Esprit de She: 5k Palo Alto 2013
Honestly, I had very low expectations for this event for a number of reasons: (1) Lifetime Fitness, one of the main sponsors, promoted and sponsored a “Commitment Day 5k” on New Year's Day 2013 and not only was the San Francisco event cancelled, I was never notified of the cancellation and spent part of New Year's Eve scrambling around the internet trying to figure out where I was supposed to show up. Also, still waiting for a refund. (2) The event was moved from its original location (Emeryvile, near me!) to Palo Alto, on a weeknight. Seriously guys, who plans a run for a weekday evening at the end of one of the major traffic corridors in the country?? (3) Originally the event had a 10k and a 5k, but the 10k was cancelled just a few weeks' out.
That said, I had a fantastic time!
Pre-event: The customer service team was quite accommodating and offered to allow me to either cancel my registration with a full refund or switch to the 5k with a partial refund (the initial cost for the 10k was a little bit more than the 5k). Mad props to Stephanie Weber, the recipient of my initial email which included complaints about the cancellation of the Commitment Day run. One day I was pleasantly surprised by an email informing me I'd won a full box of Luna bars; as promised, a full box of 15 Peanut Honey Pretzel flavored Luna bars arrived at my door via UPS. Communication regarding logistics was adequate without being overwhelming.
Arrival: Parking locations were signed/easy to locate. Lots were close to the start! Check-in had a wait of a mere five minutes, with no waiting at bag check.
The course: A 5k out-and-back in a regional park (Baylands Nature Preserve) that will soon be closed to all events for several years, it had both negative and positive aspects. I was annoyed by the narrow passage in a few spots, and decidedly uncomfortable on the unpaved sections, where I was literally eating runners' dust (and crying it out from under my contact lenses). On the bright side, it was a gorgeous day to be outside, the park setting was lovely, and the water station and cheerleaders did a great job. The two-wave start was a great idea. I loved seeing the girls from Girls on the Run smiling on the course (as they passed me in one direction or the other).
The swag and after-party: Decidedly great! Instead of a race shirt, Esprit de She came with a cute tank top and reusable yellow cross-body bag (think Chico Bag, but with a cross-body design and an internal pocket). The bag had sponsor samples, of course, and more were available at the finish line. After I had a mimosa and a glass of wine, I enjoyed a vegetarian sandwich (I'm a vegetarian–meat-eater sandwiches were also available) and other snacks accompanied by live music. I spent some time chatting at the Vega booth (more on that in a later post). I skipped the mini massages, manicures, and makeovers, in part because it was getting chilly as the sun went down and in part because I had an hour's drive ahead of me. One thing I didn't skip: entering the “text to win” by sponsor Athleta–I won a $50 gift card!
Conclusion: I'd definitely do this event again. For one, Girls on the Run (http://www.girlsontherun.org) is a worthy recipient of funds raised by this event. Second, there were a decent number of women who were running their very first 5k. The event accommodated both the faster runners (definitely not me!) and the super slow-pokes (that's me). Finally, I had a great time even though only one of my running buddies was there. I'm looking forward to 2014.
For more information on the Esprit de She series of runs, rides, duathlons, and triathlons, visit http://www.espritdeshe.com
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