Sunday, June 23, 2013

Baltimore Women's Classic

This morning I participated in the Baltimore Women's Classic 5K.  This race raises money for the charity by the same name and supports women in the Baltimore area who are going through gynecologic cancer treatment and their every day matters.  Check this out to learn more about how the Baltimore Women's Classic charity assists gynecologic cancer patients.

 Baltimore Women's Classic 5K Race

In 2011, I participated in the BWC's eight week 5K Training Program.  After completing the training program, I ran the BWC and took almost three minutes off of my 5K time!  Who knew speedwork on the track was so important!? 
wooo!  It was a hot morning two years ago! (and I'm sorry, I can't make this pic any smaller- trust me, I wish I could!)
This year, I volunteered as a coach and had a fantastic time supporting women in their fitness journey to run or walk their first 5K or improve their current 5K time.  I also had the opportunity to represent my gym MissFIT at both the Centennial Park and Catonsville BWC 5K Training Program locations providing the warm up.

Packet pick-up was super convenient because we were able to get our race packets on the final night of our training program.  No need to make an extra special trip to a running store to get the packet or be tempted to buy any "must have" or "great deal" items :o)  I especially liked this year's training shirt with the nod to the Maryland flag and the colorful print on the race shirt.

There was a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding this race in our Catonsville MRTT group.  For many this was their first 5K or first women's only event.  For some, it was their first "big" race- with over 4,200 women registered!  Additionally, several women found our MRTT group through the 5K Training Program. 

In the week leading up to the race, we discussed carpools and logistics.  Five of us met at the library at 645am on race morning to carpool to the city for the event.  One of our MRTT members was able to get us a parking pass from her husband's work, so we had no problems finding a place to park and getting to Rash Field in time for the group photo.  I had suggested we meet at 730am before the race for a group photo.  It was a great way to kick off the fantastic race and fun event!  We had a great turnout for our photo!
So fun to meet and say "hey!"  And it totally looks like the top row coordinated their shirts!

After a lively and sweaty warm-up by Lynne Brick from Brick Bodies, we headed to over to Key Highway for the 8am race start.  The start was very organized with volunteers holding pace signs to assist the runners with their line-up.  I spotted some ladies from the Centennial training and was able to chat with them for a bit and wish them luck.  I also saw a mom from Rebekah's pre-school class and said "hi" and she commented on my shirt, so I told her about MRTT.  I lined up near the front of the 9-10 minute/mile pace group with Karen, and within a few minutes we were on our way.

The morning was warm but not so bad.  I was thankful that it was cloudy and there was only one hill at the beginning of the course.  Karen and I did some weaving in the beginning and then firmly planted ourselves in the passing lane on the left during most of the race.  The volunteers and police officers on course were fantastic and encouraging.  We saw Lisa, another BWC Coach from the Catonsville training group, along the route.  What I love about this race is that there are women of every age, shape, size, and background coming together in the name of fitness and support.  That was clear to see on the course this morning.

I was feeling really good and pushing my pace a little, so Karen and I split around mile 2 or 2 1/2.  As I was turning onto the promenade, I saw another of our MRTT members who was volunteering as a course marshal and gave her a high five before picking up the pace to the finish.  When I looked down at my watch as I went through the finish, I couldn't believe my time- 26:05!  I knew I was pushing it, but was I really going that fast?  WOW!

Another thing I just love about the BWC race is all of the fabulous things you receive as you cross the finish line- a cool wet towel, a rose, a chilled water bottle, and new this year, a fantastic, glittery medal!!!  Once I received all my goodies, I went to our meeting location to catch up with and wait for my MRTT ladies.

While waiting, I saw my 9th grade Biology teacher (Man, is she fast!  My goal is to beat her in a race one day!) and she asked if I thought the course was short...  deja vu to ZOOMA Annapolis 10K, anyone!?  I just told her I thought the course was the same, but I really couldn't remember all the details from two years ago. 

Pretty soon, everyone was finishing up and meeting, proudly showing off their hard earned medals!
Danielle was so happy with her finish!
Sam, Karen, Chrissy, and Heather showing off their hard-earned bling!
Erin finished her first official 5K with Brooke and Colleen- I was their camp counselor (feeling a little old right now!) 

I didn't get a chance to take everyone's picture, but I loved sharing in their joy of accomplishing and completing this race!  I am so proud of each and every one of these ladies, and of those that I didn't get a chance to meet up with this morning!  You all are amazing!!!

And speaking of amazing, BWC has some of the best post-race food around.  We grabbed some Panera bagels and watermelon and took a stroll through the Festival Village.  Many of us have been inspired by Deb's colorful running wardrobe, so we were excited to see what the vendors had to offer.  I LOVE the shirts from Run Pretty Far so we stopped by their booth.
Mom + Miles
Can anyone else relate to this!?
 We all knew Spunkwear was going to be there like they had been in previous years, so we were disappointed to see that they didn't show.  We are all pretty huge fans of their Maryland pattern.
A fun Maryland-based sportswear company!

 With that, we headed back to the van to come home.  Overall, I had a fantastic time and was so glad that I could share this race experience with so many women in our MRTT Chapter.  When I got the chance to check the computer, people were posting on the BWC Facebook page that their gps was recording the course as being 2.9 or so miles instead of 3.1.  So far, the only response from BWC has been that they are looking into it.  Regardless of the distance, this race raises money for a worthy cause, includes a training program that encourages and empowers women to take charge of their health and lifestyle, and is a fun event.  I had a great time!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Carroll Mud Run

Four of us participated in the Carroll Mud Run on Sunday, June 9th. After seeing a Facebook share of the event, I talked to two co-workers about it, emailed the race director about supervising my five-year-old in the kid's one mile event, and then Julia and I were registered! 

The race director shared in enthusiastic emails that packet pick-up was going to be at Liberatore's Restaurant in Eldersburg, Tuesday through Thursday leading up to the race.  Julia, Reed, and I drove out to the restaurant on Tuesday, after school to pick up race packets (seven in total!). We enjoyed half off our delicious meal, easily got our packets, and stopped for a sweet treat at Dairy Queen before heading back home.
Liberatore's owner & race helper (google images)

Yum (google images)

The four of us were getting pretty psyched for the race, even having a pre-race pow-wow in my classroom to finalize plans for Sunday morning! Meet at 7:30 am, stick together for the race, and have fun!
Pre-race photo!

Sunday morning arrived, we met at 7:30 and introduced our husbands and children and waited for the race to start! After a few last minute instructions the 5k racers were sent running on the paved path, all 20 of them. We were in the first wave for the Mud Run 5k and we were at the front of the starting line, all of a sudden we were off!!! We missed the first right turn (oops!) and had to cut through the parking lot to get back on course. The three mile course was great; bleachers, over/under obstacles, log carry, hay bale jumping, under ropes, through tunnels, in the mud (and getting hosed), spiderweb, army crawls, 8-foot wall, and little and big snakes! Whew, it was definitely not an easy Sunday jog! We were told to be prepared for hills; and yes, there were hills, lots of them.  We stuck together for all of the obstacles and broke into groups of two for the running portions.  Nearing the end of the race, we all grouped back together to cross the finish line as a team; totally awesome!  I'm so proud of Karen and Caitlin (their first race!) and Jessica; it was the first obstacle/mud run for all of us.
google images; LOTS OF HAY
google images; Spider Web
google images, Our wall was WAY taller!
google images; we had NONE of that!!!!

We had stellar support from our husbands and little mud runners. After finishing we got some bottles of water, bagel halves and chatted on our way to prep the kids for their mud run.
Post Race Photo- see my 'shiner?'

The kids race was the first portion of the adult run, minus the log carry and little snake. Ten to 12-year-olds ran in the first wave, and the younger, non-competitive children (with their parents) ran in the second wave.  L and A ran ahead, and J and I took our time hanging with each other completing obstacles together. She did amazingly well, and thoroughly embraced the mud (she did practice a bit the day before at my cousin's wedding, after all).  We ran her race together and she crossed the finish line to get her medal.  It was fun to see A on the course, and L apparently did a cannon ball into the mud; boys!

She loved the mud; her brother had other thoughts about it!
I'd say the race was a huge success for everyone involved.  There were over 500 participants, from what I could tell from the race bibs.  No major injuries; as my husband gave me explicit direction, "Do not get hurt! Don't break an ankle!" According to his standards, my black eye is acceptable; and we'll go over obstacles one at a time from now on... Oh, and it seems as if our BHES crew will be bigger next year!!! Woot Woot!

Additional photos from the race... ENJOY!

Have you ever done a mud run/obstacle run?  What are your thoughts on it?  Run it alone or run it with friends?  Let's hear ya!!!

Until next time,


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

ZOOMA Annapolis 10k

We were pretty psyched for this race.  Deb ran it last year, and Em wanted to run it this year.  Em likes participating in women's races and also thought this would be a great first post-twins 10K race.  We went into the race with goals of PR-ing (achieving a personal record), and ZOOMA encouraged us to do so by allowing participants to register for extra bling.  If we registered for the ZOOMA Personal Best 2013 program, and ran a PR at the race, we would receive a medal at the end of the race; PERFECT!

Here's Deb's 'flat mama' for the race!  Notice the green; it came in handy for a runner... She came up to Deb at the end of the race and thanked her for wearing it.  She said, "As long as I could see you, I knew I was keeping a good pace! Thank you so much!"  She ran her first 10k; it was so cool!

Race morning; we (with our families in tow) left the house at 5:30 for the drive to Annapolis.
Don't they look like happy campers!?

We had easy parking at the Naval Academy Football Stadium parking lot, and we went to the information tent to meet up with other members of Moms RUN This Town (Howard County, MD members and a Virginia Beach, VA chapter leader).

Here is a photo of the elusive 'swag' items; only to be received following the completion of the race!

These five (and the two not pictured) are the best cheerleaders any mom/aunt could ask for!

We kissed our family members goodbye, walked to the 10:00 minute pace corral, squeezed our way in, listened to the Anthem and then we were off!!!
See, the neon green came in handy!
(We didn't bring our cameras on the course, because we were focusing on PR's; please enjoy the descriptions that follow!).  A hot, hilly, and crowded start lent itself to Deb weaving around people to find a comfortable spot.   Em lost Deb somewhere during the lap around the parking lot and was determined to hit her stride to catch up.  She had to stay to the left for much of the race to pass other runners (something very new to her!) Em passed Deb just before mile 2 with a little bit of whoopin' and hollerin' and encouragement; not to be seen until the turn around at the bridge.  At mile 2 there was a water station that Em skipped and we went over a bridge on Rowe Blvd. into historic Annapolis; Deb took the water and walked so as not to splash it all over the place.  We took a quick left around the famous circle in the middle of town, and we both enjoyed running down Main Street to the docks!  You just had to be a careful with your footing on the cobblestone and brick streets, but it was very picturesque and just what we were hoping to be able to experience on this course.  We could smell delicious breakfasts cooking in the many restaurants downtown! Coming away from the water, through St. John's College, and up to the top of the Naval Academy Bridge for the 10K turn around was also nice and scenic.  The historic brick homes and buildings made the miles pass quickly, and we were also very thankful for the shade they provided!  The turnaround was really fun with a cheering section and music blasting.  This was without a doubt the most crowd participation on the course.  The bridge allowed for runners to encourage and cheer each other on; which Em did for Deb, and Deb did for another MRTT mama.  While there were lots of spectators along the course route, they were pretty quiet.  Coming back down the bridge felt awesome because of the wind, it really helped to cool you off and give you that last little boost you needed to tackle the last mile.  
When Emily got close to Naval Stadium, she had to resist looking at her watch. She was really pushing for that PR, but didn't want to be disappointed.  Em kept going and rounded the corner to the finish.  She couldn't believe her eyes when she saw the time clock.  There was an announcer at the finish saying ladies' names as they crossed, and Em was hoping she would say her's.  She didn't- bummer. Em was also looking for her family and personal cheering section, but couldn't find them.  She crossed the line with a little woop and was so happy to get her PR!  Then she  heard Ray call her name, and he had a huge smile on his face and said he couldn't believe how fast she was.  It's always nice to hear your husband's proud of you!

Deb's realization of hitting a PR came around mile 4, when her watch read 38 minutes and change.  She knew that even if her pace slowed she would get in under the 1:07 time she previously posted, but she also thought something was a bit off.  She 'knew' she hadn't run the last almost two miles at a 9 minute pace.  Ah, well!  As the last mile drew near, she saw her ultimate goal of under an hour get squashed, but crossed the finish line in 1:01:51; still super stoked!  She spotted the hot green stroller and her family just to the right after the finish line.  Julia had participated in the kids run and was wearing a ZOOMA volunteer shirt, with a Walt Disney quote on the back!  Just what her mama needed to see! (Papa was pretty psyched about the quote, too!)
Em grabbed some water, Cytomax, and went to meet the Harmer 6.  But before she left the runner area, she got her necklace (Em forgot that was at the finish!) which was a nice treat.  Because Em PR'd, she went to the runner info tent to ask where to pick up her Personal Best Bling.  The woman working there told her that the system wasn't up yet and to come back in five minutes.  So, while she waited, Em got in line to pick up her yoga mat and water bottle.  There was one person giving out yoga mats and one person giving out water bottles.  This made the line go pretty slowly, and then we ended up having to carry it all around during the After-Party Expo.  We were thankful we could tuck it all into the baskets of our strollers.  It would have been easier on the runners to get this swag at packet pick-up.  Then Em went to get pictures taken with the Personal Best back drop. Deb followed suit, because that's what the second twin does!!
 That was one hot sparkly skirt!
Couldn't have asked for better cheeleaders!

And look who else we found that also PR'd!
Yay; 6 minutes faster than last year!

We checked again at the runner info tent about picking up our PR bling, and we were told to come back in 15-20 minutes.  So we decided to take that time and pick up our boxed snack (chicken salad, an apple, and baby carrots; there was also the vegetarian choice of hummus) and check out the After-Party Expo.  Many of the same vendors were there from packet pick-up the day before.
Bani Bands- check out all the sparkles! Deb and Em LOVE these (they're adjustable)!!
 Every Mother Counts- ZOOMA's official charity partner
Honest Tea- we highly recommend the Pomegranate Blue and suggest staying away from Zero Calorie Lemonade (not such a good aftertaste- but you be the judge, or take it from Deb- blech!)
Deb also picked up a fabulous Maryland Flag inspired skirt from Spunkwear; it's amazing!  You'll be seeing her representing our great state with this gem of a skirt.
After shopping, we saw a line forming for the PR medals; so, we hopped in line.  While waiting we met up with some familiar faces; a BWC training participant and coach, and a fellow MRTT Chapter leader and blogger.  It was great to chat as we waited for quite some time to receive our PR medal.  Ultimately, the wait was worth it, and we were able to add more bling to our collection!  Then we booked it to our vehicles, because our families were ready to hit the road back to Catonsville!

We did it!!!

The Good:

  • Women's races are super fun and encouraging!
  • Extra bling for getting a PR was a great motivator to truly train and push ourselves.
  • Boxed snacks are fabulous; so much easier than juggling multiple food items.
  • The swag (super cute race t-shirt design, yoga mat, and water bottle) were nice perks.  The bag was the perfect size to put sandals, an extra shirt, and a towel for the ride home.
  • Running with my best friend: PRICELESS!
  • Easy parking on-site race morning at the Naval Academy football stadium.
  • Great sights in our state's capital.

The Suggestions:
  • Label tents at the After-Party expo, please.  Long lines made it difficult for finishers and spectators to know where to go.
  • Notify participants about extra charges; i.e. paying for parking for the race expo, that was an unexpected expense!
  •  If possible, more volunteers to help as course marshals and with distribution of swag post-race (better yet, just give that out at packet pick-up); additional assistance in handing out PR medals (I think this was the first race that had the PR option, so it was probably a learning experience).
**When Deb got back to the car, she checked Twitter and was surprised and deflated to see the following message: Due to misdirection on the course the half marathon & 10K are .25 miles short We know this is frustrating and we are so sorry this happened. She immediately thought, "No PR!!??!" but, thanks to social media and, she realized she probably ran pretty close to 6.2 miles.  There seemed to be a small portion of the run that was blocked off by a police car near the City Dock area.  None of the runners were able to complete that portion of the course, or hit the water stop that was there (and definitely necessary on such a warm morning).  Additionally, there was major confusion when half-marathoners came back over the bridge; no one was there to direct half-marathoners to take a left and 10k-ers to go straight.  Many half-marathoners completed the course, but ran 11 miles... ZOOMA has apologized and will be issuing discounts to 2013 Annapolis participants if they wish to participate in another ZOOMA event in 2013 or 2014.  Emily and Deb have had the opportunity to meet the ZOOMA race directors and have been in contact with them via e-mail and social media prior to this event; we aren't ready to give up on ZOOMA and we know these ladies are feeling as much regret and disappointment over these events as the participants feel/felt.**

Happy Running!

Emily and Deb (sticking with the neon green theme!)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

ZOOMA Annapolis Race Expo Recap

So on Friday afternoon, I packed up all five kiddos and headed down to Annapolis to pick up our race packets for the ZOOMA Annapolis 10K on Saturday morning.  The expo was held from 2pm-8pm in the atrium at the Loews Annapolis Hotel

After having to pull over on the highway once to convince the girls that throwing ice at each other in the van wasn't a good idea (a piece got stuck behind Meredith's back and she was not happy about that) and to save Jude from eating a piece of a styrofoam Chick-fil-a cup (throwing a ripped-to-shreds styrofoam cup wasn't a good idea either, girls!), we arrived in Annapolis to Elise's exclamation, "Mommy!  This is a really cute little town!"  A girl after my own heart- I couldn't agree more! 

A few minutes before 2pm, I easily found the hotel (thank you and pulled into the front to find parking.  I decided against valet (probably too expensive) and against parking on the street because I had everyone with me and only a quarter in my wallet... probably not enough to feed the meter.  So I followed the other cars in front of me to the hotel's self parking.  While I was waiting to get into the parking area, I could already see women coming out of the hotel's main entrance with their race packets.  Oh, the bags were so cute with their blue and green and chevron!  I couldn't wait to get mine!  I pushed the button and get my parking stub, and hand it to the lady in the booth just like the person in the car in front of me did.  The parking attendant then told me parking was $5 (wish I had known beforehand) and I told her I didn't have any cash.  So she gave me a different ticket and said I had to pay with my Visa (which I don't have!) inside at the front desk and then bring her the receipt when I left.  OK, just let me get going!

Parking at this hotel was strange, to say the least, and the kids and I obviously weren't the first ones there to pick up our packet.  We ended up parking quite a bit away and having to walk back to the hotel.  Thankfully, I had the boys in the stroller and Meredith in a backpack, so I only had to keep Elise and Rebekah corralled close to me.  We found the elevator and when we stepped inside, you could not imagine the oohs and aahs coming from the girls.  This mirrored elevator was quite swanky!  The lobby of the hotel didn't disappoint either, with sleek modern lines and the creative use of shipping lines in their art displays to tie in Annapolis' naval history.

We made our way to the atrium where there were tables set up by ZOOMA's three main sponsors: Every Mother Counts, Barefoot Wine, and Honest Tea.   They were passing out information, freebies, and samples.  There were also additional tables set up with piles of Luna Bars on them for the taking.  They had S'mores, Peanut Butter Cookie, and my favorite- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.  I may have bribed given the girls one for being on their best behavior while we were in the Expo...

Meredith enjoying her Luna Bar.

The expo itself was pretty small, but picking up our race packets was very easy.  There were four lines available for pick-up, and this was the first race I have ever done where they assigned you your bib number at pick-up.  So the very friendly volunteer (who also happened to be a twin- we're everywhere!) looked up my name, assigned me a number and handed me my cute little blue and green chevron bag with my shirt inside.  Then we did the same thing for Deb's and we were set to go.  Less than two minutes- easy peasy.  There were signs at the foot of the table that said we would pick up our race swag (yoga mat and water bottle) on race morning. 

Aren't these bags just adorable!?

We had a little time to spare, so we took a spin around the expo and checked out some of the vendors.  The girls and I sampled some chocolate flavored Muscle Milk (I personally prefer good 'ole chocolate milk).  I loved the shirts from Run Pretty Far and the colorful, no-slip headbands from Bani Bands.  I also got the chance to chat with my friend Katye who works at Charm City Run and was a representative at their booth.  It was fun to see a familiar face!  The bright pink 3/4 zip, long sleeved ZOOMA running shirts caught my eye, too.  Seriously, too much eye candy!!!

By then it was time to go, so I headed to the front desk to pay for my parking which ended up being $8 (maybe because I paid with a MasterCard?) but didn't have time to question it because I had let Meredith out of the backpack.  Not my best decision ever.

It was inspiring to see so many women of different ages, shapes, sizes and backgrounds coming to the expo to pick up their race packets.  As I took a bit of a detour to go through historic downtown Annapolis, I was getting super excited to have the chance to run with so many like-minded women the next morning on those streets.