Oct 31, 2016

Haunted Half Part 1: Salt Lake City 5K (Race Report)

The Haunted Halfs were the races I was most looking forward to all year--the Haunted Half series. Combining Halloween, costumes, and running is just like mixing my favorite things together in one awesome event. And these races delivered! They were well organized, had great race swag and shirts, spooky music, decorations galore, and some pretty nice finisher bling. I signed up for both halfs, Salt Lake City and Provo, back in April.

But, come race week for the first race, Salt Lake, I came down with a pretty nasty cold. Couple that with going six months before finally seeing my endocrinologist for my autoimmune disease, and I just couldn't physically do the race distance. So, I emailed the race director and they switched me to the 5K. I can always go at least 3 miles, so that was perfect. And that was a load off my back.

The Pumpkin Arch
The entrance to the race expo for packet pick-up was a giant inflatable pumpkin arch. All the expo booths (at both expos) had Halloween candy, so my daughter enjoyed going from booth to booth saying "trick-or-treat." There were plenty of photo booth opportunities, perfect for social media. My swag bag was filled with coupons to local businesses; free samples of soap, KT tape, and even shower wipes; Halloween temporary tattoos, Haunted Half gloves, and a super soft long sleeve Haunted Half shirt. I may actually still be wearing the shirt now.

We were up bright and early for the SLC race, since we had about an hour drive to get there. With the stress of trying to run a half marathon when I was feeling so sick now put at ease, I was feeling ready and pretty excited for this race. That excitement skyrocketed once we drove up to event parking and I saw all the decorations set up along the final mile of the race course. What can I say--Halloween decorations and Halloween music really puts me in the mood for a Halloween event.

As a family, we all dressed up. I was super-woman, my husband was super-man, and our daughter was super-girl. Which made us the super-family, as many race runners and spectators pointed out. It was chilly that morning, so I layered with my Skirt Sports redemption knicks. They worked great for this run, since I was still able to comfortably wear my super-girl socks (complete with cape) and I could stow my keys and phone in the pockets. I didn't want to layer with a long sleeve shirt since it was supposed to warm up, so I threw on my cape and hoped it would do the trick (it did!). I was a bit nervous about running in a cape, but it actually worked out alright. It stayed over my shoulders the entire time, keeping me warm as I ran through the shadows.

The starting line of the race was the exact inflatable pumpkin arch from the expo. By accident, we ended up waiting at the finish line, thinking it was the starting line. Once it got close to race time, I realized my mistake and had to book it about a quarter mile up a steep hill to the real starting line! What a warm-up, but at least I wasn't the only runner to make that mistake. I made it with two minutes to spare!

Barely made it to the starting line in time!

The race started to the tunes of traditional and modern Halloween music, and we were off. I ran in the midst of superheroes, monsters, ghosts, pirates, princesses, ninjas, and even a person dressed as a banana. This is one of my favorite things about costume races--seeing all the costumes! It was like being in a parade.

The 5K course ran through a park and neighborhoods all decorated with tombstones, spiderwebs, skeletons, and ghosts. It was like all these houses were participating in the spirit of the race. There was a lot of uphill (which I'm definitely not used to being from the high plains of West Texas), but luckily it was on the way out, so the whole way back was a nice slope downward. As this was a fun run in my mind, I kept an easy pace and walked when I felt like I needed to. I still worked hard and pushed myself, but being ill, I didn't want to push myself too hard. Especially with a half marathon coming up the next weekend!

The final mile was full of Halloween decorations! Halloween inflatables lined a portion of the course. A lot of them! Photographers were strategically placed in this area to capture the runners emerging from the dark forest. Then, there was a tunnel we needed to get through with black-light designs pained all along the sides. Spectators were lining the course from here-on-out and I easily spotted my super-family cheering for me as I turned the corner to the finish line pumpkin. I love how my husband is so supportive of my running. Not only supportive, but encouraging. He makes everything I love about races even more wonderful. And seeing them at the finish line is the best part of any race I run.

I crossed the finish line with a not-too-shabby time of 36:56 and received my 5K finishers medal. And I felt great! The nice thing about 5K's is that they don't leave you super sore or stiff afterward, like the longer distance runs do. I was even feeling good enough to walk all around the zoo after we had lunch. Yes, still in costume. Like I said before, the 5K was a good choice for this first race of the Haunted Half series.

Having fun at the expo

Runtastic events are some of the most fun, most well-organized races I've done...and I've done a lot! I'm sold on the series, and completing this race and Huntsville (another runtastic event), have left me excited to run the full Haunted Half in Provo.

Oct 15, 2016

Race Report: Gardner Village Witch Run

Saturday October 1st was the first official day of Halloween season. And what better way to ring in the socially accepted day to do Halloween activities than by running a witch themed 5K? Since my daughter wanted to run the race as well, we both signed up.

The race was being held and put on by Gardner Village. Around this time of year, Gardner Village has a witch fest, where they decorate the entire place with life-sized witches doing all manner of activities. Along with the race, anyone can go down there during October and try to complete a witch scavenger hunt that will reward you with a free cookie.  My friend Tobi and her kids joined us for this part. We walked all over Gardner Village and found ten witches! The kids loved running around to find the witches from the scavenger hunt list and matching them to the clues provided. We about had it done, but the Witch Run was about to start, so we decided we are going to try the scavenger hunt another time.
All witched-up for the race!
June and I dressed up in running-friendly witch costumes. She picked out a plain black dress with her black and silver tights. I wore my Skirt Sports black cabana dress with witch socks. Our race registration, along with T-shirt and finisher medal, also included witch hats, which we wore with our get up. June wanted the black and silver hat to match her tights, so I wore a purple one with black spider webs. 

This is an evening run, starting at 8pm. The opening ceremonies consisted of a lighting of the cauldron where three witches completed a short run passing a “lit” caldron to each other until they reached the starting line. The starting area was decorated with green, blue, and purple lights…and a big castle!
Embarking on our witch hunt
I told June that she didn’t need to worry about winning or passing people. Instead, I wanted her to do her best, try her hardest, and have fun. I told her that the only way you win a race is by finishing it. So, to the tune of Monster Mash, we started the race.

The website warned that it would be dark and to bring lights, but I thought there would be at least street lights, so all I brought was my phone. Well, it was dark. Dark enough where I tripped and fell, so I started being extra vigilant. I ran with June the whole way, and she was having such a blast! She wore a glow necklace and light-up shoes which lit up with every stride. She did a great job running! She ran most of the whole race. I let her set the pace, and made sure to point out cracks and dips and rocks and other tripping hazards. We took walking breaks when needed, but we ran quite a bit.
Post-race cotton candy treats
This being a fun run, everyone seemed to be having a good time. There were a lot of kids on the course as well. Our hats kept blowing off in the wind, and with the speed of our running, so I ended up holding them for most of the race. I had June put her hat back on for the finish line though. We did end up passing quite a bit of people, since June was running at a decent pace. She picked up the speed when we saw the finish line, and crossed it victoriously with a time of 48:05, not bad for a five-year-old! The race witches even ran in with her and gave her high-fives.

The finish line refreshments included Gatorade and water, as usual, but also a huge selection of Halloween candies, freshly brewed Root Beer, and even cotton candy! We stayed for the award ceremony, especially since they kept playing June’s favorite Halloween jams. They announced the age group winners, and June won first place for the five to nine year olds! She was so happy and so excited, and I was so proud of her!
Her first first place finish! The Gardner Village witches put her up on the podium. It was dark, so the picture isn't so great.
The medals weren’t shipped out in time by the medal company, so we still need to pick them up. But, the race is giving us a discount of a future race by Gardner Village. This race was so much fun that I will for sure be using that discount!