Monday, October 28, 2013

Uberthons Halloweenathon all day event recap

Race Recap for Uberthons "Halloweenathon" on October 26th, 2013

It's October and this is my third race (in costume) in as many weeks.  I must be either crazy, or crazy for Halloween... or both?  This time, I went for a mermaid theme.  (I'll spare my poor husband of posting any photos of him in his mermaid costume on the world wide web. Last week I did the Labyrinth theme for 13.1 miles and a "sugar skull" the week before that for a zombie 5k.)

This race is the first time I volunteered with a race organization ever (joining in the fun at packet pickup and then in the kids' dash and 2pm race.), first time I ran a 15K race (9.3 miles) and first time I've ran at all since my half marathon last weekend.  

The race event had 4 main events throughout the day, a kids' dash and then an evening BBQ after the final event.  The events were meant to reach all fitness levels with an option to register as a walker or runner and to do a 5k distance, 10k or 15k.  

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to do the 15k.  I was able to join some members from my Moms RUN This Town club.  
5K lap done... 2 more laps to go!
The course is a pretty little golf course outside of Portland, Or.  The 5k runners and walkers did one loop from start to finish, the 10k two laps and 15k three laps around the course.

Though I really have to admit that golf is not my thing, nor do I find a lot of beauty in short manicured grass, trees off to the edges of the greenway and one lake within view of the course.  Don't get me wrong!  It's a fun race... I just got bored after the first lap.  A friend who also ran the 15k (and took first in her age group!) had a great perspective on the looping race course.  The first lap helped her see how she was pacing herself, the second loop was her signal that she could "up the throttle" on her speed and the third loop was where she could cut loose and let it all go for the finish.   I think I'd have enjoyed it a little more if I had brought music to get lost in, but I really wanted to be able to hear if any runners behind me were trying to pass me on the narrow golf cart sidewalk.  

Besides a few bumbles with runners tripping over each other at the beginning, the 9am race seemed to go without a hitch!  The course was described as flat, but rolling hills is more accurate.  The course also involves some hairpin turns in 3 different "golf cart cul de sacs" and some paths that turn around and run parallel to other parts of the course.  This was a lot of fun to me, because friends whose pace was beyond me would holler and cheer as they saw me passing on the path further behind them.  One friend was doing her first 5k race ever and I was able to give her a high five as I passed her end of the path.  Once the runners behind her saw I was giving out high-fives, I was then cheering them on and others too.  I love that.  A race is a perfect opportunity to make new friends or at least help encourage each other.    

I ran in the 9am race, "Run for your Bones", with about 311 participants.  The next race started at 11am.  This was "The Zombie Shuffle" that was a fitness walkers' race.  Only about 7 participants signed up for that, so the family went home to have some lunch, layer up since we were freezing and then go back out for my volunteer shift and the Kids' Dash at 1pm.

The sun started to peek out behind the clouds, but it was still a chilly (and beautiful) day. 

My Bugaboo was very upset that she didn't get to run with me during my morning 15k, so she very happily joined the "5 yrs and under" kids' race.  This was a very short jaunt through the grass, where the participants would run to one of the race directors dressed as a skeleton and then circle back to me and some of my Moms RUN This Town friends for a ribbon of participation and a goodie bag full of halloween candy. 

Kids' Dash
After that, the older kids did a 1k run on the sidewalk.  Bugaboo watched the kids go past and asked if she could go too.  So, she got in two races in one day.  I think we both might need a lesson in injury prevention and the importance of not over doing it?  ;-) She did great. I'm so glad she had fun and love that this new activity to me is also something that is important to her.  

It is amazing what an impact my choice to exercise can have on my little girls.
Bugaboo finishing up the 1k race and claiming her ribbon.
After the Kids' Dash, the next race "Trick Or Treatathon" was scheduled to start at 2pm.

This race had about 96 participants. Some of them I recognized from past races and then putting their face together with a profile pic on a local race blog.  That's always exciting to make the match up.  But... you know how race day is a good day to make new friends?  I'm so shy I just let it go.  I cheered them on as they passed, and I hoped they raced well... but I didn't chat them up post race.  I did see the Candy Corn Witch from last week's race and she gave me a hug before she dashed off.  :)

After handing out water, directing finishers to get their awesome finisher's medal and dancing to the music at the finish for awhile, my volunteer shift was done.  We enjoyed some nachos at the free nacho bar inside the party tent and then went home to regroup, get a nap in for Squeakers and then enjoy one last race that evening with Uberthons!

Did I mention that besides a free nacho bar, the tent also had three massage beds where professionals could work out our kinks and knots and give us tips for stretches and home care?  

FANTASTIC!  A fast way to my heart, besides sweet race bling, is a massage.  Seriously.

The 6pm race was the "Monster Moon Run" that required a headlamp or flashlight. Glow sticks were available inside the party tent and costumes abounded with the participants in this event.  I love how creative people are!  About 130 participants joined in the final race, which was a 5k distance for runners and walkers.

Monster Moon Run
After this race, (which was MC'd by Miss Oregon,) participants could enjoy the free nacho bar or pay for a BBQ dinner by Famous Dave's.  We all enjoyed some warmth in the party tent and showed off our fantastic new bling.

I wore mine for the entire day.

Finishers are given a large medal casket that opens to reveal a skeleton inside holding a scroll listing the race distances.  The medal has 4 magnets to hold that casket shut, and it takes a little work to open it.  Once you are about to shut it, make sure your fingers are out of the way!  I pinched myself.  I may be a little accident prone...

This medal was fantastic, and as a total bling-chaser... it was the sole reason why I wanted to do this race.  But watching the different races throughout the day and seeing the different environments each race provided, I think it would be something fun worth doing again.  The 9am race seemed to be the biggest to me, with more chances to interact with other costumed runners, a festive environment with giving and getting cheers from each other... but the night run sounds like a lot of fun to me too.  That one has a lot of potential with volunteers on the course with glow sticks or something like that.

Do you join a race for the bling?  Tell me about your cool races, finisher's bling or halloween type runs! I'm a nut for halloween! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Recipe: DIY fuel bars

I think Bugaboo could eat me out of house and home with her ferocity for Lara bars or Picky Bars and the cost to keep them in the house in ready supply.  So... why buy them (or any bar that hefts a heavy price) and why not make your own for a fraction of the cost?  Also, getting to control the ingredients and make fuel organic is a big bonus for me.  (Especially if I'm going to share them with my little running partners.)

 Bugaboo has named them "Running Cookies" because she only gets one when we are out on a run together.

Outrunning The Rain's "Running Cookies"
  • 1 Cup dry (old fashioned) oats
  • 2/3 Cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder (or wheat germ or other dry ingredient of your choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons Chia seeds
  • 1/4 Cup cocoa powder (instant coffee might be a good substitute.)
  • 10 ounces Medjool dates (without pits)
  • 1/4 Cup dried fruit (such as cranberries or cherries... whatever you enjoy)
  • 1 Tablespoons coarse salt (or more. 2T will taste salty, but I use that much because I sweat a lot...  If you don't sweat much or don't want to taste salt, try just 1T.)
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut butter (I prefer crunchy, but creamy is fine.)
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
If your food processor won't be temperamental with you, throw the pit-free dates in and coarsely chop them up.  My ancient machine prefers I do that first before adding them into the mix.  

Mix dry ingredients with the dates and pulse together in food processor.  Then add in wet ingredients (p.b., honey and vanilla.) and mix together.

The mixture should be like a thick cookie dough.  (If it's too dry, the bars will fall apart on your run and you'll have a baggie full of crumbs.  If it's too wet, you'll have a gooey mess and be sucking the "fuel" off your fingers.  Eww.

Press the mixture into an 8x8 glass baking dish and refrigerate overnight.  I like to score the pressed mixture so that it's easier to cut the cold dough and pry out the bars for the next morning's run.

After they have refrigerated, store in air tight container in refrigerator.  I don't know how long you'd want to keep them around, but I usually eat mine up in about 2 weeks, depending on the miles covered in each week.  I like to eat one pre run and then again every 3 miles or every 30-40 minutes... which ever happens first, I suppose.)

It's a forgiving recipe that can have substitutions and lots of combinations, but this is the ratios that have worked for me and been easily transportable on a half marathon.  I put the bars in a zip lock baggie and carry them in my flip belt.

Mixture pressed into an 8x8 pan before being placed in the fridge. 

I hope you enjoy them!
Do you make your own fuel/running food?  I'd love to hear your recipes!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Run Like Hell (and then stop for the train!) half marathon recap (and update 10/21)

Dressing the family up as characters from Jim Henson's "Labyrinth"
October 20th has been a day that I've been looking forward to for a long time... When I started running seriously at the beginning of the year, I set my sights on running the Half at "Run Like Hell".  This race was my very first race experience ever as the 5k in 2011.  

It's a race for letting go of inhibitions and being silly in costume, grab a couple of free beers at the finish and kick back to listen to some local bands... but serious enough that runner's fight for their PRs and take their times seriously.  

Early morning fog giving the camera trouble
The weather had been very warm and favorable the last few days, but it's always a good idea to dress warmly when getting up before the sun.  Besides, we all know that there is ALWAYS a "chance" of rain...

We did escape the rain, but if runner's weren't wet from sweat, they surely were from the moisture in the fog.

Half marathoners getting ready to run in the fog
The course began in downtown Portland and wound it's way through some of the industrial parts and areas that made a small town girl like me feel like I was on the wrong side of the tracks.  When we literally crossed the tracks, we could forget the worries of city life and enjoy not having to worry too much about traffic on such an early Sunday morning.

A very polite Candy Corn Witch zoomed past me and chatted up the runners near her pace before she'd speed off again.  I later found out that she is a contributor on one of the blogs I've been following.  I met a celebrity and didn't know it until after the meeting!

We wound up some inclines, but i didn't think much of it... until I overheard runners asking each other "Is this the hill i keep hearing about?"  "Is this the hill everyone complains about?"  The Candy Corn Witch smiles and says "Nope!  That would be the hill around mile 5."

Mile 5.  No problem.

I was worried though.  I killed my hamstrings last week trying to survive a hoard of zombies...  and though the inclines leading up to this point didn't seem like too much work on my quads and hammys, I was loosing confidence.  

Something else giving me some unease was I felt naked and lost without my garmin.  This is stupid, I know... and a great opportunity for me to just feel my pace and trust the course... but what if I stopped for an injured runner or something... I'd like to... well, pause it to better know my running time.  Stupid and silly, I know.  But with the buildings and fog, it just wasn't gonna sync up.  

Mile 5 came upon us and I traveled up an incline that seemed unending.  And I didn't die.  I didn't have one foul thought or negative banter about it at all.  I just kept on going, concentrating on the sound my feet made when hitting the pavement and watching my surroundings.     

We traveled up Terwilliger under the canopy of trees on the side of the road and a forest below us.  It was beautiful, but the trees were wet from the fog and rained down their moisture on the runners below... reminding me of my costume choice for such an early morning, fall run.  Besides this set back, it really wasn't uncomfortable or cold.  Those arm warmers really did their job! 

Aid stations were about every 2-3 miles and accompanied by live bands playing music for us.  That was fun.  But by mile 7, my heel started to kill me.  I injured it back at a 5k in May and thought it was muscle strain... but with the ongoing pain going on so long and completely unbearable on this race, I've gone ahead and scheduled a dreaded doctor's appointment.  

I started to pay more attention to tired shuffling and making sure my foot was striking at the front and not heel striking.  i suppose it must have helped, because by mile 8 i was cheering the people I was passing and telling them we were on the home stretch.  

My garmin was useless accept to tell me what time it was, and I was certain it was failing me at that, because How could I be nearing mile 10 and still be under 2 hours?   

And then I saw a large group of people ahead... a cheering section?  No one is cheering... what the...

A train was slowly rambling it's way along the track... blocking our route to finish the race.  I had under a 5k left to get this thing done!  Don't get discouraged... take a deep breath...

"How long have you been here?'  I asked the first runner I saw at the back of the crowd.  
"Me?  30 minutes now."
My heart sank.  At this point, my character in her movie would shrilly holler "It's not fair!"

I wandered up to the volunteer standing on the concrete wall next to the road.  Just me looking up at him had him tell me "This is gonna take about an hour and 10 minutes."  An hour and ten minutes, from this very moment?  Subtracting the 30 minutes from the girl at the back?  Wha-?  I need more info than that... But I wasn't going to get it... so I fought back my tears of frustration as some cramps set in between my shoulder blades and started to use the concrete wall to stretch my quads, hamstrings and calves.

I remember someone asking me the time and I told them "ten o'clock" and then I remember her asking again and it was 10:15am.  Was I still going to be able to finish this before the roads were unblocked and opened to traffic?  

Soon after taking a mental note that it was 10:15 a.m., the train passed and we all took off even before the rail gate was fully extended.  We were told that the timing belt laid down before the train track would stop our timing chip and reactivate again on the other side of the track when we ran over it again.  

The timing mat was unplugged and laid off to the side, mostly out of the course.  I cursed out loud and tried again not to cry.  No garmin working.  Was my chip working?  Would the time be accurate? 

I was flying before this.  It was a PR, but by how much?

I tried to think of how "nice" it was to finish with everyone as one big group effort and see the speedy athletes finish that i would have missed out on since I'm not that speedy gazelle at the front of the pack.   I won't lie.  It was difficult to fight my way through the crowds again and  my muscles were cold and sore.  I can't even imagine what it must have been like for those who had been there longer than me.  

I crossed the finisher's line and was happy to see most of my friends who had ran the 10k still there waiting for me.  Most of the 5k runners were still out... their start time having been delayed by a whole hour.

There are some seriously negative comments on Terrapin Event's facebook page that has me questioning future races with them.  They may have no control over the trains and their schedule... I hear even the Portland Marathon can be stalled by trains... but it seems that they could post something to try and explain that to us or apologize or something.  Anything. 

I got my medal, and I am thrilled.  I know, bling chaser.  Did I mention it glows in the dark?  

Finisher's Medal
How cool is a finisher's medal that glows in the dark?


 While the 10k was finishing up, the 5k was free to go.  My husband, "The Goblin King", was asked by "The Dread Pirate Roberts" to take the kids away until "Princess Buttercup" returned from her race.

"The Dread Pirate Roberts" leaves his companions in the care of "The Goblin King"

 When I finished, everyone was already done, except The Dread Pirate Roberts who had such a late start.

We grabbed our grub and tried to warm up with a hot bowl of chill and I redeemed my two cups of free beer.  My "Princess Bride" friends won the group costume contest and a friend who ran the 10K won the "Best Unicorn" contest.

The party wound down pretty quickly, as I'm sure their rent on the square was beginning to end.  The food court started giving away as many bowls of chili as we wanted and having secured a table next to the beer garden, some very friendly unicorns started filling "our" table up with free beers.

All in all, it was fun... but I'm not too terribly sure if I'd do this race again.  It is sentimental because it was my very first race ever.  Since then, I've started taking running seriously, lost 60 lbs and looking at making my body stronger.

The train might not be their fault, and maybe many races deal with the train as an issue.... but now I'm seeing repeated complaints on social media about how Terrapin Events treats their volunteers.
"Happy 10th anniversary" Run Like Hell.  For 10 years, it seems like at least the public relations would be on top of addressing concerns with race hiccups or complaints about being mistreated.

(As of this writing, the results page says I've shaved 47 minutes off my fiasco of a first half last month.  That's amazing!  The chip timing company says I finished in 2 hours, 38 minutes and 5 sec.  My gun time, they claim, is 2 hours, 38 minutes and 43 seconds.  This is an edited lie, since I finished at 2:51:??.  I wish they didn't change the gun time to try and pretend like the train had never really happened.)

What would you do?  Run it again and the risk of trains be damned?  Or forget any seemingly unorganized race that presumably treats their volunteers badly?

(Update:  Terrapin Events issued a statement on their Facebook page and in an e-mail to participants that stated "Thank you all for participating in this year's 10th anniversry of the Run Like Hell half marathon. While a little chilly, overall the weather was great for running! It was so fun to see everyones costumes, especially those dressed up in groups! We will be posting some photos to Facebook over the next few days, so be sure to check to see if we have one of you! Also, feel free to post any photos you might have taken. 
We would like to take a minute to thank our volunteers! We really value their time and efforts in coming out to help. We truly couldn't have done this race without them. We would also like to thank Molly's Fund Fighting Lupus. As the beneficiary of this event they provide us with great support and we are able to donate to their great cause! Last, but not least we would like to thank our sponsors. Lagunitas provided plenty of excellent beer and Madison's Grillprovided that nice, hot soup to enjoy after the race!
We would like to appologize for the train delay. We understand that many of you were stopped for a very long time and how hard that is after already running 11 miles. We truly wish this wouldn't have happened, but there was nothing we could have done to prevent this or shorten the delay. While the City limits which roads we can use (why so many Portland races use Naito) we are going to try to avoid or reduce any rail crossings next year. ..."  
I think it's worth noting, since some races could chose not to address the issue(s) at all or ignoring anyone's complaints.  After sleeping on it and thinking it over, this isn't a race I'd want to miss.  Maybe any future delays by a train would just be part of the adventure of the whole experience.  One thing for sure though, I'm going to have to learn some tricks on getting a garmin to connect on foggy streets containing tall buildings... (If such a trick exists.) 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Living The Crazy Life... (Running, zombies and birthday parties, oh my!)

I guess I should start this post out as a race recap.  So much has been going on, I could write about my crazy life and how it has been a whirl wind of events lately... along with grating nerves.  I'm tapering for my half marathon this weekend and stressing out about the costume I'm intending to run 13.1 miles in...

Then it was my Squeaker's first birthday this last weekend.  The same weekend that I was given a race entry to be chased by zombies by a fellow injured runner.  I probably should have said, "No.  I can't do it... I'm so busy as it is..."  But it was a free race!  The transfer was okay'd by the race officials and I'd be running for me, under my name and getting the pee scared out of me by zombies chasing after my two plastic lifelines hanging around my waist.  

How could I resist?

Saturday evening, left me and the family traveling over to Dayton, Oregon for the Zombie Apocalypse Run.  

You can see the fun from the year past here:

So after getting the house set up for Squeaker's party the next morning....

Squeakers enjoying her first Birthday Cake

...the family boogied out the door to check out the party going on pre race that evening.

This event is very much about a family environment, being held on a local pumpkin patch-farm.  The farm's market was open for local goods, a petting zoo was on site with a small hay maze, jack-o-lantern jumping house, large slide for the kiddies to play on and all sorts of amusements.  The local fire department had a fire engine they were giving kids a lift on to circle the property (adding to the atmosphere that the area needed to be contained from zombies...) and there was a vintage tank in the distance along with the local national guard with their trucks and troops ready to help out.  If that isn't enough to get you in the mood to run for your life, a helicopter is on site too.  (You can pay $20 to ride in it post race.)

I really wish I had my camera available to snap some photos of the amazing costumes I saw on the run...

Here's me before the race:

my DIY attempt at being a "Sugar Skull"
I queued up with a woman in a 50's house coat, hair in curlers and a fake cigarette hanging out of her mouth.  Some chose to wear camouflage and one person had a back pack on full of water balloons that his family would grab and throw at any passing zombies.

The zombies were forced to wait a whole two minutes while the runners were given their head start.  The vintage tank fired a shot in the distance and that was our cue to start running.  It was pretty difficult to get past the hoards of survivors.  It didn't take long for there to be lots of walkers jamming some of the narrow trails and it was difficult to get past them.

There were just over 800 participants, though I can't tell you how many of them started out as survivors or were held back 2 minutes as zombies.

After our two minute head start was over, the sirens exploded in the distance to let us know that the zombies had been released.  When those sirens started going crazy in the distance, my mouth went dry and my heart froze.  I was scared.   I hauled myself as fast as I could go, and I knew I was burning myself out fast.  There was no pacing myself out... I had to get out of there!  My first mile was done in 10:13 minutes, which is completely phenomenal for me with my average being 12:30.  As my garmin beeped that I was at a mile and going crazy with excitement for setting a new record, I hit a very clogged piece of trail and could not edge around the groups of walkers.  As i tried to politely nudge my way through, a hand brushed my waist.  Damn it!  First flag was gone and the zombie with it.

It was not long at all and the second flag was gone too by the time I was half way through the course.

Beyond not having a chance to survive, the race is a lot of fun.  A helicopter (the very one you can pay to take a joy ride in) circled above us and shouted directions and warnings as we ran from the zombies.

The course takes you on dirt trails, open fields (with uneven footing on long grass) and through dark woods with fake fog and zombies behind a chain link fence leering and grabbing at you.

I saw a devil in a suit and tie standing in the distance just staring at us, and I was pretty terrified.  His eyes were white and just little black dots for his pupils.  Some zombie volunteers were in the path and pretending to make a grab for the runners who whipped by.  My favorite zombie I passed was a zombie Mario playing the 8-bit dungeon music from Super Mario Brothers.  That made me laugh out loud... Until he leered at me.  Then I passed a runner dressed in a silver wig in a bun, little wire frame glasses and running with a wooden, bloody, rolling pin in her hands.

Nearing the end of the course, the path lead us through a road with fields of pumpkins on either side of us and then though a field of tall corn.  I was certain I'd hear zombie moans or have one jump out at me... but neither happened.  An opportunity lost, perhaps, but the anticipation of it was just as scary.  After that, I rounded a bend and saw a barn with terrible laughter noises inside, machinery and screams of agony and horror to fill your imagination for the home stretch.

With that, I picked up the pace again and finished strong.  The course ended up being 3.4 miles, but I still PR'd for a 3.1 race... :)

I guess all I needed was some zombies to scare me?  Now to gear up for my half on Sunday, and baby my tight hamstrings for way overdoing it on those trail inclines at top speed.

Have you been chased by zombies?  Or looking forward to any Halloween type races coming up (or do you avoid them)?