Friday, August 22, 2014

Running with the Bears

There is something to be experienced when you sign up for a hugely popular running event.  The kind of event that sells out quickly or the kind you have to put your name in a drawing just to have a chance at getting into the race.  I've done both the Disneyland half marathon and the Tinkerbell race.   And I had a great time at them (Disneyland is one of my favoritest places after all!)  They are races to be experienced, but they aren't races you set PRs at and more often than not it's a good hour from the time the starting gun goes off till you actually cross the START line.

I've had my eye on Running with the Bears since last year.  It's the very opposite of the Disneyland runs, with the exception that it does sell out early.  Sells out because the race is capped at 350 people.  350.  That's it.  Instead of 20,000.  I registered ridiculously early for it, designated it an "A" race priority on the training calendar for my heart rate monitor training, and set a goal to get a new half marathon PR at it.
I'm glad I did!  I enjoyed everything about the race weekend.

Some fun facts about this small scale race:
It's rural - Which means you will have to preplan your lodging and coffee options.  But well worth it I think.  It also means you can run with your dog if you want, headphones are on the approved list, and you don't have to worry about road closures or traffic lights.  All the funds raised from the run go to the foster children program, Mountain Circle Family Services, so you can enjoy your run and know that all the money raised is going to a good cause.

So that's my short, little rave about running with the bears.  I enjoyed the event so much I decided that this will be my marathon course next year.  It's been on my bucket list for a while now and I'm not getting any younger over here.  It's a beautiful course, it's a boston qualifier (not that I'm anywhere close enough to be fast enough for that!), there are no time limits on the course (this is a lot more my speed!), and the course is heavy on well stocked, enthusiastic aid stations.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend ~

pre-planning the race day outfit
I am probably the worst at being a minimalist packer.  I am always afraid it will be too hot or too cold or I won't want to wear that shirt...etc.  So I packed enough for an entire week for a two day running/camping trip.

I ordered a couple temporary tattoos from the race's online store.  I was surprised when I opened up the envelope to find 10 bear claw tattoos along with a hand written note from the race coordinator saying she threw in a few extra for practice.  Bonus!  (And thanks Josie!)

The boy was personally escorted into the finish line by one of the race staff.  That is something you don't see every day.   I stood at the finish for quite some time (after I soaked my feet in the ice bath) and watched.  Everyone got their very own finish line cheer squad.  I'm pretty sure I did too, but I have to admit I was watching the seconds tick off my garmin so closely, I really didn't notice, dang!

There was tons of goodies to eat and drink at the finish line, as well as the obligatory sweaty selfie picture.  Two people in this picture got PRs.  Woo and Hoo!

I honestly was only running against myself this race.  My fastest half marathon time last year was 2:06.  With age groups 10 years deep I was pretty sure there wasn't any way I was winning an award.  Turns out I got third...not too bad!

Hard to decide which statistic I'm most proud of.  I had been feeling like getting a sub 2 hour time was unattainable.  Maybe I should retire from half marathons now!

My sister-in-law and I, just goofing around with our new bear friend.

This was the first race where we camped and ran in the same weekend.  It takes a little more planning and I was glad for the comfort of the air mattress and my compression socks!

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