Latest reviews by Stormie
This past Sunday May the 8th I had the great pleasure of participating in Gildan's Espirit De She 5k run.
This is Espirit de She'support fourth season of thier athletic series for women. They have a series of events ranging from 5k, 10k, duathalons and tri events (swimming running and biking). Originally there was going to be a tri event this May 8th but it was cancelled due to some maintaince and upgrades to the Tempe Town Lake this spring.
The message of Espirit De she is to be a community of women who support each other in thier goals. Inspiring to Succeed and #BeYourPotential . Everyone of all ages groups gathered together. The very young in strollers to the elderly all smiling and enjoying the generations gathering together.
I signed up for the 5k. The packet pick up was the day before at the same location:Tempe Park Beach. I will admit I was disappointed that they didn't offer same day pick up. I had to take a couple hours off work to run down and grab my bib pick up.
The pickup itself was organized. Instead of going by name you wento by bib number. The tank top fit great. Didn't run small as some events tend to. All the sponsors were there setting up the day before. There was also speaking events on how to change a flat and what to expect. All bike check ins had to be done the day before. Parking was it's own event. People were just lapping around the lot waiting for an empty space.
Event day started early due to the Arizona heat. Duathletes started at 6:30 while the 5k started at 7:30 am. There were great big yellow start and finish lines. Lots of music playing.
I made the (rookie) mistake of walking around to the booths and was gathering swag without thinking where am I going to put this? I didn't have anyone watching me and my suv was over 10 mins away.
So lining up at the start line I had an extra water bottle, flip flops and an extra tshirt in my hands. Wow did I look like a fool. I wasn't too impressed with how they started the ladies in groups of five. Your timing chip started but u were not running yet.
The course was an put and back. Right along the water. Coming from the great Lakes I appreciate everything drop of water. There was an aid station at around 0.75 miles (that was used on the way back) and also one at about 1.5 miles. It was a fairly flat course but with all the ladies the course was really packed weaving in and out.
I managed to cross the line at 35:58. Not one of my best times but considering the extra stuff I was carrying it was okay.
They were announcing people's name across the finish line. The medals were cute. Orange for the 5k and purple for the duathletes. Post race activities was very upbeat. Everyone received 2 mimosas with free breakfast. There was also little potted plants for the ladies for mothers day.
All in all it was a great event and I will sign up again next year.
So this was my second opportunity to run(as I call it) with a bunch of great people with Aravaipa and thier Insomniac Night Trail series.
This time it was located at the McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills. The driving directions were easy enough with Google maps. Everything seems to be an hour away but it was worth it. Parking was the standard 6.00 or free if you have a parking pass. Same as before.
The packet pick up was the same as before. Thursday at iRun in Scottsdale, Friday at Aravaipa headquarters or same day packet pick up. Which is good if you work evenings like I do. You had the choice of a tshirt or tank top. With the help of Haley she helped me choose a size.
Layout was the same, with the iconic start/finish line, fantastic aid station, first aid tent, a swag gear tent for purchases and then the wood pizza oven. I can never leave a race without purchasing something. This time it was an extra trank top, tshirt and sticker. I need to get the name of the dj, he was rocking the tunes and keeping everyone upbeat.
There could have been a few more porta potties. No building facilities at this location but at least we didn't run out of tp.
My start time for the 10k was 8pm again. Sun was just setting. Being overly prepared I wear a head lamp around my chest and one on my head. Works like a charm. And we were off right at 8pm.
Apparently this is one of the trails used at Ragnar McDowell (?). I will find out in Nov. About half a mile into the course we hit the mother load of hills. Oh dear did my lungs feel it. Once at the top (and I think the hill was about 1.5 miles up) the course did even out a bit. We had some rolling hills but nothing as severe. On my adventures I saw a few scorpions and one rattler. Scared the he ha out of me. There was a water station about 4 miles into 6. The course was rockier than the last one.
The finish line was fabulous as always. And true to trail running it was another pint glass. I was a little disappointed to see it was exactly same as the last race (style wise) just a different logo.
There was tons of hydration after. Tons of snacks. I sat down in the beer section after chatting it up with a couple of strangers. But I guess no one is a stranger after running through the desert at night.
Even though my time was not as I had hoped. A slower pace than I anticipated the experience was well worth it. The friendliness of everyone, the view of the open sky with stars, and running down hills without a care in the world.
I'd pay the entry fee a million times over for this. I may not be an experienced fast runner, but I enjoy it all the same.
2016 is going to be the year of trail races. I wanted to try something new and different. Plus maybe it will help me loose a couple of those pounds.
So with lots of peer pressure from my dear friend Laurel I signed up for Avaraipa's Sinister 9k through thier Insomniac Night Trail Run Series. This event was hosted at San Tan's Regional Park in Cave Creek AZ.
The day finally came and boy did it come. Thunder, lightning, pouring buckets of rain and dust storms. Frantically messaging my friends and going on Facebook for advise. I gathered my courage and made the hour plus trek.
What a sight it was when we arrived. There was tents with music, white lights, a fully stocked aid station and also a first aid tent. Everyone was huddling together to stay warm in that wind with the drizzle.
Once they called the 9k runners into the shoot we had to be mindful of the 54k and 27k racers. I attempted to get my new TOMTOM cardio runner going and off we went.
The starting was a crowded rough start. Not a lot of room for maneuvering or passing. But that's okay because I didn't wanna go to fast. The trail itself was well worn. Not too rocky but not too soft. There was up and downs, but those down parts were fun to do.
There was an aid station at mile 2.25 approx. I wasn't 100 percent sure because my tomtom wasn't functioning (more of user error but). I was good for hydration but I did grab some jelly worms. I realized I left my blocks in the car. I didn't notice a porta potty but thankfully I didn't need one.
The view was gorgeous with theach stars and our headlamps. My new Black Diamond 200lumen headlamp was doing a fabulous job. I positioned it on my chest for the best angle.
I wasn't running with anyone in particular. And I didn't bring headphones because I didn't think it was allowed. I was keeping pace with a girl with a ragnar hat. We kept passing each other so I finally fell in pace behind her.
And then there was the hill. Mile 4. Not a dam run hill, but it was a windy up hill, hill hill! I power hiked that hill. But at the top the view was amazing.
The last leg for the last mile you could see the tents and all the lights on the mountain. I was doing pretty good. This was the longest I had ever done on a trail and I knew I would be sore after. I finished with a time of 1:12:54 that was a pace of just over 13 min per mile. I was super stoked with that.
I grabbed my pint glass, took in the atmosphere but remembered I had an hour drive home. I got to see one of the ragnar girls from del sol, met an instagram buddy and then took off. I'm socially awkward so when someone comes up to me I never know what to say.
It was a great event. There was ample parking, indoor and outdoor porta potties. I got to purchase some extra swag and even though I don't socialize much the people were super nice. I am signed up for hypnosis for my birthday and can't wait for more trails with the gals.
PF Chang’s Rock n Roll Half Marathon 2016
It's here again! Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon weekend. Last year I participated in the 10k, this year I am attacking the 5k and half.
The Expo was just as fabulous as last year. Extremely big and appealing. I could have spent all day and my whole paycheck in there. Hubby stood in line for my in the 5k bib while I waiting in the half marathon line. Have to say I LOVE LOVE LOVE the tech shirts this year. I was not too fond of the red ones from last year. I just felt they were more Arizona theme. The 5k t shirt was this bright yellow with a lizard on it. The half marathon shirt was even better. This great green colour with a dancing guitar playing guy on it. I have even worn them to work (which hardly ever happens) Sponsored by Brooks. The one thing I would have like to see though was actual fabric drawstring bags given out. The see through plastic bags are just a little cheap feeling. This isn't a cheap race or cheap weekend. People come internationally to these events.
Brooks had their own Run Happy Island area. There were events for kids to participate in. Running in spot to race your guy to the top of a volcano(think the price is right tv show), riding a big brooks shoe and then also a get your run stride analized. I won this cute visor that says Run Happy Island. I only wore it through the expo but I kept it in my souvenir chest.
There was everything one could possibly need at the expo. Shoes, compression sleeves, clif bloks, arm bands and much more. I did my best to avoid temptation but made off with a good bag of free samples.
The half marathon started at 7:50 AM in corals based off time near Tempe Beach park. I did good getting a parking spot that I didn't have to pay for. Which was a bonus because I had to pay for parking at the expo. I didn't want to pay 3 days in a row for parking. Hubby walked me halfway there and we parted ways. It was chilly standing in line waiting for my coral to be let loose. I was assigned coral 15 based off my estimated time. I always try to stay on the edge of the crowd. Surprisingly I get a bit claustrophobic.
And then we were off. Through the chute and past the music we went. I always bring my wireless LG tones with me. They don't bounce and are wireless. You couldn't go too fast if you wanted too. The crowd is just too big and people were tearing off their extra sweaters that was getting donated to the homeless. Dont tell my mother in law, but that's where last years christmas robe went. Both sides of the streets were lined up with people cheering on their runners. even though you don't know them, the running community always makes you feel like they are cheering for you.
Water stations were placed about every 2-3 miles. I had my camelbak, so I tried to avoid the water stations as much as possible. I also carried my own cliff blocks. never put anything in your tummy that you don't train with. They also had adequate porta potties. The lines were outrageously long for them. I did my best to avoid them till mile 5. Sadly I spent about 4 mins standing in line. The course at that point started to get a few rolling hills. For me that was a pleasure. I am a lover of the hills. Miles 3 through 8 were a bit of a bore scenery wise though. Streets with buildings. Come about mile 8 that's when we started to see the Arizona mountains and rock. I think it was about mile 9 when we hit the big out and back hill. I remember smiling the whole time kicking that hill. The frustrating part on the course though was the lack of running etiquette. If you are going to walk, move over please. Dont walk on the left hand side. I feel like i wasted time just weaving around people.
Then I saw the bridge. I remembered the bridge from last year. I felt like my time was doing good. I don't wear a watch when I run. I run naked I guess. I have a phone, but it's in my spibelt. My body felt good too. I gave the bridge my salutations as I ran over her and into the finishers line. The crowd was amazing cheering for people they don't know, and the best signs I can remember.
The volunteers awarded me with my medal and then I made my way down food aisle as I call it. You can not carry all the food and drinks they give you. Bananas, pretzels, fruit cups, water, gatorade, protein bars. As I am fumbling with my food I call my husband and we meet up. One of my friends had already crossed the line, and we were waiting on one more. I decided to check out the engraving station. It was $20.00 but this was only my 3rd half marathon so I figured why not. Then they told my time. I PR’d by about 5 mins. I was under the 2:30 mark. Oh ya! engrave that medal for me.
There was a merchandise tent like last year, some local companies advertising and then also the glorious beer tent. Everyone runs for a beer at the end right? It was about 11am at this point. So we stood and enjoyed the live music playing in the park by the water. I could still see the people running across the bridge above me. Randomly I would turn my head and cheer them on. I may not know them, but they all are friends and family.
My First Ragnar Experience
So about 10 months ago I had volunteered my running skills for a Ragnar Race. Had I ever heard about it before? No...Had I seen one before?...No. I think I had a case of the green eyed running monster. Wanting to do something because someone else had. So this is a little bit of my experience.
The thursday before hubby and I went to pick up the rental van from A1 Vans. We were meeting our captain and other driver there. I was slightly nervous for Rick having to drive it. Having never spent any time in one...it felt huge. So we picked it up and headed over to Road Runners in Tempe. Mandatory safety check, and pre race get together with the group.
I had never met a couple of my van mates before. So it was good to at least meet them in person. The kids of the ragnar folk decorated our vans. That was entertaining. Headed back home, loaded the van up with our water and personal items. Needless to say I over packed like always. My stuff didn't consume the van. You never know what you are going to need in the middle of the desert, but yes. I did over pack and had to admit to Rick he was right and I was wrong.
At 2am I woke up with butterflies thinkin OH SHIT...what did i get myself into. Woke up Rick, we headed over to Laurens home. We had lots of energy drinks and starbuck coffee drinks. Everyone drove there as our meeting point. We packed up the rest of the stuff and took off.
We were off to Wickenburg. Pitch black, driving down a highway we had never been before. Thank goodness for GPS and fellow van mates. One of our van mates Mark had done this before a few years back, and Lauren was a walking gps unit. (she gave us directions even while sleeping)--great talent!! The drive to Wickenburg was about an hour and 15 minutes. We questioned if we were going the right way till we saw it.
A parking lot full of other vans and the big Ragnar chute. Now I understood the importance of decorating the van. How the heck would you locate your van amongst a million other white vans? We saw the odd vehicle that was brightly coloured ( a red van, burgundy van and even a motorhome)...but for the most part it was all rentals. We were not allowed to draw on the bodies...but window markers on the glass was OK.
The names were hilarious. The decorations were fantastic. Some people even used christmas lights both inside and out. One van even looked like a disco theatre. People had their names on the vans, slogans, even pictures of themselves.
We made our way to the field.Romy had to get our t shirts because he was the only one wearing a bib at that point in time. Sadly the bibs didn't have our names. Just our team number (47) and team name TORTURED SOLS .
Stacey met us there to send Romy off. He was our first leg. They announce our team name and blast a horn and off he goes. Into the dark….pitch dark. No lights. No street lamps. Just his head lamp and blinker. We drove along the street trying to find a pull over spot. This was a no support zone...but being this our first rodeo and it was super dark we wanted to stop. We risked the citation.If the ragnar police saw you doing something against the rules,they would give you a citation. 3 strikes and you're out. There were lots of vans pulled over. So we were like eh. They did tell us to move, but no written warnings. So we continued along the mountain. Oh ya….Romy got stuck running up a mountain. Not what he expected at 5:30m
So we found the exchange. Parked our van amongst 300 others and waited. The sunrise was gorgeous on the mountains. The porta potty lines not so much. Being nervous, I musta peed like a million and a half times.
So we waited for Romy at the exchange.He made some kick ass time. He snapped the orange bracelet on Lauren and off she went. Her leg was a support allowed. So we stopped half way. Any time we want to cross the street we had to use orange flags. Heather had way too much fun with those. Maybe she was a flag girl in high school and didn't want to admit it.
While waiting for Lauren to come by us, Sly started to get ready. And by get ready i mean he started sprinting up and down the street. WOAH boy...save that energy for your run.
Sly was a stand in. Israel backed out feigning an injury. Last minute. Caused a lot of stress...but he found us a replacement. He ended up being a superstar and not realizing it. This boy was running 7 minute miles and barely breaking a sweat.
So Sly handed off to me and off I go. Step step..bounce bounce...step step. Okay I got this...and then my brain starts to talk. I start to get killed (killed is being passed by another person). Great job...keep going...you're almost there. The words of encouragement seem like a slap in my face. I didn't wear my nike watch. I had no idea on what pace I was holding. I was embarrassed I got passed a million times. My bluetooth wasn't connecting. And I didn't wanna fiddle with gettin my phone out. So the lack of music made the run seem even longer. 6.5miles.I handed off to Mark and started crying. Heather said I did fantastic. Rick said I kept the pace I was suppose to. We were not behind our projected time.
Mark took off….in super speedy fashion. He was a veteran runner. Super strong, super fast. We stopped half way, cheered Mark on. He didn't really need any support but enjoyed the festivities of it. He passed on to Heather. She was runner number six.
Did I mention Heather is clumsy? She ended up dropping the snap bracelet. It was awesome. I thought I would be the first to drop it.
While Heather did her super mamma run, the boys ran into some damsels in distress. They locked themselves out of their van. No spare keys, with the keys in the ignition. Rick, Romy and Sly tried to break in with plyers, a metal clothes hanger and antenna. No luck. They spend a good 20 minutes trying before we had to move on to the next exchange.
That was the first big exchange. Stacey and van 2 met us there. There was a big chute, and vendors there. It was starting to get hot out, so Heathers time ended up being a bit slower than projected. But we were still ahead of the game.
She passed off to Anthony Heller and off he went. Another one of our supermen on the team. Apparently he's not much of a runner. He does spartan events. More strength based. But that puts him in peak running condition. Just like Sly. Sly is an MMA athlete. Doesn't run, but had running as a training practise. Doesn't like it, but damn good at it.
Our van headed over to Surprise. Laurens mad GPS skills got us there. We headed to a subway/ pizza place. No one was really as hungry as they thought, but we know we needed to refuel.
Off to Chris’ office we went. Chris is Lauren's husband. Another super runner. He didnt wanna participate in Ragnar due to a bad experience last time. He is a physiotherapist. His office is in a gym. He let us in and to use the facilities. That was the best shower ever. Rick laid down watching Maury. I tried to nap but was not tired enough to sleep. It was relaxing just laying there on the beds. Re-energized. With great appreciation off we went to the next big exchange.
We had a long stretch until we started our night legs. There was a big field where people were laying down resting. There was a high school so we were able to use their showers there. Thankfully we didn't have to wait for a shower. Lots of vendors. The Ragnar merchandise was there. Sadly I lost my compression sleeves. I bought a pair of black ragnar compression socks. Not as good as slaves...but better than nothing.
One of our volunteers was at this exchange. Rick managed to snag a coveted volunteer had for me as a momento. Van 2 was running a little behind our projected schedule. The nerves and atmosphere I think got to everyone. It was a little more overwhelming that what we expected. While waiting we noticed we were starting a magnet collection on our van. That was a fun way to tag other vans. I didnt know. It was sooooo much fun. In the back of my head I was like I am soooooooo getting magnets next year. Rick went around tagging other vans with the window markers. We also kept a tally of our kills on the side of the van. We were suppose to tally how many time we were killed also.But lets be honest….we got killed way more than we killed. So for morale we just tallied the kills.
Finally we were off to leg 2. Romy was off, handed off to lauren, who handed off to sly, who then handed off to me. Off I went….trudging along the road. It wasn't too bad. Yes I got killed lots...but I wasn't in poor spirits. step step….OUCH.
My clumsy ass fell. Not really over anything.I just stepped off the corner and landed on the ground. Since I was down there...I figured I may as well message my husband. I guess that was a bad idea because I ended up worrying the group. I got up...shook it off. Had a few niggles but kept moving. Then I turned right and there it was. The BIGGEST mountain I had ever seen. Watch out for the stones...they are loose. So...up I go I guess...I couldn't move the mountain and couldn't go around it. So up I went….and lost all energy. Holy shite. I knew I had some elevation increase….but not like this. Finally when I got to the top...I was even more scared. I had to go down this beast. In the dark. Where are the lights?? oh there are none. This is the trail aspect of the race. Did I know there was trail running?? Nope. Had I trained for it? Nope. Did I have an idea how to trail run? Not a clue. So down I went… I didn't fall (thank goodness) But man was I scared. I couldnt see. And there were more mountains. Up….and down….up and down...The up part I was pacing like 13-14 min miles….down the mountains was like 10 min miles. Then through a big field. All you could see was little blinkin lights in front of you. I tried to keep to the right (you know..runners etiquette. If you are slow stay on the right so they can pass on the left).And finally I saw it. The most beautiful sight ever. ONE MILE TO GO!! I didn't think I was going to make it. Not like I was going to be eaten
by coyotes (although I did end up seeing one later on during the race crossing a street). I just didn't think I would make it till the end. Off to Mark I went and bam. The I want to quit this is stupid kicked in. My pace ended up being a 13:35 per mile. Not as bad as I expected but not what I wanted. Took me almost exactly 1 hour and 30 mins for 6.8 miles. I had put us behind schedule. I was suppose to be done in like 1 hour and 15 mins.
Back to the van….back on the road we went. The lack of sleep and lack of food was starting to kick in. I know I was starting to snip and snap. RIck was getting tired. Everyone was cat napping in between legs at exchanges.
We were at the last night leg waiting on Heather. And what a killer leg it was. More mountains, more trail running. That leg kicked everyones ass. This put us even more behind our projected time frame. Heather was emotionally done and tired. She passed off to Anthony and went to the van and bam. WIthin like 5 seconds she was sleeping. Lauren directed us back to civilization. Mark went to his parents place for a couple hours. We went home. Planned on meeting back at Laurens place at 6:45am. Rick crashed. Hard. I enjoyed a shower in my own home….cleaned out the van a bit and just sat having a root beer. I didn't sleep. I was too wired. But damn that alone time was magnificent.
Stacey and I kept up to date on pacing. Her group was doing fantastic. Mostly on schedule. We grabbed some McDonalds and off to Romy’s last leg. He took off. He looked like he was hurting...we stopped to van support him He was good. His knees were shot from all the pavement running. He killed that last leg. He wasn't happy with the time, but we were proud of his finish!
Lauren took the next leg...and what a killer leg that was. Lots of hills...limited van support. Got out some cold bottles of water for her and the others passing. I went a little crazy with the cowbell. She made it. Like a trooper. Little slower than projected time...but it was getting HOT and those hills were continuous.
She passed off to our superboy Sly. He was suppose to have an easy 9 miles(ha ha). According to the map it was suppose to be a climb for about 2 miles and then all downhill. Ya nope. It was hill after hill after hill. He drove it out. 9miles in the heat in less than one hour and 10 mins. He pulled it all out and then crashed.
My leg wasn't too bad. There were a few rolling hills, but the heat was HOT off the pavement. I felt like I was going to drag the team down some more. We were already 2 hours behind and at risk of not finishing in time. I was like Oh well. I befriended a lady named Brenda. This was also her first ragnar. Her pace was a tad slower than mine. She was doing a lot of walking. Did I mention it was hot?? We walked a bit. Took a selfie with the one mile to go sign. I said my goodbye and took off. I passed off to Mark. I guess he wasnt ready. I had done that 4.2 miles in less than 45. If I didnt walk with Brenda it would've been faster. But it was the most enjoyable leg. I had enjoyed watching the runners come into my exchange.Our volunteer was entertaining. He was also a runner. He made sure the runners needs were first and was a fantastic crowd controller.
So I passed to Mark….It was getting even hotter. We made sure to stop to support him with water. He didn't take any. It was a no support zone(I think) but others were stopping. It was too hot not too. There was one water exchange. But we gave him a bottle of cold water. He made it to his last exchange in one piece. The end was uphill. Ick.
We drove to the Exchange. I must've been outta my mind ( I still had not slept yet BTW) because I volunteered to run a couple miles with Heather. Heather was going to do 2 miles and then Romy was gonna sub in. Heather had forgotten something at the van. So back she went….I waited a the exchange and who comes up the hill? Mark. Well….since Im here I might as well go. Snap and off I went. This time I brought more water with me.
Holy smokes...more hills :( How did Heather manage to get 2 super hilly legs?? Note to self...next ragnar read the maps and legs more carefully. Now that I know how to read them. Learning curve. The heat….the hills….We made it through our legs.
Staceys van was waiting at the last big exchange. Down came Heather...in fine spirits. She handed off to Super Spartan Anthony and off he went into the sunshine. We grouped up to discuss our meeting plans for tonight. But we were done!! We had to run all our legs….plus I ran almost half of another leg.
6.5 miles...6.8 miles….4.2 miles...and then 2 extra miles within 28 hours and 15 mins (i started at 845 am friday morning and ended approx 1pm Saturday afternoon) on NO sleep and minimal food intake. That is quite bad assery.
We drove back to Phoenix, filled up the gas tank and stopped and in and out burger. I was really starting to drag. I tried to zonk out...but just couldn't. Lauren directed us home. Everyone cleared out the van. The funk was still there...but with no bodies or stuff.
Home we went. Another blissful shower and still no sleep. We sat for a bit, talked about the experience and back into a vehicle we went. This time….it was our own. Our own clean, smell free comfortable SUV.
We ended up in Mesa. The Ragnar finale. Met up with our group.Tortured Sols. Rick originally thought it was tortured souls. God my feet felt tortured. 2 nasty blisters. My left calf muscle had a knot in it….but other than that I felt fantastic. We met up by the water and ran through the chute!! Even our wonderful drivers. We crossed that finish line as a team. As a tortured sol family. The medals are fantastic. The music and announcers were awesome. It was a loud celebration of what we accomplished. It wasn't so much of a good bye, but more of a we kicked ass and we will see you all next year. lol had I had the money I would've signed us all up for next year. Despited the horrible trail mountain leg and getting over the emotional being killed...I loved every part of it!! We said goodbye but knew we would never be forgotten.
Our trek went through:
I am so glad I went on this adventure. And even better I got to bring my husband with me. He didn't run, but he made sure we got where we needed to. Boosted morale, made sure we had food, sleep, water. We all took something different away from this, and can not wait till next time. 205.9 miles...we kicked your ass!!