To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Run Like A Cheetah 5K

I don't do local races. After all the training I have done for 2 marathons and tons of half marathons, I've pretty much covered all of the good parts of town during training, for free. So why would I pay to run those same paths? I won't. But when this particular race come up on my Facebook news feed I thought this was ok to do.... Never before have I trained where cheetahs live!

The Run Like A Cheetah 5K (although actually shy of being a legit 5K) took place at the Wildlife Safari, one of my favorite places to visit when I need my wild animal fix. It was the first time they've done it, and you could tell, but that's okay. The point of the race was to raise funds for the cheetahs so I totally didn't care that it wasn't something fancy. We had no race bibs, time clock or start and finish lines, but we had t-shirts, a water stop, cookies and a fun time!

My mom, daughter and I got up early (which is my normal) and made our way to Winston, Oregon with no idea of what to expect. After parking the mom Jeep and getting the stroller set, we made our way to the park entrance and saw a cheetah on a leash! Inside the gift shop we handed them our tickets saying we registered and were handed our t-shirts. Quite simple! Another cheetah was brought out and we heard some cheetah facts before informally starting our run.

For the first part I had the added challenge of navigating a stroller on a rough road. It was fun to run alongside Dayo, the dog that lives with the cheetah ambassador. It didn't take long for the dog to leave us behind! Being a runner with a stroller it seems I'm always starting at the back and passing people. This time nobody was brave enough to start so we went and ended up near the front of the pack. Only a few runners passed us in the initial flat area before we all settled into our places. The first long bit was all downhill. Again, another stroller challenge since my sleeping baby was ready to ditch us and go flying down on her own!

This was purely a fun run and we treated it that way with no strategy or desire to be the fastest. We just went along our way walking and running whenever we felt like it. I tried to get in as much running as we could in the beginning 2 miles because the last one was a killer! All uphill!

As we got closer to the parking lot it seemed like I was going to collapse on the deceptively steep road. But we made it. And then had no idea where to go. They said to follow the arrows, except they had no arrows! A volunteer directed us toward our next turn which was still unclear. Then it was the part I was most looking forward to and the reason I registered.... We got to run through the cheetah enclosure that is part of the drive-through section of the park! Back in the day the cheetahs could roam free and come up to you car. *It is entirely possible in high school one came close enough that I put my hand out to pet it. I took the opportunity to get near to the fence and get some up close cheetah photos because why not?

The tigers are also part of the cheetah area, but sadly none were visible at the time. I had to take the opportunity to get a photo of Katura with their habitat behind her since normally this would only be accessible by car. In no time at all we were exiting the cheetah area and I saw a little 8x11 paper that said Finish Line. Oh, well, okay. We are done! Give me some cookies!!

The Wildlife Safari Village was opening so Katura and I were happy to take my mom through it for her first time in decades. The lions were busy roaring and putting on quite the show! Best part of my visit? Hearing the White Cheeked Gibbons in the distance doing some morning vocalizations that I used to hear every day at Disney's Animal Kingdom! And my baby? Yeah she slept through the entire thing! It's her 3rd race (first in the rain!), so I guess it's no big deal now. She's a pro!

Next year, if we do it again, we are going to actually prepare for it so maybe the insane hill won't kill us!

Butte to Butte +1 New Team Member

Every year on the 4th of July people line up in Eugene to run the Butte to Butte. I've done the 10K twice, and let me tell you it is a challenging course! The first mile is uphill. Not just some gradual climb, but one where you'd want hiking gear to help you scale the top of a mountain. There is a 4 mile family walk, as well as a 5K. I decided it was time to come back for the 3rd time, but upon doing my research I saw that the 5K was the only distance that didn't require me getting myself, my baby and my stroller on a shuttle to the start line. So the 5K it was!

Packet pick-up was at the Eugene Hilton, which coincidentally is the location of the Olympic Trials headquarters! That made for some cool moments of "running" into athletes here to compete for their spot on the Olympic team. I fully admit I was star struck and couldn't stop looking at the muscular legs of every person I encountered. It was pretty cool to see a few of the Olympic Team cars, too!

Picking up bibs was easy, but we did have to visit a table to update Katura's age. She is now the default 1, since they didn't have the ability to register as being a 5 month old runner. What?!? It was so fun picking up her very own bib, and our shirts were quite nice as well!  

The night before the race I meticulously put together 3 outfits of red, white and blue .... but I think the tiny outfit is clearly the cutest! On race day she ended up wearing her coat over it, but she was patriotic in spirit!

The morning of the 4th of July, our new team of three loaded up into the mom Jeep and went on a quick drive north back to the Hilton parking lot. Preparing for a race with an infant is quite a different experience, but luckily it doesn't even allow time for me to get my formerly typical pre-race nerves. Yay!

Another stop inside the Hilton for a potty break and do get my hair pulled back. Well, yeah, kinda hard to do some braids when you have ONE hair tie with you and the rest at home on your counter an hour away. Oops! 
The start area was a very short walk from where we parked, and we had plenty of time to hang out and talk with other runners. I was so happy to be back in my element with compression socks, Adidas, a bib, Garmin and runners!!

Our start line was very narrow as we were actually running the reverse way through the finish line. The fast people started in front and we lingered in the back with the other stroller people. Katura was by far the youngest runner in this race. Ha!

I have way more photos than I have things to say about 3.1 miles. Hmm.

After the Star Spangled Banner we were off and running ... running smack dab into a wall of 4 runners walking as slow as can be. Ugh. Quickly I zigged and zagged my way around so I could pick a nice spot on a smooth section of the road so as not to totally annoy my little team mate passenger. She lasted maybe half a mile or so before she was asleep. At least she was bright eyed and bushy tailed before the race!

The course was so flat.  Down a road, a couple turns along Amazon Parkway and back down the same road to the finish. Weather wise is was perfect. Sunny but cool, just like I like it. Although I also like rain. And I like running at 43 degrees. So yeah.

We did zero prep for this race, seeing as I spend my nights pumping milk and tending to an aging dog ... meaning I never sleep and therefore currently have no energy to try to train. That will change soon, I hope!  So the plan was No Plan! We enjoyed time with the fellow stroller people, ran when we wanted, walked when we wanted. I pushed the stroller for the first 2 miles and then handed off duties momentarily to grab some water. Well that moment continued until we were done with the race. Running without a stroller made me feel so light and fast! The pace naturally picked up from that point on. 

As the finish was nearing Shawn (I think I retired "Man Friend", you all know his name by now!) said, "I don't care if we walk or run, but we are not letting that girl beat us!" Game on! So I gradually picked up my pace, as I am prone to do during any race, and made my move to leave her behind us. I always train for a strong finishing kick, and bring it out in every single race. This was no exception. Shawn claims I slowed a bit so he sped up to prompt me to speed up. Well that turned into an insane sprint to the finish ... mom versus baby! I crossed before her, yet somehow she beat me by one one-hundredth of a second. What??? My baby beat me???? Oh well, I'm sure this won't be the first time!

The finish line snacks were AWESOME!! Cookies, chips, drinks, yummy rolls with cinnamon chips in them. I was a happy camper with that feast!  All in all this was a really fun time! I've done my years of competing against myself, and now running has a whole new aspect for me. Kinda nice to not have any pressure!