Monday, October 31, 2011

Week Four: Disney Princess Half Marathon Training

Week Four

Monday – yoga

Unlike Shakira, my hips do lie. They like to pretend they are okay and don’t hurt, until move from sitting to standing, or standing to sitting, or any combination of moving. My hips were really tight so I asked the yoga instructor for poses that might help stretch out my hips and lessen the tension. She showed me a few moves, but they didn’t really help. Throughout the whole class, I felt uncomfortable, like I couldn’t settle into the pose because I was too tense and concentrating on the fact that I was in pain. I did benefit from the hamstring stretching and some lower back twisting, but I didn’t feel like I got the best workout from this class. Just lots of frustration. Hopefully next week will be better.

Tuesday – rest

Wednesday – run

My first time running at lunch. I ran on the trail behind my work.

It's a very pretty trail
I started feeling pain in my left hip/lower back in my right calf. I think my hip/back pain issues are making me over compensate and causing my right calf pain. I find myself limping and I seem to drag my right leg a little. I need to get it looked at by a different chiropractor because after a year and a half, mine obviously hasn’t helped me.

30 mins - 1.78 miles  (16:49/mi)

Thursday – rest

I took a bicycle maintenance class at EMS in Northborough. It was worth driving through the snow and sleet to get there. (Yes, I know it’s still October.)

Friday – run

Horrible, horrible run. Or lack thereof I should say. My co-worker brought a treadmill into work, which is awesome, because now I don't have to run in the cold on my lunch, OR wait til night time when I'd rather relax.

But for some reason this was just a horrible run. Halfway through, I realized that the treadmill was on an incline. I'm sure that this is better for me when I run, but adding that to my current hip/lower back pain, it hurt. I tried fixing the incline so was that zero, just so I could run. But it would not go down. I put the incline up; it went up. I tried to put the incline down again; it stayed up. There was no winning this battle so I just slowed down and took more walk breaks. It was kind of defeating but at the same time it will make me appreciate the good runs when I have them. Or so they say. Whoever “they” is, I'd like to meet them and push them in the snow.

30 mins - 1.56 miles (19:13/mi)

Saturday – hike rest

Speaking of snow, I was supposed to go hiking with a group of friends, but Mother Nature decided that she had other plans for us. She dumped 6 inches of snow half way up the mountain, with more presumed at the summit, before Saturday. Then she dumped more on Saturday afternoon. Needless to say we did not hike. Instead I went shopping and then came home to snuggle up under blankets and comforters and relax. That didn’t last long. We lost power at 6:50PM and I took the opportunity to catch up on some blog ideas I’ve had. I seem to sit down to write them, and get distracted by other people’s blogs!

Sunday – long run

This was the run the almost didn’t happen.

I got up early (not because I wanted to, but because the damn plows woke me at 1am, 4am and 7am) and decided that since I didn’t have power, I’d head over to the gym, do my 2 miles, shower, then hit up Panera or Starbucks for breakfast and free Wi-Fi. That plan didn’t work out so well.

I had to turn around and go a different way. Then, I had to cut through a shopping plaza because yet another road was closed. Finally, I got to the gym.

No Power
Instead I went to Panera and used their Wi-Fi for blogging purposes. Next thing I knew it was lunchtime. I grabbed lunch, and then headed home. I was thinking about trying to run outside, even though there were tree limbs and power lines down everywhere, but most of the snow had melted in my complex area, and the roads were clear and free of debris and danger. The only thing stopping me was lack of shower. But I was reminded that since our water is hooked up to gas and not electric, the gas heats the water as well and our water stays hot even with the power out! HOT SHOWERS!!! Score! So I decided to suck it up and deal with running in the cold. And I bundled up for a short run.

I can only imagine how much more I’ll be bundled on longer runs. Hell. It was Hell.

This was a “rest week” long run. Thank God. My body needed a break. My back, hip, and calves have been hurting a lot all week. Not the entire time, just whenever I run. Today was no different.

2 miles – 36:11 (18:07/mi pace)


118 days until the Disney Princess Half Marathon!

If you don't love EMS, you should.

I did it again. I went into an EMS store unprepared. On Thursday night I signed up for a bike maintenance class at my local EMS. Even though I haven't been riding lately, and probably won't ride outside again until the spring, I still wanted to go to a bike maintenance class. I had been meaning to go to a class like this since I got my bike in April 2011. As you can see, I don't procrastinate or anything. During a newbie night event a few days before my triathlon, I watched someone change a flat. Thank God I did not get a flat during my triathlon, because I still had no idea how to change my flat. I figured my luck might not hold out for two seasons in a row, so I needed to learn how to change a flat. Or at least watch someone do it again.

I am a member of a meet up group called CHAOS. They are all about doing outdoorsy (and indoorsy) crazy things. I'm not all that crazy when it comes to adventure type things, but when I saw an event pop up for a bicycle maintenance class, I sure as heck decided to be crazy. A member of the group, Jeff, works at the new EMS in Northborough,MA. He graciously offered to give the members of CHAOS, as well as EMS customers, a chance to attend this bike maintenance class for no charge.

Even though the weather was uncooperative, giving us snow in October, a few of us still showed up. In fact, one of the employees, Stephen, from the Marlborough store was there for the class. He works at the Northborough store now and even though Jeff taught the class, he still had a few helpful things to add here and there. Seriously, if I haven’t said it before (and I have, you just might not have been paying attention) EMS is pretty awesome.

Jeff showed us how to change a tire, front and back, how to tighten brakes, check for worn brake pads, fix minor problems with the gears, and bike cleaning do’s and don’ts, among other things. He was extremely patient and listed to all of our questions. He answered everything and was crazy good at what he does. An EMS employee told me later, that when the Northborough store was opened, they only hired the best of the best because they wanted good quality employees who know what they are talking about. That’s good to know! The next time I need a tune up for my bike, or I’m having problems with it, I’m bringing it to Jeff at EMS in Northborough!

In addition to the bike maintenance class, I was searching for some hiking supplies since I was supposed to go hiking this weekend. Thanks to 6-10 inches of snow half way up the mountain, that didn’t happen. However, on Thursday night, I didn’t know that yet, so I talked with yet another EMS employee, Ed, about hiking gear and what I might need to bring with me. Yet again, another amazingly positive experience! Ed was extremely helpful. He informed me of the right types of materials to wear while hiking and found some pants that might be helpful for me not only during the hike, but also for outside runs during the winter. While I was in the dressing room trying things on, he kept searching for things for me and brought me more things to try on. He was on his game! After I had decided on the pants, we talked about jackets, fleeces, outerwear, and other things that could keep me warm in freezing weather. He helped me look for gloves, then went down a list of things I might need for a hike. I’m pretty sure that if, in the future, I gave him a date, time, and place I was going to be, he’d have an entire outfit with gear waiting for me by the time I got to the store.

I’m definitely impressed with EMS and their customer service in the stores. Their employees are not only knowledgeable, but they are also active in their respective sports so they have the experience behind the knowledge. I definitely stand behind EMS and their products.

In fact, I just joined the EMS Affiliate program and I am waiting for them to review my application. If all goes well, I'll be an affiliate and you can get all your gear through me!!

So seriously folks, if you have an EMS in your area, check it out. If you don’t, come visit Massachusetts and check out my local stores. The people in there are fantabulous and they are worth the trip!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Are you Pure? A Crystal Light Pure Review and Giveaway!

A little over a month ago I was contacted by Caitlin about the Crystal Light Pure product. She says that she thought the readers of my blog (that's you guys) along with myself might be interested in some hydration tips from Crystal Light. This email came to me about a week after my triathlon, so I was very interested. She also informed me that two of the flavors - Grape and Strawberry Kiwi – have electrolytes. Being new to running, I'm still learning about electrolytes, when I need them, if I should take them, and how they help me at all. I'm also a complete lover of all Crystal Light products, so of course I jumped at the chance.

Caitlin sent me three flavors to try: Grape, Strawberry Kiwi, and Lemonade.

Strawberry Kiwi, Lemonade, Grape
The Pure line also has Tropical Blend and Mixed Berry flavors available.

I had planned to ask her what the difference between Crystal Light and Crystal Light Pure was until I re-checked the e-mail she had sent me and I found this: 

Crystal Light Pure, is naturally sweetened with sugar and Truvia, a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant. It also has no artificial flavors or preservatives.” 
The other difference I noticed was Crystal Light Pure has 10 more calories per serving than the regular variety. While that may be a smart idea for fitness and electrolyte reasons, I don’t think I’d choose Pure over my regular Crystal Light for everyday drinking.

In my past experience, my favorite Crystal Light flavor is Lemonade. However, out of the flavors that were sent to me, Grape was my favorite. I enjoyed the Kiwi Strawberry and of course the Lemonade, but I tended to grab the Grape flavor more often.

 After ripping one open within moments of getting my package, I tried these little packets of joy over the course of about a month. I wanted to see how much I enjoyed them, how they affected my performance and if I’d stick with them once my samples ran out.

I drank Pure during my speed work runs on the treadmill, hot yoga class that supposedly weren’t hot, outdoor runs in the cold, “long runs”, and finally my most recent 5K race. I have to say, if the point of Crystal Light Pure is to get people hydrated, then it worked. It is tastier than water and got me to keep drinking.

Hey, Crystal Light, I could be your spokesperson!
I don’t exactly know how electrolytes work, but if you work out hard, you sweat, and you lose salt. You need something more than water to keep you going. That’s where electrolytes come in; they help you stay hydrated. Or something like that. I don’t really know. Which is why these hydration tips that were sent to me were very helpful to me and they might be helpful to you. So here they are.

Hydration Tips from Crystal Light Pure Spokesperson Molly Kimball, RD

1. Keep a Tally
We can’t actually tell how well we’re hydrated by how thirsty we feel. For many of us, by the time we start to feel thirsty, we’re already dehydrated, but just how much water is enough when it comes to staying hydrated? Keep a running tally of how much fluid you’re getting and aim for half of your body weight in ounces of fluid per day, plus an extra 16 ounces for every pound of sweat lost during exercise or work in the heat. 

2. Flavor Up to Drink Up
Want to drink water to stay hydrated, but hate the boring taste? Add the flavor you want and none of what you don’t by sipping on naturally sweetened Crystal Light Pure. It’s got no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives and is sweetened with sugar and Truvia, a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant. It’ll give your water light, refreshing flavor with just 15 calories and 4 grams of sugar per serving. And the Grape and Strawberry Kiwi flavors have the added bonus of electrolytes!

3. Don’t Forget about Food
Staying well-hydrated is essential for maintaining optimal energy levels, preventing muscle cramping and headaches, and more serious issues like heatstroke. But that doesn’t mean you have to force down gallons of water or bottles of sugary sports drinks. Any type of alcohol-free beverage can count toward your fluid intake – and even some foods! Some of the top electrolyte-rich, hydrating foods include all types of fresh fruit, soups like gazpacho and Greek yogurt.

4. Watch the Caffeine
For years, the widely-held belief was that caffeinated beverages were dehydrating. An abundance of research has proven otherwise, however. The amount of caffeine typically found in standard servings of tea, coffee, and soft drinks appears to have no diuretic effect, meaning that these beverages don’t cause us to lose more fluid than they provide. But remember that you don’t want the majority of your fluids to come from caffeinated drinks since most health organizations recommend we limit our caffeine intake. Instead, try to vary what you’re drinking.

What is your favorite way to stay hydrated? Do you like Crystal light? What do you drink on long runs? Water? Gatorade? NUUN?

And most importantly: Would you like to try Crystal Light Pure??

Contest has ended!!

At this time, Crystal Light was unable to sponsor a giveaway, but I have a bunch of samples left and I'd love to share some with one lucky winner!

The winner will get a sample pack with all three flavors that I was given to try.
  • Strawberry Kiwi
  • Lemonade
  • Grape
All you have to do is:
  • Leave me a comment telling me your favorite way to stay hydrated while working out. (mandatory)
  • Follow Crystal Light Pure on Facebook and tell them I sent you! (Bonus entry)
  • Be a follower of my blog (Bonus entry)
  • Follow me on twitter (@runaroundsara) and/or Facebook (Run Around Sara) (Bonus entry)
  • Tweet about this review & giveaway: I entered @runaroundsara's giveaway for a sample pack of @CrystalLight Pure here:  (Bonus entry)
You have 5 chances to win, so leave a comment for each method of entry  and I will pick a random winner on Saturday November 6 at 10pm.

If you've tried Crystal Light in the past for refreshment reasons, I have no doubt you'll like these travel sized packs of Crystal Light Pure! You have no reason not to enter!!

Contest has ended!!

*For disclosure reasons, I need to inform you that I received samples of Crystal Light Pure from Kraft Foods and the opinions I provided are based on my own experience with the product. The giveaway in this post is sponsored by me not Kraft Foods. Please do not contact them for your sample if you win. Contact me at runaroundsara (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!*

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Witch City 5K Race Report

This was the first 5K that I attended by myself. Usually I go with at least 2 or 3 people, and sometimes more! I love the social aspect of the 5K more than the actual run itself. But I wanted to do a holiday themed 5K for each upcoming holiday and this was the only one I could find in my area for Halloween. So I signed up! I let a bunch of people know about it, but no one else could make it. So I braved it alone. Given it was a Halloween themed 5K, I figured people would be dressing up for the run, but I didn’t dress up. I think if I had gone with people, I’d have dressed up, but I felt silly dressing up and standing there by myself. Other people sure didn't feel silly! They got decked out for this race. There were some pretty clever costumes:

There was no chip timing for the event, so no real start line, but the race organizers had their stuff together! They knew exactly where the race started. We all lined up in the street adjacent to the "yellow fire hydrant on the left side of the road, near the big rock". And what do you know; there was a yellow fire hydrant on the left side of the road right near a big rock. I don't know when exactly the race started, but people started moving so I did to!

This was the "start line"
 I had 4 miles on the training schedule for the day, so I planned to add on the extra mileage after the race. I wasn't sure exactly how close to a 5K distance the race would be so I wanted to just keep going after the race until I hit 4 miles instead of doing a "warm-up" before the race for the extra miles.

The race was a thin loop through historic Salem, MA. I expected to see more spooky things given Salem’s History, but it was 9 AM, so not much spook was going on. Instead I got some beautiful views of the ocean inlets around Salem. 

I also saw the House of Seven Gables, which seemed familiar to me, so I took a picture of it. 

It was a very pretty route. I enjoyed the sights. Since it was my “long run” day, I kept it at a slower pace and walked when I wanted to. At one point I ran for 8 minutes straight, which is a lot longer than I have been doing lately, so that felt good.  When I got to the finish line, there were a lot of people hanging out and cheering on the latecomers. Mainly me. I went right down the finish line shoot, grabbed a banana and a Gatorade, and kept going. People looked at me kind of oddly that I didn’t stop to hang around but hey, I was on a mission. I had 4 miles to finish and 3.1 wasn’t the end of my journey for that day. I looped around the finish area and went down the street to a peninsula area that had really pretty views.

On my way down and back I got to run through some pretty cool trees. Of course I took pictures of those too.

By the time I had finished, and made my way back to the finish line area, they were getting ready to hand out the awards for the winners of the race and the best costumes.  Like I said before people had some pretty cool costumes.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
As I headed back to my car, I thought about how badly my body was going to hurt if I didn’t stretch before my hour-long car ride home, so I tried to stretch as much as possible. On the way home I stopped at PR Running and talked to the owner about compression socks and foam rolling. She pointed me in the direction of “The Stick”.  I have found magic. In other words, “I got the magic stick”. Anybody? Anybody? No? Okay, moving on. This thing gets me better than the foam roller and I can’t fall off of it because it’s a stick. Get your mind out of the gutter you dirty fools.

This was my view as I stretched

The point of this story is the Witch City 5K was a great race and even though I didn’t dress up, I had a really good time. The race director volunteers and organizers of the race were pretty darn amazing. You should definitely run this race next year. In fact if you decide to, let me know we’ll meet up!

Official Results: 54:21 (17:30/mi)
My Garmin results: 3.17 miles – 54:07 (17:04/mi)

Not last!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week Three: Disney Princess Half Marathon Training

Week Three

Monday – yoga rest

Didn’t happen. My back was sore again after bouncing around in a bouncy house on Sunday afternoon. It was painful to twist and felt inflamed. I figured the twisting moves in yoga along with the heat wouldn’t help me much and I took the day off.

Tuesday – rest

For real. Spent the night on the couch catching up on DVR.

Wednesday – run

Rainy day= treadmill (yay!). I decided to ramp up the treadmill to a 1.0 incline to start and see how that felt, so I could kind of imitate the effect or running outside. I know it should have been 1.5 or 2, but my legs were sore before I even started running. Most of the soreness and cramping was in my calves. They started burning more with each interval. I tried to stop and stretch a little bit after the warm up, but they felt tight the entire time. It really hurt. So I went back to no incline. I did intervals of 2 min run at 4.5 and 2 min walk at 3.0. 5 min warm up, 5 min cool down.

30 mins - 1.892 miles  (15:51/mi)

Thursday – rest

Friday – run

It got dark really fast tonight and I was working the late shift, so I stuck it out on the treadmill. Honestly, I like the treadmill better. It’s easier than outside. I know the reasons why it’s easier, but I don’t care. I’m all about easy when we’re talking about running. Another speed work day. Did another pyramid of intervals 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 5.5, 5.0, 4.0, 3.0. Did each one twice before going onto the next speed. Next time I might try doing each one once, then going through it entirely again.

30 mins - 1.975 miles (15:11/mi)

Saturday – rest

I went to Davis Farmland for the Mega Maze Fright Nights. I wanted to use my Garmin to keep track of how much we zig-zagged and got lost, but it was completely dead when I got there, so no dice. We walked fairly quickly through the maze and after a few pit stops at a shuffleboard, putt-putt range, and slingshot area we got out of the maze in about 2 hours. We probably walked about 2-3 miles or more in that maze.

Sunday – long run

On the schedule for today was 4 miles. I had a 5K scheduled, so I did that and as I crossed the finish, I hit lap and kept going to finish the 4 miles.

I might have been the only one NOT in costume!
I walked more than I ran for the last mile. I tried to stretch as much as possible before getting in the car for an hour ride home, but it obviously wasn’t enough. On my way home, I stopped at PR Running and asked about compression socks. While I was there, I saw The Stick, which had been recommended to me by a twitter buddy @JuiceLee337. They had a tester and I tried it out. It seems to be doing the trick. I kinda figured out how to foam roll my glutes and hamstrings, but I can get the rest of that area with The Stick. All is well in the land of hurt muscles. For now. I still have that knot, but I’m working on it.

Witch City 5K race report coming soon.

5K time: 3.17 miles – 54:07 (17:04/mi)
0.84 miles – 16:08 (19:16/mi)
4.00 miles – 1:10:16 (17:33/mi)

Week three, done. Just like that. These weeks are flying by. Next week is kind of a rest week. The long run is only 2 miles again. But I guess that how you runner people do things. After next week it ramps back up again. I look forward to next week fo-sho!

Oct 17 - Oct 23

125 days until the Disney Princess Half Marathon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Foam roller my ass. Of course, not literally.

I cannot foam roll. There, I said it. My legs hurt. They are sore. After my run tonight, I can barely stand up. I have a foam roller, but I can’t figure it out. I’ve asked around about foam rolling and I’ve gotten the same response. “You just roll on it”. Really? That’s what they meant by the word “roller”? Thanks.

So that’s the thing. I can’t do it.

How does she roll?? (source)
When I do this, my butt is still on the floor.
My arms aren't long enough.
Or my butt is too big. Or both.(source)
Sure, I can get into these positions. No problem. I can even hold those positions for a few seconds. Maybe a whole minute if I really concentrated. But then, I’d need to roll? I’m sorry, have you seen me? It takes me 3 full minutes to get down onto the floor, and then I have to balance on this tiny roller that almost disappears once I’m on top of it, and then roll?? I have one question.


Seriously. How. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. It’s frustrating. People talk about how great foam rolling is and how amazing it makes you feel afterward. But. I. Can’t. Do. It.

Who wants to volunteer to give me a foam-rolling lesson and not laugh at me when I roll off of the foam roller and onto the floor?? Okay, you can laugh as long as you teach me how to do this.

The other thing I don’t get? Compression socks. Let’s remind the class that any knee high sock on a fat girl is a compression sock. Why should I pay extra money for a sock that I probably won’t even get up my calf?

What are some good stretches that you live by after a run that leaves you sore?? If you have wide calves, do you use compression socks? Do they work?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week Two: Disney Princess Half Marathon Training

Week Two

Monday – yoga

There were significantly less people in this class than there was last week. I assume it was because of the holiday weekend (Happy Thanksgiving to Canada!). I was okay with that; it meant more help from the teacher when I was obviously doing a pose wrong. Happens often. I’m new. I expected the class to be the exact same, in terms of poses, as it was last time, but it wasn’t! There were some new poses in there and we didn’t do a few that were done the last time. Honestly, I’ve never been to yoga classes twice in a row before. Yoga Mondays has never existed before in my life! Cheers to more fun yoga classes!

Tuesday – rest

I went into Boston to meet up with some other bloggers in the area! We had a great time and I can’t wait til the next time we get together!

Wednesday – run walk

I was supposed to do a 30-minute run, but I didn’t feel well all day. When I got home from work, I didn’t have the energy for a run, but took the dogs for a walk instead. I figured it was better than sitting on my butt.

30 mins - 1.27 miles  (23:38/mi)

Thursday – walk

Light the Night walk in Boston. Two laps around Boston Common (about 2.2 miles) with the dogs.

2.2 miles - 1:06 mins (30:22/mi)

Friday – run

This almost didn’t happen. I woke up and couldn’t stand upright. After tweaking my back lifting a chair after work and then being pulled by inquisitive dogs all night during the walk through Boston, my back wasn’t feeling so well. I had to call out of work. Around noon I was finally about to get out of bed and walk a little bit. By 5pm I didn’t have sharp pains anymore, just slight soreness in my back, so I attempted a run.

It ended up being a great run. I don’t know when I’ll ever say that again so savor it. It might be cheating because it was raining so I did it on the treadmill, but I’ll take what I can get! I did a pyramid of speed work – my first speed work run ever! Walking at 3mph for 1 min in between each run interval which I did as follows: 4, 4, 5, 5, 5.5, 5.5, 6, 5.5, 5.5, 5, 5, 4, 4. Each run interval was 1 min. Except the 4 mph ones were at 2 mins. Make sense? In my head I planned the 6 mph interval for 30 seconds. I didn’t think I could do it. But when I got to 30, I was okay and decided to push it to 45. Once I got there, I figured I couldn’t back down now and went for the full minute. I did it!

30 mins - 1.95 miles (15:23/mi)

Saturday – rest

My Goddaughter’s birthday party. There was a bouncy house. I may or may not have bounced the hell out of myself. You can’t prove anything.

Unless there are pictures.

Okay, so there were pictures... 

Sunday – long run

This was my second "long run" of the training cycle. I'm getting more comfortable with this running thing. This was just shy of a 5K distance, and I didn't feel nearly as worn out and tired as I have in the past running 5Ks. I did a run 2 walk 2 interval system the entire time. It seemed as though each time it was time for me to run, it was uphill and every time I was walking, it was flat or downhill. Figures.

I should have gone earlier in the day because starting at 5:30 pm meant it got progressively darker as I went on. I thought ahead, though, and wore a bright yellow shirt. Which, as it turns out, was a good thing. I took a picture of myself when I was almost home and you can barely see me, but you can see my shirt! And I didn’t get hit by a car! Plus one.

Next time I'll bring a headlamp.
At one point during this run, it said I was running at 32 mph. I can promise you that didn’t happen. I wonder how much that threw off my average pace.

3.00 miles – 54:04 (18:01/mi)

Week two, done. I don't know how I'm going to handle 4 miles next week. The longest distance running I've done is a 5K. It will be interesting. I'm doing a 5K that morning anyway, so I suppose I'll just tack on the extra mile after the race. Once the 5K is over, 1 mile won't seem as daunting.

Oct 10 - Oct 16

Light The Night 2011 Walk

Back in July I started raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night walk in Boston Common. The goal of the walk was to raise money for cancer and pay tribute to those battling cancer and commemorate those who have lost loved ones. I was lucky enough to be walking with a good friend, Alyson, who survived her battle with cancer and has been cancer free since December 2010.

Since July, I raised over $125 for the cause and became a Champion for a Cure. Our team as a whole raised over $2000 and we were awarded with a banner to carry during the walk. Each person on our team raised over $100 and were given a t-shirt memorializing the night, a bracelet allowing us access to a food tent and a balloon that varied in color depending on your status of a survivor (white), a supporter (red), or in memory of the loss of a loved one (gold).

When we arrived, the entire Boston Common was filled with tents, people and light filled balloons.

We checked in and got our bracelets. Then we headed over to get our t-shirts and balloons. We met up with the rest of the team and got ready to start the race.

I brought my dogs with me on the walk to give them some exercise and excitement for the night. And there certainly was excitement. There were so many people there and Finn was in heaven. Snickers just kind of went with the flow, but Finn was going in every direction. He’s a handful, that’s for sure!

The walk was 2 loops around Boston Common. Each loop was about 1.1 miles making the entire walk 2.2 miles. The first lap was very slow since there were so many people around. As we made our way around the Common it started to thin out and we had more room for the dogs and less pulling since there weren’t as many butts to sniff.

When we finished, we took pictures at the finish line and hung out and talked for a while

When we got back to the car, we decided to let our balloons go.

I felt very blessed to be a part of this walk, not only as a friend, but also as a supporter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. At one point during the race, Alyson mentioned that she was so happy to see so many red balloons. I was shocked, and thought she said it the wrong way. I said, “I’d rather see more white balloons. That means more survivors”. She said, “Oh, I know, but seeing so man red balloons means none of these people have cancer. That’s the good part here”. This woman amazes me every day and with simple comments like that, she shows how special she is. I’m lucky enough to call her my friend.

In case you’re interested in supporting a great person and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, we are still able to raise money until January 2012. My fundraising page is still up and you can still donate. Please, if you can, support this cause. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cambridge 5K Oktoberfest Race Report - Volunteer Style

You know what I never did? A race report for the Cambridge 5K Oktoberfest. That’s probably because I didn’t race it. But, I was there! I volunteered!!

I signed up for this race about a week after my triathlon. I knew I needed races to motivate me during my training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. So I picked out 6 races and signed up. Except this one somehow slipped through the cracks. I assume it was something simple as I filled everything out for the registration online, went upstairs to get my credit card and got sidetracked. It’s true what they say: I have the attention span of a gnat. If you can’t keep me interested in something, I’m off doing something else.

Anyway, a friend had signed up for this race as well and I didn’t want to leave her stranded, so I e-mailed the race director and asked if by chance I had signed up and just not gotten my registration receipt. He e-mailed me back and said that I wasn’t registered, but that he could use some volunteers. I had never volunteered for a race before, and I’ve been wanting to see the other side of a race, so I signed up to be a volunteer. As it turns out, my friend never showed up. After 3 or 4 days of numerous e-mails and facebook message attempts, I heard nothing from her. I didn’t want to stand her up in case she was having technological difficulties, so I went anyway. She didn’t. Minus 50 cool points. Most things are minus 10 cool points, but backing out of plans is my number 1 pet peeve. She let me know later that she had to take her dog to the emergency vet, which I completely understand. My dogs are like my kids. I’d drop everything for them too. But, she never called, texted, emailed or anything to let me know. It takes 2 seconds to let someone know that something came up. Don’t be the asshole that stands someone up. Just saying.

When I got to the race, I met up with the other volunteers, got my shirt (score!) and got to work helping out.  I was assigned to one of the turns on the race, so I needed to be out on the course 30 minutes before the race started. You know, in case someone decided to take of early...?? In the meantime, I helped out with directing people to get their race bibs, wristbands for the after party, t shirts, and find bag check. The lines were so long, they decided to move the wristband line over and I checked IDs for the 21+ crowd to get their wristbands for the Oktoberfest after party. As the lines died down, I was shuttled to the second turn in the race. I stood on the corner in a seedy looking area for 30 minutes before the race started. I had to pee, it was cold, I was alone and I was slightly nervous of my surroundings. So, what did I do? I took pictures of myself!

I get bored easily...
...very easily!

About 5 minutes before the start of the race, other volunteer joined me on the corner. He took a better picture of me.

We stood at the corner and held up the sign for the runners to know which way to go. That was a lot of power for me. I could have sent them all the wrong way!! But, don’t worry, I checked, re-checked and checked again to make sure I was pointing the sign the right way!

Some people dressed up in their finest lederhosen for the race. And some dressed as Lady Gaga. I didn’t get the connection, but hey, why not? Anything for fun!

The leaders of the pack
Dress up fun!
After the last person passed by my corner (not that kind of corner, folks!) I was able to walk back to the finish line and watch them come in. Then I got another job. I had to direct the finishers to where the water was. I think I said, “Water is to your left” about 268734 times. I don’t exaggerate, so you know that number is real.

After the race was done, they sectioned off an area to serve beer and pretzels to the participants. I had to make sure no one left the area with their beer, per the Massachusetts open container law. Look at me being a cop. Unfortunately, the pretzels were a little delayed, so I got the “Where are the pretzels?” question a lot. I had no idea. Luckily these people were mostly nice and hadn’t overdone it on the beer (at least not yet) and didn’t try to hurt me because I didn’t have pretzels for them. When they finally came out, there was a stampede. Not kidding. I got out of the way fast. All things were calm and party-like. Until the cops showed up. The real ones. Not me. But the race director had a permit and everything was all good.

Everyone was corralled behind these police barricades for the party
I talked to the race directed afterwards about the race, the party, volunteering, etc. He was grateful that I was able to stay the entire time and thanked me profusely for helping out. I told him the story of not getting myself registered in time and he promised me that since I had helped out so much during the Oktoberfest race, I’d be on the cool kids list and I wouldn’t be locked out of any of their events in the future. Score!! Their next race is on December 18th, the Cambridge 5K Yulefest. While I’d love to do that one, not only to support them, but also because I know some of the volunteers now, and everyone was really cool, I already have another race scheduled for that day. So unless I decide to do two 5Ks in one day, I doubt it will happen. Stop laughing. I could do it!

So the moral of the story is, to get the free t-shirt and admittance to all the free stuff afterwards, you don't even have to run, just volunteer!! Why didn't I think of this earlier?!?!?
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