Category Archives: Race Recaps

Electric Run 5k Race Recap

This past Saturday I ran the Electric Run 5k race in National Harbor, MD. It was my first 5k since July’s Crystal City Twilighter 5k and I had a great race!

20130909-132023.jpg

Heather and I set out for National Harbor a little early (at 5 pm for an 8 pm race) because we knew traffic was going to be terrible. National Harbor is right across the bridge from Alexandria, and there’s really only one road running into this small area so we knew it would get backed up quick. Good thing we left as early as we did, because we still sat in 30-40 minutes of traffic despite being so early for the race.

Once we got into the area and parked, we headed off to check-in and explore the pre-race set up. Thankfully this race had plenty of porta-potties (unlike Run or Dye), but there wasn’t too much else going on. Most people were hanging out be-jeweling themselves with glow bracelets and glow paint purchased from the booths but Heather and I decided to pass on that. Unfortunately a passer-by bumped into me, thereby forcibly applying paint to my arm. I was actually sort of grateful it was paint instead of just a sweaty person bumping into me. Also, (just like at Color Me Rad) we noticed that the first aid booth was completely unattended. Weird.

20130909-132649.jpg

We crowded into the starting gate around 8 pm to wait to be released. It seems to be a pattern with these fun runs that they cram everyone into one starting corral and then release a few hundred people at a time. I’m not hugely experienced with races but this just seems to be a slow way to do things. Once again, Heather and I didn’t actually start running until about 8:45 pm.

20130909-132247.jpg
Our hugely crowded, and neon, starting corral

Once we got going, it was a great course. It started off with a hill, but that lead to a nice long downhill from about 1/2 mile in just past a mile. It was a great way to shake out my legs and really settle into the run. I felt great throughout the whole run, which I was really grateful for after my de-motivating 2 miler on Wednesday night. It’s amazing the difference a new day can make! Throughout the course there were various sections with bright, neon decorations, lights, and music. I tried to snap a few pictures but since it was dark outside they all turned out not so great.

20130909-132454.jpg
20130909-132544.jpg
20130909-132834.jpg
20130909-132911.jpg

20130909-132936.jpg

Hopefully you get the idea! My one complaint was that there were long(ish) sections of the course that had no lights/music at all so they were sort of dark and lonely in comparison. But I guess there are limits to exactly how much electrical cord you can string throughout three miles. My favorite thing about the course was that it went through such a wide variety of terrain. It started off on the ramp to the highway (shut down of course), then cut down on a crushed stone/shell path by the water, then went through a dirt road area before finally cutting down the main strip of National Harbor. The last part was my favorite part because it was well-lit and had tons of spectators (both on purpose and other unsuspecting people who were just there to have dinner/hit the bars). My favorite part of racing is the positive energy and love you can feel both from the spectators and other runners!

At the end of the course there was a stage with more lights and a DJ so we hung out and enjoyed a beer and the rave-atmosphere before heading to one of our favorite local bars to relax and listen to some live music. It was a great night and a great way to kick off training!

20130909-133053.jpg
The after-race party

Of course on the way to the bar we stopped to take “strong woman” photos with a statue we found. It couldn’t be helped.

20130909-133153.jpg

20130909-133243.jpg

Oh, and I have to share a picture of my awesome rainbow of glow bracelets! 🙂 I picked these up for $1 at Michaels before the race – so much better than spending money at the pre-race booths!

20130909-132405.jpg

Advertisements

Crystal City Twilighter 5k Race Recap

On Saturday night I ran the Crystal City Twilighter 5k in Arlington, VA. It was my first “real” 5k, meaning it was a timed event. It was also the first time I ran a race where there weren’t packets of color being thrown at me! 🙂

I left my apartment just before 7 to meet my friend Meggan and her boyfriend at her apartment. Meggan lives close enough to a metro station to walk and we knew that taking the metro to Crystal City would definitely be the most convenient and stress-free way of getting to the race! 🙂

After meeting up with Meggan and her boyfriend, and petting Meggan’s adorable dog, Carrie – we headed out to the metro. Around 5 o’clock that evening it had absolutely poured rain outside, so it was a nice cool temperature. I was thinking that it was perfect weather for running, as long as the predicted showers held off long enough for us to race. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.

20130729-113149.jpg
Me at the start of the race, before the rain. No pictures were taken after this point due to fear of iPhone-destruction

It was nice to have the opportunity to walk to the metro to stretch out our legs, and it was a short ride to Crystal City. When we arrived, we had just enough time to hit the porta potties, and chat for a while in the starting corral before the race started. Earlier in the evening, I had sent out a tweet hoping that the rain would hold off long enough for us to run our race – but alas, it was not to be.

Just as the starting clock clicked over to 8:30 the first light drops began to fall. Within a few minutes of leaving the starting gate, those light drops had turned into a torrential downpour. As Meggan put it: “at least I feel more badass running it like this!” Fortunately, the weather was relatively warm so the rain wasn’t freezing – but it did soak me through and through within a few short minutes. At this point, I was just hoping my waterproof iPhone arm band was as waterproof as it claimed.

The rain stopped around 3/4s of a mile into the race but it had already done the damage of soaking my clothes. I’m so glad I have such short hair so at least that wasn’t a problem! Thanks to my friend Meggan, I kept up a pretty solid pace for the first mile and a quarter (ish) of the race but then a painful stitch in my side did me in and I had to walk for a bit. I rarely get stitches in my side when I run, so I was surprised when I got this one – and it persisted for the remainder of the race. I ended up running/walking in intervals for the last 2ish miles and finished with a time of 37:35 (15 seconds slower than my goal pace – sort of depressing). This further confirms my suspicion that in order to improve my runs I need to focus on increasing my cardio stamina. I’ve started to do this by incorporated more non-running cardio in my weekly workouts and I’m definitely going to continue focusing on that. Also, I’m still working on getting over my mysterious summer cold so I don’t think my lung capacity is quite back to normal. All things considered, I think I should be happy that I came very close to achieving my goal.

Since this was my first official race, I also have to say that I am so in love with the race atmosphere and culture. The feeling you get from people cheering you on from the sidelines is amazing. The atmosphere is so positive and supportive – you hear echoes of “you can do this” everywhere you go. There really is nothing like it. The positivity of the crowds at the finish line lifted me up and helped me to sprint the last .2 miles of the race with a big smile on my face. My first “real” race is officially in the books and it definitely won’t be my last.

I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start! I’m looking forward to cycling class tonight, and Body Pump tomorrow night with my favorite instructor who’s been on vacation for the past two weeks! Below are some health-related articles that I thought you all would find interesting.

Articles That May Interest You:

1. Do You Think You Run Slow? Why Being “Slow” Doesn’t Matter (Runners Connect)
2. Is Food Addiction Real? (Women’s Health Blog)
3. 25 Things That Are Keeping You From Losing Weight (Popsugar Fitness)
4. Surprising Reasons to Give Up Sugar (Rodale News)

Color Me Rad Race Recap

On Sunday I ran the Color Me Rad 5k in Alexandria. No, this isn’t déjà vu. I ran a color run, called Run or Dye, last weekend also. It just so happened the races ended up on back to back weekends so we rolled with it.

20130618-195626.jpg

There were several things I liked better about the Color Me Rad race versus the Run or Dye race. First, you signed up for specific wave times when you registered so there wasn’t the whole “wait in line for 45 minutes” business to deal with. Also, the dye was much brighter and made more of an impact. Please note that at first I thought this was a positive but a few rounds of scrubbing to get dye off of my skin later I wasn’t so sure.

20130618-195711.jpg

This race was held in Alexandria, not downtown DC, so it took notably less time to travel to the race. Heather picked me up just before 8 and we were at the race site shortly after, ready to party and wait for our 9:15 start wave.

I really liked the styling of the Color Me Rad race. It was very 90’s. Hence we bought a lot of swag.

20130618-195825.jpg

The race itself was a road race down Eisenhower Avenue. They had actually blocked off a section of road. I guess that sucks for the people trying to travel on Eisenhower at 9 on a Sunday morning, but it was nice for us because we were running along an actual road that people could sit along and spectate. This was my first real experience with spectators and what a rush it was! I experienced the same runners high that causes me to high-five strangers that I felt during Run or Dye.

20130618-200311.jpg
20130618-200352.jpg

The very start (and end of the race – as it looped back down the same course) was a hill as we went over a bridge. I think it was a nice challenge at the beginning and end of the race as the rest of the course was very flat. Heather and I jogged a good portion of the race, with the occasional walk, and ending up around 38 minutes. Not bad considering we had to walk a few times to cough and clear our lungs of forcefully inhaled cornstarch dye. Also, my Map My Run app calculated the route to be 2.94 miles instead of 3.1 so either my app or the course was a little off. I need to invest in a Garmin since Map My Run insists on posting my route to Facebook against my will.

20130618-200540.jpg
>20130618-200614.jpg
My “R” rubbed off from sweat. Awkward!

Overall, I really enjoyed the run. And knowing that I could run faster than I did means that I’m super excited for my “real” 5k in July where it’s timed and I’m going to run my absolute best to see how well I can do. My hope is that I can run it in 37:20 which would be a flat 12:00 mile but I secretly know I can do better than that. Here’s hoping!

After the race was over we took some pictures and hung out and listened to music. The music choices at Run or Dye were better. I think the Color Me Rad people were in league with Zumba. But they had free Lara Bars so I was a happy girl.

Another genius idea the Color Me Rad people had was to have a trash collection at the end of the event. Personally, I hate seeing trash on the ground and I’m always picking it up anyway, so this was a fun time for me. The MC gave away some big black trash bags and depending on how much trash you picked up, you could exchange it for swag. Heather and I got very serious about this, as in so serious I didn’t think to take a picture of our bag that was so full it required two people to carry. But we got two free t-shirts in exchange so we were happy people!

20130618-200722.jpg

I also noticed around this time that there were big decorative First Aid flags with absolutely no first aid station in sight. Seriously, what if I needed aid?

20130618-200751.jpg

But overall I have to say that I really enjoyed this race. And it has helped introduce a person who never thought they would be athletic to the world of running.

20130618-201202.jpg

Important note that I forgot last time: Heather, who makes frequent appearances on this blog (such as the trip to Florida and the Run or Dye race) has a blog of her own. It’s called One Reader’s Wonderland and she writes some amazing book reviews. Because she reads a lot, like a lot a lot. And I bet she has some book recommendations for you! Please check out her blog.

Run or Dye 2013 Race Recap

This weekend I ran my very first official 5k.

20130610-100302.jpg

It was the ‘Run or Dye’ 5k held in DC at RFK Stadium which is one of what seems like hundreds of “color runs” being held these days. For the uninitiated, the idea is that at various checkpoints throughout the course (a.k.a. dye zones) there are volunteers that pelt you with dye (the dye being a chalky, cornstarch-based powder). The race is not timed, and there were plenty of people who walked the course, I even saw families with young children in strollers. I wore a black pair of New Balance running shoes with a standard pair of running shorts and the white race t-shirt (for maximum color display-ability). I also tied my car key up in my laces like a running professional.

20130610-100340.jpg
Yeah, that’s how I roll

What I liked about the idea, other than the obvious fun-factor of being covered in color, is that it was a laid-back way to try out racing and see if it was something that I would enjoy. This Saturday’s race was the “make or break” for whether I signed up for more races. I was scared that I wasn’t going to like the atmosphere, or wouldn’t be as fast as anyone else, etc, etc. I needed an easy atmosphere to face these fears and see what would happen.

20130610-100432.jpg

But I am happy to report that I loved it. Like, really loved it. The atmosphere was so positive and uplifting. At one point, the race switch backed on itself so you could high-five people running the other direction and I took full advantage. At one point I proclaimed to my fellow-runner and friend, Heather that “running must make me like people!” And all this time I thought it was alcohol that did that!

Hurricane Andrea tried to rain on our race. But thankfully we got a gap of non-rain in the morning hours. And it turned out perfectly since it wasn’t too sunny so it was nice and cool – we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for running!

The course started off with a long opening corral (more like a chute).

20130610-100511.jpg

My main criticism of the way the race was set up was that everyone fed into one starting corral, and then groups of people were allowed to begin racing every 5 minutes or so, rather than having people register for specific starting times. After waiting in a Porta Potty line that took way longer than it should have, Heather and I entered the corral at what I thought was a relatively early time – but it still took nearly 40 minutes for us to actual start the race. I found this incredibly frustrating because I was stretched out and anxious to run. Thankfully, next weekend’s 5k is set up different with assigned starting times.

20130610-100551.jpg
20130610-100629.jpg

We did our best to entertain ourselves taking pictures until it was time to go.

20130610-100703.jpg

Once we finally got moving, the first dye zone was pink and was maybe a tenth of a mile into the course. I’m not sure if people working this dye zone just threw the dye differently, or what the issue was, but when we hit the zone there was a huge cloud of pink dust in the air that was not pleasant to run through. You just inhaled all this dust and afterwards were “spitting rainbows” (as Heather put it – which I think that sounds like an awesome name for our rap duo). I also discovered much later on at home that I was sneezing color. I know the dye is just cornstarch, but inhaling it doesn’t seem like the healthiest thing in the world.

As I mentioned, we only experienced this problem at the first dye zone, at the others the volunteer “color bombers” would hit individual people (usually in the chest, back, legs) with shots of color and there wasn’t a cloud of dust hanging over the course.

At the final dye zone, Heather and I stopped to take a few pictures and to decorate our faces – “Lord of the Rings Uruk-hai- Style” with some awesome handprints. Nerd girls FTW!

20130610-100735.jpg
20130610-100811.jpg
20130610-100844.jpg

After stopping for our photo break, we decided to run a few sprints to the finish. It was so much fun to just let loose and run as fast as possible! I think the people we blew past thought we were nuts, but we were having fun and it really underscored my feeling of the day that running makes me happy!

20130610-100919.jpg

Overall throughout the race I walked more than I needed to, as Heather hasn’t been focusing on cardio as much as strength training lately and I wasn’t worried about time. But I didn’t mind because knowing that I could run more than I was gave me this sense of confidence that I really needed as a part of my first race. I did completely forgot to turn on my ‘Map My Run’ app to check our pace (thank you 40 minute wait at the starting line), but I get the feeling that we did okay overall. Next week on Sunday we’re running the ‘Color Me Rad’ 5k so I’m going to try to remember to turn the app on to officially see how we do.

A few short months ago, I wrote a post about running for the very first time. Now I think it’s safe to call myself a runner. A slow runner, a runner who is still learning, a runner who doesn’t always believe she can do it – but still a runner nonetheless. And now that I’ve run my first race I discovered something more (something I never thought would be true) – that running makes me happy.

20130610-100945.jpg