Run For Your Lives

In my never ending quest to be an eternal child, I participated in Run for Your Lives – the zombie infested 5K obstacle course, this past weekend in Pittsburgh. Runners are given a belt with 3 flags. The zombies on the course try to take the flags. Participants finishing the course with at least 1 flag get a survivor’s medal. Those that finish without flags get an infected medal.

I signed up for this thing AGES ago. Seriously, I registered last October. Since the time I registered even the event location had changed. I was a little pissed, ok more than a little, that there wasn’t onsite parking. I hate that shuttle crap. And since there is no pre-race day packet pickup, one has to either bring a friend/bag holder or check one’s ID and money. I REALLY hate that.

My wave time was noon and all the instructions said to get there about 2 hours early. I had a long drive and ended up arriving an extra half an hour earlier than recommended but how glad I was that I did.

Parking was in a field that wasn’t nearly big enough for the amount of cars that were coming. In fact, I got the 2nd to last spot in the main parking area. After it was full, the parking attendants started directing cars down this lane cut into a corn field – I am not kidding. I couldn’t see how far away they went, I was just grateful that I wasn’t going there. After parking and grabbing the essentials (beach towel, change of clothes, clean shoes, ID, small amount of cash, filled in waiver, car keys, bug spray, and sun screen) I walked over to where the lone school bus/shuttle bus was. As I walked, I realized that the line for this lone shuttle was more than 300 people long!

After locating the end of the line, I settled in for a long wait, over an hour in fact. The only reason that my wait was so short was that someone must have had the wisdom to wake up some bus drivers and rent some more buses. Like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds at the end of a storm, 5 buses showed up at once. In the meantime, I was getting to know the people in line.

The people directly in front of me were a brother and sister. They were super nice and, although their wave time was an hour before mine, we ended up running the course together. In front of them was a local who was very kind in advising me of some local sites. In fact, because of this lovely local, I realized that Pittsburgh is a fantastic zombie destination. He let me know that the original Night of the Living Dead Cemetery is Evans City Cemetery, just outside of Pittsburgh. I went that night, see:

I did drive far enough back to see the chapel but I didn’t explore any further. I wasn’t afraid of zombies. Heck, I finished the Run For Your Lives race with a survivor medal, baby! No, it’s not zombies that I feared. It was the dark and the woods and the who-knows-what’s-crawling-around-out-there.

Just a bit of trivia, groups are trying to raise money to restore the cemetery. If you’re interested, or just want to read more about the cemetery, here’s a quick link.

Also, I learned that the Monroeville mall, also just outside of Pittsburgh, is the mall from the Dawn of the Dead. I had no idea that I could do an entire zombie-themed vacation in Pittsburgh. There was a zombie “museum”/store in the mall, but according to the company’s website, the physical store is no longer at the mall but moving to a new location. You can see the website here.

There is another zombie store that I knew about before I arrived, but it was closed when I tried to visit!!!!! It was because the store had a tent set up at the race site. Had I known, I would have paid more attention to the tent, but I was too busy taking in everything else.

Now, the actual race site is a place called Mines & Meadows in New Beaver, PA. It’s an old coal mine and a current ATV park. I looked it up a bit and it looks like an awesome place to visit, if you own an ATV. You can take tours of the mines in your ATV. Pretty cool. I was thinking that the mines would be an extraordinary place for some zombie mischief. Little did I know that the organizers would be smart enough to incorporate the mines.

Anyway, after way too long waiting for shuttles, we arrived at the race site. I checked in, talked to my new buds then wandered off to socialize some more.

I’m so glad I did!!! I found a lady with a survivor’s medal. So I asked her to tell me about the course. And she gave me loads of tips. But most importantly, she told me about the smokehouse. What is a smokehouse, you may ask? Well, it’s a tent filled with smoke and loads of live wires hanging down all around. I don’t remember reading about getting shocked when I signed up. Being wet and muddy and shocked? WTF?!?!?!

So, in the starting pen, I made another friend: a nice lady that was also running alone. Although we had some varying skill levels, we, for the most part, stuck together.

Right out of the gate, we were funneled down a hill into the mines. The hill wasn’t hugely steep but there was a stream of water running down it and zombies. While trying to avoid the zombies, I saw a man fall pretty hard on the first hill. Then we went into the mine. It was dark and wet and full of zombies. Also, I noticed these wires hanging down. I heard later that these were also electrified.

Coming out of the mine, someone threw about 50 extra flags in the air. Right in the middle of a group of zombies. Most people kept running to avoid the zombies. I grabbed a couple handfuls of flags and stuffed them in my bra. Due to my magical, flag-dispensing bra, everyone in my group got survivor medals.

The course was hard, muddy, uneven, and steep. The obstacles were pretty lame. But I did see one guy fall off of one and hit his head on a log. It was pretty frightening. He got up and kept running, however, I guarantee he felt it later. It took my group about an hour to finish the course. It’s not timed so we just took our time. The smokehouse was notable but no one in my group got shocked. One lady skipped the obstacle. The guy did a full belly crawl. The other lady and I guided each other while listening to people yelling because they were getting shocked.

The worst part was the zombie field. Runners had to run through a field of zombies. It was in here that I encountered the worst part of the race. A zombie grabbed me, to snag my flag, and ripped my race bib off! And then wasn’t letting go. She almost ripped my shirt off! I thought I was going to have to fight. – Before I ran, I heard some runners complaining about aggressive zombies. Supposedly, the zombies were not supposed to run, they were not supposed to touch the runners. Clearly, my zombie assailant didn’t pay attention to the rules.

The rest of the course was rather uneventful. Loads of hills, the blood bath, and the final gauntlet of zombies. The very last obstacle was a fence panel hung horizontally about 2′ off the ground. Apparently, it was also electrified. I managed to get through the course without getting shocked. But another participant told me she had been shocked dozens of times. She was shocked in the mine, in the smokehouse, and, humiliatingly, she got stuck under the fence with a wire on her butt. The entire time she was stuck, she was getting shocked.

At the end of the race, I was really looking forward to the shower tent. It was a tent that had PVC pipes running down both sides. Little holes had been punched into the pipes to make a shower of sorts. By the time I went over to shower, around noon (which was quite early in the day for this event), there was no more water. Sigh. I had to check into my hotel as a stinky, muddy slob.

I love silly. I love races. I don’t trust that there is a knowledgeable person controlling how much of a shock is going through these wires. Just one small slip with these sort of things can be fatal. I will never again participate in this race, even though I had fun, because there is just too much risk in having a course designed to shock wet, muddy people. The participation price was high, there weren’t enough shuttles (initially), there was no water, and some of the zombies were a bit out of control (aside from grappling with the one, I also had my butt grabbed and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t an accident). Again, it was fun, but there were just too many negatives, mostly the electrical shocks, to do it again.

I have my medal and my memories. I got to spend time with some really cool people. I got a great workout. And I have mud that I still can’t get out from under my fingernails. I also have 4 flags even though I only started with 3.

Run for Your Lives is fun, but one should really weigh those risks.




Whoa… Slow Down

I really needed a new pair of running shoes and have been leaning towards trying minimalist shoes.  I’ve heard a bunch of talk about New Balance Minimus shoes.  It just so happened that while I was on a date I spied a New Balance store and decided to stop in.

The Minimus is so expensive; the model I like is $90!

new balance ionixIt’s hard to drop $90 on an experiment.  What if I don’t like minimal shoes?  Then I have $90 shoes to … what? Walk in?  I walk in heels.  I have a closet full of strappy, gorgeous sandals for summer.  Or, if I’m slumming it, I have loads of flip flops.  Cleveland doesn’t have a lot of nice, warm days.  When it does, I want naked feet.   So I don’t want $90 running shoes I can’t run in.

Anyway, I walked into the New Balance store and the manager immediately decided to “fit” me.   So I walked across the paper to check my foot type and the manager immediately decided that the Minimus was not the shoe for me.  He also decided that the the $60 shoes I liked weren’t for me either.

I decided I would allow him to shoe me the shoes he thought would be right for my training (for the Columbus Marathon in October). Minutes later the manager emerged with 3 boxes of shoes and a package of inserts.

The first pair of shoes the manager recommended were $144!  I was having a hard time with $90 shoes and was checking out $60 shoes and the manager decides that I’m going to be shelling out $144 for shoes?  And he had inserts too.  For $144, they better do the running for me and there’s no way on earth I should need accessories.

I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but on top of being insanely expensive, the $144 shoes were some of the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen.  Look:

new balance 1260v3I would never wear these.  I’m not an elite runner so there is no way I need $144 shoes.  And if I was an elite runner, I would be sponsored and wouldn’t be paying for my own $144 shoes.  The way a shoe looks is still important to me.  I’ve run many a race in Nikes and Asics I bought at Kohl’s when they were on sale and I had a 30% off coupon.  And I have a few pairs of more expensive Asics.  There was little difference between the cheap pairs and the expensive pairs.  The biggest difference is how well the shoes last.

The next pair of shoes the dude had me try on were equally ugly, but less expensive.  At $114, they were surely a bargain.

Luckily at that moment, more customers entered the store.  So I peaked into the last box the manager had brought out for me.  It contained the ugliest sandals I had ever seen.

I hate salespeople that treat me like a chump.  He could have probably sold me the $90 Minimus with little problem.  But no, he had to grab the two most expensive pairs of shoes in the store and try and get me to buy them.  And his dreams included selling me inserts and ugly sandals.  I came in the store wearing gorgeous strappy sandals and he thinks I’m going to buy gross, old lady sandals.

So I came home and ordered a new pair of Nikes off amazon.  They are super cute but are more than I really wanted to spend.

Here are my new shoes:

nike flex 2013They are super cute and airy but the padding is rather strange.  It hits right before my heel in almost a straight line.  I did a 2 mile run this evening in them and it was significantly different than my Asics but I think it’ll be fine.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that salespeople shouldn’t be so greedy.  I ended up paying $75 for shoes.  A $75 sale is much better than the no sale the salesman got because he made me uncomfortable when he came out with such ridiculously priced shoes.

And, I may end up with a pair of Minimus, but I think I’ll ask for them as a Christmas gift.





Cleveland Marathon 2013 Training – Days 38 – 42

Well, I’m nearing the end of week 7 (which is actually the 6th full week of training).  I had a wicked head cold; coughing up disgusting, disgusting things.

My training should have been 3 miles on Tuesday, 2 miles on Wednesday, and 5 miles on Thursday.  Instead, I did Tuesdays run and took Wednesday and Thursday off.  Yesterday, I made up for my days off and did 7 miles.  Friday should have been a rest day.  I still have all kinds of congestion and I wanted to skip yesterday too.

I got on the treadmill telling myself that whatever I did last night, I wouldn’t need to do today.  I have a 2 mile run today and tomorrow is 7 miles.  I didn’t want to do 9 miles today and then 7 miles tomorrow.  So, I started out not wanting to run at all but telling myself every step was a step I didn’t need to take today.

I couldn’t keep up with the normal pace and it was getting really discouraging.  But then I thought every step counts.  Not every run has to be a great run.  The most important thing is just to run.

Using this logic, I did all 7 miles.  I didn’t look pretty.  I didn’t run fast.  But I ran and that is the most important thing.

Today, my husband replaced the belt on my treadmill so I’m off to try it out.  I’m going to try to do at least 1/2 mile at 2 mph faster than normal.  With only 2 miles to go, I’m sure I can.  But cross your fingers for me anyway.


Cleveland Marathon 2013 Training – Days 30 – 37

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been writing much more than a quick couple lines about my marathon training.  I don’t see that changing drastically for the time being.  I did my required miles for this week.  Some days were easy, some were not.  I did get to run outside one day and then we got hit with a bunch of snow.   I love to shovel, it’s such a relaxing bit of exercise.  It’s especially relaxing when it’s dark and my little side street is devoid of traffic and people.  The fresh air, the quiet; it’s magical.

Anyway, loads of people know about my running and so I’m often questioned about running “stuff”.

I have a coworker that used to mock my running.  I’m not fast but I completely own my slow time.  Now, he’s decided to take up running so he questions me about it all the time.  After hearing his questions, I finally asked him his 5K time.  Well, wouldn’t you know, he’s never run a 5K.  After mocking my slow times, repeatedly, he told me that he was pretty sure that he couldn’t run a 5k.

So his newbie running questions all involved the best gear.  The best gear is a race entry.  If you’re coming in 5th or 6th place in your age bracket, then start looking at gear that might give you that little extra.  Don’t worry about $150 shoes if you can’t even run 3 miles straight.  In warm weather, I run in a tech shirt from a past race and some running shorts from Target.  In cold weather, I wear my compression capris from Old Navy, a race shirt, and an Aeropostale hoodie.  My shoes are Nike or Asics that I buy on sale and with coupons.  Most of my trainers come from Kohls.  The whole point of running is overcoming your doubt and pushing yourself.  Wrapping yourself in hundreds of dollars in overpriced gear before you’ve ever run a mile is the antithesis to running.

Speaking of missing the point of the run: today, one of my employees brought me an old copy of the New Yorker with an article about Kip Litton.  For those of you who don’t know Kip Litton, I’ll give a little info.  Kip Litton is a guy who faked his results in numerous marathons from at least 2009 until 2012.

I remember reading a bit about this guy last summer.  But that little bit didn’t come close to the detail provided in the article by Mark Singer.  The oddest thing about his fakery is that it seems as though he really can run a marathon in about 3 1/2 hours.  That is completely respectable.  If only the dude spent as much time training as he did faking his times, he could have made the times he faked.

While writing this post, I wanted to see what Kip Litton looks like.  Somehow, I ended up finding a blurb about how Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time.  I had forgotten about that.  I just don’t get it.

The most important part of running to me is proving myself wrong.  I hate running.  I keep doing it just to make sure I hate it.  But every time I complete another training session I prove that little negative voice in my head wrong.  That voice that tells me that I can’t do it.  That is why I run.  Because even my worst run is better than my first run.  I have earned every sore muscle and every blister.  I have earned every ragged breath and every drop of sweat.  They are mine.  They are more important than my time.  And no one, not even people who mock my time, can take away what I have earned.  Even when my published results are wrong – at the Cap City Half marathon, it lists my husband as finishing a few minutes ahead of me but the pictures for the race show me and the time clock as I cross the finish line solidly ahead of my husband.  That work is mine and it makes me strong.

And yesterday started week six of my half marathon training.


Cleveland Marathon 2013 Training – Days 23 – 27

Day 23 was Monday.  And a rest day.

Day 24 was Tuesday.  I was so tired.  But I made myself do my 3 miles, on the treadmill.  At first, I told myself I’d just do a walk.  Because I was tired.  Once I got on my treadmill and got going for a bit, I upped the speed to a jog.  I did my 3 miles at 1 mph less than my comfortable pace.  And afterwards, I was so happy.  So it wasn’t my usual speed.

Day 25 was a 2 mile run.  I did it at 1.2 mph faster than my comfort pace.

Day 26 was Thursday.  It was a 4 mile run.  It’s been incredible cold here and so everything has been on the treadmill.

Today was Day 27.  Cross training or rest.  Today, I went through with the cross training.  I did 12 minutes with a weighted hula hoop, incline push ups (3 sets), and yoga.  This is the first time in the almost 4 weeks of training that I did the cross training on Friday.  I usually let my laziness rule and use it as a second rest day.

I know that I need more weight training and more stretching than I have been getting.  So I downloaded BodBot.  I entered my selections and today was my first instructions.  I picked weight loss and muscle building.  The incline push ups I did.  Those were BodBot’s idea.  It also suggested 60 minutes of running.  I skipped that.  But I will be referring to BodBot for supplemental strength training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Cleveland Marathon 2013 Training – Days 20, 21, & 22

Day 20, Friday, was a cross training or rest day.  I had intended to do yoga and some strength training.  I didn’t.  I got caught up in some other things and let my laziness overtake me.

Day 21, yesterday, was a 2 mile run.  It was really windy out and, by the time I was ready to run, chilly.  I spent the perfect running hours of the day at the toboggan chutes with my son and my husband.  So. Much. Fun!  I’m not sad that I didn’t run outside because the toboggans were brilliant.

Day 22 is today.  I ran 4 miles on the treadmill at my normal pace.  My normal pace is not my normal pace for anything longer than a 5k.  So, if I can stick to my 5K pace for the longer runs, I will be so happy.

I realized today that I am simply not eating properly to fuel my runs.  I feel sluggish and bloaty.  I’m going to have to be more careful with my food intake because I won’t be able to do those longer runs if I feel like this.

I bought a weighted hula hoop.  I don’t remember if I blogged about this yet or not.  I just got it Friday.  I love it.  As the reviews stated, it does hurt initially.  But it’s also fun.  Today I hula hooped (I have made it a verb, grammar be damned) while I read the newspaper.  Yesterday, I hula hooped while watching my son play a video game.  I can see hula hooping while playing my own video game.  The hoop is large enough that once you get it going, you don’t have to really even think about it.  You just keep moving.

Cleveland Marathon 2013 Training – Day 19

Day 19 was a 3 mile run.  It was cold so it was on a treadmill.  I gave it 0.3 mph faster than my comfort pace.

Tomorrow is a rest of cross training day.  I’m going for yoga and a Gilad video. I would rather sit on the couch.  But I will do the yoga and Gilad instead.