Roller Coaster Race Recap Part 2: The Ride

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Roller Coaster Race Lake George as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Welcome to part 2 of my Roller Coaster Race recap, where I talk about the “ride” race. You can read Part 1 here.

What Is It?
In addition to the 5k and 10k running races, there was also the option to ride a 5k distance (16,405 feet) worth of roller coasters. They had a handy chart (see below) showing how long each coaster was, and each participant received a wrist band with sections for the different coasters. After each ride, you’d get a hole punch to prove you rode it, and at the end of the day, you checked in at the race tent, where they calculated your overall distance, and awarded you with a medal.

Roller Coaster
Distance (ft) Minimum Height (in)
Alpine Bobsled 1,490 42
Flashback 1,870 48
Comet 4,197 48
Steamin’ Demon 1,565 48
Frankie’s Mine Train 787 42 (none w/ adult)
Canyon Blaster 2,036 48 (42 w/ adult)

How Did it Go?
To be honest, I feel like there were a lot of things that sounded good in theory, but in practice, didn’t work out so well. Part of the hype for the event is that those participating would “Enjoy early access to The Great Escape and select rides, before the park opens to the public!” Now, I assumed, and I don’t think I was the only one, that this “early access” would allow us to get a head start on our roller coaster mileage before the park opened to the general public. I know that I shouldn’t assume, but here’s what actually happened:

After waiting around in the sun until 9:30, we were allowed through security and into the park. Several hundred of us streamed in, only to find that we had been relegated to a fraction of the park, with only one operational set of restrooms per gender, no food vendors, and only three operating rides. The bathrooms were jam-packed with stinky runners trying to change out of their sweaty clothes, and there was only one roller coaster available, The Flashback (formerly the Boomerang), which I know for a fact gives me motion sickness because it goes backwards. I was immediately irritated, especially because by this point, I was HANGRY due to the less-than-stellar post-race food offerings.

I ended up just sitting on a bench and waiting until 10 am, when the park was officially open, and then getting changed and making a beeline for the closest coaster, The Canyon Blaster. I’d never ridden it before, and it was actually a lot of fun. There was almost zero wait because it was so early in the day, and I thought about getting in line to get right back on, but I decided to hop on the Steamin’ Demon since it was right next door. They’re doing this new Virtual Reality experience, which sounds cool, but in reality means it takes about 5 times longer to load and unload everyone, because they have to get the headsets on and off. I opted not to do the VR experience, and I’m glad. I didn’t like this coaster much at all–I was jostled hard and my head bounced back and forth between the shoulder guards a lot, giving me a headache that would stick around all day.

At this point, I headed toward the Comet, for several reasons; firstly, it’s the longest coaster in the park, and only four rides on it would get me enough mileage to get my medal, and secondly, it’s my favorite roller coaster EVER. As I made my way to the Comet, I kept my eyes peeled for a food vendor, because as previously  mentioned, I was starving. As I walked, I was disappointed time and time again by signs stating “Open Daily at 11.” It was only 10:20. Strike one. I passed the Alpine Bobsled, my second favorite coaster, and saw a sign saying it wouldn’t be open until 11. Strike two. I got to the Comet only to find that it was closed, and the attendant didn’t know when or if it would be open that day. Strike three. I was full-on pissed.

Photo Jul 16, 12 54 17 PM

I wanted to steal this lion’s beer.

I wandered for the next 40 minutes, stewing in my hanger and frustration. Eventually, 11 am rolled around and I was able to get my hands on an $8 slice of pizza. Yes, you read that right. $8 for a greasy, crappy slice of pizza. But it was better than nothing. Feeling somewhat better, I headed back to where I’d come from and got in line for the Alpine Bobsled. I waited at least 40 minutes in line, in the blazing sun, feeling more and more discouraged as time went on. If the waits were all like this, there was no way I’d have the patience or the staying power to finish the 5k. My head was aching and I could tell I was dehydrated and still very hungry.

After the Bobsled, I decided to try my luck back over at the Canyon Blaster again, since the lines the first time around had been so short. I waited 30 minutes in line, and decided I’d had enough. I’d take a final swing by the Comet to see if by some miracle it was open, and if it wasn’t, I was going home, regardless of whether or not I’d finished the 5k. As luck would have it, the Comet WAS open, and had ridiculously short lines, likely because it’s way in the back of the park, behind the water park. I rode the Comet twice in rapid succession, but after the second time my head hurt so badly I knew that going again would be a really bad idea. I decided to call it quits. I didn’t think I had quite enough distance to qualify for the Ride medal, but I hoped the race officials would take pity on me. (After going back and doing the math, I was 884 feet short).

Photo Jul 16, 1 33 05 PM

That’s the Comet in the background

Now here is where I got really upset. In order to check in with the Roller Coaster Race officials, I had to completely exit the park. No big deal, as I was planning to leave anyway. I got outside and tried to walk over to the table that I could clearly see not 20 yards away, but was stopped by a security guard telling me I couldn’t go that way. I asked how I was supposed to check in with the race table, and he told me I’d have to go through security again. I’d have to wait in line and go through a metal detector again when I was hot, dehydrated, and quite frankly, OVER IT. I shook my head in disbelief and left without going to the race table. I’m sorry, but nobody should have to go back through security just to get their damn medal. I had literally just exited the park that I had already gone through security to get access to, and I couldn’t just walk over to the table that was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.

I will be the first to admit that I did a lot wrong. I didn’t eat enough of the post-race fare because I assumed I could get food inside the park. I didn’t drink enough water and got dehydrated. I assumed that early access to the park meant early access to the coasters. But the park and the race did some stuff wrong too. When you’ve got hungry runners, you need to make sure they get fed, or at least make sure they have access to food. When you’ve got “racers” trying to get a certain number of rides in, you need to make sure that all of your coasters are operational, and maybe make it easier for them to get in the required number of rides before lines get out of control. And you need to make access to race officials easy. That table should either have been inside the park, or outside the security checkpoint.

All that being said, I would consider doing this race again, especially knowing what I know now. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If I had brought plenty of my own water and snacks, the day certainly would have been a lot more pleasant. And I also would have just ridden the Canyon Blaster as many times in a row as I could while the lines were so short, which would have prevented a lot of me feeling pissy about wait times and being able to ride enough coasters before I wanted to go home.

Did you ever make an assumption about a race that turned out to be incorrect? How did you handle it?

 

 

Product Review: Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra Handheld Bottle

Disclaimer: I received an Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I don’t think I’m the only runner who has a love/hate relationship with handheld bottles. Love, because it can be simpler to carry a small bottle on short-to-middle distance runs than strapping on a big hydration pack. Hate, because they’re often ill-fitting, heavy, or otherwise annoying.

I used to have a handheld bottle, I can’t even remember what brand, but every time I used it, my hands got all crampy from having to clutch it constantly, and I had to re-tighten the strap every few minutes. The nozzle also was one of those ones where you have to pull it open and push it to close, so it wasn’t very fast or easy to get a drink. I threw that bottle away after only a few uses because I was so frustrated with it, and since then, I haven’t had anything to take with me on shorter runs.

When BibRave asked for volunteers to try the Amphipod Hydraform Ergo-Lite Ultra, I was a bit wary, but I figured, why not give it a shot? We were heading into summer, and I absolutely wilt when running in the heat, so if nothing else, it would be practical to have one. I chose the 16 oz version because usually that’s all I need for a run up to 10 miles. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this while running as much as I would have liked due to my recent tailbone injury and subsequent two week running break. I did, however, get to take it on one good 4 mile tempo run, and several walks, and I was impressed.

Ergo-Lite Ultra

Features:

  • Jett-Squeeze Cap
  • Reflective detail on pocket
  • Expandable pocket and key clip
  • Thumb-lock sleeve design
  • Neoprene sleeve acts as insulation
  • 3 quick-access gel storage slots

The Good:

The neoprene strap was tight enough to actually hold the bottle to my hand, so I didn’t feel like I had to hold it in a death grip. My natural stance with running is to have my hands completely open and fingers loose, so having to hold onto something messes me up. In fact, it was almost a bit too tight, because I could feel the seam stitching biting into my hand a bit, but after the fact, I realized that the strap is adjustable, so it was an easy fix.

The bottle is also ergonomically shaped; rather than a typical round or oval bottle, the Ergo-Lite Ultra bottle is shaped to fit naturally in your hand, which I think is another reason I don’t have to hold on so hard.

Photo Jun 08, 12 49 37 PM

The expandable pocket on the unit is AWESOME. It actually fits my iPhone 6s in its bulky, Otterbox-style case, and I feel confident that I could also fit extra gels or chews in there if I needed to. There’s a great slip pocket inside the pocket to keep credit cards or ID secure as well.

Photo Jun 23, 1 03 33 PM

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Jett-Squeeze cap. There’s no pulling or pushing the lid up, no biting or sucking–you just give the bottle a gentle squeeze, and it shoots water into your mouth, or on your head, or wherever you want it to go. I can’t stress enough how much I love this feature. When I’m hot and sweaty, the last thing I want to do is put my sweaty hand on my water bottle cap, or try to pry it open with my teeth. And best of all, it doesn’t leak. You could leave the bottle on the floor for an hour and you wouldn’t have a puddle to clean up when you came back.

The Bad:

My biggest problem with handhelds is unfortunately universal: they’re heavy and they throw me off balance a bit. Whichever arm is carrying the bottle gets tired, so I constantly have to switch off, which is annoying. If I don’t put my phone in the pocket, it’s MUCH lighter and more user-friendly, and I have plenty of shorts/capris with pockets that I can put my phone in instead. While all handhelds have the potential to be annoying, I think the ergonomic design of the Ergo-Lite Ultra makes it much easier to carry than its competitors.

My only complaint specifically for the Ergo-Lite Ultra is that the very first time I took the neoprene sleeve off the bottle, the bottle was discolored. This is probably my own fault for leaving it in my hot car repeatedly, but it still looks kind of gross.

Photo Jun 23, 1 21 38 PM

Conclusion:

I’m really happy with this product. It offers a surprising amount of storage space in a very compact unit, and is much more comfortable and easy to hold onto than other handhelds I’ve tried. I know it’s going to serve me well this summer.

Do you ever run with handheld bottles? Why or why not?

Product Review: Zensah Well Rounded Shorts

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Zensah Well Rounded Shorts to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I’m always looking to expand my collection of running gear. I currently have an entire drawer of my dresser dedicated just to running bottoms and tops (and that doesn’t include sports bras and socks!), but I just can’t stop myself from wanting more. I’m really picky about what I wear, so I’m always looking for the next best thing. When I learned that us lady Pros would have the chance to test the Zensah Well Rounded Shorts, I jumped on it. We’re heading into summer, and I overheat really easily, so having another pair of shorts to add to my arsenal would be great.

Photo Apr 25, 12 38 42 PM

I ordered the Heather Teal color, and it’s lovely. It’s a dark teal, so it hides sweat, but it’s just such a unique and pretty color. According to the size chart, I ordered a medium, and I found that they fit perfectly. The waistband is really wide so it doesn’t dig into my spare tire, which I LOVE. I carry most of my extra weight around my middle and it can be tough to find bottoms that don’t give me muffin top. While the band at the bottom of the leg openings is a bit tighter and causes more of a sausage look than I’d like, I think it’s intended to keep them from riding up (more on that later).

Photo Apr 27, 7 28 36 AM

These shorts have a 4.5 inch inseam, which is quite a bit shorter than I usually wear (7-8 inches is more typical for me), because I have large thighs and I have to worry about chafing. Still, I was willing to give the shorter length a try. The material of these shorts is deliciously soft and comfortable. It’s super lightweight, and the crotch seam is a different shape than other crotch seams, so it doesn’t invade my lady bits. This may be TMI, but I have a history of *ahem* personal chafing from the seams of bottoms, so I was pumped not to have to worry about that.

Admittedly, I wasn’t able to test these out as much as I would have liked before writing this review. They were delivered while I was on my recent vacation, so my window was quite a bit shorter than the other Pros who tested them out. Still, I was able to take them for a few quick spins. The first run was an easy four miler around my neighborhood. While they stayed in place pretty well, it was a warm day, and despite a liberal application of 2Toms Butt Shield anti-chafe goo, I still had a bit of chafing on my inner thighs.

Photo Apr 29, 5 41 13 PM

My second run in them was an easy 5k while I was recovering from my disastrous 20 miler. It was a cooler day, so I threw caution to the wind and didn’t apply any anti-chafe product. I’m not sure what changed, but on this run, the shorts rode right up my thighs until they were tiny little booty shorts, and I felt incredibly self-conscious the whole run. I took a picture to show how much they rode up, but was too embarrassed to post it here–yikes! This was amplified by the fact that I was pretty aggressively cat-called by a strange man during that run. I kept having to tug them down my thighs, and honestly couldn’t wait to get back to my office and change. After that experience, I was reluctant to wear them out of the house again.

The death-blow, though, was realizing that these shorts are NOT opaque. If I wore them with underwear, I could easily see my underwear through them, especially if bending over (like to tie a shoelace or stretch out), and when going commando, you could clearly see my buttcrack. Not pretty. Many of my fellow Pros experienced the same thing, and we reached out to Zensah for some more information. They let us know that they had intentionally developed the Well Rounded short with female athletes who were looking for a lightweight short that was intended to be worn without underwear. That explains why it’s so soft, and why they probably never did an opaque-test.

I will say, however, that while they weren’t my ideal running short, I really enjoyed wearing them around the house as super-soft PJ bottoms, and loved them for at-home yoga sessions as well. I anticipate that they’ll also be great as a lightweight modesty layer under sundresses this summer. Unfortunately, they’re just not the right running short for me. I need the extra length to help me feel more secure and prevent chafing, and I need to be able to have a full range of motion without worrying that some creeper can see through my shorts. However, I know that some of my fellow pros LOVED the shorts, so don’t just take my word for it, check out their reviews too–Janelle, Cassie, JenAmy. I’m hopeful that Zensah will hear our concerns about the lack of opacity in the fabric, and use that to improve future versions of them

If you’re interested in picking up your own pair of Zensah Well Rounded shorts, use code ZENBIB15 for 15% off your purchase (only valid on Well Rounded shorts), and make sure you join our Twitter #BibChat at 9 pm ET on Tuesday May 10. You can learn more about Zensah, the shorts, and maybe win a pair for yourself!

Do you do the “bend over” test in new athletic bottoms to check the opacity of the fabric?

Product Review: 2XU Compression Calf Sleeves and Vectr Socks

Disclaimer: I received a pair of 2XU Calf Sleeves and VECTR Socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Ah, compression. It’s all the rage. It seems like I can’t turn a corner without someone touting the benefits of compression gear. I am definitely a fan. I’ve written about several experiences with various compression garments, and I’m here today with another review. As a BibRave Pro, I’ve been fortunate to work with 2XU several times, testing their MCS Compression tights and MCS Thermal Compression tights. As you may recall, those were unfortunately misses for me.

This time around, we’re testing out the Race VECTR Socks and Performance Run Calf Sleeves. I LOVE compression socks and sleeves after a long or hard run, so I was excited to put these through their paces.

About the VECTR Socks

vectrThe VECTR socks come in four different colors (for women), and are designed with a special “x:lock”support system to support your ankles and arches. There’s extra cushion in the heel and forefoot, but the rest of the sock is really lightweight, with mesh panels. And of course, the sock offers compression for increased blood flow and faster recovery.

 

About the Performance Run Calf Sleeves

sleevesThese calf sleeves come in LOTS of fun color options, and offer graduated compression (highest compression furthest away from the heart) for better performance and faster recovery. The material is sweat-wicking, antibacterial, and offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun, which is always nice when you’re out logging lots of miles.

 

My Experience With the Socks and Sleeves

Personally, I prefer compression post-run for recovery as opposed to wearing it during a run. I’ve tried many different brands of compression socks, and they always end up making my feet and calves crampy. I gave the 2XU socks and sleeves a fair shot with a couple of short runs, but got the same discomfort I usually get. It’s time to face facts that I’m just not someone who can run with compression on my feet. Oh well.

Photo Mar 04, 12 37 22 PM

For recovery, these items are BOMB.COM. I mostly have all-in-one tall compression socks, which are generally fine. But having a separate sock and calf sleeve allows all kinds of room for mixing and matching. It’s also easier to get them on in two pieces. Instead of having to roll them up like pantyhose, I can just put the socks on, and then slide the sleeves right over them. Easy peasy! I’m also VERY excited to be able to wear the sleeves solo with some sandals during the warmer months, so I can recover without looking like a (total) doofus. They’ll be perfect to rock after the Vermont City Marathon in May.

Pros:

  • Great fit, and stay in place really well
  • Both products work really well together, or on their own
  • The calf sleeves are actually long enough! I’ve tried other brands that don’t quite cover my entire lower leg
  • Compression feels great for recovery–less soreness and fatigue after tough runs
  • I’ve washed them several times (line dry), and they still look great and fit exactly the same as when they were fresh out of the box

Cons:

  • Too much compression for me to comfortably run in; I prefer to wear them for recovery only

The Performance Run Calf Sleeves retail for $39.95 per pair, and the VECTR Socks are $19.95 per pair. When you compare this to other compression socks and sleeves on the market, this is a very competitive price. I think they are well worth the money. And since summer is coming, I will probably be ordering at least one more pair of calf sleeves for warm-weather recovery with free toes.

If you’re interested in trying some socks or sleeves of your own, use code TRAIN15 for 15% off any full-priced item until April 30. If you’d like to read more about the socks and sleeves, check out what my fellow BibRave Pros have to say:

Frank | Mark | Jessica R

Also, don’t miss the 2XU-sponsored Twitter #BibChat on March 22!

Do you like to run with compression socks/sleeves, or do you save compression for recovery?

 

 

 

I’m a BibRave Pro!

I got the good news right before my run last night, and it definitely put some pep in my step! I had applied on a whim after they’d already announced their initial selections for the 2015 ambassadors, figuring that I probably wouldn’t hear anything, but it couldn’t hurt to try. Now I’m glad I did!

For those of you who don’t know, BibRave is a website designed specifically for race reviews. It’s intended to help you get real runners’ perspectives on real races, so you can more easily decide which races are worth traveling to, or shelling out the bucks for. When I first heard about the website, I was really excited to check it out. But then I realized that a lot of the races that happen near me (Northern Vermont), were really not reviewed or represented at all, which meant that the website wasn’t that useful for me, or people around me.

In my application to be a BibRave Pro, I mentioned that, and said that I would work hard to run and review more races in my area so that it would be better represented. I guess my pitch worked!

As a BibRave Pro, I will have lots of excellent opportunities to work with companies, testing and reviewing products, and I’ll also have the opportunity to get at least one free race entry per year. I’m very excited to help grow the Vermont/Northern New England database on BibRave, and I’m excited to meet and work with my fellow pros.

If you’re on BibRave and you’d like to connect, click here. I encourage you to check it out, especially if you’re considering a race-cation and need help deciding which race to run!

How do you research potential races?