Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland announced!!!


Look, I know that I'm geekier than most runners. But the holy trinity of Disney, Star Wars, and Half Marathons has come together for the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland, just announced today. I'm stupidly excited, and just thinking about the race ... NEXT JANUARY ... essentially derailed me for most of the day.

See, when runDisney moved the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend to Mother's Day for 2015, I figured it was to open up a space in the race schedule. I also figured it would be a Star Wars-themed race. But I assumed that it would be a race at Disney World in May, which would cause some soul-searching and fretting.

So imagine HOW THRILLED I was to learn that I'd been half right -- yes, it's a Star Wars-themed race... but it's in January, in CALIFORNIA!!! What's more, they're offering a "Rebel Challenge" of the 10K + the Half Marathon, which has me all giddy.

Registration opens on June 10 at 9am Pacific, and it's bound to sell out super quickly. Go to the runDisney website for more information or to sign up for a registration reminder. Or, wait, don't. Let me register first, okay? Thanks. :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Motivation

Team Wil-Sun's Long-Suffering Friend Suz ran the Rock 'n' Roll Portland Half Marathon last weekend and this is her finish-line photo:


This picture makes me want to go out and run. This, my friends, is how it feels to finish a race. :)

Congratulations, Suz, on RnR PDX, and best of luck with San Diego and Seattle in the next few weeks!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sage Rat Run - Dirty Rat 10K race report

Another spoiler: day 2 of the Rat Deux challenge was just as great!

We had another nice breakfast at the hotel before heading out to Prosser, where Sunday's races would start and finish. 

We got to the start just as the duathlon participants were getting their course talk; I sorta wish I had listened because I have no idea where they rode, transitioned, or ran...

The crowd was a bit smaller on the Sunday, but we recognized a lot of people. 

Promptly at 8:00 we set off to a pistol shot. BANG! (Kinda loved that.) We ran a very short while through Prosser, past a big fruit processing plant, a dog in hysterics, and a small group of folks who had set up chairs next to the road. And then UP WE WENT. 

The road was paved for a hundred yards or so, and then transitioned to well-packed dirt and gravel...a really nice surface to run on. Except, umm, CRAZY STEEP HILL. 




It was pretty unrelenting for about two miles -- we were going up to the top of the ridge, after all. But the weather was glorious - bright blue sky, not hot - and we were really fine with just a gentle stroll. Call it training for the Inca Trail...

We were happy to see one friend along the road:

always nice to "see" John at a race!
**SIGN LOVE** - both days there were cute motivational quotes out along the race course. A local car dealership sponsored them -- really cute way to get more from a sponsorship than just a logo on a race shirt!

We got to the top of the ridge, where it leveled off slightly. Once on top I thought, wow, we could totally have done the 15k or the 25k, but nah. A slight downhill to the turnaround:

and then we headed back down the hill to the start. The view was truly gorgeous:

And, no, I can't resist a panorama or two:

Down down down we went, me nearly losing it on the steep gravel a couple of times. The nice folks were still sitting out in their lawnchairs, the dog was more mellow with just a couple of people trotting by, and the big fruit plant, before coming around the corner to the finish. Quite possibly our slowest ever 10K, but who cares? We still picked up this GLORIOUS HUNK OF BLING:

2014 Sage Rat Run Dirty Rat 10K medal
**MORE MEDAL LOVE**- Yeah, I included my 6-inch ruler in there for perspective. Simply awesome!!! This is another fantastic medal.

And, well, because we also ran the Sage Rat Half Marathon the day before, we were promptly handed the Rat Deux medal, too:

Sage Rat Run Rat Deux Challenge medal: fear no distance!
I took these medals into the office on Monday... and people went NUTS. People who run a lot. People who race a lot. Seriously, these medals are AWESOME. And many felt that the Rat Deux medal, with all the skulls and crossbones, may have been designed for me. :)

**POST-RACE FOOD LOVE, DAY 2**- Today we were treated to two delicious (and vegetarian!) salads from the Green Olive Cafe in Sunnyside. Both the black bean salad and the pasta salad were very tasty, and it took great restraint not to have seconds. SO NICE to have real food!

We had hoped to stop in at the super cute Bern's Tavern... until we realized that it was 9:30 on a Sunday morning... So instead we headed back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and made our way slowly home.

A few additional memories from our Sage Rat Run weekend:

The Best Western GrapeVine Inn in Sunnyside was really, really lovely -- especially the breakfast room in the atrium with a view over a vineyard.

Best Western GrapeVine Inn breakfast room

The deep fried asparagus from Davy's Burger Ranch may not look like much, but it was easily the finest I've ever had. (Take that, Burgerville, with your skinny spears and sparse breading!) It's good I was sharing with Wil because I could easily have snarfed down a pound or so on my own...

We had it on our list to do some wine tasting... but then were PARALYZED by choice, so wandered in to the Horse Heaven Saloon and tried all of their beers...

Huge cheers to the Sage Rat Run organizers, the amazing volunteers, and the local police/sheriff/guardsmen who directed traffic and kept the runners safe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sage Rat Run Half Marathon race report

Spoiler alert: the Sage Rat Run weekend was one of the nicest race-cation trips ever! Nice courses, really well organized races, tasty and abundant real food at the finish, great shirts, amazing medals, and super nice people. Seriously. Run one or more of the races they put on for this weekend. 

We drove from Seattle to Sunnyside on the Friday night after the Brooks "future of running" 100th anniversary party. Walked in to the Best Western Grapevine Inn at about 10:30pm and were warmly greeted and speedily checked in. The manager asked whether we were "Sage Rat Running" the next day, and then helpfully told us that the start was about a quarter mile away. Handy! I don't often stay in official race hotels, but this has made me think I should ALWAYS do that!

Because the race started at the civilized hour of 8:00 a.m., we were able to enjoy the hotel's very nice breakfast before heading out. Lord knows I love waffles. And hard-boiled eggs. 

Being us, we left absurdly early, and drove the 4 minutes to the Walmart parking lot to pick up our bibs and shirts... which took all of two minutes to do. We were told to keep our bibs for day two, which was good to know (and smart and eco-friendly). 

**SHIRT LOVE** - the website said that the men's shirt would be "tactical black", while the women's shirt would be "some color my wife will choose". Now, anyone who has actually met me knows that a black race shirt is something of a holy grail for me. So OF COURSE I wanted the black shirt. I LOVED that I was able to select a men's-sized shirt when I registered. Oh, and as it happens, the women's color was a very handsome pumpkiny orange. Still, was thrilled to gents black shirt!

Had plenty of time to kill, so we wandered around the Walmart, where I picked up some fizzy water and managed to not buy the boy's Batman shirt with attached cape. Yep, I'm a model of restraint...

More and more runners were gathering... And then I saw this:

**MASCOT LOVE** - The Sage Rat Run had a MASCOT, a giant sage rat named Dusty. AWESOME. I mean, who does this????? Let me be absolutely clear: Dusty the Sage Rat is NOT a local school mascot. He is the race mascot. I mean, he doesn't even have a day job running a theme park.

So of course there were pictures....

There was a brief course talk at 7:45, and then we headed the couple of hundred years to the start. I really had no idea what to expect, numbers-wise. But there were a few hundred of us, which felt like a very nice size.

After a few minutes of milling around and chatting with our fellow runners (Wil got lots of attention in his Fanatics singlet) we headed out.

Much of the course was on a well maintained bike trail that runs from Sunnyside, through Grandview, and on to Prosser. It was described as "not scenic" because much of it is sandwiched between the interstate and a 2-lane highway... but I thought it was plenty pretty.

The goal for the half marathon, frankly, was to finish and get the medal. The stretch goal was to see a sage rat in the wild. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLL!!!!

We had decided before the race that we would run to the halfway point and then walk the rest of the way. We are starting to have pre-Peru paranoia, so we are trying to stay healthy. No sense knocking ourselves out now!

Any time we had to cross a street, small or large, one or more local police were there, all super friendly and very appreciative. Even when we headed through downtown Grandview and had to cross the 2-lane highway, they were doing a great job of managing traffic. 

I loved running past the hop fields most of all. I have this ridiculous idea about growing hops on our garden... but until then....

More nice course pics:

Eventually we arrived on the outskirts of Prosser, a super cute little town on the Yakima River.

Having strolled leisurely for the past six miles or do, it felt a little weird to run it in, but, hey, it's tradition! We got a nice little shout out as we ran across the line hand in hand. (And, yes, a spectator said, "Awwww!")

**MEDAL LOVE** - Then we collected our medal. Our massive, massive medal:

Yep, I included a 6-inch ruler in the picture just to make it clear that this baby is HUGE. And gorgeous, and very, very custom.

We were handed cups of ice water (nice touch!) and made our way to the party. 

**POST RACE FOOD LOVE** - in addition to an abundant supply of bagels, orange wedges, bananas, and I may have even glimpsed PBnJ sammies, each runner was given a slice of pizza and a donut. Distribution was controlled in a simple, but totally effective manner: little "bug" stamps on the race bibs, which got scribbled on when you picked up your food. No one got shorted on food, and no one took more than their fair share. 

Also, the donuts were blueberry cake donuts, being made fresh right there. Nice!

**ORGANIZATION LOVE** - Rather than buy custom bibs, the organizers got Road ID bibs and customized them with stamps. I'm not sure whether they used different colors for the different events, or went off numbers to distinguish between the half, 12K, 10K, 5K, etc. you can see the two little bugs (with highlighter scribbles) in the lower left for post-race food; we also have the "Rat Deux" (two sage rats) on the right. Super super smart!

We hung around for a while chatting, but then decided to get on a shuttle back to the start. I am sorta wishing we had stayed longer in Prosser, though we did go back and spend the afternoon there after going back to the hotel and napping and showering. 

All in all an awesome event - and this was just day one!

Inca Trail Adventure : one month away!!!

It's hard to believe, but a month from now we will be in PERU. It seemed very far in the future when we signed up last November!!!!

Today we managed to get our long sought-after yellow fever vaccinations. It seems there had been a shortage of the vaccine in the U.S. for several months. We started trying to get it back in January, to no avail. Well, that's not 100% true; the King County Health Department had some available, but the only way they would dispense it was if you made a weekday appointment with the travel nurse at a cost of $110 PER PERSON, on top of the vaccine cost. That just seemed absurd, so we didn't want to do it. 

We were, however, pointed to Katterman's Pharmacy... which was HUGELY helpful. Back in March we got the typhoid "vaccine in a pill" as well as the hepatitis vaccine... by just walking in and filling out forms. (And paying for the vaccines, of course!) 

They were finally able to get more vaccine in, so tonight we hustled over there after work and got our jabs. 

One slight weirdness - the pharmacist told us in passing that the vaccine is now considered "lifetime immunity" rather than the previously believed 10 years. Oh, um, we have both had the vaccine before, bit probably not for decades. No matter, really, but it was surprising to learn. 

Also, turns out Wil's insurance covered all three of the vaccines we had gotten so far, so je was able to get a refund on the first two and only pay for the yellow fever docentation ($35) for that. Needless to say, United HealthCare *doesn't*...

Now all we need to do is get a prescription for anti-malaria pills, and we'll be set, medicine-wise!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Blingity Bling Bling

As I left the party hurriedly at 7pm on Friday, someone asked me why I was driving to a race in Sunnyside. Well, this is why:

One half marathon, one 10K trail run, and three BIG HONKIN' MEDALS at the Sage Rat Run weekend!

Full race report to come in the next few days, but I really needed to post this tonight!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I *May* Have a Shoe Problem

Today I decided to take inventory of my running shoes. 53 pairs. I could wear a different pair every week and still have one left over. 

Here's how they break down. 

13 pairs of Adrenaline GTS, from version 10-14. Note the three pair of "all-black" GTS: my favorite colorway of all... at least, until the purple/black and pink glo GTS 14s!

Runners up in the popularity challenge: the PureProject collection, including 7 pairs of the origins PureProject shoes, 
7 pairs of the PureProject 2 shoes, and 
2 pairs, so far, of PureProject 3 shoes.  I don't run in these much, but these are my favorite shoes to wear to work. 

5 pairs of Cascadias, including a pair of the 5, the 6, the 8 (x2), and the 9. The black and pink 8s are my favorite... you can tell because I have two pair! I will be wearing the newer pair on our Inca Trail trek in June.

4 pairs of Green Silence, including a pair of the awesome Union Jack colorway. I also have two pair of the web exclusive "Gothic Grape" colorway, which was seemingly made for me. 

4 pairs of ASRs, 3 of them with Gore-Tex.  One pair VERY MUDDY. I love GTX shoes!

3 pairs of Trances: I ran 2 of my 4 full marathons in Trances. Love the support and the cushion... especially in the last few miles. 

2 pairs of Launches - one before, and one after the (re)Launch. The acid green pair are my absolute favorite. Okay, sure, it's a men's colorway... but I love this color. 

2 pair Racer ST5. The orange and blue were my first ridiculously colored running shoes. I remember wearing them all over SXSW and getting lots of comments. 

Then, of course, there are a few outliers:

1 pair Ariel. I ran in them once; they were just too much shoe for me. 

1 pair Mach Spikeless - quite possibly the coolest shoes ever!!! The men's version of this edition was red snakeskin print. Even though I will never run in these -- heck, I probably won't really ever WALK in these!! -- I love 'em.

1 pair Glycerin 9 - quite possibly the most beautiful running shoes ever!! Not the right shoes for me to run in, but great for walking around in. 

1 pair Transcend -- I discovered that these aren't the right shoes for me to run in... but they're fun to run short distances or just walk around in. SO BRIGHT!

Yeah, that's love. That's love right there.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Girls on the Run 5K (volunteer) race report

I LOVE Girls on the Run. It's my local children's charity of choice. One year I raised several thousand dollars for their New York City chapter in exchange for a New York City Marathon bib -- and became their top fundraiser nationwide that year. (Woot!) Another year I ran as a running buddy with a super cool girl named Morgan. I'd like to find a season where I can be an assistant coach, but my travel schedule gets a little weird. But this year I had the opportunity to not just volunteer… I signed up to be a Super Volunteer for the Girls on the Run 5K. 
I was assigned to be in charge of vendor relations. A few days ago we had a pre-race meeting, where Ilana, from the Run for Good Racing Company (who put on several great charity races), went over our assignments. 

Race morning I arrived at 5:30 -- EARLY! -- to an empty field and a truck loaded with gear. I *wish* I had taken before and after pictures, because it was astonishing how much we built out, and how quickly.

First we unloaded a bunch of tents, pulling them roughly into the shape on the planning map. Then I gathered a team of people and we started setting up the tents. A group of other Super Volunteers helped out as we raised tents and got things set up. 

I spent the early hours putting up signs, setting up tables, and talking to the various vendors and helping them get settled. It was alternatively boring and busy, but also slightly exhilarating.

Meanwhile, the girls started arriving -- and they immediately started going to the different tables and picking up the swag. (BTW, the swag was really nice -- I am still slightly coveting the "LifeWise" lunch bag, but oh well!)

From worrying that we had set the different vendors up too far apart to worrying that we hadn't left enough room around the stage -- that's what happens when 602 girls, 602 running buddies, and 100 or so coaches turn up! Pretty awesome. 

Once the vendors were all settled, I hunted down Suz…. She was looking for her school group, and we couldn't find them. Finally we headed over to the info table… and discovered that her school hadn't arrived yet. Oh. 

Some of the other running buddies had turned up and taken the school sign; we picked up the coaches' bag and tried to figure out where the girls were. Turns out they were all riding up on a bus together… except when the girls arrived, and there were no coaches!!! 

We asked another coach what to do, and we quickly got the girls names on their bibs, and their bibs pinned to them. It was only about 5 minutes before the start that any of their coaches arrived, which seemed a bit shameful. Still, the girls were giggly and helpful and excited. 

A bit of chaos before the start

shouldn't we have a coach?
Eventually it was time to head for the start, so off they went! I spent some time checking in on vendors, hunting down an extra medal for a coach, and just trying to make sure things were going smoothly. I visited Haley over at the Registration / Food tables as she got things switched over, and we were astounded as people tried to help themselves to the food. Eventually the volunteers made signs that said "FOOD FOR RUNNERS ONLY", which seemed to help. 

Meanwhile, I went over to cheer for the runners. I wish I had remembered to bring my cowbell! The first finishers were fast -- 25 minutes or so -- and then the rest of the field kept trickling in. I was a little sad that most of the spectators were only waiting for their girls to come by, but it's always like that. I just kept cheering, telling the girls congratulations, and that the finish was just around the corner. 

cheering from my spot on the course

Suz came by with her buddy, who looked a little tired. Still, she was smiling! I did some extra dancing and cheering for her. :)

Then eventually the last girls finished -- though I worried that, without an official sweeper crew, I didn't know if they WERE the last girls! Meanwhile, the party had started.

Random event highlight: before the race, they played "Let It Go" from Frozen. You haven't heard that song until you've heard it sung by 600 little girls at the tops of their lungs. Nice.

The DJ was playing "You Don't Know You're Beautiful" and "Happy" and a handful of other songs, seeming on a very short loop… the girls had jumped up on the stage and were dancing madly. The sun came out and things were nice.

But eventually it was time to start breaking things down. Vendors were packing up and heading out, so we started breaking down the tents and tables and just stacking them to the side. Here's a tip: if you lift up slightly on the tent, you'll be able to release the button more easily. Oh, and do the legs first…

It seemed like we'd get one tent down and discover that another vendor had packed up. So that kept us busy for a while. Three of us were still there working -- most of the other volunteers had long since gone -- and we were starting to get nervous that we'd end up staying till 2. But I checked in with Ilana and was told that, no, I and the others had gone above and beyond, so we were free to go. Phew.

Things I would change for next year:

  • Use balloons to indicate registration and info -- it was a little difficult to tell where the registration tent was since the signs were at eye level and not elevated.  
  • Combine the vendor requests (power, table, chairs, tents) with the map so that the vendor coordinator doesn't need to consult multiple sheets of paper. 
  • Have better parking organization -- AND traffic organizers on the way out.
  • Have a crew of sweepers -- even two people -- to make sure no one is left behind.
  • Make sure each "waste station" has a garbage, a compost, and a recycle bin.
STILL, despite it being a lot of hard work (my hands, wrists, and arms are still a bit achy from all the unloading and moving and tent wrangling), I'm super glad to have been able to be a part of it all. 

Mark you calendars now -- the Fall Girls on the Run 5K will be on December 6, 2014!