Mar 10, 2017

Best Damn Race Orlando 10k Recap

There is a race series in Central Florida called Best Damn Race. They started a couple of years ago, and they have a rolling registration. The first few people get in the race for $1, the next bunch for $5, and so on. Kris did this 10k last year, and raved about it. So when registration day came we were ready to see how fast we could snag our spots. We ended up getting the 10k for $30! Not to bad at all.

Now we registered for this race last year, when we decided we would only do 10ks... hahahaha. We also forgot that Eddie was doing this race with us too. So we all got to run this one together too. And Kris's coach from OTF, Bev, joined in on the fun too.

It was a chilly morning in Orlando on race day. It was another long sleeve race. We parked at Eddie's office and walked the few blocks back to the race start. It was a cold walk. On the way we met up with Bev, and all headed to drop our bag and make a pit stop before the race start.

We lined up and were off. The race ran through downtown Orlando. I've done plenty of Orlando races, but none in downtown Orlando. It was really nice. The only thing is the brick streets. Some of the streets downtown are brick, guess they were trying to be fancy. You just have to watch your footing a bit. But after the wonky-ass streets of NOLA, this was no big deal.

It was definitely colder than during Rn'R New Orleans. It was hard at the beginning cause of the cold. My legs needed to get moving and really warm up. Once we got to about mile 2 and everything was warmer it was much better. I did tape up my knee before the race, but was feeling good. No issues there. 

It was also kind of windy, so it made it a little colder. And made for some headwinds on some of the turns. Coming up the chute to the finish line there was a nasty headwind. It sucked. But soon enough it was all done.

We finished and collected our medals. On our way out of the finishing area, we saw the half medals. They were immense. We decided then and there, it needs to be the half next year. Cause big bling is better bling... LOL

And here is where a good race turned into a great race, even the best damn race if you will, the post-race festivities! First the food. There was the usual bananas, oranges, and cookies. They had some masa real, totally random, but I brought some home for Grandma. And here's the best part, they had pizza. Fresh pizza!

Pizza after a race at 8:15am? Why the hell not. It was delicious.

We snacked on some almond butter bites, smoothies, frozen fruit bars, plus fruit and the pizza. Then we decided to go over to the beer garden.

I figured there would be the regular Michelob Ultra in the beer area. But no, there was also hard cider, hard root beer, and hard cream soda. I can have like 2 sips of a Michelob Ultra and then I'm over it. But the cider was great. And then besides the beer, was a bar. They were serving vodka lemonades and bloody marys.

Who am I to say no to something free. I had to have a celebratory drink or two. I couldn't not try the lemonade. LOL! After we finished our drinks, we headed to get our free massages. You heard me right, FREE massages for everyone. The line wasn't too long, and my massage therapist was amazing. She worked miracles.

And after we took full advantage of all that the race had to offer, we headed down the street to meet up some more friends for brunch at The Stubborn Mule. Great food and great friends. It was so much fun.

I can not say enough good things about the Best Damn Race. I'll totally be back next year for all of the best damn-ness. I emailed them to ask about a possibility any South Florida Best Damn Races, but they are scared of the heat. Come on people...

Mar 6, 2017

Rock n' Roll New Orleans:The weekend

Now that the running was done, it was time to explore New Orleans and all that food!

After the race, we headed to one of Kris and I's favorite spots from last time we went to New Orleans, The Cameila Grill. It was time for ridiculous omelettes and coffee. Which so hit the spot after 13.1 miles.

We walked around for a bit, and then, hungry again, we got some more coffee and beignets. So good. This little place had a cute little courtyard to sit in and we did and enjoyed the breeze and the coffee. And those beignets!

We went back to the hotel, cause running makes you tired, and started watching the Super Bowl. It was Super Bowl Sunday after all. Before halftime we headed to the hotel bar to get our complimentary drinks and watch Lady Gaga. Cause that's really what the whole show was all about anyways, right?

After Gaga, we headed out to grab a slice on Bourbon Street and walked around. We hit up the voodoo shop, and wandered through a bunch of art galleries. It's so cool how you can find so many things wandering up and down the streets.

The next morning we were able to sleep in and be lazy for a bit. We looked up a new place for brunch and it was around the corner, so we walked on over to the Fleur de Lis Cafe. This place was packed. We put our name on the list, and checked out a little boutique down the block. Which had the most adorable vintage-y stuff. I could have lived in that store.

We got called back to the restaurant, and were seated. Kris and I got strawberry mimosas. They were ridiculously good. Ed got an Irish coffee that was very heavy on the Irish. Breakfast was just delicious. The grits were outta hand, the biscuit was flaky, and mouth-watering pancakes. Yeah, my goal on vacation is just to eat.

We went back to the boutique and tried on all of the dresses. I wanted to take so many home, but got myself a cute hat and some new sunnies.

Next, we were off to Jackson Square to check out the cathedral, the river, and the French Market.

We saw all of the artists in front of the church and walked around to look at the park, the river, and then we made a stop at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets. I mean you have to make a stop right?! Plus at this time it's a little less crowded than it is for breakfast.

We walked off our beingets walking around the streets of the French Quarter just checking out all of the houses. It's just so pretty around there. Everything is so pretty, I love it.

And most of the places were all decked out for Mardi Gras. I loved all the decorations.

We decided we needed to take a street car ride, so that's what we did. We rode the St. Charles line all the way til they kicked us out, then rode it back.

It was nice seeing all of the area that we had run the day before on a street car and not on foot. Man, we ran a long way.

We came back and changed for our night out. We headed to dinner at The Gumbo Shop. It was delicious. We stuffed our little faces with all sorts of New Orleans deliciousness. I had shrimp creole, jambalaya, and crawfish etoufee. It was so delicious. And did I mention bread pudding with whiskey sauce for dessert? Just too good.

After dinner, we headed to Preservation Hall. I had heard about this place on the Foo Fighters series on HBO. I knew Dave Grohl has been there, so I figured we should check it out. And we had to see some live jazz while we were in New Orleans. It was such a cool old building, that seriously looked like it was (well actually was) falling apart. Very New Orleans.

Our last day, we planned to check out the cemeteries and then grab some lunch before calling for the Uber back to the airport. We got up and headed towards the cemetery, only to get caught in a huge thunderstorm. We didn't think much of that or the tornado warnings, cause #florida. The rain let up a bit and we were going to cross the street to go to the cemetery, but some people were leaving telling us it was closed. Boo. That really sucked.

We headed towards Jackson Square to get Kris her mufaletta before we left. We also grabbed some cans of wine, cause you can drink in the street, and we needed to do that.

As we walked back towards the hotel, the rain started again. It was bad. We snuck into a coffee shop for a second, and were finally able to walk back to the hotel. Ed and I got po'boys and we ate as we waited for our uber driver. (Total fail, this was the only food I didn't take a pic of!)

And that was our whirlwind trip to New Orleans, to run, eat, and see the sights. I did have another run to my connecting flight home, but it wasn't nearly as tight as it was on the way there.

Another race in another state is in the books. It was a super fun racecation!

Feb 28, 2017

Rock n' Roll New Orleans: The race

I don't know how we ended up deciding on doing the Rock n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, but we were registered and ready to go before I knew it. We decided to fly (cause no one wants to drive that long after running 13.1). This would be me & Kris's 10th half marathon (that's counting the half of a half that was last year's Wine & Dine), and this time Eddie bit the bullet and was gonna run all 13.1 too, his first half.

At long last the day arrived and Mom and Pop took me to the airport. I had a quick layover in Atlanta, where I'd meet up with Kris & Ed and then we'd head off to New Orleans. My first flight went good. And then when we arrived, they shuffled, and shuffled, and shuffled the gate, and made us really late. Atlanta is a HUGE airport and I RAN (after taking the shuttle to the correct concourse) to catch my next flight. I literally ran to my gate, but I made it. I think I was the second to last person on the flight.

We finally landed in New Orleans, and I waited for Kris and Eddie to get off the plane, where we hugged, and set off for a great weekend in the Big Easy.

Since we got to New Orleans on Saturday morning, and dropped our bags at our hotel and headed to the expo. We were able to walk there, which was great. We were hungry, but wanted to grab our bibs first. We got our bibs and some pics. We shopped around a bit, but we were getting hangry, so we headed out and started walking back.

Eddie had a recommendation to go to Mother's and our uber driver from the airport agreed on that too. We stopped at Mother's for lunch. OMG, what deliciousness. Our uber driver recommended the roast beef po' boy. And that's what Kris and I got. Amazing, seriously it's all about the debris. So freaking good.

We headed back to the hotel to get our room and rest a little. We also got our race gear ready.

After some rest, we headed out for an early drink and some dinner. We also found a cute little place for a coffee, before we headed back to get some sleep before the race.

And as always, that race morning wakeup came all too soon. We were all dressed up and headed out to the start. It wasn't too far a walk there from the hotel. And the great thing about race morning, is that the only ones out there are the runners, so just follow them and you'll get there.

I had on a long sleeve top, but had a tank underneath, cause I knew I'd only need the sleeves for a little bit. It was chilly for me.

We waited for what seemed like nothing (and I really mean that, not the loooong wait times like at runDisney), and the corrals started going off. About 30 seconds to 1 minute in between. Loved that! Soon enough corral 17 was off and running.

We ran through the central business district, around the circle and up St. Charles Street with all the big houses. It was so close to Mardi Gras that the houses were all decorated already. The houses were amazing and they really go all out on the decor. By about mile 3, I was hot, so I took of my long sleeves, tied it around my waist and ran in my tank. So much better. I was feeling good and it was a little cool-ish, which made it all the better.

We did a tour of the Catholic schools on the course. First the elementary. Then we passed the high school, which looked like one of those movie schools with a really old building. I half expected to see nuns crossing with rows of uniformed kids behind them. Then we hit the college, Loyola. Just gorgeous. One of those old campuses that looked like it has been there forever, has tons of traditions, and too many secret societies. LOL

Here was the turn around and we headed back up to the St. Charles circle and cut through another part of town. All along the course there were different bands playing which was super cool. Had to get a pic of these guys killing it on the bagpipes.

Now we headed towards Jackson Square. We ran right between the square and the river, and could see St. Louis cathedral. And the super long line at Cafe Du Monde first thing in the morning.

We headed through more of the French Quarter, full of more bands, Mardi Gras decorations, and we were holding a pretty good pace. My hip, which had been acting up since before Christmas was bothering a bit, but doing pretty ok. I always seem to struggle a bit after mile 10, so I thought nothing of it.

We headed out of the French Quarter and headed to the park, and the finish line. Right before we headed in, my IT band was screaming. I guess that's what I get for not taping it. Soon enough we were heading into the park for that last 1.1 mile. I was a little hobbly with my IT band pain, but dammit we were almost done.

As usual, we saw the finish and ran all the way there. But this time it was definitely more of a sprint. And it did its job, cause BOOM, half marathon PR... 2:43:17!

With that we got the bling, some snacks and sat to eat and chill for a sec. Then we headed over to get our beer, saw the headlining band, and headed to the shuttles back to the start.

The shuttles were so well organized. We were on a bus before we knew it. Then back to the hotel for showers, cause damn, that gross stinkiness.... and out to get more food and explore the town.

Jan 31, 2017

2017 Tropical 5k Recap

I never had any intentions of doing the Tropical 5k. But then I saw that it could count as part of the Florida Storm Series, which means more medals. I had already done the Ft. Lauderdale 13.1 and the Turkey Day 10k, so I only needed 1 more race to get the Category 3 medal. Who am I to turn down more bling? Especially when it's just a 5k! I signed up and was ready for my category 3 medal.

The 5k is on Saturday, and though I scoured all of the information that was sent to me and the website, I didn't see it listed anywhere if they had day of packet pickup. So, to be safe, I left work a little early on Friday and headed to Marlins Ballpark for the expo. I had been to the Miami Marathon expo a couple of years ago when I did the half. Then it was at the Miami Beach Convention Center, meaning most horrible parking of all time. Marlins Ballpark was a WORLD of difference. Parking in the garages (I had to pay parking, but they were sure to tell you the rate in the pre-race info) was easy and painless. I picked up my number, and checked out all the vendors. And I may have picked up a few things too. 

I headed home and started to prep my race day outfit, but it was gonna be 50! That's coooold for this Caribbean creature, so long sleeves were needed. I also pulled out my gloves, cause I'd rather have them then not. I went to bed early and go some sleep before my early morning drive to the beach. 

I headed to the beach in the dark and the ride was pretty smooth. I really only hit traffic when it was the exit to get to the start. The start was at the Miami Children's Museum. There was some parking there, and more across the street at Jungle Island. 

I was lucky enough to get one of the last spaces at the Children's Museum, and those spaces were free. Score, free parking!

It was chilly out there, but I started walking towards the Museum building and the start. That's when I saw a few tents with race day packet pickup. They really could have mentioned this in the emails and the website. Especially for those only doing the 5k, going to the expo isn't really necessary.

I headed back to the start and got into the corral and waited. I found a friend out there, and we chatted and caught up a little before we started. 

The anthem was sung and it was time to get going. It was crowded. Really crowded. I always start with a 5 minute walk, and I might have gotten elbowed a couple of times. My intervals started soon enough, and I was off. I was glad to be running cause I wanted to warm up. 

The course was great. It was across the causeway to South Beach and alongside the port where all of the cruise ships are. By the time Runkeeper told me it was mile 1, my pace was already fast. I knew it would be with the cold, but it was really good. I wasn't pushing too hard either. 

Mile 2 came up and I was shocked at my pace again. I knew what my PR was for the 5k was (36:38), and thought I can get a new PR, probably by a few seconds. At about mile 2.5 there is a slight uphill, then a gradual downhill while you get off the bridge and onto the mainland of the beach. I decided to let gravity do it's thing, and ran down the entire downhill, ignoring my intervals.

We went a little farther down the street, and I started up my intervals again. Then we turned and there was the finish. I ran all the way til I crossed the finish. It was crowded when I came in, but I think I might have one decent pic.

I crossed and remember looking back and seeing 36:0?. I knew I did it. But overly cautious me, needed proof before I celebrated. 

I headed out to get my medal and here's where the good race got messy. There were hoards of people trying to get medals, and not enough handing them out. I had to search for a bottle of water. There were just buckets on the floor with gatorade and water. No one was handing them out, and I had to push myself through a crowd to get one.

Then there was another hoard by the race pics. I know the storm series has free pics, which they will even post to your Facebook for you. Pretty cool, and since I was there alone, I waited for my pic. There were people that were skipping in front, hogging the background. So rude.

Once I got out of that mess, I walked about another block to the beach. The after party was at Nikki Beach at South Point (the most south point of South Beach). I headed onto the sand for some pics on Miami Beach. Then I headed to Nikki Beach for some food and to grab my Category 3 medal. I looked around for the marketing tent, which is where the pre-race email said the medals would be. I didn't find it, so I asked one of the race staff. He called in and told me that I could pick up my medal the next day at Bayside. That is the day of the half and full marathons in downtown Miami, not closer at all. I told him I was only doing the 5k, and I only did it for the medal. He said I could contact the race office and have it mailed to me.

I headed back to the shuttles back to the start, since this was a point to point race. The shuttle took a bit to get there, but while I was waiting I checked the website, and there it was. My new PR! 35:11!! And then before I knew it I was headed back to the start and my car. 

The race itself was great. Flat, cause let's be serious, this is Miami, we're at sea level. But the communication and definitely the post race area needed help, badly. This isn't the first race, so I'm not sure why it was so disorganized. But I'd def give the Tropical 5k a second try.