No matter if you are running a Turkey Trot, enjoying a day with family and friends, spending the day in the kitchen getting ready for a family fest, watching football, or however you chose to spend the day, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Remember to be thankful for everything that you have in your life - the little things that you take for granted might be something that others only dream of.
I will be taking the next few days off from blogging in order to enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend with my family and friends. I will return next weekend though with race recaps and other fun things to help you kick off the holiday season!
From my family to yours, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Question of the Day: Are you running a turkey trot today? Which one?
***DISCLAIMER: I was provided the Noxgear product below in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was exchanged for my review. All thoughts are strictly my own.
This is your reminder to get ready to turn those clocks back this weekend! Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday (November 3, 2019). This means an extra hour of sleep on Saturday night (yay!) but also dusk arriving sooner in the evening. If you are an evening runner, you will soon find yourself racing sunlight or perhaps planning your runs after the sun goes down.
Have you thought about your safety plan for those evening runs this fall and winter yet? While many runners focus on winter running gear such as tights, winter accessories, etc, it is just as important to plan your visibility gear as well.
Sadly, there have been so many heartbreaking stories of runners being struck by vehicles when on their runs (and one particular story hitting very close to me in the past few years). Runner safety has become bigger than ever lately and it is so important to make sure you are safe on your run.
With a #RunStreak of almost 2000 days (yes, 1+ mile per day, for almost 2000 days straight), I am getting stressed about the shorter days coming up soon as we make our way through fall and winter. Since I am not a lover of the treadmill, a lot of my miles in the upcoming months have to be in the evening after dusk. As I start to plan ahead for the upcoming few months, I started to think of ways that I can keep myself safe while logging my miles.
I usually have things like my phone and a water bottle with me on my run, so I am usually juggling at least one thing in my hands (if not more), so a visibility item that I can wear (and not carry) is very appealing to me. I was excited when I learned about Noxgear Tracer 360 as I knew this could be something very useful for me as I continue to chug away at my training miles in the upcoming months (and beyond).
Upon learning about Noxgear Tracer 360 and opening the box, there were countless specs and features that jumped out at me in regards to function and visibility. Some of the features that really sparked my interested before opening my Noxgear Tracer 360 are:
In order to give you an optimal fit, there are three sizes of Noxgear Tracer 360 available - small, medium/large, and extra large. While the Noxgear Trace 360 has minimal fabric-to-body fabric contact, there is a sweat resistant, breathable strap that goes around the chest in order to keep the Noxgear Tracer 360 in place. I am in the in between area where I could go with the small or the medium/large.
Right inside of the box for the Noxgear Tracer 360 are super easy instructions to find your perfect fit as well as operating the unit. Seriously though, it is SUPER easy and it is all done through a single button on the unit.
The Noxgear Tracer 360 isn't just a light, it is runner illumination to the extreme. Not only are their different light options (blinking or constant), but you can also change the color of the light! I absolutely love the customization of the Tracer 360. Know that no matter what colors or setting that you choose, you will be seen by others along the run. However, lights to match your outfit or your favorite color are a fun little bonus.
Since I knew I would be wearing my Noxgear Tracer 360 mostly in the cooler winter months with layers and prefer a loser fit in general, I liked that I had a little more flexibility going with the medium/large which ended up being a great fit both with layer as well as a single layer. I won't lie, I was a little nervous sizing up as I thought maybe it would be too bouncy, but it was not. Thanks to the sustainability of the chest strap and the light unit, I was able to quickly find a fit that is just right for me.
The brightness of the Noxgear Tracer 360 is spot on. With 40 lumens of power, it isn't so blinding that it impairs your vision (or the vision of oncoming traffic or pedestrians), but it makes you be seen from over a mile away. The visibility is truly 360 degrees with the CREE® LEDs piped around the entire body and 3M® Scotchlite® retroreflectivity and fluorescence chest strap.
Originally I thought that the Noxgear Tracer 360 would only be vital for me in the fall and winter months, but this is definitely something I will be utilizing year round. Since it is so light and comfortable, it will be easy and convenient to wear when I head out just as the sun is rising or at dusk in spring and summer as well. While the sun is starting to come up, there are moments that I could probably use that little bit of extra visibility along the way - you can never be too careful.
Since runners are like mail-carriers and run in all weather, Noxgear Tracer 360 is ready to go along with you no matter what weather is thrown at you - hot, cold, rain, or snow. With a battery life of about 40 hours (and easy to replace AA batteries), I know that my Noxgear Tracer 360 will be ready to go tackle the miles when I am ready.
A HUGE thank you to the team at Noxgear for the opportunity to check out Noxgear Tracer 360. This is definitely a must have as I log my miles at night (or early morning) to make sure that I am seen by others! Safety and visibility is a top priority for me (as it should be for all runners), so I will greatly appreciate having the Noxgear Tracer 360 in my arsenal of running gear.
A week after my double race day, it was time to lace up for my next race - Backpack Buddies 5K. I had a great time last year and I always love supporting my small local races, especially when they are for causes that I care about, so it was a no brainer to go out and support my local schools at the Backpack Buddies 5K.
After being gone all day last Saturday (literally from 6am until 11:00pm), it was good to have a race that was less than 10 minutes from my doorstep. A 8am start time and getting to pick up my packet the night before at a local gym, meant I could sleep in a little longer this morning before heading to the courthouse in downtown Cartersville.
Today ended up being the largest crowd for the race between the 5K and the 1-Mile fun run! That is HUGE for a small local race in its third year, but if there is one this about my community, we love to support our schools. When we headed towards the start line, I was blown away by the crowd!
We started just a few minutes late because they were getting one of the last road closures taken care of, but it was just a few minutes.
After the three races last weekend and some pretty intense training last week, I wasn't sure exactly how my legs would cooperate. The first quarter mile or so was a little tight as you made your way through downtown Cartersville but after that it really opened up. I felt a little under control as I was in the crowd. I was in a "feels good" pace but I quickly sped up as soon I was able to break free of the pack.
The first mile was very smooth - it was pretty fast and forgiving with a few short uphills. My legs felt way better than I thought they would after last week. As I came up towards mile 2, you hit a long gradual uphill and a few turns that slowed down my pace bit in the final mile, but I was totally ok with that.
Yes, I wish I would have been able to hold on my pace throughout the final stretch, but I was very pleased with how good I felt. After crossing the finish line, I went back to about the mile 3 marker and cheered on Mom, Dad, and other friends that ran today.
After a few different health issues the past year, dad has been joining us a little less frequently, but this is one that he really wanted to do to help support the schools and community. He did so great out there and I am so proud of him!
We stuck around for the awards ceremony and the school team awards were named for both the county and city schools. After a slight interruption by a train going through town, we got to the age group awards where dad won first place in his age group and mom got second in her age group! The medals were given out by Cartersville Mayor, Matt Santini, which I thought was a very nice touch.
Thank you again to the race organizers, runners, volunteers, and of course the local schools for making today possible. I hate that it took me three years to finally get to run this one. I will certainly be back again in 2020!
Disclaimer: A HUGE thanks to the team at StrideBox for allowing me to review their subscription box service. While I did receive a box to review, no other compensation was received. As always, I keep it real and all thoughts are strictly my own.
Fitness and health products can be very tricky at times to find out what works best for you. Rather than going and dropping serious cash on products that you quickly find out that you can't stomach or don't work well for you, StrideBox lets you try various products each month before you decide to purchase large quantity packages of new products.
While every product might not be the best fit for you, you can typically find a friend that might want to try it out instead. The best part about StrideBox is that it is just $19.95/month and you can cancel your subscription any time if you find that you aren't enjoying your box.
Each month when I receive my StrideBox, I am honestly like a kid on Christmas morning. I absolutely cannot wait to rip into my box and see what kind of goodies await me.
One of the cool features of StrideBox is that each box comes with a "Stride Guide" inside. This guide gives you a breakdown of the products as well as information such as when to use the products in your workout/run and the retail price. To be honest, I typically ignore the "Stride Guide" until I am done unloading the box so I don't ruin the surprise.
It is time to dig into this month's StrideBox and check out the goods...
One final thing included this month's StrideBox was a recipe for "Cinnamon Chia Seed Almond Butter" from Laura at This Runner's Recipes and a Strength Training for Runners workout from Rachel at RunningOnHappy.com. This was definitely a nice little bonus to check out and I cannot wait to try both of these out soon - that workout looks so fun and will be great to kick off fall!
As I mentioned earlier, not every sample is going to be something that directly fits your life and likes. However, I really like the concept behind subscription boxes because you can try new things that you might not have known about before. StrideBox does a great job providing various products for pre-run, during, and post-run needs. The products included are definitely geared towards runners and other athletes and are a great fit for you and your fitness goals.
Question of the Day: Have you ever tried a subscription box? What kind of products would you like to see in an upcoming StrideBox?
After heading out to Conyers for the Rugged Maniac and grabbing a quick bite to eat, it was time to get ready for the second race of my day - Area 13.1 5K.
I have ran Area 13.1 Half Marathon each year since the inaugural event in 2012. The race has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years and has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years including course changes and date changes (2014 it was held in November). In 2016 there were a lot more downs than ups, but I decided to come back in 2017 to give it another shot since a different race company was in charge and things were better. For some reason, my body hates this race. I think it has something to do with the strobbing police lights once the course gets dark, but every year I have gotten ill. After crossing the finish line in 2017, I vowed to my friends that I wouldn't do the half marathon there again. I lived up to my word and here I am running the 5K.
To be honest, I kind of dread night time races. I am not a good night time runner, plus dealing with fueling in a timely manner for a night race just throws me off. Knowing that it was going to be in the 90s with a heat index of mid to upper 90s at the start of the race stressed me out a good bit. Heat is no joke and can be dangerous, so I was super prepared for the circumstances (along with most of the other runners) by having plenty of fluids on me.
I know, if I dread night races so much, why in the world did I sign up for a night time race (let alone for running the half marathon 6 years in a row)? That is a good question. I like to put myself in uncomfortable situations to make myself stronger. With that said, here I am for year 8 of this race and another 3.1 miles of fun for the day.
The race starts and ends in Riverside Park in Roswell which is a great park with playgrounds, picnic tables, and plenty of parking (overflow parking is available down the road with shuttles to/from the race). While we arrived early to get parked and settle before the race, most of the main lot was already full (mostly with families and gatherings in the park), however the overflow lot was pretty empty.
It was about go time and around 6:50 they announced for all of the 1/2 Marathon runners to head over to the start line area (the 1/2 Marathon started at 7:00 followed by the 5K at 7:10). I admit it, it was weird not heading to the start line for the half marathon. It isn't often that I run the shorter distance at a multi-distance race, so even though I knew it was the right choice to run the 5K, it was a little bitter-sweet watching the half marathoners start. Regardless, it was awesome to be out there to cheer on my friends and fellow runners as they started their 13.1 mile trek.
The start line was just outside of the park on the main road. With about 400 5K runners, we got lined up pretty quickly.
The first 3 miles of the 5K and the half marathon share the same course. Since the half marathon took off about 15 minutes before the 5K, the path was clear for the 5K to head out. As you leave Riverside Park, you head out and do an out and back that takes you through a mile long (or so) stretch of trails. The trail part was added to the course when it was redesigned in 2014, so I am pretty used to it by now. Let's be real, I am a pavement lovin' runner. Everything was going pretty well. My pace was just about what I was hoping for in the first few miles to be conservative so I didn't overdo it in the heat or with a pretty fatigued body.
My biggest gripe of the day comes into play here though. Remember how I mentioned that the half marathon started at 7:00 followed by the 5K at 7:15? Well, the 5K runs the same first 3 miles of the half marathon course. That means you had the super speedy 5K runners getting tangled with the half marathon runners inside of the narrow trail. My suggestion here would be to either delay the 5K from starting until 7:30 so the last of the 1/2 marathon runners would be out of the woods before the lead 5Kers came through or alter the course for one of the two races so they don't cross paths. I get that there are logistics such as amount of time the roads can be closed and such, but it really did create a pretty rough situation for the mid-to-back of the pack half marathoners and about all of the 5K runners.
Seriously, the mile or so that you run on the trail can be brutal. It isn't even the trail aspect that I find tough, it is the fact that there is little to no air circulating in there which makes it even hotter and difficult to breathe.
Just past mile 3 you go through Riverside Park where the 5K and half marathon split. The half marathon heads to the right for the final 10 miles and the 5K gets to veer left to the finish line. The past few years it has been basically soul-crushing to pass the finish line at mile three knowing that I still had 10 more miles ahead. Not today though. To the left I went to the finish line.
My friends and I waited at the finish line to cheer on the last of the 5K runners and the first half marathoners. Obviously the best way to spectate and cheer is with an snowcone in hand (especially when it is still 90 degrees at 8pm).
My double race day was done and it was time for a bit of recovery. For those wondering, yes, I crushed a massive meal afterwards. After I got home, stretched/rolled a bit, got some fluids into me (seriously, I drank 2 bottles of water before bed), and showered before crawling into bed. After being on the go all day, running two races, and not getting to really eat all day, I felt a lot better after a good meal and a good night rest.
After running the half marathon the first six years and the 5K the past two years, I have officially decided to stick to the 5K instead moving forward. The half marathon experience has definitely improved over the past two years, however I have come to terms that my body doesn't react well to night races. Yes, I publicly stated this so when I try registering for the half marathon next year, y'all can be like "you said you were doing the 5K instead".
Today was a double race day for me and the first race of day lead me out to Conyers to the Georgia International Horse Park for the Rugged Maniac. The beauty of obstacle course races is that typically you have a number of different start waves to choose from. This is the case with Rugged Maniac. The first wave of the morning went off at 9am with waves going off every 15 minutes until 2pm. With a brutal summer in Atlanta and the race being held at one of the hottest parts of the summer, I knew that a morning wave was necessary.
Originally when Kurt and I signed up to run, the earliest wave available was 11:30 so we went with that. It wasn't ideal, but it was what we could do. Well, leading up to race day we learned that for a minimal fee, we could upgrade to VIP. With VIP you received your parking pass, VIP packet pickup, VIP gear check, an extra beer, and best of all you could run whatever wave you want. SOLD. This means that now we can run in the first open wave at 9:15 rather than 11:30.
We made it to Rugged Maniac with about an hour or so to get our bib, use the restroom, gear-check our bag and get ready to go.
It was a few minutes before our wave, so we headed on over to the start. How about you have an "obstacle" before you even start the race? In order to get into the start line, you have to get over a 4' wall first.
After a quick briefing of the course, rules, and safety, we were on our way!
Most of the first obstacles involved a lot of climbing which I always LOVE. To be honest, getting to climb things is part of the reason I love OCRs so much. There is just something about climbing that makes me happy, so seeing obstacles like Jacob's Ladder, Pole Position, and Slippery Slop got me excited. Then along came the mud. Hey, I love the mud too, obviously. we headed back into the course for a handful of obstacles that included ones like Anti Gravity (which involved trampolines and cargo nets), Pull Your Weight and The Gauntlet.
One of my favorite of the final obstacles was Hell and High Water. Basically it was a lillypad style obstacle which I decided to go about with my own little sense of flair on my dismount. Haha!
My favorite new obstacle in 2018 returned back for 2019 - 'Off the Rails' and I LOVED this one just as much as last year. Basically, get a running start, jump/grab the rope and fly down the rail holding on tight. No matter if you "hit the bell" at the end of the line or not, you were getting wet with the splash down pool below you. After a few miles in the heat, I didn't have any issues getting wet on this one.
My least favorite obstacle? It was definitely Iron Curtain. Basically it you walk/run through panels hanging down and "unexpectedly" drops off and you end up chest deep in water/mud. I honestly didn't see the point of this obstacle and more so saw it as a great potential for injury rather than fun or a challenge.
Is it really an OCR if you don't jump over fire? Fortunately, this year I was a little more prepared to jump the flames than last year when I didn't realize the fire jump was there until I was RIGHT THERE!
The warped wall of Mount Maniac. You were definitely the one that defeated a number of runners today. The area to approach the wall was a little bit of a disaster with runners running out in front of others approaching the wall and causing collisions. On my first approach to the wall, I had to make a sudden stop because someone cut me off just a foot or two from the base of the wall. Obviously my mental game was thrown at this point - I know it is an excuse, but I let it get to me more than I should have.
Y'all. I HATE slides. Well, not all slides. Just slides where people are next to you and touch you. Imagine my "joy" when I realized the only way to the finish line was sliding down Accelerator 3.0 and splashing down in the pool of water at the finish line. Thankfully, Kurt knows how I feel about slides and inflatables, so we had an agreement that we would go separately. Seriously, don't touch me on a slide and we are good.
Done and done. Man! This was an amazing course for real. The obstacles were spread out very nicely with a great variety of difficulty along the way (a good balance of "fun" and "tough"). The lines never really seemed to get too long - there were a few short lines but they went very quick.
After crossing the finish line, I had about enough time for a few quick pictures and a few minutes to get cleaned up. They had a pretty large "shower" system (i.e. pvc pipes/hoses squirting water), but it was big enough that a good number of people could clean up at once. The worst part was the changing tent because it was so hot and humid (hello August in Atlanta), so the tent was just an absolute sauna and you basically couldn't get out of there fast enough. It served its purpose though and I was changed into most of my attire for race #2 coming up in a few hours.
Rugged Maniac is a wrap! This was once again one of my favorite OCRs of the year, hands down. Everything about it was great and I cannot wait to do it again in 2020!
There are a lot of destination race weekends coming up for me this fall which I am really pumped about. While I am excited to be hitting the road this fall, there are still a lot of great local races more me to run before then.
The next race in the Kennesaw Grand Prix series was the Hero Run 5K. I have ran this race several times previously and really enjoy this race. While the race is on a great course and is very well organized, it is the cause that means the most to me. The proceeds from the race fund Run For Wounded Heroes, Inc. supporting local veterans.
With the 1 Mile starting at 7:30 followed by the 5K at 8:00, we arrived at Kennesaw First Baptist Church a bit before 7:00 which gave us plenty of time to get our bibs, use the restrooms, and meet up with friends before heading to the start line.
I love that they do the 1-mile run first so all of the 5K runners can cheer. It was really awesome to get to cheer for them and watch the smiles on their faces as they accomplished their goals. Man, some of those kids were FLYING! The future of running is strong and these kids proved it.
Once the 1 mile run passed through the start of the 5K, it was time to line up! All 6 races in the Kennesaw Grand Prix are ran on the same course, so I have become quite familiar with the course over the years. The course starts at Kennesaw First Baptist Church and heads out towards Swift Cantrell Park. After a mile long (ish) loop of the park, you head back towards downtown Kennesaw and finish at the Depot. The course is absolutely one of the most flat courses you will find in metro-Atlanta. Yes, there are some very minimal 'hills' along the way, but by Atlanta standards, it is pretty darn flat.
I ran a solid first mile - well, solid for me recently since I have dialed back my pace and distance lately. Mile two inside of the park was pretty decent with just a slightly slower pace. I typically slow down a little bit inside of the park because the course is pretty narrow at this point as it is paved trail in the park so maneuvering around folks can be kind of tricky.
The final mile has a bit of a long yet very gradual uphill before the final .2 mile of downhill to the finish line - I slowed down a bit in that last mile.
After crossing the finish line, I grabbed some water and waited near the finish line to cheer on the runners and wait for my peeps to arrive.
One of my favorite things about the Kennesaw Grand Prix series is that the mayor of Kennesaw greets you at the finish line with high fives. How cool is that?!?! Mayor Derek Easterling is one of my favorite things about this race series. His passion for the community and supporting the runners is absolutely amazing!
In the past, the the post race area was held in the depot area near the finish line, but this year they had everything set up at Kennesaw First Baptist Church at the start. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of this, but it seems to work for the sponsors and better for local residents so I understand.
There were a few vendors set up and had some water and snacks while they did a raffle for some running shoes from Big Peach Running Company and awards. Since we had some errands to run and we on a time schedule, we didn't stick around too long after the awards.
The Kennesaw Grand Prix Series is a great series for sure, and I highly recommend any of their races. They are all super organized and you cannot beat the course. Seriously, you won't find many flatter 5K courses in the Atlanta area. To learn more about the Kennesaw Grand Prix series and register for their upcoming races, be sure to check out their website. The final race of the 2019 Kennesaw Grand Prix is the Garden Gallop coming up on October 26.
I have to miss out on the Garden Gallop (which is one of my favorites of the series because the weather is usually the BEST!). In the meantime, I will getting ready to take on the 2020 Kennesaw Grand Prix starting in May!
The Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix series is a year long series of 10 events of various distances from 100 meters to 10 miles..and even a shot put event! The best part? A lot of these events are FREE to Atlanta Track Club members (or a very small fee for non-members).
Each year I usually get to run about half of the events and my favorites are definitely the more unique distances like 12K, 10 mile, and 4 miler. Y'all know that I love Atlanta Track Club events and I certainly always enjoy running different distances, so of course I was beyond excited to head out to Decatur to take part in the 2019 Dekalb 4 Miler!
Atlanta Track Club is absolutely wonderful about promoting an active lifestyle for all members of the family. They advised to arrive early due to parking. There was ample parking in the surrounding area, however most of the parking areas will require a few minute walk.
We arrived "dark and early" which was over an hour before race time. I will tell you, it was pumping at packet pick up with so many runners ready!
Thank you to the awesome volunteers and Atlanta Track Club staff who got everyone trough packet pickup quickly. There was also a great DJ getting everyone pumped and ready to go along with tons and tons of port-o-potties (always a great sight!). Due to an overwhelming crowd (and a large number of race day registrations), there was a delay at packet pickup for many and they wound up running out to bibs. That's how many people were ready to be a part of today's race.
About 10 minutes before the start, runners were sent over to the staging area to line up according to estimated pace. There were five start corrals that you self-seeded yourself in based on your projected pace. The waves started 2 minutes apart which helped reduce crowding on the narrow parts of the course. The course is a little narrow (not too narrow though) at the start with some pothole infested streets in the first mile, so being spread out a bit is very welcomed.
The course was the exact model of Atlanta running....heat, hills, and humidity! The first mile or so was pretty easy, but after that you hit some pretty wicked hills along the way. Granted there were some downhill stretches, but it seemed like the uphill won the battle for many runners - especially in the final stretch.
Today was more of a training and maintenance run for me rather than pushing myself. While I haven't ran this course before, I knew that Decatur was quite hilly and with the heat I didn't want to do anything too dumb.
Even though today's race was free (for members), Atlanta Track Club still made sure that runners refueled after the race with fruit, granola bars, water and sports drink at the finish line. Honestly, they had more set up for us than some of the other races that are $30+, so I am beyond grateful that they take such wonderful care of their runners and walkers.
What an awesome morning of running and time with friends! A huge thank you to Atlanta Track Club, volunteers, and of course Atlanta Police Department for making this morning possible. If you live in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend checking out Atlanta Track Club. From races to training groups to social events and even kid programs, there is something for everyone.
Are you interested in joining in on the fun of future Atlanta Track Club events? There are a number of races happening in the upcoming weeks around metro-Atlanta.
October 20th - PNC Atlanta 10 Miler & 5K
November 9th - Mercedes-Benz Stadium 5K/Walk Like MADD
November 28th - Invesco QQQ Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, 5K, Mile & Dash
Interested in becoming a member of the Atlanta Track Club? Learn more about member benefits and become a member here.
Most runners have their favorite running store to stock up on their fuel, get some new apparel, and of course be fitted for new shoes. Personally, I prefer supporting my local small businesses and one of my favorite running stores in metro-Atlanta is Big Peach Running Company. I absolutely love their local roots, customer service, and that they treat every customer as if they are a friend or family member walking in the door. Opening their doors in 2004 (before running was as HUGE as it is now), Big Peach Running Company just celebrated fifteen years and seven locations in the metro-Atlanta area. To celebrating turning 15, Big Peach Running Company hosted a virtual 15K and a big party! Of course I needed to celebrate along side of my favorite peachy runners!
For a minimal fee of $15, participants of the Peachy's 15K Virtual Run/Walk received a medal, complimentary entry into Peachy’s Pedestrian-Active Party with Wild Heaven Brewery (including food and a beverage), a koozy, a coupon for your next Big Peach Running Company purchase! Even cooler? Proceeds benefited Lifeline Animal Project.
While the 15K virtual run could be done virtually, there was an option to take part in three different 5K runs at the Peachy's Pedestrian-Active Party. That way you could get in 5K, 10K, or 15K alongside other area runners and walkers. If you already completed your 15K and just wanted to party, there is no shame in that either.
The group runs took off at 3pm, 4pm, and 5pm. Thanks to a little bit of traffic (welcome to Atlanta), Julia and I arrived at Wild Heaven Brewery just after 3pm, so we got checked in, explored the brewery, and checked out some of the vendors on site before lining up a few minutes before 4:00.
The run started on the Beltline and wound around through the neighborhood sidewalks. There were leaders to make sure that no one got lost along the way (it was basically and out and back, but there were a few slight turns) and sweepers at the back of the pack too. It was a lovely little course and even had a hydration and fuel station at the midway point which was really nice.
Since it was one of the hottest parts of the day and in the middle of summer in Atlanta, Julia and I took it easy to complete the final 5K of our virtual 15K. We just soaked in the mile together and enjoyed the opportunity.
After getting our miles done, we headed into Wild Heaven Brewery to get some post run snacks and celebrate Big Peach's 15th year! There was a huge Mexican buffet set up with all the fixings you could want along with desserts, drinks, and a special edition Big Peach Peachy Brew.
There were a bunch of amazing vendors on hand with shoe demos, race registrations, an awesome DJ, and of course Big Peach on Wheels was on site for your shopping needs. Obviously we had to go do a little retail therapy there.
As I mentioned earlier, proceeds benefited Lifeline Animal Project and they were presented a check in the amount of $5,000. Not only did the community get active and celebrate Big Peach's 15th year, we got to help animals find their forever families.
The Big Peach running community is absolutely amazing beyond words. From their awesome stores and associates to the community of runners, walkers, and active lifestyle enthusiasts, this is something that I am proud to be a part of and a local shop I will continue to support for years to come. Happy 15th Big Peach - may you have MANY more years and miles ahead of you.
Since switching gears from half marathons this summer to 5Ks (and a lot of traveling and racecations), I have been able to experience a lot more of the Atlanta-area 5Ks this year. I have really started to realize how many new or "new to me" 5Ks I have ran this year and I have been so excited to do so.
One of my new 5Ks of 2019 was the Hot Fun in the Summer Sun 5K. Honestly, it was a slower week of racing around metro Atlanta as many of our schools were going back to school either right before or right after this weekend. Yes, we go back to school the last week of July and early August here. Anyways, when I was scoping out races to run this weekend, I stumbled upon a race being held by Five Star NTP which hosts a lot of races in the area. While they are usually smaller races, they are well organized and usually offer some pretty good courses. As a bonus, it is just about fifteen minutes away, so why not?!?
Based on the pre-race emails received and being familiar with the area, I knew that there would be plenty of parking within feet of packet pickup and the start line. Since you never know what can happen with traffic or other unpredictable things, so I arrived just about an hour before the race. This gave me plenty of time to get my bib, use the restroom, and get myself ready.
We ended up lining up about five minutes before the race started which was perfect for the smaller sized crowd. A few house keeping announcements were made in regards to lining up by pace and directions on the course layout.
The course was basically a loop around the parking lot, an out an back and concluding with a loop around the parking lot again for the final .25 mile. Since it was a smaller sized race anyways, having a lane designated for the runners was plenty spacious to maneuver your way around others. Between the two .25 mile loops in the parking lot and about a mile on the Noon Day Trail (paved trail), you were only on the actual road for about half of the race as is. The Noon Day Trail is a fairly new paved trail in Kennesaw which I have only ran on a small portion during another race, so it was nice getting to explore another part of this trail along the way today. I must say, it is set up very nicely and is tree lined which means SHADE (a HUGE bonus for Atlanta runners - especially in summer).
Based on metro-Atlanta standards, this course was pretty flat. The parking lot portion and Noon Day trail were basically flat, so really the only hills were on gradual hill on the road stretch and the hill going down/up from the trail.
It was a pretty humid morning so I ran a conservative pace, but thanks to a great course layout I was still able to run one of my fastest 5K times of the year. What better way to celebrate a solid run? A popsicle and an ice cold Coke!
The Five Star FTP races are nicely organized and a much smaller race experience than some of the "big name races" around town. Don't let that scare you away though - they are a great time for everyone from beginners to competitive runners alike. Are they fancy? No. However, they provide a good bang for your buck and have some great courses and pay attention to details (like those popsicles).
I have really found some great Atlanta area 5Ks to fill up my summer running calendar and Hot Fun in the Summer Sun 5K is one of them. Staying in town more this summer and running shorter distances the past few months have been great for my soul and love for running. I am chomping at the bit to get back to longer distances again, but for now, I will bask in the fun of the 5K distance.
I love to run and most importantly I love to have FUN while I run....I am the "Funner Runner"
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