Sunday, November 28, 2021

Girl Scouts Go: Run for the Cookies 5K Race Recap

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I ran the Go Scouts Go: Run for Cookies 5k in Maryland Heights, MO.  Just like the Olivette Turkey Trot, I have known about this race for years but just ran it for the first time this year.  Also like the Olivette Turkey Trot, this race course was VERY close to where I live.  

What I really loved about this race was the option to save money by not getting a race t-shirt.  If I remember correctly, it saved me $5 (which I just used towards my pre-race Starbucks).  I opted to pick up my packet on Saturday at the Des Peres Fleet Feet and it only took a matter of minutes to get my bib.  

This race course is close to my home but it is also right off of I-270 and Page Avenue, so it is super convenient for locals.  The race started at 8 a.m. so I was parked by about 7:15 a.m.  It was a bit chilly again that morning, so I just waited in my car until 7:50 and I walked right up to the start line.  This race had corrals that were released roughly three minutes apart.  Since I couldn't remember which corral I signed up for,  I just started in corral two.  The race course took us through the industrial park area of Westport Plaza, which was surprisingly hillier than I expected or was prepared for.  

Right off the bat I felt slower than I did at the Turkey Trot.  I just felt sluggish, so I started my intervals a lot earlier at this race.  Once the flow of runners started to thin out, I kept pace with a couple pre-teen Girl Scouts.  They would run while I was walking and I would run while they were walking.  Eventually there was one Girl Scout running alone after her friend ran ahead, and we started talking.  We talked about the hot chocolate at the finish and she reminded me that there would also be Girl Scout cookies.  We talked about the new Girl Scout cookie, which I had not tried yet.  Talking to someone else, especially about Girl Scout cookies, was a welcome distraction from feeling sluggish and it honestly helped me finish the 5k faster than I would have otherwise.  Despite feeling much, much slower than I did at the Turkey Trot I ended up only being 34 seconds slower, so I was very happy with my time.  Once you crossed the finish line you were greeted by volunteers, a medal, and water.  Then back in the parking lot were the much anticipated Girl Scout cookies and hot chocolate.  They had my favorite cookie the thin mints, so I was beyond excited!

After the race as I was stretching, I was approached by a fellow runner who thanked me for keeping her at a good pace.  I guess she is like me and tries to find someone to pace with to avoid running too fast, and also finding someone to follow for motivation.  It was a nice compliment and I even turned around to make sure that she wasn't talking to someone behind me.  I am normally silent and don't talk to anyone during a race unless I am running it with a friend. This was a nice change and I just left the race feeling really happy and excited for the next 5k. 

Olivette Turkey Trot Race Recap

Thanksgiving Day seems like ages ago already, but I am still on cloud nine about my Turkey Trot finish time.  Now 37:49 is likely slow for a 5k to most runners reading this, but that is my fastest 5k time since 2017!!!  

In 2020 I just ran a virtual Turkey Trot due to Covid and I think all of the local Turkey Trots were virtual last year too, so it was nice to have an in-person option close to home.  The race started and ended in Stacy Park in Olivette, which is near my home and my work.  This park is very easy to get to since it is just off of Olive Boulevard between I-170 and I-270.  

Before Covid I had run the Turkey Trot downtown, the St. Charles Turkey Trot, and the black Friday Turkey Trot in Town and Country.   The Olivette Turkey Trot is technically the closest race course to my home, so it has been on my radar for years and I was happy to finally be able to run it.  Packet pick-up was held on the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving at Olivette City Hall. Since I picked up my packet on Tuesday, it wasn't busy at all.  There was also a race day option for packet pick-up.  Swag included a long sleeved blue tech shirt and you had the option to purchase previous years shirts for $5, which I took advantage of again. 

I often run and walk in Stacy Park, so I knew that it had a small parking lot and I wasn't sure where overflow parking would be, so I arrived around 7:10 a.m. to ensure that I would snag a parking spot.  Upon arrival, several Olivette fire trucks and police vehicles were already on-site and the music was going.  The mayor was present as was our St. Louis County Executive (he's become locally famous during Covid).  Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea were available adjacent to race day packet pick-up and there were plenty of porta-potties available in addition to the park's permanent restrooms.  Stacy Park has a nice walking path, and I saw plenty of people warming up before the race.  As the parking lot filled up, I realized that overflow parking was being directed to the grass in between the ball fields but I loved that I was able to park right at the start/finish line.  As a result, I was able to stay in my warm car until five minutes before the race started.  

The race course was basically one large loop with a few small hills.  I was so pumped about this race that I didn't even switch over to my intervals until about halfway through the race.  I just got into a good pace and was fueled by all the people around me.  The other runners and walkers were people of all ages and abilities, a lot of strollers, and lots of dogs.  Spectators along the course were friendly and were cheering us on, despite the cold morning.  Waiting at the finish line were snacks like hot chocolate, coffee, tea, water, beer, bloody mary's, and chips.  The Olivette police department opened a separate exit for people to be able to easily leave the park, and it was actually a breeze leaving the park which is one problem I came across at the downtown and St. Charles Turkey Trots. I would highly recommend this race to anyone living or visiting the St. Louis area for Thanksgiving.  It really was a great race!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

MO' Cowbell Half Marathon - #55

Last Sunday I walked the MO' Cowbell Half Marathon with my running/walking buddy Stephanie.  It was technically her 2nd half marathon but 1st in-person half marathon, having completed the virtual Single Chuck Challenge with me in 2020.  We decided to walk this race since our training was not consistent this summer and I was bouncing back from an injury incurred during my last 5k, more on that another time.  I told her that this half marathon was very walker friendly and she was pleasantly surprised to see that I was right!  Despite walking the entire race, we were constantly passing other walkers and also being passed by faster walkers.  The original forecast was not looking good going into the weekend, but the weather ended up being very pleasant for our long walk and I've included a few photos from the course below.

This was the 10th year for the MO' Cowbell Marathon weekend and my 5th MO' Cowbell half marathon.  I also ran the 5k two years back when the 5k was also on Sunday, and then I volunteered instead of running for a couple years as well.  I've been involved in this race in some way since 2013 and I just love it!  This year, I volunteered at bib pick up at the expo on Friday and at the post-race food tent for the 5k on Saturday night and I included a few photos from those volunteer shifts below.

I just can't say enough good things about this race and if you haven't run with us yet, go ahead and flip to the first weekend in October of 2022 and plan to make the trip to St. Charles for one or two of the races.  I hope to see you there!

Monday, May 31, 2021

University City Memorial Day 5k

I finally felt comfortable enough to run an in-person 5k this morning, the annual University City Memorial Day 5k!  I last ran this race in 2019 when there was also a 10k option and my running buddy and I decided that running a 10k untrained was a good idea.  Oops!  So this year's 5k race was much more manageable and we felt great afterwards.  

We initially rushed to register for this race because there was a lower cap of around 300 runners but with the updates to the CDC recommendations for vaccinated individuals, the cap recently increased to 700 runners.  This year the start line and finish line were separate, porta-potties were spaced out, volunteers and police officers were all wearing masks, runners were assigned to corals based on their estimated pace, and four runners started at a time and were staggered a few seconds apart.  In the Covid-era I have been overly cautious and basically became a hermit, but this race setup felt safe to me.  

There were two packet pick-up options available: one the day prior (Sunday) and on race day.  Both packet pick-up options were outdoor this year as well.  Our start time was at 7:30 a.m., but we still arrived and parked around 6:30 a.m. since Coral 1 was supposed to start at 7:00 a.m.  The start ended up being delayed by 15 minutes due to a police situation on the course, but everyone went with the flow and our coral ended up starting just eight minutes late.  The delayed start gave us some time to take pictures of the area and explore a bit, which was nice.  We estimated that our overall pace would be in the 14:00 range, but we ended up with an overall pace of 12:57 so we were pretty excited.  Unfortunately all of the snacks were gone when we finished, so we just celebrated with breakfast at a nearby Starbucks instead.  

The University City Memorial Day 5k is a great race to kick off your summer with.  It's usually humid and warm on race day but in 2021, it was absolutely perfect with temperatures in the high 70's and low humidity.  I highly recommend this race and hopefully in 2022 they are able to get back to having various food and beverage vendors on-site after the race, ESPECIALLY Fitz's!

University City's beautiful city hall

Monday, February 22, 2021

LoveStruck Run Indy Virtual 5k

I'm going to be honest.  I signed up for this race because of the sweet SWAG!  In the virtual race era that has absolutely exploded due to Covid, I find that signing up for virtual races fuels my motivation to run consistently.  Pre-Covid, I would sign up for races based on the location more than anything.  Since I choose to only run virtual races until I am fully vaccinated, the location of the virtual races is always here in St. Louis County, although I may drive across the river to St. Charles County from time to time for a little variety.  There are no runcations right now, so the SWAG matters more now than ever before!  

This particular race was put on by a company called Racemaker Productions, based just outside of Indianapolis in Plainfield. In 2014 I ran their Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon in Litchfield, Illinois and ABSOLUTELY loved it!  I have followed them on social media for years now so when they posted pictures of their SWAG options for the LoveStruck 5k, I immediately fell in love!  I'm guessing that was their intent....

They offered two colors of the hoodie, a sweet medal, and a customizable race bib that is color-coded to the relationship status that you selected. 

Their in-person race took place in downtown Indianapolis on February 13th.  Virtual runners complete the 5k anytime between February 13 and 28th.  My intent is always to run virtual races outdoors but the St. Louis area was hit with a snowstorm on February 14th and temperatures stayed WELL below freezing for several days afterwards, so I opted for completing the mileage on a treadmill on February 16th.  So although the scenery was limited to watching traffic attempting to drive in the slushy remains of the snowstorm, I can honestly say that I would not have been motivated to run a 5k that day had I not had a virtual race to complete.

Those who know me (or read my blog regularly) know that I consider it bad luck to wear the race shirt (or even wash it) before completing the distance.  So as soon as I completed the virtual 5k on February 16th, I laid out the SWAG to take a few pictures before washing the hoodie.  My cat had to get in on the photo shoot as you can see below.  I also opted for the blue hoodie because I rarely wear pink.

Both the hoodie and the medal have the Indianapolis skyline in the background.  The back of the medal has the name of the race engraved on it and it is reflective, hence my cat admiring her reflection. If you've never visited Indianapolis, you have to find a reason to check it out! You can read more about why I love visiting Indianapolis in my 2014 One America 500 Mini Marathon race recap or my 2014 Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon recap.  I can't wait to visit Indy again, but I will try to schedule my next visit around a race of course!

You still have time to complete the virtual 5k and you can find more information by clicking here. I also recommend checking out Racemaker Productions Facebook page and their event calendar for upcoming race.  I'm really excited to see what they will do next!