Life Outside the Oval Office [Book Review]


Life Outside the Oval Office: The Track Less Traveled
by Nick Symmonds
800m Olympic Runner/World Championship Medalist

Prior to reading this book I knew of Nick Symmonds. I knew he was an Olympic athlete, I knew he was a champion for pro runners and their sponsors to have fair opportunity apart from the control of the USATF and I knew that he was pretty good-looking because it seems like most pictures I’ve seen of him are presented in such a way as to say “Hey… this is a good-looking man! Check him out!” Reading the book was a fun opportunity to peek inside his mind and learn more about him.

It was amazing to read about some of the big races in Nick’s life. He runs the 800m… it’s two laps around the track. But I’m pretty sure there is more emotion and thought and strategy that is going through his head in that than I have in my brain during a marathon. It was INTENSE. Just reading it made me feel the intensity of the race. Part of me is glad that I will never be a competitor at that level and have to think about that much in a race environment, or the fact that somebody could misstep and cause others to fall and ruin their whole race. (Yes… I fell in a marathon and got my awesome DNF and a chin full of stitches, but that didn’t ruin other competitors’ race.)

Life Outside the Oval Office by Nick Symmonds

Nick Symmonds’ book had A LOT of info that just fascinated me. The information about how they are tested to make sure they’re not doping was just insane to me. Even though I don’t have to live through that process, I’m kind of pissed off that there are people who dope and make it so that organizations feel the need to test all pro athletes this way. Listen to this:

“If they want urine, then a DCO (doping control officer) follows me into the bathroom and asks me to wash my hands. The DCO then asks me to pull my pants down to my ankles and lift my shirt up to my armpits while he stands inches away to watch the urine leave my body and enter the little plastic cup they have provided me with. Needless to say, this can take some getting used to. I absolutely hate this part of my job. I find it to be a huge invasion of my privacy.”

Can you imagine? He also details some of the ways people have been known to cheat the tests, but I really respected this statement:

“There are times when I lament the fact that I have never been ranked number one in the world, but never once have I considered cheating to get there. I take pride in the fact that at night I can collapse onto my bed after a hard, honest day’s work. I also take much joy in the fact that when I lie down in my bed, I don’t have a fake penis hidden in my underwear along with a bag of someone else’s urine strapped to my leg.”

Shudder…..

Nick is good at marketing himself, he is firmly entrenched in the social media scene and has built an impressive following. And he needs to… while he is a “professional runner” he is also in the business of marketing. He’s marketing himself, the sport, his sponsors, etc. Sadly most pro runners aren’t allowed to give their sponsors the exposure they should get because of USATF rules about what logos can be displayed and where and how big… I hope it’s changing in a positive way. Athletes like Nick who are vocal about these needed changes (and others, but I won’t direct the spotlight in this post away from Mr. Symmonds) are getting the spotlight and I hope things change.

There are so many pages in the book I folded over with the thought, “I need to mention this on my site. And share this. And this too.” But if I put all of them in this post I’d probably end up re-writing the book and then I’d get sued. I really enjoyed this book… Nick Symmonds is more than that vocal good-looking athlete who goes on dates with Paris Hilton. Yes, he’s those things… but more. Take the chance to get to know him by reading this book. I highly recommend this book!

Oh… and I feel special because my copy of the book is signed. Sure… I’m certain I was part of an assembly line while Nick had to autograph books, but it still is kind of cool to see inside the front cover! Big big big thanks to Brooks Running for sending me this book!

Nick signed my book!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Brunettes Bring It On 5K [race report]

A while back I signed up for a local race series called “It’s Jus Hair” put on my the local company Jus Run. It sounded like a fun little series, 3 different 5k’s and if you do them all you earn a special extra medal.

I remember thinking it was weird when I signed up that I was registering for a 5k in 2015 so far in advance. But I wanted to sign up for the whole series at once. The first one, the Blonds event, was held on May 31, 2014!

And this race kind of just appeared, “Hey, look! I have the Brunettes 5k this week.” I tweaked my training schedule for the week, instead of doing 4 miles on Friday I ran the 5k on Saturday morning, simple enough switch except it’s always a challenge to do a race on Saturdays during my husband’s busy season. (He’s a CPA. January-May = busy season)

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When I signed up for this race I had assumed I would just push “A” in the stroller during the event. But when I made that plan, the race was supposed to be held at a different park… but apparently the permit fees for that park increased a lot for 2015 and a lot of race directors can’t afford to have their events there now. So the race was moved to Floyd Lamb State Park, which means the race would be run on trails. AND it rained all day on Friday and all night before the race. I knew I didn’t want to push the stroller through mud, so I begged my hubby to go into the office a little later.

My plan was to run, collect my medals and hop in the car as fast as possible to get out of there so my husband could go to work. I rolled into the race about 9 minutes before the start. I listened to the course instructions, lined up and started to run after we were given the “GO!”

It was an out-and-back course and the first quarter-mile or so was on a paved path around a little lake in the park. There are a lot of birds that call the park home and there was a really good layer of goose poop on the path. Thick, green layer that was all wet and slimy from the rain. It was slick and it gathered all over in my shoe treads. I had a couple of moments where I felt my feet slipping as I tried to pass people. I didn’t want to fall, much less fall in a pile of bird doo! Once I hit the trail, that helped to pull some of the poop off somewhat.

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My first two miles were great, but I don’t know what was going on in mile 3. Suddenly I felt very tired and sad. I was just thinking, “Why am I doing this? This is hard and I could have slept in longer and I could be at home cuddled on the couch with my warm, sweet little girl.” But after I left the trails and hit the paved path again and knew the end was almost here, I was energized and picked it up again. I’m thinking it was due to not eating anything before I left. The brain needs fuel to be happy!

I crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal for that race, went over to the table to collect my medal for having completed the series and noticed the computers to check your time had no line. So I punched in my bib number and saw that I was 3rd in my age group, F 35-39. I stopped by the race director’s table on my way back to my car and thanked her for the fun series and she graciously offered to get my ribbon for me since I couldn’t hang out for the award ceremony!

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I walked back to my car, scraped my feet on some rocks, set my stuff in the car and took my shoes off so I wouldn’t track goose poop all over inside my car.

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As I was pulling out of the park, my husband was pulling in to drop the kid off with me. Once at home, I made myself some breakfast and ate that with “A”, then got her set up to watch an episode of Dora while I took a shower to wash the goose poop off the back of my legs!

I checked the results and I ended up being 13 of 128 runners. Interestingly, 101 of those runners were women. I was 8th of 101 women and 3rd of 21 F 35-39 runners. I did have fun and I was happy with my outcomes, even if it wasn’t quite as relaxed as I would have preferred.

2014 Resolution Run 5K [Race Report]

Late afternoon on New Years Eve I got in my running clothes and drove to a park to participate in the Resolution Run. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve run this race. In 2012 I did the 10K, first race back after having a baby. In 2013 I did the 5K pushing the stroller. This year I did the 5K just on my own because it was super cold here in Vegas and “A” had a cold so I didn’t want to push her in the race. The weather was also predicting snow for this race, which would have been an interesting dynamic, but one that didn’t come to fruition. Just cold.

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I got there around 3:20. The race started at 4:00 but packet pickup was right before the race and I didn’t want to push it too long, lest the race start late. (It did start late… because so many people waited until the last second to get in line for packet pickup!) While waiting in line some dude behind me blew a snot rocket on the ground. That is not right, okay?! I think blowing a snot rocket while you run is nasty, but when you are just standing in a line and you propel one right in the path of where people are walking and waiting so they can stand there and stare at your… um… contribution to society… that’s just gross.

Anyway, the race course basically goes uphill until the turnaround point, then we get to run back down. I just set off after the start countdown and started to pick off people who immediately started to walk in front of me. I felt really good and the hills didn’t bother me at all. In fact, that’s the best I’ve felt running on that course in a long time! (Lots of races are held at this park.)

I wore a pair of fleece lined leggings that I picked up at Target the day before with a pair of shorts over them to help keep my butt warm! (Did you know that your butt often gets colder than your legs when running because your leg muscles are working harder than your glutes?) I had on my new Mizuno Breathe Thermo hoodie over a long-sleeve shirt. The hoodie feels so thin yet it really does keep you warm. Mizuno has some crazy “body mapping” technology that is designed to keep the heat in while still maintaining a very lightweight piece of apparel. I was impressed!

I actually pulled the hood up while standing around waiting for the race to start, it kept my neck warmer.

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As I got toward the finish line I was running right next to two other gals and we all crossed the finish line very close to each other, they were just ahead of me. But when I looked at the results I should have charged harder to beat them. They were considered the 3rd and 4th place finishers in my age group, making me 5th in the Female 30-39 AG. However, that’s based on gun time. If we go based on our chip time, I beat them and I’m 3rd place!

All finishers receive a champagne glass and they have cider to toast the race finish and the approaching new year. However, it was still cold and getting colder, so I drank my cider as I walked to my car and drove home. I didn’t want to hang around too long!

Once home I immediately jumped into mom mode and made homemade pizza with the kiddo. “A” had helped me put together the dough earlier that day, she helped me top the pizza, watched it bake in fascination and then ate two bites. We had a bit of a problem with food over the holidays, she started eating one or two bites of food and then wanted to eat candy.

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I enjoy this race each year as a way to close out the year. It just feels right to me to start and end a year with a run.

National Veterans Day 5K [race report]

About 14 hours after I finished my last leg in the Las Vegas Ragnar Relay, I was at the start line for another race. Aside from still being somewhat sleep deprived (a condition that I’m still feeling today!) I felt really good overall. Better than my Ragnar vanmates, all of them seemed to be injured in some capacity now. Missing toenails, plantar fasciitis, illness… apparently the casualty count was high.

National Veterans Day Run I had told a friend that I would run the National Veterans Day race that day a while back and I figured I’d just go run 3 miles, taking it nice and easy without worrying about pushing the pace. I took the stroller and the kid with me to the park that morning and figured we’d have a nice relaxing morning. I wore the brand new Mizuno Wave Rider 18 shoes. I’ve worn them for a couple of training runs to test them out and have been impressed with them. They’re lightweight neutral shoes. Frequently when I try a new shoe, I find that my cadence is disrupted for a few runs but that wasn’t the case with these ones. Plus they have some nice cushioning so I thought they might be nice for fatigued legs…. fatigued legs that felt surprisingly fresh!

At the @nvdrlasvegas 5k with #AwesomeA

A photo posted by @jillwillrun on

They had a little warm-up pre-race and music was playing. “A” kept saying that she wanted to dance like everyone else was. (And she was dressed to dance, she had insisted that she needed to wear her Elsa Halloween costume to the race.) It was hard to keep her in the stroller before the race. That should have been a sign of what was to come!

  “Let’s do this.” #AwesomeA pre-5k this morning.   A photo posted by @jillwillrun on

I did get her to sit in the stroller just moments before they gave us our Ready…. Set…. Go! but after about .1 mile she said, “I want out. I want to run!” So I stepped off to the side to let her get out, figuring she would run a little bit and then get back in soon.

Nope…

This kid of mine kept running and walking and running and walking. She would tell me when she wanted to walk and when she wanted to run. When we got to the turnaround she said she wanted to sit in the stroller while she drank her cup of water from the aid station there. But after she finished it she said she was ready to throw it away and run more.

All the people on the course were just ooohing and aaahing over the tiny kid in a princess dress running along the path. The fact that my kid is so little makes everything she does seem even more precocious. (She pulled on a pair of pants the other day that were size 12-months. She is 26-months-old!)

On our way back one of the 11K runners yelled at us, “Keep her close to you, I’ve got a big group of runners that will be coming through soon.” She really was doing a great job of staying near me, but this kind of startled her. So when the runners were coming, she stepped all the way off the course and then clapped and cheered for them as they ran by. I had to tell her that we were in the race too and we need to keep moving forward by running, walking or riding. But I love that she cheers for the runners!

We had to stop at the 2 mile mark to take off her pants. She said she was hot. I don’t blame her, I would have been too! So instead of wearing her dress and the sparkly leggings, we had to strip down to just the dress. She said, “I feel better now. I run more.” after that.

As we got closer to the finish line, she got a bit distracted when she saw the playground equipment. She said she wanted to play on the slide. I told her that we had to run it into the finish line before we could go play on the slide. But I really had to coax her across, she wanted that slide and some water.

The announcer was so great, getting everyone’s attention to look at her. She gave out a couple of high fives at the finish line too. I wish I had photos of her finish line crossing! We may have been the last two runners to cross the line in the 5K, I’m not sure. It took us nearly an hour but I’m in awe of my little girl’s determination.

My two-year-old just ran/walked a 5k on her own two feet! #AwesomeA

A photo posted by @jillwillrun on

At the end of the day, my 2-year-old ran/walked about 2.8 miles on her own. I was stunned. I always thought that her first race would probably be a kids one-mile, but she decided that Sunday was her day to do her first race on her own two feet. I gave her the medal at the finish line, even though I was the registered participant she earned it more than I did!

And yes, we got our bottle of water, banana and then played on the slide for about 30 minutes. And no, she did not nap any longer than she normally would. Her energy knows no limits!

2014 Ragnar Relay Las Vegas

If you follow me on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram… you already know this. But on Friday and Saturday I did a little thing called Ragnar Relay.

This is my second year in a row doing the Las Vegas Ragnar Relay, yet each year it was a completely different experience. The first time I did it with a group of wonderful friends. This year I just found a group on the Facebook page for this event that was looking for a replacement runner and stepped in pretty late in the game. It was also a completely different course from last year and being the 12th runner in the rotation vs. the 8th runner is a different perspective on everything that happens.

There was a last minute change to the course which made my first leg 4.2 miles instead of the 3.7 it initially was supposed to be. This picture was snapped before we received our Rag Mag and learned of the change. (For those of you not in the know… the Rag Mag is basically the bible for the event. It contains the map for the whole course and for every single leg. It contains the rules and regulations and contact information for officials. It contains ads for all kinds of goodies that you will feel like, “Yeah, I might need that!”

My team was 12 moms and most of the team was from Arizona. In fact, they were from the Phoenix area chapter of the Moms Run This Town organization. In my van of 6 we had 3 gals who had never done a Ragnar before (the virgins) and 3 of us who had done one (the experienced). I’m not going to lie… it was very strange to jump in with a group of people who pretty much all knew each other and were all from the same area and be the anomaly. But it was okay, we at least had the common denominators of running and motherhood, right?

Temporary Ragnar tattoo included.

They switched up the course quite a bit this year compared to last year. The biggest change was that instead of ending at Lake Las Vegas, which is way out in the boonies far away from any civilization, we finished at the Red Rock Resort/Casino. MUCH BETTER… except for how crowded the finish area was. But I’ll get to that in a moment. The course is extremely varied, as it starts at the top of Mt Charleston where the runners in Van 1 had snow around them. It continues throughout the city, making its way through city streets, paved running/cycling trails and dirt. I love that it’s an illustration to everyone that says, “YO! Las Vegas is so much more than skeevy weirdos handing out porn on a stretch of road with giant buildings made to look like other famous buildings around the world.”

My teammate Shelly running on one of the trails by Lone Mountain.

It was a really warm weekend, so a lot of the legs ended up being pretty tough. My team had to run through the heat of the day a couple of times… except me. As the last runner in each rotation, I had to run in the dark every single time. I ran as the sunset on the first day, I ran in the wee hours of the morning before the sun came up and I ran as the sun was going down on the last day. I was amazed at how many people would be decked out in full costumes. Gotta give them props for committing to something… but yikes. Although, some people wore costumes that were pretty well ventilated.

Peter Pan forgot his pants! #vegasrunsragnar #vegasragnar

A photo posted by @jillwillrun on

My runs were as such:

  • Leg 1 = 4.2 miles
    This run felt fantastic. I was so happy to be running, I’d been waiting in the van or exchanges or midway points for my teammates too long. I was already getting sunburnt and a little bored with waiting. Plus it was dark and cooling off, I needed that because I’d been HOT. We were behind our estimated finishing times and I made up about 5 minutes for us on this leg. I didn’t need van support on this leg but van support was hard on this one anyway, I just told me teammates to meet me at the exchange.
  • Leg 2 = 8.2 miles
    Another great run! I’ve been up to run at 4:00 AM plenty in my life… but usually that’s after getting some sleep the night before. I got no sleep during my time in Ragnar. Yet another run I did faster than the estimated pace, I made up about 6 minutes of time on this leg. This leg had little van support possible, so I didn’t take any van support. No issue with that.
  • Leg 3 = 7 miles
    After a day of being hot waiting at the major exchange for Van 1, then go along the hot course with my van-mates, I was getting tired and a little cranky. Once more, I wanted to run. I knew this leg was all uphill and wasn’t quite sure how it would feel… but it turned out great. I only made up a couple of minutes of time, but that still means I ran it faster than estimated! No van support on this leg either, but there were two aid stations on the route!

I liked the new ending location much better, but it was super crowded. Last year it was a nightmare for vans to get in/out of Lake Las Vegas. This year it was extremely crowded in terms of vans driving to the parking from the freeway (from what I hear… I was running into the finish) but the actual finish line was so cramped at the Red Rock pool. And my team wanted to run into the finish together, but it was confusing to spot everyone. Then we were handed our medals and finishers stickers, which are handed out as bundles to the team. So my teammates tried to start separating them and passing them out but we were right in the midst of all the congestion of others finishing. I tried to usher them out of the way… but there was nowhere to go really. We missed out on getting an entire team finishers pic, because there was no room to breathe! That needs to be worked out for next year. Also, the only food at the finish (from what I found) was stuff you had to buy. And my money was locked in the van.

2014 Ragnar Las Vegas Finisher

But at this point, I had zero desire to hang out and party. I wanted to get some food in my belly and see my baby. I missed her and she had been starting to get sick right before the event started. Naturally… cause nothing like making sure the mommy guilt is fully stocked up when taking time away, right? So I hoofed it to the van, got my stuff and called my hubby to get me.

I have no soreness, even after all my Ragnar miles and a 5K the following morning (which I will write about soon) and I’m extremely happy with how good my body felt throughout all of this. Now I’m just dealing with residual tiredness. I can deal with that!

Things I’ve learned from two Ragnar events…

You should have two team shirts. One to wear for the first leg and one for the finish line. It just seems fun to have some kind of matching element. There was a team wearing yellow sparkly skirts at our start, you could immediately tell they were one group. Plus, if you’re doing it with strangers, at least this way you can spot your teammates in the crowd as opposed to staring around and thinking, “Who was on my team and what did they look like?” (You will know this answer by the end of the event, don’t worry. You may know things about your teammates that you never wanted to know!)

Cheez-Its are pretty much amazing van food. I’d not eaten these things in eons, because there didn’t seem to be much about them that was redeeming nutritionally. I was wrong. They are salty and tasty and easy to digest. Eat those. Or something similar.

Try to eat some kind of meals. In the downtime while the other van is on the course, eat a meal. Not anything huge and heavy, but it should be more substantial than granola bars and crackers. I didn’t eat a lunch-ish meal on Saturday and I think that would have been the thing that gave me a little more boost for that final leg.

Laugh. You can cry or you can laugh over a lot of stuff that happens. Laughing is going to feel better. Plus crying drains your electrolytes.

 

Trick or Trot 10K [race report]

How racing has changed over the years… Back in the day, I used to wake up so early to make sure I was all set to go. I had my clothes all laid out the night before, usually pinning my bib number on in advance. I got to the event super early to make sure I had a spot to park, and that I didn’t miss the start.

Today, I woke up at 5:45 because my kid started crying. So I got dressed and played with her until I left around 7:20 to drive over to my race. I got there about 25 minutes before the 8AM start time. I ran into my former co-coach for Team Challenge and spent some time chatting with him before I strolled over to the start line 2 minutes before the race started.

I will probably go back to my nervous ritual with Boston, but it’s kind of nice to just roll into a race and go.

Anyway… this morning I ran the Trick or Trot 10K here in Las Vegas. They were handing out flyers at the last race that I did, so I figured “Why not?” I wish I had taken “A” with me because it was such a fantastic family-friendly environment. But I didn’t want to push her on the trails for 6 miles. And some of the stretches were pretty narrow, it would have been hard to navigate the BOB through.

They did such a good job with this event, the whole start/finish area was decorated so well and they had tons of vendors with booths selling hand-crafted jewelry, essential oils, baked goodies, etc. There was a large area with little kid games, like bean bag toss and fish ponds and such. They had Shetland ponies there for kids to pet. There were bouncy castles. It was really a great environment!

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There were a lot of runners in costume. (Not me… I’m not a costume person. I can’t recall the last time I wore a costume. I did run in devil horns for a Team Challenge training run at Halloween once, that was the extent of my costumery.) I will say this, if you are planning on running in a costume and that costume involves wings… keep in mind the proximity to other runners at a start line and stick with smaller wings. There were a lot of wings beating other participants at first! There were also a lot of super heroes, lots of Wonder Women and Supermen. (Wonder Womans and Supermans?)

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The race was a 5K and a 10K. For the 10K we just repeated the loop twice. The race started off on grass, then moved onto trail, then had about a half-mile stretch on an asphalt path. The route was marked well with volunteers at several spots that could potentially be confusing to anyone. They did have a little bit of a oddness with the mile markers… since they always had the two distances for both 5K/10K right next to one another. Like “1 mile” and “4 mile” side-by-side. But with the .1 at the end of the loop, then technically those next mile points are not at the same spot. Oh well, not a big deal. Just a quirk. I don’t think the course was an EXACT distance anyway, since it was a fun community event and not a certified course.

The one thing they needed to do was make the final stretch of the course marked off more… additional cones, maybe some tape in between them. The problem with having games on one side of the finishing chute and bouncy castles on the other, meant there were a lot of people drifting back and forth across the finishing stretch. Or people just stopping to chat with friends in there. And I saw a gal trip and fall about 20 feet from the finish because she was trying to go around a group of people standing on the course talking.

They gave away tech shirts to all participants and all finishers got a cute little medal.

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I have no idea what my official finishing time is. I didn’t see a lot of women doing the 10K so I thought I might have had a good chance at placing in my AG. But they kept saying, “We’re going to announce the results in the next few minutes!” for about an hour. Finally I just left. It was getting warm, it was nearly 80° when I left. We’ve had a warm October!

I wore shirt and shorts from Athleta that I purchased 2-3 years ago, an older pair of Saucony Virrata shoes and I had my new Armpocket i-30 to carry my iPhone throughout the race. I needed a new way to carry my phone since I upgraded to the bigger iPhone 6 and that worked perfectly!

Redheads Rule 5K [Race Report]

On Saturday I ran the Redheads Rule 5K, it is the second race in the “It’s Jus Hair” series from local race company Jus Run. I ran the Blondes race earlier this year and I will run the Brunette one in January. Once I’ve done the whole series I’ll get an extra medal!

Friday afternoon, I took A with me to packet pickup. I really like the shirt from the Blondes race, it just fits well, so I was pleased to see the shirts for this event were the same cut.

Redheads Rule 5K 2014 race shirt

The packet bag also had a bunch of flyers for different events/businesses and a few samples included.

Redheads Rule 5K 2014 packet samples

I debated taking the stroller, but I haven’t been running with the stroller all summer (too hot) and I wanted to let my kid sleep in a little. I would have had to wake her up to go. So I got a couple of hours on my own!

The race started off with a “wheelchair division”…. kind of. The organization Light of Las Vegas – My Team Triumph was there with several disabled participants getting the opportunity to ride along for a race. After we sent them off, the rest of us got to line up and countdown to start our race.

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I really wasn’t planning on pushing the pace at all, I signed up for this a long time ago and with the hip pain I’d been experiencing, I knew I was just having fun. (Who am I kidding… most of the time when I enter a race I’m doing it to have fun. I’m not a competitive runner!) It was fun to see people dressed up to support the theme. I briefly contemplated putting some temporary red hair dye in my hair, but then never followed through.

Runner dressed as Jessica Rabbit

This gal won the F 20-29 division, dressed like this!

I was pleased with how the race felt and crossed the finish line with a smile. I went to grab a banana and water, then I went back to the finish line to clap for all the runners coming in.

Runners dressed as Mario Bros.

Mario Bros = Redheads?

I ended up finishing 26th out of 124 runners overall and 8 out of 39 in my division. So even with some lingering pain and lack of running over the past several weeks I did alright.

Redheads Rule 5K medal

Honestly, it was just fun to get out and be amongst other people. I rarely run with others these days because I run so early in the morning with very little wiggle room to go somewhere or to socialize before needing to deal with getting the kid ready and starting work. So it was fun to feel like I’m not isolated in my home for a while!

Me at the Redheads Rule Finish LineI’m looking forward to the January race, which I’ll have to run with the stroller because it will be my husband’s busy season at that time. (He’s a CPA, I rarely see him January through April.)

Parowan City Half Marathon [Race Report]

I registered for the Parowan City Half Marathon a while back and had kind of forgotten about it until I got home from our cruise. Then I had an epiphany, “Oh yeah… I have a half to run in a few short weeks. Yikes!” And I hadn’t run a half in over a year cause the last one (when A was 7-months old) was so rough on me physically. So I had to get myself up from a long run of 6 miles to half marathon in short order.

Well, I did it and my training went really quite well! All of my long runs felt strong and I was happy with how I’ve ramped up. Could it have been better? Of course. But I was pleased with how things went in prep for this race.

Want to know how to make an out-of-town half marathon trip a little bit harder?
Make it a mommy-toddler road trip.

On Friday, I loaded A into the car so she and I could hit the road. We had a nearly 3 hour drive ahead of us (the race is in Southern Utah) so I strapped her into her seat and made sure she had a water bottle and a bag full of books within reach. I can easily make the drive on my own in 2.5 hours, but with the kid we had to stop at a gas station for about 10-15 minutes to look at everything in the store and just let her move her little legs. I never knew there were so many monkeys to be seen in a gas station… but there were. Monkeys on food wrappers, monkey toys, and things that kind of look like monkeys but aren’t really monkeys.

The good thing about this race is its proximity to my mom’s house. Which means that A had a babysitter for the race AND I got to share my kiddo with her grandparents. We all went to the packet pickup at the fairgrounds, where A put my bag around her neck and was spinning around in circles. I took video of her spinning and extracted this still using the app Vhoto.

My kid wearing the race bag around her neck while holding a cowbell.

My race bib with the timing chip attached to the back (Jaguar timing system), race shirt, bandana with the race logo on it, brochures for the area, keychain and a sample of Deep Blue Rub by doTerra were all in the bag. Race organizers/volunteers also had written every runner’s bib # on the bags, so you could put whatever you wanted in the bag, take it to the start line and use it as your drop bag. They return the bags to the finish line for the runners. The city was also giving away cowbells for spectators. Charming little touches that come from a small town race!

I woke up at 4 am to get ready for the race and drove my mom’s vehicle to the race start (so she could bring the kid in my car. Moving a car seat is a pain!) The runners all gathered at the fairgrounds and we were driven to the start line up the canyon on school buses. It was still dark when the buses left, but the sky was brightening so the scene when we got to the reservoir where the race starts was pretty and serene. I looooooooove me some mountain air.

Sun about to peak over the horizon at Yankee Meadows reservoir

I am not entirely sure what the temperature was at the start line, but I’d guess it was in the mid 50’s. I was so excited to feel cooler temps and even possibly feel a little cold. After so many days in the Vegas summer, it’s nice to escape the heat every now and then! The race start was so casual, I’m not even sure where the official start “line” was and there wasn’t a starting mat. So the race timing was gun to chip finish, except there wasn’t a gun. So I guess it was “person counting down” to chip finish! The first three miles of the race are on dirt road and there were volunteers to direct us around the cattle guards in the roads. Once more, small town charm.

This race is a downhill race. Really downhill. I knew it was all downhill, I had looked at the elevation profile. But I didn’t realize just how steep some of these downhills were! And as awesome as the downhills were, the last 2.5 miles or so were kind of hard because it was either flat or a very slight incline. It’s hard to get your legs turning over properly after so much downhill!

Course Map  Parowan City Half Marathon - Yankee Meadow Run in Parowan, UT

I had to make a pit stop at mile 6. To be blunt… if I didn’t stop I probably would have shat myself. And I’m not in contention for any prizes nor am I competitive enough to just keep going in the face of that potential humiliation. So I stopped at the porta potty by the aid station. Notice, I said THE porta potty. Just one, a single solitary one. And there was a line. I waited there for 5 minutes. I know this because of the difference in my actual time and the “moving” time recorded by my Garmin. The volunteers at the aid station were friendly and chatted with us as we waited in line, “I guess this is the point where runners gotta go, huh? We’ll tell our bosses we need more potties here next year!” LOL! Yep… definitely need a couple more.

But for most of the race, I was really moving well and I was loving the mountains. There were hand-written signs all down the canyon along the course with sayings like, “Smile, you paid for this!” and “Your feet hurt from kicking so much butt!” My favorite was probably “No! You’re not almost done!”

Once I hit the flat ground it literally felt like I was moving through mud, it was so hard to pick my feet up! I wasn’t the only one feeling that way… I saw lots of walkers in the last stretch. Even people who were walking in the finishing chute because they just couldn’t do any more. And even though I had several moments where I felt really worn down in that last stretch, I was impressed with my surge to the finish line! And my toddler ran some of the steps with me in to the finish.

Want to know how to make an out-of-town half marathon finish a little bit sweeter?
Make it a mommy-toddler road trip!

Mommy and toddler at the finish.

I literally crossed the finish line, turned around the chute and dropped to the ground so A could run into my arms.  She told me she loved me right there at the finish. She’s way better than any medal I could receive!

We walked over to find some food, and proof of being a mother… every food item I started to eat the kid said she wanted it and I would give it to her. I ran 13.1 miles but she needed to refuel! :-) We shared watermelon, banana and a peanut butter granola bar. (Which prompted her to say “Is PEANUT BETTER!” upon first bite.) After we’d eaten a little, A stood up to give me another hug and then said, “Mommy go shower!” Yes dear, I will take care of that.

Refueling with the kid

If you only do races for the bling, the Parowan Half Marathon isn’t the race for you. The medal was kind of weak. But here’s the thing… the race is SUPER cheap (I think I just paid $35 or so) and it’s in a beautiful place. So I don’t care that the medal isn’t a heavy showpiece. It’s still a souvenir of a great event!

2014 Parowan Half Marathon Medal

My legs started hurting pretty shortly after the race, I knew I would feel that downhill. I used the sample of the Deep Blue Rub before I got in the car to drive home. (First time ever trying that stuff, it felt pretty good!) But my legs were pretty trashed. Here it is several days post race and I’m still feeling it! Hopefully this makes my muscles even stronger for downhill races cause I have another one in about a month!

I would recommend this race to anyone/everyone. Travel to do it if you must, you’ll find plenty of fantastic things to do in the region (if you need help, just ask me!) – it’s a great little event and I really enjoyed myself (I would do it again, and again, and again!) I’m also quite pleased that I did a half marathon, it’s been a while since my last one!

I wore my Narrative clip during the race. I will post a real review of the gadget at some point, but I just wanted to share some of the better pics it snapped during the race.

 

Foam Glow 5K [race report]

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Saturday evening I ran the antithesis of my morning 5K that day… instead of a fun little community race with people doing it for fun and for time, the night one was all about partying. The Foam Glow 5K took place at Sam Boyd Stadium and was host to 9000 party-goers. I was really quite surprised at the amount of booze people were consuming BEFORE the “race” had even started. Like most of these fun/themed runs, it was not timed.

I was a little on the fence about this race… I ran The Color Run and had fun. I ran a Color Me Rad race and had less fun. I’ve made fun of the crazy themed races that are emerging every minute. But I went to the race with a couple of friends and tried to keep an open mind, which served well because…

I. HAD. A. BLAST!

I wore the race t-shirt, one of the rare instances where I would actually do that. It was a nice, crisp, white canvas that I could totally destroy with the color!

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We got there with plenty of time to kill, but we got great parking and got to be involved in all of the pre-party stuff. Initially I wasn’t going to get messy before the race… but that plan quickly got tossed out the window.

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The race was set to start at 8pm, or as the sun set so we could run in the dark. When we started to see people filtering over to the start line, we made our toward the start line. I knew we didn’t want to be at the back of the pack because they were releasing the runners in waves. They just strung ropes up in between segments of people once the start chute was filled and the start time was near. We ended up being in the second wave. Looking back at the sea of people behind us about 20 minutes before the race started, I was glad I didn’t have to wait for all those people ahead of me!

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The starting lineup… 9000 runners. It extends back and curves around, you can see some of the lineup between those trees.

It got dark and we started running. And then after a little bit, we started to walk. My co-runners weren’t quite prepped to run a whole 5k straight, but that’s okay. We had fun power-walking and running. The first foam station was, unfortunately, out of commission when we got to it. There was an ambulance with flashing lights, so I wonder if someone was hurt or sick. (Drank too much in the heat then ran?) But the other foam stations were blasting, you had to run through a nice layer of foam that was accumulated on the ground, while foam shot out of cannons at you. There’s no avoiding it, you will get messy. And it’s fun!

We ran across the finish line… kind of. It was the only finish line I’ve been to where you actually run toward the finish line, then pause to cross the line while waiting for people to take pictures!

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My friend Jenn at the finish line. Her first 5K!

Then the after-party! If you don’t feel like you have gotten colorful enough in the pre-party and during the race, you have the opportunity to dance to club music while getting blasted with even more foam under blacklights with glow necklaces!

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We jumped into the party, got covered in a new layer of colorful foam and headed to the blacklight photo booth to take our picture.

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My hands were too slippery… I couldn’t get my glow necklaces fastened!

Then we went back for more foam! But after a bit, it actually started to make me feel cold! Also, the foam REALLY REALLY REALLY BURNS the eyeballs. I was surprised at how much that hurt. If they marketed it as “Join 9000 of your not-closest friends as we spray foam into your face that burns your eyes out of the sockets” nobody would sign up! Okay, it’s not that bad. But it does hurt a lot! I actually got pretty adept at turning sideways and running with my eyes closed in the race. But there was no way to avoid it when you’re being sprayed from every direction in that after party!

I don’t think I’ve ever been messier in my whole life, but it was so much fun. I got home and my husband told me I looked like I’d been murdered.

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I still have a little bit of lingering color around my fingernails and my eyelids were kind of hard to get un-pink, but the rest of me was clean immediately after my shower. It didn’t stain my hair at all (DAMN!). The next test will be washing my running clothes to see how they come through. The shoes are permanently colored, but they already had a couple of layers of color on them from the other colorful runs I’d done. They are my designated “color-added” run shoes. (I’m trying to avoid using the official name of one of those races to describe them all! I’m so weird with technicalities like that! Like “Kleenex” vs. tissue.)

If you get the chance, grab some friends and do one of these. I actually have some other friends that I’d love to take with me on a race like this because I just know we’d have a blast.

Blonds Have More Fun 5K [race report]

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On Saturday morning I ran a 5k called “Blonds Have More Fun”. It’s part of the “It’s Just Hair” series by local race company Jus Run. It’s a new race series and this was the first race in the series. (The redhead and brunette ones are still coming up… and yeah, I’m signed up for those too. I’ll get a special medal if I do all of the series.) Participants were encouraged to dress up as their favorite blondes… so I ran as myself! LOL! I could say that I am my favorite blonde… but I could also say that I’m too boring tame lazy to run in costume!

It was a pretty morning, not way too hot… it could have used a little bit of a breeze. But overall it felt nice for the last day of May in Las Vegas.

The race was held on the path around a local soccer park. The last couple 5k’s I’ve done have been there as well! It’s interesting to see how each race director manages to direct us in slightly different patterns to get the 3.1 miles mapped. Some lead us uphill immediately, but this one started us downhill for about a half mile before we looped around to start our uphill climb. I liked having the downhill to warmup a little.

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The bad thing was that after I started going I realized that I was feeling kind of weird, just having a hard time catching my breath and my heart was racing more than it should have been. So I ended up walking for a couple of stretches. I was a little annoyed at myself for that, but I had to get my breathing in check.

Jus Run has nice medals for their runs, this run was no exception. At the finish we all got a lovely medal with a good amount of heft!

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I don’t require a medal for 5k’s… but they’re fun nonetheless!

To go along with the celebratory atmosphere and the idea that “blonds have more fun” there were chocolates at an aid station and champagne (err….. non-alcoholic sparkling cider. There were kids there!)

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I hung around for the awards ceremony and applauded for the overall winners. The overall female winner was young. I don’t know her exact age, but she was in the F 10-19 age group. I thought it was interesting that there were no awards to give out in the M 20-29 age group, because there were no men in that age group participating! And it was extremely surprising to me that I was called out as the 2nd place finisher in the F 30-39 age group! (I was beat by a gal dressed as “… Baby One More Time” era Britney Spears… catholic school girl skirt, thigh high socks and tied off shirt. I give her mad props for running in that!)

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Photos from the race that the event organizer posted on Facebook:

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The next race in this series is in October. Depending on the weather, I may or may not run it with the stroller. It’s the Redheads Rule race… maybe I should dye my hair red for it!