Back in February there was a groupon for The Great Inflatable Race. When a friend told me about it, I thought it looked super fun, but it was taking place about an hour from my house. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make that kind of commitment for a 5k. The more I thought about it, the more a 5k interspersed with inflatable obstacles felt like a must-do in my life. I wrangled in another friend to do it with us, and then bought the ticket so that I wouldn’t
get too lazy to run another 5k chicken out.
The night before the race, my friend M and I had a sleepover so that we would be closer to the meet-up place to carpool. It was so fun. We went to Thai food and frozen yogurt, and drank a ton of water to make sure we were properly hydrated. We both had stressful, crazy weeks so it was really nice to get to relax and have some girl talk to decompress. We also went to the store to buy a healthy, light breakfast for the morning. We bought Naked Protein Smoothies. I love the Naked Mango smoothie. They’re $2.50-$3.50 so I only get them every once in awhile, and drink it over two days. I figured the Mango Protein would be good too. After telling her how good the Naked smoothies are, she choose a Naked Tropical Blend Protein smoothie over the Odwalla brand.
Whatever you do, do NOT buy the Naked Protein Smoothies. The regular ones are amazingly delicious. Buy those. Drink them. Enjoy your refreshing smoothie without having to drive around looking for a smoothie shop. But the Protein version… so disgusting. I couldn’t even drink 1/3 of mine. It is super grainy. No amount of shaking could make it not taste like someone poured two cups of very fine sand into my delicious drink. The idea was a protein smoothie would give us the energy to run a 5k like a badass. M was tougher than me and finished hers entirely, so her smoothie met its goal, but her review of the Tropical Blend was just as bad. Mine went into the garbage. Yuck.
We got to Issaquah, WA about 45 minutes early. It was a good thing, too, because my registration wasn’t in their computer. I could have sworn I finished the registration. (When you buy a groupon for a 5k, you still have to go to the actual 5k site and register for it there.) The girls at the check-in booth were super nice, let me show them my groupon voucher, registered me right there and handed over a race packet with my size t-shirt. Whew! For a few minutes there I was nervous that I would have to wait at the start line for my friends to finish the run without me. The location was GORGEOUS but I didn’t want to sit alone for 45 minutes.
Another great reason to arrive early was that Krave Jerkey had a booth set up with samples of like 8-9 different flavors of jerkey. I tried two flavors and they were both SO GOOD. I didn’t have my wallet with me so I couldn’t buy any, but it’s definitely going on my shopping list.
As we were waiting for the race to start, it started to rain. It was gloomy, but that’s not unusual here. We haven’t had measurable rain basically all summer and the forecast didn’t call for it, so we weren’t prepared. I had my sweater in the car, so I put that on. I don’t normally run in long sleeves and it felt bulky, but I’m glad I ran back and got it while we waited to start. As we ran, the rain kept getting heavier and heavier. It was misting during my first 5k, but this was more than mist. By the end we were SOAKED. Not only that, the race was through a grassy park. The grass around most of Western Washington is dead (see, no rain) right now. We were really glad that we were in the first heat because the inflatables because a wet, muddy slip and slide. They were still fun, but I can’t tell you the last time I slid down a blow up slide and landed butt first in a muddy puddle. What I can tell you is that it’s very uncomfortable. haha
I was very impressed with the volunteers for the race. They all had a great attitude, despite standing in rain for hours. One of the inflatables was deflated when we got to it. They were having some sort of technical difficulty. Even those volunteers were nice and had a good, peppy attitude while they apologized for the de-flatable.
I’m afraid of heights. The final inflatable was terrifying. One of my friends was brave enough to do it. But there was no way you could get me to climb up the death drop. As a result, I said we should either do the drop, or run the last half mile so we did an actual 5k. In the end, all three of us ran the last half mile, and I’m so glad we did. There’s something really satisfying about finishing a 5k distance.
I really enjoyed the race itself. We had a couple complaints. First, the path was not marked super well. We had directions to keep the cones to our left, but the path back-tracked in some areas so it was hard to tell where to turn sometimes. It’s totally possible that the path WAS a full 5k, but we accidentally missed a point in the trail somewhere. Signs every so often would have been helpful, even if they only had arrows.
Also, there wasn’t an actual finish line. The final inflatable was a choice between the Death Drop or a Slip and Slide. Then that was it. No run to a “Look, I did it!” finish line. You’d think there would be an inflatable finish line stand for sale or rent somewhere that they could use. So it felt a little unorganized, and I’m glad I had a groupon and didn’t pay the full, final price. However, it was a ton of fun and the run felt totally doable with built in breaks while we waited in line for the inflatables. It was worth the $40 price I paid and a GREAT way to start a Saturday morning with a super fun workout.
After the race we went to Starbucks for coffee, tea and breakfast. Then I went home, showered all of the mud, sweat and rain off of my body, took a wonderful nap and still had time to decide at the last minute head an hour north again to meet J at a marina with his brother and a fun group of boating friends. I love weekends.