Monster Dash 5k and Amelia Earhart Park 10k

I completed a bucket list item yesterday. Well, actually, it wasn't on the bucket list until I was doing it, and I realized that it was a bucket list type thing, so I added it, then promptly checked it off. I began the day running my first 10k trail race and ended the day at a 5k, running from monsters.
Reuters Photo
 In the days leading up to my big weekend, I was getting nervous. Not about the twofer, but about the fact that it might not happen. Hurricane Sandy, spinning off the coast of Florida was threatening to destroy my weekend plans. How dare she! But thankfully, my prayers were answered, and she brought minor wind and rain (and a blessed birthday day off of school!). Race plans were still a go!

Race morning was windy, but dry and cool, and because the trees would be a shelter from the wind, it wasn't even going to be a factor. I drove into the park in complete darkness and tried to ignore the "Trails Closed" sign. The turnout was a small one. The race director, Marlon from the down2earth company wished us his usual "happy thanksgiving," and explained that the course would be a little wet, muddy and full of downed trees branches and other debris. And we were off.

The 10k course meant 2 5k "or so" laps. As I ran, I was once again reminded of my childhood days exploring the 35ish acres of my grandma's property. The mud was not a factor for me. I kept my eyes on the ground before me and set my pace according to what lay under my feet. We raced on a mountain bike path, which means the course was about as hilly as you can find in South Florida (except for the "King of the Hill" race at Vista View park).  My mind remained occupied, being very visual and having a fairly vivid imagination, I "watched" various scenes from The Hunger Games and Snow White and the Huntsman, which we had just seen the night before.

I thought there was only one woman ahead of me, and she was running the half. I passed her and continued on. At some point I realized I was daydreaming a little too much and that's when I started wondering if I could not just be the first woman to finish, but to be the first overall. I kicked it into high gear, knowing that my strong legs give me a big advantage on the inclines. I passed another woman and knew I was the first female. I ran out of race before I could pass anyone else, but was very happy to podium as the 1st woman. I finished in 1:05, less than 1:30 behind the first place male and am kicking myself for daydreaming away too many miles in the middle. However, I am so happy to have earned my first 1st place.

Race #2: The Monster Bash Dash involved a drive up to Orlando. I had won a free entry (Thank you, Active Advantage membership!), so the drive was worth a fun birthday weekend getaway. Our race wave was 6:20 p.m. My running buddy, Justin and I chose that time, thinking it would be getting dark, but wouldn't be too dark. We were both nervous before the race. I was remembering my own middle school days of other birthday "spook walks" through my grandma's woods, getting chased by my dad and friends dressed up in costumes.
Before the Monster Bash Dash 5k
I was surprised that there wasn't a very big turnout. We parked in a cow pasture (Yes, I'm sure-- I saw the evidence!) and had no trouble getting our numbers, t-shirts, and lives (aka flag football belts). There were obstacles visible, and I became a little excited at the prospect of monsters + obstacles. However, at the start we were told to go around the obstacles, and in fact, most of the obstacles were roped off (except the monkey bars, which Justin and I couldn't resist traversing!). We followed the course through trees, shrubs and fields, dodging zombies, dead pirates, demented dolls and various other strange and creepy costumed creatures. Some were actually frightening and some were just silly. It was especially effective when they teamed up-- one or two semi-visible and one or two hiding just beyond. I'm quite sure I set a new PR for my vertical leap after one monster completely caught me off guard.

Justin and I did not survive. Early on, monsters had taken all our flags, so at the finish we were awarded with "I am one of the walking dead" finisher medals. We had an excellent time. Our only regret was that we hadn't chosen a later heat. The sun was just beginning to set as we crossed the finish line (despite our efforts to hasten the darkness by walking some of the course).
Justin's first medal (and it glows in the dark!)
The walking dead

**So, how do you know if you are ready for a 2 race weekend? First check with your doctor to see if you are healthy enough. You should have previously raced both distances. Be sure to train for the twofer-- I currently am used to training twice a day, so it was not a huge shock to my body to add a second race.


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