Friday, July 4, 2014

B.A.A. 10K Race Recap

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I traveled up north to run in the Boston Athletic Association's 10k this past weekend and now I can finally say that I've had a "runcation!"  The race was pretty reasonably priced considering it is put on by the same people who put on the Boston Marathon-only $60.  It was a bit of a spontaneous decision for me to run in this race, but I'm glad I made the decision when I did because just a few hours later the race reached its field size of 8,000 and closed.  Luckily for me, one of my good friends lives in Boston and let me sleep on her couch for the weekend since she was doing the race as well.

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Only time I'll be "elite!"

We went to the Boston Common the day before the race and we saw how they already were setting up the stages, tents and signs for the race. We saw that the elite tents were up, so of course I had to snag a picture!

We took the T to the start line on race day and seeing the train full of runners sporting their yellow and blue B.A.A. bibs was quite a sight!  It felt as though we were picking up all our runner friends on the way to the race!  The short walk from the T to the Commons had us passing by the mile 6 marker, so of course pictures had to happen.

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It was great already having our bibs so we didn't have to worry about anything once we arrived.  They seemed to have plenty of port-o-pottys lined up around the park and the lines were moving quickly-always a plus!

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I heard the announcer say it was going to be hot during the race as temperatures were going to be around 62 degrees at 9am and advised everyone to drink lots of fluids to prepare for the heat.  As a native Floridian who has been running in 80-90 degree heat for the last month, I couldn't help but laugh at this.  To top it all off, there was NO humidity in the air which was glorious, not to mention that the weather even seemed a bit nippy to me.  I never would have thought they would be making announcements that it would be hot out!

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Glad I took some pictures the day before

Before I knew it, the elites were off and running and then we were next!  The race began with a bit of a sharp turn as it passed by the bar that inspired the show Cheers.  The course was beautiful passing by all the different houses and soon enough the course was going through Boston University-where my grandma went to school!  For some reason, these first two miles seemed extremely hard.  There was only a bit of an incline, yet I could feel myself slowing down and getting passed.  Luckily the scenery and Ke$ha blaring in my ears kept me going.

Course Map from the B.A.A. Website

At the second water stop I got nervous I was going to get scooped because I could see the volunteers tearing down the water stands and I thought they had given up on us in the back of the pack.  Luckily, I was completely wrong as they were only downsizing, not packing up.  Plus, there was still plenty of runners behind me, so I knew I was keeping up with the course.

It wasn't until the 5k turnaround where I really started to feel strong and enjoy the race.  The sun had come out so I was glad I had my visor, but it wasn't hot (at least not for this Florida girl).  Around this turnaround I was able to wave at Megan, a friendly face that reminded me to keep on running.  Spectators were sparse along this point in the course, but the volunteers that were out were very lively and supportive!

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 Seeing the road lined with runners

I had hoped for a little bit of a PR but those first few miles had me believing I wasn't going to get even close to my 10k average.  Around mile 4.5 I looked down at my app and realized by some Boston miracle, I was keeping up with the norm and I still had a chance.  This section was lined with trees and when I realized I was running along the route we traveled in on the T that morning, it felt like smooth sailing.  I knew the finish line was obtainable.  A PR was still out of sight, but a strong finish was still in my grasp.

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Running towards the Boston skyline

I entered the finishers chute, lined with the BAA logo and I could feel a chill.  To think I was running the same route after those elite runners was amazing.  With the finish line within my reach and Kes$ha and Pibull's Timber in my ear, I bolted my way to the finish line faster that I have ever gone before.  I took one ear bud out so I could fully partake in the experience and hearing the cheers of those who lined the path definitely helped me push me past my limits.  To all those who cheer on random runners, thank you!  Those people may never know it, but hearing "Finish strong!" and "keep going!" was just what I needed.  I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face and I never felt prouder of myself.

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The beautiful double sided unicorn medal!

I was SO delighted that I wasn't bombarded with my medal and water right as I finished!  It was all nicely spread out, including photographers who were lined up in the finisher's area.  No one even bothered me while I waited for my friend.  We picked up our shirts, took a few quick pictures and we were well on our way to grab a delicious early lunch at Lir for their loaded waffle fries!

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+Water at every mile with Gatorade being at mile 4
+Kept the course open the entire time they said they would
+Good amount of volunteers lined the course
+Course times were announced shortly after
+Bib mailed ahead of race day
+Pick up shirt at the end of race
+Great crowd support at finish line
+Wasn't crowded once I crossed the finish line (water/medal/photos)

+No clear B.A.A. backdrop to take pictures (saw a nice step and repeat, but it was for elites only)
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Overall, one of my top 3 favorite races!  Everything ran smoothly, great course, wonderful medal and shirt, beautiful weather and a scenic run!  So glad I was able to check off a Boston Athletic Association Race off my race wishlist!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Maitland Public Library 5k Race Recap

Today, I headed over to Maitland for the Maitland Public Library 5k! With it being a small race (only 145 participants) traffic wasn't a problem and parking was a breeze.  Apparently the restrooms in the park were under construction so facilities were limited, but I did hear this was one on the course that was available. It was a chip timed race that seemed to be using a different type of tracking then I've become used to. The chip on the bib was no thicker than a sticker and instead of running over a mat, they had some sort of scanner that you ran over that reminded me of going through an e-pass on the highway. (If only I could run as fast as I drive!)

The race began at 8am and I could already feel the humid air growing sticky.  What I like about smaller races us that you don't waste the first half mile or so just struggling against the pack to get room to run.  I felt good as I started running but that only lasted for a few minutes. Before I knew it, my shin started to hurt and the annoyance of it slowed me down.

The beautiful houses and scenic neighborhoods of the course were able to keep my mind off of it.  Before I knew it, I was at one of the two water stops along the course and boy was I happy.  The sun was growing stronger with every step I took. The race course doubled back to the road by the lake and ended with a bit of an uphill climb.  It became hard for me to breathe at a few points in the race which just made matters worse.  In no time I saw the finish line ahead and sprinted as fast as I could! After nearly running over the girl who was trying to throw a water bottle at me, I finished at 41:06.  Not bad for shin splints and problems breathing!

Overall, it was a pleasant small town 5k that was chip timed and offered a soft unisex shirt.  With the past theme of "dress like your favorite literary character" it was a great excuse to dress up as The Three Blind Mice and wear a tutu! I only wish that mile markers were placed on the course and that the volunteers along the course seemed more interested in what was going on.  One was even sitting down reading a book! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Arden Park 5K Run n’ Bark Festival

I always love finding an inexpensive race that is also close to home!  For once, procrastinating paid off (literally!) because the race was offering a special of $5 if you registered over Memorial Day weekend.  After those pesky internet fees, the registration fee was only $17 and change.  Such a steal!  The race encouraged you to bring your dog as you walked or ran the 5k with proceeds to benefit Canine Companions for Independence.

 This small local race started with an easy packet pickup located in the park area of the Arden Park neighborhood.  The best part about this was the runner's dream: REAL BATHROOMS.  There's something about not having to use a porta potty that just puts a pep in your step.  The actual 5k took place on the West Orange Trail located just across the street and was an out and back course.  The race organizers even had the Ocoee Police on sight to assist with traffic as runners and their dogs crossed the street.
  The race was very scenic -there was even a horseback rider who wandered on the course from the nearby horse trail!  Since it was such a hot and humid  day, the canopies the trees created was very appreciated.  The water stations could use some improvement as there was only one around the .4/2.75 mile station and around the 2 mile mark.  They did have a dog bowl full of water at these stations, which I'm sure the dog owners appreciated.  I was dying of thirst and it wasn't until that first water station at the half way point that I was able to pick up my pace a bit.

I only like dogs if they are my own, so running with so many dogs everywhere was quite a challenge.  The morning started off with a dog jumping on me and the owner not even apologizing or trying to get the dog off of me.  Luckily, during the race I didn't have too many problems with the dogs on the course since it was a smaller race.  It did give me the extra push along the race-I was being chased by dogs after all!  As I approached the finish line I could hear my mom ringing that cowbell loud and proud, letting me know the end was near!  I did my signature move of sprinting my way to the finish line and passing people along the way.  Just like that and I had another 5k in the books!

I'll never understand why races always try to hand you a bottle of water right at the finish line or why race photos always turn out so horrible.  I finished with a time of 40:09 according to my Nike app (since it wasn't a chip timed race).  I'm just glad I didn't overheat due to the Florida summer temperature and lack of water!

Overall it was a great race that I would do again.  After the 5k they had some booths set up, my favorite being the Juice Bar of Winter Garden that provided samples of their energy bars.  I can't wait to go buy some of my own-so delicious!  Canine Companions for Independence also had a lot of their dogs both running the course and afterwards.  It is always so endearing to see reminders of the cause that benefits from the race entries while you are running.  They even had one of their puppy training sessions take place after the race!

Update: The race organizers sent an email saying the race was able to raise $1,974.73 for Canine Companions for Independence!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pig Run of Lake Nona 5k

The Pig Run of Lake Nona is 5k where at the halfway mark you eat glazed donuts!  While signing up for the race, you chose to eat 0,3, 6, 9 or a dozen donuts int he middle of the race.  I decided to play it safe and only sign up to eat one donut.  And yes, I did see runners sitting on the ground stuffing their face with a dozen donuts, more power to them. (I did think about signing up for the dozen, eating one, and running away with the rest of the box.  Apparently, that is frowned upon.)

Before the race we snapped some pictures with the Dunkin Donut's mascot and the little oinkes for the race! They really ran with the Pig Run and donuts theme!

It was a beautiful day for a 5k and the neighborhoods we ran in were even more beautiful.  The race even had Japanese drummers at the start of the race which provided some very unique course entertainment.  You can tell that the race organizers have a great sense of humor with all their donut puns written on signs that were peppered throughout the course.  Of course, my favorite thing along the course was being able to see my mom cheer me on from 4 different spots-talk about spectator friendly!  When I heard the cow bell she was ringing, I knew I needed to pick up the pace!

 Photo Courtesy of Pig Run's Facebook

I finished with an official time of 39:38.  Considering I ran with an upset stomach after the donut, I'm very happy!  The best part about the race was the GORGEOUS medal!  It is of the pig eating donut, it's almost like they took a picture of me to fashion the medal after! 

It was definitely a fun 5k and I wouldn't miss this race next year for anything!  I only hope that they make their water station better, as I could barely find it in the "Pig Pen" where we ate the donuts.