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Mar 31, 2014

Bayshore Marathon training week 10 summary

My running bud, Kevin, strong at about 19 miles at Bayshore in 2013
Well, it was a fairly big struggle for me this week.  My hamstring was giving me issues so I ended up taking off an extra day of running but I only missed 4 miles - no big deal.  I also missed a couple weights workout as well.  The only reason I missed this?  I fell on Monday about a mile into my long run.  It hurt me more than I thought.  I should have just run home but instead I finished my run on Monday and it threw me off the entire week.  The three days of yoga sure helped and not running three days in a row also helped since I rarely take off this much time.  It's amazing what one fall can do to you.

Monday - 8.02 - fell a mile into my run.  It was worse than I though and killed me the rest of the week.

Tuesday - 4.32 - slow run recovery

Wednesday - 8.01 - can't believe I even got this one done.  My hamstring started bothering me so it meant rest for the remaining week except for my half marathon.

Thursday - yoga

Friday - yoga

Saturday - yoga

Sunday - Ann Arbor Half Marathon - had a decent race considering I was not 100% but kept it under 2 hours and my streak for all road half marathons under 2 hours.

Hope your training is going well and better than my week this past week.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 29, 2014

Up next..first half of the year

My first half marathon for 2014 and half marathon #21 is tomorrow.  It's the Ann Arbor Half marathon.  I'm excited to run it even though I'll keep it as a training run only.  If you read my review in 2012, I said I'd never run it again unless they changed the course.  They did!  It's a vast improvement over the old course and I'm looking forward to trying it.  Due to our wonderful weather, there's ice on the best part of the course so I'm going to miss this but still happy to be running it.
Starts next to the big house
Ran with the Renewal by Andersen team in 2012

I'll give a full race review next week on the race.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 28, 2014

Kona Run Registration is open....

Go register now!  I'll be there for my fifth year in a row!  Race #2 in the Kona Grand Slam series.  This is a really fun and challenging 10 miler.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 27, 2014

Pearl Izumi Flash Shorts Giveaway Winner!!!!!

On March 13th I did a giveaway for a pair of new Pearl Izumi Flash Shorts.  Sorry but I was supposed to announce the winner on Monday but completely forgot!!!!

The winner of the shorts is..............

Jen R - she got the Alter Ego running name of "Jogga the Hut"  LOL!  Awesome and congratulations!!!!!

Jen, please e-mail me your contact information(Name/address/email) and I'll get your information to Outside PR to hook you up with a free pair of shorts.  Looks like the weather is going to start breaking finally and you'll be able to get some good use out of them soon!

Thanks goes to Pearl Izumi and Outside PR for sponsoring this great giveaway!

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 3/26/14

I will earn my first belt buckle for my 50k in October - sweet!
Have a great day and...Keep Running!!!!

Mar 25, 2014

Enso Muscle Roller Review

Enso Roller
About a month ago I received the Enso Muscle roller by Evofit for review.  Some of you probably use a foam roller of some type for your muscles.  If not, it basically gives you a massage by using the weight of your body to loosen your muscles.  I always think of the white foam roller that I started using when I started running and had IT Band issues.  This is on the other side of the spectrum of rollers.  This thing is a beast and it's fully customizable to what your needs are.  It's one of the most unique and innovative running products I've reviewed here and I was so excited to try it out and review it here for you.

For me, I've been foam rolling religiously for the past three years ever since I had my IT Band issue.  I can tell you that, for me, using a roller is something that had been imperative to keeping me healthy and keeping me running.  I don't need to be convinced that rolling makes me a healthier runner.

While you can purchase a cheap white foam roller, you are wasting your money if this is something that you plan to do for the long term.  Yes, it's not something everyone enjoys doing because frankly, it can really hurt using one of these if you are not used to it but it's worth it.  Sometimes while using other rollers, I could not seem to get enough pressure on the muscle - until I used the Enso.

Here's what it comes with:
Directions to configure it
Unlike most rollers, you do need instructions, at least when you first get it, so you know how to configure it for what you are using this for.  It targets a particular muscle - very unique to foam rollers.
A 13" aluminum tube and 4-5"discs and 4-4.5" discs
Below you can see the quality of the discs and the tube.  It's made to not break down as you use it.
High quality
Also the discs have a little notch in them to keep them in place in the grooves.  Just place the disc so it matches up with the grooves in the tube and it locks into place.

Of course, you can configure this anyway that you want to fit your needs but the instructions give you ideas of how to roll with it.  Here are several of the configurations that you can put it into that I used.
Hip, legs, back, calves(super aggressive)
As you can see above, you can configure them how you like.  The first one in the top left corner is for your hip.  I have had soreness in my hips in the past and while a regular foam roller works somewhat, what is unique about this is that you can move the discs out so that when you roll, you are rolling past the hip because it leaves room so you don't hit the hip bone - genius!!!  This is hands down my favorite configuration of the Enso and the only roller I know that can do this.  Obviously, this is one of the huge differences from a regular roller.  It really takes rolling to an entirely different experience.  I've been able to loosen up muscles in areas that I just cannot do with a regular foam roller.

Don't get me wrong, the pain(good pain) is still there but it targets the particular muscles you want to roll.  I will warn you that if you are not used to a harder foam roller, be careful as you use this as it takes some getting used to.  For example, the super aggressive calves position, in the bottom right corner creates lots of pressure on the calves since you are putting it again hard aluminum but it works very well.

I'm probably on the extreme for foam rolling.  I roll before I run and after I run and I also roll each evening as well.  This has made an incredible difference in my running and keeping healthy.  For those considering foam rolling, you can be confident that this is one of the best rollers out there in the market.  I know because I've use five different brands and styles. 

Given the superior product, it does come with a price($89.00 on their website or $69.00 for a travel version).  Yes, I know it sounds very expensive but, in my opinion, it can be justified several ways.  First, if you were to get regular massages, one or two massages can add up to the cost of this product that you are going to have for years.  Secondly, unlike many rollers, this one will not break down.  The white foam roller will only last a couple months if you use it like I do, and at $20 each, you would go through at least four in a year.  This is something you can buy and will not need to replace.  Last, it will help keep you healthy.  It will keep you running and it's hard to put a price on that but I would gladly part with the money to keep me out there running without being hurt.

Interested in learning more?

Go to the Evofit website.

"Like" their Facebook page

"Follow" them on Twitter

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary Enso Muscle Roller by EvoFit in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a particular opinion other than an honest one.

Mar 24, 2014

Bayshore Marathon training week 8 summary

Clint Verran at 2013 Bayshore - I spectated last year - he won the half
Another strong week for me even though my miles were a little less this week.  I'm feeling pretty good overall.  The weather overall, while cold for this time of year, has been without snow or rain(at least when I ran).  I've also been listening to the RockmyRun mix that we got for free from #runchat one week.  It's actually a very good mix and really keeps you humming along.  My paces for all mid week runs have been faster because of it - not necessarily always a good thing but at least it shows me I still have a little speed left in me.

We slowed it down on Saturday and went for a nice slow long run with a pace around 9:57/mile.  Because I have no real time goal, this has been working out really well for me as I'm not finishing the week feeling exhausted and overtrained.  I'm really excited to see how this approach works for Bayshore.

Monday - Run 4.27 miles at 8:24 average pace; yoga

Tuesday - Run 5.17 miles at 8:30 average pace; weights

Wednesday - Run 5.01 miles 8:14 average pace; yoga

Thursday - Run 4.38 miles at 8:23 average pace

Friday -Weights

Saturday - Run 17.25 miles at 9:57 average pace

Sunday - Yoga

Also this week, I signed up for my first 50k race called the Oil Creek 50k in PA.  It will notch off another State(even though I don't have that goal) and I'm really looking forward to it.  Well as far as anyone can look forward to running 31 miles I guess.  LOL!

Hope your training is going well.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 22, 2014

Taking the next step......

Who would have guessed that after almost five years of changing my lifestyle that I would have done the things I've done.  I'm training for marathon #6 and #7 right now which I thought was crazy enough.

Apparently not.  I just signed up for my next adventure in running.  I'm moving to the dark side.  Yes, I've signed up for my first Ultramarathon.  Well, ok, it's "just" a 50k but it's a nasty hard one with 5,459 feet of elevation gain.  I'm pretty sure that means I might need to train on some hills this summer.

The race I signed up for is the Oil Creek 50k in Titusville, PA.  Its about 2 hours North of Pittsburgh on an incredible trail in Oil country at the Oil Creek State Park.  Here's a look at the map:
50k - one loop
It's funny because I'm not the only crazy one.  I'm running it with my running buddies, Kevin and Dave.  Also, the 50k is the SHORTEST distance.  There will be runners there running a 100k and 100 miler too.  It's sold out in about 3 minutes!!!!!!

It's taken me a long time to get my mind over running this distance.  Wouldn't you know that I happen to go with a pretty tough one.  I have Dave and Kevin to thank for that.

I'm sure I'll talk more about it as I start my training but I'm pretty excited.  Actually I'm freaking out.  That's over 31 miles of running.  Yikes!

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 20, 2014

What I look for before signing up for a race.....

One of my favorite organizations is Kona Running Company
It seems that every time I do a race review for a well planned, fantastic race(cough cough Kona), I'm asked if I work for the company.  Just so everyone is clear on this, I'm just a regular runner who has a regular job and loves talking and blogging about running.  I've done a ton of race reviews over the last few years(48 to be exact), and some I've received complimentary entries and most others I've paid for.  If I received it free, it's disclosed on my review.  The races I've run have been put on by numerous race management companies(21 different companies last year alone), and for the most part, the overall reviews are very positive.  I've also run several races that were just plain bad.

I don't do this for money(in fact, I don't earn anything on the blog except for the occasional race entry and products for review).  I do it for the love of the sport.   I do it so races will improve because frankly, if someone does not tell them how we feel, how are they, as race organizers, supposed to know they need to improve?  So given this, I thought I'd give you my thoughts on what I look for when committing my money and registering for a race.  There are literally hundreds of races alone just in Michigan.  I think you will find that many of the things I want in a race are probably similar to many things that you also look for.  So with that, here's my list:
  • Good organization - there is nothing worse than going to a race and not know what's going on.  I think that most races these days have figured it out but to start - you need a race website that gives you information on the race.  It's not expensive and it's worth it.  I want to see every detail from registration, packet pickup, course maps, what's included, times, cost, charities, entertainment, etc.  I also look on Run Michigan for Michigan races, an excellent resource, and think if race directors are going to put their race on there, give us all the information.  Why not make it easy to find?  It's one of the main reasons I think Kona Running Company is the best at what they do - excellent organization with all aspects of racing.  I'm picky - many runners are - Kona does it right.
  • Communication - I know some of you do not like constant contact from races but I love seeing it.  Emails coming from the race company or race director is a sign of a company that wants to make sure runners are informed.  Things sometimes change over the course of race planning and updates to runners are excellent things to see.  This is where many problems can come up from the lack of communication.  Good communication is the sign of a good race company.
  • Registration - the race should offer electronic registration as well as mail in.  Frankly, I don't mind paying a few dollars to register online.  It's needs to be reasonable - I'm not paying $10 to register which I've seen for some big race outfits but there is a cost so I expect to pay a fee. 
Longest drive - Flying Pig Marathon Cincy
  • Location - I'm probably less particular on this than most since I tend to drive a distance for races.  I will say that I typically drive within an hour for a 5k or 10k. The longer the race, the longer I will drive.  I've driven over two hours for a half marathon and so far I've drive about 5 hours with an overnight stay for a full marathon.  It's really fun to get away for a race weekend especially for a half or full marathon. 
2014 Bayshore Marathon - out and back
  • Course - this one I'm pretty particular about.  I don't like double loop courses so it would be rare for me to run a 10k, for example, that is a 5k double loop.  Even for the marathon or ultra distance, I'm not interested in loops.  I know it makes it easier for the race and also for the runners too but it drains me mentally.  I do love a one loop race and even an out and back is good too.  I also look for races without long straight shots.  A few turns here and there are great.  I don't like to be able to see miles out ahead of me.  I also love running trails and am doing several this year. 
Justin from RUNdetroit - knows what runners want for races as well as running gear!
  • Race company - I look for a company that has experience but it's not always necessary that they have race experience.  Of course, race management experience is a plus but I also look who is putting it on so if the group has runners organizing the race or a local running store is putting it on, I like to see that because they typically know what runners like.  A good example of this is RUNdetroit doing the Mustache Dache.  They're runners and know exactly what we want.
  • Race company continued - I also like it when race directors plan for the number of runners.  I don't like to see it when people don't get their medal or shirt.  Some races keep selling, selling and selling knowing they are going to run out of medals or shirts.  To me it's a sign of poor management and it's not just for-profit companies but ones that work for charities too.  There's ways to manage the process so people that register for a race early enough get their race shirt and get their medal.  Yes most race companies will make good after the race but to me it just leaves a bad taste for the race.  I did a race once where I didn't receive my shirt until five months after the race -- and I registered almost a year ahead!  I can tell you exactly how many times I've worn the shirt.  That's just not right and I have not been back.
  • Race company continued #3(are we seeing a theme here?) - I like when race companies listen to their clients and read my reviews.  Just as any business, if you listen to what your clients want and improve, the race will grow.   I'm surprised that some race directors don't listen.  Don't get me wrong on this point, they can't please everyone(us runners are spoiled) but if a mistake is made and they improve it the following year, I'm happy with that.  Make the same mistake twice or more and I'm not likely to run the race again.  I also love when race directors are proactive in telling runners how they will improve.  Once again, communications is key
Inaugural race but put on by an experienced management company
  • How many years has the race been going? - typically I'm not one to run the inaugural race unless I know the race management company or have run another race they have put on.  For example, I'm running the Thirsty Three Series by Running Fit this year.  All three races in that series are inaugural races but because I've run some of their other races, I know I can expect a quality race.  They have stepped it up this year!
Kona St. Patrick's Day Run 10k course certification
  • Certified course - while it's not a necessity, it's nice to see the race company take the time and money to certify the course.  It's a promise it will be at least the distance advertised.  In addition, it gives me confidence that the company is thinking long term since this is a cost and effort some races are not willing to go through.  One exception is trail races since it's extremely difficult to certify a trail race.  Sometimes they come up short and sometimes long and it's just the way it is for trail racing so I'm much more relaxed.
  • Timed race - I want to know my time and my place against other runners.  With only an exception or two, I've run timed races for all my races.  What I don't like is when races say "it's a fun run" yet they are timing the race and you have got elite runners racing at the front of the pack.  If there is timing, then it's a race, and I really hate it when management uses excuses for why you should not expect a PR because of a large crowd.  If it's that large of race, then the race needs to have seeded paces for organization(if it's going to be timed).  At the very least, I try to line up closer to the start than I might normally especially in a race where many are not regular runners and just don't know the etiquette. 
  • Aid stations - I'm not really that concerned for aid stations for myself unless it's a marathon distance although I do look for them when doing my race reviews.  Typically I don't stop for a 5k.  I might stop once for a 10k if I don't bring water and I might stop to refill once during a 10 miler or half and a few times for a full marathon.
  • Start time - it's a pet peeve of mine but when a race says they start at 8am, I want it to start at 8am.  Unless there is a medical issue, I don't see a reason to start late but I don't let it ruin my race if they do start late.  Perhaps as I've done more races, I've relaxed on this a bit. 
Panera Bagels at the Kona Run in June - love that at the end of their races!
  • Finish line food - As a finisher in that top half, I usually don't have to worry about food running out but I hate it when I see races that run out.  I expect the last runner to get exactly what the first runner gets even if I got my food.  It's another sign of good race management.  It's also a pet peeve of mine when I see front runners take more than their share.  So rude!
I'm a race bling junkie!
  • Bling - I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I love race bling!  While I won't not sign up for a races if they don't offer a medal, it is an enticing feature.   Of course, the king of bling, at least in my area, has been Kona Running Company.  Sure, their races are slightly higher than other races but there's a reason for that - it's not only an excellent race overall but THEY. OFFER. GREAT. BLING.  Some of their medals are marathon size metals for a 10k and they are not cheap.   I like a race that offers a shirt, medal and even some other items.  I've received socks, gloves and hats as other bling which is nice for a chance.   I also don't mind getting a cotton shirt(as long as it's not just white) once in awhile since I have so many tech shirts.   I don't mind paying more if I get more and you always get more with Kona.
Mustaches, running and beer = fun race!
  • Themes - I do like when the race has a fun theme to it.  No I'm not talking about fun runs like the color runs or foam run.  Those do not interest me at all.  What I mean is the theme of the race.  One example is the Kona run in June.  It's Hawaiian themed and it's so much fun at the finish.  In fact, it will be my fifth year running it and I'm excited to be back again.  Another example is the Mustache Dache.  What fun to grow a mustache and run a race - it was one of the most fun I had at a race in 2013 and I can't wait to sign up again.   I'm also looking forward to the Hightail to Ale 5k which is beer themed.  Running and beer is two thumbs up for me. 
  • Size - this is one that I'm not really particular on.  I've run races with 30 people and others with 25,000 people.  If I had to choose, I think the mid size races work well.  While I want to run the NYC marathon one day, the thought of all the logistics that I have to go through to get to the start line gives me stomach acid.  I'd rather show up 45 minutes before the race and get in line to run 10 minutes before the start.  It's seems the best size to me is from 500 to 5,000 runners.  When you start to get into the tens of thousands, it just becomes a pain.  It's part of the reason I really enjoy trail races like Back to the Beach half at Stony Creek since you can't put thousands of people out on the course.
  • Weather - this is one that many of you really worry about.  Ok I must admit that I enjoy running when it's 50s and sunny just like the next person but I race all year.  It does not bother me.  I'll run in anything.  I probably worry more about having a safe drive to the race versus how the course will be.  If it rains, it rains(although please don't rain on marathon day).  I train through it so I can race through it. Lol
  • Cost - notice this one is last on my list.  I watch my money like everyone else and I run a lot of races.  I don't really have a particular racing budget.  I do what I feel I can afford.  This year I'll probably spend $1000 in race registrations.  I won't get into the costs of any particular race but if the race has much of the other items I've discussed, I'll pay the price.  Anyway, there's not anyone in the area that is over the top expensive for what you get so I don't worry about it.  It's part of my entertainment just like those who golf, bowl, or do some other hobby.  I'm planning to write a future post with some race directors input on what races cost as well.  I think you will be surprised how expensive it is.
So back to my original discussion.  When someone asks me if I work for the race company when I do an over the top, good race review, I guess that race should take it as the highest compliment.  I say why can't that race management just be that good?  Someone has to be the best, right?  The people planning the race makes all the difference in the world.  I just tell it the way I see it when I'm participating - good or bad.  You can read my reviews and you will see the differences.

I think most of you would agree with me on at least some of these points.

What do you say? What else would you add to the list that I didn't mention?

 Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 19, 2014

Wordless Wedneday 3/19/14

I am loving testing these!  Can't wait to share my review.
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 18, 2014

Bayshore Marathon Training week 7 summary

Nothing like a beer after the Bayshore Marathon - 2011
This week was a big week.  In fact, the most miles in a week this year!

Monday - 7.03 miles; weights, yoga

Tuesday - 4.50 miles morning, yoga; 4.30 miles after work

Wednesday - Rest since I did a double Tuesday

Thursday - weights, yoga

Friday - 15.31 miles

Saturday - Yoga

Sunday - Kona St. Patrick's Day Dublin Double Race - 10k then 5k double

Total miles:  40.65 - a big week for me!

It was nice to go to a race yesterday.  I had a great time and love the race company that does this race.  It was really cold but nice.  My double on Tuesday was also nice since the weather was warmer.  I even got to wear shorts(but it was still in the 40's).  Kind of a strange schedule this week since I decided to do my long run on Friday so I could rest for the race.  No big PR's but the mileage was good and I feel great so far after those miles which is a good sign of things to come.

Hope your training went well.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Mar 17, 2014

Kona St. Patrick's Day Dublin Double race review

Short Version
10k - 
Finished in 48:57(official); no new PR(PR is 45:55)
verall place:  109/1533
AG(M40-44):  15/105
Men:  93/583
Overall Pace:  7:52/mile

5k - 
Finished in 23:47(official); no new PR(PR is 22:18)
Overall place:  62/1611
AG(M40-44): 8/103
Men:  57/569
Overall Pace:  7:38/mile

Dublin Double - 
Finished in 1:12:44(official) A new PR I guess since I've never done a double.
Overall place:  31/378
Men:  28/164

Race #66!!!!(and #67 technically but I'm counting it as one race total)

Another successful Kona Running Company event.  Great communication, excellent organization, cool race swag, well organized.  This is the theme of Kona events.  If you have not run one, you are missing out.
Long Version

Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration is very easy with the Kona races.  Just go onto their website, click register and it will take you to their registration site to get signed up.  Very easy as most races handle registration this way now.  You also had the option to register the day of the race too at the expo or mail in as well.  I actually mail in my registration.

There was a couple options for packet pickup.  You could come on the Saturday before the race or you could pick up that morning.  I think all races should offer two days to pickup packets and Kona has always offered it.  The packet pickup is at the local school and, once again, I was able to volunteer for the race so I got my packet early too.  I love volunteering for packet pickup because you get to talk with all the runners and it's always a fun time.  If you have not volunteered for a race, try it, it's fun!
Packet pickup on Saturday

As you came into the gym, the race had a small expo set up for the runners.  Well, yes it was small but it was larger than it's been in past years and it's larger than some half/full marathons I've raced so it's a nice venue.  I love expos as it's fun to see what the sponsors are offering to the runners.
After the runners came through the expo, they could look up their number on the wall of names.  Of course, the race also gave the numbers out on their site as well but many people forget them so the race had them ready for people.
Bib numbers
Once they had their number, they would come back to us volunteers and give us their number so we could give them their race packet.  The packet this year was a Kona Running Company beanie, short sleeve tech shirt and your bib.
Pickup lines
Also, if the runners wanted to register that day or if they had an issue with their name or registration, the race was able to fix it right then.  Also, the race offered exchanges of shirts this year at the packet pickup instead of after the race.  You could also purchase Kona merchandise at the Kona store if you wanted another race shirt from a previous race.
Volunteer check-in and Race Day Registration
Entry forms for race day registration
Kona Store
The race also had a new item this year which was a piece of the Blarney Stone from the Blarney Castle in Ireland.  Basically, you kiss it for good luck.  I didn't kiss it and, hence, no PR for me this year.  LOL.  If you want to read the history of the Blarney Stoney, go HERE as it's an interesting story.  A fun idea for the race!  The race also had a band playing at the expo and those guys were REALLY good.
Kiss me!
Start Area
The next day it was a very early start.  I'm used to an early start with Kona since Plymouth is about an hour away from my home but it was an even earlier start since I was running the Dublin Double.  The first race was at 7:30am.  The Dublin Double is running the 10k first and then running the 5k next.  It was the first time that Kona has offered a double race and I thought it was a great idea.  It was also the first time I've ever run the 5k course since I always opt for the longer race.

Parking for the race was very easy as we decided to pay the $5 the City of Plymouth was charging to park in their lots.  Half went to the City and half went to the Lions Club and they had Lions members there collecting the fee.  The race also offered a free shuttle to a lot a couple miles away.  We didn't use it, but I've already heard from several runners that used it that it was easy and worked well.  Personally, I thought it was worth the $5 to be right next to the start area.  We waited in the car for about half hour until it was time to race and parked right next to the finish line.

The start area had a band playing by the farmers market as well as a warming tent right behind it.  It was a life saver this year since it was so cold out.  Behind that was the tent with the food.  All of it was well organized.  The band playing was great too.  They were very talented and had a great variety of music.
Great band
This time around, Kona had more than enough Port-o-Potties at the start and on course.  This is one of the best things in regards to this race company, they do listen to what their runners request.  I will say that you cannot please everyone(especially us spoiled runners) but Kona does it's best to please everyone and learn from every race they do each year.
Plenty of port-o-potties!
Before we knew it, it was time to run!  The sun was not even up yet!  Morgan Whitehead sang the National Anthem as she does for every race and we were ready to go!
Runners in front of us at the start
Runners behind us at the start
The plan for me was to run the 10k but not as full speed so I could save some energy for the 5k.  Since I have not done a double race before, I didn't know what to expect but it was great to try a new challenge.  We started off a little slow in the beginning but once past some of the slower runners, we were able to pick things up.  My buddy Rich and I ran together.  I kept telling him I was just trying to keep up with him but he said he was trying to keep up with me.  As you can see, we had a nice negative split and while it was not a PR for either of us, we had a great time pushing each other.

I was also pleasantly surprised with my results with the 5k.  Again, not a PR but it was nice to see my pace picked up faster than the 10k.  I was surprised considering running 10k plus the downtime between races.  Also, look at those splits!  I don't think I've ever been so even!
Rich and his good running form
This year the race had three waves to help ease the congestion.  This is why we had to leave home so early.  The race start was 7:30am for the first wave of the 10k and they had two others at 7:40am and 7:50am.  People running the Dublin Double were directed to run the 7:30am wave and the 9:00am 5k wave.  There was also a 9:10am and 9:20am wave for the 5k.
10k race course, elevation and splits
5k race course, elevation and splits
Note: When I take pictures during the race, I don't change my pace or stop in the interest of safety.   I just keep running and I get what I can get from the pictures.   Some come out better than others but they give you a great idea of what the course is like. 

As you can see, it was pretty crowded at the start, like many races.  It was also still dark out so please excuse the poor pictures on the 10k course.  Pictures come out better with good lighting when you are running at the same time.
Before I knew it, we were already at the one mile marker.  It was freaking freezing out!  I think this had to be one of the coldest Kona races that I've ever run with the temperature at 18 degrees to start.  It was windy too!  Lots of people were dressed up for the race.  I'm not a guy that gets too festive but I did have my "Shamrock It" Headsweats beanie!
Mile 1

Festive compression
Mile 2

The sun started to peak out of the sky about the three mile mark for me.  It's moments like this that I love running.  Nothing better than running as the sun is coming up.  Not that the sun got us any warmer but the sun certainly helps your mental attitude.
Mile 3
Mile 4
The race had the police for Plymouth out helping on the course as they always do.  The Plymouth police department always do a great job and I always try to thank the officers as I run past them.
Police helping with traffic

Mile 5
The course was really clear of ice and snow.  This was really the only place that I saw ice of any significance which was nice.  You really were not worrying about this during the whole race.

Mile 6
I love this part of the race.  As you can see, there were not as many spectators out likely due to the really cold temperatures.  Really - who wants to stand there and watch runners when it's this cold?  Ha!
Love this!

10k finish!
We finished the race and skipped over taking our 10k medal.  While I saw many Dublin Double runners taking their 10k medal after this race, they were supposed to leave it and collect it at the 5k.  This is what we did and it worked out great.  This way we didn't need to run with it or go back to the car.  The volunteers made sure to ask if we had already taken our 10k metal which we didn't.  My hope is that nobody took another one.

Because we were doing the Dublin Double and with a finish under 50 minutes, we had about 40 minutes to wait until the next race.  Frankly, I was really concerned about this because of how cold it was.  I was worried my muscles would start to tighten up, I would cool down and my sweat would freeze and get too cold waiting for the 5k.  I even brought extra shirts and a hat to change into after the 10k but I didn't need them.

I really had nothing to worry about.  First, Kona had the warming tent to keep the runners warm not only after you were finished with the 10k but also for those running the double.  Without this, it would have been crazy cold so this was a life saver.  Second, while I didn't get any, there was water and coffee for the runners so we could have warmed up with that but I didn't want to drink it then do another race.  I also had the option to go back to the car if needed but the warming tent was warm enough and I didn't even have to change.  We listened to the great band as we were waiting for the 5k start.

Next up was the 5k race.  A group of kids did a song before the National Anthem.  They also did this before the 10k too but since it was dark, I could not get a good picture of it.
Pre-race entertainment
National Anthem #2 - ha!
Once again, we were ready to race for the 5k.  My muscles did stiffen up a bit so the start was a bit harder than the 10k.  Also, there were many more slower runners in the front so I did a ton of weaving back and forth in the first 1/2 mile to get around the crowd.  If I do a double again, I think I would probably line up closer to the start.
Runners ahead of me!
Here were go!
As you can see, it was fairly crowded at the start but again they had three waves to help ease the congestion at the start.  I think that many runners just didn't line up properly for the 5k race.  Sometimes I feel like a linebacker in a football game and I make my way around people.  Haha!  It can even be fun as it was today!
Little bit of crowd at the beginning
As you can see, once I got past the initial crowd, it eased up on the amount of people.

More costumes
A nice sunny day!
Don't let that sun deceive you, it was still really cold even for the 5k race but the sun was glorious.  It could have been much worse had we had a snow storm given how this winter has been so we were pretty lucky overall.

At this point, we started coming up on 10k walkers.  Fortunately, all the walkers were staying to the right so us runners could get by with no issues at all.

Once again the end was near!
Finish - race #2, the 5k!
I felt like the 5k went really quick.  We were able to get our two medals for each race and could make our way to the food line.

Aid Stations
The race had more port-o-potties out there at the aid stations.  Frankly, I'm impressed they have any on course at all for a short race.  The volunteers did an excellent job handing out water and Powerade.  It was so cold so it's very appreciated that they stood out there to help us.  One of the runners even yelled, "Free slushes"  Yes, it was so cold the water was turning to slush!
Actually turned around to take this picture
Great volunteers!

Finish Area
Kona had their typical race results board by the finish area.  New this year was instant timing results for the race through XACT.  You could get results sent to your Facebook or Twitter page or to an e-mail or text.  I signed up to receive all for both races.  I received my 10k results but never received my 5k results(and neither did my buddy) for some reason.  I've used this system in other races and it works well.  The only explanation I can see that I didn't get 5k results sent was that I ran a double race.

Fortunately, Everal Race Management is so efficient with results, by the time I got home, results were already posted on their website and through RunMichigan.  Also, I noticed that Everal updated the way they report races on their site and it's much easier to find your information.
Results board
We made our way to the food line after the 5k.  Kona always has the best food at the finish!  This time around they had water, bananas, granola bars, cookies(from Panera Bread) and coffee.  I will say that I was surprised not to see the bagels they usually have as I was looking forward to my Asiago Cheese bagel but the cookies were awesome(and my second favorite post race food) and it's nice to have something different too.  As Kona always does with their bagels, they had the cookies all wrapped separately for the runners which is a nice touch.  While I didn't have the coffee, it was a welcome item for the runners given the cold.  I don't understand why other races don't offer coffee when they do cold weather races?
Water after the race
Bananas, Granola Bar, Cookies, Coffee

Happy runners!
After we hit the food line, we walked over to Sean O'Callaghan's Public House, one of the race sponsors, a block away for a couple beers for a pre-St. Patrick's Day celebration.  While the place was crowded, we were able to walk in and get a beer right away if you didn't mind standing in the bar(which we didn't).  We also met up with Josh, who was pacing both races for Kona.  Even if you wanted to eat at the restaurant, it was only a 45 minute wait which I think is fantastic given the number of people downtown for the race.

On the way back to the car, we actually stopped by into the food tent for the race as they were packing up and the volunteers were nice enough to give us some cookies and bananas for the road.  It was nice to see because this meant that everyone received food at the finish line since there was leftovers.  

For your race entry fee of $63(if registered for the Dublin Double before 1/14/14), you received a safe, certified course for the 10k and the 5k.  They also offered instant race results through XACT.  They had entertainment at the expo and at the race.  You received a short sleeve tech shirt, a great design I might add.  You also received some good finish line food as well as two medals, one for the 10k finish and one for doing both races.  The medals are great quality and an awesome design.  I would have liked to see the double medal be something other than a similar design as the 10k medal but they were still awesome!  I do love that Kona changes their medals each year for each race so you don't get the same medal year after year.   Kona also gave runners a Kona Running Company beanie which was a nice touch.  My daughter pretty much took that as soon as I brought it home.  Haha!  A great value for what you get for a double race.
Front of Shirt - Nice design
Back of Shirt
Kona beanie
Race medals - 10k and Double

Medals - close up - great design
I always hold Kona on a pedestal when it comes to race organization.  The Kona staff really cares how runners view their races.  Once again, in my opinion, the company did an excellent job with organization.  They always keep the runners well informed for the races.  I think there needs to be a little more literature on the website about the double races as I think there were some runners confused what to do, being the first year offered, but we explained how it worked at the packet pickup.  The start area was again excellent as well as the finish area.  The food line ran smoothly.  There are always volunteers helping and directing people where to go and Alan Whitehead, the race director, is always around both days working the area to keep things running smoothly.

Overall, in my opinion, another successful Kona race in the books.  This was my third St. Patrick's Day run with them.  From the start of the weekend, Kona did an excellent job.  They keep the runners informed, they keep the volunteers informed, they keep people happy and the listen to what the runners want and improve each year.  I know I say this a lot with their races, but every year, I wonder how they will top themselves from the previous year.  For me, it was clear this year it was the Dublin Double and the race beanies.  I'm looking forward to their next race, the inaugural Novi Half Marathon in Novi.  It should be a great time...and warmer!  LOL.
Me, Rich, Kevin at the finish
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary race entry in exchange for this race review.  All opinions are my own and I'm not required to give any opinion other than an honest one.