Last weekend, I was finally, finally able to run a real live Best Damn Race. In Orlando!
Thanks to the gracious hospitality of Meghan, one of my fellow ZOOMA Ambassadors, I had a place to stay overnight. It was going to be a weekend of good timing: I was going to leave home after getting little man off to school and mixing up some frosting for a cake due on Sunday. After the race, I was going to be driving right home, because Mr PugRunner was off to a bachelor party out of town, and I was supposed to be back in time for little man’s baseball game and photos. I was up to the challenge.
I arrived in downtown Orlando at around 4:30 PM on Friday. I have been to the theme parks many times, but never actually in the heart of the city. I found a parking spot on the street, a few blocks from the Lake Eola Park, where the expo was set up and where the race would start and finish.
Meghan was on her way from work, so I picked up my own packet and wandered around the booths and the park.
It was a bit colder and windier than anticipated and I was looking forward to getting back inside and warmed up.
After chatting with some of Meghan’s friends and making plans for the next day as far as meeting up, we drove back to her place, where we hung out with her adorable pup a bit before going to Bonefish Grill for dinner, courtesy of some gift cards she had earned from a Yelp event.
We enjoyed lots of yummy seafood, a cocktail and we were ready for bed.
We were both racing the 10K, which started at 6:15. Since I wasn’t going to be able to hang out for long afterwards, we took separate cars and parked in a lot a few blocks away from the starting line (we didn’t have to pay for parking because we arrived before the attendant, but most of the race lots do charge for parking).
The only negative of the morning was the weather: it was chilly, humid and there was a heavy mist that was bordering on drizzle. Yuck. I despise the rain, but there was really not much to be done.
While we waited for the rest of Meghan’s friends to arrive, I took advantage of the short port a potty lines. There were plenty of facilities, especially considering the staggered start of the three distances.
Before long, it was time to line up. The start line was pretty crowded and Meghan and I said our goodbyes to find our places in the throng.
I really wanted to PR this race, but I wasn’t too sure I could do it. My only other 10K measured short (5.72 miles) and I was flying that day, so I wasn’t sure I could make up that much out on the course. Only time would tell.
Since the park is right next to some residential buildings, we had to keep the noise level down a bit, so the start was definitely pretty quiet, but once the runners heard “go”, we were off.
It was really cool running in a new city. I had absolutely no idea where we were and I loved having new scenery to see. We twisted and turned through part of downtown Orlando, and through some lovely residential areas, before winding back into the urban area. There wasn’t a lot of crowd support from the houses, but I credit that to the scattered showers and awful weather. There were, however, three or four manned stops with water and Nuun, with amazing volunteers who cheered us on in spite of the weather. Huge thanks to all of them for being there.
The course was challenging. There were a lot of corners, false flats, and uneven brick pavement. I had to really watch my footing because of the slick surfaces, made worse by wet leaves. It wasn’t bad, just very different than the roads where I usually race.
It was great to see the houses give way to buildings again, knowing the finish line was close.
I knew I didn’t have my PR, but I was really happy with my performance anyway.
I collected my medal.
Meghan and Karen weren’t too far behind, so I went to the bathroom and to grab a drink while I waited.
Be still, my heart.
I was hoping to get pics of Meghan and Karen crossing the finish line, but somehow, they slipped past me, so I caught up with them at the runner’s refreshment tent.
There was so. Much. Food. Fresh orange slices and bananas, different kinds of chips, muffins, brownies, and granola bars. Also plenty of water, soda and Red Bull, if one was so inclined.
Karen needed some ice, so we didn’t linger. In the end, we had to get her a cold can of soda, but then? It was time to enjoy ourselves.
We posed for pictures
and then moved on to the after party!
The beer was flowing, but I couldn’t take full advantage because I had a two hour drive ahead of me. There’s always next time, and I absolutely plan on being back.
Best Damn Race exceeded my expectations. It was one of the best organized races I’ve had the pleasure of running. The races were all capped at a manageable amount for the course, and that meant less crowding while running. The location was great and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. There were a ton of resources for runners: a huge variety of post-race snacks and refreshments, massages and restrooms. I absolutely feel like I got my registration’s worth (BDR offers a pretty unique pricing structure. When registration opens, the first ten registrants pay only $1, the next ten $5 and so on, depending on the distance and the number of slots. I was a late registrant for the 10K, so I ended up paying $30, but it was worth every penny). Also of note: BDR works with photo sponsors to try to get free pictures for runners. For this particular race, Make Yes Happen provided the course and finish line photography and photos were available for download within the week. It’s a nice perk.
My extreme thanks to Meghan for taking me in for the night and introducing me to so many lovely people in her local running circle. I can’t wait to run with them again!
What’s your favorite race series?
What are some things that make a race great to you?