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Jul 31 / Jane

Running with the Balloons 5k 2013

Sunday was one of Alex and my favorite 5ks, the Running with the Bulloons 5k at Balloonfest! The first year we ran, we arrived for the AM mass hot air balloon ascension and were just thrilled. After the balloons went up the 5k went off, running along the launch area, around the airport and finishing on a runway in the middle of the festival. How cool!!

This year was our third year. The AM launch seemed earlier than previous years (it wasn’t, we were just tired), but the set up was the same, we parked just as close as we normally were able and picked up our race shirts and watched the inflations. The launch was delayed for weather, storms were looming, but they got the green flag around 7am (normal launch time is 6:30am). We watched the balloons go up, up and away, but it was cloudy and the wind pulled them away, back from the festival, not over and to the south like in previous years. We got some quick shots and then jogged a little warmup around the field.

I should mention, I dressed for the occasion. Every year they have the same “traditional” balloons, and some specialty ones, larger, shaped balloons. The first year there was Spider Pig from the Simpsons, last year Darth Vader, this year Elvis! So The race directors of the 5k decided to add an Elvis component to the race: the first fully dressed Elvis across the finish line wins a ride in a hot air balloon. Make a costume, win a ride in a hot air balloon? I’m in! I recruited my best friend, and costume maker extraordinaire, Flo, to assist me a week before. We bedazzled a white top and gold belt, then she let me borrow a white running (tennis, she calls it) skirt and red sparkly headband. I threw in scraps from my Christmas tree skirt to make a “scarf” and ta-da, Elvis!

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At the starting line I saw a woman in a pink outfit, complete with tutu, and a dark plastic wig and Elvis glasses. Well, not as good as me, but I needed to make sure I crossed the finish before her! Alex and I met up with Bill from PI, who’d made the trip on my recommendation, and took our places at the start. The Cannonlady started the race and we were off past the balloon launch area and out of the airfield onto a dirt road. We ran some rolling hills (I honestly don’t remember those from last year, I was probably too distracted by the horses everywhere…) and rounded a corner to a paved road.

The halfway mark had a self serve water station. I think this worked out better than in past years were the water station was closer to mile 2 and the finish and there weren’t enough participants to warrant more than they had. I had started the race a little fast and settled into what I thought was a nice sub 8:30 pace. We headed back onto the airfield through uneven grassy terrain, uphill to the start of the runway. I slowed a little, but not enough to make me worry. I started running past vendors and finally saw the clock. Of course I probably need glasses because by the time I saw it, it ticked over 27 minutes. 27?! How is that possible running sub 8:30?! Stupid watch. I crossed the line in 27:15, 15 seconds over my goal time with an average pace of 8:39. I really should have adjusted my watch settings and checked in at the mile markers, BUT I’m pretty sure I beat the “Elvis” in pink.

I headed over to where Bill was on the sideline and cheered Alex into a 28:28 finish, woohoo!! Amazing for running ONE time in the past six weeks. We collected bottles of coconut water, muscle milk and Gatorade and waited around for the awards. Bill had placed 2nd in his age group and I’d found a race coordinator and confirmed I’d be winning “first Elvis.” An Elvis impersonator was walking around, I grabbed a few pictures with him, then he did his thing on the stage and sang us all a couple of tunes. The race director did a nice job commentating the awards, even asking the first male and female what they thought of the race and the route. By the time Bill got his award the place was clearing out. My award was last. They called me up as the “first fully dressed Elvis to cross the finish,” (there were two other women in Elvis wigs, sunglasses and Hawaiian outfits in addition to myself and the one in pink).

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Seeing Double

Balloonfest Award

I received a medal, a certificate, and a ride in THE Elvis balloon during the evening ascension! Then the race director asked me if I would sing. Being the crazy person I am I said yes, and I sang “you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” chorus (yes, that line, and the next), two times and I was free to go. I ended up with a paper lantern shaped like a balloon in addition to my other swag and confirmation that Alex could also ride the Elvis balloon with me. Unfortunately there was a catch. The balloon ride was only for that evening as the Elvis balloon was visiting from Brazil and would be going back there on Monday, and of course if the balloons didn’t ascend due to weather, no balloon ride. Alright, okay.

So we took our things and headed around the festival in search of free stuff, another great aspect of this day. We each filled a reusable shopping bag and after a loop around to all the vendors, parted ways. Alex and I headed to my parents for their annual Geocaching Pool Party. But that’s another post. A severe thunder storm rolled through the area about 5pm so we scrapped any plans of going back to the festival for the balloon ride. I’m grateful we mostly did not want to go because we would have been disappointed. The PM ascension did not happen at all, to the dismay of a lot of patrons. I’m happy every year the AM ascension has been awesome. =)

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