Sunday, March 22, 2015

Xterra Black Canyon Trail Run-Arizona

The Xterra Black Canyon 9K Trail Run was the coolest and most unique race I have participated in to date!  The race took place on the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, just on the edge of Black Canyon City, AZ!  When we initially drove through the race area the day before, I certainly wondered what I had gotten myself in to. There were mountains, major climbs, and elevation changes all around us on the highway.

One of the views from the highway.
After taking in some tourist sights, including Montazuma's Castle and the quaint city of Jerome, we settled in for the evening at the Comfort Inn of Camp Verde, AZ.

The next morning we headed south to Black Canyon City, about a 40 minute drive. I checked in, while my family/fans enjoyed breakfast at the local cafe. Pre-race discussion included rattlesnakes and the uncharacteristic high water levels of the river.  Evidently there had been a bumper crop of rattlesnakes this year.  Now that information made this MN girl a little nervous.  I wasn't sure even what to do when faced with a snake. Do you run by, stop, or turn around?  According to the race announcer, the first person to run by scares the snake, the second pisses it off, and the third gets bit. Also, if you see a stick on the trail it's probably a rattler!  All the rattlesnake discussion made me quite leary.  Next, the river actually had water flowing this year due to the recent rain and snow melting from Flagstaff. We were told that it was about knee high in one area.  Thankfully, all my triathlon experience has made me very comfortable in water, so I just worried about the snakes. :)
Lining up the 9K runners.
Shortly after the announcements, we were off on the 9K route which started on a gravel road. At around a quarter mile the group bottle necked as the single track trail began. I climbed and wound my way around switchbacks with the other runners and then crested at the peak of the mountain. There were glorious views from that vantage point. 

Beginning the single track adventure.
What a view!
Next, we started decending into the river canyon.  Once at the bottom of the canyon, a significant part of the course was on riverbed rocks, which seemed to slow the majority of the runners down. Trying to navigate the uneven terrain made it necessary to walk in order to maintain the integrity of our ankles. The two river crossings were refreshingly cool, although they made my feet feel heavy as my shoes were now wet and full of sand and mud.
River crossing #1
Once again we navigated more rocks along the river canyon bed. The second water stop was at the base of the canyon, where the 9K runners met up with the half marathon runners.  We enjoyed a quick drink and began the ascent out of the canyon!  After climbing to the top, we again had amazing views before decending to the finish!

Rocks, rocks, and rocks!
Arizona beauty!
I certainly felt very accomplished finishing the 9K race, especially with the wide variety of terrain, elevation, and climbs.  The race was a wonderful way to get off the beaten path and experience some of Arizona's back country. I would highly recommend this run to anyone!  And the best part-I did NOT see any rattlesnakes!

State #8 Complete!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wishbone 5K 2014

The tradition continues with the Wishbone 5K Thanksgiving morning run. The beauty of this run is it's simplicity. Registration is $5 per individual or $10 per family (quite the value) and if you pre-register early enough, a long sleeve tee is yours!  Everyone receives a custom race bib--even though we are all number 2014 (obviously it changes with the year)!  Many distance options are also available to encourage everyone to be active before their holiday feast.  The race is not chipped time, but for the $5 registration fee, I am happy to time myself!

Some of the River Runners pre-race!
And then there were the Central MN Bike Club friends...Jan, Jen, Beth, Jason, & I
I had many friends running this year, from those in the local running club to those from the bike club looking for a fun way to crosstrain.  My friend Jan and I stuck together the majority of the race at a nice, easy pace!  The zero degree morning allowed frosty eyelashes, hair, and mustaches to be abundant!  Is there a better way to enjoy the cold, than to be out running with friends!?! ;)

Jen and I showing off our frostiness!

Until next Thanksgiving....

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Since it has been almost a month since race day, I guess I can safely say I've been slacking on my blog!  It's time to get up to date!

After running Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K in the morning, I participated in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Event. The race started at 10 PM, leading to some meticulously structured meals and naps throughout the day.

Jason, Brooke, and I (along with our support team/cheerers Genna and Denise) parked at Epcot (the finish), from which we runners took a bus to the start at the ESPN Sports Complex. I then met up with a crossfit friend Heidi as we were going to run together. While waiting for race start we were able to snag a picture with Minnie Mouse!  Other characters were available for photo ops as well, but the long lines forced us to choose a favorite. 

If I remember correctly there were approximately 15,000 runners with corrals starting every two minutes.  Unfortunately, the rain started as we were in our corral waiting for our turn to start!  However,  Heidi and I were in good spirits as the warm rain was way better than being in cold Minnesota!  Each corral had its very own fireworks for a grand entrance to the race. 

Once we were off, we ran on the highway for a few miles before coming to Magic Kingdom.  I enjoyed seeing the park in both the daylight and darkness in one day!

As the rain continued to fall, puddles were starting to form, and we were headed out of the park back to the highway. Running became more difficult with slippery pavement and soaked shoes. It felt like a very long stretch on the highway before we finally came to Hollywood Studios. My favorite part of the race, The Spectacle of Dancing Lights, was in this park.  Heidi and I had to stop and walk a few blocks just to take in our amazing surroundings and Christmas lights (they weren't dancing, but all on)!

Once out of Hollywood Studios, we ran on a boardwalk/sidewalk along the river to Epcot (a nice break from the highway running).  Once inside Epcot the crowds and supporters were cheering loudly. At this point it was around to 1 AM and I was very hungry, ready to be out of the rain, and done running. It was a good thing the finishline was close. Heidi and I finished the race together and received our ginormous and extremely heavy finishers medals. And what a story that medal has to tell!

After the race, we took some time to check out the Wine and Dine after party with food and drinks from all over the world!

State #7 of 50 is officially completed!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Running In The Happiest Place On Earth-DISNEY!

I recently had the opportunity to participate in my first runDisney events in Orlando!  And yes, that is plural!  Saturday morning at 7 AM was the start of the 5K and Saturday evening at 10 PM was the start of the half marathon.  Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K will be the focus of this blog.

I have to say the 5K was one of the most laid back and fun races of that distance I have every done. The start line was in the parking lot of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  A snow effect was created by machines sputtering out soap bubbles to ensure everyone was in the holiday spirit. Pre-race activities included pictures with Mickey and Minnie, along with multiple race themed areas to snap photos!

Notice the "snow" on some heads!

Shortly after the sun came up, we were off and running!  The course started around the parking lot and then headed into Animal Kingdom. I was officially partaking in my first Disney experience.  Along the route I stopped for multiple pictures with characters and enjoyed the scenery of the park!  The route continued through the park for just over a mile and then we completed an out and back segment on the back side of the park, before crossing the finish line!

Rafiki and Timon from the Lion King

Everyone loves Donald!

Brooke, Jason, and I
There was not any official timing for the race, which made it even more relaxed and fun!  RunDisney sure knows how to put on a first class race experience. Stay tuned for for my next Disney race blog!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Twin Cities Loony Challenge Day 2

Day 2 of the Loony Challenge brought a beautiful 10 mile run from Minneapolis to St. Paul. Twin Cities In Motion provided yet another well organized race experience. The only downfall of the morning was the lack of a warming tent/building for the thousands of runners waiting for their race to start. A cool 34 degree morning had many people packed into parking garages to seek shelter from the cold and wind. Others, including my friend Jason, rode around on the light rail to stay warm. 

I was in the last corral to start the 10 mile race and we were off around 7:20 AM. The first three miles were very congested, with little room to pass those around you.  The course was very beautiful leaving downtown Minneapolis along the river and heading by the University of Minnesota. Just past mile 4, the route crossed into St. Paul and continued along Summit Avenue to the capital.

My legs and hip flexors were sore but I persevered through the 10 miles and completed the Loony Challenge (5K, 10K, and 10 mile)  My official 10 mile time was 1:45:08!

There was lots of swag to accompany the Loony Challenge. Three shirts, four medals, and two pairs of FitSoks!

The race expo was also a blast and I did find a couple items to purchase. 

1.  Sure Sport Compression Foot Sleeve ( to help support my foot and ankle. 

2.  RooSport Fitness Pouch ( with a super powerful magnet to hold money, credit cards, phone, nutrition, etc on the inside of my running pants when I don't have pockets in my running clothes. 

Wow!  What a great weekend and first class race experience!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Twin Cities Loony Challenge Day 1

Today I completed the first two races of the Twin Cities Loony Challenge race series--the 10K and the 5K.  The 10K started at 7:30 this morning followed by the 5K at 9:00. Both races were out and back courses along Summit Avenue in St. Paul, making for great scenery and fall colors. The morning was mostly overcast with the temperatures in the 40's.

I was satisfied to have completed the 10K sub one hour, with an official time of 59:54.  After the 10K I had about a half hour to refuel and stretch, until I was back out running the 5K.

Mom and I ran the 5K together, this is actually the first race we have done together. Our finish time for the 5K was 37:35, only four seconds slower than mom's PR.  Not to shabby with the hills on Summit Avenue.

Tomorrow morning I will be up bright and early to run the 10 mile from Minneapolis to St. Paul (the shortcut to the capital)!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Surftown Half Marathon, Westerly RI

This Surftown race blog post is long overdue, but I have crossed another state off of my "Do A Race In Every State" list!  Two weeks ago, I participated in the Surftown Half Marathon in Westerly, RI. I was in the area for a family wedding and there just so happened to be a race being held (with a super cool medal as a bonus)!

My friend Jen joined me for the trip and participated in the 5K. We were able to do packet pickup on Saturday for the Sunday race, and stayed only a few blocks from the start line and oceanside at the Pleasant View Inn.  The race was put on by Hartford Marathon Foundation Events and capped at 1800 runners for the half marathon and 600 runners for the 5K---and it was sold out a few weeks before race day!
Jen and I pre-race on a beautiful morning.

Packet pickup on Saturday was at the Knickerbocker Cafe downtown Westerly. The cafe was very poorly lit inside and my friend Jen and I both felt as though packet pickup was a little disorganized and confusing. However, we secured our appropriate bibs and race swag!


Race morning was beautifully sunny and cool!  Air temp was around 50-60 degrees--my kind of racing weather!  The half marathon began 15 minutes before the 5K, and headed out along the coast. Unfortunately, the coast was not visible the whole run as sand was piled high on the beach blocking the view. Regardless, there were some breathtaking views of the ocean and beautiful Cape Cod style homes.  The website described the race as flat and fast. However, I would beg to differ!  There were certainly hills, but nothing out of this world. Watch Hill was by far the toughest climb of the race, around mile 10.  Miles 11 and 12 were kind of monatanous and felt as though I was running on a country highway in MN. Maybe it was because I was ready to be done running.  Thankfully, there were plenty of water stops, music, and entertainment throughout the course.

The home stretch!

I ended up with a time of 2:20:25. Certainly, this was not a PR for me. However, considering that my training wasn't quite where it should be, that I was exhausted from all our travels and exploring, and that I was dehydrated from the wedding festivities the evening before, I was happy!  Also, this was the longest distance I have ran since my injury in April. Most exciting of all is that my foot and ankle seem to be back to "normal", without pain. 

Love the surf board mile markers!

Post race there was quite a spread available including clam chowder, fruit, granola bars, and more!  Racers also received a free beer at Paddy's Beach Club and free admission to the Misquamicut Fall Festival. 
Post-race at Paddy's with our complimentary beer!

If you are looking for a great race in Rhode Island, give Surftown Half Marathon a thought!