Thursday, May 29, 2014

Simple Hydration Bottle Review

As a distance runner and triathlete, I'm always looking for the easiest and most efficient way to hydrate.

Enter the Simple Hydration water bottle!

The fuel belt is not a terrible solution, but it does tend to move around, chafe, and generally get annoying on a long run. Hand held bottles seem to get in the way of an efficient stride. How about a bottle that does not need to be placed in a fuel belt or held continuously? This is the promise of the Simple Hydration bottle that was provided to my Moms Run This Town chapter to review.

Review by Mariah Jeffery:
The bottle works by tucking the lip into your waistband. I couldn't believe it would stay but for the most part, it did. I tried it on a "brick" workout day of a 12-mile bike ride and a 5K run. My bike does have a water-bottle holder, but occasionally on long rides I run out of water in the single bottle, and I wanted to try this out as a possible solution for carrying a second bottle. I made sure to wear drawstring shorts, per the instructions, and tied them tightly. I thought to myself as I got going "There's no way this is going to stay on." It actually made it through the entire bike ride except for two occasions. Once was going over a train track. When I hit the very large bump, it did fly out and I had to stop and retrieve it. The other time was after I removed it, and I had difficulty returning it to the proper position with one hand, so it came out because I didn't have it in there will. After I stopped and retrieved it and got it in the right spot, it stay put for the rest of the ride, the transition, and the entire 5K run. It was certainly easier than a fuel belt although not 100% foolproof. I'm not sure that I'd use this for a race because I'd be worried about losing it, but for a long run when it's no big deal to turn around and retrieve the bottle once in a rare while, I definitely would use it again.

Review by Angela Sellars:

For me , a newbie runner, sport water bottles were not an issue. I drank before I left the house and when I got home from runs . Most of these runs were shorter than an hour.  But now I have my sights on a half marathon and realize longer runs mean drinking water on the go. 

I decided to give the Simple Hydration water bottle a shot during a 15k run, knowing I would need water to wash down my mid run gel pack.  The first thing I noticed was how nicely it fit in my small hands.  I placed it in my spandex running tights at the small of my back. After an initial learning curve when the bottle seemed to slip and slide, I found a way to tilt it a bit and keep my pants up! The next 3 miles went well, save some odd bumping and jostling as I ran downhill. 45 minutes into my run, and I needed some water to drink with my gel pack. I was able to open it with my teeth without too much resistance.  I placed it back in my pants and it slipped out and fell on the ground, forcing me to stop to pick it up and wipe it off.  The bottle stayed in place for the remainder of the run and I was happy to have some water to sip as I walked home.  

In conclusion, I will use the Simple Hydration water bottle again, but not for races or fast-paced runs. It will be handy for easy jogs on hot days and for walks and hikes with the family.
Simple Hydration has a 50% off discount going on right now! Head on over to their Facebook page and check it out.  Discount good until June 8th.

Robin will be ordering hers to use on long runs training for Hood To Coast and read about how the bottle's design has versatility to be tucked in a sports bra (sorry guys!) or in a flip belt, spibelt or the like.

How do you carry your water?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

VFuel Review

VFuel gave some of their product our our Moms Run This Town chapter to try out.

VFuel Review by Mariah Jeffery
         I have tried several fueling methods and I'm still trying to figure out what works for me. Gu seems to be hard on my sensitive stomach. I decided to give VFuel a try on my 13.1 mile "tune-up" race in preparation for my last half marathon. I tried Maple Bacon flavor, just because it sounded intriguing. It was actually not bad! The taste was a bit on the "savory" side but not overwhelming, and also a bit sweet at the same time. I noticed caffeine on the ingredient list, which is good because caffeine does seem to help my performance in endurance events.

VFuel did not cause any of the GI distress issues I have had in the past with other gels. It seems to be easy to tolerate. I did make sure to drink it with plenty of water, though, which seems to be key for me. I tried the Peach Cobbler flavor last week during my speed session (8.75 miles including a magic mile and 8x400's!). I took it at around the 5 mile mark and definitely felt a bit of  a pick-me-up right when I needed it. I would not hesitate to use VFuel again for my fueling needs. I have my first triathlon in just under 2 weeks and one of these packets will be stashed in my bike bag!

VFuel Review by Angela Sellers
I am fairly new to the fueling process, but training for a half marathon means learning to nourish and hydrate my body. So I gave VFuel a try. I started my 15K long run with one pack of Peach Cobbler and then had Citrus at the 45 minute mark, just as the packaging recommends. The Peach Cobbler flavor is mellow and sweet and viscous enough to swish down with water. I preferred the Cool Citrus however. It was milder and reminded me of Lemon Meringue pie.  The VFuel gel warmed up against my body as I ran and was easier to swallow than the room temperature packet. While I did not notice any GI distress during the run, I did experience some mild gas and cramping post run.

 I used these same flavors of VFuel before my speed workout and weight training as well. No GI distress occurred and I was able to complete and perform better compared to the same workouts done without VFuel.  I noticed a boost of energy about 25 minutes into the workouts and faster reaction times . Afterwards I felt less muscle soreness than usual.

Overall, I like the VFuel gels and will continue to use them to improve my performance and endurance.

Head on over to their website and see the great flavors they have available.  Have I mentioned they have "Maple Bacon"?  Because it's about time we had the option of something not too sweet.

Have you tried VFuel before?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Race Review: Rock 'n' Roll Portland Half Marathon (and inaugural 10K)

Sun. May 18th, 2014

Last year, I wandered into the Portland Rock 'n' Roll expo because it was FREE, open to the public and Kara Goucher was going to be there.  Score!

I had never done a half marathon and wasn't too sure about it.  When I left, I knew it was something I wanted to do.

This year, the expo was a little less festive, no key note speakers (unless I stand corrected) and some of the vendors seemed a bit out of place (new cookware anyone?  How about a new pillow for your bed?).

All that aside, I cut loose after my slime run 5K that morning and had a little fun at the expo/packet pickup.
This year, the Portland location was offering an inaugural 10K distance.  

I really like the colors better on the 10K medal, and sorta wish I signed up for that distance just because the medal says "inaugural" on it.  ;-)  I'm a geek.

The medals also feature the iconic "White Stag" sign, a bottle opener in the state cut-out, roses since we are known as "the city of Roses" and a food cart truck.   (The course passed lots of Food Carts and I was really starting to get hungry.  RUN FASTER!)

The course had a few slight hills, but nothing unconquerable.  The weather was starting to get rather humid.   I enjoyed that we got to cover a lot of Portland in our 13.1 miles.  Both distances start in SW portland and travel on a hairpin loop to get a bit of the course into NW Portland.  Back near the start again and we cross the Hawthorne bridge (covered in carpet so no one slips) and run throughout the charming neighborhoods of SE Portland and then off to NE Portland and over the Steel Bridge to go back towards the finish line in SW.

This is definitely a race you can leave the headphones at home for.  It is so much fun listening to the live music on the various concert stages throughout the race.

I decided not to carry water at all, and the course is very well covered with aid stations.  There are also medic stations and volunteers offering wooden spatulas of vaseline if you started to chaffe.

Crowd support was unlike any race I had ever participated in!

My hand hurt from all the high fives I was giving out.  When you see a child stick their hand out for you, you have got to stop and give them a little tap.  They were all so cute.  I wish my Bugaboo and Squeakers were out there, but they were enjoying sleeping in while their crazy mama was running the streets of Portland in costume.
My friend Jennifer talked me into dressing up with her as band members from KISS.  She dressed as "The Demon" (Gene Simmons) and I dressed as "The Starchild" (Paul Stanley).

When I flashed the "rock horns" hand gesture to anyone in the crowd, they would scream and cheer for me.  It was a little heady.  I felt like a rock star!

There were several groups of high school dance teams, cheer squads and the like on the course and on was dressed as band members from KISS.  I hollered, "Y'all are here for me, right?" and they all started screaming and cheering like crazy and broke into song "I want to rock and roll all night, and party everyday!"

Several miles later I flashed the same rock 'n' roll hand gesture to a volunteer on the course with a mega phone and she started singing the song for me into her megaphone.  I loved it.   

Local cheer teams and dance squads could compete for who had the most spirit and win money for their school.

G. Love and Special Sauce was the headliner band at the finish line and we rocked out while trying to stay dry under the trees or the vendor's tents.

  The weather stayed pretty calm during the race, but once I got through the finish gate, things started to pour. I needed to recover after running a half marathon (and another 5k) the weekend before, so we headed home.

Jennifer said she was surprised by the lack of costumes at the race overall but enjoyed the spirit and energy of the cheering squads.  

"I thought the support was great.  Southridge High School had the most spirit.  When I passed them, I took note of the name because they actually inspired me."

A friend who had finished just behind me told me she came upon a collapsed runner about a 1/4 mile from the finish.  Other runners had stopped and were giving him chest compressions.  While this was disturbing and saddened everyone, the rumor on the internet is that the runner is doing fine now.  I heard that he did indeed have a heart attack and will require surgery, but he is in good spirits (and would like to know if his ambulance crossed the finish line so that he does not get a DNF).  

(Now my Moms RUN This Town club will be looking into learning this important first aid technique.)

Rock on!  Over all the experience was great!  I think I could have the Rock 'n' Roll series bug!  Wouldn't it be fun to run on the Vegas Strip at night?  Bucket list of races just keeps getting longer and longer....

What's on your bucket list?
Do you know CPR?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Race Review: Slime Run (How I survived my first Obstacle Fun Run)

Race Review:  Sat. May 17th, 2014
The Slime Run (almost a 5K)

I have accomplished my first obstacle race!  The Slime Run's webpage shows pictures of people being showered in thick green goo, and it isn't exactly like that.  It's more of a watered down, slick, colorful goo?  Here I am at the start of the race and my "after" pic at the finish.  Not as epic as I was hoping for with the mess factor.  

I had a morning wave time, but the race is pretty low-key on organization and you could probably show up for any wave time that you wanted to.  

There is NO bag check, so you want to lock your change of clothes and such in your car.  
Parking?  $10.

Ten dollars is way too much to pay to park, especially when the race is within a couple blocks of the transit center ($5 for an all day pass).   I had some other errands to do after the race (packet pickup for my Half Marathon the next day!  Woo Hoo!) so, pay or figure a way around it?  

My errands that required me to be sorta clean and use my change of clothes.  

Did I mention there is no bag check?  

No problem!  

If you have anything you need to take with you on a sticky/slimy/muddy or just wet course... ziplock bags are your friend.

I put a change of clothes, phone, lightweight flip flops and anything else I thought I couldn't live without in a gallon zip lock bag and put that in a nylon cinch up bag/backpack.... with another one inside the ziploc bag so that I could contain the slimy stuff in that ziploc bag and have a clean bag to carry around on my other errands before my trip home.  

Now that you know how to prepare for your Slime Run, this is what you should know about the course:  

For whatever location you sign up to do this race, this will be your course map.  ;-)  

After the start was announced for my wave, some cannons at the start line spray participants with green slime.  (Though I did the very first wave and only one cannon went off.  Perhaps that was fixed before the end of the day?) 

After that, I came upon rows of tires were were supposed to run through.  I don't know how those football camp films make it look so easy, but I was pretty sure I was going to trip and kill myself or someone was going to trip and knock me over, and kill me.

We ran on pretty much the same route as the Cosmic Run that I had volunteered at in April.  I could still see the colorful cornstarch on the ground where the concert had been and where the color stations had been.  After getting sprayed by teenagers who delighted it spraying me in the face with their slime guns, I passed a stretch of pink earth.  That was where I had tried so hard not to hit people in the face with my pink glow-in-the-dark corn starch a few weeks ago.

About that time, and about 1 mile into the course, we had an inflatable slide down to a pool of cold, sticky water.  Not quite slime, but slimy looking.

Brrrr.  Did I mention you should bring an old pair of shoes on their last leg of life?  They will get completely, utterly soaked and there is no going back.

So on this chilly May morning in the Pacific Northwest, I crawled out of the inflatable pool of cold liquid and ran on.  Fun, but COLD!

The next obstacle was concrete barriers like the ones often seen on highways to keep cars on their side of the divider.  

Teenagers hollered at us to jump over them.  
Everyone walked around them.  

The runners were sprayed some more by volunteers (in the face) and then we had a section of bungee cord type cables to crawl though, climb over and get untangled from.

At this point we circle back  on the course and run past later waves just starting the course.

I highly recommend starting early. 

The "run" was at a stand still and the line to go down the slime slide was at least half a mile long.

The final major obstacle is an inflatable staircase that we all struggled to clamber up.  The smooth vinyl stairs were muddy from the wet shoes of previous racers who had already gone before me and there was nothing to hold on to in order to stay on your bouncy step on the staircase.  I watched the couple in front of me struggle to help their son up each step without  falling themselves.  Then some older kids jumped on and instantly everyone's balance was shaken.  I slid to the bottom.


 While they thought it was funny to knock everyone down, I said "screw this" as I rubbed my back and thought about my impeccable timing to want to do every race in the world... and the half marathon I had planned the following day.  The second one in 8 days.

I walked around the obstacle and congratulated myself for giving it a try and playing it safe.  No need to seriously hurt myself.  At least that's what I told myself so I could justify taking home one of the medals.

This has to be the first fun run that I've seen that offered bling at the end.  They had merchandise for sale (towel anyone?) and a couple small handouts for registered participants, but the quickest way to my heart (besides a really cool race shirt) is the bling.

So, after climbing through the final inflatable tunnel, I claimed my prize and sat back and watched the finishers climb into their cars to warm up and the new faces start to queue up for their start.  (Not exactly a huge, festive party... but fun nonetheless).

My app on my phone clocked the race at 2.88 miles, just about the same distance as the race I had been at earlier here.

It was quite the experience, and hoping that the next two obstacle races I have already committed myself to will be fun, but I'm thinking I should probably stick to colored corn starch and no major races right before one of these events.

As I type this, I should also point out that I'm scheduled to do Kiss Me Dirty the day before my "Beat The Blerch" half marathon.  I might also be signed up to do the Oregon Marathon HALF with Uberthons 7 days before all of that.

Do you do obstacle/slime/mud/color runs?  Enjoy them?

Do you put too much on your race schedule?  (Tell me about it so I know I'm not the only insane person out there).  


Strut Your Stuff Sign Co Bib & Medal Display Review

How do you display your race bibs and medals? My race bibs are spread out across my office. Soon they will go across one wall completely. My office is 25’ long. If have about 3' remaining until I'd have to start a second row.

I was debating doing just that until my husband told me it was already borderline tacky. Ok, I see the point. My medal holder is also nearly full and I need another one. I was searching for ideas on how to improve my shrine to racing while displaying my bibs and medals in a more neat and concise way when Strut Your Stuff Sign Co. generously donated two medal displays to my Moms Run This Town group, to be raffled off at our Spring Social on May 24. Here are pictures of the two displays. 

Bib/medal holder one:

Bib/medal holder two is my personal favorite:
 Check it out here at their Etsy store.

These are incredibly high quality, gorgeous displays that can hold both your bibs and your medals all together. This Etsy store also offers the ability to customize any medal display by adding a plaque with an inscription, which could be your name, your PRs, or your favorite inspirational quote.
There are lots of other great displays in their store. If you love these displays, please Like their FB page and tell them Outrunning the Rain sent you. I’m hoping I’m one of the winners at my Moms Run This Town Social!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Race recaps from a volunteer perspective: Crazy cornstarch raves and hiking up a hill in 80's costumes.

April 26th and 27th I volunteered at two local races. 

Two completely different races.... supporting one cause.

A friend posted on facebook about a new race that needed volunteers, so I thought "What the heck?  Why not?  I'm not racing so why not go help out?"  (And it's a cause that is important to me.) So I emailed The Portland chapter of Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and signed myself up to volunteer for their Sunday Morning race "The Rad 80's Run".  The email also stated that if I could volunteer the night before at "The Cosmic Run" that race would donate $80 to the CCFA.

Okay, sure.  A chance to be at a race that I couldn't really afford to run and help make it fun for others.  That sounds good to me.

This is an account of my adventures.

Sat. April 26th, Cosmic Run.  Check-in time, 7pm.  Weather, rainy and cold.

My first clue that this wasn't the typical type of "fun run" that I was used to was a great majority of the volunteers were smoking.  

Eww.  Not my thing.  

After politely moving myself upwind from the smoke, we broke up into groups and I was assigned the "pink station".

After looking at our watches and determining that we had an hour to kill before we were needed, some went to their cars to keep warm and dry from the cold drizzle and others huddled under the staff tent.

One of the volunteers in my group asked if anyone wanted to go for a run to try to keep warm?  Certainly not keep dry, but keep the blood flowing.

"Sure, why not?"  I replied... just as two other volunteers asked "Why?"
", to keep warm.  To see the race course?"

That was my second clue that this wasn't a typical type of "fun run".

While out on the course, we were stopped by staff working the event... not once... not twice... but FOUR times "What are you doing?"
"Running the course."
"To kill time and stay warm."
"Why?  Running?"
The fourth time they made room for us on their golf cart and asked if we needed a ride.  
"You just ran 3 miles?"
I couldn't help but smile, I had ran 6 miles earlier that morning too.  I really wish I could convey the amusement there.  It was just so funny to be asked by the people hosting the event, a race no less, why we were running.

I believe the event's focus must have been the concert at the end.

There are 4 color stations in roughly 3 miles of gravel path.  Each station is under black light lamps and the course ended at a concert complete with a light show and a DJ to entertain participants.

my shoes under the lights at my color station.

I wish I had planned accordingly and wore some crazy colors or something that would glow.  The race is most probably not my "thing", though I am looking forward to doing "The Color Run" and have done "Color Me Rad" in the past.

This race is different in that it is after sunset, not many children or as much of a "family focused" event and the general atmosphere just seemed different.  Perhaps the mission is the dame and people will do something like this and get excited about running?

It was fun though, since I was kid-free that night.

Photo credit:  Miguel Mendoza

And when it's raining.... cornstarch and water make a Newtonian liquid.  That is always fun!

After the party was over and volunteering was done, I hurried off home to get some rest before the event the next morning...

Sunday, April 27th, The Rad 80's Run.  Check in at 8am.

This was held at the beautiful Mt. Tabor park.  I had never actually been there before, so I showed up early to run a couple miles to stay both warm and check out the area.  Luckily the rain held off until the event was over!

Participants in 80's gear and wigs 

The event the night before had over 1,000 participants while the 80's Rad run had roughly 100 participants.

VooDoo Doughnut provided some treats for participants (and volunteers) to enjoy.

As a volunteer, I wish there were sandwich boards on the road that said "runner on road" as it seemed that there was some difficulty with cars stopping and waiting for runners to pass on the fork of road that I was standing on to direct runners. 

I also wish that I had a safety vest or orange flag to wear or wave as one car tried to go around me a little too closely and another was not going to stop as I was flagging him to do so.  When I explained to both drivers that the road I was standing in the middle of was closed for a race, both were angry with me for not having a sign to explain that.

Hopefully something this organization will invest in if they continue to do fun events like this.

All in all, it was very pretty and I hope that the participants had as much fun doing the race as I did watching them conquer the hill of a road I was standing on.  I think the race was practically all up hill until they got to the finish stretch. 

As the last runner went past I followed up the hill and quickly got lost.  I think someone moved one of the mall signs made to direct runners.

Go that way...
After calling the race director and having her husband come back up the hill to retrieve me and take me down the hill, I was able to find the finish!

I think it's a cute little race that has a lot of potential and perhaps I'll try it again as a participant instead of a volunteer.

If bling is your thing, they have a cute concept as a finisher's medal.  They have converted a cassette tape with a label with the event information and a ribbon to wear it.

There is a bit of a difference however with what is advertised on the facebook page (on the left) and what participants were given (on the right).

The cassette tape also had the correct date on one side (pictured) and the opposite side had the 28th printed.  Ooops.  The ribbon is also a cheap ribbon used to wrap gifts with a knot tied on the ends, while the one on the left has a visible seam from being the type of ribbon that is sewn.

Just a small detail to point out.  If I had done this race for the bling (as I have done in the past with some races) I would have been disappointed.  Luckily this was for a cause that I feel needs more exposure and more research done for a cure.

Have you volunteered for a race? If not, do you make a point to thank the volunteers you pass on the course?  ;-)

Have you ran a race solely for the finisher's medal? Or for the cause they supported?  Tell me about your experience!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Race Review: Run Like A Mother 5k

 May 11, 2014 was Mother's Day, and what better way to celebrate it than to push my sweet "babies" across the finish line in a 5k?

The kids and I participated in the "Run Like A Mother" race.  According to their website, there are a few races in various cities around the US.  Maybe there is one near you?

I think it is a fun race and worth making a mother's day tradition.

Not all events around the US are "stroller friendly", which is a shame, since it is a race celebrating moms and on Mother's day.  I am lucky enough that my race was considered "stroller friendly"... but let me tell you a little bit about that....

The race starts on a local high school track and exits out onto the street, but to get that street entailed pushing my behemoth stroller through a patch of grass, some uneven terrain of a pit/hole/ old mud puddle and then lower the stupid thing over a curb. (Maybe I wouldn't have been so picky about the minor obstacle course if I hadn't just ran a half marathon the day before... and pushed myself hard in that race.)

I'd also like to take this moment to brag about my BAMR (Bad Ass Mother Runner) status and explain that the combined weight of the kids in that stroller was over 65 lbs.  We also had snack cups, water bottles, diaper bag, coats for everyone and toys.  

My goal was just to finish, since I was still pretty sore.

We started in the back with the other mamas pushing strollers and wove our way in a slow trot weaving around the course and the moms of all ages walking or running with their kids of all ages.  

The course had some pretty good inclines and one really nasty hill.  I'm not just a sore, over ran mother complaining either.  :)  I heard all about that hill from some of my Moms RUN This Town running mates who also signed up for this event.  Once you get past those inclines and steep hill, the course winds back and forth on itself, giving a stroller pushing mama 13 corners to navigate in 3.1 miles.  I was grateful at mile 2.5 to pass a dear friend working at the aid station and she gave me some much needed cheers to get me through that final leg of the race.

Since me and the kiddos were out on the course, the husband was a race volunteer and handed out finisher's medals and pretty tulips to each finisher.

Having him at the finish line like this was a unique opportunity for him to greet each finisher and see a race in a new way.  he had never volunteered before.

When I got through the finish gate, he handed me my flower and medal, gave me a "good job hun, you're flying!  Go rest." and later he told me that I was the third stroller pushing mama to cross the finish line and the first double stroller!!!  (The announcer gave credit to another mama for crossing as the first double stroller, but the announcer was also so busy reading our names off the timing ship system, that he forgot to notice my HUGE double stroller when I came in 10 minutes earlier.)  ;-)   I didn't feel like I was "flying" but I was certainly feeling my right quad and IT band.

The medals are beautiful and between the two races I had the joy of running on Mother's day weekend, the 5k was my favorite.... even though the half marathon was such an awesome PR.

When I got home though, and looked at the results from the race.... the 5k was also a PR!!  I had cut about 2 minutes off my last 5k race time.  Not bad for having a bulky double stroller and being sore from 13.1 miles the day before!   

"Team Robin"

The charity for our event was "My Little Waiting Room" which is a drop-in daycare for a local hospital so that families can visit patients.  

Festivities at the event had plenty of booths to look through and try some samples... kids could get their face painted and make cheering signs.  A local physical therapist had some foam rollers out on the turf in the stadium for participants to use.

It may have been a little bit more festive to have a local band playing?  But here certainly was a fun post-race environment and a race I'd like to do over again.

I'm pretty sure that anyone who knew me one year ago would think I was crazy for wanting to wake up early and run while hauling the kids in the stroller as a way to celebrate Mother's Day.

Have you gone out for a run or did a race as a form of "celebration"?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Race Review: Hippie Chick Quarter and Half Marathon

For this recap, I'm pleased to share with you not just one runner's review of events... but two!  As you may already know, my co leader for my Moms RUN This Town club is also a guest blogger on here now and then... and I am so proud of her as she not only tackled her first half marathon, but did so with speed and strength! 

We both took on the "Hippie Chick Quarter and Half Marathon" put on by Better Series on Saturday May 10th.

Mariah's first half marathon experience:

On Saturday I ran my first half marathon! It was a long time in coming as I had gotten plantar fasciitis 8 days before what was supposed to be my first half in February. By the time Hippie Chick Half finally rolled around in May, I was chomping at the bit!

I met with Robin and some other friends in our running group for a group pic in the morning.  Then I headed down for some quick warm-up drills and to the start line. There I found my coach, Nikki Rafie, who introduced me to the pacers for the 8:18 pace group and gave me some last minute advice. I wanted to run about 8:12-8:15 so I was planning to ditch them after 4-6 miles. The gun went off and I started thinking they were going kind of fast. My Garmin beeped for mile 1 - 8:03! WTF? My mantra for the first half of the race was "Keep calm, run on" and I started using it at this point. Mile 2 according to Garmin: 8:00. *#$&#*! If I wanted to blow my wad too soon I could have done that on my own!! I was starting to get worried. Mile 3: 8:00. My mantra was no longer effective so I decided to say it with a British accent. There, much better.

Then we start running into a headwind and I was thinking, ok, if we're going to run this fast I will try to draft off of the pace group leaders. Unfortunately, they're all so petite that's just not happening. They are from Team Athena, but I was the only Athena in sight. Plus their balloons kept bonking me on the head. Abort mission. At least we slowed down to around 8:05 with the headwind. 

We turned in a direction I was not expecting to go. I had told my hubs and everyone else who was cheer-leading when to be where based on the course that was posted on their site, which they did in reverse. My husband was supposed to hand me a bottle of Cocogo at mile 8 since I can't tolerate gels or most sports drinks, but no Cocogo for me. *Sigh*. Keep calm, run on.

Miles ticked off around 8:04-8:08 as we hit some small hills. About mile 7, Nikki popped out of nowhere and paced me for about a mile. We sped up a bit, because well, you don't run slow in Nikki Rafie's presence. Beep: 7:59!! Nikki made a comment about us being ahead of schedule. The pacers asked if I want to slow down. "No!" I shouted emphatically, then I thought "Did I just say that?" At the 9.3 mark I looked at my Garmin and saw that I hit a 15K PR. I wasn't sure whether to be excited or very, very afraid so I was both. At the 10 mile mark we were down to only 2 racers and 3 pacers hanging with the group, so the pacers said we could split up and go at whatever pace we wanted. I turned on the full and absolute beast mode and pulled slightly ahead with my 2 personal pacers the rest of the race. At the 11 mile mark I asked one of them to tell me a joke. She told me a story about a friend who ran a marathon and thought she was eating Gu, but instead she ate Vasoline. That distracted me for 30 seconds and then I got back to being miserable.

Next thing I know it's mile 12 and there is a friend of mine with her cowbell! I was thinking "Draw energy from the bell" and then tried to keep thinking of the bell but then all I could think about was how many minutes until I could stop running. And then I started counting breaths and going through my various mantras. There was the finish line! I beat my husband and daughter there by about a minute. I had no fuel but a few sips of Nuun and water but I seemed to do ok with that. My official time was 1:47:09 which came out to 8:10 per mile. My Garmin said I ran 13.27 at 8:04 avg. Apparently I was weaving a lot.

I found my family and got some food, and then I had the chance to see Robin cross the finish with MaryAlicia, right on her stretch goal pace!

After the race I enjoyed the food but I had a hard time finding water. Every station seemed to have only Nuun, so I ended up getting water from the bathroom sink. It reminded me of a scene from Idiocracy. "Water? Like out the toilet?"

Mariah at the finish!  (photo credit to her lovely husband)

My take on the event and festivities:
I was under trained and dehydrated from being sick earlier in the week but neglect to mention those things as I my friend Maryalicia (from Run Oregon) who had generously agreed to pace me for this race.  :)  I have always been too slow to be in a race where a pacing group was available for my race pace.

I had ran "Run Like Hell" in October with a 2:38 finishing time and wanted to go for a 2:30 this time.  :)

Let me just say, that if you haven't heard of or tried the Galloway Method, you have got to give it a try!  She set her timer for intervals of running for 30 seconds and walking for 15 seconds.  It took some getting used to, but before the race was done, I was certainly looking forward to those walk breaks (which really aren't a break... I was busting my butt to move forward towards the finish!).

We picked up a couple people along the route and they joined us too for a bit on our adventures with run/walk intervals.  I have to tell you though, when you are going to start walking, get to the right so faster people can pass on the left and watch behind you so that you don't cause an accident of people running into you when you suddenly stop running and move to a walk.  We would raise a hand in the air and shout "walking now!"

We skipped the long lines at the porta potties and queued up for the race.  Before I knew it, we were off and running!  Weeee!  (okay.  Maybe I should have gone and risked a later start time?)

There was a porta potty at the first aid station, but the line was already way too long.  "That's okay"  I told myself... "I probably really don't have to go anyway. Just running nerves..."

I packed my Nathan QuickShot  for the race, but planned to rely on the ample water stations the race webpage had described on the course.

The first aid station, the volunteers had the water in large bowls and they were dipping the cups into the bowls... getting their ungloved hands into the water!!!  EWWW!

The marshy, farm land smell did not help my gag reflex on that one.  

Keep moving forward.  We passed a couple more water stations and I tried to ignore if there were pitchers, bowls of water or large coolers.... I just needed to stay hydrated.

By mile 5 there is no denying I need to pee.  Next port a potty, I'm getting in line.  

Where are the porta potties?

The next aid station around mile 7 is just getting a truck load of porta potties dropped off!  If we had been any faster, we would have missed them and had to wait until the finish line.  The speedy racers missed out if they had to go...

Likewise, those of us with an 8 minute mile pace or greater had no water at the next station.  Mile 8 was out of water.

The volunteers up and left their station
and the resident who owned the farm behind the aid station had come out with a water cooler on the back of one of his vehicles.  We grabbed a dixie cup and got in line as he filled our cups and I thanked him profusely.

That hiccup aside, the course was very beautiful, a few slight hills and lots of people to cheer and be cheered by!  i loved that aspect of it.

If there was one thing I could change, it would be that at the finish through the parking lot to get to the finishing gate, there are too many zigs-and-zags.  It isn't a straight shot from the road and into the stadium track.  I had to dig deep to finish and I could hear in Maryalicia's voice that her encouragement "Almost there!"  also was saying "It's just about 2:30:00 now... can you dig any deeper?"

Then, running all out, as hard as I can, I have to also slow to turn and weave through the parking lot and the curbs.  GAH!  But....   digging as deep as I can and asking Maryalicia to drag me to the finish if i should fall over and try to die....

photo credit: Mariah's lovely husband with his super neato camera
I made it through the finish line!!  Maryalicia warned me not to get discouraged when I saw the clock... "Gun Time" I mumbled between gasps of air.  But when I approached the timing pads on the ground, my heart leapt as I saw the time read 2:30:00.... the next timing pad was sooooooo far away...... MILES!  Would i get to it in the next 60 seconds?

Logic would have reminded me that this was the gun time and that anything under 2:38:00 was a PR, but I was illogical at that point.  I made it!  Official chip time is 2:29:45!!

Our finisher's medals are a bit on the underwhelming side, but the event is geared towards ladies (men can register but their times and results are not tracked and they are not offered any awards.) and so being geared towards the female population, the race gave out necklaces with a 1 1/4 inch charm (including the hoop) and approx 1/4 inch wide.

I don't know if I'm being a spoiled brat, but for pushing so dang hard to cross that finish line, I wanted some bling!!  If the bling is so tiny, it had better at least be silver plated.  This is not.  oh well.  

From a male spectator point of view, the husband had a lot of fun with the kiddos as they waited for mommy to finish.  A clown provided entertainment and kids who were in the kids' dash could partake in the pancake breakfast that was also available for the finishers for the quarter and half.

Bathrooms were all converted to women's restrooms except one small men's room outside of the stadium.  The husband found this terribly inconvenient as he needed to change a diaper while I was out on the run.  And there wasn't a changing table in there anyway once he got in there.   So, making the event a little more "dad friendly" would have been nice for a women's event held on mother's day weekend.  All in all, the kids had fun.  I ate my pancakes and drank half my free beer before the kiddos kicked it over as i got my free massage.  I enjoyed myself and am over the moon with my PR, running with my friend and future Hood To Coast team mate and making new friends out on the course.  (This event happens to be hosted by the same company who puts on Hood To Coast.)

 Would I do it again?  likely not.  The event is a little pricy for the overall experience.  But I am so glad I got the experience to do this and owe my amazing PR to Maryalicia and her experience and advice on my (lacking) running form and showing me the ropes with the run/walk method.

Thanks Maryalicia!!