Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2015 Team Wil-Sun Awards ... and Race Review Roundup

why, yes, I *do* enjoy earning medals... why do you ask? (2015 medal collection)
Look, it's February 16. And I've been trying to make myself sit down and write this up since, oh, December 16th. But life gets messy sometimes... Messy good, or messy bad... mainly messy good in my case. So blogging pretty much dropped off the radar.  Hey, the fact that I didn't publish my race report from the Seattle Half Marathon until January 8 ... almost six weeks after the fact ... should have been a clue. And, really, we're now in the seventh full week of 2016 (gulp!)... so I've only just barely slipped a little more... 

ANYWAY. We ran a bunch of races in 2015. And had a bunch of adventures. How many? I ran:

3 FULL marathons
21 half marathons
3 10Ks
1 8K
3 5Ks

and STILL didn't hit my mileage goals! (More on that in a later post...)

All of those races left a big impression on me ... but it's award season and of course that means it's time for the second annual WIL-SUN awards!!!

Best Bucket List Race: Beat the Bridge

This race is a Seattle classic ... and one I've been wanting to run for years. The idea is simple: set several thousand people loose on a course, and raise a drawbridge 2 miles down the road 20 minutes after the start. Your goal? To Beat the Bridge... Of course, nowadays to make people happy they don't raise the bridge until 20 minutes after the last group starts, which means that most people have more than 20 minutes... but, hey, it's run AND raises a lot of money for the JDRF. And, finally, we ran it in 2015.

Best Costumes: Tigger and Winnie the Pooh, Tinker Bell Half Marathon

First and foremost, I loved the costumes. Sure, it was great to run in them.... we got lots of love on the course from our fellow runners, volunteers, and spectators. Heck, strangers posted pictures of us on social media. But, seriously, this was the reason to make and wear these costumes:

Best Mid-Race Food: Center of the Nation Series

Seriously, this race offers things like hard-boiled eggs, rice krispie treats, veggie chili, breakfast burritos, hot noodle dishes, and more things than I can remember ... Norm's Kitchen always seemed to be turning out some new and amazing thing to restock the food table. Every time we passed through, I would pick up half an egg, some potato chips, and a little slurp of Coke... and then sometimes I'd pick up some real food as well. Not having to eat gels the entire trip was pretty awesome for me.

Best Post-Race Food: Ghost of Seattle Marathon

With sponsorship from Field Roast and Odin Brewing, this race provided a great array of hot and delicious post-race food for omnivores and vegetarians. And they even had food left for the slowpokes (aka US)! The on-course food was also varied and interesting ... clearly this is a race put on by people who know what a great race should offer.

Toughest Race Course: Run Like the Wind Half Marathon

I have never been so tired at the end of a race, nor so happy to be finished as I was during this hilly, rocky, windy half marathon. I seriously think this was harder than hiking Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon in one day. For days after I was sore ... but not in my running muscles, mind you -- in my stabilizing muscles. I have NEVER had sore obliques after running. Until after this race. A big challenge and a cool little race in a weird spot: on a wind farm. (The race slogan is "Uphill, Into the Wind, Both Ways", and they mean it.

Biggest Dumbest Challenge: Achieving Kilimanjaro level in the Double Agents

I own this. This is my fault. But running three half marathons AND three full marathons in 9 days ... running the three fulls in three consecutive days ... well, that was big and dumb and tough. Lots of limping and whining. But, hey, my obliques were never sore! I also want to point out that a bunch of people did 4 and 4 in 9 days ... so they're WAAAAAY crazier than we are...

Best Medal of 2015:

This category is super hard this year, as I managed to score some amazing medals. Hey, it's an honor just to be nominated. So here are the runners up, in chronological order:

Star Wars Half Marathon

2015 Star Wars Half Marathon medal

Okay, this gets bonus points for being the Yavin medal ... you know, the one Chewie DIDN'T get at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope? It took years, but runDisney made up for it by designing the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon medal as a replica ... AND making the ribbon look like Chewie's fur and bandolier. Nice work, Disney! (And, umm, yes, I might have written a fangirl post about this medal months before I earned my own...

Run Like the Wind Half Marathon

2015 Run Like the Wind Half Marathon medal

This is flat-out gorgeous -- a laser cut wooden medal like I've never seen before. It's big, delicate, and so amazingly pretty. I have a pretty big collection of bling at this point, and this one definitely stands out.

Wineglass Half Marathon

I seriously can't do this justice in a picture ... I tried and white background and a black background ... no luck. But let me tell you about this medal... It's a pressed glass medallion, each one hand made by an artist at the Corning Museum of Glass. The design changes every year, but each one follows this style. It's unspeakably pretty -- possibly the best part about an above-average race. And that's saying something.

Hartford Half Marathon

This race got SO MUCH right ... including this decidedly different medal that's shaped like the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. It's heavy cast metal in three dimensions -- not flattened on one side. And the marathon medal. while similar, is larger and a different color. This medal isn't the biggest or the blingiest medal of the year, but it sure is handsome. 

And the WIL-SUN (surely we can't call it the WILLY or the SUNNY...) goes to...

Center of the Nation Series

Maybe this is cheating ... but just look at this monster! I loved that we received the top piece and the "year" piece when we picked up our bibs the first day, and then every day when we completed a race, we received a new state medal to attach. Each of the individual medals are heavy and handsome ... so all together they are simply amazing. I really hope to earn some more of these medals in 2016.

Top five running moments of 2015:

I can't really rank these ... they are all super special in different ways. But here they are, in chronological order of occurrence...

1. The "Sunday Night Lights" Deck Run on the Caribbean Running Cruise. Glow sticks? Check. Glow necklaces? Check. Crazy high winds that caught the undersides of your feet as you turned a corner? Check. And we ran circles around a group of folks who had taken over the pool deck to watch Princess Bride so that the rest of the boat couldn't watch the Super Bowl. Amusing. 

2. The "Haiti Relays" day on the Caribbean Running Cruise ... notably getting to run with some of the boys from the Street Hearts charity. We brought shoes and clothes and toiletries and, later, raised several thousand dollars to buy another house so that the charity can expand. I am getting weepy even now, a year later, remember how great it was to meet some of the boys and see the pleasure they took in the day. 

3. The Maniac / Fanatic cheering area at the Tacoma City Marathon. My love / meh relationship with the race continues. I hate having to go down to the expo. But boy did I love the finish-line cheering section filled with my fellow Fanatics ... both hearing a huge cheer go up as Wil and I approached the finish, and having the opportunity to pass the cheering along as others finished. It's almost -- ALMOST -- enough to make me run this race again. Almost.

4. Seafair Pirate Run 5K ... this was pretty much fueled by my community at Brooks ... but I think I will always look back on this day as one of my perfect, golden running moments. From the pre-func at T.S. McHugh's, to the pre-race chatter with old friends, to the view from my beloved Viaduct, to the random meetings on the course, to the post-race Super Soaker assault, to the post-post race celebration at T.S. McHugh's ("You're back already??:), this was a perfect running event. 

5. The entire Center of the Nation Series ... 6 half marathons in 6 states in 6 days... Seriously, this was the most ambitious running project we've yet done, and also one of the most amazing and fun. I loved feeling like we were all in it together ... and it gave us an excuse to do a big road trip for our 10th anniversary. 

Best Overall Race: Hartford Half Marathon

This was the obvious winner ... a race that got almost everything right. Useful and thorough pre-race communication, offering to ship packets (for a fee, but that's cool), a great race shirt, an amazing ports-potty set up (revolutionary!), a nice course with plenty of water stops, a CANDY stop, a spectacular finish line, super efficient post-race water (seriously, a filled custom water bottle and a bag of snacks?!?), runner-only food including vegan chili, and a city that was super thrilled to be hosting an event. I LOVED this race, even if I personally struggled in it.

Now it's your turn ... what awards would you give to races you ran in 2015?

1 comment:

  1. Best Medal: Rock 'n Roll Vancouver half marathon. Sparkly Orca!!!
    Favorite Course: Princess 10k. You run through Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, and Epcot.