Thursday, October 9, 2014

Saturday Shenanigans - Inaugural Dance Dash 5k Monterey Bay

I've always admired race directors and race committees and have always been grateful for all of their hard work in making race weekend as easy, seamless and enjoyable as possible.  I really wanted to learn more about the "behind the scenes" action but I didn't want to necessarily step up and organize an entire race on my own.  Talk about scary!

Thankfully, I was offered the opportunity to join the race committee for the inaugural Dance Dash 5k Monterey Bay that was held this past Saturday, October 4th.  Holy guacamole, putting on a race is a ton of hard work!  I mean, I knew it took a lot to get a race up and running but really I had no idea how much work it actually takes!

Planning started early this year with scoping out potential race dates and locations.  Once that was nailed down the committee really went to work filing and finalizing permits, logistics, sponsors, vendors, advertising, marketing, etc. I had the privilege of being the Ambassador Program Chair which was a whole lot of fun!  Our event was the first and only race in the U.S. to implement an ambassador program so we got to set the precedent.  I got to work with some amazing people who really outdid themselves with representing and promoting the race as well as supporting the cause.

The awesome Dance Dash ambassadors

The actual race took place at 9:00 AM on Saturday but the race committee, staff, vendors and volunteers were onsite much earlier to ensure set-up went smoothly.  The committee chair/race director was onsite at 5:00 AM!  Honestly, the race was the success that it was because of her.  She poured her heart into ensuring the race was an event that everyone could enjoy and it showed.  She incorporated a lot of features into race day that were unique to our race such as a true finish line festival, shirt cutting, a wheelie mobilie for the kids, and a VIP tent that served a hot breakfast including pancakes and made to order omelets.

At around 8:00 AM, race participants started trickling into the venue and at around 8:40 AM we started the pre-race warm-up which was U-Jam.  It was so much fun!  Everyone participated and everywhere I looked people were dancing, laughing and enjoying themselves.  After U-Jam, the ambassador team joined the CSUMB dance team in showing a preview of the dance routine that race participants would be learning along the course.  Thankfully, we only had to stand in front of the stage and not actually be ON stage with the dance team.  Nobody needed to see my dance moves front and center on stage!

Before we knew it, it was 9:00 AM and time to start the race!  Our race director said a few words on stage and introduced everyone to Miracle Molly.  Miracle Molly is our local Children's Miracle Network spokesperson.  She has cerebral palsy but she doesn't let that stop her from doing anything.  She's amazing and such an inspiration!  She lead all of the race participants over to the start line and we were off!

Happy runners starting the race

The majority of the race committee stayed at the start area to ensure that the finish line festival would be ready for participants so I got to be the committee representative who ran the course and reported back from a participant's perspective.  The course was well marked, there was a ton of volunteer support on the course, the dance stages were well executed and the dance team members did a great job teaching the choreography.  Everyone that I talked to along the way had positive things to say about their experience.

Seen on the course
Once race participants returned back to the start area and crossed the finish line, they got to put all the dance moves they learned together for a flashmob.  The DJ played the flashmob music every 10 minutes so that everyone could participate once they finished.  I loved seeing everyone dancing and having a good time!

Miracle Molly dancing it out

At the end of the day, all of the hard work leading up to and on race day was well worth it.  It was an amazing feeling to see everything we worked so hard on come to fruition.  We had a really fun event, everyone had a great time and most importantly we raised money for a phenomenal cause!  To top it all off, not only were we the very first Dance Dash event on the west coast but we were also the largest & most successful inaugural event in the country!  Can't wait for next year!

Some of the Dance Dashers

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

22 Miles

Hi everyone!  I've been in the thick of marathon training and obviously not so great at updating the blog.  How do bloggers do this on the regular?

So last Saturday I had my last long run pre-MCM.  It's a little farther out from race day than I normally like to have my longest mileage run but I figure an extra week of taper won't kill me.  I got up bright and early to meet the Team in Training staff to prep for our "dress rehearsal" run.  TNT's last long run is not only the longest mileage of the season but also an opportunity for team members to test out everything they plan to wear/eat/drink on race day.  We also do everything we can to emulate what race day will be like for them, including water stations, "race" bibs, our own little finish line (finisher's tape included) and "medals".  It's pretty fun!

As usual, before we start our run we have a mission moment in which we talk about an honoree who we are dedicating our run to.  This run was being dedicated to Effy, a vivacious little girl that some of us had the pleasure of meeting last season and who is still fighting her battle with Leukemia.  We even took a group pic with all us doing the thumb's up (something that Effy did before we all started our run last year).

Two of my mentees this season. So proud of them!

Go team!
With that, we were off!  Thankfully I had some good friends who, although not part of TNT, were out for a run that morning anyway and joined me for the first 10 miles of  the run.  The miles always fly by when you share them with good friends!  My plan was to keep the first half of my run around 10:35-11:00 min/mile pace then drop pace to closer to 10:15 min/mile for the second half.  That didn't happen.  I am horrible at keeping my pace slow in the beginning and I'm naturally a chaser so every time someone sped up, I did too.  At one point we had sped up to a 9:30 min/mile. Oops!  It seemed like in no time at all we were back at our starting point and my friends went off to breakfast while I continued on to get my remaining 12 miles in.
10 miles with these smiling faces
Our TNT team is a comprised of participants who are mostly training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon so I knew there were only a handful of people running 22 miles that morning, two of whom I had seen about a mile ahead of me.  I hate running solo so despite my plan to keep my pace slower, I ended up speeding up to try to catch them (I may or may not have ran a 9:00 min/mile.  Pacing fail!).  Eventually I caught up to them and we quickly fell into pace.  Steve was planning on running 14 miles that day so he eventually dropped off to turn back and I continued on with Janine.  Janine is amazing!  Not only is she one of my fellow run mentors for the season but she's also a cancer survivor.  In fact, I met Janine during my first season of TNT when I was training for my first marathon.  She was also training for her first marathon and happened to be going through radiation and chemo at the time.  However, no matter how badly she felt she would always show up at track and during our long runs.  She's truly inspirational!

We kept running along until around mile 13 when Janine started hurting.  She tried to convince me to keep running but I wasn't having it.  I had a gnarly side cramp anyway so I was grateful for the opportunity to try to work it out.  We were going to finish that run together no matter what!  We fell into a manageable run/walk pattern and got it done!  We both crossed that finish line with huge smiles on our faces and were promptly given our "medals".

Janine is my inspiration! BTW, that's cheese in my hand.

22 miles done!
Afterwards, we all milled around and enjoyed a potluck (I stuffed my face immediately after finishing. I have no shame.) and chatted about upcoming races and what first timers should expect.  It was a good run day and I am really looking forward to tapering! 

Are you training for a Fall race?  Which race are you training for?  How's training going?