WIEM (What I Eat Mondays): Steak and Red Pepper Stir Fry

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Steak Stir Fry recipe from Taste and Tell

When I originally began this blog, I wanted to not only showcase my passion for running and fitness, but also my passion for food, horses, travel, and life! Obviously, I have yet to blog about anything but running, so here I go with what I hope to be a weekly segment that I’ve dubbed “What I Eat Mondays.”  I think I was partially inspired by me making this recipe for supper last evening, and partially inspired by my general love for food in general.  I want to share my love for food and eating! So, that being said, let’s start with what I had for supper last night, shall we?  Steak Stir Fry with Red Peppers!

As with many of my recipes, I begin my search with Pinterest.  I think I have something like 2500 recipe pins, which I have a fantasy to do one recipe everyday until I try them all!  Of course, doing the math, this will take me almost 7 years to complete.  Time consuming, yes, but worth it, don’t you think? LOL

But, I digress.  My point with this is that I found this gem of a recipe on Pinterest and after examining the ingredients, I thought it was pretty close to clean eating, so I gave myself the green light to make it.  I also have been consuming alot of chicken lately and wanted a different source of protein. While there has been debate over the health benefits (or lack there of) of red meat, I personally side with Dr. Axe who states that grass-fed red meat actually is quite healthful!  Read about it here: 6 Grass-Fed Beef Nutritional Benefits

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Now, on to the recipe.  I used a grass-fed flank steak, organic red bell peppers, and brown sugar instead of white sugar.  I also substituted some of the sugar content with a local mesquite honey. The recipe called for cornstarch, of which I did not have.  Instead, I used wheat flour.  If I wanted to be even more healthful in my preparation of this dish, I could have used almond flour. I also added a spoonful of peanut butter to the sauce, and some sesame oil.  I omitted onion, as the hubs cannot eat onion; instead, I sautéed yellow onion and mushrooms with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in a separate pan and then added some to my stir fry portion. The fresh grated ginger and cilantro really add to this dish and I highly suggest using these ingredients. I used white rice simply because this is Stir Fry to me, but I would have used brown rice to make this even more healthful. Yummy!

Here is the recipe from Taste and Tell:

Steak Stir Fry Recipe with Peppers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An easy steak stir fry recipe with onions and red peppers. Fresh orange zest makes this stir fry recipe pleasantly different.
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1¼ lbs flank steak, cut across the grain into thin strips
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium red peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced fresh ginger
  • fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups cooked rice, for serving
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, orange zest, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch. Set aside
  2. Place the steak in another bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and stir to coat the meat.
  3. In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over high. Add the steak, working in batches if needed, and stir fry until browned but just short of being cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate, then add in the onion, peppers, garlic and ginger. Stir fry until the vegetables are just tender about 5 minutes. Add the steak back into the vegetables and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Pour the sauce mixture over the meat and vegetables and cook until it has thickened, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Garnish the stir fry with cilantro and serve over rice.

 

Let me know if you try this recipe and how you like it!  What other Asian-inspired dishes do you like to make?

 

Best Damn Race New Orleans 2017 Race Recap/Review

 

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Me looking like a muppet (again!) and happier than any normal human being should be when running 13.1 miles.  Overcompensation anyone?

Disclaimer:  The following review is based upon a mid-pack, slower, 40-something runner who waited six-months before writing this review. Many details are from a questionable memory recall, primary from the ingestion of a premium bottle of Justin wine ca. 2015 the night before writing this recap.  So, not very objective IMO; your experience might differ.

This past spring, the hubs and I went to New Orleans for a family wedding. As stated in previous reviews, I LOVE New Orleans and South Louisiana and jump at any chance I get to partake in ANY activity there (primarily eating). So being the overachieving neurotic that I am, I had to squeeze in a Half-Marathon to prove that I am truly pathological in my love for Louisiana and running.  This time, that race happened to be the inaugural Best Damn Race–New Orleans!

I, for one, was not familiar with this series of races, as after reading the website, turns out to be because they are located primarily in Florida and I don’t get east of the Mississippi much. The other interesting thing about this series of races is their principle of making racing accessible for everyone.  The way they make this happen is to have a sliding scale of sorts for the registration fees.  The first 200 entrants pay only $35 dollars, the next 200 entrants, pays $45 dollars, and so on. You get the drift.  Interesting concept which works well for the early registrants (another perk for management as they get many registering early), but not so much if you are a later registrant.

Cost:  OK, so talking about the money, I think I paid $85 for this race which I think is a pretty good deal.  For that $85, I received race entry, a shirt, a bag, and quite possibly, the BEST DAMN MEDAL I have received to date.  The cost to travel here was minimal for me, as we flew on points, stayed with family, and stayed one night in a hotel on points, so I can’t really advise in that area. However, that being said, hotels will run the standard $120/night or more.  Food in the Big Easy is not to be skimped on, as it is some of the best in the world, so plan on shelling out some $$ for that while you are here.

 

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The weather on packet pickup day.  OK, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but to someone from Arizona it seemed to be like this.  Anyone from Louisiana would think it would be normal weather.

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Hyatt Regency Downtown New Orleans. Photo Courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Expo/Packet pickup: The day of the Expo turned out to be storming and raining, like any other day in South Louisiana.  However, the Expo and packet pickup had originally been scheduled to be outside at Congo Square (Louis Armstrong Park).  Thankfully, the venue was changed to be inside at The Hyatt Regency on Loyola Ave.  The Expo was in a ballroom at the hotel and had your typical vendors, if I remember correctly, and of course a place to pick up packets and the t-shirt.  I honestly don’t remember much because I was concentrating on not getting my hair wet, as I had just gotten it done for the wedding we were attending that afternoon. Hence I have no pictures, other than stock a TripAdvisor photo, for the Hotel and Expo location.  Just picture any other expo in a hotel ballroom that you’ve attended, and you have the idea. I must say however, management had EXCELLENT communication, texting and emailing the change of venue for the Expo early that morning.

The pre-race congregation at Louis Armstrong Park Race morning

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Race Day Parking/Access:  Anyone familiar with New Orleans knows two things: 1. None of the street names are pronounced the way they are spelled and 2. Parking does not exist. So, due two these aforementioned facts, George drove me to Louis Armstrong Park on race morning and slowed down just enough so that I could jump out of the car and head into the park.  You think I’m kidding.  I’m not.  Along with the non-existent parking, comes the New Orleans PD, who are NOT. MESSING.AROUND. when it comes to directing people and traffic (think Mardi Gras). So, having barely escaped with my life from a moving vehicle, I headed into the park to the most important pre-race place, AKA The Bathrooms.

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Action shot of me being dropped off on race morning and living to tell about it.

Pre-Race:  One word–BATHROOMS.  In this case, it was a large, typical bank of Porta-Potties (no surprise here).  What was a surprise was how long it look to get into one of the said Porta-Potties.  It took so long that I think I almost missed the start of the race. Note to race management, MORE POTS PLEASE next year.

Typical pre-race Porta-Potty scene.  Luckily, I was in the South; anywhere else a riot would have erupted due to the long wait.  Southern hospitality prevailed.

 

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Starting Corrals: There were assigned corrals, however it didn’t seem like they were enforced much. Having arrived to the Start after the National Anthem was played, I sort of just merged into the herd as they were already moving forward (see my comment about the bathroom lines).  Also note the weather– it turned out to be a slightly overcast for part of the run, sunny for the other– beautiful day!

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Course:  Due to being at sea level, the whole course is flat and fast.  Since New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, I’m a little biased, but I think most people would agree that it is a beautiful and scenic city.  Therefore, the scenery along this course, IMO is THE BEST DAMN SCENERY EVER. The course takes runners through some pretty cool parts of New Orleans such as the Treme district of New Orleans, the CBD (Central Business District), and St. Charles Street and the Garden District (the best part of the whole run).  I love, love, love this part of the city for it’s history, mystery, and charm. The scenery and flat/fast aspect of the course gets an A+ in my book!

Course Summary through pictures:

Coming out of Louis Armstrong Park, mile 1.

  1. The Best Damn Shirt of the Race Award goes to Suck It Up Buttercup  2. Ummm, kinda sketchy part of town, no?    3. Skyline Downtown New Orleans, heading into Treme

Below: Treme Neighborhood

1.The short stretch of the CBD, 2. Exercise AND Runner Support!!

Heading down St. Charles Street and into the Garden District–the Best Damn Part

Garden District Roll Call:  Anne Rice, Archie Manning, Payton Manning, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Drew Brees, Nicholas Cage all own homes here.  So think about this when running mile ten through the Garden District: If Nicolas Cage can still get work, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!

George and my mom-in-law cheering me on!! AWESOME!!

  1. Second Best Damn Shirt of the Race. Love me some Texas! 2. Loyola University 3. Me (again!)

  1. The Best Damn Honest Selfie at Mile 12   2. Realizing I need a much better Best Damn Selfie

The Best Damn Finish Line Ever!

Post-Race: Well, I’m gonna spare you the obligatory post-race picture of ME, because thankfully I did not get one.  You see, in order to pick me up from the race, George had to go into the French Quarter and we had to synchronize watches and GPS systems for him to find me.  AND continuing the pattern of the morning, I had to JUMP BACK INTO a moving car, after running 13.2 miles (according to Garmin) AND walking half a mile into the Quarter to find my ride. Oh well, I had a ball, and I can honestly say this might just be THE BEST DAMN RACE I’ve run, in New Orleans anyway!

2017-03-26 10.05.37At least I worked off that wedding cake!! 

Swag/Bling/Goodies:  OMG.  If the race doesn’t live up to it’s name, the medal sure does!!  I LOVE THIS MEDAL!  It is high quality and HEAVY!  Maybe even the heaviest medal I have to date.  The design of the sugar skull is AWESOME and I of course love the colors (purple, how can you go wrong?).  The shirt has the same design and color–bonus points, but the quality is a little low IMHO, as it is not a tech shirt and the material is a little flimsy.  That being said, I get compliments when I wear it, so I will forgive the race managements decision to not make it a tech-type shirt.

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Final thoughts: Would I run this race again?  Absolutely I would and for the following reasons:  The pre-race communication was spot on, the race bathrooms adequate, the BEST DAMN scenery in Louisiana, and of course THAT MEDAL.  Overall, I think it was a well-run, well-priced, and well thought out course that I think any level of runner would enjoy.  Laissez les bon temps rouler, Y’all!!

Due to the Best Damn medal, scenery, and shirt design is give this race 4 and 1/2 BEST DAMN Races:

best d race logobest d race logobest d race logobest d race logobest d race logo

 

The Lost Dutchman Half Marathon and my first DNS

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I’m sure this logo is somehow copyrighted by the Lost Dutchman Marathon.  Just so you know, I’m no-way-no-how claiming this as my own artwork. I just think it’s really awesome as is the story behind the Lost Dutchman.

I was really excited about going to this race. I really was.  First, the medal (of course). Then the weekend with my husband.  And of course knocking Arizona of the half marathon list, even if it is my home state.  Of course, Murphy’s Law had other plans.

Friday: George and I decided to make a weekend out of this race, i.e. a mini racecation. Food, fun, and a run!  Enjoying every opportunity to eat in the Phoenix area, I thought “Great!”  Our first stop Friday evening was Beckett’s Table. I highly recommend this restaurant, as do the reviews on TripAdvisor.  I had the Salmon, and I mean WOWWEE! And we had a nice romantic table for two in the corner.  Sweet!

[Spoiler Alert!] At this juncture of the story, I need to tell you that Arizona was experiencing higher than normal temperatures and pretty nice weather.  See the informative pictograph below:

hot

So, I thought “This will be a nice race!”  Quite like the representative obligatory “having a great time running” picture on the LDM website.  Or at the Expo:

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Saturday:

OK, so truth be told I’m getting tired of writing about a race I didn’t run.  So here you go:

Rain. Gray. Cold.

(Insert expletive of choice here).

Went to expo and packet pick-up in AJ (that’s Apache Junction for you non-natives). Located in a local community center.  Nice people and well managed.  Didn’t buy anything.  Looked like the following pictures:

Nice volunteers. At the expo. Cute pic.

More rain. More gray. More cold.

Got a flat tire driving away from the expo.

Went to Discount Tire. Got new tire(s). Sat in Chili’s for 3 hours waiting for said tires because it was Super Sale Saturday or something and apparently all of Mesa needed new tires.

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At least one of us was happy.  This is before the flat tire.

  1. This would have been part of the run 😦 2. The flat. 3. The offending nail (at very top of picture).  

Had dinner at cool Baja-style Mexican restaurant in Mesa.  Killer ceviche. Baja Joe’s Mexican Cantina. Highly recommend.

Went to bed hoping I wouldn’t have to run in the rain.

Sunday:

I woke up at 4:30 to rain. Remained optimistic however.

Yeah. Right.

Drove to the parking at the Rodeo Grounds in AJ. Rain was coming down and it was dark! Cold, too. George stayed in the truck while I boarded the bus to be taken to the start at Prospector’s Park.  Got off the bus and immediately headed to a ramada (as in picnic, not the Hotel, which I would have preferred at this point) with the other participants.  I donned my trash bag and waited for the start.  Then the wind picked up.  Great. Now it’s cold, wet, and windy.

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Trying to look as miserable as I felt. In a trash bag.

Proof I was actually there.

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Proof of the weather. In Arizona.

Then I got sane. I have not prepared nor trained for these kind of conditions. I’m not an intense, type-A type of athlete.  I do this for my health and for fun, both of which were in serious jeopardy at this point, IMHO.  I decided I was not going to be pulled of the course at mile 6 for acute hypothermia.  So, I texted George to make sure he was still in the parking lot and told him I was coming back.  I boarded a bus (I wasn’t the only one!) and went back to the Rodeo Grounds.  George and I went to a local coffee shop and then went home.

The End.

P.S. Here is the medal I missed out on and the reason I decided to pass (both pics from the LDM Facebook page:

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Fun medal. Not fun, wet, cold running.

There’s always next year.

 

 

Scottsdale Hot Chocolate 15K recap/review

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Disclaimer:  The following review is based upon a mid-pack, slower, 40-something runner who was seriously congested, somewhat grumpy, cold then hot, and having to use her shirt as a Kleenex.  So, not very objective IMO; your experience might differ.

As always, THANK YOU to my husband George for being my support, cheerleader and official photographer and to Coach Jennifer Lynn of Desert Endurance Multisport Coaching for being patient, kind, and answering my inane emails!

If you checked out my OUT SICK post, you’ll know I’ve been sick with a nasty, relentless cold leading up to this race. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to the race because a) I felt not so great and had low energy, b) STILL had mucho nasal congestion, c) thought I might die of a heart attack due to an unrealistic and irrational fear that colds lead to endocarditis, d) hadn’t run or done any workout, save a 30 minute walk, since the Houma Half Marathon two weeks ago and didn’t feel prepared, e) and I really didn’t have any cute cold weather running clothes, which IMO overrides any of the prior reasons. BUT, I put on my big girl pants AND my therapist hat and gave myself a good “Come to Jesus” talk, which truth be told, I was overdue for in general. And if I’m going to be completely honest, I was had at the chocolate and that medal!  So, George and I headed to Scottsdale Saturday afternoon for a nice weekend getaway, which I’m glad we did because I had a nice time and I actually learned something about myself (I’ll get into that later).

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                        One of the many HUGE HC 15K blow-up-things, welcoming us to the Expo

Expo/Packet-pickup:  Once getting to the Scottsdale area, George and I headed right over to the Salt River Field where the Expo was being held.  For those that don’t know, this is part of the Salt River Indian Reservation and also part of the multi-million dollar Talking Stick Resort and Casino in Scottsdale. Salt River Field is a beautiful stadium where the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies have spring training games and practice. I suspect this was a large enough venue with enough miles of running around it to be able to handle the estimated 15,000 participants. I guess that many people can’t resist the thought of paying to run almost 10 miles and getting chocolate along the way, which really speaks to the marketing genius of RAM RACING.

Notice the volunteer at the end of the bib pick-up–he was hamming it up because he saw me taking a pic.

Overall, this was a very well run and organized Expo and race.  Bib pick-up was a breeze: no lines, friendly volunteers, technology check-in (just like showing an electronic boarding pass on the smart phone)!  Lots of freebie food (some variation of chocolate, of course!) and a number of vendors.  The best part was the “swap” of the sweatshirt we received–a separate station were there were sweatshirts to try on and then new ones to exchange for the right size!  Really top-notch!

  1. Friendly volunteer handing out chocolate as we entered the Expo.  2.  Free chocolate samples! Oh yeah!  3.  Expo vendors, etc. on concourse of the stadium  4.  HC volunteers making hot chocolate and other chocolate goodies! (Not pictured: me genuflecting in front of the chocolate makers)

Parking/Access and Weather:  We stayed at the Residence Inn on Scottsdale Road, which made it very easy to get to the Salt River Field. Lots of traffic getting into the grounds, but with all the efficient volunteers, it really didn’t take that long.  The morning of the race we were advised to get to the grounds (Salt River Field) by 7:00AM even though the race started at 8:15AM. George and I got there at 6:45AM because I was freaked out that there wouldn’t be enough parking for the projected 15,000 people.  Not to worry though, because we got rockstar parking and then hung out in the truck (think Seat Heater) as it was COLD. Remember, people from Arizona break out the parkas at 65 degrees.  HC race directors have it together by giving sweatshirts instead of t-shirts (I used it race morning, as did every other participant)! I’m sure it was difficult to distinguish individual racers, as we were all clad in out HC Hoodies; just as difficult to distinguish racers 30 minutes into the race as said participants had said Hoodies tied around their waists. As an aside, about a mile into the race I wanted to take my sweatshirt off, but didn’t want to stop.  An added challenge was that I was holding my phone, but had nowhere to put it, as I didn’t have any pockets.  So, what did I do? I put that disgusting, bacteria laden thing IN MY MOUTH and took off my sweatshirt!  This is REALLY huge considering I’m the kind of person who washes her hands before going to the bathroom, lest I touch a part of my body with dirty fingers!  I guess I’m a real athlete now!

   1.  Temperature at race time  2.  Pre-Race American Gangster with George and Sarah

Cost:  I can’t remember how much I paid for this race, but $75 somehow is on my mind. I checked upcoming HC races in other cities and it was $64 for the 15K, so the estimate of $75 might be high.  Anyway, I got an awesome sweatshirt, tasty treats along the course, a TOTALLY AMAZING medal, and a HC plastic tub (mug) with chocolate goodies.  Not bad, if I do say so myself!  Travel costs were minimal, as I traveled from in-state.  We stayed at a Marriott property on points, so I can’t advise as far as hotel costs.  Although, the host hotels (according to the HC Scottsdale website) were anywhere from $92-$209/night. Obviously to fly to the Phoenix area, one would fly into Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. This airport is actually pretty close to Scottsdale (distance is relative in Arizona because we don’t think twice about driving 50 miles to work one way).

Pre-race: The most important part of any pre-race is (OF COURSE) the bathroom situation. Even though this was at a major public venue, the stadium and ground bathrooms WERE CLOSED to race participants! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  So I had to stand in line for the stinky, disease-harboring Porta-Potties (insert crying and vomiting emojis here).  I made sure to get a handicapped Potty, which are just as stinky, but much larger than the average Potty, so I don’t actually have to touch anything except what is already on my person.  These Potties are so large that George called it the Party-Potty.  And it smelled like a party happened in there too (I took the liberty of inserting Bea Arthur below in lieu of an emoji).

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                                                                         Sing it Dorothy! I feel you.

Anyway, here’s some parting Potty shots:

 Potties as far as the eye can see. And some guy crossing his legs in the universal gesture of praying to the Bathroom Gods to open up real bathrooms.

Starting corrals were very well-organized with the corral letter being on my bib. Announcements were made, we were herded into our corrals, and we waited for our corral to go. Then we were off!

  1. Corral K, as in you’re too slow so you gotta be in the back, ‘kay?  2. Starting line blow-up thingy.

 

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                                                       Scottsdale Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Course

Course:  Race Directors couldn’t have picked a flatter course, which is a difficult thing to do in Arizona. For people not harboring disease, I’m sure this is a perfect PR course. However, as I mentioned earlier, I still wasn’t feeling good and was still REALLY congested.  Then, to add fashion insult to injury, when I got dressed race morning, I realized I brought the wrong shirt. By “wrong shirt” I mean I brought a silk-blend shirt from Banana Republic that I consider expensive and nice enough to wear to work.  This shirt apparently and unfortunately looks very similar, especially in a NightQuil fog, to a Nike running shirt I own.  Bummer.  Especially since the Kleenex I brought on the run to clear my sinuses ran out at mile 1.  So what did I use?  Yup, that’s right my “good” silk work shirt.  I quickly found out that snot does not dry quickly on silk, thus adding to my frustration (and embarrassment) with my cold.

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Notice the discoloration on my right shirt sleeve and right shoulder/chest proving my point of snot on silk.  Also notice the sweatshirt tied around my waist–the look 3000 other runners were sporting at this point. 

Course support ROCKED! Course was well-marked and had numerous volunteers with flags along the way.  A big shout out to the numerous safety offers along the course who were friendly and helpful.  A special kudos to the police officer who took a group of runners’ photo on the course (not creepy, they asked him). Aid stations also ROCKED! Following the old adage of “everything new on race day,” I decided at the last minute to not carry any water with me, which completely went against everything I have ever learned being a Native Arizonan.  Come to find out, I didn’t need water every half mile and water stations every 2 miles was completely sufficient.  Also come to find out, I really like marshmallows while running!  I found this out because every water station was also a “Sweet Station” with chocolate or marshmallow goodness!  I mean, does it get any better than this? 

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Scenery consisted of human backsides and residential neighborhoods, with a few office complexes thrown in for variety.  I suppose that one doesn’t do this race for the scenery though, just the chocolate and the medal!

Course summary through pictures:

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                                                                        Mile 1, so many people!

  1. Me in the standard issue HC gray sweatshirt and black tights wondering how I’m going to blow my nose. 2.  Summary of the course scenery.

  1. One of the only cheerleaders on the course, bonus points for creativity. 2. After seeing this guy, I completely got rid of any pity party I was carrying.  Although, I did have a fleeting thought to make a sign that said “Nasally Impaired.”

  1. Mile 5, I think. Here I was able to see who was faster than I.  2. Pretty sad when the most visually appealing thing on the course is an overpass.

  1. The worst part of the course.  I dubbed it the Psychological Warfare stretch.  You see, we turned a corner and I thought we were headed back toward Salt River Field, i.e. the Finish Line.  But no, this road was a straight shot south with no end in sight and no scenery.  In fact, I thought I was running back to Tucson.  The only scenery was the runners coming the opposite direction. I wanted to cry.  2. The home stretch! I still wanted to cry.

  1. Never been happier to see the finish line!  2. The finish from George’s perspective

 

Post-race: Huge post-race festivities!  I think there was a band or something somewhere, along with a few sponsors’ booths, but really I was so entranced with my medal, I can’t really recall much.  In a post-race first, I ate the chocolate, banana, and hot chocolate that came in my HC mug (or tub as I called it).  As with everything else with this race, post race was well-organized and well-structured.

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  Obligatory post race picture of ME, my post-race goodies, and another huge blow-up HC thingy!  What post-race picture would be complete without snot stains on my shirt sleeves?

Swag/Bling/Shirts:  As mentioned earlier, Hoodies were given instead of shirts.  I really liked this decision, as the Hoodies were specifically designed for running and made out of quality material.  I test-drove it right away, and liked it so much that I wouldn’t blow my nose on it.  Pretty high testimony, really.  The post race tub of chocolate goodness was also a good move, IMO.  Finally, the medal was the coup de grace of the whole deal. What a beauty (large, solid metal, gold, high quality, with a removable medallion)!!!! This medal was the whole reason for me do to this race and it exceeded my expectations!  I was a very happy runner as I hobbled to the parking lot!

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                                     By far the best medal and swag I’ve gotten at a race to date!

Final thoughts: Would I run this race again?  Fo’ sho’ I would! Overall, this race was well-managed and organized from the pre-race communication emails, which included a training plan if needed, to the post-race festivities.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED the medal and the “Sweet Stations” along the course.  Was the chocolate theme and huge blow-up thingys a bit commercial and gimmicky?  Maybe a little, but truth be told it hooked me and made the whole experience that much more memorable, enjoyable, and SWEET!

Things I learned from buckling down and running this race despite my nasty cold and equally as nasty attitude:

  1. I can actually exercise and run almost 10 miles with a wicked cold.  Who knew?
  2. I can run with a cold and I won’t die from a heart attack.  Shocker!
  3. I can run with inappropriate or incorrect clothing.  Guess what?  I still crossed the finish line anyway.
  4. I can run without having cute clothes, although I took inventory of everyone else’s cute running gear along the way.
  5. I can run while on DayQuil.
  6. I can run without two gallons of water strapped to my hip or back and not die from dehydration.
  7. I can run without my own Gu.  In fact, I learned marshmallows are WAY BETTER than Gu during a race.  I’m bringing my own marshmallows next race.
  8. I can run pretty far without training for two weeks. Although, my knees and IT bands beg to differ.
  9. I can take off a sweatshirt while running by PUTTING MY PHONE IN MY MOUTH and not freak out about contracting cholera or meningitis.
  10. Shirts make good Kleenex.  Kinda.

… And what do you know? I finished almost exactly mid-pack in both my age group and overall.

Due to THE MEDAL, swag, hoodie, marshmallows (especially the toasted flavor), venue and location, general organization, “sweet stations,” gimmicky blow-up-thingys, and CHOCOLATE, I give this race four and 1/2 golden chocolate bars:

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I’m under the weather! and random thoughts about the Scottsdale Hot Chocolate 15K

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My cold/flu arsenal, dog included.

 

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While I had a wonderful time in Louisiana for Thanksgiving, I picked up a nasty cold. At first, the insidious little jerk disguised itself as allergies and was perfectly happy to keep me only slightly irritated while being kept at bay on Claritin.  However, coming home it decided that enough was enough and went full-blown on Sunday. I’m talking the total, full monty congestion, sore throat, and hacking cough.  I’m not sure, but I think I have produced enough snot of various colors to break some sort of record.  Interestingly enough, during my recoup time on the couch (and between Netflix shows), I researched the color of snot and was intrigued to find out just how many shades of mucus actually exist.

To save you the suspense, this is what I found out about my particular hue of snot:

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I was really somewhere in the middle, which I interpreted as this cold was really not messing around.  Action was necessary, especially since the Scottsdale Hot Chocolate 15K is this Sunday. I gathered together some tried-and-true and got busy instigating “Operation Nasty Cold Beat Down.”

Here is a pictorial and written list of my cold arsenal:

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I’ve recently started to binge watch the show Criminal Minds on Netflix (actually part of my cold arsenal).  Character Dr. Spencer Reid informs us that overkill is personal. It may seem my cold arsenal is overkill, but this cold has made it personal now.

(from left to right, Spencer Reid excluded)

Benadryl: clears the sinuses and puts me to sleep for 12 hours.  My go-to for colds, flu, allergies, and turbulent airplane rides over water.

Halls drops: Vitamin C “suckers” and Vanilla Strawberry flavors. Vitamin C is supposedly the cold assassin and let’s face it, the vanilla strawberry tastes really, really good.

Toilet Paper: Cheaper than Kleenex and much more accessible. Softer than paper towel, too.

DayQuil: Benadryl except without the total 12-hour knockout.

Hand Sanitizer: I mean, I’m not totally heartless.  I don’t want to pass this thing around.  A must have at the workplace and among germaphobes like me.

Airborne:  What I should have taken prior to the plane ride.  One of these days I’ll learn.

Immune Support:  A totally overpriced holistic immune support I picked up a compounding pharmacy last year.

Vitamin D:  If it’s good enough for my Gynecologist’s medical assistant’s cold, it’s good enough for me.

Sleepytime Tea: Just in case the Benadryl doesn’t do it’s job.  The camomile can’t hurt either, right?

Honey:  Honey can do many, many things.  Honey is a great cough medicine and soothes upper respiratory infections.  Honey also helps in the reduction of allergy symptoms and boosts energy.  Interestingly enough, Honey also seems to be a remedy for herpes.  For the record, the latter is not the reason I use honey.

Netflix: My current binge favorites include Hawaii Five-O, Criminal Minds, Narcos, Chopped, Reign. And let’s not forget the classic Breaking Bad (only the BEST.SHOW.EVER.MADE). Also good for emotional numbing, general distraction, and all-around procrastination. Definitely multipurpose.

And finally (most importantly)…

Beignet, Super Corgi: I mean does this one need explanation?

 

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Hawaii Five-O eye candy. The real reason to binge watch this show.

Normally, I wouldn’t be quite so concerned about a cold, especially one that has gotten me out of work for the last three days.  However, this weekend is the Scottsdale Hot Chocolate 15K and I really want to go.  According to my super amazing Coach Jenn, one can still race with a cold.  She told me to forego my workouts this week and go this weekend as long as I didn’t have a fever.  I’m not totally concerned because I a) am feeling better, b) have less congestion, c) just ran a half marathon 2 weeks ago, and d) really, REALLY, want the medal. So, I decided that I will cross the finish at a walk (crawl) if I have to. AND awesome hubs has already squared away the hotel, etc., so it will be a fun weekend together.  That being said, I have lowered my expectations for my performance to just enjoying the weekend/race, not getting sicker, and getting THAT MEDAL!

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Scottsdale Hot Chocolate 15K Medal.  See what I mean? Who wouldn’t drag an IV pole along to get this beauty?

 

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Should You Run When You’re Sick?    Probably not like this. For the record, although I felt like this with a cold this week, this was me two years ago after a Septoplasty and Tear Duct Reconstruction.  Hubs couldn’t resist getting a picture.

 

 

What do you do when you’re sick?  I’m always looking for Netflix recommendations, so what do you binge watch?  How does it affect your exercise/training?

 

 

Houma Heart and Soles Half Marathon Race Review/Report

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Disclaimer:  The following review is based upon a mid-pack, slower, 40-something runner who loves the food, culture, and people of South Louisiana.  So, not very objective IMO; your experience may vary.

As always, THANK YOU to my husband George for being my support and cheerleader and to Coach Jennifer Lynn of Desert Endurance Multisport Coaching for being patient, kind, and getting me ready!

Last Saturday I ran the Houma Heart and Soles Half Marathon.  First question I know you’re thinking: Where is Houma? To which, I always say, go to New Orleans, and drive southwest.  If you reach the swamp or the Gulf, you’ve gone to far. And, yes, this is LSU Country, which is considered a religion (Geaux Tigers!).  Second question: How do you pronounce Houma? One thing to know about South Louisiana is that Hooked on Phonics does not work here. Nothing is pronounced the way it is spelled.  For example, Natchitoches (a town on the Louisiana/Texas border) is pronounced KNACK-uh-dish, while Tchoupitoulas (the lake north of New Orleans) is pronounced CHOP-uh-two-lass. Following this logic, Houma is pronounced HOME-uh (notice the common denominator of the sound “uh.”).  My husband grew up here and we return to visit family, especially during holidays.  I saw this Half Marathon listed on RunninginUSA.com and thought that I’ve never run a race here, so why not?

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Here is the map of the Half Marathon Route.  If it looks like it was drawn by someone who had one too many Hurricanes (as in the ultra-yummy cocktail, not Katrina), it probably was. Ha! Cajuns love their booze and parties! In reality, all city planning is dictated by waterways.  In fact, I think there are actually five directions in Louisiana–North, South, East, West, and the River.  Therefore, there is no rhyme nor reason to the way cities are laid out, with the exception of THE RIVER (Mississippi) and random Bayous (smaller rivers).  Hence the crazy course route.

George and I drove the course the night before, which was a good thing because the course was marked only by sprayed painted arrows on the pavement and that was it! I was also concerned because race management stressed looking at the map and “knowing” the course prior to the race. Yeah, right.  I would have never found my way home, no way no how.

Race Review:

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Houma Heart And Soles is a Half Marathon and 5K walk/run.  All proceeds go toward “Free Preventative Cardiovascular Screenings and Education” which is a good thing because all food is fried here. Exhibit A: Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy–UHHHHH-MAZING!!

Expo/Packet pick-up:  As I found out, this is the only distance running event in this area, so it is a very community and small event.  Because of this, there is no expo.  In fact, two months prior to the race, I messaged race management on Facebook to ask about packet pick-up.  My question was answered almost immediately (great pre-race communication!): Packet pick-up is the day of the event at the Civic Center (start and finish line) as “we find this works the best” and I must agree as packet pick-up went super smoothly– no lines and friendly volunteers.

Parking/Access: The race began and finished at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center–super convenient to where we were staying.  Also, had the weather been bad, this would have been a nice place to start and finish as it was all inside.  We didn’t have to worry though as the weather was beautiful, except for some strong wind that showed up around mile 4. Anyway, parking was a breeze– we had almost the whole parking lot to ourselves AND we showed up only 30 min before the starting time!  The best part though was the bathrooms.  I. HATE. PORTA. POTTIES with the intensity of a thousand red hot suns (which would probably be needed to sanitize those suckers).  But no worries here!  The Civic Center bathrooms were open to participants and what clean bathrooms they were!!! This was the best part of pre-race, hands-down.

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The finish line and pre-race “festivities,” by which I mean people standing inside looking at one another wondering if they are going to get lost on the crazy course.

My cheerleaders– awesome husband and amazing mother-in-law. As it turns out, they were the ONLY cheerleaders.  For the whole race. 

Cost: I paid $50 way back in the Spring of 2016 and I got a medal, T-Shirt, post-race food, post-race photos, a red carpet finish, and AWESOME bathrooms.  I noticed via the results that I was one of 4 people (out of only 70 entries for the half marathon) who was not from the area, much less from out of state.  I don’t think this is necessarily a race to travel to; I really can’t guide as far as travel costs, as I stayed with family and flew on points.  I will say that Houma is a very cheap place for food and gas, so I would think hotels are reasonable as well.  To fly here, the only option is to fly into New Orleans, which is approximately 1 hour away.

Weather: The weather in South Louisiana is hit or miss, at best.  We lucked out though as the day was beautiful, with the exception of some reportedly 20 mph winds that came up approximately 40 min into my race. Other than that, the 55 degrees and sunny was awesome for running!

Pre-race:  We were shuffled into a waiting area then directed to go to the starting line behind the Civic Center, where we waited for our escorts (as in HPD, Sheriff, and Bayou Cyclists). Chatted with some other friendly participants who were also afraid of getting lost and then we were off!

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Starting line convos. Other friendly participants.

Houma’s finest. They made sure we were safe and blocked traffic at intersections.  If there is one place in the USA that knows how to manage and block traffic, it’s South Louisiana (think Mardi Gras).

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Me starting at the back of the pack with a ridiculous expression making me look like a muppet.

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Bayou Cyclists, who were uh-mazing at directing and supporting participants. I asked several times which direction to go and they were very friendly and helpful!

Beginning of the race (mile 1).  I included this picture because as you will notice, we ran on the road with traffic next to us.  What???  This was the majority of the race, because you will also notice that there is no shoulder to the road and most other roads have ditches next to them. With alligators.

Course: FLAT. FLAT. FLAT. Did I mention it’s flat? Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything else being at sea level.  Definitely PR material. The course was marked only with arrows spray painted on the road.  I had to ask an HPD officer for directions once and the cycling support twice.  That was somewhat annoying (this would be my only suggestion for race management–have course marked better with signs or volunteers or something). Scenery for the majority of the course is nonexistent, as it goes through the town of Houma.  The last 5 miles gets better as the course runs along Bayou Black and is really pretty. Water stations were every mile. I wore my hydration vest purely out of habit, but really didn’t need it.  I noticed only one porta-potty, but I wasn’t looking and would have to be practically delirious to use one, so there might have been more than one. Crowds were nonexistent; in fact, hubs and mom-in-law were the only ones out cheering for runners (me)!  Yay!

Summary of course in pictures:

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Mile 2, Mile 3, Mile 4.

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Mile 4, Mile 5

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Mile 6 cute neighborhood.

Slow your roll. No problem here.

Mile 7 industrial Houma.  And yes, I’m the only one on the road.

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Mile 7 water tank

Mile 8, now we’re getting into the good scenery. Still the only runner on the road.

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Mile 8, grass trees and water, a total novelty to someone from Arizona.

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Mile 8 a random Lamborghini parked on the road that we had to run into oncoming traffic to avoid

Mile 9, cane fields and other runners (finally), Bayou Black

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Mile 10, beautiful southern home

(No pics of Mile 11 as I was getting bored and tired.  I also had to put my phone away as I might be tempted to call Uber to come pick me up. I was also too busy trying not to get hit by a car to take pictures.)

Mile 12, the home stretch

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Me finishing and running the red carpet! Final time: 2:19:46. PR city!!!!  My hydration vest was a real novelty in a place where they pump water out of, well, everywhere. That’s a corgi on my shirt, BTW.

Post-race:  Running up a red carpet was different and cool.  This is the race’s trademark, apparently.  I usually do not eat or do anything in the post-race festivities, so I’m not sure what kind of goodies were available.  I did see volunteers surrounded by Subway bags, so I’m assuming Subway sandwiches were available.  I did stick around for the awards ceremony and I admired the awards that were given for a race of this size (acrylic plaques with the Heart and Soles insignia). The emcee of the race/awards ceremony was a former Miss Louisiana who is into health and nutrition, which I think is pretty cool.  In fact, it seems race management really thought of everything! Kudos to them!

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Me and my AAAAA-MAZING mom-in-law!  

Swag/Bling/Shirts: I’m impressed with the medals for this race: High quality, heavy, metal with the Heart and Soles insignia.  Shirts were equally as high quality: Black (no white see through!), tech material with Heart and Soles insignia.  Not much swag, save some coupons and a plastic cup.  Overall, I’m happy with my stuff and thought that it was great for the cost and size of this race!

 

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For some reason I didn’t want to take the medal out of the plastic wrapper.

Would I run this race again?  I would if I was in the area visiting family.  I’m not sure if I would make a special trip to do this race. That being said, I think race management did an excellent job organizing and putting on a great race!

Due to the location of the race in relationship to where I was staying, general organization, high quality medal/shirt, red carpet finish, race size, overall friendly fun vibe and simply because I am partial to South Louisiana, I give this race four and 1/2 Heart and Soles:

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Everyone Runs TMC Veterans Day 1/4 Marathon Recap or Back to High School for this Sabercat

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My stroll down memory lane (pun intended).

Disclaimer:  The following review is based upon a mid-packer, slower, 40-something runner who actually went to this high school.  So, not very objective IMO; your experience may vary (dramatically).

As always, THANK YOU to my husband George for being my support and cheerleader and to Coach Jennifer Lynn of Desert Endurance Multisport Coaching for being patient, kind, and getting me ready!

Back to SCOOL (What can I say? I’m a product of the TUSD system)

My high school years were anything but illustrious.  Acne, teenage angst, general awkwardness, and big hair really cramped my style, not allowing my inner Cyndi Lauper to emerge. Other than hanging with my horses and watching Knight Rider (David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight was totally rad!) my high school years were, well..awful. As my Dad puts it, I was enrolled in high school, I didn’t actually go… So, when I say I went to Sabino High School, you’ll have a better idea of what really went down according to my fater. I will say that my perceptions differs quite a bit when it comes to this.

 

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 Still the same dysfunctional school sign.                      I’m pretty sure that this parking lot has never                                                                                                         seen this much action–parking wise.

So how fun for me to return to my old alma mater for the Everyone Runs TMC Veterans Day Half Marathon, 1/4 Marathon, & 5K because I enjoyed it SO MUCH the first time (emphasis and sarcasm is all mine)!  Seeing as how I never actually went to school (you know this is an exaggeration right? Well, kinda…) I had to remind myself of the way; not really, as I only live about a half mile away from this public establishment of finer education.  The proximity to my house, the course that runs through my ‘hood, and a chance to relive my high school years was a no brainer for the decision to run a race here at the home of the SABERCAT!  (What’s a Sabercat? Really good question and one I’ve pondered myself from time to time.  My best guess: An abbreviation of Saber Tooth Tiger).

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Sabino High School senior picture circa 1990.  Notice the Teased Bangs, trademark of the 1980s. Apparently, I decided to keep the trend alive going into the new decade.

Generic, obligatory yearbook entry that pretty much sums up my Sabino High experience. Have no clue what F.E is or why it was demented and pathetic.

Race Review:

I did the 1/4 Marathon, which was a good choice because the Half Marathon was 2 loops of the 1/4 Marathon, so I probably would have been bored.

Expo/Packet pick-up:  No expo. However, packet pick-up was very convenient at Fleet Feet locations, one of which being on my end of town (thank you race management!). Volunteers were nice enough, and the pick-up was well organized.  Kinda strange not to be given a t-shirt at packet pick-up, but was instructed I would be given the t-shirt at the finish line (picturing myself grabbing a shirt of of a bin as I blaze past). There was a goody table where I helped myself to free samples of sunscreen, energy beans, and lip balm.  Hey, this girl can never have enough lip balm!

Parking/Access: Both North and South parking lots of Sabino High were available for parking the morning of the race.  Both were well manned with volunteers.  We arrived at 6:50am and there was still plenty of parking.  Easily to leave once race was over too. Much easier actually than when I actually went to school here.  Maybe we should have had volunteers directing traffic then too.

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Even though I’ve seen this view for the majority of my life, I can’t help but think how pretty the sun on the Catalina Mountains is at 7am.

Starting Line at daybreak.  I think there’s a country song somewhere out there with these lyrics.

The Race:

Cost: I paid $45 in September for the 1/4 Marathon, which got me a medal, tech long-sleeve tee, and breakfast burrito (which I didn’t eat).  I had no travel cost, so overall a pretty good deal.

Weather: The weather was beautiful and reminded me of why I live in Arizona!  About 64 degrees at the start of the race, no breeze and not a cloud in the sky.  Perfect!

Pre-Race: Timing chips (house-arrest- style ankle bracelets) where distributed in a tent near the starting line.  Quick and easy.  There were a few vendors like Don Fernando Coffee and Ragnar around the pre-race congregation, along with a jumping castle for the kiddos. Since it was Veterans Day Weekend, there was a very patriotic and awesome color guard, and a not-too-shabby singer of the Nation Anthem. The starting line was on the school track, which was a complete novelty as I never did any kind of sport or physical exertion while in high school. The half marathon left approximately 5 minutes before our group did at exactly the advertised time. As I stood at the starting line, I looked over and standing next to me was a former colleague.  Small world!

Course: The course took us around a residential area, my neighborhood to be more specific. I actually ran the course prior to running the race, so I felt confident about the course at least.  At any rate, the course started at Sabino High School, took a lap around the track, then went out the gate to Bowes Rd.  Check out the following to get a gist of the scenery along the course:

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For being in this area of the foothills, the course was surprisingly semi-flat. Since this is my neighborhood and I’ve lived here the majority of my life, the scenery is really pretty vanilla to me.  Although I will admit the mountains looked pretty spectacular with the sun rising. Oh, and there were two “bands” playing music– one at the start of the course and one mid-way through. Water stations were every couple miles and the course was well marked.  As always, law enforcement did a great job stopping traffic and keeping everyone safe.

Post-Race: I usually don’t (can’t) eat after a race, so I didn’t partake in the food.  It looked good and plentiful, however.  There were also massage tables (also didn’t partake).  There was plenty of seating and people seemed to be enjoying themselves.  One thing I didn’t mention was the bathroom/porta-potty situation.  As the start (and finish) of the race was on school grounds, the bathrooms were opened for our use, and how sweet it was!  I will always avoid porta-potties like the plague, which incidentally they probably carry, so having actual bathrooms was AWESOME!

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First photo is the same field we were on for the race and pre-post race festivities, circa 1987.  Second photo: Post-race festivities.

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Obligatory post-race picture of ME, ME, ME: The only athletic event I’ve ever done at this school.

Swag/Bling/Shirts: Since I only run these things for the medals, I was happy that finishers received one, but was slightly disappointed to see it was a generic medal with runners and a sticker (I think) of the race name and the American Flag.  Really nothing special.  On that note, the shirts were pretty average too.  I’m not a fan of white shirts and disappointingly the shirts were white (read: see through) and long-sleeved (also a frustration because there are all of five days of the year we Arizonans can were anything with long sleeves). They were a tech fabric though which sorta redeemed the long-sleeve decision of the race management. I liked the bib as it had an eagle, flag, and my name (let’s face it, we all like to see our name in print). No other swag, except the free lip balm at packet pick-up. 😦

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Overall I liked this race and would attend again next year.  It was well-organized and well-thought out.  The course was marked clearly and supported well.  Pre-race communication was adequate, as was the medal/shirt. And it was ULTRA CLOSE to my house. BONUS!

***Addendum:   We were “notified” (via Facebook– not such a good choice IMO) that the course had been mis-measured and the Half Marathon was actually 12.66 miles and the 1/4 Marathon was actually 6.2 miles (so said my Garmin too).  Most people were understanding and pleasant, but there were a couple of people who were upset, even though management apologized profusely.

***ANOTHER Addendum: So I actually placed!!  3rd in AG with a 10:07 average! Wowza!

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2016, 1990

Due to the race location, well-organized race, awesome management/ volunteers, available parking, adequate medal, and overall good vibe, this race earns four and 1/4 (get it?) out of five Sabercats:

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Desert Boneyard 10K or how I got my picture with Maverick

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As a Native Tucsonan, I have passed by what we locals refer to as the “Airplane Graveyard” maybe a thousand times and it’s always held an air of mystery to me, especially after it was showcased in the 80’s Film “Can’t Buy Me Love” which was filmed in Tucson. Although not an airplane enthusiast (in fact a nervous flyer!), I do very much appreciate airplanes in general.  I mean, how is it that something can weigh a gazillion tons and stay in the air held up by only the laws of physics? Pretty cool, really. Also speaking of 80’s films, I think I fell in love with bad-ass, too-cool-for-school aviators and their jets after watching TOP GUN. I must have had a crush on Tom Cruise (Remember Maverick?) for most of my adolescence (and 20s if I’m being honest).  In all seriousness however, I very much appreciate our military and 100% of the proceeds from the race support military families (http://dmforcesupport.com/DesertBoneyard/New%20Site/index.html). So, when I saw this race advertised, I thought it might be fun to go!

According to http://www.airplaneboneyards.com/davis-monthan-afb-amarg-airplane-boneyard.htm, the DMAFB Boneyard is the largest military aircraft storage facility in the world and was started after WWII.  Check out the website for more pics, especially the arial views which put into perspective how big this part of DMAFB really is!

Race Review:

Expo: None and I didn’t expect one for a race of this size. Packet pick-up was held at Fleet Feet on my side of town (thank you race directors!) Friday afternoon.  Of course, the location of packet pickup was fantastic and not having to drive to Oro Valley was greatly appreciated!  Race volunteers at pickup were friendly and efficient.

Parking/Access: Having never been on any military installation before, I thought it was pretty exciting to be entering through an official Base Gate.  As one might expect, it was staffed heavily with armed military personnel.  I can also safely assume that this will probably be the only time my car will be inspected by a dog before a run a race.  Parking was aplenty, with efficient volunteers directing traffic.  Parking was in a field near the entrance gate, therefore somewhat a long walking distance from the starting area. It didn’t bother me, but I did pick up some nasty goathead stickers in my shoes walking in the dried grass (gaitors maybe?–more on this later).

The Course:  Flat with aircraft galore!  The course is a mixture of paved roads and dirt service roads which intertwined/wound between the rows of aircraft.  The dirt roads were very well marked with cones and volunteers. One thing about the dirt roads, I picked up several rocks and lots o’ dirt in/on my shoes.  Some of the debris rubbed blisters on my feet and ankles, so I would probably were some sort of gaiter if I were to do this race again.  The course also gave great opportunities for photos, which many participants were doing.  I appreciate the race directors actually allowing participants to see a great variety of aircraft throughout the entire race; it was really a treat for we non-military to see. Check out the following for my cool photo-ops:

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Oh yeah! Look who photobombed my selfie–  Photo with Maverick!

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Maverick sans Goose.  Oh yeah, Goose died. 😦

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Maverick decided to join the race.  Without a shirt.  Of course.

Like I said, it was really a cool course with lots of cool photo ops.

OK, so one draw back of this race was the weather and absolutely out of the control of the race management.  In fact, the weather lately has been (very) unseasonably warm, with temps reaching into the mid-90s.  It was no different race morning.  Mid race it was 84 degrees, which to me is too hot, and also partially explains my 11:20 pace!  I’m more of a 60-70 degree runner, which makes AZ not a very prime location for me to run 8 months out of the year.  Anyway, I was feeling the heat around mile 4, as was most other participants who were still on the course at that point.  The follow pic sums it up nicely:

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Notice the guy throwing up on the side of the road.

That being said, there were four strategically placed, well-staffed water/aid stations throughout the race. Two (?) of the aid stations had porta-potties.  Volunteers in Gators were continuously driving the course and plenty of other volunteers were standing along the course offering encouragement and support.  Overall, a really nicely supported race. Volunteers were handing out water at the finish line and there were tents set up for shade.

Shirts/Swag: I once saw a pie chart showing the percentages of the “reasons” people choose a race.  Approximately, 35% chose the race based on the location/scenery, while another 35% chose based on the bling.  Unashamedly, I fall more into the latter category, so I was disappointed to find out there was no swag nor bling at his race.  However, the other part of me falls into the former category (Hawaii here I come!), so I was completely happy and satisfied with what the race had to offer.  A shirt was given to participants, and I must say I do like it.  It is a nice tech fabric and color.  I am perplexed however, why there is no plane on the shirt. Anywhere. Weird.

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Overall, I recommend this race.  I probably wouldn’t travel to it, but as a locally run race it’s a good one!

Maverick (and I) gives it four out of five thumbs up:

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