Monday, March 16, 2009

Racing Tees

What do you do with your racing t-shirts?

Do they sit in a drawer folded up, never to see the light of day until years later when they're transferred to a shopping bag heading straight to Goodwill? Well, I must admit, that's what happens to most of mine. Some, which I purposely order extra-large, I use as pyjamas, or is it pajama? Hmm. I think I like pyjamas, just for the juxtaposition of the three letters that extend below the writing line. It's both awkward and thought-provoking, the thought being "is that word spelled right?"

Anyway, where was I?

I think the most use I've ever gotten from a t-shirt is my 2007 Phoenix YMCA Half Marathon. It was the only long-sleeved shirt I've ever received from a race. It's just the thing for my early morning winter runs when the temperature here can dip well below 50 degrees. That's right, desert living. Then, there's my favorite Human Race T-shirt. This one doesn't count because I had to buy it myself. You can read an older blog post about it here.

T-Shirt Contest

One race had a very good idea to get their runners to wear the Race T-Shirt. Their website has a little monthly contest. People are asked to send in a photo of themselves wearing the race t-shirt from any year in an exotic or unique location. The prizes may differ, but this month 3 winners were selected and won this years technical training tee. Yay, another t-shirt!! Woot-Woot!

This t-shirt contest is for the race called the Bay To Breakers organized by ING. I've run this race at least 4 times and probably still have all 4 t-shirts. However, I have yet to find myself anywhere exotic or unique to take a picture with it. This months winners were sporting their race shirts in front of the Sydney Opera House, some ancient cemetary in Ireland and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. I guess the Bay to Breakers attracts a lot of well-traveled participants.

Maybe, I could save on some airfare and photo-shop this old pic of me in Macchu Picchu. But I'm sure they can spot a shopped pic a mile away. I guess I'll just have to remember to pack my Bay to Breakers race shirt the next time I head over to Peru, whenever that will be. Better yet, I'll take all my Bay to Breaker shirts there and get a group shot of the Incans wearing a T-shirt from all the different years. That should be good enough to win me another t-shirt, right?

A conversation piece?

It just so happens, I was wearing my 2009 Rock N' Roll Marathon, Phoenix shirt to my sons tee-ball practice last week. It actually became a conversation starter for me with another mom who ran the marathon, too. No, she wasn't wearing her race shirt at the time, but wouldn't THAT have been funny? We started talking about races and running and made the whole hour of tee-ball practice just fly by.

She told me about a neighborhood race coming up this Sunday, The Run for Ryan House 10K in DC Ranch. Ryan House is a wonderful non-profit that hits close to home. They are raising money to build the regions first palliative care facility in Phoenix. Construction has already started. From their website, "When complete, Ryan House will be a safe, comfortable place where care, typically given at home, will be provided by an experienced professional staff to some of Arizona’s most challenged children. These children and their families deserve an opportunity to focus on being families and living life to its fullest."

Running for Ryan House

It is named after a boy who is a student at my son's school. He was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy. Ryan's mother is modeling Ryan House after one of the facilities they stayed at when Ryan was just a toddler in England.

This was perfect - a race close to home, with a distance I can manage (after I've been slacking-off since the marathon, 10K is probably all I can manage now), and best of all, it's for a wonderful cause. The t-shirt from this race, I will be happy to wear, proudly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Great Urban Race, Phoenix - Part Doh!

What an amazing day! We were able to see and learn so much about Phoenix on this Great Urban Race adventure. We had 7 clues to go…

Since we doubled back to the Heard Museum earlier, we needed to go 1 mile back to N. Central and Thomas Rd. for Clue 3.

Clue 3. The following clue was written in code and had to be solved by decoding the symbols. The answer was: "Take a photograph of all teammates in front of a fourteen foot Navajo sculpture by Doug Hyde."

The bus stop was just across the street. It was crowded with racers in their costumes. Luckily, it was one of the double long buses, and we were all able to fit in. The ride took us to 15th and Thomas near Encanto Park. We still had to run about 1/4 mile to the next two tasks inside the park.

Clue 7. Find the GUR staff in the park that's been called "the crown jewel of City of Phoenix parks'. Once there, complete the gunny sack race with your teammate(s). When you're finished, get this clue sheet stamped.

Clue 1. Find the large inflatable obstacle course in this 222-acre park and have all teammates complete the entire obstacle course. Upon completing it, you must get this sheet stamped.

Luckily, we ran instead of walked to Encanto Park, because we beat the rush and didn't have to wait in any lines to do the tasks. I think Encanto Park was one of the best discoveries of this race. I never knew this place existed! We would definitely need to visit this place with the kids someday.

We had to run 1 ¼ mile to a bus stop at 7th and McDowell. We took the bus to Central and then the light rail to Washington for the next clue less than ¼ mile away from the light rail stop.

Clue 2. Unscramble the following three words to make a two word name of a Phoenix place that's on the National Register of Historic Places and take a picture of all teammates in front of the most prominent sign on this building. REPEAT OTHER HUM

The answer to the scramble was "Orpheum Theater."

We took care of the last 2 clues by running 3/4 miles to Hooters on 3rd St.

Clue 9. DETOUR (complete one of the following two): Take a picture of five or more people total in front of a juke box.
Or.. Take a picture of eight or more people total with a Phoenix Mercury t-shirt visible in the picture.

We weren’t able to find anyone with a Mercury T-Shirt, and someone told us there was a jukebox in Hooters.

Clue 4. DETOUR (complete one of the following two): Return to the finish line with a popsicle stick with a joke on it (must be originally on the stick - no written jokes).
Or..Return to the finish line with a job application.

After our jukebox picture, I asked the hostess if I could have a Hooters application.

It was a 3/4 mile run from Hooters to the finish line at Slider's Restaurant. When we got to Sliders, we were greeted with cheers from the racers that arrived before us. We had our items and cameras checked. “Can I get that application to Hooter’s back?” I asked the camera-checker, “I might need that later.”

After 2 hours and 57 minutes and running a total of 6.5 miles around the streets of Phoenix, we finished (officially) in 30th place out of 160 teams. In order to qualify for the National Championship in New Orleans, you would need to be in the top 25. The team in 25th place came in just 4 minutes before us! We were so close!

But we had a wonderful time, and who knows, maybe we’ll try to qualify later this year by doing a Great Urban Race in another city.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Great Urban Race - Part 1

What a fun experience the Great Urban Race was! It involved three of my favorite things: Trivia, Running and being with Brian. I knew I was in for a good time. The race would start and end at Sliders restaurant in downtown Phoenix.

At 12 noon, all the 166 teams of two were given sealed envelopes with the clue. At the signal, we all opened the envelopes together. The first thing we did was sit down in the shade of Chase Stadium, call our phone-a-friend, Allen, for help on the clues and try, without a decent map, to map out our course for the day.

We decided on the closest task below.

Clue 8. Take a photograph of both teammates posing in front of the statue shown.

After just describing the image to Allen, he was able to find out that the location for this sculpture by John Henry Wadell was in front of the Herberger Theater Center, a half mile away. I think I picked the right phone-a-friend! My sister Meliza was also on standby, but I called her later that we should be good.

From the Herberger Theater we decided to run the 0.6 miles to the Phoenix Market.

Clue 12. Find Doug Atkins in the Phoenix Market. Return to the finish with a drawing from this artist. This challenge is only available from 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm! Strategize accordingly.

We were 5th in line for the artist when we got there. He was taking a very long time to sketch a picture for each team, that by the time we were done, there may have been more than 10 teams behind us. He drew us a daisy and we headed to the Phoenix light rail stop at Roosevelt. This was less than a quarter mile away and we can see the train about a quarter mile south of us. We had to sprint just to make it to the stop in time. It was a close one.

We got off the train at the Encanto/Central stop in order to go to the Heard Museum (clue 10), but accidentally ended up following other racers 1/2 mile north to Clue 6.

Clue 6. Find Honey Bears BBQ on Central Avenue. There will be an ear of corn waiting for you in the dining area. Take a picture of all teammates with a completely eaten and bare corn cob. The bare corn cob must be clearly visible in the picture.

We decided to double back to the Heard Museum clue.

Clue 10. It exists today because of Maie, but to go in here you'll have to pay. It'll educate you on peoples of the Southwest. For places like this, it's considered one of the best.
Take a picture of all teammates in front of the abstract stone "person" on this property.

We noticed other racers coming out of a street from behind the Heard Museum and knew another clue must be back there somewhere. We ran the 1/2 mile to Monterey Park for Clue 11.

Clue 11. Find the GUR volunteers at Monterey Park. You must complete the challenging Horse Shoe Puzzle. You must get this clue sheet stamped twice, once when removing the ring and another after the puzzle is returned to its original form. Note: A phone-a-friend may be helpful for this clue!

We didn't think of calling our phone-a-friend for this. But I was able to solve this with about 5 minutes of frustration. When BT asked me how I did it, I joked to him saying "engineering".

We didn’t check the time at all, but so far, we had finished 4 clues and have run 2.8 miles and we still had 7 more clues to go!