Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mike's Maze and Gives a Hoot Halloween Fun Run

Fun, fun fun! This weekend was busy and a fantastic time. Saturday, one of my best friends, Molly, and her husband (as of about 30 days ago!), George, came out to visit. They had never done a corn maze before, so we decided to head up to Sunderland to Mike's Maze. This year's maze was Salvador Dali -- the theme was illusion. Here's the picture of the maze from the Mike's Maze website.

The maze looked like it had a lot of blank spots in the image from the Mike's Maze website, but things looked much denser on the ground in-person.

When we got to the maze, we took a few minutes to walk around and pet the goats, sheep, horses, and donkey that live there. Then it was into the maze for the game.

The way the maze works is that you get a map with numbered locations on it. You have to find each location on the map by traveling through the maze. When you get to your numbered location, you have to answer a question (dealing with the year's theme) before continuing onward. There were 19 places to visit in the maze.

The weather was clear but very windy and cool as we walked around the maze. We had a blast, and found all the locations without too much trouble. Molly and George were corn maze naturals. We got all but one of the questions right for the maze game, so we were able to take mini pumpkins at the end. We got the special bonus question at location 17 correct, which entitled us to one free shot at the potato gun. Seth took the shot and hit the target -- amazing job!

This morning, we got up with another fun activity planned. I had spontaneously decided to take part in the Gives a Hoot Halloween Fun Run put on by Cutchins Programs, a service organization for families with children with emotional or behavioral issues. When we got together for lunch this Friday, Maddy had mentioned that she and Dave were dressing up as owls and that he would be taking part in the Gives a Hoot 5K race in Northampton on Sunday. She invited Seth and I to come and join Maddy, Dave, and their neighbor friends who were all attending the race.

I decided to be impulsive and said, "Sure. I'd love to come!" The only obstacle was thinking us a costume for this costumes encouraged run. I put on my thinking cap and realized I was planning to wear black leggings and a blue shirt. I was just one communicator badge away from a Star Trek costume. Since I own three comm badges... problem solved!

Seth and I arrived in Northampton at the Toasted Owl for race sign-up at around 10:00 a.m. The race was set to start at 10:30 a.m., and I needed to register, since I had not pre-registered online. The place was not filled with people, but the atmosphere was very fun and festive. The local radio station was on location playing some pumping music.

I went over and was registered in a jiffy. How easy and pleasing!

Soon, Maddy and Dave arrived with their neighbors. Maddy and Dave's costumes were outstanding!

The music and fun continued as we waited to start. There was a sudden mini flash mob dance to "Thriller" which was 100% entertaining and helped distract me from the cold.

One more quick photo of the runner, Jo, Dave, and me, and we were off to line-up. 

Announcements were super brief and then it was time to run. Great start -- right on time!

The weather was breezy, overcast, and cool, so I started out a bit fast. I knew the course was flat and should not prove too much of a challenge in that area, so I felt comfortable starting out at around a 9:25 mile. 

We started by heading up Market Street into a residential area of Northampton and past the historical Bridge Street Cemetery. From there we took a left into the industrial park, where we hit the 1 mile mark. At this point, I was finally starting to feel slightly warmer than freezing. At least when the wind wasn't blowing. Around a third of a mile away from the turn-around point in the industrial park, I saw Dave pass, going the other way. We waved and shouted at each other. 

Right after this an unfortunate thing happened: I looked down to see my shoe had come untied. This necessitated a brief stop. I had been cruising along. Even though it was a fun run, I still wanted to run my best; after all, the course was so nicely flat. This stop added second to the clock. Plus stopping mid-run always messes up one's rhythm. 

I got up from my shoe fix and continued on. Things were getting pretty breezy and chilly again. I was sucking down cold air. Now though, I had reached the turn-around at the intersection with Damon Road and began to double back, out of the industrial park and towards Bridge Street. Passing the two mile marker, my time was announced at just around 20 minutes. I could definitely make a good run of this.

By the time I reached Bridge Street, I had under a mile to go, but my calves were hurting! I've been having some cramping in my ankles and calves, and the cold weather was making this part of my body shout, "Stop! Stop running!" I chose not to listen, quickening my pace as much as possible. Soon the finish line (with band!) was in sight. I ran as fast as I could to the finish line! Seth and Maddy were waiting; Seth with a "Go Nicole!" sign.

Whew! I was huffing from a hard run in cold weather. It was all worth it though. Judging by the video, it looks like my clock time was around 29:27, which would make this run a personal record (PR) for me (beating my previous PR of 29:31 from the Revolutionary Run 5K last fall). Since this race was just clock timed and not chip timed, where as the Revolutionary Run was, I think I can safely say I ran my best. Maybe I Could have even been close to 29:00 if not for the forced shoe lace stoppage. I'm eager to see my official time if they get posted online.

I had a blast at the run, and would definitely want to take part in this fun small race next year. I loved seeing all the costumes, the race was very well organized, the course was fast, and the atmosphere was fun and festive. Even through I registered late in-person, I still got a cool t-shirt and a finishers pedometer.

This race also featured the inaugural race for my new headphones. A few months ago, my Skullcandy headphones finally died. I had been running in my iPhone earpods, but wasn't loving them. I had been holding off on spending money, but last weekend, I found a pair of yurbuds at the Best Buy for $30, half off their normal $60 price.

I decided to pick them up, and I am very glad I did. These earphones are such an improvement in fit. They are designed for athletes and to stay in the ear. I find that I don't have to fuss with them or deal with them falling out the way my iPhone earpods did. The yurbuds are designed to stay in the ear. I find them to be relatively comfortable and much less sweaty than my old earpods. The sound on them is average, probably slightly better than my iPhone earpods. One bonus, is that, like the earpods, they let in ambient sounds, which is key for when you're running on the road with music. I always keep my tunes pretty low because I want to be alert to my surroundings. Earphones that didn't let in ambient sounds would be a deal breaker for me.

I also like the cord, which does not get easily tangled. The travel pouch is a nice bonus. Like the earpods, there are volume and pause controls on the cord. I use those features a lot, so this was a must-have for me. 

All in all a very fun and exciting weekend. I was great spending time with friends and engaging in fun activities. The corn maze continues to be a favorite fall activity, and I definitely plan to do the Gives a Hoot 5K next year if my schedule allows. Fun times!


Jonathon Podolsky said...

Just wanted to let you know about Western MA Star Trek Meetup

Nicole Sibley said...

Oh, super cool! Thank you so much. :)