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

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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.

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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.

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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*

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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 )!

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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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!”)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.