Orientation Programs and Running

I knew the long hours of orientation would challenge my running schedule this summer. My Nike+ data shows it too: 56.9 miles in June compared to 76.8 miles in May. As a runner, I was feeling down about the missed days, missed miles, missed personal reflection time, missed exercise, and so-on. Running a race on the day after our last orientation session was the perfect way to re-energize, re-motivate, and re-inspire the runner in me. Why? Because it proved that I could still run a 10K. It provided an outlet for me to relax and release all the stress of 8 amazing (but long) orientation sessions in June. Lastly, I ran it with no goals or expectations for finishing time – making it my most relaxing race yet! I plan to keep this in mind as I plan for the future or experience other extra-busy life moments (month after comps? Let’s run a race!)

2013 Freedom Run with my Dad

2013 Freedom Run with my Dad

A little about the race: the Fun Fourth Freedom 10K is a Greensboro tradition. It takes place the Saturday before the Fourth of July, which is usually a really hot day. This year the temperatures were pleasant and mild at the start, but warmed up quickly as the race went on. This course starts in downtown Greensboro and takes the runners through neighborhoods, so most of it was in the shade. One of two hills I distinctly remember from the course was near the finish and the volunteers cheering us up that hill really helped me finish strong.

I hope that no matter your responsibilities you are finding ways to relax and reenergize this summer. Participating in a 10K, even with limited training, was the right activity for me. What works for you?

Cooper River Bridge Run 2013

This weekend I traveled to Charleston for the Cooper River Bridge Run!


The Bridge Run is an awesome 10K (6.2 miles) and I recommend it whether you run or want to tag along with your runner friends to explore Charleston, SC. The Bridge Run is one of the biggest 10Ks in the US and takes you over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge!

We got to town around 11 am on Friday and headed straight to the expo. The expo was at the Charleston Area Convention Center for the first time and it is a great location with plenty of parking and room inside. It was not crowded so we got in and got our bibs and swag bags quickly. Know your bib number when you arrive so you are able to quickly head to your pick-up station.


Chelsea picking up her bib!

First bib with my name printed on it

Excited about my bib!

There were a ton of vendors and we got some great accessories. Jane and I both bought armbands for our iPhones and my dad loaded up on GU gels. We enjoyed the Blue Moon samples and explored various booths. The organizers were quick to remind attendees “No hoarding allowed” by the Bi-Lo cookies booth.

My favorite booth was Headbands of Hope: Jessica Ekstrom, a current NC State student, founded this amazing company in April 2012. I bought two headbands and enjoyed talking to Jessica about her success


If you are going to do the Bridge Run and are from out of town you should try to arrive a day or two early. Arriving early will give you plenty of time to explore Charleston. We ate dinner at Vickerys in Shem Creek, ventured to the beach at Sullivan’s Island, and went to happy hour at Reds Icehouse. Jane and I also took a quick trip to Goodwill to pick up long sleeve t-shirts for pre-race warmth. The weather was a little chillier than expected but we enjoyed our time by the water!

Vickerys in Shem Creek

Vickerys in Shem Creek

Me and Jane on the beach!

On the beach with Jane at Sullivan’s Island

View from Happy Hour at Reds in Shem Creek

View from happy hour at Reds in Shem Creek

We chose to cook dinner at a friend’s house on Friday night for our pre-race meal. We cooked chicken, pasta, salad, and bread. Eating at home meant we did not have to worry about the crowds at restaurants and we were able to make sure we had a healthy pre-race meal. Try to make reservations for dinner if eating at a friend’s house is not an option for you. The house we went to for dinner was on the water which was an added plus!

Me, Chelsea, Jaclyn, Jane

Me, Chelsea, Jaclyn, Jane


Saturday morning our friends offered to drop us off at the start line. This was a huge help because we avoided dealing with shuttle buses. I think the buses were crowded but did not hear too many major complaints. Race start was 8 am so we got dropped off at 7 am in a neighborhood where we could walk to Coleman Blvd and the corrals. I highly recommend this for anyone because it went so smoothly for us!

Jane and I bought shirts at goodwill to ditch before the start

Jane and I bought shirts at Goodwill to keep us warm and then ditch before the start.

Corrals were assigned by estimated finish time this year, but it was obvious many people were not truthful with their time. I was disappointed to see walkers in all groups instead of the designated walking corral. We were in G, one of the the over an hour corrals; I signed up for this before running my first 10K and learning I could finish in under a hour. I will probably sign up for an earlier corral next year even though bobbing and weaving through runners happens no matter where you start.

As new runners we ended up in a long line for the bathroom pre-race that we will not let happen again

As new runners we ended up in a long line for the bathroom pre-race. Not going to let this happen again!


Almost time for Corral G to start!

The race started on time, exactly at 8 am! And we crossed the start line almost exactly at 8:30 am with corral G.


The course is awesome. The only incline is the third mile going up the bridge. It’s a steady incline but not anything like the steep hills of Athens. There are bands along the whole course and the crowds plus the big group of runners kept me moving.

Almost to the bridge

Almost to the bridge

Starting the gradual uphill - this incline goes on for about a mile.

Starting the gradual incline – this goes on for about a mile.

The finish party was exciting and unlike anything I have ever seen. So much food, water, and of course a few “no hoarding signs”. After finding water, bagels, and muffins I met up with everyone to celebrate Jane and Chelsea finishing their first 10K!

Entrance Food1 Food 2


After the race many runners and spectators stay downtown to celebrate. We went to the King Street Grille and the patio at 39 Rue de Jean. Non-runners in our group were able to save a table at King St Grille (they got there at 8:30 am) which was helpful. And if you want to eat dinner in downtown Charleston Saturday night make sure you have reservations.

King St. Grille

King Street Grille after the race

I was hesitant to hope for a certain time because of the large crowds at the race, but I am happy to say that I finished with a personal record! My official time was 53:30. My advice is to approach this race with intentions to enjoy the crowds, the view, the bands, and the experience; knowing that a good time would make the day even better! Just relax and have fun!

View from the top of the Cooper River Bridge

View from the top of the Cooper River Bridge

Running past the King Street Grille!

Running past the King Street Grille!

My dad and I both pr'd this race!

My dad and I both pr’d this race!

The Bridge Run caps registration at 40,000 and boasted 31,441 finishers this year. There are options for everyone from competitive runners to walkers. I highly recommend the Cooper River Bridge run and plan to do this race again next year!

What is your biggest 10K experience? Have you ran the Cooper River Bridge Run? Leave a note in the comments – I would love a suggestion for my next race! 10K or I think it’s time for a half marathon..,

Taste of Athens Weekend 2013

I just finished participating in the Taste of Athens Weekend. The Taste of Athens events were created to benefit the Community Connection of Northeast Georgia. This year was the 20th Annual Taste of Athens and 3rd Annual Taste10K. I decided to share my experience on the blog for everyone that might consider participating next year!

I signed up online to run the Taste10k when the registration was $30 early bird. A great price, including a t-shirt with a “running wine glass” that I was very excited about.  One of the coordinators that works in the Center for Student Organizations at UGA, Megan J., reassured me that this was a great course (even in hilly Athens) and would be a good race for my first 10k! I was still nervous…. I only signed up for the 10k because I decided I wouldn’t be able to pay for the $50 Taste of Athens event ticket this year, but maybe it would be something I could look forward to next year.

On Tuesday morning (2/12), 4 days before the race, I received a tweet and direct message in class that I won two tickets to the Taste of Athens!

Taste10k tweet

Now I was REALLY excited. I had been posting on Twitter about the 10K and my excitement for the weekend – and those tweets paid off when I was surprised by @Taste10K with tickets to Sunday’s Taste of Athens event. The online presence for the Taste10K and the Taste of Athens events are great. Not only do they maintain a useful website, they also have a 10K Twitter and Facebook page and a Taste of Athens Twitter and Facebook page. Love when organizations use social media to interact with their audience, especially if it involves a fun contest!

Around Thursday (2/14) I started to get anxious looking at the weather for Saturday. Close to freezing temperatures and snow? Not exactly how I pictured my first 10k…


Finally it was Saturday – race day! Megan J. picked me and Andy up at 7:15 am and we headed downtown for the race start. It was cold, but I was covered in UnderArmor head to toe, and the gloves and headband were helping.

Megan and I staying warm before the start!

Megan and I trying to stay warm before the start!

The race started at 8 am and had about 300 runners. I love smaller crowds, I think it makes for a unique and comfortable race experience. There were a few hills throughout, but it is hard to avoid hills in Athens. Miles 2 and 3 were the most difficult. Pulaski St. to Barrow is hilly with one steep rise on Barrow.

I usually run on Prince Ave, so I loved the fifth (and last mile). I finished under my goal (1 hour) with an official time of 56:33!

Taste10k Route

My finish for the Taste 10k!

My finish for the Taste 10k!

If you are looking for a 10k race in the Athens area or even a Peachtree qualifier I highly recommend the Taste of Athens 10k. The race was well organized and fun (despite the cold temperatures). Also, the formation of the Athens Road Runners group was announced at the 10k, so make sure to check out that if you are a runner in Athens. Student membership is only $15!

Taste10k finish

Sunday night’s event finished up the Taste of Athens weekend with a bang. I wasn’t sure what to expect and how the whole process would work. I attended the Taste of the Town in High Point, NC for years but this was definitely a different setup. Megan D., my assistantship supervisor, (a different Megan!) came along with me to the Taste; 5 pm was a good time to get there for general admission, the line was not too long and it moved quickly. We purchased the plate and wine glass for $10 ($5 each) at the entrance and I am so glad we did! It was nice to have plate that held the wine glass and left me another free hand to pick up food, eat, etc.

Taste of Athens plate

Here is a list of the vendors (give or take a few that I can’t remember) from the 2013 sponsors I was able to check out:

Barberitos Southwest Grille
Atlanta Wholesale
Terrapin Beer Company
Chops & Hops
La Dolce Vita
Waterman Spring Water
Athens Bagel Company
Don Sebastiani and Sons
Brett’s Casual American
Cecelia Villaveces Cakes
Thai Spoon
Butt Hutt BBQ
Earth Fare
home.made catering
Silver Lining Cupcake Company
Dirty Birds
Barefoot Wine & Bubbly

Taste of Athens 2013

All of the food was delicious! There were a few places I did not get to check out either because they ran out of food or I was too full at the end. My favorite restaurant vendors were La Dolce Vita and White Tiger Gourment. They had Gnocchi al Gorgonzola at La Dolce Vita and barbecue at White Tiger Gourmet. I also enjoyed Athens Bagel Company and Brett’s Casual American (bagels and buffalo chicken tacos/wraps are some of my favorite foods). All four of the previous restaurants are Athens locations I have not visited yet, so safe to say this event added to my bucket list of Athens restaurants for the next year and a half. My favorite dessert was the cupcake from Cecelia’s Villaveces Cakes, but I also had a delicious “terrapin” (homemade turtles with terrapin rye caramel and toasted GA pecans) treat from home.made catering.

Chocolate cupcake from Cecelia Villaveces Cakes and red velvet cupcake & mint cake ball from Silver Lining Cupcake Company

Chocolate cupcake from Cecelia Villaveces Cakes and red velvet cupcake & mint cake ball from Silver Lining Cupcake Company

I highly recommend this event to Athens residents or anyone that wants to take a weekend trip to Athens for a good race and great food. The Taste of Athens timing on Sunday night makes it a longer weekend trip but it is worth it to check out the food and beverage booths. Megan and I also browsed the silent auction and saw some great items but no bidding for us. The event was scheduled 5-8 pm but by 7 pm things were winding down so we headed home. Overall a great event and our happiness was captured by Blane Marable photography!

Photo from Blane Marable Photography http://spotted.onlineathens.com/galleries/429588/

Photo from Blane Marable Photography http://spotted.onlineathens.com/galleries/429588/

I plan to participate in both the 10K and Taste of Athens event next year! At the Taste of Athens event, I will pay a little more attention to which vendors I visit at the beginning to make sure I get a chance to try everything. And a coworker gave me a few tips to try out at next years event: share food samples with friends so you don’t fill up as quick and remove the bread from the sliders that many of the restaurants give out for a smaller less filling portion! Great things to know and try next year. Hope this encourages you to give the Taste of Athens weekend a try in 2014!