Gruß vom Krampus: Krampus Cross Country 10k Recap

Some girls shop online for cute clothes and shoes, I shop for my next race. Call me crazy but I am constantly on runningintheusa.com perusing my possibilities to explore a new trail or road. I found Sasquatch Racing through Instagram to my surprise and was even more pleased when I received a free entry into their Krampus 10k event.

An early start prompted a thirty minute drive up the peninsula, to the Marina district of San Francisco. The sun had cast off it’s pajamas, had his coffee and was in full force of making the day a clear and beautiful one. Work kept me from an early bib pickup and beer sampling at A Runner’s Mind in SF the Friday before Sunday’s event, but Sasquatch made race morning a breeze!

Ample parking was found just a short walk from the start. A few stairs took me away from my car and towards a road leading to a grass field that would host the start and post-race festivities. A small table stood on one side of the field where two volunteers were checking off names in exchange for bibs. I easily collected mine, as well as a black tech shirt, exhibiting the Krampus event logo. With a few minutes until the start, I decided to ditch my jacket and a nice volunteer offered her surveillance as I ran. As I did not want to throw my jacket into a pile of bags others had left, I graciously accepted her offer.

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Start and Finish

Race

A member of the Sasquatch Racing team had us off and running just after 8. I had to laugh as I crossed the start and he yelled, “Keep going! You’re almost there!” (Note: This is funny at the start of a 10k but not on mile 14 of a marathon!)

Immediate elevation gain stung my lungs and I was taken off guard. Have I not been training long distance since July? Oh boy! It was fine once I got my pace after the first mile.

Surrounded by giant redwood trees and bay air replenishing my lungs, I was taking in the beautiful views of San Francisco’s Presidio and even catching glimpses of the water. Sasquatch Racing had advertised small silver medallions placed along the trail that would serve as tokens to collect prizes at the end of the race. I am not sure if it was my more modest pace or the scenery stealing my gaze, but I never happened upon any prize winning medallions.

From packed trails, to roads and wood walkways, this course offered a nice variety of terrain over the span of six miles. A number of volunteers helped to direct our pack and safely maneuver traffic. I headed down a road to be greeting by the distance frontrunners, 3 males, one of them donning the bib number, 666.

I made my way along some more wood walkways with deep gradual steps. A set of stairs stood between a short cul-de sac turn towards the finish. I grabbed some Gubrew, thanked the volunteers and made my back over the befriended ground.

I was able to cheer those along that were still heading out as I ran back. Over the wood turning to asphalt, and dirt, I felt stronger heading home. The trail felt more alive with different forms of energy coming from nearby walkers, trail yogi’s and other race goers.

I was able to pass a few people and was happy to come up upon the former ascent, descending toward’s the finish and Krampus.

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Too fast for Krampus 😛

After crossing the tape, I was greeted by strands of flowers, and volunteers waiting to place the woodallions around finisher’s necks. I grabbed a quick photo with Krampus himself and caught a glimpse of the winner, Bib 666.

Post-Race

I headed towards a small lineup of tables, where volunteers had made little goodie bags containing Beanitos chips, Bare baked apple pieces, Kettle chips, and pieces of candy such as Twizzlers and Nerds. Reps from Noosa yogurt were handing out samples of their rich and delicious pumpkin variety, as well as Bark Thins giving out small bags of their snacking chocolate. Hint water handed out bottles of their refreshing fruit water.

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Post-Race Nutrition 

I want to give a huge shoutout to Sasquatch Racing for putting on a fabulous event. It felt like one big family, between the Sasquatch crew, volunteers and the race goers helping put out a fun and safe atmosphere throughout the course. Registration and parking was easy as can be, and the course was beautiful.

With multiple races throughout the year, I look forward to checking out more of their events in 2018!

The Runologist

Loco for Cocoa: Hot Chocolate Scottsdale Recap

Most family and friends tend to look at eye color and facial structure to understand whether a baby gets a certain feature from each parent, my family measures adoration for chocolate in likeness to my grandmother’s side of the family. No one can compete with her love of double chocolate (don’t forget the chocolate syrup!) milkshakes and twelve king size bars she acquires each Christmas. While my grandmother is the Queen of all things chocolate I am a Princess. My sweet tooth however, still led me to the Hot Chocolate series and after not receiving my fill of chocolate in 2016, I decided to return for more in 2017!

Expo and Bib Pick-up:

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Free samples at the expo! Don’t mind if I do! 🙂

Hot Chocolate sets up camp at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. This is a giant baseball stadium which hosts baseball teams such as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies for spring training sessions. The covered promenade section was converted from pretzel and hot dog sellers, to all things chocolate for the weekend’s festivities.

Upon entering, bib pickup was located to the left. With a simple scan of one’s mobile ticket or a gander of an I.D. the runner was given their bib and sent to pickup the Hot Chocolate logo’d 1/4 zip included with registration. This year’s option was purple for female runners and blue for the men. This is a nice change from a typical race t-shirt.

There were chiropractors doing massages, as well as vendors selling socks, shirts, nutrition. Sole Sports Running Zone had a nice setup with a miscellany of discounted shoes. Hot Chocolate even had their own little section of branded shirts and jackets.

Having been to quite a few expos throughout my running career thus far, I now make a point of getting in and out. That being said, I may have stopped by the Hot Chocolate booth handing out samples of cocoa and fondue, however.

Many of the Scottsdale hotels will offer shuttles within a certain mile radius which is a nice bonus to look out for! I grabbed an Uber, as my hotel only had shuttles that ran during the week and set out to explore the town for the remainder of the afternoon.

Race:

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A chocolate bar big enough for my grandmother! 

The race starts on one of the roads within the Salt River Field facility. With 2 distances and many corrals, event staff slated the 5k for a 7:30 start and the 15k close behind at 8:15.

With about 40 Port o’ Johns there were still huge lines. I arrived at the start with about 30 minutes and spent all of that time waiting for my turn. Luckily the start was stalled a few minutes and before I knew it, I was off and running.

This course is nice and flat, allowing views of the McDowell and Phoenix Mountains. By the first mile, volunteers were handing out marshmallows. These were not average mallows however, but displayed a golden hue and tasted similar to caramel!

This station was followed by Nuun, an electrolyte beverage, and water cups.

After another mile or two, I came across another station handing out chocolate chips. These semi-sweet chocolate pieces proved to be a nice stimulant. With more hydration to follow, I ran onward, my gait feeling slightly clunky.54_1012569_enm3511285162ram

As I weaved my way through this small section of Scottsdale, the streets are lined with small businesses and offices and of course, enthusiastic volunteers.

I came upon another sweet station of Christmas colored candy corn but opted out of this sampling. With a few turns, I was running towards the aquarium. I had hit the 10k mark in 58 minutes, my first time receiving a sub hour time. With only three more miles to go, I focused on keeping my stride the same.

I turned up a slight incline, about a mile of road before I would U-Turn and make my way back to the baseball fields. The final sweet station was located at mile 8, passing out candy canes with Nuun and water following just behind.

Once again, I opted out of this one, being so close to the finish line. As I entered back onto another road leading into the Salt River Fields facility, families were stationed holding signs and cheering. Even runners who had already finished were urging runners on, calculating how many more seconds of running we would have to endure.

I crossed the finish line with an 8 minute P.R. from last year’s race. A volunteer placed a chocolate bar medal around my neck and I was off to the finish line area, ready to receive my chocolate finisher’s mug.

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Posing with some old friends

Post- Race: 

This giant plastic wonder is divided into sections. The middle holds a steaming cup of delicious hot chocolate. Perfectly rich without being too sugary. Next is a section of hot, chocolate fondue, perfect for dipping all of your goodies in. A mini krispy treat, pretzels, banana, cookies, marshmallow and mint are the perfect accompaniment.

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Definitely worth a 9 mile run!

I had saved some of the sweets from the course for extra dipping pleasure. (Perks to having a hydration pack!)

This area is perfect to celebrate post-run victories. With plenty of room to sit and enjoy the finisher mug, there are also games for the kids and young at heart. A DJ was playing music to keep the party alive.

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If you enjoy chocolate this is the race for you! The expo is easy and fun while the race offers plentiful support. I hope to see you, chocolate covered fingers and all, in 2018!

The Runologist

Gettin’ Lucky in Vegas: RNR Half-Marathon Recap

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While I am not a fan of Las Vegas during the day, when the sun sets, the strip becomes a completely different place. I walked across the bridge connecting the MGM Grand to the New York hotel. My eyes were focused on the marathon corrals in place, ready to run. Soon, I joined them, focusing on the DJ and the helicopters overhead, a reminder of October’s tragic event.

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As a new corral was released, I slowly inched forward towards the start line. As I was about to start, the leaders appeared on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard, a steady battle to see who could maintain power, strength, eventually being the victor to break the tape.

Half-Marathon

The course led me towards Mandalay Bay. For the first couple of miles, the road was rough and dark, with just enough light to illuminate the potholes.

I came up on the infamous Las Vegas sign, deciding not to stop for a picture but a blurry, mid-run capture would have to do! I loved the turn around at the 2 mile mark. As the sky grew darker and inky, the Strip was irradiating radiant colors,  coaxing the runners closer.

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As I passed the airport, my legs were carrying me further down the Strip. I came upon the start and corrals were still being released. The vibrance to my left and right and from what I could see ahead helped me to find a comfortable pace and stay on it. I was just reaching the stretch of live bands performing on course! This is what Rock n’ Roll is known for and it was fun to see musicians playing tribute to Kiss and covering songs both new and loved.

As I was nearing the end of the Strip, the energy changed slightly. I had hit the end of hotels and casinos and found myself in a more dreary area that was home to some pawn shops. The course picked up again once I hit the section of wedding chapels! These are a kick! Fake flowers and huge animatronic Elvis’ dancing on signs really takes the mind off the distance. Rock n’ Roll even offers a run through wedding option, which many couples take advantage of each year!

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At mile 8, volunteers were handing out SIS gel. I’m not sure if it was because I was in the middle of the road and it was dark, but I totally missed seeing the volunteers handing out the gels until I had passed them.

Nearing the north end of the Strip, I was flying towards the Downtown area and Arts district. Complete with neon signs and lots of color, I made a little loop onto Fremont St, enjoying the view before it was a straight shot to the finish.

Whenever I am within a few miles of the finish, I always try to spy landmarks and configure my proximity. While there were mile markers on the course, they weren’t as prominant as they are in other races. I hit the Stratosphere and knew that the Mirage volcano was not too far behind.

Once again, I felt the lights from the city illuminating the road and energy on course, as if each bulb had its own cowbell. A race announcer was floating above the finish, hoisted by a balloon as she cheered on the incoming runners.

I crossed the finish a minute faster than my previous PR at Urban Cow in October. As good as I felt for the whole race, I was able to push hard and was hoping for more than a minute improvement.

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I collected my spinning die medal and picked up some water, pringles, Oatmega bar, chocolate milk and Pocky sticks . I took a minute to replenish my body with some protein and salt! I didn’t get my ID checked at the expo, so without a wristband, I was not able to get a beer at the finish.

As I slowly made my way down the strip towards my hotel, I kept stopping at medical tents asking for a mylar blanket. Each one told me to keep going down until I finally hit the last one which did not possess any either. While the race was warmer than some years, this is still something I like to see at finish lines. When will I learn my lesson to pack a jacket in bag check?

With the finish line location near the Bellagio, I had a little walk down the strip. The other side of the boulevard had not yet been opened to traffic so I was able to easily cross and make my way back towards the south end of the Strip.

This race has been on my bucket list for a couple years now and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. With contagious energy, the run felt fun and effortless. I wish the beginning of the course was able to offer more lighting for runners and the tables of gel made more easily visible and accessible. Neither of these are deal breakers, just small things noticed.

I had a blast catching up with old friends, eating delicious food and accumulating some miles. The Strip is definitely one of my favorite victory lap spots to date! I hope to visit again in 2018.

The Runologist

Hummus is Yummus: Healthy and Portable Snack Alternatives

I lead an active lifestyle. When I am not driving to the gym, I am heading to work, hitting the trails and I never seem to stop. While I am a fan of protein bars, so many of them contain chocolate, which on warmer days, starts to melt and can create a mess. I have compiled a list of my favorite car snacks that fair well in the warmest and coldest of conditions.

Chomps

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Courtesy of Google Images

I cannot get enough of these grass-fed beef sticks! I love the Original flavor but the Jalapeño puts some zest in my step! With only 100 calories and 9 grams of protein, these are the perfect snack to help muscles recover, while also filling a gap between meals!

Munk Pack

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Courtesy of Google Images

With a variety of flavors to choose from, these oatmeal and fruit packs are perfect for a quick breakfast or snack. These pouches contain a good source of fiber and Omega 3 (flax) that help keep my energy up throughout the day. Ranging from 90-110 calories, depending on the flavor, I love this marriage of fruit puree and oats!

Oloves

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Courtesy of Google Images

I love keeping a packet of these pitted olives in my car for a salty yet beneficial snack! Olives are full of vitamins, minerals as well as amino acids. These elements help to strengthen the immune system while natural fats and oils help to speed up recovery! With only 50 calories per pouch, Oloves provide a quick boost with minimal calories.

Mr. Cheese O’s

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Courtesy of Google Images

This protein filled snack is the perfect accompaniment to any trail or post workout fuel! Made with real cheese and organic quinoa, these crunchy bites offer delicious flavor and 10 grams of protein in a one ounce serving!

Wild Zora Meat and Veggie Bars

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Courtesy of Google Images

Whether I am on the trails or out running errands, Wild Zora gives my body the satisfaction it needs when I am on the go. A healthier and more tender alternative to jerky, Wild Zora creates delicious flavors packed with 7-9 grams of protein. Calories ranch from 100-130 per packet with a variety of meat to choose from such as beef, lamb, pork and turkey.

I hope you find the perfect fuel to keep healthy and strong!

The Runologist

Everything Happens For A Riesling: Wine and Dine Half-Marathon Review

After munching on the 10k the previous morning, I was ready to take on the main course of the Wine and Dine weekend. I put on a white shirt, tights and a bavarian hostess dirndl to complete the ensemble. While it is not an iconic Disney character, I dressed to support Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival!

I walked to the front of my hotel and once again found a bus waiting to take me to the Magic Kingdom parking lot! I managed to arrive even a couple minutes earlier than the morning before, giving myself plenty of time to listen to the DJ, gaze at the event stage before parking myself on the ground of my corral. There was talk of the previous morning’s lip-sync battle and I easily could have enjoyed a second round, but pretty soon it was time to start running.

I was excited! It was a new day with a different course and my first stop would be Animal Kingdom, giving my eyes the opportunity to take in what they could of Pandora.

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2017 Half-Marathon Route

Race:

4 miles stood between the start line and entering into Animal Kingdom. These first few miles took participants along tree-lined back roads. While the sun had no quite woken up yet, I felt energized with grass and trees surrounding me, unlike the rubble and machinery that had lined the 10k course.

Fairly early into the course came the first character stop, Fairies, from Peter Pan and Tinkerbell’s spinoff adventures. I carried on, running into Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa before seeing King Louis and Rafiki. Can you tell I was nearing Animal Kingdom from the genre of character stops?

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Running through Animal Kingdom 

I entered the park, running through Harambe Market, getting a quick taste of what is modeled after Africa’s informal sector. Themed markets lined our path and dancers from Festival of the Lion King greeted me with smiles and waving hands.

Eroding marketplaces soon turned primitive with a wooden walkway being the only natural thing amongst a sea of jungle. The path changes to asphalt as I entered the Valley of the Mo’ara. Still surrounded by jungle, the path opens up and the Ayram, (which is Na’vi for the floating, “Hallelujah Mountains”) come into view. These lofty rock formations, tower over-head and certainly take your breath away! (Was it the Ayram or the last four miles I had run?)

I was so excited to run through Pandora and every detail exceeded my expectations. While I did not receive any Banshee assistance to the finish line, I carried on towards the Tree of Life, then into Dino territory.

A quick exit into the parking lot, led runners to a couple of longer stretches along the highway. With the sun trying to peek through the fog, it was hot and I now had an explanation to why I could not find a drive.

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Hanging with some of my favorite bears! 🙂

I stopped for a quick photo with the Country Bears and wish I had done the same for Mary Poppins’ Penguins. As we approached mile 9, we came onto a circular on ramp that would take us on an overpass towards Hollywood Studios.

Just as the morning before, Oswald greeted runners as they entered the Studios behind Tower of Terror and onto the boulevards. Runners followed the same path towards Epcot, so I could find relief in the familiarity of the course.

Instead of going straight into the theme park as we did the morning before, runners took to the water’s edge and followed the path along Disney resort hotels. Genie greeted runners by the Boardwalk and the course finally entered into Epcot.

I was hoping for the shorter route by the U.K. and Canada to take us to the finish but realized we were running all the way around World Showcase. I had to walk a few steps, devastated by the realization of the lengthy world travels ahead. I kicked myself into gear with only a mile left, Dopey and Mushu cheered me along.

I was relieved when I was practically under Spaceship Earth, a short sprint to the finish line. In a little over two hours, it was nowhere near my P.R. from the beginning of October but a few minutes faster than last year’s Wine and Dine. I can blame my head cold and the humidity but I am okay that this was not my race. All runners will have those days and this journey is about realizing the worst has not yet happened and the celebration of victories are just on recess.

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Flying 

This course has been my favorite I have run at WDW thus far. While I am partial to Disneyland races as they supply more park miles within their courses, this race returned a similar vibe to those events hosted in California.

Finish Line:

I collected my half medal as well as my Two Course Challenge passport, commemorating nineteen race miles, and multiple countries visited. I replenished with water but left the contents of my snack box (Oreos, applesauce, tortilla chips, cheese, dried fruit) to be consumed at a later date, as I had scheduled a rendezvous with some sweet potato pancakes.

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Photo Courtesy of RunDisney

Post-Race Party:

What makes Wine and Dine race weekend extra magical, is the Post-Race Party which is held Sunday evening after the race. All half participants received a complimentary ticket and had the option to buy additional tickets for non-runner family members and friends.

As this would be my only visit to a theme park for the Wine and Dine weekend, I was especially excited. While the party did not officially start until 10 to give the kiosks time to restock and employees to kick the non-runners out, early entry started at 8. I arrived a little before and was able to get into the park.

I visited some of the International booths making sure to replenish my muscles with protein and carbs and of course some libations! 🙂

 

As the park slowly started to clear out, I headed towards Norway to get in line for Frozen Ever After. I only had to wait about twenty minutes while the ride normally boasts an hour at the least.

On my way to ride Test Track, a line was forming to take pictures with the Three Cabarellos. Between minimal wait times for rides, special character photo opportunities and a DJ to keep the evening fun and alive, the party proved to be a sweet, final course to a decadent weekend.

The Runologist

Will Hoof It for Cowbell: Urban Cow Half-Marathon Recap

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27 minutes until the start!

Cow bells are commonly seen at races, luring runners toward the finish. The cow bell is a symbol for greatness, as it is not seen on every animal in the herd, but it is reserved for the fastest and strongest animal who will lead the others. As the sound causes a desire to move ahead or run faster than the others, I always welcome the empowering jangle to move my feet just a pinch faster.

I don’t run for bling and this is one of two lies I told myself when registering for the Urban Cow Half Marathon. I saw the blue cow bell medal featured on social media outlets along with a kooky slogan of, “A Race Like No Udder,” so I obviously had to register. How could I deny myself a medal that  symbolizes so much? They also promised a flat and fast course so I told myself to just have fun and not push it, (Lie #2) as I had already ran and PR’ed 19.3 of the 22.4 miles I had run the weekend prior.

Living about two hours south of Sacramento, I booked one night in a downtown hotel and spent Saturday afternoon exploring the city after picking up my bib.

Expo

Fleet Feet Sports dedicated hours both Friday and Saturday to participants picking up bibs. Located on one end of a shop and restaurant filled street, I was happy to see ample parking along all sides of their block, as well as a few spots in a lot just steps from their back door.

Pick up was a breeze as I collected my number, beer wristband and shirt. Urban Cow had a small merchandise area, teasing shirts, hats and even cow print compression socks. I also paid a quick trip inside because would I even be a runner if I didn’t gander? The store was offering some discounts for runners on specific brands such as New Balance, which was nice of them!

Race Day

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Pre-race Twinning!

I decided to Uber a few miles to the start the morning of the race. The race offered parking at a nearby college with a shuttle but since I did not know the area, I decided not to add any stress to the morning.

Urban Cow had a nice setup in the William Land Regional Park. With vendor tents, a bag check and even bicycle parking for the eco-friendly commuters. Event staff even had rented a cow themed bounce house for the little ones!

The race started promptly after an anthem with two waves releasing the half-marathon runners first, followed by the 5k. Shade from lofty trees provided some cooler temps for the first mile as we weaved through the park.

I felt like Pac Man as I made my way through sinuous neighborhood streets. Local high school volunteers were out every couple miles with water, keeping us well hydrated.

I finally came across the first of many bands on course which was a trio singing country. We made our way through an industrial district making our way towards Downtown Sacramento. Ukes of Earl were playing around the  mile 4 mark, inviting a lovely taste of the tropics as runners went by. I kept checking in with my body and my watch, surprising myself with a comfortable yet decent pace.

Grand arched signs in green and black with gold lettering dictated our nearing arrival in Old Sacramento. An underpass brought us to a street that resembled an old western town. A small collection of stores, saloons and museums present a facade from an older era.

I caught a glimpse of the yellow Sacramento bridge and followed the bike path along the river towards the midway point. Urban Cow offers a two person relay, giving a pair of runners to split the distance of the half. This transition could have been a little better organized to avoid runners stopping right in front of those not participating in the relay exchange.

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Continuing another half mile on the path, we entered Miller Park where  a couple more bands would grace our ear drums. At this point in the race,  the tribute rock bands were much appreciated, giving runners an energizing tempo to match our running pace to.

Miles 8-10 parallel the Sacramento River, presenting participants with scenery and a nice breeze. During this portion of the course, Urban Cow provided motivational signs expressing admiration of our feat thus far. Towards the end of this stretch, a Chinese drum band tapped runners in the direction of the finish.

A sharp lefthand turn, takes runners from the bike path onto Riverside Blvd. I saw the tips of trees and knew the park was close, my legs trying to keep pace with my heart. Volunteers and spectators were complimenting my cow hat and encouraging me to hoof it the final two miles.

Finally we turned into William Land Regional and runners just ahead ushered me back along what was the first mile of the course. Finally the finish line was in sight but the road curved into a giant U, still putting some distance between our current location and the tape. With the clock looming, my feet felt light and fast and before I knew it, my arms were up in the air and I was celebrating a five minute PR from the weekend before!

Beyond the Finish

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Finish Line Feels! 🙂

I was one with the herd. While everyone around me was “bearing their bell,” I was too, in the sense, “to take the first place.” Of course I did not break the tape, but taking first place in my mind and heart with my shiny new PR!

With my medal clanging, I continued down the finish chute towards water and food. Volunteers passed out mini Lara bars, Clover greek yogurt, chocolate milk, trays of strawberries, and glazed donut holes (I was ecstatic about this last provision).

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Race Provisions

I headed to the beer garden to mingle and discover Lagunitas offering two varieties of brew. Volunteers even were filling paper food trays with salty Kettle Chips! This race thought of everything! While I know I’m supposed to replenish my muscles with protein, sometimes my soul is just too loud, so I indulge on carbs and fat.

I traveled to this race thinking it would be a fun, local event. Urban Cow turned out to be one of my favorite events this year! The half was very well organized with quality shirts and medals, providing runners with about ten local bands on course! I HIGHLY recommend this event to anyone who finds themselves in the Sacramento area next fall!

I hope to see you out moo’ving on the roads and trails!

The Runologist