Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon – Race Review

At the end of October and into the first week of November, my boyfriend Ben and I took a much-needed vacation to Florida and then got on a cruise. While the cruise itself seemed to be more stressful than relaxing since we were involved with a wedding party, we are really glad to have gotten a few days beforehand in Florida to check out the National Parks.

Also while we were there, I decided to check off a state in my 50 states running goal. I ran the Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon the morning of the day we were getting on the cruise.

The night before, I tried to relax a bit and not stress about the race the next morning. Ben was off on a bachelor party with the other groomsmen and I planned my outfit and tried to get to sleep was the band outside the window played on into the night.

I woke up for the race just shortly after the groomsmen were done with their night out.  I got dressed in my “costume,” dressing up like one of my high school runners I coach. Since I already knew I would be unable to attend State before the season even started due to the Cruise Wedding, and I told the girls team that if they qualified, I would dress like them at my race. I did as promised, braids and everything, and I think I did pretty well!

The race was set to start before the sun rose, and for good reason, as it usually gets pretty warm, even this time of the year. I hailed an Uber to go to the race while others climbed in their awaiting cars to go home. #runnerslife.  I made my way to the starting line and joined in with all the costume glad runners to wait until the whistle was blown.

Overall – 4/5 – I did enjoy this race for the most part. I could really see the locals having a blast at this event with all their friends and spectators cheering them on. A few things took away from my general experience; some race management related and some personal, as described further on. However, I did love the theme, the participation by the racers as most people dressed up, and the support along the course.

T-shirt/swag – 4/5 – The shirt was high quality and fit well. The artwork was fun, I just didn’t like the BIG plastic feeling of the sublimation. The medals were HUGE and had a unique Halloween design.

Aid Stations – 5/5 – They were great! Each one had water and Gatorade. There was one about every mile with plenty of volunteers.

Course Itself/Scenery/Difficulty  – 5/5 – The course was easy with only one tiny hill. It was fun to run along the bridge where the cruise ships were pulling right into port. After the bridge, you wound around to a concrete and boardwalk trail that was along the beach with beautiful views as the sun rose.

View of the road I ran on from the cruise ship!

Miami Beach

Expo Quality – 1/5 – If that. There was not a real big expo beforehand (like those of Rock n’ roll and such), but even at the finish line, there was barely anything except the food. Now, I didn’t go to the after party that was at the local bar, so maybe there were some booths and vendors there. For most people, this probably isn’t a low point, but I like expos and booths to see new running gadgets/trends and the local businesses.

Parking/Access – 3/5 – I stayed at a hotel right in Miami Beach. It was about two miles from the finish line and about 4 miles to the start line. They did have good instructions for parking on their website and in emails as well as a shuttle service from the finish area to the starting line (and vice-versa). I had already returned our rental car the night before (on purpose) and took an Uber to the finish area to catch the shuttle. I’m glad I did it this way because the Uber car would have gotten stuck in traffic trying to get me to the starting line.

On the bus

When the bus dropped us off, we had a tiny walk to the starting line. Now, the starting line was right outside a parking garage that was open for parking. People were warming up and waiting in the chute while cars were driving in. SUPER DANGEROUS! There were a few police officers just telling cars to turn into the garage but no other way to block cars from runners. I found it super curious the way they had an open lane of traffic next to so many racers. I know people aren’t driving fast, but still!

Race Management – 3/5 – This is where I get to be the pickiest and only because I am a race director myself and notice things that not everyone notices. In addition to the parking/access situation, there were a few other things that took away points from this rating. First, I read online and in the emails that there was a bag drop. I had brought a bag that I placed my small jacket and my cell phone in. Upon getting to the start line, I could not figure out where the bag drop was. I couldn’t even see any booths for registration tents and there were no signs or any sort of communication. I asked the DJ, other runners and the kids at the water station. No one knew. I was starting to get concerned I’d have to run with my phone with nowhere to put it (my costume shorts did not have pockets). Finally, I overheard someone say they got their bib in the parking garage. To get there, the ONLY way to get there, I had to cross traffic, while police yelled at me to stay out of the way, walking alongside driving cars pulling into the parking lot, and around the corner were the tables for registration and alas… the bag drop!

That was a huge thing that made me give lower marks to the race management. Second, was just the advanced packet pick up. There were a couple of location and date options, and I chose the one that was closest to our hotel the day before the race. For a non-Miami beach resident, the traffic is HORRENDOUS. We had a hard time finding the Dick’s Sporting Goods store even with the navigation on my phone. Then once inside the store, there was no employee or race person directing us to where to get my stuff (which was way in the back of the store). I would recommend investing in a lot more signage for ALL areas of their race from packet pick up to race morning.

And the third reason I score this part pretty low is that I had emailed the race directors about a month before the race to ask a question. I never got a response and found my answer, not on the website, but searching the visitor posts section of their facebook page.

MY RACE – 3.5/5 – I’m super frustrated with my personal race. I didn’t really have any goals except, always in the back of my mind, I have a sort-of goal. You know how it is. This time, my sort-of goal was to finish around two hours. Now, I wasn’t really doing any specific half marathon training but I was running with the cross country team I coached and hiking long miles for my 10hikes.com job. I actually felt pretty fit.

I started off with a 2-hour pace group and was keeping up just fine. I felt good! I wasn’t struggling to stay with them, the pace felt great and the pace group leader was very nice. It was around mile 3 that I started noticing the dreaded chafing. Dun, dun dunnnn……..

Now, I’m aware that this does, in fact, happen in humidity. I’m not a completely naive Coloradan that’s used to the dry climate. However, I totally thought the shorts I was wearing for my “costume” were plenty long enough. Oh boy was I wrong and oh man did it HURT. I had 10 more miles. TEN.

So, I did what I could, constantly pulling down my shorts, looking completely foolish, praying that my thong wasn’t showing in the back and pretty convinced I looked like Burt in Mary Poppins.

I was altering my running form to try and avoid the chaffing (unsuccessfully). This led to really sore muscles and back for the following couple of days. I was kicking myself for my outfit and not bringing any “glide.” I was super upset that I felt so good cardio wise and couldn’t finish right with that pace group!

I managed to finish just seconds under a 2:15. Which put me at 12/59 in my age group. After checking the results, and wondering what I would have placed had it not been for the chafing, I decided not to go to the after party and called an Uber to bring me back to my hotel. No way was I walking the short two miles with caffing legs. I still have scars.

Besides all the running stuff, I think one of the most memorable parts of the race is that right after I dropped my stuff in the bag drop, I came out of the parking garage to see a HUGE cruise ship coming into port. It was looming over the bridge that the race was queuing up on. It was enormous, beautifully lit up and sure enough, I saw the words, “The Escape” painted on the side. That was the boat I was going to be getting on later! It was pretty intimidating to a newbie cruise goer that wasn’t so sure about the whole idea.

After the race and returning to my hotel room,  I showered, packed up our stuff and checked out of the hotel. We caught a ride to the cruise ship and I hobbled around the decks in my new Halloween Half T-Shirt.


Race Website

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Not quite halfway through the year – Updates!

Hiking at the Apex Trail

I was going to call this post “quarter year updates,” but then I did the math and realized that wouldn’t be quite right. Where did the months go? I haven’t been able to write on a consistent basis, but here’s just a random, popcorn list of what’s been going on:

Work/Career

Golden Mountain Guides
-Many of you know I own a climbing guide business, Golden Mountain Guides, with my boyfriend. We are just starting year two of business!
-The year is starting off better than last year, but not as good as we hoped.
-We’ve hired a couple new guides and we’re doing anything we possibly can to market our business (and researching new ways.)
-YOU can climb with us if you want! Check us out online or when you visit Golden, CO

3W Races
-Still going well! I have been assistant race director a few more times and we’re amping up our marketing plan.
-Our next race is this weekend, the Skirt Sports 13er/10k/5k on June 4th!

Coaching
-Track season is was kept me busy and off of the blog. I was at Green Mountain High School again coaching the long and triple jump.
-It was a great season. Many athletes made it to the state competition and I had two jumpers just inches away from qualifying for state. INCHES! Keep in mind only 18 people go to state in either competition and they were inches from it.
-With my triple jumper, she had a great jump of a distance that would have put her in state but it was disqualified due to win. My long jumper has one more year and I’ll get him to State for sure next season!

The Coach V Rap

Cross Country Season coming up…
-During track, we got word that the head coaches wouldn’t be able to coach next year. That left the head coach positions open (and the scary idea that any new person may not keep me around). However, two of my friends and fellow assistant coaches got the job. Yay!
-With the switch around, I get to stay for jumps coaching during track season and it left another spot open on the cross country coaching staff as well. I have officially accepted it and will be moving from Golden HS to Green Mountain for BOTH the cross country season and track season in 2018!
-I love this idea of being at the same school for both seasons, but it wasn’t an easy decision to make. The kids and other coaches at both schools are amazing.
-Summer running for cross country starts in June and then the season starts in August.

10Hikes.com
-I landed my FIRST freelance writing job with this company!
-I have been writing about the top 10 hikes in the Denver region and having a blast on the beautiful trails.
-I’m super excited about this and will be doing the best job I can. Follow me on Instagram for my latest hikes.

Hiking at Beaver Brook – a new Colorado fave!

Personal Running/Fitness

Running:
-Since the beginning of the year, I have been trying to get my running back up. It’s been hard, so difficult,  mostly due to motivation.
-For the first few months of the year, I was running about 2 to 3 days a week. I bumped it up and up and now I’m up to running about four days a week, on average.
-A lot of this is due to having a few goals in mind (I’ll announce soon!)
-It’s also due to finding this AWESOME app, Zombies Run! It’s a blast and I find myself thinking about when I can “play” next, i.e. run!
-I just ran the Bolder Boulder and will be doing Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass in a couple of weeks.

Bolder Boulder

Other Fitness:
-I started lifting again! I am training for something great and I starting lifting weights, doing plyometrics and other strength training. It’s fun, I’ve missed being a gym rat, but I’m pretty much starting over again and that is hard and disheartening.
-I do CrossFit every once in awhile (my boss at 3W Races also owns Trailhead CrossFit, so I work out there sometimes) and did the Murph workout for the first time. I have been reading (listening to book on tape actually) Lone Survivor in honor of Memorial Day and the Murph workout is in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy. It was a brutal work out and I’ve been sore for days now. Learn more about the Murph WOD here.

#60HikesDenverChallenge:
-Still going strong, although I’ve only done 14/60 hikes, I’m still trying to knock them off this year. I still have a few that I’ve finished but haven’t written about yet.

Other/Random Happenings

-I’m sure you all heard about the massive hail storm in Colorado, right? Well, I got stuck in it while driving on the highway and accumulated more than $8,000 in damage on my nice new Jeep. I miss my Jeep and can’t wait for it to be fixed and back!

Poor Ginny (yes, that’s my car’s name).

-I’ve been trying to hang out with friends as much as possible but it’s very far and few between with everything going on.

-I turned 30 somewhere back in there. I didn’t do anything too exciting, just hung out with family and a few friends. I did get a Zombie cake though and tried a zombie themed escape room! We didn’t escape but it was pretty awesome.

-I did get to have a little fun a few weekends ago for my boyfriend’s Sister’s bachelorette party! #Being30WhenEveryoneElseis25orYounger

In the limo


Now that I’m all caught up; what have you all been up to?

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Evergreen: Evergreen Lake

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #20 – Evergreen: Evergreen Lake
Completed: 1/11/17 | Mode: Walk (with Ben)
Location: Evergreen – Evergreen Pkwy and Bear Creek Rd
Distance: 1.28 (This is in the book. Part of the trail was closed the day we did it. We ended up doing a double out and back getting in about 2 miles total.)
Difficulty: Super easy (although, very icy this time of year)
Surface: Hard packed Dirt
Exposure: Half in shade

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My Experience:
After dragging the sick boyfriend off of the couch, we made our way to Evergreen Lake. I promise I’m not mean, I was just trying to get him moving and get some fresh air! Evergreen Lake was perfect and a short hike around a beautiful frozen lake is just what the doctor ordered. We didn’t get to do the exact trail from the book (a 1.2-mile loop) because the part by the road was closed (I’m guessing this is due to snow fall and the plows covering the trail). We ended up doing a double out and back. The best part of this trail was the beautiful “waterfall” of the water cascading out of the dam. We weren’t expecting it as it as we came around the corner.

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Pros:
-Flat
-Partly shady
-Beautiful surrounding area

Cons:
-Short

Tips:
-Bring the ice skates (or rent them); there’s a fun outdoor ice rink in the winter!
-The trail can get icy in the winter where the sun doesn’t shine

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Overall:
I really liked our outing at the lake, it was a nice way to get out of the house. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way here just to get a run in. I would take people from out-of-town here to get a great glimpse at mountain living without driving too far.

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Things I’m Obsessing Over – January Edition

This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was funny and wanted to include it somewhere in my blog.

I’m obsessing over this picture! I just thought it was funny and wanted to include it somewhere in my blog.

I’ve seen other bloggers do similar posts but I have yet to follow suit. I thought I would give it a go this year. Besides, it’ll give me more to write about which means more posts throughout the year! So, here’s a handful of things I’m digging in January….

Outdoor Project’s #52AdventureChallenge:
If you’re not already following Outdoor Project in one way or another, you should be. In general, they are a platform to help get people outside and exploring by giving you the tools you need, all in one place. Based in Oregon, but rapidly growing, they have info on adventures all over, including a lot in Colorado. For 2017, they’ve created the #52Adventure Challenge. Since Outdoor Project encourages people to get outside on a weekly, if not daily basis, they’ve given us 52 ideas of things to do all year long! The first two weeks included snowventure and frozen water! This week was the desert!

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wanderer-bracelets-86699724Wanderer Bracelets:
I had been following this company on Instagram for awhile when I randomly got an email asking if I wanted to join their team of reps! Since their message and style fit my personality and lifestyle perfectly I agreed and they sent the BEST care package! Check them out online and save 20% with coupon code: WHITNEYVESTAL20
The bracelets are handmade in Bali, helping local artisans by creating reliable work opportunities.

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Ancient Egypt:
If you read my post on my New Years resolutions, you learned that one of my goals this year is to study/learn about a new topic every month. For January, we have been learning about ancient Egypt. We have been watching fictional and non-fictional movies, reading books, made a meal with ingredients only the ancient Egyptians would’ve had and next week will be going to see the MUMMIES exhibit at the museum!

Revolution 30 Day Yoga Challenge with Adrienne:
In all fairness, I’m only on day two, but I had heard a lot about her before and decided I needed some yoga in my life. It may only be day two, but I’ve already noticed changes. Maybe it’s all in my head but I do enjoy her style of yoga. She’s funny, not that serious and not that hippyish (new word). My goals of the challenge are to gain flexibility (i.e. fix my hamstring), strengthen my core as well as get some calm in my life (all I’m asking for is 30 QUIET minutes to myself a day!). Most people in the challenge are on day 20 (obviously, it’s January 20th), but you can start at any time; they’re all on youtube! Join me! (It’s free)

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legend_2017ambassador_logoMy bright yellow compression socks from LEGEND:
Legend Compression has a full line of compression wear including a ton of stuff for runners…compression socks, sleeves, and much more! My favorite product is the recovery socks but I just got these bad boys in the mail for my ambassador perk! Check them out and save 15%!

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