Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Claus Shuffle

My free Santa suit!

December 3, 2011 - Today was a fun run in downtown Manchester.  The Santa Claus Shuffle literally meant 1000+ runners in santa suits running three miles. The inaugural race launched the holiday season in the 2nd Happiest City in America beginning and ending at Veteran's Park.   Following the race was an awards presentation, tree lighting ceremony and holiday parade.

Check in at registration meant that the first 1000 runners received a free santa suit.  I was #626. With temperatures in the mid 40s, I was not sure I wanted to wear the entire suit which consisted of hat, jacket, and pants (later I found the belt hidden in the tip of the hat).  However,  one could not ignore the fun and festive atmosphere. Runners were not only dressed as Santas, but also elves, and Grinches, and Mary & Joseph!  I couldn't resist.  When else would I get to run a 5K completely made up like Santa?

Santa Claus Shuffle - 26:59 - 3 miles
After some Elf Runs (kid fun runs), the singing of the National Anthem, and the classic favorite Santa Clause is Coming to Town that got everybody dancing in their spots, the mayor of Manchester officially announced the start with a booming "3, 2,1, Ho, Ho, HO!"  The crammed coral of santa runners quickly made their way across the start line to the cheers from spectators and Christmas music playing in the background.

Glancing ahead was an amazing sight: a sea of red and white suits filled Elm Street for as far as the eyes could see.  Bells were ringing, children waving, and people laughing and enjoying the various costumes on the runners.  The easy out and back course was quick and mostly flat.  This fun race was a great way to start the Christmas season. My guess is that it will become a seasonal tradition in Manchester. At least, we hope so.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Race

Cincinnati, Ohio

November 24 - Cincinnati, OH - For the third time in my life, I started my turkey day with a 10K run through the streets of downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  In Cincinnati this 10K run/walk is on the list of Thanksgiving traditions along with turkey, football, and the Macy's Day parade.  Started in 1908, this race is the largest known in the midwest and the sixth largest in America behind century old races like the Boston Marathon.  This year over 15,000 people registered to burn a few calories before heading off to their big turkey feasts.

Thousands of cars made their way to the 50,000 free parking spots of Paul Brown Stadium hoping to make the 9 AM start.  I had to jump out of the car and dash to the stadium in search of the restrooms with only 15 minutes to spare.  Bad idea. The line was worse than on a game day! Instead I had to plan a stop at the port-a-potty oasis at mile 3.  I squirmed my way through the massive crowd back toward the starting line to look for my driver (husband) and mom: my cheering section.  Luckily I married the crazy guy who will park in garages that look closed and stand atop large orange traffic barrels waving like wild.

Dodging some walkers in the crowd!
The race started and ended on Second Street.  It probably took me 8+ minutes to even cross the starting line.  There were so many people!! Once the horde surrounding me began to move, I was off. I had set a goal to finish in under one hour.

With so many runners (and walkers) it was hard to take in the sights of the city during the run.  I spotted my cheering husband around mile two before heading over the Ohio River via the Taylor Southgate Bridge into Newport, KY.  Runners were spreading out at this point, so I did get some pretty views of the riverfront.

I did it! 10K - 59:08

The remaining four miles took me past Newport on the Levee before my two minute visit at the "Oasis" then over the Licking River Bridge into Covington. Lots of supporters and great music lined 4th street in Covington providing the perfect motivation for facing the last "rolling hill" on the run.  The final mile took me over the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge back into Cincinnati and toward my destination.  Passing by my cheering section, I made my way to the finish line in 59:08!

It was a wonderful trip home to Cincinnati, and the added bonus of being able to run the 102nd Thanksgiving Day Race with thousands of others made it even better.  I am looking forward to doing it again!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Inaugural Newport Pell Bridge Run

Photo by Bird's Eye View
November 13 - Today was a beautiful day to run across the Newport Pell Bridge in Newport, Rhode Island. The Veteran's Day Weekend event benefitted several local charities and gave participants the chance to experience spectacular views.  This was the first time in over 25 years that runners were able to run across the bridge since its opening in 1969.

Beginning at 5 AM shuttles transported over 2500 registered runners from downtown Newport to the other side of the Narragansett Bay into Jamestown.  Using bibs as boarding passes, we were loaded into the rented school buses.

The starting line and waiting area was prepped with coffee, water, bananas, port-a-potties and MUSIC.  Standing around in the pre-dawn darkness, people were talking, laughing, and bopping to the lively tunes being DJ'd.  It was hard to remember that we had all probably crawled out of bed before 4 AM.

Daylight reached its peak as the first runners made their way through the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority toll station.  Runners occupied the two lanes of eastbound traffic, while motorists making their way between Jamestown and Newport had to share the remaining two westbound lanes.

Along the way, everyone took advantage of the opportunity to capture the breath-taking views of the sunrise, the Narragansett Bay, and the bridge itself.  It was so amazingly beautiful that I quickly forgot about the chilly breeze and the impressive incline as we made our way to the midway point of the bridge.  Crossing the bridge took just over two miles out of our four mile run.

Coming into downtown Newport after crossing the bridge, runners were met with cheers and clapping from spectators lining the streets leading to the finish line.  The finish line area gave runners a chance to mingle with friends and family while munching on the yummy blueberry bagels from Panera.

On a picture perfect November day, I not only crossed the finish line of another race, but also got to cross over an iconic landmark.  The Newport Pell Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in New England.  Every time we go to Newport, I will probably get chillbumps thinking about where I was at 6:30 this morning!

4.2 miles ~ 42:00

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Witch Way to the 5K

October 29 - A friend invited me to run a 5K with her as part of a fundraiser for her son's middle school.  With the event occurring so close to Halloween, runners were invited to wear their costumes for a pre-race parade and costume contest.

Temperatures for the 11 AM start time barely made it to the mid-30s and a winter storm warning was in effect for the afternoon, but that did not stop hundreds of people from coming out and participating.  Kids, parents, and even pets dressed up and joined in on the fun activities leading up to the start.  
The out and back course circled the school campus before leading out onto the neighborhood roads.  One challenging hill to overcome leading into mile 2 interrupted an otherwise quick and easy 5K course.  28:27

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Dogs Are Barking 5K

Booney's first official race. 31:13
October 16 - took Booney on a fun run in Bedford to benefit the Animal Rescue League of NH.  The 5k road race took place on Joppa Hill starting at an educational farm.

Hundreds of people, many with their canines, showed up to enjoy the clear brisk autumn weather.  As if on cue, dogs of all shapes and sizes commenced the race with a chorus of barks and howls.

Although Booney did not receive his own bib, he was an excellent running companion setting  a manageable pace as the course wound through the beautiful roads of Bedford.  Despite not coming in first place, we all enjoyed a wonderful run.