Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall Race Recaps!

One of the reasons it took me so long to start a blog was because I thought that I wouldn't keep up with it. I haven't updated since August 30th, so clearly my assumption was correct! The main reason I haven't updated is because I've had a LOT going on, so blogging has kind of taken the back seat. Tons of great things have been happening though. I hadn't planned on running so many fall races, but opportunities kept presenting themselves and I took every single one!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may recall the horrible running funk I experienced this past summer. IT WAS AWFUL. I think a lot of my issues were the result of mental issues rather than physical ones (I won't get into details but I was stressing out BIG time, which itself was a struggle because normally I don't stress), but there were seriously days where I would set out for 8 miles but stop after 3. At the end of July, I found out I was running the New York City Marathon, which caused me to stress even more because I had lost a lot of fitness and truly believed that I would not be prepared for it. So I did what I always do...signed up for a ton of races leading up to the big race!

Dumbo Double Dare
One week after I last updated, I headed west to California for the Disneyland 10k and Half Marathon (Dumbo Double Dare). Technically it this was a summer race, and the title of this post is "Fall Race Recaps," but bear with me. Not only was it the 10th anniversary of the race weekend, but it was the Disneyland Diamond Celebration for 60 years of the Happiest Place On Earth! Rani and I were running it together to receive our Coast to Coast Challenge medals, after completing the first part of the challenge in Walt Disney World this past January. I've got a few races to report on so I'll try to keep them brief!

It's been well over a month, but I remember the 10k feeling very hard. I had been sitting on a plane for over 6 hours the day before, so I did factor that in while wondering why my legs felt so stiff. I ended up completing the 10k (which was a villains theme this year) in 57:16.

Rani & I before the 10k!

Who's the fastest one of all?

I met Andrea Barber (you may remember her as Kimmy Gibbler) in the finisher's area!

After the 10k, Rani and I spent time going to the parks and Downtown Disney. I think we ended up walking over 20 miles that day. Not the best idea when you have a half marathon the following day but hey, we were in DISNEYLAND!!

The next morning, we set off for the half marathon around 4:30am (I think? This is why it's important to update more than every 6 weeks!) and hung out in the parking lot until we were released to our corrals. While heading to our corrals, we spotted the ever-inspiring Carlee!

Only runners are this happy to be awake before the sun comes up!
Rani and I were in different corrals, so we quickly hugged and wished each other good luck before splitting up. I knew a few people in my corral, but it was so crowded by the time I got there that I couldn't find anyone. Before I knew it, the race was starting.

Again, it's been several weeks, so I don't remember al of the details, but I do recall the first 5-6 miles feeling very difficult. I was wearing compression socks, but my legs felt very stiff. I don't think they loosened up until about mile 9, and the last four miles went a lot better. My splits ranged between 9:16 and 9:53, and I finished in 2:07:02.

Redesigned medal for the Diamond Celebration!
From Dopey to Dumbo
Embrace the clank.

Diva's Half Marathon - DC Wine Country
Two weeks after Disneyland, I ran the Diva's Half Marathon in Loudon, VA. I hadn't checked a state off of my list since May when I ran the Vermont City Marathon, so I was itching to get another one under my belt. This race was about 45 minutes from my apartment, and I didn't want to spend money on a hotel so I ended up driving to the expo the day before, and then back to the race in the morning. All participants received a pink tutu in their race bag, and I decided to race in mine since I had never run in a tutu before. It was pretty fun!

The weather was actually perfect, and the course felt pretty easy. There were a ton of hills but miraculously they didn't bother me. My only complaint about this race was that most of it took place in a residential area that was comprised of several cul-de-sacs. I would have liked to actually see more of the "wine country." At the mile 13 mark, a group of high school cheerleaders gave the runners tiaras and boas, so I looked like a total diva as I crossed the finish. I made it to the finish in 2:04:18. It was still far from a PR, but I was happy to have beat my Disneyland time.

Color Run 5k - DC
The day after Diva's, I ran the Color Run 5k. It took place at National Harbor, which is actually in Maryland but is just across the river from DC. There was a huge turnout, and the course was really great and scenic. As an ambassador, I received a purple tutu from TCR. So for the second day in a row, I ran in a tutu! I also received two free registrations for the event, so I gave one to fellow #SweatPink ambassador Allison of Life's a Bowl who was in town for both the Diva's Half and her birthday weekend. She helped me out a ton when I was considering moving to Northern Virginia, so I was glad I could return the favor! We ran the course together on tired legs from the previous day's half marathon, but it was a ton of fun! The race isn't timed, but new this year were medals for every finisher. 

#SweatPink at the Color Run!
Lovin' all the color!

Army Ten-Miler
I loved everything about this event. With 35,000 participants, this is the third largest 10-miler in the country. I'm still fairly new to the Northern Virginia/DC area, but I ended up running into SO many people that I knew, including a student, a co-worker, and fellow Annapolis Run Classic ambassador Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC! The event weekend started off at the expo, located at the DC Armory. I had a half-day at work for conferences, so I headed over to the expo as soon as I got out because traffic in the area is BAD, especially on a Friday. There were SO many great vendors, including some of my favorite companies like Sweaty Bands and Honey Stinger (where I loaded up on way too many gingersnap waffle samples). The Annapolis Running Classic had a booth, and since I'm an ambassador, I headed over to say hi to the race directors. They are awesome people, and they sent me off with a ton of new swag! (Side note: registration is still open! Save 10% with code RCREF15.) I hung out at the expo for a little bit, and then headed back to Virginia, again to avoid traffic.

The first corral (which was comprised entirely of our nation's wounded warriors) would start loading before 7am, so I got to the race early to find parking. At 5:15AM, I was the second car in the lot. I always get really bad anxiety before a race if I think I'm going to be late, so I'd actually rather show up early and keep warm in my car than get stuck in traffic or be unable to find a parking spot. Around 6:30AM, the parking garage starting to fill up, and I saw other people in my corral (I was able to identify them by bib color) heading to the start area. It was about 45*F, so I wore pants, the long sleeve race shirt, and an Under Armour Storm hoodie. The idea was to check my hoodie at gear check, but I was so cold that I wouldn't part with it. I regretted this decision at about mile 5 of the race, when I finally got so hot that I had to tie the hoodie around my waist.

The course was incredible. We started in the South Parking Lot of the Pentagon, up to Arlington National Cemetery, and then across the Arlington Memorial Bridge into Washington, DC. Most of the race took place in downtown DC, until around miles 7-8 when I realized we were running on Interstate-395! I thought that was the coolest thing. I mean, how many races are able to shut down a major highway like that?! There weren't a ton of hills on the course, and my legs were pretty cooperative, so I cruised through the finish line with a time of 1:32:52. It definitely wasn't my best time, and I couldn't help but think that I would've been faster had it not been for the hoodie mishap. The Army Ten Miler was such a great event that I really didn't care too much about my time; I was just happy to be there!

Finishers received a coin in place of a medal!

Post-race, I received my coin, and then waited in the longest line ever for the food tables. Soldiers were distributing the coins around me, and at one point, I noticed several boxes of coins sitting on tables, unattended. I was shocked, as I thought about how anyone could just walk off with an entire box. Later on, I found out that many people had to have coins mailed to them, because they ran out. I can't help but think that people were taking extra coins from those boxes as I had predicted. It's truly a shame to think about people taking advantage of situations like that. 

Monster Mash Half Marathon (Dover, DE)
Final race of the recap! If you've made it this far, congrats! I have to say, this was one of the smallest half marathons I've run, but it was definitely one of my favorites! I left work right away on Friday, went home to feed my guinea pig, and then headed straight out the door to try to beat traffic. The drive was supposed to take two hours, but there was an accident on Route 80, so it took me close to three hours. Packet pick-up closed at 8pm, and I made it with 15 minutes to spare. Inside my race bag was New Balance tech tee, a magnet, and a plastic cup, all of which had the event logo on them. I also received a package of limited edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with the Wounded Warrior Project logo on them, as the race sponsored the organization. I don't like chocolate so I'll probably be giving them to my mom, but I thought that was such a great touch! I was pretty exhausted between work and the drive, so I made a quick Wal-Mart stop (most incredible Super Wal-Mart ever!) and then headed over to my hotel.

After grabbing coffee and fruit from the hotel breakfast area, I headed over to the race around 5:30AM. I think I was the tenth car in the parking lot this time, haha! I only had to sit in the car for about an hour, because at 6:30, the runners assembled at Miles the Monster (more on him later) for the national anthem, and to honor the members of our military. Then, we headed inside the speedway for a 7AM start. Two things I loved about the starting area were 1. the parking lot was just feet away from it and 2. there were no port-a-potties. Since the race started on the race track, runners and spectators were allowed to use the speedway's own restrooms! If you're a runner, you know how stressful parking and port-a-potties (GROSS) at a race can be. No such stress exists at this race!

As I stated earlier, the race started on the race track. After running one lap on the race track, we then headed out into the city of Dover. The half marathon and marathon take place at the same time, splitting after the mile 6 mark. It was a little cold at the start, but I knew better than to wear pants and a hoodie again. I set off in shorts, a racerback, and compression shorts, and was able to warm up pretty quickly. During the first 6 miles, the course took us through some residential areas, as well as Dover's historic district. Between miles 6 and 7, the course transitioned from residential to rural, and remained that way until we headed back to the speedway to cross the finish. Around mile 11, I looked at my watch and realized that I was on pace to set a personal best. I had been talking to a few fellow runners throughout the course, but stayed focus during the last two miles to ensure that this would happen. I crossed the finish line in PR!

Miles the Monster and my monster-sized medal!

Thanks for sticking with me this long! I promise not to wait so long to update again!

Have you done any of these races? If not, which one would you like to do?

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