Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Blue Bell Fun Run Race Review

Saturday was the 34th annual Blue Bell Fun Run in Brenham, TX.  It was my first time to run the race.  I, like many others, was drawn in by the offer of all the free ice cream you want at the end.  (Let it be known that I am probably the world's biggest Blue Bell lover.  Ice cream is my favorite food and Blue Bell is the best!)

Race Logistics

There was the option to pick up your packet Friday night, but we chose to pick it up Saturday morning.  The race was fairly large considering it was in a small Texas town, but very organized.  The race starts and ends near the high school, which receives all the profit.  We were directed to a parking spot and made our way to the cafeteria to pick up our bibs and race shirts.  They are adorable royal blue dri fit, a pleasant surprise, especially since the race only cost $25.  I also appreciated the fact that they let my sister trade in her medium for a small since they were unisex and rather large.

The race was chip timed (another surprise for such a cheap race) via a bar on the back of our bibs.  The school bathrooms were open for our use, which was much better than the usual race port-o-let.  Lines were long, but moved quickly.  Fruit, water, and some kind of breakfast bar were donated by HEB for pre-race snacks. 

Races make for great people watching (probably because most runners are wierdos).  Scanning the crowd, I realized that this was a family friendly and dog friendly race.  Lots of pooches and strollers.  Races included a 1 mile fun run (for the kids), 5k, 10k, and 10k relay.  Start times of each race were staggered, with 1 mile run at 8:00, 10k relay at 8:15, 10k at 8:30, and 5k at 8:45.

The Route

The start was up a hill and around the corner from the high school/finish line.  Upon reaching the start, I saw there were corrals.  Volunteers held signs stating "under 7 minute miles" "8 minute miles" "9 minute miles" and "10+ minute miles".  I shuffled in with the 10+ers, which was a mistake because this group included all the walkers. 

It took a couple of minutes before I was able to cross the start, then a lot of bobbing and weaving ensued. We started on a downhill, but I was quickly introduced to the foreign-to-me incline.  A little after mile 2, the 5k route broke off from the 10k. 

The 10k continued into a very nice neighborhood, then at about mile 3 we turned a corner and I saw it.  A hill so huge and daunting, it may as well have been Mount Everest.  My legs were already burning from the unfamiliar ascents and descents.  So I walked.  I figured I could power walk up the mountain just as quickly as I could run up it. When I reached the summit, I looked to my left to see the most beautiful view of a field with a tin barn and looked to my right to see an empty water station.  Damn.  They ran out of water at the top of the hill!  (Let me add here that there were water stations manned by athletes from the high school at every single mile, as well as someone calling out time as you reached each mile.) Oh well.  What goes up must come down, and boy, do I love a downhill.  The next mile was gorgeous. It was fields and trees and shade.

At mile 5, the 5k route met back up with the 10k to finish the race.  I was dying. There was a volunteer who encouraged us by saying there was only 1 mile left.  That mile consisted of a small uphill, then a larger uphill (still not even close to 3 mile mountain), followed by a downhill to cross the finish.  When I finally reached the downhill, I booked it, but there were lots of 5k walkers in my way.  I felt insanely fast as I bobbed and weaved my way to the finish.

My Garmin showed 6.39 miles at the finish, but I hit go before crossing the start and have never worried about tangents.

The sky was overcast and it was trying to rain, but I never felt more than a few drops.  Just enough to make it humid.  The wind was gusting at over 20 mph, but only a couple of times did I feel like I was running into the wind.  Then again, while struggling to power up those monster hills, I wouldn't have noticed anyway.

Post Race

The finish was crowded and I had to loop my way back around to find water.  I downed 2 glasses then had one thing on my mind....free ice cream!

We made our way over to the ice cream truck, which was a feeding frenzy.  There were boxes of every type of ice cream bar or popsicle imaginable set out.  People were grabbing by the handful.  I chose a peach bar and a cookies and cream ice cream sandwich.  Immediately the wrapper was torn from the peach bar, and I took a bite as I made my way to the time tent.  The peachy goodness kept me occupied as I waited to see my time.  When I reached the front of the line, I realized it wasn't posted yet.  Oh well.  I was sick of the peach so tossed the last few bites and tore into my ice cream sandwich.  Yum!  This is what I think of when I think of Blue Bell.  Creamy, smooth, delicious ice cream.  I scarfed ate half and my stomach said "enough!". 

We were on a tight schedule, so didn't stick around for awards.  The winners of each division received an adorable medal which resembled a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream.  They were also giving away coupons for ice cream via a raffle, but I failed to throw my bib number into the pot. 

The reason we were in a rush to leave was because we had to backtrack to our hotel to shower before heading to the bluebonnet trail.  Little did we know, they had showers available in the locker rooms of the high school.  That would have saved us an hour.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

All in all, it was a great race.  Very organized and accomodating.  Although, it was not a great race for me personally.  I couldn't get out of my head, despite the fact that I was jamming an awesome new playlist. 

My recommendations

-If you have the opportunity to run this race, do it.
- Book a hotel way in advance.  We waited too late and nothing was available in Brenham.
-If you want to tour the creamery, go up early on Friday.  It isn't open on the weekends.
-Train.  More specifically, train on inclines.
- Bring your family and your dog.
-Pray for good weather.

Do you hill train?  What is the most fun race you have ever run?
Obviously, I don't hill train.  Hills are non-existent in my neck of the woods.
Red Dress Run in New Orleans is the funnest.race.ever!  But it's not really a race, because even if you wanted to run, you couldn't.  It's more like a bar crawl.


  1. Ice cream and a 10K what a perfect mix of awesome! I have family in San Antonio maybe I should plan a visit around this race next year!

    1. You definitely should! It such a beautiful time of year in West Texas, and it isn't too hot, yet.

  2. Congrats on the race! Also - I forgot you lived in Louisiana. I will be visiting New Orleans in July for a few days. Any must-see restaurants? I am not necessarily looking for touristy popular more 'real' food related.

    1. Oh so many! New Orleans is such a great food town! Here is my favorites list:

      Burgers - Port of Call on Esplanade St. Seriously, the best burgers I have ever had in my entire life. The line is usually long, but it's worth the wait. All they serve is burgers and steak, so if red meat isn't you thing (and I'm remembering that it isn't!), skip it.

      Pricey and upscale, but amazing food-Commander's Palace uptown. It's one of the oldest restaurants in N.O. and is where Emeril got his start. The food is unbelievable and the atmosphere is great!

      A step down from Commander's Palace, but owned by the same people and still really good-Palace Cafe on Canal St.

      Any of John Besh's restaurants (American Sector, Luke, August, Bourgne - his newest which I've heard great things about, Domenica)

      Pizza-Ancora. It's owned by a guy from my hometown and he cures all his own meat and makes his own sausage.

      And last but not least, you must check out the French Market. They have remodeled in the last few years and have a lot of fresh, healthy option dining places. It is a bit touristy, though. Oh, and you have to get a sno-ball!