Sunday, November 19, 2017

2017 Santa Cruz Turkey Trot 10K

Jim and I signed up to do the Santa Cruz Turkey Trot very last minute. We had another race lined up and it was so lame that we decided not to do it. 

It was the 17th year that the Santa Cruz Turkey Trot has taken. It's hosted by the Santa Cruz Race Club. 

Swag: Registration was $45 per person and for that, you got a pair of socks and your bib. Medals were awarded to the top runners in each category. 

Course: The race included a 1K, 5K, and a 10K. I saw many kids getting ready to do the 1K and some people with their dogs doing the 5K.

The course was beautiful! It was a flat trail all the way, except for one small hill. You started off on a street and two turns later you were on a trail overlooking the ocean. The course went down past the lighthouse up to the Dream Inn. Once you got to the Inn, you turned around and headed back. 

Aid Stations: There was one at the end of the first leg of the race. There were porta potties at the beginning of the race and a public restroom by mile marker 4. 

Atmosphere: This event is hosted by volunteers of the Santa Cruz Race Club. At the beginning, there were volunteers cheering the runners on. I was second to last to finish the 10K. When I got to the end there was no one there to greet us. In fact, they had moved on to calling the runners that won medals. I think they should have waited for all the runners to finish. I guess everyone wanted to go home. 

On a personal note:

The weather was pretty cold. It was 44 F at the start of the race and by the end, it was comfortable in the low 60's. I had debated running with a vest on, but I'm glad I didn't. 

I had major stomach problems by mile 4. I'm not sure why. Maybe my breakfast choice, I don't know. It was caused me to slow down, but I was determined not to quit, and I made it. 

I guess this race would be considered a fun race and not a timed race. There were no chip transponders on our bibs, but there was a person that said he would take time by hand. 

I got to try out my new race dots. They help keep my bib on without the need for safety pins. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

runDisney Avengers Half Marathon Weekend 10K Review

I was up at 2:30am. The race didn't start until 5:00am, but we were told to be standing at our corral by 4:00am. There was a walk from the hotel I was staying to the corral location, so we wanted to allow enough time to have a quick breakfast before the race. 

We were at the entertainment stage by 4:00am. It was freezing cold. Otterbox was sponsoring the coat or jacket check-in. Once we were at the stage the announcer started calling for people that were in costume to come up front as a group and get our picture taken. Shortly after that we checked in our jackets and began to endure the cold morning breeze. 

It was nice seeing how creative some of the runners were. I hadn't thought of doing a 'mash-up". That's where you combine two or more costume ideas into one. For example, there was a lady dressed as Mary Poppins with a blue face and a fin on her hat. She had done a Mary Poppins and Guardians of the Galaxy combination. 

We then meandered over to find our corral letter. We were in the last corral, on purpose. It was our first runDisney race and I wasn't sure if I could keep up with everyone, so we played it safe. 

I noticed that many people had mylar blankets. My swag bag did not have one. I don't know if only the people doing the Gauntlet Challenge got them or if they had saved them from previous runDisney races. However, it's now clear to me that I need a couple of those for our next race. 

As people started to line-up in their respective corral, we looked around us and wow, we were among a sea of people. The Thor 10K had 7,900 people running and overall for the weekend a total of 39,000 people. That's by far the largest race I've been in. 

Corrals were released in alphabetical order. We were so far back that we could hear the announcer, but couldn't see a thing. It probably took an hour and a half of waiting until our corral was released. Needless to say, I was eager to get going and warm-up.  

It seemed like a lot of the race course was through the back lots of the parks. I didn't mind that though. How often do you get to see "behind the curtain" and see where things are made and put together for the rides? However, some of the walkways along the back roads are very narrow. All runners were pretty much forced to slow down to a fast walk because there was just no way to get around the crowd of people. 

We eventually resurfaced at the back of Disneyland at Toon Town. That's where the in the park running began. All throughout the race, there were hologram projections of the symbols of the various Avengers. I would always smile and point them out to Jim. It was a small reminder that we were on track. 

All the bathrooms at the park were open for us and there were portapotties available as well. Having enough bathrooms was not a problem for this race. 

I was touched by all the employees that were out cheering us on. They didn't seem upset that they had to get up so early, they truly were encouraging and happy to us there. Some even had signs saying what shift crew they were and thanking us for participating in the race. 

I didn't have headphones on. I wanted to take in the whole experience. However, there were plenty of runners that chose to wear theirs and that's fine. It's a personal choice. 

I saw some of the security guards on bikes surrounding us. I panicked and thought we were going to get scooped. Nope. They were just making sure everyone was okay. They commented on Jim's costume and told him they liked it. The security guards seemed to be enjoying the festivities too. 

We ran through both parks: Disneyland and California Adventure. I got to see a part of California Adventure that I don't normally go through when I visit the park. It's in Cars Land. While I love Cars Land, I had never walked past this particular area. That was neat and again made me smile. 

I didn't try getting photos taken with any of the characters. I knew I wasn't going to have the time. When I passed the Matterhorn, the line to have your photo with Thor when around half of the Moutain. I didn't have to spend like that. In fact, I don't know how the racers in line finished the race without getting scooped. 

My goal for this race was to finish without getting scooped. I was not concerned with my time, just getting it done and I succeeded. I am very proud of myself. I had a panic attack the night before and had a lot of doubts. Talking to Jeff Galloway during the Expo helped and the support of my loved ones helped too.

Top Holiday Gifts for Runners

1. Garmin Forerunner

Garmin is not new to making watches with GPS. What makes this watch amazing is that it is specifically designed for runners. It has on-screen predictions of the athlete's pace would be for each of the major running events (5K, 10K, Half, Full) based on the person's current speed. 

Many runners listen to music while they run. The problem is that when you run outside, you also have to be aware of the noises and alerts around you, like traffic, other runners, dog walkers, etc. Having a headphone that totally blocks all exterior noise can pose a safety concern if you're not paying attention to the surroundings. 

AfterShokz bypass the outer ear and transmits the sound vibrations through the ear bone. I know it might sound weird, but trust me, it's really cool! This leaves the ear open to being able to listen to oncoming traffic and anything around you, without jeopardizing the audio quality of the music.

3. Active Advantage Pro Membership

Let's face it, a runner runs a lot. Not only to train but also to compete and earn racing swag. is the website that hosts many of the races around the U.S., including runDisney races. For the yearly membership, you get discounts on upcoming races, running shoes, gear, and more. 

4. Motivational Socks

Some days you need just a little more motivation to get out there and workout. These socks are inspirational and functional. They make an easy stocking stuffer. 

After a long race, you are left with aching knees, legs, and quads. Having a trusty pair of recovery sandals is a must. 

Keeping sweat out your eyes while running is important. Headbands are used by both female and male runners. I love Bondi Bands because they are lightweight and come in a variety of different colors and patterns. Bondi Band even has a design your own option if you don't find the design you're looking for. 

Runners use KT Tape to provide additional support to weak joints and prevent injuries. KT Tape comes in a variety of colors and it's easy to apply to the skin. 

8. Race Dots- Bib Magnets

Using safety pins to pin your bib onto your race shirt is a serious pain. Not only do you get pocked in the process, you also run the risk of damaging your shirt. I found this product at an expo and I think they're great!

Race Dots are small, yet powerful magnets that keep your bib in place no matter what weather conditions you are running in. They come in various designs. Jim got the last pack of the running turtle design and I got the paw ones. I will be ordering a pair of the running turtle for myself. They're so cute! Imagine, a slow turtle with sneakers on. That's totally me! 

When in doubt, get an Amazon Gift Card. Anything and everything is available on Amazon. You can get the gift card in the mail, send an e-gift card, or just print it out. Gift cards have no fees or expiration dates. Choose from various gift cards designs for free. 

A personalized ornament is a perfect way to commemorate a runners race achievement. The runner's name, race, and stats are all personalizable. 

runDisney New Balance Shoes

Rumor had it that some New Balance Outlets had an inventory of runDisney shoes. I called my local store and sure enough, they had Dumbo's from 2016 and Tea Cups and Haunted Mansion from 2017. I was actually wanting the Dumbo sneakers. I know it's a men's shoe, but I think it looks great as a women's shoe. I thought the same thing about the Toy Story runDisney shoes. I didn't see them as a men's only shoe, I thought it was gender neutral. At least that's my opinion. I saw plenty of people last week at Disneyland wearing all the 2017 runDisney shoes. 

I got to the store and they didn't have my size in the Dumbo. I did score a pair for Jim at $99. That's what they were selling for at the Avengers Half Marathon Expo. The smallest size they had was a 9 men's. While at the store I decided to search on eBay and see if by chance anyone was selling the Dumbos in my size and eureka! There was one seller that had them, so I quickly hit the buy now button. Now Jim and I have matching runDisney Dumbo sneakers.

I didn't see the clip-on that matches the Dumbo sneakers at the store, so, for now, I'll have to go without those until I can spot them at a decent price. 

So, the morale of the story, if you're wanting runDisney shoes, check with your local New Balance Outlet Store. I was told that some of the stores will tell you over the phone if they have runDisney shoes and others won't so be aware of that. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

17th Annual Race Against PH Review

This year was the 17th year the Race Against PH has taken place and the first time I've done it. 

There were about 4 portapotties near the parking lot and actual restrooms nearby by the stadium and by the race track. Parking was abundant and free. When you registered for the race you could choose to have a chipped bib or not. There was a $5 difference between the two. 

The course went through Stanford Campus. Stanford is such a beautiful University. I enjoyed the route as it was different the entire way. Each of the Stanford buildings had a different style of architecture and design. The grounds have several eucalyptus trees that you can smell along the way. 

There were lots of volunteers at the race. Many had cowbells and were holding signs that times made me laugh as I passed them. 

Some of the paths were limited to the sidewalk since traffic was not stopped, but I found that running on the bike lane worked out just fine. There were several walkers on the course. Several companies and teams had special shirts and showed their team spirit. There were people of ages running or walking. There were definitely a lot of families running together with their dogs. 

There was one water station along the route. I only saw one of the mile markers, but then I was keeping track of the mileage on my Fitbit. I wasn't putting a lot of effort on spotting the mile markers. 

At the end of the race, there were many people cheering the runners on as they passed the finish line. No medals were awarded, except for top runners in each category. After you finished running, you could go claim your t-shirt. I found it strange that it wasn't handed out before, but I'm assuming there was a good reason for it. It was a nice technical long-sleeved shirt. The volunteers at the shirt table were doing a nice job of helping people decide on what size shirt best fit them. 

Of course, after running you will need to replenish your energy. There were plenty of free snacks for everyone to enjoy. There was freshly popped popcorn, string cheese, donuts, fish crackers, and more. 

Overall, great race. I would definitely do it again.

Thank you to @ProCompression and #runchat for the compression socks. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse VRC Medal

The recent Total Solar Eclipse that was visible from the U.S. on August 21st, 2017, was an amazing natural event. Jim drove to Oregon and camped out there so that hee would be in Madras during the eclipse. Madras, Oregon was in the Path of Totality and where we live in California, was only a partial view of the eclipse. 
If you didn't read my previous blog on his experience, here's the link

Of course when I saw that Virtual Running Club was hosting a Total Solar Eclipse Virtual Race, I knew we needed to be a part of it. The race was either a 5K or 10K and the medal was the same for either distance. The entry cost included the medal, a pair of eclipse glasses, and a downloadable racers bib. I paid the extra $5 to have a racers bib mailed to me. Even the stamp on the envelope had a total solar eclipse. So cool! 

 I like hanging my bibs just as much as the medals. You could for an additional price, purchase a t-shirt. Some people don't care to have another racing t-shirt, so this gives you the choice to purchase it or not. 

The Total Eclipse Virtual Race Medals were such a hit that VRC had to order a second bath of them. I completed the race in early September and patiently waited for the second batch of medals to be mailed out. It took a few months, but I got it! Boy, is it worth the wait! The back of the medal has the Path of Totality engraved on it. The front has the Moon covering the Sun. When you slide open the medal the Moon swings out to cover the Sun. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

What To Look For in Fitness Ambassador Programs

What's an Ambassador Program?
It's a marketing strategy. The company selects a group of people who are already in the nitch that they want to target. For example, athletics, dirt bikers, runners, triathletes, etc. In return for the individual's participation, they get something (money, products, or discounts). 

In the old days, companies would hire a marketing company to promote their product on TV, magazines, and on the newspaper. That's still being done somewhat, but companies have figured out that social media marketing is where they get the best results. 

In general, it's a win-win situation. The company gets lots of exposure from somewhere already running, biking, etc. and the participant gets something for their effort and time.

Social Media Marketing is very powerful these days. Not all Ambassador Programs are created equal. Know what you are getting into. 

I'm not going to mention the names of the companies that I'm talking about in my post. The point isn't to bash companies. Instead, it's to make other athletes aware that being part of an Ambassador Program might not be the right fit for you depending on whether or not what the company is offering meets your needs. 

1. Pay your way in
Company X charges $55 to join their Ambassador Program. For this amount of money, you get a t-shirt, some stickers, and discounts on their products for the whole year. You get free product evaluations, but if you keep the product, you are charged for it. You must agree to post Company X's hashtag on all your social posts. 

2. Only get something (money or products) if you successfully get someone to use your coupon code
Company T has a tiered system that only pays out something to the Ambassador if they get someone to purchase something using their particular code. First-tier starts at 25 products sold. You get nothing if you sell less than 25 products. You get nothing upfront. You get nothing if no one uses your code. You are expected to work for free at their sponsored events at least twice a year. 

3. The requirements are mystery
Company N is very mysterious. It encourages people to sign up for the Ambassador Program once a year. It doesn't say what the expectations or freebies are going to be. 

4. Get free stuff and promote it on social media
Company Y sends you a box full of their new line products at least 3 times a year. The products are free for you to keep. The company expects for you to take photos of yourself using the products and hashtag the company on your posts. No need to sell anything. No out of pocket costs to you.

5. Must only use their product
Company M sends you one free product twice a year. In addition to the free product, you get a discount for any additional products you purchase. You are required to not blog or talk on social media about any direct competitors and you can only use their product for races and events.

6. Sign-up and then never hear from them again
Company P claims to promote community among athletes. When you sign-up and are accepted as an Ambassador you get a digital badge that the company requires you put on your blog. You get one small item for free $3 value. Then, you are expected to share Company's P hashtags on all your social posts. No other discounts or freebies are given.