Saturday, July 21, 2012


One of the happiest discoveries I had when first getting into road races is the costumes! Ok, so most road races aren't themed with costuming in mind. And I seriously doubt anyone running Boston is going to jeopardize their aerodynamic flow by running in a tutu and Mickey Mouse ears. But not only are some races encouraging of costumes (like the Twilight Retro Race I'll be running tonight), but I've noticed a trend (both in races I've run and in the running blogosphere) that more and more runners are taking the chance at their races to don a colorful tutu and maybe some colorful knee socks.

Costumes I've seen at non-themed races usually involve colorful tulle skirts and sometimes themed hair accessories. And of course, for themed races, the costumes can get really awesome! Virtually all of the Run Disney races encourage runners to don their best Disney costumes, ranging from the classic princesses to animated icons of the 21st century. The cleverest Run Disney costume I've seen was a pair of girls dressed as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from Alice and Wonderland. I signed up for the 2013 Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon on the day registration opened, and I'm already hard at work deciding who to dress as. Of course, going as a Disney princess is always a popular choice, but right now I'm leaning towards Minnie Mouse, or maybe even my favorite Disney furry friend, Meeko from Pocahontas. Ideas and suggestions are greatly welcome!

And lest anyone think that runners who are into costumes aren't "serious" runners, I've seen a number of costumed runners smoke the competition in road races. Most memorably was my very first 5k, which was on St. Patrick's Day 2012. Most people were donning green to some degree, but one man in particular was wearing a leprechaun costume and had dyed his hair bright red and painted a red beard on his face. He even ran the race carrying a box of Lucky Charms! I'm not sure if he placed or not, but he certainly smoked most of us on the road, even with that cereal box! 

Tonight at 6 o'clock is the annual Twilight Retro Run, where runners are encouraged to don their tackiest clothes from the 60s, 70s, or 80s. There's even a costume contest, where the best costume (which has to actually be run in!) wins $100. After mulling over loads of ideas, I've decided to run the race dressed as one of my childhood favorite cartoon characters, Rainbow Bright! My sweet BF surprised me the other day with a brand new digital camera ("Just because!"), so I'll be sure to take some pics to upload here.

Happy running!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rookie mistakes

My first 5k since becoming a "serious" runner was on St. Patrick's Day of this year. And, like many beginners to road racing, I made many, if not all, of the classic rookie mistakes. Having done about eight 5k's now, I've certain learned loads of lessons about the do's and don't's of road racing. But with my very first 1/2 marathon coming up in just over a month, I'm hoping that the rookie mistakes I learned from that first 5k will serve me well 13.1 miles down the road.

Starting too fast: What with all of the energy and excitement surrounding a road race, it's not hard at all to inadvertently go out too strong at the beginning. I'll never forget the incredible surge of energy I felt hearing the gun go off at the beginning of my first 5k -- I'll also never forget the labored breathing and cramps in my legs after about the first 0.5 mile of gunning it far too hard! If there's one lesson of road racing never ever to forget, it's that pacing is key. Sure, going out as strong as possible in the beginning is tempting, but if it's not sustainable, it's not wise for middle- to long-distance races. I've since learned that conserving energy to push through that final stretch of a race is far more beneficial than giving it 110% effort from the gunshot.

Seeding: On my first 5k, I knew literally nothing about the etiquette or strategy behind seeding oneself appropriately, so in my unadulterated excitement I toed the starting line with the pack of the fastest runners. Not only was it disheartening to have throngs of runners pass me at the beginning, but I didn't realize that I was inadvertently being impolite by getting in their way to begin with. One of the many things I love about road racing is that runners are so polite. There are no court side brawls or referees handing out flags for poor sportsmanship. And a big part of seeding is the etiquette of letting the fastest runners go out first, to minimize their lateral running as they weave in and out of those going at a slower pace. I've also learned that seeding myself appropriately (usually somewhere happily in the middle) is a great motivational tool -- There's no feeling quite like starting off steady and slowly gaining ground on the pack ahead of me.

Hydrating along the way: During my first 5k, I was so dead set on running the entire course that I very nearly spilled water down my front when I grabbed a cup from the aid station at Mile 2. My rational was logical enough, but definitely faulty: "If I take 10 seconds to stop and drink water, I'll lose 10 seconds on my final time." Not only is staying healthfully hydrated far more important than the time on the clock, but taking a mere 10 seconds out to rehydrate can (in my completely unscientific experience) gives me a burst of energy that more than makes up for that in time on the clock.

These running lessons are fundamental enough that I'm confident they'll translate to my first 1/2 marathon next month, but I'm still anxious that there will be specific unforeseen lessons to learn from my first encounter with a long-distance road race!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Love at first run

Welcome to Cloud Run! Beyond the obvious of this being a running blog, I'll use this first post to introduce myself and the blog. 

First off -- why the name? I was mulling over various blog name ideas -- mostly cliches -- when I thought to myself, "When I'm running, I'm on cloud nine." Hmm ... Cloud 5k? Cloud 26.2? Nah -- CLOUD RUN!!!

Aside from a year of recreational jogging in college, I didn't begin running in earnest until January of 2011, at the age of 26. I just woke up one day and had this strange urge to run. It would be convenient to say that everything after that first run was smooth and sweet, but as I'm sure is the case with all of us runners, the proverbial (and literal) road is far from easy. 

It was an entire year of bi- or tri-weekly runs before I signed up for my first 5k on a whim. It was St. Patrick's Day 2012, and at the time the max I was doing in a single gym session was 3 miles in about 33 minutes. That first road race was brutal, but even more than that, it was addictive. Struggling to keep my legs moving through the finish chute, I couldn't wipe the smile or the sweat from my face -- I was hooked, and that was that.

Now, on July 12th, I've got eight 5k's (and a few age place medals) under my running shorts band, and I'm in the 10th week of training for my first 1/2 marathon on August 18th. My recreational running career has grown by leaps in bounds since that first 5k, in so many ways that I never thought possible.

Which brings me to this blog. I'm eager to read other runners' perspectives on this, but in my experience, running as a competitive sport and as a form of fitness can feel pretty daunting, even exclusive or elitist. Maybe it's the pricy gear and toned bodies of those speed demons in Corral 1 of every race. Maybe it's just how utterly impossible running 26.2 miles sounds if you've never done it. Whatever it is, my goal is for this blog to be a friendly, encouraging, and inclusive place to read, write, and share about running. 

I don't know about you, but for a long time I was too timid to actually call myself a runner. "Runners are those super-muscular speedsters I see at the local running shop -- the ones who brag about their 15:00 5ks and their 30-mile long runs. That's not me! I can't even break an 8:00 mile!!"

These were my discouraging words to myself for a long time. But over the past months I've grown as a runner, both in speed and endurance, past points that I never thought achievable. More importantly, I've gained the self confidence that is crucial to being successful at anything, especially running. I am a runner. And so are you. So is anyone with that love and drive for pounding the pavement (or the track, or the trail, or the treadmill =)). 

Yep, I am a runner. And I'm on cloud run.