Race Decisions – When Are You Being Too Picky?

Decisions, decisions.

UGH.

Lawd help me…

I’ve been running races on and off since high school.  Which, considering that took place in another millennium, that adds up to a lot of racing.  ALOT.  Some were awesome (all the Disney races), some stunk, (I Care I Cure 5k), and some were someplace in between, (Race for Women’s Wellness Half Marathon).  Each one a learning experience in it’s own right.

As I start looking at the calendar to pick my races for this year – and I’d like there to be more than the 1 or 2 I did last year, because, ya know……..LIFE – I get this feeling I may have set my requirements for races just a tad high.  By all means, please weigh in here.

Now, I’m not talking I need to have Disney-level race insanity for every race – nice as that may be – but my wallet certainly couldn’t afford said insanity.  But a few racer-friendly perks are always a good thing in my opinion.  Here are my top requests in case any race directors happen to be paying attention:

Manned water stations and/or appropriately supplied:  I did a 10k on New Year’s Eve 2017 along the beach in Boca Raton.  The two minutes you could actually watch the sun rise over the ocean was lovely, but once you turned off into one of the local neighborhoods, the scene wasn’t so pretty.  The one water station around Mile 4ish had one poor guy and his young son ferverishly trying to get water poured and out to the few hundred saps slogging by.  A couple of miles through the neighborhood brought us back to the same water station, only to find it both unmanned and out of water.  I was pretty much running in the middle of the pack, so I can only imagine how much worse it got for the runners behind me in the typical south Florida humidity that never seems to go away.  Now I know how difficult it can be to find enough volunteers for events like this.  However, this race has been taking place every year for the past 39 years.  Yes, 39 YEARS.  You think just maybe they might have stuff like this figured out by now, especially in the tropics?

Kids get their own race:   Make no mistake, I am ALL about kids putting down their phones and getting outside to move.  But if you’re doing everything you can to keep from running them over because they’re fully engaged in the “let’s sprint for 50 yards then come to a dead stop in front of some poor, unsuspecting sap whose brakes don’t work as well” mode, then the kiddies need to have their own kid moment of glory, if for no other reason than this poor unsuspecting sap’s knees can’t take emergency braking every 50 yards.

If you’re doing swag, do it right:  One word. DriFit.  I’ll pay an extra few bucks on the reg fees.

Use your outside voice:  Let it rip at the start people.  Especially for those saps like me who prefer to start at the back of the pack and haven’t had any mochaccinos before the start.  We can’t hear you chatting it up with the serious speed queens in the front row when you suddenly drop a “oh, let’s get this race started shall we?”  And pack up those obnoxious bullhorns.  They don’t work either.  Good option – put that local cheerleading squad to work.  Megaphones aren’t just for football anymore.

Take that constructive criticism seriously:   I can only imagine some of the ridiculous requests race directors see when they get their post-race surveys back.  However, there may be one or two that are actually good ideas that don’t cost anything extra to incorporate into the race day planning.  Like perhaps noting on the race website that drivers in the area ARE CRAZY AND DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY’RE GOING SO FOR GAWD’S SAKE, KEEP YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL.

No lady, I’m not sorry for scaring the crap out of you when I slammed a paw on the hood of your car as you looked right at me and hit the gas anyway.

All of the above noted requests, along with a few others (location, cost, registration fees, charity, etc) help me determine which races will hit my calendar in any given year.  My question for you is this.

Am I being too picky in what I want/need/expect from a race?

In my immediate area, 5k’s are rampant, 10k’s practically non-existent, half marathons are not too bad, and full marathons seem to be everywhere.  As I have yet to PR my half, I always have a few to choose from to maybe someday actually get it done.  My hesitation mainly stems from most of them, while geographically desirable, are not always the most convenient to actually get to, requiring one of those classic Disney 3am wake up alarms in order to have enough time to get ready, travel, park, get to the start, and warm up.  Plus, I know for logistical reasons, many in this area are held on Sundays.  Having a Monday-Friday desk job, a Sunday half doesn’t always equate to feeling so well the next day when you’re stuck in a chair and can’t really keep loose to fight off the DOMS.

It’s a conundrum.

Not this kind. Sadly.

As 2019 brings me to yet another year of debating which races will hit my schedule, I can only say this.  Every year I am eternally grateful that I have the ability and the resources to keep up with this crazy little hobby of mine.  Like anyone, I like to get the most bang for my buck and that is true for each race I consider.  Sometimes I wonder though.

Maybe I’d be better off just closing my eyes and pointing a finger?  Seems to always work well in my wine cooler.

Who’s a happy girl?

 

Enjoy the ride.

 

What helps you determine what races you will participate in? What are your race pet peeves?  Have you ever responded to a race survey?

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The Places Running Takes Us

Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write my latest attempt at literary mediocrity, only to find this is my 500th Post!

Say WHAT???!!!

Yes ma’am. 500 posts about running, Disney, dogs, travel, opinions, memories, reviews, recaps, and a general overview of all things shenanigans.  One name change, a couple of breaks, a few years later and here we are.  What have we learned along the way?  Not much.  That’s okay though because it’s been a fun trip and I don’t plan on that trip coming to an end any time soon.

In honor of this not so momentous occasion, let’s dive back into the archives and take a look at where this crazy sport of running has taken me.  As a true Sagittarian, I have an ingrained love of travel.  So combining my two loves has always been a no-brainer.  So grab a margarita, step into the Black Dog People Mover, and enjoy the ride.

One Happy Wonder Mutt.

Vero Beach, Florida

Not exactly a destination running beach, but definitely a happy place for the Black Dog family.  Thanks to a family connection, we spent many a great weekend at a beautiful beach house walking some serious mileage along Vero Beach in Florida, conveniently located about 4 miles away from Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.  The sand was too soft for running – unless you’re a glutton for punishment – but a decent hour’s walking in that stuff was enough to make you feel like you’d run a good half marathon.  Not to mention that if you went at the right time of year, the turtles are laying eggs all over the beach.

#adorbs

Washington D.C.

Once upon a time, a certain Grouper had the opportunity to attend a session at the FBI Academy in Quantico.  Just before he graduated, we had the chance – ironically on September 11th, 2010 – to run a memorial 5k that started/ended in Arlington VA, and ran through a small section of DC, including past the side of the Pentagon that was struck on that tragic day.  It was a bit surreal to say the least, and plenty of tears were shed as we slowed down passing the Pentagon.  To this day we are still so proud and honored to have been able to participate in such an amazing event.

All’s good in the Big Easy.

New Orleans

Where do I even begin with this wonderful city?  The people are SO fun, the food is out of this world, and the music?  All I can say is you’ve never heard such a mix of every genre out there.  Running along Canal Street can take you to Louis Armstrong Park, along the Mississippi, back to the French Market, (Bloody Mary to burn your lips off anyone?), up Bourbon Street, past Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Shop, (which sadly has become very commercialized), and through the French Quarter.  The roads and sidewalks are horrible running surfaces, but the color and flavor of the city cannot be beat.

Hang on little grapey friends.                              We’re on our way!

Napa, California

Being the wine freaks that we are, it was only a matter of time before we decided to fly the friendly skies to the west coast and indulge ourselves on all things grape.  The best part of staying in Napa is a miles long paved fitness trail that runs right through the main stretch of the town and continues into the start of the vineyards located in the center of the valley.  We visited in August, so while quite toasty for those of you more “thick-blooded”, we were right at home in the warmer temperatures.  And what’s better than being able to run off all of those wine induced calories?

Best. Bling. Ever.

Disney World

It always makes me smile to think of all the amazing people I’ve met simply by the need I’ve had to reign in the game show dollar machine I have for a brain and let what’s racing around in there spill out onto this blog.  Lisa is one of those people.  We may live 2,214 miles apart (give or take a few), but our common love for running has bonded us probably for life.  She is the hare to my turtle when it comes to pace, but having someone as obsessed about pace, finish times, and injuries as I am, makes all the conversations we have daily – thanks to Google chat – that much more fun.  We were finally able to run Disney’s Wine and Dine Half back in 2016 together, and to this day, even though it was my slowest half ever – because who can resist stopping for ever silly photo op possible? – it was one of my favorite races ever.

When it all comes down to it though, as much as I suffer from a never-ending case of wanderlust, I love coming home just as much.  Who wouldn’t with sunrises like this and little furry friends who are only too happy to keep you company on a cool tropical winter morning?

Home. Sweet. Home.

The best advice I can offer you is this:  explore the world.  There is so much out there to be seen, heard, tasted, and experienced and life is way too short not to do all of it.  Even if sometimes that experience means simply turning left instead of right.

Enjoy the ride.

 

Where is your favorite place to run?  Do you explore new places by running through them?  

Come Sit By Me

As things were pretty non-existent for a while around these parts, I figured it would be a good time to catch up on life.  So pull up a pool chair, order a margarita, and let’s chat a bit.

Salut!

I WANNA DO-OVER

Let’s just say 2018 has been a total poop show.  It’s always tricky deciding how much we want to reveal of our personal details in the blogosphere, and it’s no exception here.  Let’s just say, the Black Dog staff had some MAJOR medical issues come up, but thankfully, all pulled through and the recovery process is moving along nicely.  Word to the wise: when you have a bellyache for a week, don’t give your significant other grief when the doc says to get your dupa to the hospital.  And once you’re there, thank your lucky stars said significant other is too stubborn to let you leave.  2018 could have ended a whole lot worse than it started, so we are happy to leave it in the dust.

THE WONDER MUTT STILL REIGNS SUPREME

This girl.

Beware the snoot……

Still just as silly, still a splash queen, still the BESTEST WONDER MUTT EVER, even if she has gotten a little more “sun exposure”.  She is the love of my life, my confidant, my fashion consultant, my workout buddy, bestie and running partner.  And yes, her Daddy gets it and makes sure to occasionally give me grief about it.  Maybe if he met me at the door at night wiggling his butt with a hedgehog in his muzzle, he’d rate right up there beside her too. 🙂

Do you like my hedgehog?

AGING SHOULD ONLY APPLY TO FINE WINE 

Have I ever told you I’m the youngest of five kids?  Yup, FIVE.  How the heck my parents did it is completely beyond my comprehension, especially since I have enough trouble with a husband a dog.  I hit another decade last year and fighting Mother Nature with everything I’ve got.  As much as I despise admitting it, all those articles about your metabolism slowing down each decade are absolutely true.  Mine however, has decided to just plain check out.  I swear I just LOOK at a mini peanut butter cup – LOOK – and POOF!  That’ll cost you another five pounds lady.  I know I did not do well when I was recovering from my two knee surgeries, but dammit Mother Nature, can you cut me a bit of a break here??  I turned half my garage into a gym, tuned up the bike, and kick my own dupa six days a week.  And still.

Nothing.

Nada.

I’m coming for your hips lady….

Hello Jabba the Black Dog.

There is nothing more frustrating than forcing your muscles to lift more, run faster (well try to anyway), pedal away the miles, eat enough veggies that you swear you’re turning green, and still nothing.  The hubs tells me I look great and there’s only so much I can do.  But this is ME.  Stubborn, concrete-headed, determined, refusing to give up, and just plain pissed off.

Ladies?  Ya see what I’m sayin’??

I understand everything is a balancing act.  I cannot obsess about calories in/out, but I do pay some attention to what I shove in my yap.  If only there weren’t so many amazing tastes out there!  Drink half my weight in water most days, but then…..WINE.  Sweat my dupa off in the Island Time Sweat Box then find that creating cocktails is kind of fun.  What’s a girl to do?  If any ladies out there suffering from a slowing metabolism and uncooperative genetics have any ideas, by all means – feel free to share.

Then we can down those margaritas. 😉

PRIORITIES MOVE LIKE THE TIDES

There’s nothing like a good old life scare to make you step back and re-evaluate what’s important.  For all my metabolism bitching, in the big picture it means nothing.  The love and health of family and friends, the health and happiness of your critters, slowing down life for a minute and enjoying a sunset with a special someone and a good glass of cabernet, traveling outside your comfort zone and embracing adventure, that’s what life should be all about.  Not making enough money?  Live within your means and be happy you have a job when so many others don’t.  Angry the man of the house keeps forgetting to put the toilet seat down?  At least he’s there to forget to do it.  Living with what seems to be a case of a permanent bad attitude?  Make the effort to do something nice for someone else and then try to fight that smile that’s tugging at the corners of your mouth.  Without question what was important to me 20 years ago is nowhere near what it is now.  We all have personal trials we go through and times in our lives when it seems like everything is a big pile of dog poop.  Then something happens to make you realize your poop amounts to nothing.  NOTHING.

LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT

Races. Travel. Laughter.  Great friends and great times.  Funny how the simplest things have the biggest impact on your life.  Some of the best times I’ve ever had included a glass of wine, music, friends, dogs, and a simple backyard fire at this great little tiki bar I know.  It’s easy to find things to be grateful for each and every day, if you just take the time to stop and notice.  A helpful coworker, a smile from a stranger, a funny joke made by a passing runner at a race – all good things.  So my advice to you as I bring this recap of sorts to a close, is to appreciate the life you’ve been given and everything that makes it awesome.  You only get out of life what you put into it, so make that little extra effort, especially this time of year, when so many feel so lonely.  It costs nothing to thank a veteran or first responder for their service (dispatchers too!), or to help a senior citizen load groceries in their car.  Little things go a long way and people always remember the little things.

My challenge to you this day is to do some little thing for someone else.  Pay for their coffee, hold a door open, give their dog a biscuit (after making sure it’s ok of course!), then come back here and share what you did.  I guarantee you will feel a bit better about yourself and life in general.  Perhaps if we all do a little something for someone else, this tide of animosity that seems to be overtaking our lives will turn back just a little bit.

And little bits can change the world.

 

Enjoy the ride.

What little thing makes you smile?

Come Cop A Squat

Totally ripping off the whole “If We Were Having Coffee/Wine/Maragaritas” thing, come along with me, and let’s go cop a squat under a tree.  HA!

Oh Black Dog, you kill me!

Oh Black Dog, your rhyming skills kill me!

Since I hate coffee, but have recently discovered a new-found love for Dunkin’ Donuts Dunkaccinos, let’s go grab a non-earth friendly styro cup, our dogs, a couple dozen tennis balls, and venture over to the nearest dog park.  You never know what you may find out.

hmmm

If we were to cop a squat – you would discover that I have absolutely no people skills whatsoever.  Unless we’re talking about Disney, running, dogs, or wine, I’m a total shallow pool of nothing much interesting to say.

If we were to cop a squat – you would find that I have turned into a total wine glass snob.  Yes, wine glass.  And I can totally pan this weirdness off my hubby and besties.  The same ones who used to pick on me for drinking sweet white wines and continue to make the face when I put ice in my wine.  BECAUSE THAT IS HOW I ROLL.

You put what in your where?!?

You put what in your where?!?

If we were to cop a squat – you would find out that I can listen to just about any music out there.  Just about.  Classical, metal, reggae, pop, rap, compas, movie soundtracks…..you name it, I can handle it.  I can even take country but only in small doses.  But when something hits my eardrums like nails on a chalkboard, I react almost violently.  Deservedly so in this case…

swift sucks

If we were to cop a squat – you would find that up until nine years ago, I felt as though my life was flying by me like an Amtrak train and I wasn’t on it.  What happened nine years ago?  I met this UH-MAZE-ING dude, who showed me that life is a whole lot more than someone’s career, and that pushing your comfort zone isn’t as scary as it sounds.  And for that, I am as grateful as Wonder Mutt is for jumping in a lake.

whooooo  hooooooo!!!!!!!

whooooo hooooooo!!!!!!!

If we were to cop a squat – you would discover that I have crazy body image hangups, (who doesn’t?), as much as I try not to be I’m miserable if I can’t run, and if everything goes as planned with KneeGate2015 Part II, then the item on my bucket list that reads “complete a full marathon”, may just get checked off. {gulps}

If we were to cop a squat – you would find that I’m at my most content crashed on the couch at this little tiki bar I know, hubs on one side, Wonder Mutt on the other with her chin resting on my lap, binge-watching Game of Thrones, World Cup Soccer, or the Olympics.  Even the funny pants wearing events.

Best. Pants. Ever.

Best. Pants. Ever.

So if I haven’t bored you to tears by this point, and our mutts have sufficiently destroyed every tennis ball within a 15 mile radius, I think you’d find I’m pretty much your average, street-level introvert, who can be pretty damn quirky.  I love my Springsteen and Bon Jovi, my Moose Tracks and my margaritas, my running and my dog.  I have incredible friends both domestic and abroad, and have come to appreciate that it’s better to have a few great friends, than numerous casual buddies.  I have the world’s most amazing husband who puts up with my psycho-ness and buys me fuzzy animal slippers any time I want.  I’ve learned that animals live too short, fat cells hang around too long, and it’s better to live life balls-to-the-wall instead of watching it pass you by.

And that my dear readers, is why we should gulp down the Dunkaccinos, and go jump in the water.

WITH the dogs.

splash dog

No. Explanation. Needed.

Enjoy the ride.

Does any of this surprise you?  What would I learn about you over cappuccino and soggy tennis balls?