Running on a Formula 1 Track

This recap will be short since we didn’t actually “race” the 5K but I thought the newest race to hit the Austin area needed a little attention. HITS Endurance may have held its first event in Austin last weekend, but this wasn’t their first rodeo. They have many other events, including Napa Valley, OKC, Lake Havasu, and New York.

HITS Endurance - Austin

The Formula 1 track in Austin hosted their first US Grand Prix in 2012. RunTex launched a Formula Run race several weeks before the Grand Prix where runners could do one full lap around the F1 track [slightly under 3.5 miles]. The race didn’t fit in with my training for Philly so I figured I’d run it in 2013. When it came time to register, the fee was $50 or $60. I get that you’re paying for the experience, but that still hurts the wallet a bit for such a short race. Austin Runners Club was promoting the HITS Endurance race and I ended up only paying $25 for pretty much the same course as Formula Run.

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HITS had multiple distances [1M, 5K, 10K, Half & Full Marathon, Sprint Duathlon] and the start was staggered. The half / full marathon started at 7am, the 5K / 10K started at 11am, and the duathlon started at 2pm. I really thought I’d love the delayed start but it ended up throwing off my day. I wanted to enjoy my coffee and relax, but instead I was trying to chug the coffee and chase it with Nuun.

We left the house around 9:45 to head out to Circuit of the Americas in Del Valle. It was a windy and chilly morning, bringing back painful memories from Shiner. Parking was plentiful [the venue does host the F1 race, after all] so that wasn’t an issue. We found an area to huddle inside near the start to get a break from the wind. That was definitely a nice perk!

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At quarter to 11 everyone began lining up at the start. The 10K runners were released slightly earlier than us since both distances were an out-and-back and they needed to get a jump start on the course. Just as the 10K was about to kickoff, a marathon runner came flying into the finish. It was weird to see an athlete running towards us, but I guess that’s what happens when using the same area for start/finish.

The course had a fair amount of hills, including a killer climb the second you crossed the starting mat. Although since this was an out-and-back, it gave you a super fast downhill finish. There was a water stop just before the turnaround which had water, gatorade, and candy – yes, candy. Pretty strange, but I’d be lying if I said I turned down that KitKat.

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One thing I thought was cool for this race was that a checkered flag was handed to the lead runner for each distance in the final 800m so they could cross the finish line with it.

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I will say that the medal for the aforementioned Formula Run race was much cooler than the one for HITS, which was a little generic. But $25 cooler? I’m not so sure. In any case, it was pretty awesome to run on a track where cars race at 200mph!

Elf Pub Run

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Earlier this week the 3M Half Marathon celebrated their 20th Anniversary by hosting a pub run, Elf-style. The event popped up on do512 [if you’re in the Austin area, you need to follow them on Twitter and/or FB – you’ll never miss a thing in town] a few weeks ago and since Elf is one of my [and everyone else’s] favorite Christmas movies, I knew this a pub run that couldn’t be missed.

Elf Pub Run Collage

I’d tell you the route we ran, but I think 3M narrated it best:

So, grab all your “buddies,” meet at the Paramount and then “pass through the seven layers of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops, and jog through the Lincoln Tunnel.” Okay, okay…so it’s more like through the swirly twirly layers of downtown Austin construction, across 6th street (if you see gum there, don’t eat it, it isn’t free candy), around the Frosty tower, until you can follow the scent of the “world’s best sausage” and follow it to Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden at 79 Rainey Street. Once there, grab a pint of “holiday cheer” – a.k.a. complimentary local Austin beer and a sausage wrap from Banger’s that will be available for purchase for $8 cash. Then make your way back around the Frosty Tower, across 6th street (don’t hug anything there), through the swirly twirly layers of downtown construction, and back to the theatre for more “holiday cheer” a.k.a. complimentary local Austin beer and a 7:45pm screening of Elf.

There were approximately 300 runners so they sent about 20 of us off at a time, leaving a couple minutes between each wave. Downtown was decorated for Christmas so that definitely made the run more festive, despite the fact that it was 80 degrees outside (WTF Texas).

There were volunteers along the way holding signs with funny sayings adapted from the movie, like this one:

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I didn’t wear my Garmin so I have no idea how far we actually ran to/from Banger’s, but obviously not far enough that a couple beers would make the trip back miserable. Our drink ticket got us each an Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils, which surprisingly wasn’t bad. When I saw they were pouring light beer, I was disappointed – but it ended up being pretty decent. After that round we made the executive decision to skip the “World’s Best Sausage” and check out the 100+ beers on tap inside.

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Um, I have trouble deciding what beer to have when there’s only 5 options on the menu… but 103? It took me ten minutes to make up my mind! They’re organized into categories like “Hop Heaven” and “Dark & Roasty” which was super helpful for the ones I had never heard of. There was a java stout calling my name, but the thought of drinking it and running afterwards just didn’t seem like a good plan, so I ended up with Founder’s Brewing’s Dirty Bastard scotch ale. It was REALLY good and had tons of flavor. Brad went with Sixpoint Global Warmer, which was good but super fruity.

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After that round, we switched back into running mode and made our way back to the Paramount. Everyone received 2 tickets back at the theater which you could redeem for beer, popcorn, or other concessions. They were also handing out gift bags that included a water bottle, beer koozie, Texas-shaped Post-Its, and a 3M Half Marathon magnet. Oh and before the race they handed out reflective armbands to all of the runners. For a $15 pub run, I definitely think we got our money’s worth.

Before the movie started, race director John Conley awarded free entries to 3M in 2014 to the five best festively dressed runners. Loved Mr. Narwhal, very original!

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And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this gem:

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“It looks like a Christmas tree!” We act like adults approximately 5% of the time.

Fast Cars & Expensive Beer

USGP 2013

On Friday morning a few coworkers and I headed out to the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 track for Day 1 of the US Grand Prix. I took the MetroRail downtown and then boarded a shuttle at the Convention Center to COTA. The rail pass and one-day shuttle ticket came to $10.50 total AND it meant I didn’t have to drive.

Worth every penny.

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COTA Shuttle

Everything was very organized and there were a ton of shuttles waiting to transport racegoers. The drive from downtown to COTA took about 15 minutes. From the shuttle to the race track was about a 1/2 mile walk on a winding dirt path. It wasn’t horrible, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it. Cowboy boots weren’t the best choice, but hey – they looked good.

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Brad was nice enough to grab about 10 pairs of earplugs from work for me to bring along to F1… and then I left every single damn pair on the kitchen table. I ended up shelling out $3 for a pair at a COTA merch tent.

COTA Entrance

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COTA Concessions

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We had tickets for Turn 12, Section 16 but ended up moving down a few sections since the stands were fairly empty at that point.

Much better.

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The fog that morning was really thick and a couple events ended up getting pushed back. This worked out for me because I arrived between two practice runs but the delay allowed me to catch the final 30 minutes of the first practice.

Afterwards we set out to explore and grab something to eat.

Austin 360 Amphitheater

COTA Tower

COTA had a ton of food trucks and concession stands open. There was a huge selection but nothing really was jumping out at me until I saw my weakness: soft pretzels with liquid cheese. This is embarrassing because La Condesa (AMAZING Mexican food) had a trailer set up near the amphitheater and I still chose the damn pretzel. And an overpriced crappy domestic beer. Obviously I was pissed ten minutes later when I happened upon a craft beer stand.

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We watched another practice run (Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel led all drivers during this run and actually ended up taking the US Grand Prix win today) from 1-2:30, walked around a little more, and then headed out.

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I didn’t like the walk back to the shuttle any better, especially since my feet had doubled in size in the heat and my boots hurt like hell. That’s what I get for being a responsible adult and not drinking away the pain.

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Shuttles at COTA

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Friday consisted of several practice runs and preliminary events leading up to the big race on Sunday. Attendance is much lower on Friday (60,000) versus Saturday (80,000) and Sunday (113,000). The crowds were very manageable and we didn’t wait on line for food or the restrooms for more than 2 minutes at most. The weather was fairly warm for November (Fall in Texas, I hate you) but still not quite the 90 degrees it hit today at the actual race. Sunscreen is a MUST!

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source: COTA Facebook

If you’re a F1 or fast car lover, this entire weekend will knock your socks off. But prepare to shell out a pretty penny for tickets: race day runs about $200 and you can usually score a 3-day pass for $300.

2013 Challenge Nation Austin Race Recap

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Last weekend Brad and I headed downtown to take part in Challenge Nation’s event here in Austin. It’s not any ordinary race though: it’s an urban scavenger hunt similar to the “Amazing Race” which can be completed in teams of 2 or more. In any normal race, speed is most important. But for Challenge Nation, you have to figure out the clues quickly and strategize the best route – and THEN speed comes into play.

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Check-in ran from 11:30 to 12:45 and since there were over 140 teams registered, we arrived at Scholz Garden around noon just to be safe. Everything was organized very efficiently: pick up your bib, sign a waiver, grab a shirt, done. Quick and painless.

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Just before the start of the race at 1pm, all team captains gathered outside of Scholz Garden to receive the clues and go over the rules. Basically you receive a list of 12 clues and you must complete 11 of 12. You can run or use public transit (in Austin’s case, this is limited to buses) but no taxis, cars, bikes, etc. All of the captains counted down from 10 and then were allowed to (walk, not run or trample) rejoin their team members.

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I started at the top of the list and Brad started at the bottom. Once we had an answer for each clue (except for the one we planned to skip), we hit the ground running.

Here’s a few of the clues we had to solve:

“This is a clue that’ll ask you to be creative: for four decades, one of the most famous and well-attended festivals in ATX was the Aqua Fest, which last was held in 1998. To complete this clue, recreate the Aqua Fest with your team: take a photo with at least one teammate in an active fountain, in a shower, in a lake… or if you can’t find those, simply dump a bottle of water on a teammate’s head in the photo.”

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Thank you fountain on UT campus, sorry to disturb you. Check!

“This Challenge will test your team’s ability to make friends and coordinate: with one other Challenge team, pose in front of any theater in town and act out any scene from a movie set in Texas with the whole group.”

Friday Night Lights, coming right up!

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“THIS CLUE IS ONLY AVAILABLE UNTIL 2:30. Between the statues of two Confederates in Texas history – one you’ve probably heard of before and one who shares a last name with a more contemporary President – you’ll find a Challenge Nation staffer with some rings to play with. Have everyone on your team grab one, making sure this iconic Austin feature is in the background of your photo, then do the obvious activity for 2-3 seconds.”

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“Texas is the live music capital of the country, and to mark that fact, you’ll need to find these props at one of the four gates to the Capitol. Which one? You’ll find a Challenge Nation staffer at the gate along the street that matches the # of the President who won office by promising to annex Texas. Once there, grab your neon-colored guitars and find your team’s inner rockstar when posing for this photo, with the Capitol in the background.”

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We were down to our final clue and ran into a bit of trouble finding it. We definitely wasted too much time searching for it and then even trying to get creative with it, so we ended up having to go back to solve the one we initially planned on skipping. After a bit of Googling, Brad found out it was right around the corner from the finish line. Wish we would have figured that out from the beginning (the race started at the same place) because it would have saved us a TON of time.

It took about an hour and twenty minutes from the time we started working on the clues until we crossed the finish line. The official results aren’t posted yet so I’m not sure what place we came in, but it definitely wasn’t in the top 5 so no prize money or free bar tab for us. We grabbed a couple beers and chatted with a few fellow racers before heading home.

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Overall, we enjoyed the race. We only went south of the Capitol building once and 5 or 6 of the clues were all on UT campus. I guess this works well if you’re trying to win the race, but I would have liked to see a little more trivia about the rest of the city. On the other hand, a few of the clues were things you really had to search for (like someone wearing a shirt with a city name NOT in Texas and NOT sports related – this one was hard, especially when all of ATX is decked out in burnt orange on Saturday) and we liked how challenging those were. The time constraints on a few of the clues also made it interesting.

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If I had to choose between the Urban Dare and Challenge Nation, I think Urban Dare would have a slight edge. Although, registration for Challenge Nation is more affordable. Both races are a lot of fun and a great way to break up your normal race-for-a-PR schedule. It’s nice to rely on your brain every once in awhile before you rely on the speed in your legs!

Interested in the Challenge Nation? Find out here if there’s an upcoming race near you!

Live in or near Orlando? Enter Paula & Michelle’s giveaway by midnight tonight (10/23) for a free entry to the race on October 27th!

The F- Word

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Yesterday marked the beginning of a new season. If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter for 30 seconds lately, there isn’t a doubt in my mind you’ve heard this particular season was just around the corner. Those dreaded PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, for those who wisely avoid Starbucks) mentions, UGG boot sightings, and chatter about crisp, cool mornings. All things reminiscent of that F- word, otherwise known as…

Fall.

Since it’s only mid-September, the southern half of the US still has no idea what it’s like to wear long-sleeves or have the desire to go apple picking. I mean, my damn A/C has the electric bill jacked up over $200 and as much as I love seeing Sam Adams Octoberfest in the grocery store, I can’t justify drinking it while sweating. As far as the South is concerned, it’s still summer.

But you see, yesterday while walking out of the garage I felt a breeze cooler than 80 degrees. Hard to believe, but it was even cooler than 70.

Austin Weather

We’ve been hitting the pavement at 4am during the week and the lowest I’ve seen was 75 (and that was with 90% humidity) so this was basically a gift from heaven that didn’t require an absurdly early wakeup call.

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The dogs have been running every mile with us and yesterday the plan was to tackle 5 miles with a double out-and-back, which allowed for a swim break at the halfway point. Probably not 100% necessary since the weather was gorgeous but Bo (who hasn’t run 5 miles in 3+ years) definitely picked up the pace on the back half of the run.

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It was a quiet morning and the miles were easy. Sox’s head was on a constant swivel since she had never been on the trail before and had to see EVERYTHING, so keeping her focused was interesting. Running in a straight line apparently isn’t something she’s interested in learning quite yet.

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Once our miles were done, we spent an hour at Auditorium Shores so the dogs could play and swim a little. Well, Bo did most of the swimming. Sox paced up and down the shoreline a couple hundred times trying to decide if she wanted to get her feet wet. And then…

“Hey Bo … come closer. I want to play.”

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“Closer. You’re still too far away.”

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“Fine, I’ll come to you.”

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“Oh SHIT, I’m going to die!”

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“How do I swim?! I’m going to die.”

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“I hate you guys. I can’t believe you just sat there and took pictures.”

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Needless to say, she didn’t spend a lot of time in the water after that.

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Sunday morning got me pretty pumped for fall, but my hopes and dreams were crushed when I saw this week’s forecast:

September Austin Weather

Rude. Just rude.

Welp, that brief glimpse was glorious, but fall is still a mythical creature I’m waiting to encounter. And hopefully sooner than later.

That damn F- word.

IBM Uptown Classic & Luke’s Locker Presents: Runner’s Happy Hour

My favorite 10K of the year, the IBM Uptown Classic, is just three short weeks away. This Wednesday Luke’s Locker will be holding a Runner’s Happy Hour and all are welcome!

Luke's Locker

There’s a 5K Fun Run at 6pm, followed by a performance from Leopold and His Fiction at 6:30pm. There will be snacks provided by Rudy’s and Honest Tea, as well as awesome giveaways! (ahem, ACL passes!)

BONUS: If you wear a race shirt from a previous Uptown Classic

IBM Uptown Classic Shirt

OR register for the 2013 race on Wednesday, you’ll receive 15% off all apparel & footwear (including sale items)

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Now, who is coming with me on Wednesday night? 🙂

Let’s Get Smashed

I’m somewhat of a burger snob. You can’t be sure fast food burgers are actually beef, so I generally steer clear of those – and most fast food in general. My favorite burger joint by far is Hopdoddy. When we’re in the mood for a burger, there’s no question where we’re going. [imagine there’s a photo of the restaurant & my favorite Magic Shroom burger here. currently all of my photos are being held hostage by my phone which suffered an untimely death last week.]

Recently a Smashburger opened in North Austin and I was intrigued. Not quite in the same playing field as Hopdoddy, but it looked like a potential alternative to your regular run-of-the-mill fast food burger. So Friday night we decided to give it a shot.

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Each Smashburger has a location-specific burger and to be honest, I’m kind of disappointed with what they offered for Texas. Super boring.

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Brad and I decided to order two different burgers to split: BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar (BBQ sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar and haystack onions on an egg bun)

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and the Spicy Baja (jalapenos, guac, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo on a spicy chipotle bun)

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I thought the Baja would be my favorite, but I was wrong – it was the BBQ Bacon & Cheddar. I think the guac kind of ruined the Baja for me, which is weird because I LOVE guac but it ruined the spiciness of the burger overall. For normal people who don’t douse their meals in Sriracha: Brad said if the burger DIDN’T have the guac it definitely would have been too spicy for him. So there’s that. We both ordered Smashfries (tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic) and they’re a must-have. Don’t think, just order.

Overall the burgers were pretty good. I liked the large variety of burgers and option to build your own. They weren’t as greasy as fast food burgers, which is a big plus. But I didn’t think the patty itself was super flavorful and it almost seemed a little dry, probably due to the burger being “smashed”.

We might come back again if we’re in the mood for something different, but Hopdoddy is still the big winner in my book.

2013 Austin 10/20 Race Recap

On April 14, 2013, I ran the second annual Austin 10/20, a ten-mile race in North Austin featuring twenty live bands along the course.

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I crossed the starting line with a bum arch, low performance expectations, and a killer playlist. The race was only a few weeks before the Long Branch Half so I needed to get in 10 miles, but this definitely violated my “quality over quantity” racing rule I put in place for 2013. Oops.

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Weather: 61 degrees and 90% humidity (apparently Garmin Connect logs the weather now?) The humidity was surprisingly bearable despite how high it was but once the sun came out later in the race it felt a bit warm.

Course: The course was very similar (if not identical) to last year’s, although I don’t particularly remember the out-and-back on Mopac. I’ve made it pretty obvious that out-and-backs are my least favorite so you can imagine how *pleased* I was around mile 8ish. Especially since that’s when the sun decided to come out. In any case, it’s possible I completely blacked out during the Mopac portion of the course last year.

The course is partially a combination of the IBM Uptown Classic 10K and 3M Half Marathon, starting in the Domain, running through the IBM Campus, out on the Mopac access road and finishing back in the Domain.

If you’re interested in a course tour, I uploaded all photos to a race album on my Facebook page.

One of the best things about this race is the amount of local, energetic bands spread out over the ten miles. Unlike most of the big box races I’ve done, all of the bands on the Austin 10/20 course were actually playing when you ran past them. What a novel concept.

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Candlebox played at the post-race after party. Did you know they were still together? And releasing albums? I had no idea.

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I met up with a couple friends at the finish to watch the band but we dipped out shortly after in favor of a bottomless mimosa brunch. I’m fairly certain we replenished our calories (and then some) in record time.

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Overall: Once again, the Austin 10/20 put on a fantastic race. I’m not sure how they do it, considering they’re only in their second year, but it’s quite impressive. If I had one complaint it would have to be that they ran out of wet towels on the course. It didn’t bother me this year since it was still pretty cool at that point but had it been any hotter I think runners would have missed them.

Last year I said I’d be back in 2013 for redemption. With my arch issues I wouldn’t exactly call this year redemption. Maybe there’s a shot in 2014. Third times the charm?

California friends: the 10/20 race series is coming to SoCal! The course runs through Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas. Registration is $65 and race day is February 16, 2014. Austin 1020 California

Austin 10/20 Expo

Yesterday at lunch I made the trip out to Norris Conference Center to pick up my packet for the Austin 10/20. The 3M Half Marathon expo in 2012 was held there but I still managed to get all turned around since I was coming from 360 rather than 183.

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The expo opened at 11 and I arrived shortly after that. There wasn’t much of a crowd at all which made getting in out extremely easy. Once you entered the conference center, you picked up your bib (or register, if you hadn’t already) in the room on the left.

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Then you headed across the hall to the expo, where you pick up your shirt. When I registered I went up a size to be safe, but for once a race had shirts that were true to size and it ended up being too big. The volunteer swapped sizes out for me without a problem and then hit the expo.

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The vendors were the usual suspects: SPIbelt, Spartan Race, CEP, A-Line, Marathon Charms & Gifts, and Active Sol Eyewear. Texas Running Company was there selling shoes and apparel.

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I made two loops around the room to make sure I didn’t miss anything and then headed out.

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I really liked the shirt this year. Honestly, I’m not that picky – as long as it isn’t white, I’m okay with it. They had gender-specific shirts, which is always a nice perk.

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Now I’m on a mission to update my playlist. My iPod has been loaded with the same songs since January and I’m pretty sure I’ve beat it to death. This one already landed a spot:

Completely unrelated to running, but after seeing them perform at ACMs I need to get tickets to see The Band Perry ASAP.

Keep Austin Hydrated {2013 Nuun Hood to Coast Application}

Last year when Nuun announced they were putting together teams again for Hood to Coast, I knew I had to enter. I had stalked Twitter for updates and read recaps post-race the previous year, incredibly jealous of the women chosen to run for my favorite hydration company.

My secret weapon is procrastination. Whenever I leave something to the last possible minute, I seem to get the best results. A huge case of anxiety and maybe a panic attack, but the best results nonetheless. Nuun had tweeted last year about not waiting until the last minute to submit so the app could be viewed with fresh eyes. I liked the sound of that! So I rushed to throw together my app and sent it in.

And then I wasn’t chosen. I knew I should have spent a little more time on it and turned it in last minute like the original plan.

So this year, that’s exactly what I did. I started brainstorming early, compiling a list of ideas, consulting internet friends, taking photos, doing research, driving all over Austin, and teaching myself how to use Movie Maker. The completed video is a labor of love. I spent a lot of time tweaking it, getting it exactly how I wanted and making sure my love for Nuun was properly conveyed.

On Sunday evening, just a few hours before the deadline, I uploaded the video to YouTube and clicked ‘Submit’ on my application for a chance to run Hood to Coast with Team Nuun in 2013:

 

Nuun’s 2013 Hood to Coast Team will be announced on April 17th. Wish me luck!