Tag Archives: 5k

5k Review: Dirty Girl Mud Run

In January, as a way of motivating myself to keep up with my mileage for the year, I made a list of 5ks that I wanted to do. One of the first races I put on my “list” was the Dirty Girl Mud Run. By the time I had learned of this race last year, it had already happened, and I was determined to do it the following year.


I made an event right away in January, invited everyone that I knew, and got excited. I figured I was giving everyone as much notice as possible (I mean, six months? That’s a lot of notice!) and since it was taking place the day after my birthday, I decided this would be my way of celebrating my birthday this year.


Well, you all are LAME because they only person who actually signed up to do it with me was my BFF, Katie. Boo to you all. Boo.


Any way… We signed up for the 4pm wave, because I prefer to run in the afternoons. The 4pm wave ended up being the very last wave of the day, and it was a very tiny wave! In addition to our 2-person team, there was a team of maybe 8 girls and another two teams of two. It was like having the entire course to ourselves.

Pre-Dirty Girl Mud Run

Before the race!

Katie and I made our way through slowly. We did a little jogging, but we mostly walked between obstacles. This was partially due to the fact that we didn’t know how much energy we should save for the obstacles and partially due to the fact that the race ground was entirely uneven. If we were to run between every obstacle, there were a few places where I am sure we could have twisted an ankle or something. I’m talking deep grooves in the mud, loose gravel, and running on an angle. I think the ground between obstacles was more dangerous than the obstacles themselves!


I was anticipating the obstacles being really difficult, but they weren’t. The first was an inflatable– no mud yet– and I was scared on the way down, but mostly my fear came from someone falling down on top of me. I was nervous that I’d really strain myself, because I have such limited upper body strength, but I didn’t struggle physically with any of the obstacles. Some of the mud pits were chilly– the day was chilly– and the muddy water was gravelly. I have a hard time with texture, so mentally, I struggled with the texture of some of the mud pits.


Also, there’s a big slide towards the end– I was pretty excited about this one. Since Katie and I had the course to ourselves, we had one half of the slide each to ourselves. I thought this was a good idea until we got to the top– then we were both terrified. The slide was really high up, and there was a muddy pit at the bottom that you couldn’t tell how deep it was. I counted really loudly to three and we slid down– that was probably the hardest, mentally, to do!

After shot!

After shot!

At the end of the race, your shoes are pretty trashed. I had planned all along to donate my shoes at the end. I wore a pair of shoes that are a half-size too small for me, and even though we didn’t run much, I definitely felt how snug they were. I’m glad they’ll go to a developing country somewhere– complete with my Sweat Pink shoelaces. 🙂


We had a great time and I’m so glad that I did it. It was a lot of fun. The pros to the experience are all wrapped up in getting muddy and having fun with a great friend! There were a few notable cons to the experience though. Here they are:

-They didn’t have any small t-shirts left– which is pretty lame, because they have you select a size when you sign up for the run. If they can’t guarantee the correct size, they shouldn’t even ask for you to specify. I got a medium and hopefully it shrinks.

-I don’t know how they screen their volunteers, but there was a creepy guy at one of the obstacles that asked each of us: “You like getting dirty, don’t you?” in a super pervy tone of voice. I could’ve done without that…

-It was pretty cold for a late June day. The weather was chilly for most of the day, but by the time we went, the sun was out for most of the course. It would’ve been a little better if the weather was warmer, but it wasn’t TOO cold. The worst part was rinsing off with the ice cold water in the rinsing tent afterwards.

-They promise a “festival vibe” but that’s not really what you get. Yes, there’s music and MC’s… but there’s just ONE station for food and drinks and not much else is going on.

-Finally, I thought the obstacles weren’t that creative. They promise 12 obstacles, but a few of them were repeats. There were quite a few mud pits– which is fine– but a few of them were just kind of out in the open, and Katie and I were like, “Ok… so what are we supposed to do? Walk through? Crawl through? Mud fight?” I would’ve loved a few more challenging obstacles.


So there it is.

I’d love to do this race again, but there are two major things I’d change for next time:

1. Do it with a larger group. Katie and I had a lot of fun, but the obstacles aren’t that creative or challenging– but I think they’d *feel* a little more challenging if you’re doing it with more people.

2. I wouldn’t do the final wave. When I signed up, they had waves after ours, but I’m assuming no one signed up past 4pm, so ours was the last wave. Being in the last wave was both awesome and kinda weird. It felt a tad like a ghost town, and even though some of the workers still had decent energy- you could tell they were just waiting for us to finish so that they could tear down. Which is kinda silly.


All in all, I had a muddy good time! It was great, and I’d do it again.

Up Next: MRTT Summer Virtual Race: Running Mad!


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5k Review: Race to Wrigley

I am a baseball fan, and even though I live in Wisconsin, I am an Illinois sports fan. This is perhaps an extension of being raised in a home in which the Dad insisted that we love the Bears and the Cubs and marrying a man who feels the same, but as a free-thinking woman, I happen to love the underdogs, and Chicago* teams are not exactly known for being big winners. This doesn’t bother me. Winning isn’t important to me when it comes to sports. I like all of the things that make baseball the American pastime that it is: the camaraderie of the fans, the ambiance of a classic field, the beer and the hot dogs and the peanuts, the 7th Inning Stretches, the roots for the home team. It’s a good thing all of this appeals to me– baseball is really important to my family: my brother is kind of a big deal in Wisconsin for High School Baseball– he’s having record-breaking week, as a matter of fact. However, even if it weren’t a mandate that I love baseball in my family, I would still love baseball.


All that to say: when I started running and looked around for 5ks in my area, the Race to Wrigley was kind of a “Must Do!” I mean, how cool?! You run around Wrigleyville and end back at the field– you even run through the lower concourse on the way to the finish line. If that’s not a motivator to run to the very end, I don’t know what is!


I didn’t sign up right away. The race was scheduled for May 11th, and I knew that we would be heading to Hawaii sometime between the end of April and through the month of May. I didn’t know how long we’d be there, and most importantly, I didn’t know our dates. Jonah had his dates for Hawaii in the middle of April: it would be the first two weeks of May. So that ruled out the Race to Wrigley.

Well, we had different circumstances surrounding my trip to Hawaii this time. We didn’t know where we’d be staying, and Skip is old enough now that we’d need to purchase his own plane ticket to bring him with, and so it wasn’t even decided how long I’d be going out to Hawaii until it was about a week before I left. I didn’t want to leave Skip for the entire two weeks Jonah would be out there, so I can back on the 6th. I didn’t even think anymore about the Race to Wrigley, because I had already crossed it off my list of races to do this year.


Thursday rolls around and my cousin gave me a call– someone they were supposed to run the race with wasn’t able to make it now and did I want to take her place? Uh, yeah!


So Saturday morning, at the ungodly hour of 5:49 am and all geared up in cold-weather running clothes (it was only in the 50’s. Boo.), I found myself on the train headed down to Chitown. Woo!

Race to Wrigley


We were doing the “Fun Run” group for the race, not the timed group. This was more than fine with me– I had spent the preceding four days in a foggy, jet-lagged stupor, so the fact that I wasn’t being timed appealed to me. I didn’t want to worry about timing, I just wanted to worry about running the whole thing.

I hadn’t run since the following Sunday– in Hawaii– and I wasn’t trying to push myself to do anything more than enjoy the race.


I succeeded at doing just that!


Race to Wrigley 5k

You start the race right out front of Wrigley Field– which is a cool place to be just about any day of the week. The course ran a couple blocks West, then a couple blocks North, then headed East back to Wrigley. The Lakeview/Wrigleyville neighborhood is really pretty– lots of that windy city charm. For most of the race, I found myself comparing the houses– playing a game I used to play in the car as a kid to pass the time: I’d compare the houses on the street and say “yes” or “no” to whether or not I’d live there.


A short way from the Water Station, I slowed to a fast walk. I hadn’t had enough water that morning, and I was cramping a bit. I did what Jonah taught me– continued breathing deep and lifted my arms up. I grabbed some water, sipped at it, and kept walking until the cramp subsided. I probably walked for 2/10ths of a mile, maybe. Not too long. It hurt a bit when I started running again, but when I saw the 2-Mile marker, I couldn’t let myself stop. Just over a mile to go? I could do that.


Right where I decided to start running again, there were trees with little white petals snowing off of them. It was picturesque! I felt like I was running through a movie set.


I got super tired in the middle of Mile 2. I overheard a man behind me telling his kids, “You see that building with the flags on the top? Once we get there, Wrigley is just a block away.”

I give myself mini-goals whenever I’m setting about to accomplish pretty much anything, so I determined that I was at least going to make it to that building, then maybe walk until I could see the field.

Well, I got to that building and couldn’t stop: because I could already see the field. Once you got to the field, you ran the last leg through the lower concourse. Running on the old stone floor of Wrigley Field is so cool. It was a short portion to run through, but still: cool. The finish line was just outside where you exit the building. I felt GREAT.


My last race in Chicago was the Warm Your Heart Indoor 5k, and I felt like garbage after that run. After this run, I felt awesome. I felt like I had challenged myself just enough, and the best part? I happened to look at my time on my Nike app: 36:10. I’m pretty sure that’s my best time yet. My other runs have been around 38 minutes.


I know that’s not exactly “fast,” but hey, whatever. I’ve never really focused on timing; I’m more concerned with mileage and running more than I walk. In my mind and by my standards, I’m winning.


One of my favorite things about running this course was the neighborhood people who sat on their front stoops and cheered us along– the ones shouting “great job, runners!” and the kids who came down and held out their hands for high-fives– it was awesome.


The Verdict: I could’ve done without the waking up before 5am and the chilly weather, but the good outweighed the bad for this race, as it usually does. Chicago is such a fun city, and I loved getting to run around– and through– one of the best, most classic ballparks. I hope to do it again next year!


{Special thanks/shout-out to Ashley, Traci, Toni, and Christiaan for a great time!}


Next Up: Color Run – May 25th. This coming Saturday!

*It should be mentioned that even though we are “Chicago Teams” fans, we are not White Sox fans. As Judy Miller so aptly put it on an old episode of Still Standing: “The White Sox are NOT from our town!”

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5k Review: Jelly Bean Virtual 5k

So have you ever heard of a “Virtual 5k”?


I hadn’t either until I was invited to join some other ladies doing one. It’s a pretty cool concept, actually. What happens is that you sign up to be part of the virtual race, and then you can run (or bike, if that’s an option) the specified distance, keeping your own time, and you log your time online. Essentially, you’re running with a bunch of other people, but in different locations at different times.


{Am I explaining this well?}


I didn’t really know what to think about this concept, but in an effort to keep myself running, I like to consistently have a 5k that I’m training for. I had run the indoor 5k in January, it seemed like a pretty good idea to have one on the calendar for March. I considered running one of the St. Patrick’s Day 5ks around here… the Shamrock Shuffle or something… but seriously, 5ks can be pretty expensive. Plus, to do one of those, I’d have to travel to Chicago or Milwaukee, adding even more expenses. When I was invited to do the Jelly Bean Virtual 5k, and was told that it was only $11, I was sold!


A group of five of us signed up as a team to do this race. We met at a pretty popular running spot in our area, Lake Andrea, at the ungodly hour of 8am this past Saturday.


{I know, I know. 8am isn’t early when you’re a mom, but it’s early for running… especially when you prefer to run in the afternoons like I do…}


I had hoped it would be warming up by March, but alas, it has only gotten slightly above the 30’s this past week. I was only able to run outside once before the race; all other training was done on the treadmill. I had planned to just do the run I was on for the Couch-to-5k program (Week 3, Day 3) but one of the ladies, Corey, was on Week 7 or 8 of the program and asked if I was going to run the 25 minutes with her. I initially said no, but after running through the first two “walk” times for my program, I just abandoned it and kept running. I ran most of the race, which I hadn’t planned on doing– I hadn’t run more than 2 miles in a long time.


The funny thing about a Virtual 5k is that there isn’t a huge group of people doing it with you. The five of us had our race bibs on, but there were only five of us. There were plenty of other people out walking or running around the lake. So when I slowed to walk about halfway through and saw the other ladies getting pretty far ahead of me, I felt a little silly walking with a race bib on. By myself. So I ran the rest of it, and it felt great.


As with any good race, this one came with all the swag that $11 can buy. We got some adorable race bibs, gold medals, and a small bag of starburst jelly beans. (Small note: I finally discovered some jelly beans that I can actually enjoy. I’ve never cared for jelly beans– this is no longer the case! Thank you, Starburst, for making a jelly bean that I don’t hate.)

Jelly Bean 5k

When you enter in your run times online, you are also entered to win some various running-related prizes. It’s a random drawing, so it doesn’t matter how slow you are, you still have a shot at winning a prize, which I thought was pretty cool!


All that to say…

The verdict is: Virtual Races are a pretty cool idea– particularly if you have others to do it with you. It’s flexible, inexpensive, and although “everyone” isn’t doing it all at once, there is something pretty communal about it– especially when you go onto the Run with Jess Facebook page and see pictures of other runners and bikers posting their pictures, holding their medals and jelly beans, and sharing in the experience from miles away.

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