Sunday, May 7, 2017

Witty Title Here - Hula Hustle 5k 2017 Race Report
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And now, for a nice wholesome race - the Clay County Young Life Hula Hustle.  I was up and out of bed by 4:30. I drank some OJ and Twittered for a while, then woke up hubby and got him to work around 5:45.

After a stop at Circle K for some caffeine (which I drank hardly any of...), I had an uneventful drive to the BestBet in Orange Park. At first I thought I was going to have to park a ways away, but I ended up in a great spot about 10 cars away from the start line - score!

It's chilly this morning, only about 53ยบ, but that means that I won't be dying at the end of the race, so I was okay with it (of course, I stayed huddled in my car as long as possible!)

Hey, it's cold for FLORIDA!
I got my packet and went back to my car - where said huddling happened - and stayed there until about 20 minutes before the race began.

Pretty bib

I wandered around the start area, looking at the food (yeah, you know me!) and watched the Zumba people act like fools. But then.... when the next song came on, I actually joined in! I'd never heard the song before, but it was "Perm" by Bruno Mars, and it has quickly become my new favorite song. Thanks, Zumba Tony Little!

Start Line Area

Put some PERM on yo' attitude!

We all made our way to the start line, and as I tried to pair my headphones with my iPod, I discovered they were dead! Luckily, I always carry backups, so I plugged those in.

Hanging out at the Starting Line

I realized that the course would take me directly past my car, so I had my earbuds ready to toss in the trunk.

My car is about 6 behind that van
I hardly missed a beat! I had my key fob pop the trunk while I stood at the start line, flung my earbuds in the trunk and slammed it shut, all within about 2 seconds. Very smooth!

This race goes parallel to the St. Johns River, so there's not much to talk about. It's beautiful in the morning, and I love seeing all the great (and expensive) houses. The first runner passed me at about 13.5 minutes - I hadn't even made it to Mile 1 yet!

Beautiful day for a race

The route also goes by an Assisted Living Facility, and it was nice to see these two lovely ladies out to cheer on the runners.

Thanks for coming out to cheer us on!

The course is an out and back, so we went out... now we're coming back.

Yep, gettin' beat by a mom in a stroller

There is no hope at this point of any PR. I didn't expect there to be one. I've not been training very well. Or eating very well. Or taking care of myself in general. I've become apathetic, and I don't know what my problem is.

If I make it under 53 I'll be happy

I rounded the corner and was completely MEH about my time. My official time was  50:58 (pace of 16:24).  I was 31st out of 39 in my age group, and 337th out of 423 total runners, so I beat 86 people. I got leid at the finish line, and then leid again (the multicolor ones are mine). Too many leis!

I got leid so many times!
Oooooh, artsy

After the race, I hit up the snack table. I got a few granola bars, some water and a few pieces of candy.

They always have a GREAT spread!
I debated sticking around for the photo booth and awards, but I was tired. I decided to head out, so I ungeared (yeah, that's a word!) in the car and made my way to The Avenues Mall in Jacksonville. 

On the way over the river, there were these crazy low clouds. I had no idea what the heck was going on, but they looked ominous!

This... doesn't seem normal

This... seems even less normal
I got to JCP so early, they weren't even open yet. I guess I should have stopped at a gas station to change! I decided to be super-classy and change in my car. I parked under a tree, far away from the front doors and changed (I brought in panties and a bra to change into in a dressing room; I didn't wear that sweaty stuff ALL day!).

I picked up some new work shirts for hubby, a cute pair of Clarks Delana Verro sandals, a new skort and a few tops. I grabbed lunch at the food court - a 12-piece nugget and water from Chick-fil-A and a medium queso and chips from Moe's. Not a bad lunch for under $10! I walked around the mall, looking in a few other stores (Charming Charlie and H&M). I successfully avoided buying junk food at Cinnabon and the cookie store - yay me! I ran out of time to hit up Old Time Pottery, so I went over to Party City.

Seriously - what the hell is up with the sky? Is Vigo coming?

Okay, I'm pretty sure this isn't normal
Bonus points if you get the reference!
(I found out later that there was a wildfire in Georgia that was blowing smoke and ash our way!)

One of my most favoritest memes ever!

 Before going to Party City, I stopped in to a place called Five Below. We have a new one in our city, but I've not been able to get there yet, so I was curious what it was.

To me, it struck me as a Dollar Tree on meth. It was bad. Messy as hell. Dirty as hell. Trashy merchandise. I would classify it as "the store that whores get their yoga pants and home decor from."

 At Party City I picked up a cute car magnet that said "Welcome Home" as well as a glittery American Flag. I actually went to Party City to pick up a cape for an upcoming race I'm doing. But I love Party City and find any excuse to go there!

$6.99, chipboard. Still hanging on my office door as of February 2018

$3.99 car magnet, began fading after TWO WEEKS!!!

$6.99 velcro cape; good quality for what you pay
At this point, the sky was looking positively evil and I was running late, so I grabbed a soda at Racetrac and headed home to pick up hubby and chill the rest of the afternoon!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

It's Mashed Potato Time - Hastings Spud Run 5k 2017
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What a cute little race this was!  I gotta be honest, I'd never even HEARD of Hastings before seeing this race, but it was a nice distance away, it came with a medal and had a handful of people I knew I could beat (based on previous years' results), so I decided to try it out.

Hastings is east of Palatka, but not as far as St Augustine, so I was able to get there in about 75 minutes.

I left around 5am and arrived at around 6:30. I had to pit stop at a Circle K right near the Community Building, which wasn't too terrible (it was very clean, thanks Circle K!). Since I was so early, I got a great spot in the parking lot of the Community Building.

I'm about the only CAR here!
This is my new favorite race shirt - it's a tee, but it's so soft!

Visor, water, treats, pencils and green magnet stick
I went and got my bib and my bag of potatoes. Yes, seriously. Potatoes. Beautiful red potatoes grown about 5 miles away. I headed back to my car and played on my phone for a while (I was WAY early). I also got a cool visor, some pencils and a weird green thing in my goody bag. (It's a magnet! That sucker is STRONG, too!)  Eventually, I geared up and headed back to the start line area.

When your Start Line looks like this, you know it's a tiny race
So. Much. Fart. Potential!
Had to use a water cup to insulate my hand - my Nathan was still frozen!
A lot more people now!
At this point, there were a lot more people!  Of course, "a lot" for this race means about 200 people. I took my Start Line Selfie, my Shoo-fie, started my Garmin and my music and got ready to go.

The course, to many people, would be considered very boring. We made a big square around freshly tilled and planted fields and returned back to the Community Building.

Amazing Grace
But for me - a girl who spent every available moment at her grandmother's house in rural Lafayette County, Florida - this course SMELLED like home. Wet earth, vaguely animalistic with the scent of manure, warm and moist... it was comforting. I spent much of the first mile just enjoying the sun rising over the fields, watching the ground release it's heat and thinking of my childhood.

Beautiful light
Nothing gives mist better than fresh fields
Mile 1 came quickly - because I was in the past - and they had a little water stop.

Two people, pouring to order!
Between Mile 1 and Mile 2, the half-marathon runners kept going, but we turned right. They had good signage so no one got lost.

Lots of signage!
More memories got me to Mile 2.

I've seen cows and chickens and dogs
The final turn brought us to a terrible graveled dirt road and a straight-away to the finish line. I'm not a huge fan of running on gravel, so I'm pretty sure I just walked this whole bit.

Ugh, gravel roads make me feel unsure about my footing
My official time was 50:05, with a 16:08 pace. A terrible time, but what are you gonna do? I'm fat and it's hot. I came in 133rd out of 156 people (I beat 23 people). I was 6th out of 7 in my age group.

I got my medal, which was super-cute for such an inexpensive race, then went to get refreshments. They had tons of Papa John's pizza, as well as water and bananas.

Cool - look at my Magnet Stick!
One one of these waters are mine
I ended up with more cabbage and potatoes because the kids at the booth hadn't seen me get them before the race. I can never say no to potatoes!

A coworker didn't believe that I'd get potatoes, so I took this photo

I hung around for a while, changed my clothes at the library that was open (it's so cute, only 2 little rooms!) and then headed up to St. Augustine.

My first stop was Schooner's for lunch. They had a great lunch deal of 7 shrimp, fries and a soda for $8.49 so I got that. Just filling enough to tide me over for the afternoon.
Bridge of Lons, up and to your left

Next, I found a great parking spot right on Avenida Menendez - right in front of Harry's actually - and walked around St. George Street for a bit, grabbing some snacks for later from Savannah Sweets (best maple fudge in existence!). I think I paid for 2 hour parking, but ended up back at the car within an hour. I'm getting kind of tired of St George Street... too many beggars, too many people smoking, too many idiots with their dogs... I'm tapped out, I guess.

But that was okay... when I'd been driving to Schooner's I passed a good looking thrift shop - St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Shop, so I headed back that direction to check it out. I have a deep love for thrift shops... you never know what you're gonna find, or what you can transform that find into!  This time around, I scored four picture frames that I can paint for later. I dropped a big whopping $6.

Yes, there's LOTS of Reese's in there - she used a 1/4 cup scoopful!
My last stop was back near Schooner's; an ice cream joint called Bruster's. I'd never heard of it before, but it came up in the Garmin last month when we were searching for ice cream, so I decided to give it a go. I ended up getting a Reese's Pieces Blast (their version of a Blizzard). It was a couple bucks (I didn't save my receipt), and even though it melted within minutes in my hot-ass car, it was pretty good. Not spectacular. I wouldn't go out of my way to get another one, but if I was near a Bruster's and wanted one, I'd get it.

Once I snarfed down my ice cream, I got some gas and a soda from Circle K and headed home to pick up Hubby from work.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Girl Be Trippin' - Gate River Run 2017 Race Report

Aww, yeah! It’s time for the Gate River Run! I’ve had some interesting times with this race. Hopefully this year, there are no issues!

This time around, our Garmin told us to go up Normandy Blvd, instead of going to I-10. Weird, but okay… Turned out to be a great idea.  I’m terrible with explaining things – especially traffic, but here goes… - Normally, we take I-10, cross over I-295, continue on I-10 and meet up with I-95.  At  that meeting area is the exit we need. Basically, as soon as we ‘merge’ onto I-95 from the left, we have to cross over multiple lanes of traffic to get to the exit we need, on the right. Pretty much every time we try to go this way, I miss the exit (because of the people coming at me 80mph), and have to take the next one and backtrack. It’s really stressful (for someone who doesn’t do “big city drivin’” all that much, at least!).

Anyway, this time, it took us via Normandy and somehow we ended up in the right-hand lane of the interstate (rather than having to cross over), and it was smooth sailing. We got off at the correct exit, which put us on the correct side of the stadium, and we parked at the Sports Complex Garage on Palmetto and E Duval Street. Yeah, it was farther than many of the other parking lots, but it worked well for us. We didn’t have to walk all the way around the stadium to get to the start or finish lines, and it’s right across the street from the Expo and the after-party! (I always like to park near the END of a race, rather than the beginning, when possible).

We headed to the Expo and got my bib, then my shirt and goodie bag. This year we got a pint glass, a plastic cup and a coozie too! I have become addicted to race pint glasses. I have 5 now. I’m going to use the plastic cup as a pen cup at work, so I’ll see it on my desk all the time.

Heading to the Expo!
Female-Cut Race Shirt (almost fits)
Yay... sling bag
Coozie, Plastic Cup, Pint Glass, various stuff from the bag
It is a long walk from the Expo to the starting area. At one point, we passed a guy from the chocolate milk truck pretty much just throwing sweat towels at people. Both my daughter and I grabbed one, so, yay! More sweat towels for my gym bag. 

Walking towards the corrals
You get a towel! You get a towel! Everybody gets a towel!
Construction Crane and The Green Monster
Because of the time I entered when registering, I was placed in Wave 3 again. I like that wave. I’m not fast enough for 2, and I refuse to be in Wave 4 again, so I generally hang out in the back of 3.

This year, they’re doing a lot of construction on this area; it looks like they are removing an entire section of parking lot to make some sort of outdoor amphitheater area? It’ll be called Daily’s Place (Daily’s is a chain of convenience stores in the area). 

Hello, sexy soldiers! Love those thighs!
I gave Hubby a kiss and got a hug from the Kiddo, then I headed into the corral. It wasn’t as busy as I remembered from last year. I hit the potty and stretched near the back of Wave 3 (near the back of Wave 1), drank some water and ate my Clif goo.

He's a great Sherpa
Mooooo... getting into Wave 3
The Green Boppers
After a while, Wave 1 takes off, and Wave 2 moves forward. And then… Wave 3 moved forward. Um… we don’t usually do that, right?  But, we’re moving, so I move forward with it. A lot of people are kind of just standing around, trying to figure out what’s going on, but I just go with it. The gate that keeps us in the corral is still closed, but some people are slipping around it and filing in with the back of Wave 2, that had since begun to go. So… I did too!

Just chillin'
Squeezing out of the fence
Poor volunteers were trying really hard to stem the flow of people, but a bunch of us already slipped out, so they just let us go.  I surprised Hubby because (of course) he wasn’t expecting to see me that quickly. With a wave, I was off!

Sorry Volunteers - I know you tried!
We're all just going at this point
We're out! Where's the start line?
I can almost see it!
I’m gonna spare you a play-by-play… I’ve done this race now 4 times, and… well… they all kind of run together!  

The first 3 miles were great. I made it over the Main Street Bridge (along with a soldier with a FULL rucksack – props to you!). It wasn’t too hot, nor too chilly. Today was a good day for a 10 mile tour of Jacksonville.

Maxwell House - the Coffee of Champions
Mile 1
"Mush, Humans, Mush!"  and   "Running a 15k? Where's Your Sled?"
Bridge #1 - Main Street Bridge
Ugh, up is hard
Okay... He's got it a LOT harder than I do
So does she! You two rock!
Action Shot on the Bridge
Mile 2
The Kiddo went to a convention at that hotel. Small world!
Oh, girl... that's just a bad look.
Mile 3
After the 5k split, we turn on to a road that parallels the river, and I was sad to see that a new, and ugly, fence had been installed. Like really new.  I wonder if they put it up because of the race, or if it will be there all the time. If I owned a home on this street, I’d be ticked!

This is also the area where Drunk Spectators start showing up. Jax is very serious about this being a party race.  One group of spectators were giving out Munchkins – or from the look of the gutters, maybe they were throwing Munchkins. I don’t know. I didn’t get any.

5k Split - 33.3% done!
This is a really ugly fence. At least it's green
Why did they fence off the park? Is the park in time-out?
Let's get this drunken spectator party started! Throw me a Munchkin!
Oh... I guess that's why they ran out of Munchkins
I feel like the flag is backwards, but maybe they are orienting it towards the river?
Mile 4 to Mile 6 was also very uneventful. Lots of spectators, which I love. Lots of families set up camp at the end of their driveways and drink while we go by. Little kids give out high-fives. I’m pretty sure I walked right by the Sausage & Beer Tent this time!
Mile 4 - finally some shade
This looks correct
Mile 5
Many thanks to The Armstrong Agency for their big sign
Mile 6, way up there
There's some kid up there with a hose, spraying everyone down. he left before I got there.
10k Split - 66.6% Done
Around Mile 7, I decided it was time to move my ass. I knew the bridge was coming up, but my Garmin said I was making great time, and I could possibly PR this race if I sped it up a bit. So, after I took my “soon” selfie, I settled down into my hips and began to run. I was passing walkers left and right, and even though I know I probably not even topping 4mph, I felt like a fast bitch!

Mile 7
Soon... oh, wait... where's the bridge?
That's better... (ahem) SOON!
Okay, time to turn off Atlantic and onto the entrance ramp to The Green Monster. A lot of people were taking advantage of guard rails to stretch. There was some guy there, shirtless, wearing a huge sombrero. Uh, okay…

This photo doesn't adequately show just how MANY stretchers there were!
¡Hola! ¡Mira mis enormes tetas de hombre!
Up we go, this bridge is my bitch. 

And success! 

Top o the world, ma!
It’s (literally) all downhill from here. I put my head back down, used the decline to my advantage and began running again. 

I look so happy!
And then… I almost died. 

I don’t pick up my feet much when I jog. Apparently this road isn’t very smooth. My left foot caught a bump in the road (like where two pieces of asphalt jut together) and I thought to myself, this is it… I’m goin’ down.  I stumbled and stumbled and pin-wheeled my arms and stumbled some more before… finally… I caught myself and kept running. I was inches away from barreling into the runner in front of me, but luckily, I didn’t! 

Mile 9 (so close!)
I hit Mile 9, and thank you Lord, I’m off the exit ramp and rounding the final turn to the stadium, then into the finisher chute and success! I completed the Gate River Run for the 4th time!

My official time was 2:43:14 - PR BABY!!!!  I shaved off 1:16 from my 2015 time (and over 3 minutes from my time last year!).  I  was 13359th out of 14232 total finishers, and 1243rd out of 1311 in my age group.

I got my medal and found the family. We skipped even going IN to the after-party this year; they have the entrance on one side of the large park area, and the exit on the other, but the exit was on the side we were currently walking on, so I just said fuck it, let’s go get lunch.

Kiddo wanted a cheeseburger, so we decided to hit up a TGI Friday’s. There were a few to choose from in the Garmin, and sadly we chose the wrong one. I won’t go into agonizing detail - you can read the email below, if you like - but it was bad. Service was slow. Every single order was wrong. The manager was a class-A dick to us when we finally complained. I don’t often complain on business’ websites, but this was an extreme situation. So I did, a few days later. I didn’t want to do it as soon as I got home, because I know I can have “tone” when I write. I tried to be partial, but still convey how amazingly bad my experience was. 

 Apparently, it was conveyed, because within 2 days, I got emails from two different people within the chain of command, with each one offering compensation for my problems. I never ask for compensation, so I was heartened by this response. I won’t write off TGIF as a whole, because of this one experience, but I’m certainly not going to be going to THAT Friday’s any time soon!

After our disastrous meal, we headed home and I vegged all evening.