Wednesday, July 31, 2013

100 days till the Wine and Dine Half Marathon!!

Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon - 100 days away!
We signed up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon months and months ago, deciding that it would make for a great anniversary present for the two of us. I mean, if bronze is the traditional anniversary gift, a race medal should probably fit, right?
I've got several other half marathons between now and the Wine and Dine -- including three new states! -- but this is the race I'm really looking forward to. Why? Because Disney puts on a great race, of course... and because we'll get a nice vacation out of it.
I also like the idea of a night race -- even if I worry a little about how to prepare for one! In a lot of ways, we're lucky, since we're coming from the West Coast and arriving the day before the race. That won't give us much time to adjust to East Coast time, so 10pm (the start time for the half marathon) will feel a lot more like 7pm. Even if we start in a late corral, we will be done long before "10pm" (1am, that is...), and even if we stay at the post-race party until the bitter end, we'll still be leaving at "1am" (4am, in Florida...). It's payback for all of those races where we had to get up at midnight to be on a shuttle at 1am to start running at 4am...
Me being me, I've made a plan for race day... Our goal is to get to the expo on the Friday night, but that of course depends on how long it takes us to get out of the airport (and assumes that our flight will be on time!). But we can also go to the expo on Saturday morning, if need be. We have reservations for a late lunch - 2pm - at Tony's Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. Pasta? Check. Amusing? Check. Lady and the Tramp theme? CHECK!!!
After lunch we'll either wander around Magic Kingdom for a little while, or possibly just head back to the hotel and lounge by the pool for a couple of hours. Maybe even a nap? Then we're off to the races...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Randomness from the walking commute

Since we moved to our new (temporary) office space in the U District, I have been walking to and/or from work most days. A couple of days a week I even run in. It's so nice to spend the hour walking rather than 45 minutes driving. Of course, it's summer now... we'll see how I feel when the rains come in November!

Anyway, today while walking home I had two very different, and unexpected exchanges. 

#1 - While walking up a hill in a not particularly busy area, I noticed a small group of young men walking toward me. 
Guy: How're YOU doin'?
Me: Fine, thanks, you?
Guy: Cool. Umm, hey, are you, umm, walking for the HEALTH?
Me: (surprised) Oh! No... just walking home from work. 
Guy: Well, all I can say is, well, you look GOOD.
Me: Aww, thanks!
Guy: No problem. 

#2 - While walking along a busy sidewalk, next to a sidewalk cafe, a man walks toward me and as I get close to him says:


Exchange #1, unexpectedly nice. Exchange #2, unexpectedly weird. I did wonder if maybe he was wearing an earpiece and was talking to someone else... Who knows. Very odd. 

That's the magic of the walking commute. Sometimes things are delightful, sometimes things are weird. And sometimes you see a pink bunny painted on a garage door. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Color in Motion 5K race report

I remember the first time I heard about a "color run" -- an event where you run a 5K while being gradually covered in different colors of bright powder. I had recently started working at Brooks and thought, wow, what a great event for Brooks to sponsor. I mean, can you imagine if the "blue" station was all Brooks?

Unfortunately we were also then sponsoring the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series -- unfortunate in that our events budget was totally tapped out for the year -- though the head of marketing thought it sounded fun.

Fast forward a few years, and it seemed like everyone was holding "fun" runs of one sort or another. In the meantime, they somehow became a divisive issue in running... Apparently, "real runners" don't run these sort of runs. In fact, according to The Color Run -- who I believe invented the color run idea, and are holding 100 events in 2013 -- 60% of their participants are doing their first 5K.

Color runs, mud runs, foam runs, zombie runs... what's so offensive to "real runners"? One thing might be that most of these events aren't timed. And maybe "real runners" only care about time? I say, the more the merrier. Get people out there and moving -- whether at a walk, a jog, or a 4-minute mile. And if to entice people out you give them a party along the way? Awesome!

That said... I had never run any sort of "fun" race. Sure, I'd run a few 5Ks, but most of them were at the beginning of my running life. I just don't enjoy them enough -- I like the feeling of achievement after a half marathon.... Besides, for a 5K, I spend waaaaay more time getting to the race, getting parked, and waiting for the start than I do actually running the race. (And I am decidedly NOT fast...)

So this year I decided to pick out a bunch of different types of "fun" run to do. In my race calendar you'll see I have a color run, a mud run, a zombie run or two, and others I'm hoping to add in. Why not? I'm up for it!

Last Saturday Team Wil-Sun ran the Color in Motion 5K, held down in Tacoma. Yes, it was an awful long way to go for a 5K, but it seemed like fun and the date worked for us both.

Image courtesy the Color in Motion 5K
I have to admit I didn't know what to expect when we arrived -- early -- at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.  I wanted to get there early so we could pick up our packet, since we couldn't drive all the way down to T-town on the Friday night for the official packet pickup. But we got parked, got in the fast-moving line, and exchanged our "tickets" for a bag containing a bib, a white "Color in Motion 5K" t-shirt, a couple of temporary tattoos, and a wristband. We then went back to the car to relax... and customize our shirts. (Yeah, I brought sewing scissors, didn't you?)

We passed the 90 minutes before the start by going across the street to Fred Meyer for some random, early-morning shopping. We weren't the only "color chasers" to be milling about the store! We also had a look at the orange color station -- a few dozen yards before the finish line:

all clean... an hour before the start
tubs of color!
squeeze bottles full of color
But eventually we headed back to the car, and then we made our way to the start. As usual, there were super long lines for the porta-potties... until we went over to the start, which was the front of the stadium, and discovered that the stadium bathrooms were open. Sweet!

pre-race photo (you don't often see me in white!)
We went and stood next to the starting area -- I didn't feel like I needed to wedge myself into a corral, feeling that I would just slide in when people started moving forward. The organizers had announced that they were going to start everyone in waves every 10 minutes... but they didn't close off the sides of the corrals, so people just kept filling in from the front. But we stood in the chute and danced around a bit, and tried not to get too bored. They were playing cute dance music, and announcing each start with a blast of color fired from a fire extinguisher.

milling around at the start... photo blurred by the ziplock bag we used to protect the phone!
Eventually, in either the third or the fourth wave, we were let loose. There was a bit of awkward navigating around folks with strollers, big groups of walkers, and so on, but within about 50 yards we had pretty much cleared all the other runners in our wave.

Now, three days before the race, the organizers sent out an email saying that "Due to restrictions with the City of Tacoma, color packets will be handed out at the finish line only." Wow. What did THAT mean? Did it mean that there wouldn't be any color at all? Wil and I considered actually not bothering to go, since it wasn't clear to us whether the course would still be colorful or not. (Apparently I wasn't alone in this worry -- their Facebook page had a lot of comments on it... but I didn't look at it until after the run...)

clean shirt... just waiting for color
But at the time of the start, we didn't know what was going on. We ran and ran and ran... I'd estimate that it was well over 1K... closer to 1 mile... colorless. We kept passing people and overhearing them ask each other when the color would start. But then, around a corner, I saw a cloud of color!

We rounded a corner and saw ... oddly enough ... a line. Yes, a line to go through the color station. I'm not going to lie, we considered avoiding the station so we didn't have to wait in line. But then I reminded myself that we were there in order to get colored-up, so we relaxed a bit and let the color-chasing begin!

Yellow was our first stop... we watched people drop to the floor and roll around in the color, but I just thought I'd see how much color we'd pick up by running through. Turns out, we picked up plenty:

me and ol' Yellowbeard...
I'm not gonna lie -- it was fun. Really fun. I mean, who doesn't love getting blasted with brightly colored powder?
"it was all yellow" - Coldplay
After passing that station, we had pretty smooth running the rest of the race. We never had another crowd at a color stop, which meant we got plenty of attention from the color-givers. Or whatever they were called.

The running part was a little boring -- we ran mainly through a residential neighborhood that was pleasant enough, but I did keep fretting about how much color was on their streets. Well, near the color stations, anyway. (Yes, that's why they didn't hand out color packets beforehand.) But we ran along, playing with the different colors. At the green station, Wil decided to stop, drop, and roll in the powder on the ground... after all, green is his favorite color!

The orange station just before the end was pretty crazy -- I got a facefull of power... but it was cool. We crossed the finish line in... well... who knows how long? We hadn't timed it, and neither had the organizers. I'm cool with that.

We picked up a couple of different packets of color -- though the distribution was a little haphazard. I was somehow desperate to get purple or blue powder, but never managed to get any other than a little handful from a boy standing near the finish....

immediately after the finish ... I had NO IDEA I was so dusted
The crowd was growing at the finish party -- more dance music... and lots of packets of color.

And before long, what with all the color-flinging, we looked like this:

I love that Wil's nose and forehead are GREEN
We hung around a while, enjoying the vibe... but then we decided it was time to head home. Still, we made time for a few pictures:



it's not easy being green...

I love that my glasses were covered, too 

team photo!
Did we have fun? Yes. I loved all the color and the happy people. It was fun to see kids excited to run ... you know, in the real world. But would I do another color run? Not sure. I think that the Color in Motion group put on a pretty good event, but Tacoma is too far away. Maybe if they had an event in Seattle I would consider it. Would I recommend a color run to anyone else? Sure... as long as they weren't hoping for a PR.
"after" -- the shirts hanging outside

my Adrenaline GTS kicks may never recover

Have you ever done a color run? Any other fun run? Would you recommend it?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Women-only races... hmmm

I run a lot of races. I love races. So I guess it was only a matter of time before this happened:

"Women of Wonder" 5K / 10K banner

That's me (in black) with my pal Lindsay (purple), running the Kirkland Half Marathon way back in May 2010. We signed up for that race kindof at the last minute -- possibly the day before? -- and it was my "qualifying" race for Half Fanatics way back when. (I had run the Vancouver Half the weekend before, so qualified as a single moon fanatic with 2 races in 9 days.)

It was also one of the first times I had EVER run with anyone besides Wil -- and Lindsay was a perfect running companion, keeping me laughing through all 13.1 miles.

Fast forward 3 years... I've run a lot more races, become a SIX MOON Half Fanatic (4 half marathons in 4 days), and always figured that one day I'd show up on some race brochure or website.

Pro-Motion Events puts on a lot of great races in and around Seattle. They usually have great shirts, great courses, and great organization. Over the years I've run several of their races -- the Resolution Run, Love 'Em or Leave 'Em 5K (now Valentine's Day Dash), the Firecracker 5000, the Fremont 5K, the Dawg Dash, the 12Ks of Christmas, and, yes, the Kirkland Half Marathon. So when I got an email yesterday about a new "Women of Wonder" race, I figured it was worth reading about.

I actually laughed out loud, however, when I got to the site and vaguely recognized someone in the banner. Yeah, that's me in my former life (hence the swoosh hat....), just starting one of my first half marathons, running happy with my gal Lindsay. Or at least we have our race faces on. Or something.
I have to admit that I think it's pretty cool. I mean, I always hope to see myself in a RunDisney recap. So maybe a local race is a good start.

It's just that I don't approve of women-only races. And the Women of Wonder run is women-only. Not just women focused -- women exclusive. I checked -- there isn't an option to choose "male" under gender on the registration form.

I also don't approve of men-only races. I think of Kathrine Switzer fighting so hard to run the Boston Marathon back in 1967... a race that women weren't allowed to run until 1972. Is this how far we've come, that women can now exclude men from an event in the name of "empowerment"?

I want to quickly add that I'm not opposed to women-themed races, such as the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, or the Princess Half Marathon, See Jane Run, Nike Women's Marathon, etc. Hell, most of the race shirts I've accumulated over the years are "unisex" -- ha, I mean, MENS -- so if for a change a man might have to suffer with a pink, women's cut shirt, then that's fine. But excluding a person from doing something on behalf of their gender is sexism, plain and simple. Substitute "men"... or even "whites" for "women" in a women-only race, and tell me that that's okay.

I'm sorry if some women are uncomfortable around men. I'm sorry if some women lack the confidence to be themselves around men. But in the real world, in real society, we live our lives with lots of different people. Wanna run in pink tutus with your girlfriends? Cool! Get a group together! You don't need a women-only race to make that happen. Want a sparkly medal, a women's cut race shirt, and an expo full of glitter? Also cool! There are lots of events -- open to both men and women -- where you can do that.

Maybe I'm just sensitive to this because a woman shouted at my husband for daring to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon with me in 2012. A race that is women-themed, but also open to men and women. I rarely run a race without my husband -- the WIL in Team Wil-Sun. So don't tell me that I'm not allowed to run without my running buddy because he happens to be male.

I realize that I'm opening myself up to a lot of criticism here. But I think running is something for everyone -- and we should be encouraging everyone to get out and run. Discriminating against runners on behalf of their gender is wrong. So despite being one of their cover girls (ha ha), I won't be signing up for the race.

Okay, stepping off my soapbox now. How do you feel about women-only races? How about a men-only race? (I can't actually think of any in the US, but perhaps there are some?)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon general registration opens today!

(image courtesy RunDisney)

Wil and I are both annual passholders for Disneyland / Disney World, and have been for a few years now. One of the newer perks is early registration for select RunDisney events. Perfect! So we actually signed up for the 2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon last week. Disney does things right -- they wouldn't have let the race sell out to just pass holders -- I'm sure there were X number of slots opened up for early registration, not all of them. But it was still nice to just get signed up and take care of things right away.

Because we've done the two previous races, we're pretty committed to running this race every year in the future -- even if we do stop becoming passholders at some point. This year's new twist was the addition of a 10K -- which, unfortunately, is not also part of a "challenge" like the "Dumbo Double Dare" for the Disneyland Half or the "Glass Slipper Challenge" for the Princess. (Why, RunDisney, why???) It's obvious that the challenges create extra excitement -- and get people to stay longer! But perhaps Disney is testing out the idea that more different people will sign up for the events, rather than the same people running multiple races? (Here's something odd -- though the new "Dopey Challenge" in Florida is sold out, the Goofy is not yet sold out for next year. I guess if you're Goofy enough to run a half and a full, you're Dopey enough to run a 5K and a 10K as well...)

Anyway, we looked at the race, the price, the timing -- and the lack of a challenge -- and had to think about it pretty hard. I mean, we are sad not to be running the Dumbo Double Dare this fall -- Bumbershoot trumped the race again -- but part of the draw of that challenge for THIS bling lover is the extra medal. So no extra medal -- and probably no Coast to Coast for us in 2014 -- made it less appealing.

But we knew that we would be going down to Anaheim on the Friday anyway... and, well, we've always said a 10K in the parks would be perfect... so we blinked and just signed up for the 10K, too. Gulp.

Oh, and of course, I had to order a couple of each of the comemmorative pins and a necklace. I'll add the pin to my now totally over-the-top race medal pin lanyard (yeah, I pretty much look like a jerk when I wear it...) and the pendant from the necklace to my race charm bracelet (which is slightly more subtle... but only slightly). Hooray for good merch!

The Glass Slipper Challenge in Florida sold out in one day, though the Princess Half didn't sell out for a few weeks. As I'm typing this, the RunDisney site is reporting that the Tinker Bell Half is 73% full, but they haven't posted any stats for the 10K or 5K. I'm curious to see how long before this race is sold out.

Our pal Suz signed up this morning while en route to Mackinac -- though she assures me she wasn't driving at the time. :)  We're encouraging all of our runner pals who expressed medal envy at the Tink bling to sign up today -- as I've always said, RunDisney puts on a great race, and the Tinker Bell is an ideal event for a first half marathon!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Langley Half Marathon race report

Spoiler alert: I think this is an actual representation of the elevation profile of this course. No, really.
Just returned from a fantastic weekend away that combined many of my favorite things: ferries, islands, hard cider, artists, Victorian architecture, Wil, and a half marathon! Of course, I may have combined a few too many things...

Yesterday morning we got an early ferry from Edmonds to Kingston (stopping there for a delicious breakfast at J'aime les Crepes) and then drove on to Port Townsend. We dropped our car at the Bishop Victorian and then headed out to explore the town. A very cute Victorian seaport, with a thriving farmers' market and some cool shops to poke around in. Then at noon we headed over to "Summer Cider Day" -- where there were something like 50 -- FIFTY!!! -- hard ciders to sample. Okay, we limited ourselves to the 10 tastes we had purchased with the ticket -- which was plenty. Our favorites?  Schilling Cider's ginger cider (spicy!), EZ Orchards' 2009 Cidre (v. v. French), and Whitewood Cider's Old Fangled (crisp!).

I'm not going to lie -- the day got a little fuzzy at this point. We checked in to the hotel, got settled in our room, had a nap, got up and spent a couple of hours at the art walk, before collapsing into bed. 

Things one should do the day before a race: drink plenty of water, stay off your feet a bit, eat food you are accustomed to, avoid too much alcohol, oh, and don't get sunburned. 

Yeah, we didn't do any of that. So we headed off in the morning with unhappy bellies and at least one banging headache. 

But the little ferry ride between Port Townsend and Coupeville was pleasant, and we got to Langley nice and early -- early enough to park very near the start. And my Nike Sportwatch was eager to run...  We picked up our bibs and swag bags -- it always makes me laugh when a small race has better swag than big races. We got soap, hand lotion, some Gu, some VitaC packets, a little first aid kit, and -- always amusing -- the little sample of Shave Secret oil. One day I think I'll try it.  But best things of all -- RACE SOCKS!!! We received tech socks at our first 15K, the Birch Bay Road Race -- and I'm surprised that more races don't make them. I mean, how many race shirts does a runner really need?

tech socks! Mine on the left, Wil's on the right.
We passed the time before the start, chatting with locals and enjoying the morning. The race director made a little speech, a woman played the national anthem on a trumpet, and we sang happy birthday to runner 222. Cute. I still felt wretched. I've felt queasy at races before, but never at the beginning of a race!

The race had a "rolling start" -- we had gathered at a wide part of the road, but the start was actually a hundred yards down the street. The RD explained it -- "like in the Tour de France". We trotted down the road a ways, then funneled ourselves over the start mat -- and we were off!

The course was described as having "gently rolling hills" and "some flat stretches". It took me a while to realize that it was a joke. A slightly cruel joke.

Not long after the start -- and some actual "gentle" hills -- we came to this sign... and this hill:

I assure you, this was not gentle. It was not rolling. But it was a hill. In fact, here's the actual elevation profile:

I think the real challenge is to spot the "flat stretches"...

Anyway, once the 4-mile, 7-mile, and 10K runners and walkers turned off the road, we were pretty much on our own for the rest of the race. It meant we just settled in to our pace, and took it easy. That said, there didn't seem much point to run up the hills... or down some of the steeper ones. The views were lovely -- lots of trees, views of Saratoga Passage, and bright blue sky. Oh, and hills. Lots of hills.

The last half mile before the turnaround was on a "primitive" road -- hard packed gravel. And it had an absurdly steep hill right at the end of it. Oof. But we hit the top, grabbed some water, joked with the guys at the water stop, and then headed back down. I was surprised to learn that there were actually some people behind us.
the last, very steep hill to the turnaround

rolling home
The miles back to town were uneventful, but the morning was getting warm. Anything we ran down on the way out, we had to run up on the way back. The top of my left foot was hurting by this point, as were my knees. I haven't had knee pain during a race for a long time -- I'm guessing it was from pounding down the hills! Hills, heat, and a hangover -- three ingredients that made for a slightly painful day out.

Anyway, we slowly made our way back to town, passing the starting line and being thankful that two firefighters had been stationed there to direct us to make a left turn. (Really, an arrow would have sufficed...)

Then down the last hill into "downtown Langley", where the Choochokam arts festival was ramping up for the day. We held hands and scooted across the line in a very slow, gently rolling 2:45 or so. Yeah, I don't know where the time went either.

After crossing we were handed these super cute finisher's medals:

2013 Langley Running Festival Half Marathon medal

and directed to a little field where we had quite possibly the nicest watermelon in the history of the world. We wound down by meandering around the festival, coming very close to buying a new wallet, a metal crow, and a pizza paddle -- but without actually buying anything. Then we went home the long way -- I couldn't face the ferry lines!

The Langley Half Marathon was part of a running festival with four different distances -- pretty ambitious for a small event! It was great to see the locals turn out in force, however. The half marathon course was well marked, well supported, and pretty. And, yes, the "rolling hills" are a running gag. Packet pickup was fast, and the swag was generous. I'd recommend it for anyone who might find themselves in the area on race day. Just beware the GENTLY ROLLING HILLS!

rocking the socks