Saturday, December 20, 2014

Race Recap: A Christmas Story Run 10K

So I had a rough race the other week. It was super frustrating and I already felt bad. This year's Christmas Story Run was my first repeat race, and I was looking forward to just relaxing and enjoying a race that I was already comfortable with. Unfortunately, that wasn't entirely the case.

My husband and I did the 5K last year, but after waiting over an hour in 10° snowy weather for a bus back to the car, we went for the 10K this year. We parked in the same place and hung out in Tower City for a while. Apparently, they changed the location of the starting line from the front of Tower City on the square to the back of the building, but nobody put up any signs or offered any direction as to how to get there. Everyone else there seemed just as confused, so I knew we weren't the only ones. Once we figured out where we needed to be, we picked a spot way farther up than we needed to be so we wouldn't get shoved off the course again. Still bitter about that.

Tower City
pretty matchy that day
The race started, and we were going along pretty comfortably. It was about 40° and overcast, which was way better than last year! The 10K course was out-and-back, so there was a split on the road for runners coming back. But for some reason (I'm guessing poor design), the lanes switched during one of the turns and we had to move across each other's lanes onto the opposite side of the road. Which led to a couple "elites" almost colliding with us and yelling at us like it was our fault and how dare us. So rude.

Also, we happened to see "the end" of the race coming back, and saw that the police cruiser was just politely following the last person. Which is how it should have been at the Turkey Trot. Okay, sorry. I'm done bitching about that race now.

The rest of the race was pretty chill after that. My husband and I made our way back to Tower City and crossed the finish line pretty happy that we made it!

nice view from the Hope Memorial Bridge
This is where all the drama started. We got our yogurt and stuff, but couldn't find a place to pick up our medals! We asked a race volunteer where we could grab them, and he said that an entire shipment of medals didn't come in. They had no more to give that day, but they recorded everyone's tag times after they ran out, so we would all get our shipped to us. And I was super pissed. Again, we got screwed because we aren't super-fast runners. And it was that exact moment that I realized that I completely forgot our tag timers at home. When I said we forgot the tags, he gave us a long "ohhhh........." and told me to email the race about it.

Combined with the frustration I've been feeling about the last race and now getting screwed out of a medal that I not only paid for but earned by getting my ass up and running  over 6 miles in December... I just stood there crying into my Ovaltine. My poor husband had to spend half the car trip home trying to make me stop crying and feel better.

stopped crying long enough to get a red-eyed ovaltine selfie.
They sent out a post-race update about the medals via email, and said that if you had a unique situation, email them. My issue with the tags didn't fall under any categories they mentioned, so I sent them a very polite email explaining our problem. And 4 days later, I literally got a copy-pasted section of that post-race update. SO FRUSTRATING! I sent them a slightly less polite Facebook message explaining the situation all over again. And they just said everything will be taken care of and it's fine. I'm pretty sure no one has actually read anything I've sent. Still waiting for medals that probably won't ever show up.

I know that this is my 10th race and I've only had 2 bad experiences that just happened to be in a row, but this kind of shenanigans makes me want to give up. Obviously, I'm not good at running and that's the way we are treated at these races. In almost every single race I've done, the crowd at the finish line is already leaving by the time we get there. The food is gone, the volunteers are gone, the medals are gone, the clothes they give you at the finish line is out of your size... it never ends.

Needless to say, I'm done with races until the spring. I wish this wasn't the way that I closed out the year, but sometimes that's just how it is. I'm planning on spending the winter working on shorter distances and lots of speed training. Running is something that I'm not ready to give up on yet, so I just need to spend some time not racing and just focusing on the things that I enjoy about it!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Race Recap: Cleveland Turkey Trot 8K and Rant

This is the first race that I can confidently say I will never do again.

It has taken a full week for me to calm down enough to write a comprehensible recap. Also, let me just say that the things that happened were not entirely the race's fault.

I had never heard of a turkey trot until Thanksgiving Day last year. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to do one, so I signed up for the Cleveland Turkey Trot this year. It was a cheap race in its 33rd year, and I could park relatively close for free with my CSU parking pass.

Packet pick-up was awesome. It was the first race I'd done where you had like 20 days to visit one of three locations and get your bib printed right on the spot. I was really impressed with the convenience and efficiency! Also, the swag in our packets was actual somewhat relevant shit for once. Coupons for Dick's Sporting Goods, a large tube of hand sanitizer, and a mini portable first aid kit, not to mention a non-tackily designed shirt? Totally not lame.

So there were about 8,000 people in the race. The website clearly stated that walkers were welcome, and by the looks of it, the race seemed like a family event. People in costumes, people with babies in strollers, and lots of puppies. Let me again state how many walkers there were. The website also said that the course would be open from the start of the race (9:30) until 11:30, and if there is the need for it, police would direct runners onto the sidewalk. Let me also say that nobody really goes to downtown Cleveland on Thanksgiving Day- it was practically a ghost town except for the race. The course pretty much only shut down a good chunk of two streets, with the exception of some smaller side streets and connecting intersections.

That being said, my husband and I lined up in our usual spot (middle to back of the pack) and went at a somewhat leisurely pace, alternating running and walking because it was slippery, we didn't get to prepare much, and this was just for fun. Basically interval training. We crossed the starting line maybe 5 minutes after the official start, and we were far from the last people.

Everything was perfectly fine until we hit the 5th and final mile. That's when a police cruiser drove up the road and forced all of us onto the sidewalk. This was exactly an hour after the gun went off. Totally confused, I looked back and saw a lot of people still behind us that had to get on the sidewalk as well. Oh, and did I mention that all the volunteers that tell you where the course is completely vanished? We had to dodge all the people who had finished and were walking back, and no one was particularly helpful in leaving space for us to run. We ended up just trying to follow a person in front of us to figure out where the last turns were. It took forever just to get through that last mile to the finish. It's like they shut the whole race down.

The entire walk back to the car, I was trying to do the math. The course was only open for half the time they said it would be. So that's 60 minutes to go 5 miles. If you were a walker, you would have had to start all the way at the front with the "elites" and you still might have been shoved off the course. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like a 12-minute mile for the average family and/or walker is a little fast. And the farther back that you crossed the starting line after the gun went off, the faster you would have had to run or walk to make it.

I can hardly believe that the police took us off the course because of traffic. Like I said, nobody was in town and there were only a few streets in the whole city blocked off for the race. If you think you're going to have problems with backed up traffic, change the course so that it isn't in the dead center of the city. Or, maybe, start the race a little earlier than 9:30am like every other race! Offer detours? I don't know.

Either way, it totally sucked getting cut off the course. My pace was right where I wanted it to be, but it was still a humiliating experience. The message I got from it was: I didn't start at the front of the crowd and run 9-minute miles, so I'm not welcome here.

So yeah. Not doing this again. I'm still proud of myself though. I woke up early when I could have slept in, went out in the freezing cold and snow, and finished an 8K even though I didn't feel ready at all. Bad experiences like this tend to overshadow all the positive things, but I'm still glad we did it. 

We'll just run a different one next year. Or sleep in.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Easy Homemade Burrito Bowls

If you know ONE thing about me, it's that I cannot live without Chipotle. Whatever witchcraft they put in fast food to make people addicted is what they put in Chipotle's food. Yes, the food is amazing, but I feel like it's one of the few places I can go to eat where I don't have to worry as much about what's in the food itself. Also one of the few places that will serve you real food. Like veggies instead of pink nugget slime.

But for some reason, I never considered making my own "Chipotle" at home until I was visiting my best friend's in-laws and they made homemade burrito bowls for dinner.

I should warn you, I'm not a recipe follower, unless it's something I have no idea how to make. These bowls are so easy that I didn't bother with measurements. You really just add in what sounds good to you. Also, I didn't use any copycat recipes for Chipotle ingredients; actually I just used whatever I already had in my kitchen.

In my bowl I used:
  • 4 servings of all-natural, hormone-free chicken breasts
  • A 32oz carton of organic chicken broth
  • Taco seasoning (I used chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, salt & pepper, and paprika)
  • 4 servings of brown Minute Rice
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • A ton of organic cilantro
  • A 15oz can of organic black beans
  • An 8oz can of organic, whole-kernel corn w/ no added salt
  • A package of organic grape tomatoes
  • Jalapeño ranch salad dressing

(makes 4 bowls)

To prep the chicken, I put 4 servings into my slow cooker, added just enough chicken broth to cover everything, threw the taco seasoning on top, and cooked the chicken for 5-6 hours on low. When it was done, I used forks to shred the chicken. I wanted to use pork butt to make carnitas, but I'm not ready for that yet. I just got to the point where I can touch raw chicken.

I made 4 servings of brown rice according to the package directions, then added lime juice, salt & pepper, and cilantro before serving.

To make the salsa, I drained the beans and corn, mixed them together, and added some lime juice and taco seasoning.

After that, I put the bowl together! Rice first, then chicken and salsa. I threw some chopped grape tomatoes on top, even more cilantro (my favorite!!!!) some jalapeño ranch dressing, another shot of lime juice, and more pepper on top. I didn't have any shredded cheese or that would definitely have been in the mix.

Since the recipe made 4 bowls, I put the chicken, salsa, and rice into tupperware containers and warmed everything up the next night we had them. The leftovers kept just fine for 2 days.

And that's about it! Bowls like this are so customizable that you can really do whatever you want with it. I'm not a fan of jar salsa on anything but tortilla chips, but that's an option. Sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, any onions at all (I didn't have any), taco sauce, or guacamole would all be great to use. I recently moved, so I have nothing in my kitchen. We'll get there.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the weekend!