a beverage at the end. Our next stop was for an age verification bracelet, where they told us to tear off the drink ticket and keep it somewhere safe. WRONG! We put it in our checked bags, but drinks were being served at the finish line, so when we finished, we had to trudge back to bag check, get our bags with our tickets, and then go back to the finish area for our drinks. KEEP YOUR TICKET someplace safe on your person. 

Bag check was a very large tent organized by bib number. There was no size limit for the bags you could check, so a lot of people brought duffel bags or backpacks, and pinned their bag check tag on them. I brought a large plastic bag that I got at the Disney Princess Half, which held all my stuff and kept it from getting wet. After dropping off our bags, we headed over to the start line!

Even though I had registered for the 1pm wave, no one was really checking or asking what wave you were registered for, there was nothing marked on the bibs, and a lot of people had to wait in line so long to check in that they missed their original wave time anyway. Mel and I jumped in on the 10:45 wave, and were off! 

Everyone seemed to be REALLY EXCITED for this run! There were a ton of husbands/boyfriends milling about, taking pictures, and LOTS of teams wearing matching t-shirts or some sort of costume. I saw a lot of tu-tus, one team wearing pink goggles, a team wearing glittery shower caps, and lots of creativity. It was really fun to be surrounded by women of all ages and shapes and sizes and fitness levels, all excited to be doing this mud run! 

As soon as our wave started, Mel and I were off, weaving through all the girls ahead of us, and soon were at the head of our wave. After the first obstacle, the Barn Raiser, a huge blow-up obstacle, we could almost see the 10:30 wave. The next obstacle was pretty close, and was a large wall to climb up and over. I stopped trying to remember them all after that, but, I do remember there were several large mud pits filled with freezing mud/water. One, called the funky monkey, was a large cargo net suspended above the ground. Definitely really awkward positions getting across that! My favourite one was another blow-up obstacle, with a large side to climb up, then a slide on the other side down into a mud pit! 

I suppose it would be possible to get through the entire course without getting too dirty. All of the obstacles had signs saying "If you go around, we won't tell!" but what's the fun in that!? While I didn't low crawl through any of the mud pits, I did get plenty dirty! 

Running from obstacle to obstacle wasn't too much of a challenge. The area was a little rough, and pretty wet from rain the day before, but very clearly marked the whole way. A lot of teams walked most of the route, but Mel and I were all about the challenge. This event is not timed at all, but that didn't stop us! 

The finish line was right on Lake Lanier, at the beach area that hosted the Iron Girl swim. Running into the water definitely rinsed us off a little, but it was cold! The finish chute into the water had a pink carpet, which I thought was a really cute touch (I now want long pink carpets all over my house!), but it was pretty covered in sand and mud. There was loud music, people dancing and cheering on everyone finishing, and lots of sun! After walking out of the finish area, labelled "CLUB DIRTY GIRL," we saw the beverages tent and thought, OH NO, our tickets are up in our bags! Oh well. 

We walked up a little hill to bag check. Picking up our bags was a little less organized. They just let everyone in, after checking that they had a bib, and let them rummage through all the bags to find theirs. Thankfully mine was right near the front of my line, but Mel had to dig a little. There was security at the exit of the tent checking bibs and tags on the bags, to make sure you were only taking your own bag. We carried them back down to the finishing area, dug out our beverage tickets, and enjoyed a nice cold beer. We also took pictures at the end, one of which I sent to my mom after receiving her text that it is snowing in Ohio. No snow here!

One small note about the music: there was music everywhere! Most of the obstacles had speakers set up nearby, which kept the energy up, but after being in the area for about 2 hours, Mel and I realized we had heard Call Me Maybe about 15 times. Also, What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. Thankfully, I love listening to these songs, but if I didn't, I can see how that would be annoying! Definitely a great soundtrack, but a little bit repetitive. 

Next stop was the rinse tent! This was a fully enclosed tent to let everyone rinse off and change after the run. Outside was a HUGE pile of muddy shoes that were being collected and recycled. 

There goes my shoes! Good thing I wore an old pair from last year!

Inside the tent, everyone was rinsing off with hoses (so cold!) and changing into clean(er) clothing. Mel forgot to pack a pair of flip flops, and had already lost her shoes in the pile, so she was walking around barefoot for the rest of time! I wish the tent included a few tables or cubby holes so we could pick our bags up off the wet floor while changing. 

Final stop for us was the Dirty Girl store. They had some really nice jackets and shirts, all displayed at one end of the tent with sample sizes. You could then get in line and request the size and item you wanted. I really liked this set up! I picked up a technical t-shirt with a list of the obstacles on the back, even though it was white technical material! It was not see-through, though, I checked. 

I would definitely love to do this event again!! Maybe I can get a group together to do it in Baltimore in August, since I'll be up there (hopefully) by then starting law school. It was a little expensive, and maybe not entirely worth the price, but amazing! Notes to self for next time:
- Arrive early! Check-in is a little slow, so plan on standing in line
- Wear something fitted. I wore some Underarmour shorts and a loose top, and the top did get a little uncomfortable when it got wet and drippy. 
- Bring a plastic bag to put your dirty clothes in. I brought a plastic bag for all my stuff in bag check, and a smaller tie-off bag for my used clothes after.
- Wear old shoes, and be ready to donate them! You're probably never going to wear them again anyway
- You have two choices: get pretty much naked in a tent full of women, or leave the area covered in mud. Your choice. 
- Keep your beverage ticket with you! Keep it attached to the bib, or, I saw a few women who safety-pinned it to their shirt. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Regarding the Boston Marathon

I think we've all heard the news from Monday about the attacks at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Maybe my reaction was a little different. For one, I was a little more analystical about the actual bomb, who did it, what was it made of, how was it detonated. And then I thought, well, wouldn't that be a way to go. It's a BIG GOAL for many to qualify and run in Boston. If you've done that, and you can never run again, at least it was a good way to go.

That probably seems pretty mean to some people, but I really believe that when it's your time to go, there's nothing you can do about it. I'm not going to cut out any of my planned races, or change my goal of one day running in Boston. If something happens, it happens; I'm not going to regret not doing something because of a chance. I'd rather know that I was all in and went out with a bang, than take the quieter route.

But that's just me. I offer my deepest condolences to everyone that lost someone or was injured in the attacks. They obviously did nothing to deserve it.

I'm joining a lot of people across the country in remembering what happened, to show solidarity that we aren't scared, and we won't stop running. I wore my Disney Princess Half shirt after work on Tuesday, and will be joining a memorial run here in Augusta next week. I hope everyone makes the same choice.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run: Running It

So, after 2 long days of gallivanting around DC, I woke up Sunday morning tired and a little cranky. I planned on taking the metro from Alexandria to the Smithsonian stop, right outside the race entry point.

Prior to leaving, I looked up the weather and planned based on 50 degrees and above. It was not. It was closer to something like 40, with a pretty good wind chill. Even though I usually hate doing bag check at races, I grabbed the plastic bag I got at the race expo, pulled on my winter jacket, and headed out.
The train at 6am wasn't too crowded, but I could see that trains behind me were standing room only. The line to get out of the station was crowded, and full of people who apparently can't figure out the complicated DC Metro system of swiping to get out. I popped up right by the Smithsonian Castle near the base of the Washington Monument, and started following the crowd to the other side of the monument, where the bag check was set up.

The entire place was a mess! People were everyone, the corrals were marked off but not open, and the PA system wasn't particularly loud. I dropped off my  bag and (super warm) coat a little after 7 and headed over to the corrals. They were clearly marked with huge flags, and were organized by color rather than number or letter. I was in the orange corral. At 7:15 everything started with the national anthem, and then the start of the USAT Women's Ten Mile championship. Crazy fast ladies!

My corral finally started around 7:40ish, after a good 40 minutes of standing in the shade in the corral. It was pretty cold, but at least I could feel my feet when I started. This is pretty similar to the start for the Army Ten Miler, but for some reason it felt shorter then.

The course was absolutely beautiful. It went down from Washington Monument, to the entrance of Arlington Cemetery and right past the Women in Military Service to America Memorial. We ran around the circle and back towards the Lincoln Monument, then left past the JFK center. It then looped back around and down towards the back of the Jefferson Monument and around Potomac Park. For the most part, it was completely flat, except for a little uphill near the end as you headed past the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Course support was really great! There were a ton of people out at various parts, especially around the start point, and lots of great energy. I just wish the blossoms were out!

There were water points every two miles or so. There were signs a few meters out saying water point ahead, but they were only on the side of the street the volunteers were on, and switched back and forth. Half the time it was so crowded I didn't see the sign, so had to try to cut across all the runners to try to get some water. Maybe signs should be on both sides of the street with arrows pointing to which side it's on.

This was definitely not a PR run for me. I was hoping to keep a solid 9:00 mile, but my feet were so sore from days of walking around DC and I was so dehydrated that by mile 4 I decided to slow down. I was definitely still in a bad mood from being so cold, so I did not enjoy this race as much as I usually do, which is a shame, since I've been waiting so long for it! I took water at most of the water stations, and a GU gel at mile 4, which almost made me throw up. I finished in about 1:44, a good 4 minutes over my Army Ten Mile time. Whomp whomp.

The finish line had a ton of great energy, and I was definitely glad to be done! Going through the line I picked up a few bottles of Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run water (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the label), and then caught up with Kevin and my aunt and sister. Kevin brought me my pre-packed race bag with flip flops, a t-shirt, and a few more snacks, and I was very grateful for the extra layer! We went through the food line, where I got at least 3 amazing cherry muffins, and a banana, and then picked up my bag from bag check. The entire area was incredibly packed with people, so we started heading out and towards our dim sum reservations in Chinatown.

One of the options for the race was to purchase a finisher's medal. Obviously, yes please. Here's my bib (I opted not to recycle it) and medal:

Overall, I didn't enjoy this race, entirely my own fault, and I wouldn't necessarily travel to do it again. It was very crowded, and the biggest draw is the cherry blossoms, which are very unpredictable. I'd say do it once and see what you think.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run: Pre-race

For some reason, I planned a whole weekend around the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. I got plane tickets for me and Kevin, then invited my sister and aunt to join me, since I had obviously forgotten what our last trip to New York City in October was like. I was envisioning a nice weekend in DC, floating around on cherry blossoms and visiting my favourite Smithsonians with quiet evenings and a new PR on Sunday morning.

Is that what happened? Obviously....but not really. For one, because of all the cold weather, the cherry trees still haven't bloomed! I should have known when the cherry tree outside my house in Georgia was still just starting to show when we left.

Secondly, we didn't go to a single Smithsonian! Instead, we scooted around Alexandria a little bit (had some amazing rigatoni at Bertucci's!) since we were staying at the Westin Alexandria. We walked all around the Mall at night, seeing all the monuments and memorials. We had ramen in chinatown, and post-race dim sum at Ping Pong. Saturday we slept in and went to the Capitol Visitor Center and the Spy Museum. So much walking!!

By Saturday night, my aunt pointed out that we had walked something like 14 miles Friday and another 8 on Saturday. No wonder my feet were killing me! I was tired, slightly dehydrated, and worn out. And I still had to race Sunday!

My lesson: if you plan a "runcation," plan the great activities after the race. Not for the two days before.

Monday, April 1, 2013

EPIC SUMMER RUN

I'M READY FOR AN EPIC SUMMER RUN!!!

I can't wait to head home to San Diego for vacation in May, and end it up with the Rock N' Roll San Diego Half Marathon!


I originally scratched this race from my plan for this summer because it is so expensive to fly from Georgia to San Diego, and I was already planning on flying out in July for Comic-Con. My dear husband is deploying this summer, though, so our travel budget went up and we made plans to visit family before he leaves. His block leave just happens to end right around the beginning of June, so I made the plunge, bought our plane tickets for two full weeks in SD, and registered for RnRSD!

Next to DC, San Diego is definitely my dream place to be. Running through downtown (without the insane SDCC crowds) and Balboa Park is going to be so amazing!

I CAN'T WAIT!