July 23rd, Castle Rock Prairie Dog Half/10k/5k – Review/Discount Code

11745847_597921173684504_3310426427962088022_n

Many of you know I work for a running company in Colorado called 3W Races. This is a dream job that I started almost two years ago now!

I mainly do marketing for them (emails, local event promotions, acquiring sponsors and social media) but I have been transitioning into more race production and race day tasks. For our big races, our half marathons, after set up, I am the volunteer coordinator and organize all the water stations and course marshals. This means recruitment, mapping  out where they go, communication with volunteers and making sure they get to the right location and do the right thing.

10389086_433431916800098_7911968618229941085_n

The next one that I have been working on is coming up on July 23rd. We have the Summer Splash Prairie Dog Half, 10k and 5k in Castle Rock. This race in particular I got to run two years ago! It’s a beautiful course that is just hard enough to give you a workout and feel accomplished without being too hard.

The year I did it, I placed second in my age group for the half marathon! I remember that day pretty well because I showed up early to help set up, ran the race, then stayed after to help clean up. I also remember my knee hurting really badly for that race after doing a double race weekend. You can read all about it HERE.

10523724_433416480134975_8738555572015970082_n

Anyway, let’s just cut to the chase. I’m writing this post to invite all you (Colorado) runners to run with us!  As you can see from the picture below, I am offering 18% off any of the distances (which is probably the biggest discount we, as staff, are ever allowed to offer). *Cough, cough* we may be having a friendly office competition to see who can get the most people to register. Cough*

the

This year’s race has awesome swag: a gender specific t-shirt, souvenir race bib, wooden finisher’s plaque, and a SPINNING medal for half marathon participants! If you place overall, you get a unique wooden carved trophy (pictured below) and if you place in your age group, you get a wooden, carved plaque (not pictured).

So, if you’re interested, check out the website HERE, sign up HERE and don’t forget to use you 18% off discount code ( 3WWHIT18 )!

Advertisements

Dream Catcher Half Marathon Review

20150307_111017Uh oh. Now that I work for a racing company, I have a feeling I am going to be super nit-picky about other races I go to and my recaps might become super detailed. I noticed it while running Saturday, thinking things like, “hmmm..I would have put a course marshal there” or “I would have explained things to the water people a little better.” But I guess that is part of the “biz” right? Hopefully I wont come off as rude.

About a month or so ago, I decided to register for the Dream Catcher Half. I was ready to get another half under my belt and knowing it was in Grand Junction (4 hours away from me), I wanted to treat it as a mini-vacation, (really mini – I was literally gone from my house for 23 hours and 45 minutes).

The last half I did was back in September of 2014. I beat myself up at that race and took about a month or more off, not completely, but a HUGE reduction in running. Running and I broke up for a bit of time. Then in November/December, we got back together. I used my own personal training knowledge and slowly started ramping up my training. I then read the 80/20 book (I will have a review on that soon, I promise), and my whole (running) world changed.

I was nearing a point of being able to run a half marathon based on a beginner time-table. That’s why I decided to register. I knew I wouldn’t PR and I pretty much wanted to treat it as a “long-run training” run. 13.1 miles is the most I’ve run (in a row) since September!

I haven’t done an in-depth race review in a long time, so without further ado, let’s get on with this review!

dclogo1The Dream Catcher Half Marathon:

Life has been pretty busy for me lately between my full-time job with 3W Races, track practice (I am a coach) and my few hours at the rec (my beer money, as I call it). I knew it would be a late night when I had to leave for Grand Junction after a track meet. Well, the meet was canceled, but we still had normal practice and I didn’t start my drive until 5:30pm.

I actually really hate night driving, wishing I had a co-pilot, but I headed west anyway. I may or may not have purchased a Taylor Swift album (her new one) to rock out to in the car. Don’t judge.

I made it to my destination, a friend of a friend’s place, around 9:30pm! I was super lucky to have some connections and one of my good friends has a friend that lives in Grand Junction that let me crash at her place! Saved me $50 or more on a hotel! I walked into game night, was handed a beer and we played the “worse case survival board game.” It was nice to meet new people and a good relaxation before a race.

Shortly after, I went to bed and woke up the next morning for my race. I wasn’t set to race until 9am! Not that early at all! Grand Junction is not that big and it only took me 10 minutes to drive there about an hour and 15 min before race time. I got my packet, ate my breakfast and warmed up.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.09.39 PMThe Course (design, aid stations, etc): I really liked this course! It was not over challenging being relatively flat. There was one big hill around mile 1 that lasted for about a half mile. From then on out it was flat with a few tiny hills here and there.

The layout of the course was nice as well. For the first 3 miles you did a small lollypop loop out east, came back by the start/finish line and did the remaining 10 miles as an out and back. This really broke it up nicely for me, as I play mental games with the remaining miles of my races. When you hit the turn around, at 8 miles, there’s only 5 left, less than half!

The course was next to a river the whole time and offered really pretty views of the surrounding rocks. Not sure if they were quite mountains or not, but they were pretty!

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.10.12 PMHere’s the nit picky part: They had sticker arrows marking the course with a few stand up signs. The signs they used were pretty flimsy and one was turned about backwards from the wind. Luckily there was people in front of me who investigated and realized it was telling us to turn right. The sticker arrows were stuck everywhere: on the sidewalk, fences and sometimes the dirt. I have never seen these used before, and I wondered how A) the didn’t come off (some were stepped on enough times that were barely distinguishable) and B) did they have to go through afterwards and un-stick all of them!?! I’m glad we don’t use those at my job.

The other nit picky thing I have is there was two or three spots I think could have used course marshals. Two of those spots were street crossings. Now, I didn’t encounter any cars myself, but one of the streets was in a residential neighborhood we only ran through for a quarter-mile (the rest was on the trail following the creek), but you never know! The other spot I would have put a course marshal at was where the turnaround at 8 miles was. It was another small lollipop, but where the circle came back around and joined the main course, there was a group of spectators standing there waiting for their racer. That’s fantastic, however, they left only a small opening for runners to get through. It was strange.

That view the whole time!

That view the whole time!

Water stations: There was definitely plenty, and the volunteers did fantastic and I appreciate them being out there, but no one was holding out water, they left in on the tables so you had to really stop, grab one and then throw it away. Just another small nit picky thing I would never have noticed if I didn’t have my current job.

Organization: Every thing was well-organized. The emails prior to the race were detailed and left me with no questions. All the race volunteers/organizers were nice and answered any questions I did have and they seemed to run things well.

A couple unique things about this race though:

1.They had a runner’s program in the goody bag. This had all the sponsors info in it as well as nicely printed course maps! I liked that a lot!

2. They had a staggered race start time, but in the opposite way. It broke down based on your average half time like this:

7:00AM – Rocker Start (4 hours or greater)

8:00 AM – Roller Start (3-4 hours)

9:00 AM – Flyer Start (2-3 hours)

9:30 AM – Jack Rabbit Start (less than 2 hours)

I chose to start at 9:00 even though I told them my time was sub 2 hours (barely). At packet pickup, I heard someone ask if they could start earlier and they said yes. Now, I selected that time at registration. I wasn’t sure if I would finished under 2 hours. In the group that I started with, only about 4 people went out in front of me and stayed that way for the whole race, as I expected. However, with 3 miles left, I was passed by a handful of speedy people who started at 9:30, after me. It was SUPER demoralizing. I did not like it at all. I passed people who started early than me as well and I have no idea if they felt that way too or not. It’s not like the faster people said anything to me, I’m sure they didn’t even noticed, but here I was trying my hardest to simply finish my first half in a long time and these people passed me. Not only did they pass me, they FLEW by me!

I know why they had start times like that, (to make sure all the runners had support on the course), I get that, 100%, but I just did not like being passed like that. Its one thing when you all start at the same time, but when someone who started 30 minutes after just flies by, it really just breaks ya down, mentally. That’s my opinion.

IMG_20150307_112705Swag: Oh man! Lot’s! The medal itself was pretty sweet. It was connected to the neck ribbon by a key chain.  You also got a long-sleeve, gender specific tech shirt, a goody bag full of fun snacks, samples and coupons, and a lunch bag at the finish line!

After party: Really close to the race was a brewery. All the runners got a free beer, free meal (not just snacks they had at the finish line but at registration you selected one of three meal options) and they were doing giveaways! It was a really good after party.

Now, here’s the sad part. I got done with my race and headed over to the brewery. I got my free beer and with both hands full I proceeded to walk around to find a seat.

I was exhausted and I was by myself.  I am the most non-threatening looking person ever. I approached multiple people who were at big tables with plenty of empty seats and asked if I could sit and join them. I do stuff like this all the time, especially when I am by myself. 99.9% of the time I make new friends. This was the 0.1%. These people were so rude. I don’t know if it was the families of the racers or the racers themselves, but I was rejected multiple times, telling me that they were saving the seats. There was a couple of other ladies that were either looking for seats themselves or just content on standing, but they were outwardly disgusted by the others as well, and even said, “well, shouldn’t the people who have already finished get to sit too,” giving me a sympathetic look. They wandered off. I, on the verge of tears, found a small table inside.

20150307_113154I was a little bit embarrassed, saddened, but also dumbfounded at the rudeness of those people. I do want to make it clear that it was NOT anyone associated with putting on the event or the brewery workers. The people rude to me were racers and their families.

Inside, I ate my delicious chicken burger and drank my free beer while playing on my phone and without trying to make any more new friends, got back in my car to head back to Denver.

20150307_175450

All the swag!

Overall/Cost: Well worth the price! The race, at the highest cost was $80. I registered for slightly under $65 with a discount. For the medal, the goodie bags, shirt, and the actual production…well worth it! I do recommend this race! It was fun, organized and great swag!

My Race: Alright, here’s important stuff.

My goals for this race were: 1. Race and Finish strong. 2. Sub 2 hours. Those were my only goals. No PR, no crazy things. I wanted to treat it like a training-long run.

I did, indeed accomplish both goals. I ran strong and finished strong. And I did indeed finish under 2 hours with a time of 1:58:17.

I felt really good for the first 10 miles, after that was when I started hurting. Thankfully, I didn’t have any real pain (for once in my life!) I was just aching and tired. I had a GU on me (they didn’t provide those at the race), and decided to eat it then. It helped, but only a little. It was the last one and half miles that were REALLY hard.

I looked at my overall time. I had 10 minutes to finish and get under 2 hours, with 1.1 miles left. “I could do this,” I told myself. It was hard though, my legs were hurting, my cardiovascular fitness was trudging, but I was almost there. I was right next to a lady and I was trying to pull ahead but she kept catching up. With 0.1 miles left, I kicked it in and sped up considerably. Thinking I had left her, she totally passed me with less than 20 measly feet left. I literally laughed out loud!

I never used to be an analyzer of my own times or recap the break down of my miles. In fact I usually skim over it your blogs. Sorry. Skip this part if you like, but I think with my goals this year to PR in the half, I need to. I had my GPS watch on and even though it said the miles were off, I can still see how generally fast each mile was:

Mile 1: 9:10, Mile 2:8:30, Mile 3: 8:35, Mile 4: 8:35, Mile 5: 8:48, Mile 6: 9:06, Mile 7: 8:56, Mile 8: 9:26, Mile 9: 9:49, Mile 10: 9:39, Mile 11: 9:52, Mile 12: 9:31, Mile 13: 9:30

Now, these aren’t that accurate because like I said, my GPS was off, but you can see that I really started slowing at mile 8. Although, I still felt well here. It was mile 10 that I started feeling really tired, and the last mile was definitely was the hardest.

Now, to beat my PR, I have to get my average pace to 8:12 min/mile! I have a long way to go.

Overall, I felt exhausted afterwards. Like I could NOT have pushed myself any harder. That’s good and bad. It’s good that I raced that way. I wanted to. I wanted to race strong and finish strong. I did that. But my brain couldn’t help going to the fact that I was so beat, so tired, and I finished in 1:58, 10 minutes slower than my PR. How in the world am I going to get faster!?!

I know, I know. Training. I know this better than all of you. I am a coach and a trainer myself…it is just really hard to train yourself. See, even the Coaches deal with the same things you guys go through! I guarantee it! Even the elites have thoughts like these, but on a different scale.

The aftermath: I am resting it up today (Sunday), and putting together a training plan. I will be taking an “easy week” and will cycle and swim this week as well as get in some short, easy runs. This saturday coming up, I am running a 7.77K (about 4.8 miles), the Erin Go Braugh, with the company I work for. (You can join me, use code 2015WhitneyV15 for 15% off). Then, after a low-key week, I begin training for the Horsetooth Half Marathon. A hard half, no PR expected, but another one to build up my strength.

IMG_20150307_112936

Dream Catcher Half Website

Your Turn: I’m curious, have any of you had a run in (no pun intended) with mean runners?? Usually runners are SUPER nice and welcoming. The people I talked to at the after party were super rude!

A Tale of Two Races – Dog Days 5k and Prairie Dog Half Recaps

Web-Header-2

As it turns out, I had already written these recaps! That’s the good part. The bad part is I never posted them…. I have no idea what is up with that! These two races took place, as you can see from the pictures, the weekend of July 26th and 27th. This means I’m finally done with July’s races as far as recaps go! But I still have August….oh boy!

The Dog Days 5K in Westminster, CO wasn’t really a planned race for me! This race is put on by a company called All-Out Multisport Productions. They are sort of 3W’s competition, but not really because in the racing world there’s not really competition, just lots of available races, and as far as I know they don’t share any event dates.

I originally got involved with this company because they hold a lot of their races in the Arvada area which is where the gym I used to work at is located. This particular race series has a “warm up” option led by a personal trainer before all of their races. Originally, one of my ex-co-workers was leading the warm-up (even though I was the running coach/trainer at that gym). The gym was a “sponsor” for some of the past races. Even though the gym barely did anything, the idea was to promote the gym and potentially get clients or at least new members.

Westminster City Park

Westminster City Park

Due to some changes with our pay rate and what we got paid for, the other trainer decided to drop out of doing the warm ups for these races. They next asked me if I would like to do it, as they probably should have in the beginning. Anyway, I agreed to do it, but got no help from ANYONE at the gym and I led the warm up for the Summer Breeze Race back in June. By the time the next race was to happen, this Dog Days race, the gym wasn’t even tracking All-Out Multisports anymore nor the fact that they had agreed to provide trainers. The new management could give a crap less about running, sad but true. Knowing the race company still wanted a trainer, and with contact directly to me, I still agreed to do it of course, not knowing if I would get paid by my gym or not. I had tried to ask my old manager to provide extra help (to maybe set up a booth) or even just guest passes to put in the goodie bags, but they ignored me.

DogDays4The first time I led the warm up, barely anyone participated. This time it went much better and I had a lot more people join me than that last race! I wish the photographers had gotten a picture! But, basically, I lead people through a warm up, track style! It’s actually pretty fun. It’s a unique concept for a race series considering most runners (especially longer distance people) have their own routine or, frankly, they don’t warm up. So, I was pleased at the crowd! I even ran into a lady that I used to coach at my old job, Camp MissFits, a bootcamp company! It was good to catch up with her and see that she is doing well! She was running the 5K and her husband was a half marathon runner.

Since I was already going to be there, I asked the volunteer coordinator is could just go ahead and run and she let me do the 5K. After the warm up was over and the 10K runners were getting ready, I myself got ready to run. Knowing I was going to do a half the next day (the Prairie Dog Half with 3W) I just wanted to do a “loosen up my legs” run, nice and easy.

Once the race started, I fell into a nice and comfortable pace. I didn’t push myself and I just followed the course. I felt like I was just out for my every day jog with my music in my ears. I smiled at people as they ran the opposite way and by the time I reached the turn around, I thought, “no way could we already be halfway!”

On the way back, I watched as the 10K people separate from the 5K people (the Half people being long gone by now) and I trudged up the trail. By the time I saw the finish line, I didn’t feel like I had run 3 miles and was questioning the accuracy of the course. I crossed the finish line and was greeted by other volunteers. The finish chute was divided into three sections: Half Marathon finishers on the right, 10K finishers in the middle and I aimed for the left. The volunteer gave me a medal, and I looked at him confused. Sure enough, all finishers got a medal, each with their respective distance printed on it.

DogDays1One of the things I liked best about this race was that they had a buckets full of ice water and towels! Perfect for a hot day race! I placed one on the back of my neck and went to sit down and stretch. Pretty shortly after I saw them post the results. I got up to go look. I honestly had no idea what my competition was or how many were in front of me (the 10k and 5K people started only 5 minutes apart so they were all mixed in).

Sure enough, I had placed 3rd overall female! I was so happy, and then felt a little guilty since I was a volunteer. But I ran fair and square. My time was nowhere near my PR, but I was happy to place overall! I even won a prize! First time ever!

Race Organization: 5/5

Very well-organized! Everything to a “t” and on time. Everything well labeled and marked. All-Out Multisports is always well-organized!

20140726_091653The Course: 4/5

The 5k was out and back and the 10k and Half were double out and backs. It felt relatively flat, even though the course profile says otherwise. The only hill I felt was the last one coming up to the finish line. It felt fast for me. It didn’t even feel like 3 miles by the time I was done.

The Price: 5/5

Starting at $35 and ending at $50 on race day, I’d say it’s worth the price (the half starts at $55 and ends at $70 by race day). Maybe not the race day price, but if you were to register in advance it would be worth it. I ran for free since I was a volunteer, but what you get with your registration is a t-shirt (I didn’t get one) finishers medals (for all distances), a cold towel with race logo at the end, food (there was breakfast burritos and the normal fruit stuff you see at races), prizes for overall and age groups (I won a $15 gift certificate to Road Id for 3rd place), and access to the sponsors.

20140726_091822Post-Race: 4/5

This race was to benefit the Colorado Canine Rescue (“Rescuing ‘next-in-line’ dogs of all breeds from overcrowded shelters”), so there was a booth of adoptable dogs. In addition to the puppies, there the other sponsors included Dave and Busters, a bootcamp company, a Farm to Produce company – Longmont Dairy Farm Inc. (with chocolate milk samples…mmmmm), and a few more that I can’t remember.

Overall: 5/5

From the perspective of a sort of “competing” company, I think this race is run pretty well! The organization is spot on and everyone is very friendly and nice! Oh and by the way, pictures are free! It’s pretty awesome.

GOOD NEWS: Since the Dog Days race, I no long work at the gym previously mentioned. I have also led the warm up for their latest event, Runapalooza in August. After speaking with both the volunteer coordinator and the race director/owner, I get to continue to lead the warm ups, basically as a volunteer. Occasionally I might run the 5k with the event after the warm up. From their perspective, they didn’t actually like the gym I was working with all that much; it was just a convenient way to find a warm up trainer. The extra good news: I have been debating just starting my own personal training/run coaching business, and if/when I do, I would be allowed to set up my own booth at the expo area! Which would be brilliant for me because runners are exactly my target market!

2014-KS-Page-Header-UpdatedAll-Out Multisport’s next event is the Kooky-Spooky 5k, 10k and Half Marathon on October 26th! It is at NAAC Stadium technically in Golden, CO but really close to Arvada! I will be doing the warm-up again, of course, and I think I might ask to run the 5k again! Come run! You can register HERE.

 

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

The next day….

T9450258he Prairie Dog Half, 10k, 5k, and 1 mile fun run was held in Castle Rock, CO, just about 30 minutes south of Denver. Before I get too into the recap, I would just like to say that this race helped to benefit the Crisis Center: “The Crisis Center believes in the basic human right to live free of violence. They are dedicated to reducing domestic violence and family conflict through advocacy, empowerment, violence prevention and intervention, services and education” People brought donation items for this charity and part of the proceeds went to them as well!

Race time was 8am, but I needed to be there at 5:30am to help with set up with registration/packet pick up. I ended up waking up at 4:30! Which, wasn’t too bad, because I knew I was waking up for a race….. why is it that if I have to wake up that early for anything else, it’s the hardest thing in the world!?

20140801_203817-1As you saw, I ran the Dog Days the morning before but that night I also had to work a promo job (as a Jagermeister girl…don’t make fun), I meticulously got everything ready for the next day. I laid out my clothes, pinning my bib on my shirt and got my breakfast food packed so that all I would have to do is roll out of bed, get dressed and get in the car. But that job requires wearing heels. Heels + running in the morning = my feet was pretty sore the next day!

Pre-Race:

I joined the other volunteers as we began set up. We unloaded the truck, set up the booths, the start/finish line, and everything else that needed to be set up. Once that was going, the runner’s started arriving. Packet pick up was set to start at 7am, an hour before the race started. And boy was everyone on time! We had a long line waiting for us to grab packets! It was a little chaotic until we fell into a rhythm, then it went smoothly.

3W had everyone’s packets already made including goodie bag, t-shirt and bibs all in a bag with their name printed on it. So all we had to do was look for the bib number and hand over their bag.

Once the line was gone, and the race time drew near, I was relieved of my volunteer duties and decided to wait in the long port-a-potty line. I was feeling pretty pumped and ready to go even as Negative Nancy in front of my was complaining (she was upset that the race started at 8am in the summer rather than 6 or 7am – I just wanted to tell her, “you’re the one who registered for it!”)

1798717_10204467165345271_8969329034935333867_n

Amy and I, a couple of 3W Ambassadors, before the race!

The Race:

I stripped off my sweats and headed over to the starting line. I said hi to a few friends and got ready to race! I started off with a perfect pace, trying to keep it steady on the rolling hills. The downhills were fun and the uphills were challenging, but I was feeling good. There was two gentlemen that were running my pace the entire first half and it was nice to run with someone, even if we all didn’t talk.

At the half way point, I grabbed a GU, reached the turnaround, and checked my watch. I was running an average of 8:30 pace which was exactly what I was aiming for my first half in a long time. I felt fine energy wise and cardio wise. But then by mile 8, the pain started – in my knee. At first it was kinda dull, a feeling like the knee had to pop sort of.

By mile 9, it was sharper, I had lost the two gentleman, they kept their 8:30 pace while I slowed down a bit. By mile 10, I was in tears. Literally. I started to walk on and off. I was shooting for finishing between 1:45 and 1:50, and when I looked at my watch at mile 10, my goals changed to under 2 hours.

I got super sad when a handful of women passed me. For the first half I was the 4th or 5th female. After mile 10, I was pushed back a lot. Even more passed me within the last mile and a half. I really wanted to do well at this race, but the knee pain was hindering.

For the last three miles, I ran and walked on and off. It actually hurt worse on the downhills, so I was the oddball running the uphills and walking the downhills. The pain was so sharp! I didn’t understand! I haven’t had ANY knee pain since starting that  training cycle – why all of a sudden!? I’ve been doing all the right things: stretching, foam rolling, strength training, slowly increasing my mileage, etc, etc, etc.

What was most frustrating is I had the energy, I had the cardio strength, but my knee was holding me back. Both knees, actually. It was mainly the left, but towards the end, the right one started acting up as well.

With a half mile left, I could see the finish line across the river but we still had to run a hill and up and around to the finish line. It was torture hearing the music and seeing the finishers even though we were on the other side of a valley of sorts.

I ran the last half mile with a limp, trying to ignore the pain, and finally cross the finish line. The other volunteers, some 3W Ambassadors, handed my medal and pint glass.

10559931_433431920133431_7554605146173332263_n

I immediately grabbed one of the ice-cold towels and put it on my knee. Feeling a tiny bit better, I changed out of my shoes into flip-flops, limped over to the muscle milk booth where they had foam rollers set up and rolled out my IT band. This offered immediate relief.

Post-Race:

Well, I wandered around, eating food, talking to people, and finally saw that results were posted. I had finished in 2:02:05. So, it was a little over two hours, nowhere near my PR, but it was a challenging course. With all the challenges, including my knee pain, I still somehow managed to place 2nd in my age group!

After getting my medal, I posed for a picture on the podium. I was pretty happy, even if my knee was still hurting.

10523724_433416480134975_8738555572015970082_n

I waited around to help with tear down, so once the last two racers crossed the finished line (a mother/daughter duo that walked the 13.1 miles together!) we began loading up the truck and then we were all off, back up north to our respective homes!

Waiting for the last racers!

Waiting for the last racers!

Overall: 5/5!

Not that I would rate 3W race less than that, but as always, this race was put on very well. I like that it wasn’t that huge, it feels more like a community, family setting. Maybe that’s just me because I know all the volunteers and race directors, but everyone is always treated nicely and welcomed.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.29.05 AMThe Course: 3/5

Well, the only reason I rate this sorta low is because it was a fairly hard course! It was also the same course as the Area 13.1, just in reverse…think of a “M” instead of the “W” you see to your right. I had run this race BEFORE the Area 13.1 and after running the trail both directions, out and back, I think I prefer the direction of the Area 13.1.

Race Organization: 4/5

Since I literally helped set up this race and run packet pick up in the beginning, of course I’ll rate this high. It was a little discombobulated in the beginning with packet pick up, but we fixed it almost immediately.

The course had LOTS of water stations! Five total, but since it was out and back…that makes 10 total! Could have used that at the Area 13.1!!!

Cost: 4/5

With the half at $80, you get a goodie bag, t-shirt, medal, and a pint glass. Plus ice-cold towels at the end. Plus age group and overall prizes. Plus the organization and the after party with the sponsors. I think that’s well worth the cost!

Post Run: 5/5

Always a fun time! Ice cold towels, great sponsors (like Muscle Milk, Frundraise (Actually this is a friend of mine’s company. It’s a website to track fundraising for endurance type of events! Very cool – check it out!), Castle Pines Physical Therapy (I actually won a large ice pack from them at this race! Pretty convenient after this race), a nutritional supplement company, food (Nosa yogurt, celery and peanut butter, bananas, string cheese), shade tents and chairs, and hula hoops for the kids. There was a fun mile for family and kids. I was still running the half when this happened, but judging by pictures, it looked like the kids had a blast!

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

And that was the story of me running two races in a row. I actually had never done that. I mean, obviously I run/practice two days in a row all the time, but RACED!? That’s a different story!

These two events were awhile ago, but they were still worth writing about! One of theses days I’ll be posting on time! Maybe…

3144067By the way, the next 3W Event is the K9 Canter on October 12th in Westminster, CO. Bring your doggie (or you family or friends) and come run! I will be volunteering all day. Click HERE For more information. And the code WHITNEYV15 gets you 15% off! Register HERE.

Area 13.1 – Post Race Recap

10592740_251426281735079_2428616029007171562_nI almost had to write a “boycott the Area 13.1 race series” post, but luckily it didn’t come quite to that. Although, I do think this race wasn’t really that great anyway.

Let me try to explain how excited I was for this race first.

I’ve been wanting to this race for a really long time. Basically since last year when it first came to Colorado. I was dating a runner at the time and we saw this race and thought it would be really fun. Not going to lie, the glow in the dark alien medal was very appealing. Anyway, he is in the military and never knew in advance if he would have certain weekends off so we didn’t pre-register. As the weekend got closer, he did end up having to work but I thought I would just go and run it myself and register race day.

Race day came, and Colorado got hit with some serious rain storms (remember when all that flooding happened last year?). I decided I didn’t want to run in the crazy weather and opted out.

When this race started being advertised for the 2014 season, I swore up and down I was going to run it! As the year went on (and that boy no longer in the picture) I kinda lost track of the race. Then finally it crept up on me. With my finances being pretty low this year, I was kinda bummed at the price and started debating exactly how much DID I really want to run the race.

logo_Third_Thursday_Adventure_RunOver the last few months, I have been participating in the Road Runner Sports Adventure Runs. Back in July, I saw that they were raffling off a few race entries into the Area 13.1! I didn’t win in July, but I did pick up a $10 off code. I knew they would be raffling more at the August Adventure run, so I still didn’t register.

August came, and I didn’t win again, but I saw who did! I was pretty blunt and went right up to her and asked if she was really going to run it. I even offered to pay her a little bit (I figured giving her 20 bucks for the code was cheaper than registering at full price. Both people would win!). But she said she might actually run it. She knew we had a mutual friend and that if she decided not to run, she would look me up and let me have the free entry.

As the month wore on and the race approached, I decided I didn’t want to fork over the money and register, but about a week and a half before the race, I get a Facebook message. “Hey is this Whitney from the Adventure Run?? I can’t do that Alien run, do you want my code?”

Uh. YEAH!!!!!!!

10568959_251436661734041_4332272357467986242_nEcstatic, I asked her if she wanted any money for it. “Heck no,” she replied and I tried registering for the race.

The code didn’t work. 😦

I was bummed! Instant mood change.

I even registered before the price increase in case the code was only good for a monetary value. But no luck.

I emailed the race directors hoping for a response. Three days went by and I hadn’t heard back from anyone. Understanding that it was a holiday weekend, I sent another friendly email on Tuesday, the next work day, and still never got a response. On Wednesday, I wrote on the Facebook page (still very friendly, I swear!) and nothing. Thursday (two days before race day), I find another email address buried on the website. I sent a third email and finally heard back from someone in response to my original email that afternoon.

They wrote back, short and sweet, and said the code should now work.

It did. I registered and I was geared up to run come Saturday night.

IMG_20140907_083435

With a good friend of mine visiting from out-of-town, I loaded in his car and we drove down to Castle Rock race night. I was super excited and knowing it was a night race, purchased a package for glow sticks.

I grabbed my race packet, pinned on my bib and we began snapping and connecting glow sticks. I ended up attaching about 40 of them to myself.

As race time approached, I lined up in the coral next to a friend of mine that runs a lot of the 3W races and we got ready to run. Once the count down ended, we all took off running and since they didn’t post a course map, I just set off after everyone else. Probably the ONLY time I’ll ever be glad I’m not fast and leading the pack since I had no idea where to go.

10689559_271272006417173_6501615416137773323_n

MY RACE – 4/5:

I started off kinda fast, knowing I wanted to finish in under two hours. The first mile took us around some soccer fields then spit us out on the East Plum Creek Trail. As soon I was there, I instantly recognized where we were. I had run on this same path just about a month or two before at the 3W Summer Prairie Dog Half. During that race, I did really well for the first half then developed a ton of knee pain (tight IT band). I remember that it was pretty hilly and instead of having most of the hills at the end, we would get them right in the middle since we were running the reverse out and back course.

At a mile and a half, we passed the only aid station we would see until the halfway mark. Not knowing that at the time, I passed up the water offer and continue with my strong steady pace. The first four and half miles were pretty flat so I had no troubles. About that time, a nice lady caught up with me and we ran together for quite a while. She was super nice and after telling her I was working the Broncos game the next day for my Cross Country team, she promised to come get beer from our booth! She kept true to her word, and now I have a running buddy in Fresno, CA!

IMG_20140907_083307

At the halfway mark, we had just conquered 1.5 miles of rolling hills (only to have to do them again in the opposite direction) and finally we saw water. They were in little tiny cups, so I gobbled two down and continued on my way trying to keep my under two-hour goal. The hills weren’t AS bad in the reverse direction, but they were still pretty challenging. I just kept running. I was getting pretty tired and because they didn’t have any mile markers, I had no idea what kind of pace I was keeping (I don’t have a fancy-schmancy garmin, just a regular ol’ stop watch I was wearing) and didn’t know how much longer I had. I kinda guessed, but it was now night and hard to see anything around us. It was pretty dark! I was covered in glow sticks and had a head lamp, but there were many runners without any sort of lighting. This might explain why I gained a few close-by followers – they must have been leaching off of my light.

When the aid station came into view, I stopped to drink water and asked the volunteer how much was left. That’s when I found out that it was a mile and a half from the end. I looked at my watch and I had about 12 or 13 minutes to reach the end! I would be cutting it pretty close! My calves were the most tight, but my legs were overall pretty tired. I really wanted to break two hours!

10599229_271274556416918_654955872211476699_n

I found the soccer fields that we initially ran around but didn’t know which one, the first or second, was the one to turn right. I made the wrong choice at first, but corrected my path. I looked behind me and saw I had some followers that I was leading astray as well. I apologized and noticed that my running friend had caught up to me (like he always does, check out the Father’s Day Classic). I looked again at my watch and with my wrong turn, I was getting really close to the two-hour mark. My friend said he wasn’t feeling well and I then took stock in myself. I wasn’t feel well either (lack of proper hydration!) but with 0.2 miles left, I left him and sprinted to the finish line. I finished in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 7 seconds!

The good: I reached my goal, no knee pain, and just minor soreness.

The bad: I am still far off from my PR set two years ago for the half, but these most recent halves have been pretty hilly courses. The other bad, I felt pretty sick after this race! Really nauseous to the point that I ALMOST didn’t drink my beer! Yes, almost. Of course I had to drink my free beer – pretty much the only good thing about this race!

20140906_205817

 

Overall – 2/5:

I really, REALLY, don’t like to just be bad-mouthing a racing company, especially since A) they know 3W Races but also B) Because being an ambassador for a different racing company, I get to see things from the other side, and I know it’s hard work putting together a race. But let’s just start out with this: I probably wont run this race again unless they get their act together. Judging by the comments on Facebook, I guess last year was a little better. HOWEVER, I really do like the idea of this race and think it has A LOT of potential. I mean, ALIENS!?! How awesome is that theme! Maybe the original one (the Roswell one) is bigger and better.

When I first saw the event and read through their description on their website, I was super excited! I mean, you can check it out HERE if you want to for yourself, but they made it sound super fun! Lot’s of alien themed things along the course, lots of fun lights, and a great post race party were all promised to us. None of which were delivered. And I could have sworn I saw somewhere that the medal was supposed to glow in the dark…but it does not. (And yes, I have left it under lights for HOURS, and still no luck. I tried looking on the website again, but I can’t find it anywhere that reads it glows in the dark. It IS possible that I made that part up in my head).

A few days after the race, we got an email with our results and where pictures were posted (those were free, thankfully!), and there was a little note in there: “We wanted to also take a moment to explain and apologize about some glitches along the course:  we had set up glow in the dark balloons and cones to mark the course in addition to a handful of stations with cool lighting and displays.  When our lead biker went out he let us know that most of what we had set up had been stolen or moved. This was an unfortunate and unforeseen incident, especially for you runners, and we are sorry that you did not have the experience that we had hoped to provide. We have taken notes and will have more organized event next year.”

No offense, but I don’t really believe that things were “stolen.” I could possible believe a thing or two was stolen, but EVERYTHING? And, this implies that they had more aid stations that were stolen as well. But why would they set up aid stations, with lights and everything, without anyone there to man them? I just think they didn’t have enough volunteers. If this teaches us one thing, it’s how important volunteers are, and next time you see a race advertising that they need volunteers, sign up! Speaking of which… we need volunteers at the 3W Fall Prairie Dog Race!

IMG_20140907_083711

Race Organization – 1/5:

In race organization I consider everything from pre-race, during the race and post-race.

Starting from the beginning –

1. From the time I send my first email to when I finally got a response back from a race director, it was close to a week which was two days before the race. When you’re getting that close to an event, you should be checking your email multiple times a day, in my opinion. I wasn’t too thrilled with not knowing if I was going to be able to run or not. And I swear, I was very polite in my emails. The code that I was given in the first place should have worked anyway. Somewhere a long the way, the line of communication was dropped, either from the technology person or the brand ambassador that was present at the Adventure Run where my friend won the race entry.

2. There was no course map on the website or at the race, which ended up causing problems for me at the end.

3. There wasn’t nearly as many course markers (or even ANY mile markers) on the course as there should have been. It wasn’t too bad of an issue for a majority of the course considering we were on a major trail that the only way to get lost would be to exit the main trail. It is ironic that this is the part of the course that had the most “markers”  which was just glows sticks thrown in the middle of the path. At the end is where I got lost. We started the race in the day light, and the first mile wound around some soccer fields. However, when we came back that way at night, the first soccer field was not lit up and I wasn’t sure if that was the one we ran around or not. I mean, we started in the day and now it’s dark.

I turned right (around the first soccer field) when I should have gone straight. I figured it out not long after and re-traced by steps. Then the main path continues on, but we were supposed to make a right (this time for real) around the second soccer field. It wasn’t until we kept running (there were two people right behind me, following me) that we looked to the upper path and saw some random glow sticks. Feeling bad for leading them astray, we cut through the dead shrubs to the correct path. From there we had to zig-zag on the sidewalks between the parking lot and the soccer fields, and being night-time, there was a couple of times I could not tell exactly where to run. And yes, I did have a head lamp! There was actually many people with out head lamps –  I don’t know how they fared along the course! I wouldn’t have been able to!

4. The website said there would be water stations (all lit up and alien themed) every 3 miles. We passed an aid station at 1.5 miles (where the 5K people would turn around) and didn’t see another one until the 6.5 mile mark! That’s half way! Because the website said there would be tons of aid stations, I didn’t run with my fuel belt and I was dying by the time I reached the teeny-tiny water cups. I gulped two down and prepared myself for the fact that I wouldn’t see more water until I had 1.5 miles left. I actually didn’t know how close that aid station was from/to the start/finish until the way back when I asked the volunteer. I went back to look at the website to see where it had info on the water stations and couldn’t find it – but I know I read that somewhere because I made the conscious decision to NOT run with water! That’s made what made me the most mad.

They did try to save their butts by having a random race director or volunteer riding his bike along the course to check on people and apparently had water in his bike trailer thing.

10390087_271272889750418_7586653315173305928_n

Cost – 2/5:

Starting at $60 and up to $75 by race day, I do not think it was worth the cost. Yes, the medal and shirt are cool, but that’s about it. It was not organized well enough to be worth that cost. That is part of what you pay for.

Post Run – 1/5:

I think the 5K finishers got the best of the post-race “party.” I saw the pictures they posted, and it looks like most of the runners at this event were running the 5K and they must have all thrown the dance party then left by the time us half marathon finishers found the end.

Course – 3/5:

Minus the lack of markings, the course itself wasn’t that bad. For me, I had already run it with the Summer Prairie Dog Half I did, just backwards. (No, I haven’t recapped that race yet), but it is a pretty hilly course. Since it was night-time, it was perfect temperature for running. I really do wish they had mile markers though since I don’t own a GPS watch and don’t like running races with my phone.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Take what you will from everything. Until they get a little more organized, I’ll probably avoid this race for a while. I’m just disappointed and let down from how excited I was to run this race! All my friends knew how much I wanted to run and were sad for me! Again, I think they are on the right path (no pun intended) and have great idea! I do know how hard and how much work it takes to put on an event like this, but that should be reflected in your cost. It disappoints me further that this race series is supposed to go to a good cause and wasn’t that well-organized. I wish they had done more to advertise the cause at the event itself; maybe I missed the announcements:

“The AREA 13.1 Half Marathon/5K race was created to honor the life of Matthew E. Russell, who passed away at the age of 22. Matthew had a passion to bring education and hope to the Zulu people of South Africa. His foundation supports the building of libraries and furthering higher education for children around the world.”