Esprit de She Tempe

On Thursday night, my mom and I ran the Athleta Esprit de She race at Tempe Town Lake. I signed us up forever ago and at the time October 10th seemed so far away, but now it’s already come and gone and we had a blast!

Esprit de She is a new women’s racing series and they definitely went all out for their female racers! Post-race, there was champagne and wine and mini spa treatments. In addition to having hand sanitizer at the port-a-potties (women love that), they had…stacks of tampons! Haha, it was a nice touch!

Even more important, I really liked the course. When we signed up, it was in Scottsdale, but about a week before, I got a phone call that it was now at Tempe Town Lake. I’ve done a lot of races at Tempe Town Lake, but most start at the beach park, which last weekend, was being taken over for Oktoberfest, so it was on the other side and it ended up being a course unlike what I’ve run there before. I ran the 10K and I was especially happy it wasn’t just two loops! Part of it was out and back, but overall the course was pretty great.

It had rained earlier, which made it was the coldest night this season (for Arizona that means we were all bundled up for about 70 degrees) and perfect for a race!

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EDS3My mom took off on the 5K course first and I caught up with her shortly after the 2-mile mark and we ran together for a little bit before she told me to take off, so I did! My training has not been as consistent as I would have liked and this was the longest I’d run in a while, but I did my best and ended up finishing in 1:04:37, my now-middle time for the 10K. I ran slower than the race I ran right after I got Rigo and was such a nervous new mom, I hadn’t slept or eaten for a few days before, but I ran faster than the race I ran while hungover/possibly still drunk. I’ll take it?

I found my mom at the finish line and we hung out for a bit, got massages, but when it got a little too chilly for us, we headed back home, pretty happy with our Thursday night accomplishments!

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Splash Mob 5K

Sign up for a race in July, she said. It will be fun, she said.

And it sure as heck was.

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Pre-race…still smiling, still dry!
(Rachel, the toucan to my left, was the one with the brilliant idea – to run and to run with floaties!)

When my alarm went off at 6am for the 7am Splash Mob 5K, I was not a fan. I had stayed up until 3:30 the night before – just drinking water, so at least I was hydrated – and that’s my own stupid mistake. When I was running in humid 90 degree weather, I was not a fan. When I finished (35:45, note to self: you can stay up until 3:30 OR run a 5K in the morning – there is no BOTH option) and was still actively sweating for the next 20 minutes, I was not a fan.

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The post-race sweat that never ends.

The only way to survive a summer race in Arizona is lots of water. Honestly, there could have been a little bit more…more splashing (at splash stations along the course, kids with supersoakers and water balloons attempted to cool off the runners) and more water stations [insert organizer’s excuse about the water delivery truck here] AND they ran out of bottles for the end by the time the last in our group finished.

Ready to jump into that Waikiki Beach wave pool!

Ready to jump right into that Waikiki Beach wave pool!

But, after the race, the water park that played host to the event, Big Surf, opened its wave pool. Those floaties actually came in handy as we waded in – our running clothes already drenched with sweat, so who really cared? – and set up shop.

My friend looked at me and said, “Megan, you look like you’re actually on vacation.” “Um, I AM for the next half hour.”

And then…”Hey, guys? We’re the only people left in here without kids.” My 30-minute, young-at-heart vacation in the wave pool totally made up for all the not-a-fan things about the race and it made my overall impression of the race a favorable one! I keep my race calendar busy throughout the year and 5Ks in particular can get a little monotonous, so I love races that offer something unique!

Other pros: I really liked the course. It can be tricky to create a course when the location was picked based on a landmark, but it was half-loop and half-out-and-back and included a golf course and a (man-made) lake. Also, I knew it was going to be a tough race, so having it on my calendar was great motivation to stay on track through these torture months.

I actually got in a bonus outside run last weekend when the humidity finally gave us some good rain on Sunday and it cooled to 80ish in the middle of the afternoon! You have to be ready to roll on rare days like that!

Berry Winter

Not so much in Phoenix, but it still gives me hope! Do you prefer running outside in hot or cold weather?

I’m kind of a wuss on both ends…my ideal range is probably 60-75! Do you live somewhere where that’s the year round temperature? Need a new best friend?!

Girls on the Run Spring 5K

Girls on the Run holds a special place in my heart, so after being away from them for a year and a half, I was so excited for the 5K this last weekend. I signed up as a running buddy (my mom did too again), but unfortunately the girls we were matched with didn’t show up! By the time we went back to the matching table to see if there was need at any other school, all the girls were out of the meeting corral and doing warmups so it would have been impossible to connect with any of them.

Either way, it was cool to be at the race and the energy was great. My mom and I jumped into the public 5K, which took off a few minutes before the girls’ race – each running our own race again.

Thinking I was going to be running with and encouraging a girl running her first 5K, I left my phone in the car, which meant running without music and my Nike app to tell me how I was doing! Ack! I felt good. I realized I breathe pretty heavily when running. The course around Kiwanis Park in Tempe was pretty cool – there are a lot of races there, but I’ve never done any.

I got GOTRed by two girls and their running buddies who started a little after me, and that is so awesome! I came into the finish line strong and my official time was 27:19…a one-second PR! Haha, I’ll take it!

I loved watching the rest of the runners come in the finish shoot. I got chills, I got a little verklempt. Some girls were finishing strong, some had given it their all the whole way through and were steady into the finish, a few were in tears, but they were still going. So, even though the day didn’t turn out like I expected, it was a really great experience.

Next time, though! Running buddy or bust!

You Got Schnauzered: Petco 5K9

First of all, OMG Ragnar happened this weekend, but my brain still needs to process the (spoiler alert) AMAZING experience before I can think about recapping it, so in the mean time I’ll recap the 5K Rigo and I did on Sunday morning.

Yeah, I thought signing up for a 5K the day after a two-day 200-mile relay race was a good idea. Oops. A friend told me about the race and I wasn’t so sure, but then a Living Social deal came through a few days later so I took the sign from the universe and signed up.

Rigo stayed with my parents while I was gone and he’s always pretty exhausted from running around in their big backyard and the long walks my mom spoils him with, so when it was time to go yesterday morning, he wasn’t so sure.

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But, I told him how fun it would be and off we went. I was meeting the friend who told me about it and her family including her handsome tank of a dog, Rhino. We waited through a bark-filled national anthem and then we were ready to rock and roll!

My quads are pretty sore from Ragnar and I have a minor foot injury, but it was chilly and windy so I wanted to warm up and Rigo needed some personal space, so I decided we were running. We darted around some pups and found a nice open area, then walked, then a crowd started to come up behind us so we ran again, and kind of continued on with intervals like that.

The race took place around Tempe Town Lake, so again, a familar course for me, but it was Rigo’s first time. Some parts are a little crowded when it’s just people, so throw dogs in there too and it’s a squeeze, but it gets the job done. Rigo gives it two paws up.

We ran past some pretty tough looking dogs – labs and boxers and shepherds, oh my! We schnauzered all of them! Rigo doesn’t look like he’s ready to rock out a 5K at any time, but he is!

We jumped ahead of two more right at the end to finish in 34:32, Rigo’s first PR! And he literally slept all day after that, which was perfect for me because after my exciting, runtastic, sleep-deprived weekend, I was a tired puppy too!

Catch Me If You Can: Skirt Chaser 5K

I’ve been watching the Skirt Chaser 5K come and go for a few years and I am so glad I finally signed up this year. Women wearing their running skirts start first and three minutes later, the men take off and chase them. It’s always around Valentine’s Day and there are color-coded stickers to wear to show if you’re there to be chased or if you’ve already been caught and are just having fun with your honey. It’s an afternoon race with a big party afterward.

February weather is hit-and-miss in Arizona. Yesterday, it was just about a miss, near 80 and almost too hot, but for the beer party afterward, it could not have been beat!

The race started on the Mill Ave. bridge and took Mill to hilly Curry and then back to finish inside the Tempe Beach Park – bits and pieces were familiar from Pat’s Run and my tri runs. I’m not usually a huge fan of out-and-back races, but for 5Ks they’re not so bad and I thought the course was challenging, but fast.

With my sporadic training of late and the warm weather, my goal was pretty much to not die, I started darting around trying to find some space. After the first mile, my Nike app chimed in to tell me my time was 7:06. I haven’t calibrated the app lately and I’ve always thought it runs a little short. It mapped the whole course at about 3.4 miles, so obviously that 7 minutes was not a full mile, but still, are you kidding me?! That is not the way to not die, so I pulled back and finished with an official time of 29:47.

I guzzled my water and then got my beer and a seat in the shade to listen to the cover band playing and then walked around Mill for a bit. I left with an awesome runner’s racerback tank sunburn and a bit of a runner’s high. This might be a new annual must-run!

Pat’s Run 2012

Last year, after cheerleading me through my first Pat’s Run, my mom said she wanted to do it this year and last weekend, she kept her promise to herself.

Pat’s Run is a crazy big race in Tempe to honor the Arizona State and Cardinals football player, Pat Tillman, who gave up his NFL contract after 9/11 to join the Army Rangers with his brother and was killed by friendly fire, which was then covered up. That’s the short story, but seriously, read Where Men Win Glory.

His football number was 42, so it’s a 4.2 mile race (and the kiddos have their own .42 mile race), it’s in the spring, it’s reasonably priced and it’s just a good time.

It is a little crazy with the 28,000 participants and I had to wake up at 4:30 to get to the lightrail at 5:30 to avoid a crazy traffic situation and spring weather is actually hit or miss in Arizona and both years I’ve done it, it was HOT, but I’d say it’s worth it.

I signed up to run with my mom and we were in the first of the joggers’ corrals, which took about 40 minutes to start…many people were finishing as we were just starting! Fortunately, ASU recently covered the starting parking lot with solar panels, so at least we were shaded while we were waiting, but eventually, we snaked our way up to the start line and we were off.

My mom had been training with the Couch to 5K, so she was ready for race day and I followed her lead (despite her telling me to go ahead) for alternating running and walking. She was really good about walking for a bit and I probably would have kept walking, but then she’d pick up the pace and we were off jogging again.  Her mental grit was awesome!

We ran the first mile, intervaled the second and third, then decided to run the last 1.2 miles, although we ended up walking into the stadium because it was really congested. My mom even got bumped by some guy with a jogging stroller who decided the narrow pathway and slower pace didn’t apply to him…really, dude?!

Oh, and yeah, the end of the race takes you into Sun Devil Stadium and you cross the end zone and run onto the field, finishing at the 42-yard line. When you’re outside heading in, it just seems like such a party, you REALLY want to get in there. There were volunteers and spectators cheering us on, there were ASU players giving our free high-fives (FREE!) as we went across the finish line. The energy (patriotism + local love + fun + football) at Pat’s Run is amazing!

Way to steal the pic, MJ! (My mom's next to me in the blue hat!)

We finished in 56:23, a 13:23 pace, and were promptly rushed out of the Stadium party (can’t very well have 28,000 people just standing around in there), got some refreshments and walked around the festival for a while before heading back to the lightrail.

Then we treated ourselves with Starbucks, mani/pedis and The Habit. The Habit is a fantastic burger (and veggie burger and chicken sandwich) place that was within walking distance of both of my apartments in California and FINALLY has opened a location in Arizona, just a mile from my parents house. Yum.

Unfortunately, the race high that came with the finish has been met with crickets, race season is over (unless, you’re a crazypants and are doing a mud run in May that doesn’t even start until 9, eek), but I think my mom’s and my motivation for our next races will survive the summer heat and we’ll be ready to fill our race calendars for next fall and winter!

[Obviously, I still haven’t figured out the “carry the camera and/or phone during a race” thing, so no pics, but when the race posts theirs, I hope to grab some good ones!]