Category Archives: fun runs

Race Report: Cottonmouth 8 Mile Beer Relay

Hands down, this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a race. Will really doesn’t race anymore after three ankle surgeries but I wrangled him into this one because it was a relay race, involved beer and was on trails rather than roads. The basic setup was that there is a two mile trail loop and teams of 1 to 4 had an option to drink a beer before the lap then set off for a 2 minute deduction in total time. The other component was that you had to carry a full beer “baton” for the whole race. There were age graded adjustments built in as well for final results. We did the relay as a two person team; I ran legs 1 and 3 and Will ran legs 2 and 4.

The night before the race, we had the arduous task of choosing our beer. It had to be >5% ABV, it had to be beer based (meaning ciders etc were excluded) and we wanted it to be in a bottle for easy drinking and something we would likely never want to drink again in case we got sick while running. We spent an inordinate amount of time in Ingles and finally settled on New Belgium’s Watermelon Lime Ale, coming in at 5% in bottle form. Our only mistake was not making sure they were twist off tops, which meant that we had to also remember to bring a bottle opener.

We got to Travelers Rest a little before 9 on Sunday morning and had an easy, breezy check in process. The Race Director was delightful and super welcoming, which was a nice change from my last attempt to get involved in the running community here. Will and I set out to preview the course which was marked with big arrow signs and after the first downhill (which, incidentally, was super technical), encountered two arrows that went like this –> <–. Hm. We tried to backtrack from the other side of the loop and still couldn’t make it work. We finished the course preview of the second half, a loop that included a football field and old asphalt track and let the Race Director know that something was up with the first loop. When he went out to check, he found that someone had reversed 5 of his arrows overnight! After he fixed it, we went back out to preview the first half of the course and it had magically turned into a great trail loop!

From the get-go, this race was low key and fun and prerace was no exception. People were hanging out, drinking beers and playing beer pong and corn hole. I didn’t drink before because I was already concerned about my ability to drink two beers and run 4 miles. I was also worried that I’d overload on fluid so despite the fact that it was in the 80s and sunny, I didn’t let myself have water and was PARCHED. My biggest prerace concern was chugging a beer at the start. I’ve never been one to chug anything, in part because of my inability to burp, and I was worried that it would take me 2 minutes to finish my beer and erase the 2 minutes that drinking a beer erased from each lap.

Chose an appropriate singlet for the morning! Cheers!

The start went WAY better than anticipated for me. I got the bottle open without difficulty and managed to drink it in ~25 seconds. I started to run in about 15th place and jogged out of the start area. Our plan was to take the whole race at about tempo effort but try to run intelligently on the course. The first mile was all trail and had sections with very technical footing and a big climb. The second mile was much more runnable and had a football field and lap on the old track, so was a perfect place to make up some time. The first downhill was MISERABLE. I was so full and had a sloshy stomach and desperately needed to burp, which is never my strong point. Since the whole idea was to have fun, I just kept jogging until I finally mercifully burped and felt 100% better. I found my tempo effort and started passing people quickly. When we came out of the woods, I found myself in 3rd place, solidly behind first (the race director who is a beast of a trail runner and beat us by 90 seconds) and about 30 seconds behind second. As we moved onto the faster part of the loop, I worked at closing the gap to second (our main competition) and ultimately got within 15 seconds of him. I finished the first lap in 15:35 and tagged off to Will, who put his beer down much more efficiently than me.

The man, the myth, the legend with better knee drive than I could ever hope for.

Will’s first lap was a beautiful thing. I’ve never seen him race and it was really fun to watch him pick his way over the course. He’s a great trail runner and a heck of a gamer in races and it was incredibly fun to get the chance to cheer for him for a change. The runner from the other team was very, very fast and Will did his best to hang close enough to him to keep us in it. At some point in his loop, Will passed the second runner from the team who had come in first (they were a 3 person team) as well and he came into the exchange zone in second by about 20 seconds.

My second beer was not as smooth as my first but I got it down in about 30 seconds and took off again. Unfortunately, the team that we were chasing was much more proficient and he was gone from sight before I finished my beer. This time, I was able to burp almost immediately and pushed my effort to tempo effort from the get-go. Although I couldn’t see my actual competition, there were plenty of people to pass on course which made it very easy to stay focused. Unfortunately, the second lap was MUCH warmer than the first. When we were in the woods, it wasn’t too bad but when we came out into the full sun, woooooweeee it was hot. I worked hard to not give up on the track and through the final field and was happy yet again to find that I had the fitness to start in tempo/interval effort in the final part of the race. I came into the exchange zone in a solid second but quite a ways down from the first team. My lap time was 15:45, which I was happy with now that I had two beers sloshing around.

Will took off after another great beer exchange and I jogged to the corner at the end of the woods loop to await him. The runner for the first team is clearly a trail guy; he hammered the first half of the course and put a lot of distance on Will. When they hit the flats, however, Will started to close the gap again. They ultimately beat us handily but I think Will and I were both super happy with our efforts!

The final rule was that at the finish line, you had to shake up the full beer that had been your baton the whole time and crack it open and spray. I’ve rarely seen Will smile so easily as he did when the finish line official made him do it! I had to duck and run to avoid a full spray of warm, shaken Budweiser.

Good thing we brought a change of clothes!

All in all, it was an awesome experience for us and a decent workout to boot. After the race, we hung around for almost two hours and ate pizza and met lots of runners from the Greenville running community. I connected with a runner (incidentally the guy who ran my leg from the team who beat us) who works at Pace Running, which is a local running store in Travelers Rest that exclusively carries Skechers so it was fun to talk shop a bit. It was such a nice contrast from my first experience to feel welcome and included just by virtue of showing up.

From a race perspective, I’m just so grateful to continue forward progress. My laps were very close in time and our team average pace was 7:45, so my 7:47 and 7:52 didn’t hold us back too badly! Given that my mile pace for the Asheville half was 7:20, I feel very good about this performance on trails, in the hot sun post-beers!

My favorite part of the day, however, was getting to see Will in race mode. We met after his first ankle surgery when he was already in the long, long recovery process and he hasn’t raced much since then. He did one 5K as part of the VCM relay and paced another for one of my athletes but otherwise just runs for fun. Without putting too much of him on the blog without his permission, I’ve always thought that he was nervous about racing again because it might fall short of his prior performances. I think Sunday was a great step for him to realize that you can reinvent yourself and race for fun and still be a “runner.”

Week in Review 9.14.15 to 9.20.15

Monday: 7.2 miles of recovery plus 6 striders on the grass. Hip work afterward.

Tuesday: 6 by 1K repeats (3:40, 3:44, 3:45, 3:45, 3:44, 3:45). Legs totally dead and a super frustrating workout. Leg lift afterward.

Wednesday: 7.1 mile recovery run. Lifted arms.

Thursday am: 13.1 miles with 2 by 2 at Tempo Pace. Was supposed to do 3 by 2 miles but when I went to start the third, I almost couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. Essentially jogged home.

Thursday pm: 3 miles warming up with Erin before her 3K.

Friday: Scheduled Off Day. 7 miles prorated. Lots of activity setting up our school fun run.

Saturday am: 5 miles plus 6 striders bright and early.

Saturday day: 5 miles of running plus 3 miles of coursewalking at the Invitational. Legs cooked at bedtime. Girls had an epic day with JV winning and Varsity in third.

Just want to bottle this happiness!

Just want to bottle this happiness!

Sunday: Downtown 10K in 38:33, a 5 second PR and the win! Much more in my race write up but a perfect example of why going out with caution and racing smart always pays off. In this case, literally, with a $125 prize.

A little stunned at the finish.

A little stunned at the finish.

Total Miles: 67.4

Before this morning, this week was one of the most stressful in all of my running life. I don’t totally understand what’s going on with my running and it’s so frustrating to feel like I’m doing all of the right things and having nothing really work out. Finally made a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow morning to get my iron levels checked, among a few other things, and will see a sports dietitian on Thursday to see what suggestions she has. Having a good race today is a huge mental help, however, as I felt like the first 4 miles were extremely easy and that changing gears wasn’t that difficult.

2nd Annual MMU Cougar Chase 5K

Men setting off after 3 long minutes!

Men setting off after 3 long minutes!

One of the great parts of a cross country race is that it’s unlike any other course and instead of focusing on matching your road 5K PR, you can just let go and try to run the best race you can with the conditions of the day. In hosting the Cougar Chase, the hope is that we can share a bit of the magic of cross country while doing our annual team fundraiser. We set it up as a chase with women heading out 3 minutes ahead of the men to try to set up great sprints to the finish and stoke some inter-team competitiveness.

Last year’s top woman was Kate Leugers in 19:54, holding off Derrek Schulz in 17:10 (20:10 clock time).

Great battles in history: Nolan versus Swaney!

Great battles in history: Nolan versus Swaney!

This year, the prizes are shaping up to be AMAZING, with a pair of shoes for the top three finishers (male or female, whoever gets to the line first). Huge thanks to Skechers, Fleet Feet and SkiRack for the donations so far!

If you’re local, the race is July 18th at 8:30 and 8:33 am at Mills Riverside Park in Jericho. Entry fee is $10 and all proceeds benefit MMU Cross Country. We are in desperate need of new uniforms this year and will be using our funds for that!

Online Entry or Day-Of Entry from 7:15 am to 8:00 am.

Facebook Event

Facebook Page


Race Report: GMAA Mini Meet 3K

GMAA started hosting these mini-meets last year and I never managed to get to one so I made a pact to try to make all of them this year both to work on my speed and to get a chance to keep working on my pre-race nerves. I went into this race hoping to run around 11 minutes for the 3K. However, 20 mile per hour winds from the Southwest and 80 degree temperatures decided that none of us were moving that fast. I even had a moment while rounding the first curve where a gust knocked me off balance and I stutter-stepped not to fall over the rail.

Having never raced a 3K and been away from any kind of track race for 15 years, I barely remembered how to do it. I ended up not wearing spikes because they hurt my feet on the warmup so found myself on the 200 line in my trainers, surrounded by men. Literally. There was one other woman in the race. Kasie yelled go and we were off. The lead pack of men shot off and I was left by myself to work through the 7 1/2 laps. I kept my eyes on the guy in red ahead of me and just tried to focus through the first half of the race.

The first 1000 passed without much drama and by the beginning of the third lap, I’d closed the gap on red shirt. When I went to go around him, he fought a bit so I jumped behind him instead since we had plenty of the race left. After sitting on him for about 600 meters, he started to fade and I passed with confidence. With two laps to go, I focused on keeping my form together and tried to pick it up. At the bell lap, things got a little crowded as Eli and Binney were finishing while I was lapping a runner. I ended up squeaking through on the rail but put my elbow out so I wouldn’t get stepped on. Sorry Pascal! The last lap was hard but I still felt like my form held together. I crossed in 11:20, a little frustrated with the time but happy with the effort.

All in all, a fun way to get a hard effort in. I can’t wait for the next meet in July! Thanks to GMAA for a great idea.

When was the last time you raced on the track?

Race Report: Craft Brew 5K Stowe 2015

Short Version: It was hot and I ran just fast enough to call it a workout and win a stein.

Long Version

Mike asked me to run this race earlier in the week as part of the brewery team for Frost Brew Works, where he moonlights when he’s not running the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Races are always a great way to get a good effort in and there’s little I like more than a beer festival, so I happily signed up. I did not anticipate quite as much heat and humidity as we encountered with a noon start time, however.

We didn't realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We didn’t realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We arrived a little after 11 and managed to get the second to last reasonable parking space. Seth and I found our way to the crazy registration line then did our warmup, a bit of a misnomer since we were overheated already. My legs felt horrible on the warmup but I wasn’t expecting much at 86 degrees and 98% humidity plus a week of nights. The race start was a little delayed because they were having some parking issues (1 road in created a problem) but the organizers did a good job of communicating and we were off a little after noon.

And we're off...

And we’re off…

I had no goals for the day except to get a workout effort in and win the giant Stein if I could, while helping my team to a team win. I planned to go out in no faster than 6:20 for the first mile and in hindsight, I wish I’d stuck to that plan. Much like the Champlain Classic, I looked down a bit into the race and saw 5:40 something and had to put the brakes on. I went through the mile in 6:11, which felt totally fine at the time, but was probably the nail in my coffin.

Mile 2 was BAKING hot. We turned onto the bike path at some point and I distinctly remember thinking they’d moved the marker because it seemed so long. Other people started to come back to me during this mile, which was the only consolation. Somewhere in this mile, I stopped checking my watch because it was just so depressing. I resolved to focus on good form and tempo effort and just grind it out. My watch beeped long after the marker at 6:32.

By the third mile, I just wanted to be done. We were on the uphill section of the bikepath, there was no respite from the sun and to make things more miserable, someone was blowing dust to clean out a parking lot, creating a chokingly horrible few meters. Mile 3 was 6:51.

We finally turned onto the final stretch and I just did my best to keep it together to finish, which was about 6:12 pace. 20:30 has to be one of my slowest 5Ks ever, but when I looked around at the other finishers, it was clear that everyone had a similarly exhausting experience. After a few seconds of kneeling and taking an assessment of just how overheated I was, I found Mike, Seth and Will and we headed out on the cooldown. By the end of the cooldown (and 3 full water bottles of Nuun later), I was feeling back to my springy self and much better about the run.

I was first woman overall, but not by nearly as much as I thought, so I’m happy that I didn’t phone it in more than I did! We also won Biggest Team and Fastest Team, which meant that there were plenty of steins to go around.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

Am I thrilled with this race? No. Am I worrying about it? Not one bit. It was hot and miserable and I just plugged along and got it done. I felt amazing by Saturday afternoon and ready to attack another week of training.

A note on the race series: Craft Brew Races is a relatively new race series that brilliantly pairs running and a brewfest in a reasonably priced ($55) package. I don’t usually do events like this because they are chaotic and not generally aimed at creating a good race environment but I was really pleasantly surprised with this production and am guessing that the creators are actually runners first. The course was well thought out (great loop), well marked and had professional timing, which meant that results were accurate and fast. The brewfest was great too; unlimited samples, which meant that you could dump out beers that you just didn’t like and a reasonable sized crowd so you weren’t waiting forever in line. They had a nice combination of local breweries (including some that we had never even heard of) and some better known breweries from Vermont and New England. I didn’t sample any of the food trucks but there were plenty of those too. Two thumbs up from me!


Stunt Runner Leash Giveaway!

One of the best parts about owning pitbull mixes is that they are GREAT running buddies. Tinker is on the injured reserve right now courtesy of a heart problem, but Watson runs about 30 miles a week with us and is gearing up for his very first 5K race in early June. Running is simple but the piece of gear that has made all the difference for us is the Stunt Runner leash by Stunt Puppy. It allows us to run hands free with Watson which leads to safer runs with way better form than you get when you try to hold a leash. We tell everyone about it and now Seth and Rosie run with a black version and our upstairs neighbor borrowed ours until hers arrived.

Will and Watson headed out for a run.

Will and Watson headed out for a run.

From my perspective, four things set the Stunt Runner apart from a regular leash. First, the bungie material means that the leash doesn’t trip either of you if one or both parties change speed. Second, the traffic control loop lets you keep your dog safe and under control during crowded sections of your run. Third, if you have places where your dog can go off leash, the Stunt Runner clips back on itself so you can run comfortably while your dog explores. Finally, the leash wraps around your waist securely, which is a much stronger body part to brace with should your favorite running buddy see a squirrel or equally enticing creature.

As such, I’m SO excited to host a giveaway for you to win your very own Stunt Runner. This is perfect for any sized dog and for running, hiking or even traversing the Farmer’s Market. There are multiple ways to enter via the Rafflecopter widget. If by some chance the giveaway software below doesn’t work, the ways to enter are:

1. Comment on this post between now and Tuesday night (6/10) at midnight and tell me a story about your favorite furry running buddy.

2. Follow me on Twitter @runswatrun and send a tweet to let me know you did.

3. Follow this blog

4. Send a picture of your furry friend either by sharing it on Instagram or Twitter and tagging me.

Stunt Runner Giveaway

An almost exact replica of the leash prize!

The Stunt Runner leash for this giveaway was provided to me for free by Stunt Puppy. The original leash that we use every day was purchased by us and all opinions are my own. The giveaway goes from 6/6/14 to 6/10/14 at midnight. All entries will be numbered and a winning number will be selected using

Sunday Runday

An amazing thing happened yesterday! I managed 6 whole miles with Joey in the middle of her 16 miler. It felt great to record something that feels like a real run in my training log. My ankle was creaky for the first mile but felt great once I got going. Today, I got out for an easy 3. The hardest part now is holding myself back. Once I get warm, I want to be doing 6 miles, not 3. All in good time.

Watson also had a good weekend and got a new running harness! He does about 30 miles a week and needed something to prevent pulling on his neck when we miscommunicate or miss his ask to stop to go to the bathroom. Next up, teaching Tinker to run…


The Bride Wore…Nikes?

I started my wedding day the way I start most days: with a run. We had planned a Wedding Day 5K, which was a blast, but before that even happened, I went out for my own five mile run to get some quiet time before a crazy day and was glad I did.

Then we had the Wedding Day 5K at Catamount, which had a great turnout. I didn’t quite prepare my friends for the technical nature of the course but it didn’t deter them. Emmy even ran the course in a cocktail dress.

Happy Almost-Married Mannings

For the ceremony and the reception, the boys wore flats and even I got in on the fun, rocking my pink and white waffle racers for much of the night. We ended up needing the footing, as we had quite the walk down to the altar.

Fresh Groomsmen Flats

Bridal Flats (my something old)

Even our cake topper got into the fun, with uniforms in our wedding colors. I especially like Will’s headband.

Will’s shorts are TOO long

We made it!

Brain Freezer Pictures, Finally!

Remember when I ran that disgusting 5K last summer and found out just how fast I could run a 5K that included eating a pint of ice cream in the middle? Pictures are finally available! To make it even better, I am somehow the cover photo for the race Facebook page. It’s hard being famous…

Pint of Ice Cream

I was still under the impression that a spoon would be efficient…

Ice Cream Done

Epic action shot. It took me at least 30 seconds to swallow that last bit…

Brain Freezer 5K Race Report

I’ve been waiting for pictures because what’s a 5K that includes me eating a pint of ice cream with my bare hands without pictures? They are being slow on the upload, however, so I’ll write the race report instead.

Saturday morning was humid, reminiscent of my years in North Carolina, elephant on your chest humid. I ran a few miles to warm up (and make room) and was drenched enough to have to change my shirt before the start. Because it was the inaugural year, the start was about 15 minutes late and my warm-up didn’t exactly match up with the start time but I opted not to worry, since it was just a mile and a half before the break.

The course was interesting; the start screamed down Battery Hill, then back up Maple. The other issue was that the course wasn’t closed to cars or marked, leading to some interesting tangents and none of the leaders running exactly the same course. I opted to run the same course as the girl right ahead of me and we both escaped unscathed save for a traffic light in the second half of the race.

The start was absurd. A big group of runners lined up at the front despite not being likely front runners, leading to some unexpected hurdling and dodging. I managed to avoid a collision or fall as we jumped up curbs and stairs and barreled down Battery Street. Climbing Maple Street, I was reminded once again how insane a climb that road is. I focused on a hard, but controlled pace and reached the ice cream stop in a little over 9 minutes.

I intended to bring my own spoon, but we were assured that wooden spoons would be provided, so I arrived barehanded (well, with gloves on because of my Raynaud’s) and grabbed Cherry Garcia. Upon perusing the flavors, Cherry Garcia seems to have the fewest sharp edges to jam down or up as the case might have been. I attempted to use the plastic spoon but gave up after two tries as it was fruitless. Looking around, I realized that everyone else was ripping open the sides of their pints and using their bare hands, so I joined in. I was literally knuckle deep in ice cream and just shoving it into my face. At some point, I realized that a friend was video taping us and growled at her, “if this ends up on Facebook…” Somehow I managed to eat my pint in 3 minutes and 45 seconds and take off just after the first female.

Initially I didn’t feel too bad, although I was sticky and disgusting. I ran by a friend who was policing an intersection and all he could say was, “Waterman, you look disgusting.” I’m sure I did. From there, I spent most of my energy figuring out the course and closing in on the lead female. By the time we reached Battery Park again, I had contact but a kick seemed like a guaranteed ticket to vomiting, so I swallowed my pride and let her beat me by 4 seconds. I came in at 23:55.

It was fun to do something out of the ordinary and still get a workout in, but I don’t see myself signing up for the event again. I felt too awful for too many days after, even for charity.┬áMy next fun event is the Pirate 5K next weekend, where I’ll don an eye patch and a temporary tattoo and race around the waterfront. And yes, I’ll share pictures from the ice cream adventure when they become available.