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Posts tagged ‘Obstacle course’

Diva Dash Recap

Let me start by saying that I LOVED this race! I’m pretty sure this is the first race where I thought to myself “Man, I can’t wait to run this again next year” WHILE still running it! It was a ton of fun and if it comes to a city near you, I recommend checking it out.

My team and I put our best foot forward for this event… and we did it in pink, zebra striped socks!

First, it was a 5k with 11 obstacles. The obstacles consisted of climbing over mountains made out of hay, dirt, and tires (separate mountains). Climbing over “jersey barriers.” Scooting through a maze that was also covered in a net around waist height (so you had to bend down to go through it). There were plenty of balance beams. We had to carry large logs for awhile. And my favorite: the thing where you have to run with your feet through tires (so you get some nice high knees) while also being hit by inflatable pink balls!

My favorite obstacle. Looking for my teammate.

On top of the fun obstacles, the course itself was pretty challenging. Some of it was on a paved road, some of it was over gravel, but most of the running was a gorgeous trail run through the woods. Obviously, this part is specific to the Massachusetts one. I like to consider myself a trail runner (although let’s be real, half of my trail is paved), however, my trail is along the Charles River and is mostly flat, flat, flat. The trail for this 5k was LEGIT! It was winding, thin, and constantly going either uphill or downhill (steeply). And we actually had to hop over fallen trees! Luckily, everyone started in preassigned waves that were separated by 15 minutes, so I never felt like the course was crowded. Absolutely top-notch orchestration, I have to admit.

Besides the actual run, there were a lot of things that I liked about this race. It was my first ever “Women-only” event. If all “women-only” events are this nice, I will totally be doing more of them. Everyone was so cordial! Plus, so many people really thought about what they were wearing. I loved it! I wish I had gotten pictures of my favorites, but let me at least describe them.

  • For about half of the run, I followed some women from a Boston Book Club, the back of their shirts read “I like BIG books and I cannot lie” (oh how I love it!)
  • There were about 20 women in aprons as “Domestic Divas”
  • There were some shirts that read: “My mascara runs faster than you!”
  • “If you run faster, you’ll get wine sooner! “
  • “Oxygen PLEASE!”
  • And one of my favorites: some women from a labor and delivery unit at some hospital (it said on the front of their shirts but I can’t remember now) had on the back of their shirts “We deliver!”

My team all dressed up. Who doesn’t love Animal from the Muppets?! Also, this is what happens when a bunch of theater nerds creating a running team…

Everyone was so friendly and encouraging the whole time, I had no idea women could all be so supportive of each other. Early on in the race, I knew I wouldn’t be the fastest, but I could try for the nicest! So anytime I was passed by someone or actually passed someone, I threw out a compliment. It was so easy! Everyone had on something cute (even if it was just a pair of socks that said “Bad Ass (with an arrow pointing up).” It was great chatting everyone up. Of course it was easier to talk to everyone because this was my first race without music. Whoa! But one of the women on my team ran my pace, so we had each other to talk to the whole time. That’s a first for me and it was awesome!

That was actually another of my favorites for this race. I ran as part of team of 10! We were a variety of speeds and we all mostly ran our own race… but with a buddy who was similar to us. I loved it!

They also have the best swag bag I’ve gotten so far:

Our swag included a t-shirt, a drawstring bag, a canvas bag, a magazine, and a Luna bar.

Plus, 90% of the vendors at the vendor fair were giving out free goodies. For example:

  • Socks from Asics
  • Frozen greek yogurt pops from Yasso
  • 5 hour energy shots
  • More Luna bars
  • Sahale Snacks – I took the cranberry, sesame seed, and honey covered almonds – AMAZING! I totally recommend them!
  • Beer from Coors light
  • Coconut water from Zico (I’ve tried coconut water a ton of times and I must be missing something, I never see the appeal)
  • And samples of about half a dozen energy or recovery drinks – most of which tasted pretty chemical filled.

There were just a few things that I think Shape could work on for next year:

  • They could use some bottles of water at the finish line. Instead we were given 3 oz dixie cups that we could fill up ourselves… dehydration was plentiful
  • On the course we were handed the same cups and we could also fill them up ourselves, on Facebook a lot of runners complained that they should have been filled up for us and I can see their point. I was running slowly so it didn’t bother me, but if I was going for speed I would have been pretty upset.
  • Something to nibble on at the finish line would have been good (none of us knew about the Luna bar in our bags). Once we realized everyone was giving out samples, it wasn’t so bad. But those first 30 minutes waiting for all of our friends to finish was a little tough without food.
  • They had a bag check at the race and I’m glad I didn’t use it (I left everything in my car), it was a total disaster!

All in all though, I would totally do this race again! It was a blast!

Because I didn’t know what the run/obstacles would be like. I didn’t go in with many expectations. I was hoping to finish in 45 minutes. I thought there would be more upper body stuff (there was really only 1). Next year, I know to be smarter on the obstacles. When going over the Jersey Barriers (you know, those large sometimes concrete road blocks, these were plastic though), I lead with my right leg on all of them and my right glute hurt like whoa the whole time. Next year, I need to switch up the leg choice every other time.

The course’s jersey barriers

Final stats:

Time: 44:53:97
Place: 3184 (out of 5489 total – thus 58%)
Division Place: 1379 (out of 2286 – thus 60%)
Pace: 14:58
On my team, I was the second fastest runner (well… tied for second when you count my racing buddy, one other women on our team beat us by about 15 minutes). I’m pretty psyched about that too!

An Aerial Adventure!

A while ago, I signed up for an obstacle course race called the Diva Dash with a bunch of friends. One of the other “Divas” talked a bunch of us into preparing for the race by doing an aerial obstacle course. Picture a ropes course. We were about 20-50 feet in the air, secured to a wire, and trying to move along a course that wasn’t really supporting us (moving across tight ropes, 2×6 planks of wood, a series of swings made out of wood or rope, etc).

This was one of the easier obstacles, although those steps weren’t connected at all and they were more than happy to swing out beneath you. You can see some of the other obstacles in the background. The big yellow slide in the background is part of the kids playground, not the obstacle course.

To be completely honest, it was a boat load of fun! It was also so exhausting! Talk about cross training! Every muscle I have (legs, abs, arms, shoulders, back, and chest) still aches two days later! HOLY COW! I’m still audibly groaning every time I have to use my quads to sit down or stand up.

There were 6 paths to take: 3 easy, 2 medium, and 1 hard (each with maybe 18 separate obstacles). I did 2 “easy” paths and 1 medium (and that took about 3 hours). Half of our group also went on to do the hard path, but I knew my muscles had tapped out by then. I actually “fell” half way through the medium path.

Still moving… but this is the obstacle I fell on… in just a few feet

I don’t know how easy it is to see in that picture, but there is one rope on one side, another rope on the other side about 2 feet away, and then in another 2 feet another rope on the original side (ect). So the ropes on each side are about 4 feet apart. I was struggling getting the ropes to reach each other (so I could let go of one and grab the next). I thought “hey, I wonder if I could just hold on to the secured, safety wire?” (that I was hooked on to). The answer was no. As soon as I let go of the left rope and grabbed the safety wire, down I went. I was still holding onto the right-hand rope and my feet were still on the balance beams beneath me. All I could think was “I’m just so tired, I just want to sit for a minute.” But in the time it took for the 20-year-old girl to get a ladder so she could fish me out of the trees, I managed to rally some energy and pull myself back up. Once I got to the next tree, I totally sat down for about 5 minutes though. I am proud of myself for not quitting.

Hand on the safety wire… about to go down in 3, 2, 1…

It was totally fun and if I lived closer, I would absolutely go back a bunch of times as cross training! But it’s over 2 hours away…

By the time I got home, my legs were on fire and I was considering hopping into bed at 8:30 and watching movies from there because just sitting was painful. I didn’t though. And then, just to work the muscles more, my sweet, little boy kitty started foaming at the mouth at about midnight. My wonderful boyfriend was 5 hours away on a golfing trip with a guy friend… I had to deal with this all on my own. Of course my first thought was that the poor little guy had rabies and I was freaking out. Thanks to google though, I learned the more common cause for foaming among house pets is that he was trying to make himself throw up because he ate something that gave him a tummy ache. Thank goodness! He never did toss his kibble, but he did eventually curl up and fall asleep. And I was able to crash from exhaustion.

Oh, I had blood tests that morning, too. My doctor wanted to test hormone levels, so it all had to be done on a very specific day… which turned out to be the same day as the aerial adventure. So life goes, right? At 9 am, I gave 6 vials of blood (so much that even the phlebotomist apologized to me – luckily she was great at her job though, so it barely hurt). By 11:45 am, I was up in the trees! It was quite a day!

First Group Training Session

This post is a week late but… last Sunday was great! I worried about the group training for the Diva Dash obstacle course for nothing! It all really did work out. Six women showed up to run together. Conveniently, 3 of us considered ourselves to be runners and 3 considered themselves “woggers” (walk-joggers, as it was explained). It was great. We would all run or jog for about 1/2 a mile. Us faster ladies would do lunges or various other things as we waited for the slower ladies, we’d all walk for about 1/2 a mile and then begin again. It was actually really nice.

I’m super excited to continue training with them because the 2 other runners are a bit faster than I am. Not so much that I lost them, but fast enough that I felt like I was chasing them a little. Plus, at one point, I was walking with the joggers when we picked up the pace so I had to sprint to catch up with the fast ladies. It was a nice variety.

I know I probably sound a little dopey, but this is the first time that I’ve ever run with other people! Typically I do my own thing. (Not including races… where other people exist but we don’t interact)

Plus, in order to run with them, I had to drive about 45 minutes, which means: a new running path! This one was also tree-laden, next to a pond, and totally lovely (no running next to grocery stores and bus stops that far out!). It had WAY more hills than I remember though. To be honest, those hills were a lot of work, but I loved every single second of it! There were also a ton of giant puddles because it had rained all weekend! We considered them obstacle training and jumped over them. I was actually a really good jumper: not getting muddy is great motivation because I’m PRISSY! When I was in the 8th grade, I was on the track team for like 6 weeks. It was an indoor track and you had to run around it 13 times to run a mile! It was dreadful! I tried hurdles. For about a week, I felt awesome jumping over them. And then one day, I hooked my foot on one and landed face first. It was stellar…. After that, I was too afraid to even try again (yep, I was a big ol’ quitter!) And I eventually quit track because it was just no fun (and I SUCKED!) But it was cool to run and jump the puddles this past weekend. It almost makes me want to try hurdles again… but on some grass, not the cement gym floor again.

I felt this awesome, although I don’t think I looked this awesome. This photo is from the REI website.

At the end of the loop, while waiting for the slower ladies, I drew a line in the dirt with my foot. Then I hopped (with both feet) back and forth over the line, traveling down it (it was about 10 feet). I was pretty sure the Shape magazine training guide suggested something like this. We all ended up doing it a few times. On my last go around, I totally sprained my right ankle! Boo! It felt bad enough that I couldn’t support all of my weight (and thus made stretching a little rough), but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t hobble out to my car. It was also feeling fine by Tuesday and I managed to go for a 2.5 mile run before it complained.

One other downside though was for one of the “woggers.” I didn’t even think about it, but she’s dreadfully afraid of dogs… and this was basically a dog walking park! There were so many dogs! But they were all so well-behaved! Afterall, they are just excited to be there, they don’t care about the other people who happen to be in their park. I live in a tiny apartment so I don’t have a dog, but I LOVE them! If a friendly dog walked by anytime we were stopped, I was all about petting them (if they were into it). But poor Jodi would scream and run off. I felt terrible! I’ll have to invite the group out to my part of the state… where there are fewer dogs on my paths.

Where I see a smile, she sees the teeth… From imgfave.com

We all cancelled this (most recent) Sunday… but I hope we can stick with it, I really like having running buddies (and you all live too far away!) 🙂

The Diva Dash

As I had mentioned last week, while completing my master’s thesis and not blogging, I signed up for 2 more races. I’ve already talked about my overwhelming excitement for The Color Run. Today, I’ll talk about the other run I signed up for: Shape Magazine‘s Diva Dash in September! This is actually an obstacle course… which I’m completely scared of.

Now let me explain, I’m not really afraid of the obstacles… I’m afraid of looking like a fool. I’m not a good little runner who also cross trains… If it’s not a muscle used for running, it has NO strength!

Side note, I never thought I would run an obstacle course. So how did I end up signed up for one?

Peer pressure!

Source: for sale on zazzle.com 🙂

My thesis project was a play with 9 women (and 5 men) in the cast. A few of the people in my cast were also in a fundraiser for a local group that happened to be a staged murder mystery. One of the women in both plays invited the women from the two plays to participate in this event with her. And a bunch of people got excited and joined. There was a lot of hype! I didn’t want to be left out! Plus, I figure if I’m ever going to do an obstacle course, an all women one sounds ideal… and having 10 other friends with me should make it easier more fun. Granted, I don’t know all of the women yet… but I know most of them. The ones I don’t know seem funny so I think it’s going to be a blast.

The obstacles don’t look terrible either, from what I’ve seen in YouTube videos, there are some balance beams, some climbing nets, climbing over walls, and army crawls. There should only be 6 (they occur every 1/2 mile). I think I can survive. There is only one obstacle so far that makes me nervous. There is a photo of an obstacle from another city where the women had to walk through water (looks like a lake) up to the mid-thigh, around some stuff. “Why is this so terrible” you ask? Because I’m not looking forward to soggy shoes. I wouldn’t mind crawling through some mud, but wading through water in my beloved running shoes, uh-uh, doesn’t sound like a good time! After that obstacle, I know I’m going to be running with the following sound effects: squish (“yuck!”) squish (“gross”) squish (“ew” “Jen, suck it up and get over it!!!”). I may need to purchase some fast-draining, running shoes. Suggestions?

For all my silly complaining, I KNOW this is one run that I will be very proud of myself once it’s over. And I’m SURE I can handle the obstacles! (I just might make some funny faces while completing them… and I might need to lift some weights this summer)

And to make it better, the group will be occasionally training together to become better runners and to strengthen other muscles. (Shape even has a training suggestion we could follow.) Added fun! I never get to run with other people, so I’m really looking forward to this. But on that note… what’s the etiquette? I know we have a variety of skill levels (ranging from someone who just ran her second half marathon to someone who hasn’t run in 15 years – since her freshman year of high school – but is starting the Couch to 5k). What’s polite? Do we all run together at the slowest person’s speed? Do we just run by ourselves? Do we naturally break into similar skill levels?

For our first training session, there will only be 5 (maybe 6) of us so the small group thing probably won’t work super well. Please, please, please send your suggestions! I don’t know what’s polite and I don’t want to come off as a jerk just because I always run alone.

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