Monday, April 30, 2012

Race Report: Jonquil City Jog 5K

Words cannot express how proud I am of my 9-year old daughter, Ashley!  She just completed her very first 5K race and did an amazing job.

She had been training with me over the past two months.  We started with half a mile running and worked our way up to a full 3.1 miles the week before the race.  During many of the runs, we would spot caterpillars and she would want to capture them.  Sometimes I suspected that the caterpillars were more appealing to her than running.  However, not too long ago, caterpillar season had come to a close and she still wanted to go out for her training runs.

I regretted not doing more training with her.  I was weaving in these runs with my own training for an upcoming marathon.  Some days, my heart was just not into going out again for another 2-3 miles, even though they were slow.  However, I really wanted to encourage and support Ashley, and it was well worth the effort.  By the week of the race, she had completed a 3.1 mile training run without stopping to walk even once.  At that point, I knew she was ready to tackle her first 5K.

The night before the race, Ashley laid out her cute little outfit and shoes.  Lucky for her that she does not need to worry about needing BodyGlide just yet!  She wanted to be up early enough to eat a little breakfast and have it settle before we started running.  The race was a local one, just 5-7 minutes away, so we did not need much lead time.  When we arrived, she struck a pose beside my bumper stickers on the mini-van.  I snapped a shot and told her, "That 'Runner Girl' one is for you too!"  I think she was pleased.

Next we headed for the race number pick-up area and got our numbers on.  I had registered as an un-timed runner, but Ashley was being timed, so I showed her how to attach her chrono-tag to her shoe.  Then we wondered around and enjoyed people-watching.

It was a really beautiful morning!  The temperature was right around 60 degrees, and there were clouds in the sky, but the sun managed to peek through and provide a great back-drop.  Ashley spotted the Nickajack Joggers, a group of elementary-aged kids from a school nearby.  They all had on matching blue T-shirts.  She wanted to say hi to her friend, Max, from tennis.  Once we did this, I took one last pre-race shot of her.  I think she was a tiny bit nervous at this point, but I gave her some last-minute encouragement and told her I would be there for her the whole way.  I was carrying an ice-filled squeeze container so she would not have to worry about water stops.

We lined up sort of toward the back, so when the gun went off, it still stayed fairly crowded for the first quarter mile.  Ashley said she was worried she would lose me, but I assured her that my only job was to stay right with her the whole way and to talk her through it.  We set off at a conservative pace.  Her recent 5K training run had been at an average pace of around 10:45, so I didn't want to push her at all.  Our first mile split was 11:06.  She seemed to be doing okay at that point, and we started to spot the racers coming back from the turn-around point.  Just before we reached that point ourselves, Ashley spotted Max just up ahead.  She remarked that he was ahead of her, and promptly increased her pace to catch him!  When we were next to him, she waved and said hi.  Then, she kept on going!  She ran mile 2 in 10:29, quite a bit faster.  At that point, I started to really rev up the pep talk.  I told her that there were many, many people behind her and that she was going to feel so wonderful at the finish line.  She seemed to be breathing steadily and was not complaining, so we kept up the accelerated pace.

Finally, when we had about two tenths to go, we rounded the corner and headed downhill to the finish.  From out of nowhere, she broke into an all-out sprint!  It was truly amazing!  At first I was so surprised I couldn't even keep up with her.  We spotted Rob and Zac waiting to snap a photo or two, and I waved to them.  I also noticed many people on the sidelines were watching my little speed-demon daughter. 

Look at that form and confidence!

These two guys look pretty impressed too.  :-)

I kept squealing with delight as I saw her bound across the finish line at full speed!  Finally, just past the finish line, I scooped her up in a big, congratulatory hug!  

She had done such a wonderful job, had not walked even one step of the race, and was beaming with pride that she had accomplished her goal!  Her official clock time was 32:17, an average pace of 10:24/mile.  So, not only was this a race PR, it was also a personal best!

She caught up with Max (on left) and his friends for a quick group shot.

She was a little sad at not placing for her age group, but we later found out that she came in 4th out of 14 in the girls aged 9-10 category.  She was also 102 out of 210 women and girls, and was 249 out of 342 overall.  I'd say that's very respectable for a first race!

We picked up our t-shirts and enjoyed celebrating this big victory.  She is already asking when we can run another one.  I have a strong feeling she will be running circles around me in no time!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mountain Madness! - Part II

Last Sunday was the training run for the Twisted Ankle Marathon.  I had just run a 10K PR the day before and was still floating on air.  The weather promised to be cool and dry, and I was eager to see what I was in for.  It took about 1.5 hours to reach James H. (Sloppy) Floyd Park in Summerville, GA from my house, and it was certainly a beautiful drive once I left the interstate.

I passed many meadows cloaked in wildflowers, several sparkling ponds and streams, and even a few pastures with mama cows and goats tending to their little ones.  It was bright and sunny, breezy, and green all around.  The temperature was in the mid-50s, which was just perfect for running.

This is a view of the lake from near where the start/finish will be.

The parking lot was empty when I got there a few minutes early, but soon others started to arrive.  We immediately began to sum each other up, and estimate who the toughest ones were.  I was sporting my new Brooks Cascadia 7s.  They are designed for trail running, and therefore have spiky bottoms to grip the trail.  I did find that they helped my traction, especially on the ascents.  Like my Brooks PureFlows, these shoes have a roomy toe box.  In fact, I couldn't really tell much difference in the feel of them except for the grip.  They are a bit heavier than the PureFlows or the PureGrits, which are also designed for trail running.  However, since speed is not going to be my goal in this race, and safety is important, I think they are just perfect for the course.

Everyone exchanged names and a few stories while we took last-minute potty stops.  I was expecting a few others from our local Adventure Runners group.  When they arrived, I managed to get a group photo.  Max, if you are reading this, I'm sorry I didn't realize you were in Adventure Runners too!

Left to right: Joe, Paul, me, Tom (all doing the full marathon)

By the time everyone arrived, there were 14 runners in all.  I borrowed this group shot from Tom's post on the Twisted Ankle Facebook page.  The photo includes Lance (far left), our fearless and rugged guide, who led those of us marathoners doing the 15 mile training course.  I am not sure, but I think his wife led the half-marathoners, who were doing a slightly shorter training run.  Becky, the race director, is 4th from the right.  The bridge in the background of this photo is the last thing runners will cross before running through the grass  through two trees which mark the race start and finish.

Becky explained to us that, due to some snafu with some national agency (my eyes always glaze over at this kind of thing, so I did not get all the details), the race course had to be changed this year.  However, she quickly added that we were still going to be treated to a run up Becky's Bluff!  Actually, we marathoners will hit it twice, once at mile 9 and again at mile 22 - oh boy.  The half marathon course, as it stands now, is in two loops, a "red" trail and a "blue" trail.  The marathon does each of these two loops twice, hence, the two doses of hell, um, I mean, fun, on Becky's Bluff.  She did warn us there may be some minor changes, so don't worry about studying this map too much.  Also note, the first loop was about 6 miles, bringing us close to the start point.  The second loop, therefore, is slightly longer.  Miles 13-17 on the map below were where Tom, Paul, and I ran up a paved road in order to get a few more miles in.

Here's the corresponding elevation chart.  As you can see, Becky's Bluff is quite the climb!

A little after noon, we started out on our run.  Tom, Paul, Joe (and his sweet, adventurous dog, Jasmine), and I followed our leader, Lance, around the lake and past a visitor center.  He hit it at a pretty good clip, so I just tried to keep up the best I could.  He did at least stop fairly soon so that all of us could catch up.  Then, shortly after the first mile, we parted from the half marathon group and headed up the first incline.  I ran for a bit, but quickly realized that I was going to need to walk...a lot.  It's a humbling process.  Mile 3 took us on a bit of pavement through some of the campsites.  We waved to some folks as we passed.

My Garmin seemed to indicate we had gone 5 miles instead of 3.  Later, I realized that I must have inadvertently switched the setting to metric units.  That was okay because everyone else was glad to tell me how far we had gone.  Mile 4 started on grass as we wound around the South side of Upper Lake.

At the edge of the woods, Lance pointed out where we would be going next.

Just past Mile 4 (I think), we reached the beginning of Marble Mine Trail.
I might look a little blurry, and at that point, was starting to feel a little "blurry" too!

 From left to right: Paul, Lance, Joe, Tom

As you may have noticed at this point, I was the only female along for this first stretch.  (On the second loop, Lance's wife and her friend did join us.)  It made me feel kind of bold that I could keep up with "the big boys."  :-)

Here we are at Marble Mine, somewhere near Mile 5), taking a pose while Jasmine takes a little dip in the cool spring water.  We all were a little jealous of her!  Things are kind of jumbled up in my mind, but I think not long after that, we hit a really rough part that was a fire break.  It could have been just before this or just after.  In any case, the going was slow and it was quite technical.  The group saw a couple snakes along the way, but luckily they had slithered off before I could spy them.  I'm hoping the faster runners spook the snakes for all the rest of us on marathon day!  Below is a photo of part of the rocky fire break area.

Finally, we made it back down from the first loop and stopped for some water and to take a potty break.  Then, we started out on the next leg of our adventure.  We headed back around the lake and back to Marble Mine, but from a different direction.  Here again, my mind is a little fuzzy on the details.

Finally, we were ready to head for Becky's Bluff.  As the elevation profile indicates, there is quite an ascent even before you get to the really tough part.  I did not even begin to kid myself that I could run this.  Wistfully, I watched Lance bound up like a jackrabbit on steroids.  The rest of us mere mortals picked our way the best we knew how up the steadily climbing path.  At that point, most of us were huffing and puffing and not blowing any houses down.  Lance gave us one last chance to catch our breath before the hardest 0.6 miles of the run.  The beginning was marked by a sign warning us of steep grades.  Lance told us it was about a 19-20% grade.  Yikes!

These photos do not do it justice.  This second one is actually looking down the mountain.  You can just barely tell that there is a valley below.  I was too tired to try for a more professional-looking shot.

The thing I noticed most was that my calves were kind of burning.  It also dawned on me that this was going to really hurt the second time around!  At the top, I was so busy breathing that I didn't get any photos.

As we headed down, it was kind of fun actually running.  My legs were starting to feel a little sloppy, though, and a couple times I could feel the bottom of my shoe graze the top of a rock.  This humbled me as I considered that if my shoe had been one millimeter lower, I would have met the earth face-to-face, if you know what I mean!  I also started feeling the Gatorade I had consumed start to jiggle around in my belly.  This caused side cramps, and I had to slow my pace.

Here's one last shot, somewhere close to the end.

I kept thinking how hard it would have been if I had planned to do the course twice that day.  Yowsa!  However, at the end, we were treated to generously slathered PB&Js, bananas, and homemade cookies with yummy icing.  I said YES to all, and scarfed them down without a trace of guilt.

Then Tom approached me with some lie that I had promised I would run a few more miles with him so we could get 20 in.  After much begging, Paul and I agreed to accompany him.  We headed out on the road.  The trouble was that the road kept going up and up.  Finally, we gave in and headed back with just 17.  I was done!  DONE, I say!  I plopped my aching self into the car and headed for home.  I didn't feel totally beat, but I kept thinking about having to double most of what we had run today.  Ouch!

Now, several days later, my quads are still quite sore.  However, I feel stronger and more reassured by having gone through this process.  It's going to be one of the hardest runs of my life, but I know I will get through it, especially knowing Danielle is going to be there with me!  I have a feeling we will need to encourage each other quite a bit on that second half.  I just hope and pray that we do not get injured.  They don't call it the Twisted Ankle for nuthin'!

Mountain Madness! - Part I

Last month I had the wonderful opportunity to meet fellow runner, blogger, musician, and Gator alumnus friend, Danielle, in person.  I stumbled upon her blog, Long May You Run, last year and was immediately hooked.  Though we live in different states, I have really come to know and admire her through her blog posts.  She inspired me to 1) start a blog of my own, 2) sign-up for my first marathon, and 3) believe in myself as a runner!

Recently, I was lucky enough to find a half marathon near her, so I jumped upon the chance to invite myself on to North Carolina for a visit!  I even managed to convince her to run the race with me.  :-)  We had a wonderful visit and a really great race experience at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  You can read more about that race here.  As we parted ways, I eagerly extended the offer for her to find a race near me and to allow me to return the favor.  Little did I know what she would come up with!

Not long after I returned, Danielle send me an innocent little e-mail, asking if I had heard of the Twisted Ankle Marathon in Summerville, GA?  Not only had I not heard of it, I could tell it was not even that close to Atlanta.  Whew!  I felt I had dodged a bullet because the name of it did not inspire confidence in the least.  My one and only marathon experience so far has been on a course as smooth as silk and as flat as a fritter!

I was slightly relieved to learn she was not planning on deciding anything until after her next ultra.  ULTRA!  See, she is WAY more experienced with hills and rocks and roots and distances over 26.2 miles than I.  However, she had planted a tiny seed in my mind, and I decided it would not be a bad idea to start implementing a bit of hill training into my workouts.

The day of decision came, and she confirmed that she would still loved to run this race if I were game.  Gulp.  I re-examined the elevation chart for the course.  From the look of it, we were going to need pick-axes and pulleys to get up Becky's Bluff, and we were literally going to be jumping off a cliff to get down from it!  Double gulp.  I also stumbled upon a photo of last year's race shirt, confirming my expectations.  It featured a bunch of stick figure runners bounding along a trail and then falling, willy-nilly, off the edge of the mountain.  Triple gulp!

The one secret to knowing me, though, is in understanding my strong need to face challenges and to conquer them.  Don't ever tell me something is too hard or that I'm not tough/smart/strong/etc. enough to do something.  My husband sort of fell into this trap when I broached the idea of this race to him.

Here is his response to my e-mail:
"Couple of things to consider:  1. The name – Twisted Ankle – not good.  That’s like going scuba diving at shark bait reef.  2. The name – it is another marathon.  3. Trail run?  You tripped on a speed bump that was probably clearly marked. You're more of a flat surface girl.  4. Hills?  Again, your more of a flat surface girl.  Just kidding – We can discuss tonight.  Rob"
First-and-foremost, I promptly corrected his grammar in using the word "your" instead of "you're!"  Yep, I am queen of grammar here at home (ha ha!). Then, never minding the fact that all his observations were quite true and reasonable, I nevertheless continued to ask if he minded if I spent the day before Mother's Day (emphasis on Mother's Day) up in the mountains.  Sweet man that he is, he immediately knew it was useless to try to negotiate!

So, with fear and trepidation, I confirmed to Danielle that I was a "yes" for this twisted torture thing and suggested that we both might need to find a Runners Anonymous group really soon.

Next, I found the race page on Facebook and saw that they were having a training run on April 20th.  It sounded like a good idea for me to see what I was in for, so I cleared my calendar and planned to attend this little soiree.

I will post all the juicy details in a separate post in just a bit...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Race Report: Run the River 10K

Some of you are probably old enough to remember at least a few lazy Summer days as a kid, sitting in front of the TV, watching The Price Is Right.  One of the most memorable moments of that show for me was watching the pure glee expressed by some as they were called upon to take their enviable place on Contestant Row.  The ladies would cup their hands in front of their face in sheer joy and surprise, and then leap out of their seats and scamper up the aisles.  When they arrived, they would scream, cry, giggle, and seize Bob Barker in a severe hug as they expressed their amazement in making it to the next level of the game.  Well, folks, I came to understand that feeling very well yesterday as I blasted through my race goal and set a new 10K PR that I NEVER EVER in a million years thought possible!

Last April, my 10K main goal had been to run the 2011 Peachtree Road Race in less than an hour.  I had trained hard, but still came in at a disappointing 1:02.  What's worse is I felt utterly exhausted, nauseous, and woozy after the race.  I kept training, though, and last November, surprised myself by running a 10K in 50:23.  Boosted by success I continued to train hard.  By January, I had shaved that down to 49:05 on a hilly course.  All those training miles had really made a difference!

My goal on this race was not just to set a new PR, though, but to run it in 47:59 or less.  This was the magic number needed to win me a spot in Corral A for my 21st Peachtree Road Race.  It would require that I surpass my previous PR of 49:05 by more than a minute.  My hopes were high as my training runs had shown that I could get very close to this number on my usual flat course.

I lucked out, and the conditions this particular morning were nearly perfect, much unlike my recent stormy marathon run.  The course was almost flat; the sky was cloudy; the temps. were in the high 50s; I had rested a full two days.  Sure, it was humid out, but I was determined to make the most of this opportunity.

I woke up early and picked up a neighbor, Jennifer, who was running the race too.  I had not met her before, but when I saw her shirt, I noticed she had also done the Color Run 5K recently.  We immediately hit it off as we made our way to the race.

After pinning on our bibs, we met up with another neighbor, Melinda, and a fellow choir member, Chris, who is also Director of Children's Music Ministry at our church.

I had promised myself that I would do a warm-up run, so I reluctantly left the group and headed out for that.  Although I felt really light on my feet, I was also becoming more and more nervous.  To make matters worse, when I turned on my watch to find satellites, it got stuck on one screen and would not move.  It's not like a watch will help me run any faster, but I desperately count on it for feedback and motivation.  Anxiously, I pressed all the buttons in different combinations, hoping to get it to work.  Everyone was starting to line up, so I knew there was not much time left.  Finally, I heaved a sigh of relief as, at the last minute, the watch became unstuck.

My next issue was that I really needed a few sips of water, and there was none to be had.  As much as I hated to waste a moment, I knew I was going to have to stop one time at a water station.  I chatted with a few folks as we waited in nervous impatience for the race to begin.  As we all headed out, I started very quickly, but tried to hold back some, because I always go out too fast.  It's very hard to get passed just after the start line when you already feel like you are speeding, but very soon we started to space out a bit.  Sure enough, as we hit the first mile marker, a guy called out 7:22 as the first split (though Garmin told me 7:28).  Drat, that definitely meant I was going to be very tired very soon.  Half a mile later, we reached the first water station.  I reached for a cup and tried my best to get a sip.  Invariably, this does not work.  It mostly went up my nose and down my shirt, but I managed to get that one vital sip in my mouth, and off I went again.

On mile 2, we headed off the asphalt and onto a dirt path that had round holes in it.  I stayed distracted trying to dodge the holes, and was still hanging in there.  It sort of felt like we were at the beach.  I looked around at the other runners and wondered what they were thinking.  I checked out shoes and thought about saying hi, but I had no breath to spare.  That mile was a bit slower at 7:51.

Just before mile 3, we headed up the one hill of the race.  It was of the fairly short, yet steep, variety.  About halfway up it, I was hit by that typical feeling of doubt and desperation that plagues me on almost every hill.  I really, really wanted to walk and catch my breath.  I could see the top, though, and I knew there was downhill after that.  Therefore, I kept plowing along, step by agonizing step.  I had somehow managed to keep a pace of 7:46, even with the hill.

As I headed back downhill into mile 4, I was torn between making up some time and conserving my energy.  Before I knew it, the downhill was gone and I was back to flat.  Mile 4 was somehow the slowest at 7:51.  I still had two miles to go, and I was feeling mighty pooped.  I watched the runners ahead of me and just tried to maintain pace.  It just kept seeming harder and harder to keep going.  I remember that I had promised to take a mental body inventory and figure out exactly what was hurting most.  My lungs are usually the culprit, but this time my legs were tired too.  This is the part where the race becomes mind over matter, and my mind is not my friend!  Why can't I just toss those doubts and negative thoughts out??  I was also angry at being tired rather than being charged up, like I am at this point in some of my training runs.  Mile 5 was a screamin' 7:34.

I finally couldn't stand the pain and dropped to a walk for a few seconds.  Seconds later, though, my guilt began crushing me!  How could I *walk* on a "measly" 10K?  I saw people passing me, and it made me even more doubtful and frustrated.  With a deep breath, I summoned up courage and began to run again.  There was less than a mile to go.  I had stopped consulting my watch, but I still had a faint glimmer of hope that my goal was still in reach. Then I saw my friend, Sang, on the sideline.  He had run the 5K earlier, but had stayed around a whole extra hour just to cheer me on!  I can't remember what he said, but he had his eye on his own watch and was telling me to GO!  To my amazement, mile 6 came in at 7:45 in spite of the walk!

The last half mile of the race was a slight but long incline and I felt every inch of it.  This is always the point in a race where I really start to get lightheaded.  My breathing was coming out in anguished sobs and pants.  I knew I looked and sounded ridiculous and I did not care!  At the top of the rise, I rounded the corner and was ever so grateful to see a steep downhill slant for the last tenth of a mile.  I went all out, trying to take a couple seconds off, and was THRILLED beyond imagination to see the clock read something like 47:27!!!  I did it!  I did it!  My immense happiness made up for all the pain!

Two baby steps later, I abruptly stopped to let the guy pull off the bottom part of my tag.  Unfortunately, I had accidentally put my safety pin through one of the bottom holes.  I told him he was going to have to unpin me, and then I draped my arms around him!  I just love those guys who greet you at the finish line!  Finally, he extracted himself from my sweaty embrace (just like Bob Barker had to do with all those ladies) and released me so I could hobble over and get a water.  There again, I even had to ask the volunteer for help in unscrewing the cap for me.  Simple things like moving your eyeballs are difficult at this point!

Once I caught my breath, though, the good news really sunk in.  I had flashbacks to the previous years' Peachtree when I had felt even worse, and had 1:02 on the clock to show for it.  All that training, all those long runs, all the aching muscles and early mornings had paid off.  Secretly, I thought, "I'm never going to run another race again.  This is probably as good as it's going to get - ever!"

I spied Sang near the shirt table, and we congratulated each other.  We both had achieved PRs on our races, and we got a nice shot showing our mutual happiness!

I also found my first friend from the Running Divas group I joined on Facebook.  Though I had never met Lisa, she recognized me because I had posted what I would be wearing.  We posed for a quick shot, and then I made my way back to the sidelines so I could cheer for the others.

I was clapping a cheering when a gnat flew into my eye.  By the time I got it out, I looked up just in time to see Chris coming up the final rise.  A few minutes later, my neighbors, Jennifer and Melinda, passed by.  I ran with them to the end of the race so I could congratulate them.  I also ran into Running Divas friend, Michelle, who had on the cutest outfit!

I had cooled down by this time and decided to stick around for the awards, just in case.  Two other times I had left early, and had missed picking up my award!  To my utter delight, this time I schnagged a 3rd place win for my age group!

My official finish time was 47:29.  I was the 12th female out of 292 to cross the finish line and the 55th out of 564 overall.  It sure had been a morning to remember!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Race Report: The Color Run 5K - Atlanta

Again, I am late with this report, but I'll make up for it with the colorful photos!  As I was browsing the Georgia race calendar for fun races, I discovered a video for The Color Run 5K.  I have often toyed with the idea of doing one of those crazy muddy/challenge races, but was always worried about not being strong enough for some of the obstacles.  This race appealed to my need to get down-n-dirty without actually having to deal with...dirt!  Also, I figured a 5K with a fun atmosphere might actually give me a chance to win an AG award.  When I saw the fun and frolicking video footage from previous races, I was sold.

I didn't quite realize how big this race was going to be.  They actually decided to schedule an encore race because the first one sold out of its 5,000 slots!  The day before the race, I carefully read all the fine print about the "semi-permanency" of the color we would be anointed with.  Then I saw that the race was not even going to be timed!  Truly it was a fluff race, but I was going to go out there and have fun, by golly.

I left for Piedmont Park early the morning of the race so I could get one of the limited parking spots near the start.  After the race, I needed to scoot out early to pick up the kids from the place where they were impatiently watching Rob play his tennis match.

Because of this early start, I was able to scout out the site and go for a warm-up run.  The first thing I noticed was that I seemed to be the oldest person in the entire park - by FAR!  Truly, I was a relic.  This was definitely the 20-somethings' scene.  I was determined not to let that get me down, though.  Instead, I snapped a couple shots of the colorful signs and got one of me in my pre-race "white-shirtedness."

Then I made my way to the starting line to wait for the remaining 45 minutes.  Lucky for me, I met the one other guy who also looked to be in his mid-40s, and we struck up a conversation.  He was standing in for his step-daughter who had pneumonia.  We chatted a bit, but it was very hard to hear because of the obnoxious music blaring right in our ears.  Man, I am getting old!  Beach balls were being tossed around, and we even got a few waves going.  The announcer tossed out prizes into the crowds as well.  I didn't wear my Garmin because a) I didn't want to subject it to the indignity of being sprayed with color, and b) because time was obviously not the object in this race.  :-)

Finally the gun went off and we started running.  The 40-something guy and I headed out as swiftly as we could, although people resorted to walking pretty quickly.  The pace was definitely leisurely, and we passed folks left and right.  My intention was to run, but to just sort of enjoy myself.  However, because this guy as going pretty fast, I decided to try to match pace.

As we passed the first "color station," I braced myself for the initial blast of yellow I was to receive.  It truly was so potent that it was hard to breathe for a moment!  By the second station, I had figured out that covering my face was an excellent idea.  The other guy kept up the rapid pace and I started getting a bit tired.  I had no idea how much of the run we had left.  I just knew that we had two more stations to hit (or, rather, to be hit with) before the end.

Looks like fun, doesn't it?!

Luckily, the race took a downward slope and I felt a little better.  I knew our pace had to be less than 8-min. miles, but there was no way of telling.  Close to the end (although I didn't know it), I told the guy to "go for it," and I slowed my pace.  Then I turned a corner and saw we were at the end!  I was bummed that I gave up when I was so close.  I estimate that we came in somewhere about 20th place.  Since there was no timing though, it didn't really matter.  In fact, after the race as I made my way back through the park, I could see a long line of people who had not even left the gate yet!

At the goodies table, someone remarked about my colorful teeth.  There was nothing I could do!  My hands were completely covered, and everywhere I had sweat, the color had seemingly cooked onto my skin.  Swishing water and munching on a granola bar did not help in the least, so I just gave in and allowed myself a big, toothy, goofy grin!

With no time to chat, I bounded back to my car.  Although I had laid out a tarp, my car still got quite a bit of color as I scooted in.  What's really funny is that I had to cross the line of runners to get out of the parking lot.  Resigning myself to a long wait, I put the car in park.  Then, in amazement, I noticed that a traffic director actually made the "racers" stop so I could pass!  Funny thing is - I don't think they minded in the least!

As I drove around the corner, I saw the crowd passing through one of the color stations at a slow walk.  Note to self: If you do this kind of crazy race again, be sure to stay up front.  Walking through would not have been my idea of fun.

To reach the tennis courts after the run, I had to walk through the YMCA.  Needless to say, I got quite a few quizzical stares!  A couple people recognized that I had just done the Color Run, but most folks, just looked at me as if I were coated, head-to-toe, with color.  Oh...wait.....

The kids and hubby (and all the tennis players) got a good look at me and enjoyed laughing at my foolishness.  I was very glad to get out of there and home to shower.  Although much of the color came out with a good scrubbing, I did have to go to church the next morning with quite a bit left on me.  Even the next day after my regular run, I noticed that the remaining paint on me had blended with my sweat and had stained the neckline of my shirt.  Oops!  In the future, I think I will stick to the "clean," timed races, especially when a fairly good chunk of money has to be shelled out for the "race."

This coming weekend, I have a 10K in which I'm really hoping to break 48 minutes.  I promise a more timely race report for this one, no matter what the result may be!