Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Color Rave 5k Review

Prior to running the Asheville Color Rave 5k I had run two color runs and one night run that involved glow sticks. I had lots of fun on all three, and I was looking forward to this run, but I also think I had some i'm over color themed, non-timed, novelty runs thoughts in the back of my mind on the day of the event. And, even though I had a great time at the Asheville Color Rave, I think those niggling over it thoughts might color my review (pun intended) of this race series. Still, if you're thinking of running this race find out all of the important details below.

The color rave website calls itself  "a night time 2.5-3.1 mile fun run where runners, artists and insomniacs unite." The party starts when it gets dark outside. The run is unique in that it winds runners through a course peppered with fancy sound systems that ignite colorful light displays with the beat of the music. There are also intermittent foam stations. Before and after the run there are plenty of vendor booths to check out, music to jam to, and dancing to partake in. This is NOT a race. If you're looking for a "race" in the traditional sense of the term, look elsewhere. This is more of a PARTY where you happen to burn some extra calories as you travel from dj booth to dj booth on a fun run.

Race Swag
This race is pretty pricey for what it is ($50-ish), though there are plenty of ways to get discounts on your registration fee. Because of the price, I suppose I was expecting more to come in the race packet. The race fee must have gone to all of the sound systems involved in the race instead though because all you get is a unisex t-shirt and a minimal amount of glow garb. There is certainly plenty of glow gear to purchase at the race (glow paint, glow hair, glow jewelry, glow wands) but they aren't exactly offered at wholesale prices.


The Course
Like other races that travel from town to town, the directors of this race were probably constrained by permits and safety and chose to relegate "accurate distance" to the bottom of their list of priorities for run site location choosing. Still, I know a person can easily run a 5 mile loop around Carrier Park so the directors had no good excuse to cut the run down to a measly 1.5 miles! Boo! Of course, there were all of 10 people manning the race so no one stopped me and my friends when we decided to do the course twice. I didn't pay no $50 ish bucks to run 1.5 miles!

Brevity aside, the course was...dark and confusing. There was an announcer at the beginning of the run repeating the directions over and over again, but you know runners! It's up to the people in the very front to listen and the rest of us just follow. Plus, there should ALWAYS be a person or very visible signs pointing the way. Alas, the Color Rave didn't get that memo. Large sections of runners went in opposite directions around the course, causing many a dark collision. Yes, the light/music stations were fun, new, impressive, and playing great songs, but it's difficult to notice the stellar self-automated dj booth when you're trying really hard not to fall all over yourself on an unlit trail in the dark into oncoming people traffic.

Water Stations
Wait! What? Where? I guess I missed it...

After Party
 Rave anyone? Like I said before, this isn't a race but a party. Sadly, i'm not a party-er so I self-selected to miss out on what was probably the "best" part of this experience. The people who did stay seemed to have had an AMAZING time. The dj's were extremely skilled, the location was second to none, the lights and toys brought that sense of a carefree summer that us adults need so badly in our lives, and for the night owls, once the party stopped at the park there was more fun to be had at a local, hot club. But like I said, I'm not a party-er so I went home like a big nerd after my 3 miles.

Tips and Tricks
  • Bring a flashlight!
  • Between the foam and the colored powder, it's a good idea to wear shoes you don't care about too much.
  • Bring your own glow supplies. The brighter you are, the more fun you'll have

Overall I give this race a 7 for novelty races and a 3 for races overall. Feel free to argue with me about my scoring if you think i'm being too harsh or lenient.

Happy running!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Running Update

Running Update
Why haven’t I been blogging very much lately? Because I’ve been too busy running and Crossfitting of course! I have been on a roll with my running, both physically and mentally, and I’m knocking on wood that this groove isn’t a phase but my new normal. Let me show you what I mean by catching you up on some of my recent highlights:

Highland Brewing Night Flight Race
This was the first year of the Highland Night Flight, and I hope it is the first of many more brewery-sponsored races to come. I ran this well attended, 4 mile, rather hilly evening race with (the always lovely) Jessica AFTER having run 12 miles that very morning. Instead of feeling tired, sluggish, or like I hated my life during the race like I thought I would, I felt energized and had a great time. I was sore as heck the next day, but it was still the first time I had ever doubled up on runs like that in one day.

Color Run
I had so much fun last year at the color run in Charlotte that I just had to do it again when the famed race came to my home town. I had a blast of course, and I still think that everyone should try the official color run at least once. However, I think this will be my last color run unless they add some kind of new twist (obstacles? timing the event? trail run?).

My local Lululemon came up with a brilliant idea to start a weekly running group. Why is it brilliant? Because it happens to be on the same day that the fabulous La Cantina restaurant (just around the corner) has it’s half off margarita Mondays. Even better, I was given the honor and opportunity to lead my very first pace group the first week of the run. I had a great time, met lots of new and amazing runners and crossfit athletes, and drank what is possibly the BEST margarita I have ever had.

In the news
Have I ever mentioned how completely amazing my Black Mountain Running group, The Posse, is? Of course I have! Because I could talk about how much joining this group has changed my life for days on end. But instead of listening to me talk about it again, read this awesome new story that was printed about my beloved group in the Black Mountain News (and yes, I made it into BOTH of the pictures that were printed for the story. Sweet!)

So what’s next on my plate? Next week I’m doing another novelty race, the Color Rave 5k, complete with glow sticks and foam. Then in September, I’ll be running my very first Ultra Marathon, the Hope for Horses 50k, which I am sooooo stoked about! And finally on my radar is the Peak to Creek marathon in October. There you have it! A perfectly good excuse for my lack of blogging. But I have been keeping up with all of your blogs. You are all so amazing  and inspiring and I love to read about your journeys. Way to go!

Happy running!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Scream! Half Marathon Race Review

Most of the time when I Google a race it’s because I am looking for details of what I can expect should I choose to register, and not a long narrative or a play by play of someone’s race experience. In honor and respect of others who think like me, this post will be just that, a race review of The Scream Half Marathon, logistics-style.

The Scream! is billed as 13.1 miles of “Pure Hill” (downhill that is). The race begins at Jonas Ridge in Burke County and meanders along a gorgeous path of mostly unpaved roads to a place called Mortimer.

Don’t worry, you aren’t going the wrong way. Jonas Ridge is in a “scenic” area of North Carolina. No, let’s face it, the parking area is in BFE. But to it’s credit, the parking location is complete with full service bathrooms (hallelujah). From the parking area you will take a 30 minute school bus shuttle ride up and up and up to a cute little convenience store where you pick up your race packet. I believe in years past that you had to pay for the shuttle, but now all shuttles are included in the race fee. Packet pick-up is very smooth and the race has a convenient bag drop off. There are more bathrooms (this time porta-potties) too. Since the race is limited to 350 runners, the number of potties provided is more than sufficient.

The Course
The first couple of miles are on an old country road, complete with howling hound dogs. Soon though, the course takes a right onto an unpaved meandering road with a canopy of gorgeous-beyond-belief greenery. Down, down, down you go for miles and miles. There is a short hill climb between miles 6 and 7 and again somewhere in the 9th mile. I was clicking along at a very fast pace on the downhill, so was annoyed at how much I slowed on the uphill, but the hills really aren’t that steep. I was also very happy that there weren’t many loose pieces of rock or very large rocks on the trail because I am prone to twisting my ankle. The final miles towards the finish line are much more level with some uphill, but it doesn’t last for very long. My overall impression of the course is that it is FAST, beautiful, and fun. I’m excited to get to run it again during the Peak to Creek Marathon this October.

Water Stations
The water stations were spaced well and the volunteers staffing them were enthusiastic, helpful, and knew what they were doing. There was one guy at mile 10ish who packed up early, but I think he was a fluke. It rained during the whole race this year, so I think he just bailed for comfort reasons. Everyone else was awesome though! And more importantly, none of the stations ran out of water or gatorade. Oh, and the gatorade flavor was yummy - something purple - and the portions were liberal.

The Finish and Medals
The race is chip timed, and even though there wasn’t a timing mat at the beginning to clock your “actual” start time, there are so few runners that the time difference isn’t a big deal. I was pretty far back in the startup line and my Garmin finish time (2:01:54) was extremely close to my chip finish time (2:02:06). As far as the medal goes, I run for the bling! A good medal is important to me and The Scream medal did not disappoint! It was high quality with a great design. Kudos!

Getting Back to your Car
I knew the ride to the start was going to take a while, but I expected the finish line to be close to the parking lot. It wasn’t. Had I known ahead of time I might not have been so cranky about the 1hr wait (in the rain) for a shuttle back to the parking lot. Of course, the ride back was about 30 minutes which explains why it took the buses so long to come back and get us. So, be prepared. I can say that the friendly chats with other runners while waiting on the bus was fun and contributed positively to my overall experience.

Why you SHOULD Do this Race
This race was my favorite half marathon I have ever done! (thought I have only done 4). I felt it was well organized, well run, the other runners were supportive and courteous, the course was stunning and fast, and the bling is second to none. The wait time on the shuttle back to the cars was a bit problematic, especially for the runners who were cold natured (getting rained on for 1.5-3 hrs and then having to wait an hour to get to dry clothes and your warm car = cranky participants) but I’m like a little space heater and was quite comfortable the whole time.

Why you should NOT Do this Race
Running downhill like this is hard on your body. The race webpage is very explicit that you will be SORE after this race. I wouldn’t recommend going for it if you have any active knee, shin, quad, hamstring, ankle, etc., pain AT ALL. You will regret it.

Overall, I give this race a 9 out of 10! So sign up and scream your way to a new PR.

For an even more detailed assessment of this race (from 2013) see