Two weeks ago, I participated in a brand spankin’ new race in my area. This one was really unique in that you teamed up with a partner to complete 10K with 5 fitness challenges along the way. And that is not all: you did so while wearing backpacks loaded with bags of rice. It was like boot camp on the run! My partner-in-crime was my friend Sarah, who you met as part of our marathon relay team last year. Sarah is a fellow mother runner I met in prenatal class before our first babies were born. We spent our maternity leaves bonding over all things baby. 9 years later, we’re throwing on sparkle skirts, slapping on race bibs, and calling it a good time. No wonder we get along so well! And so, Team Sparkle & Sass was born. This was a tiny race (as in, almost too small to proceed), but after the mob scene the week before at Run or Dye, we were grateful for a change of pace. As we pulled up to the race site where parking was a breeze, we almost thought we had the wrong location. It was that quiet! I have a feeling this race will see huge growth as the word gets out because it was a fantastic event. The race course was unique as well in that the 5 fitness challenges were stationed in 5 different parks throughout the city. It was a great way to showcase the beauty of running downtown Kingston. We also lucked into a lovely day, weather-wise.
The event started with a fitness challenge involving animal walks – and perhaps my favourite line of the day came from the race organizer as we were doing crab walks: “Your crabs look great!”. Where else would you hear this in the middle of a race? We survived that first challenge – none too gracefully, I must admit – and were on the move. The course was not marked particularly well, but luckily I knew where the first stop was so we didn’t have to be “that team” out on the course, lost and confused. We had backpacks with about 2 lbs of rice in them at this point. We were not “racing”, but running a nice pace. At the height of my half-marathon training, I was treating this as a cross-training day more than a run or race. I had went over on my ankle on a training run a couple of days beforehand and was desperately worried I had injured myself – I was just thrilled to get moving and realize all was A-OK. As an aside, I must admit my paranoia about injury and illness sky rockets leading up to a big race. Case in point: the Niagara Falls Half was a month out when I jammed my heel on an uneven patch on the sidewalk and rolled my ankle. My thoughts immediately spiral something like this: My heel hurts. I must have plantar fasciitis. Now I am going to Google all of the horrible things this might mean. Time to mourn how all of my training will have been for nothing. I will not be able to run Niagara. Actually, I will probably never run again. Wow. Can’t someone just swaddle me in bubble wrap, mark it as “Fragile: Handle with Care” and send me to the Niagara Start Line? Please? Anyway, back to the race at hand. We hit the second fitness challenge and had way too much fun considering the difficult assignments – wheelbarrow walks, push-ups, sit-ups and, our favourite, leg raises and kicks which we managed to turn into our own conga line en route to Vegas! The fitness instructor did not enjoy our performance and had the nerve to correct our form. We were shocked: I mean, we were rocking it. What does he know? More rice added to the backpacks and off we go again! The next challenge was all about planking. Bring it on! We finished that one quickly and were on the run again with added rice in our backpacks. The next stop was probably our favourite fitness station, positioned right on the shores of Lake Ontario. This is the lovely path I run every week on my long run and yet this was the only park name I did not recognize. Not sure how that is possible, but you learn something new every day! This challenge was all about stability, balance and agility. We just had the final leg to run when things went a little south. By this point, we had 10 lbs of rice in our backpacks and were heading up a long hill. Insult to injury. Soon enough, we hit the turn-around (hallelujah!), but we then experienced some technical difficulties…and when I say “we”, I mean “I”. My backpack broke from the weight of the rice! The only option was to shove my rice in Sarah’s backpack and slap that on my back. Luckily, we were not too far from the final challenge. This one involved lunges, push-ups, sit-ups and squats – and thankfully, we got to deposit the rice into a donation bin for the local Foodbank before we sprinted to the finish! A truly unique and fun race, plus it included medals which is a big bonus for a bling junkie like me. I was loving that the medal lanyard matched my sparkle skirt! It’s all about the details. We had a fantastic morning on the run and could feel the effects of the great work-out for a few days afterwards. We loved the team-concept and the whole boot camp vibe of this very badass race. No two ways about it: Sparkle & Sass will be back next year! Thanks to Sarah for being a great teammate!
One final note, I hereby challenge Princess Alana to recruit a friend for next year…and may the best princess on the run win! (I can just imagine her reaction to this very public challenge – teehee!)
P.S. Did you enter our fabulous running shrug give-away yet? Run on over here to do so now – a winner will be announced on our Facebook page on October 16. And if you can’t wait, enjoy an exclusive discount to go shopping with a 20% off promo code!