Pretty Muddy 5K Sacramento, CA Recap: Holy Hotness!

Sporting a Fellow Flowers t-shirt for the Pretty Muddy 5K in Sacramento, CA. I was there to have a good time and finish—No Excuses!
Sporting a Fellow Flowers t-shirt for the Pretty Muddy 5K in Sacramento, CA. I was there to have a good time—No Excuses!

I’m not going to sugar coat anything about this race experience—it was a scorching hot day and I was cranky. Who knew the heat would turn out to be my biggest obstacle in a Pretty Muddy 5K?

Michael K. Farrell and I woke up early for the drive to the start line at Granite Park in Sacramento, CA. (Thanks to Michael K. Farrell’s lead foot, we covered those 127 miles in just under 2 hours. Whoa there, speedy!) I had signed up for an 11:00am wave, thinking it would be a good idea to have extra time to get there (just in case we hit traffic, took a wrong turn, got a flat—none of those scenarios happened, but I like to be prepared).

Once there, I checked in at the registration tent and got the lay of the land. It was 9:00am and racers and their families were already jockeying for position in what little shade they could find as they waited for their waves. (Clearly, I didn’t consider the heat of the season when I registered for this shindig back in February.)

Those jumping jacks helped ease the pre-race jitters that I always get. I should do them before every race!
Those jumping jacks helped ease the pre-race jitters that I always get. I should do them before every race!

I volunteered to participate in an Old Navy fashion show, so I quickly changed out of my clothes into a cute pair of shorts, sports bra, and tank. (I can’t say, “No,” to the spotlight—or a free outfit.) I hammed it up with a few squats and jumping jacks, and then put my own race duds back on.

My solo start at the Pretty Muddy 5K in Sacramento, CA.
My solo start at the Pretty Muddy 5K in Sacramento, CA.

Pretty Muddy is designed to be a fun run. There are no clocks on the course, and women come out with their girlfriends for a day of running, challenging obstacles, and mud. Everyone was super friendly, but I was insecure about not having a partner. I didn’t have a BFF by my side when I lined up at the start that morning, and I felt a little left out.

Instead of relaxing and having a good time, I started to obsess about getting the whole thing over with and going home. I pushed myself to run between every obstacle and up every hill—even though the 94-degree heat was demanding that I slow down. I just kept looking at my watch and moving on.

The blazing sun and all that mud made it impossible to read my watch.
The blazing sun and all that mud made it impossible to read my watch.

Then something magical happened: My watch got “pretty muddy” while crawling through one of the pits, and I wasn’t able to read the numbers anymore. No matter how many times I tried to wipe it away, the dirt remained. There I was a mile from the finish without a friend, without a clear watch, overheating. I realized I had two choices: I could keep scowling and slog my way to the finish, or I could accept the situation, stop worrying about splits, and try to make some friends out there. I decided to smile.

All mud and smiles at the finish!
All mud and smiles at the finish!

I gave out high-fives, thanked the volunteers, and cheered on my fellow runners during that last mile. Michael K. Farrell got the biggest smile of all as I came across the field toward the finish arch. He deserved a hug for being my BFF and cheerleader on such a hot day—but he refused my embrace until I’d hosed off.

All in all, this Pretty Muddy was a pretty awesome experience. Getting dirty while running a 5K is oddly satisfying, and it’s a great way to break up your standard training routine. Will I do it again? Yes, but next time I’ll recruit some friends and pick a cooler time of year.

Have you ever done a Pretty Muddy? What’s your biggest obstacle on hot days?

Tell the Boss I’m Not Coming In—It’s National Running Day!

Happy trails! I'm celebrating National Running Day in Almaden Quicksilver County Park.
Happy trails! I’m celebrating National Running Day in Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

I’m my own boss, so I don’t really have anyone to answer to if I decide to slack off work for the afternoon and go for a run—which is exactly what I’m doing today.

National Running Day is the best day of the year to be a runner! With organized group runs around the country, there are tons of opportunities to celebrate with others who love the sport. Or to introduce your passion to someone new—take a friend out for an easy jog around the neighborhood!

It’s also a great day to reevaluate your running goals for the rest of the year. The chill of winter kept you inside, spring got you back into your running groove, and now that it’s summer you owe it to yourself to set some goals! Maybe it’s time to add more miles, toss in a weekly track workout, or sign up for a fall race. The options are endless, so have fun deciding how to challenge yourself next!

My plan for the second half of 2013 is to keep up the momentum. I’m super excited for a weekend of racing at the end of this month: Pretty Muddy 5K in Sacramento, Saturday Jun 29, and Sharks Fitness Faceoff 10K in San Jose, Sunday June 30. Then, I’ve got a half-marathon on the calendar in mid-July. I’d like to race in the fall, and I’m waffling between registering for another half-marathon or going all out and doing a full 26.2.

Scheduling work and personal life around a half-marathon is a lot easier than fitting in marathon training. Still, I’m pretty sure the boss would be OK with me taking a day off here and there to squeeze in extra miles or rest. Decisions… Decisions…

How are you celebrating National Running Day? What’s your running plan for the second half of 2013?