Run4Shelter Half Marathon Race Recap 9-13-14

This Saturday morning I woke up at 4:10 am and drove 2 hours to participate in the Run4Shelter Half-Marathon. It seems like forever ago that I ran in a race, when in reality it was only 3 months ago. It’s funny that the summer seemed to fly by, but it feels like so long ago that I was in a race. The Run4Shelter was in Stevensville, MD and started at Kent Island High School.

To back track a little bit since I haven’t blogged in a while… a friend that I train with decided to do a half-ironman the first week of September. Always in search of adventure I volunteered to be her training buddy, and bought my first road bike (a whole blog post needs to be written just on that). After working up in distance each week we did a trial ride/run at the beginning of August where we rode 45 miles and then ran 10 miles after. The day we did the half ironman trial I also adopted my neighbors dog (also deserving of it’s own blog post). My last major long run was at the beginning of August and I’ve been doing a lot of dog walking and less dog jogging and I felt hugely under trained for this race. After a really tiring week I even considered not going. I tried to think positive and call my I’m super busy with work projects, school starting and doggie training an extended taper!

One of the reasons that I signed up for the race was a Facebook page that I follow, the Eastern Shore Running Club which is based in Salisbury, MD. I had seen their Facebook post about the race and checked out the race website. Once I watched the video of the race course, considered the great cause the race was for (a local shelter) and the reasonable price I couldn’t resist. I really wanted to run a local fall half marathon, and this one seemed to fit perfectly with the other races I wanted to do. Little did I know what a great race it would turn out to be.

Packet pick-up for the race was available race day (awesome in my book). Race day packet pick-up means I don’t have to get a hotel room before race day, making the race a budget friendly option for me. The Kent Island High School stadium was a great location because it is very big. The start/finish line was on the track which was fun. I’ve never started or ended a race on a track since I ran in high school and I really liked that aspect as well.

Packet pick-up went very smoothly and was very well organized. The whole race was very organized, everything went very smoothly from start to finish. 20 minutes before the race started they had skydivers come in to the tune of Kenny Loggins Danger Zone, of Top Gun fame. That was really cool. I’ve ever attended a race that started with skydivers and it was awesome! The half-marathon participants were asked to go to the start line and we were serenaded by bagpipes. I love hearing bagpipes and I get choked up any time I hear them. Then without much fanfare we started on time! There were only 212 finishers for the half-marathon, so it was a small race which was really nice. I didn’t feel like I was going to get trampled, or had to go out to fast in the beginning because there was ample room for everyone. One of the many perks of a smaller race.

The course was really beautiful, one of the prettiest I have run. I made a point to look around and take in the gorgeous views while running. At one point I was so busy looking around at the views of the water I almost ran into a pole that was on one of the paths. Just call me grace! The half-marathon course was super flat with a mix of paved trail, gravel trail and road through a really nice neighborhood, and park with awesome water views. After the first couple miles I was around the same runners for the majority of the race. One guy I came upon started chatting and I found out that this was his first half-marathon. It was really nice chatting in the middle of the race because it took my mind off my pace. With my lack of quality training (at least in my mind) it was a nice to focus on conversation. At mile 9 we split up and I took a gel and got down to business. I knew if I could hold onto my pace I would be able to come in close to two hours which is what I usually want in my half-marathon finish times. At one point during the last couple of miles you had a view of the Bay Bridge, which was stunning and just the little boost I needed at the end. The only confusion I had was near the finish because my watch read 12.93, so I was hoping I hadn’t screwed up the course. I stopped one of the women who I’d been running near during the race and her watch said the same exact thing. I had been really trying to run tangents, and my watch was beeping right on each mile marker until the end so who knows? Still a great time for me, even if a tad short. If my watch wasn’t off a little I may not have met Michele, the organizer for the Eastern Shore Running Club Facebook page, who also got first place in her age group! The award she received was really cool wood carved plaque. It was also nice to have someone to chat with after the race since I drove up to the race by myself, and I really enjoyed connecting with someone who I’d known through Facebook.

I’m so thankful for such a great day. The weather was really nice in the 60’s and a little overcast with low winds. Perfect running weather. The race was really well organized, on the small side, and the course was really nice. I was able to surprise myself and had a great day of running, which was unexpected due to my low training volume. I guess I can thank my new doggie for keeping on my toes with mileage even if a little more of it is walking. Thanks to the race organizers, and congrats to all finishers! I know that I’ll definitely try to come back next year!

IMG_8491

Posted in Race, Running | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ragnar Trail Appalachians WV 2014

This weekend I checked off an item on my bucket list, and I now have the pleasure of calling myself a Ragnarian! I’ve read about Ragnar road races on other blogs for several years and always wanted to do one. My trip to West Virginia started on a cold day in December of 2013 when I ran into a friend at the gym. Joe and I chatted and he mentioned that he and another friend Carolyn were putting together a team to do a Ragnar trail race. I was so excited when they asked me to be on the Fleetfoot Max team and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since. Not only would I be able to do a Ragnar, I’d be doing the trail race version which appealed to me a lot more than the road version.

A Ragnar Trail Relay is a race where you get a team of 8 people together to run a relay, or 4 people if you choose the ultra option. For this trail race we each ran three loops for a total of 14.8 miles per person and 118.4 miles total for the team. This was the second year for Ragnar WV and it doubled in size from last year with roughly 300 teams registered. Last years race was run during a tropical storm and from what I read on blogs it was quite an adventure. 15 miles of very technical trail running, camping in the mountains of West Virginia, wildlife encounters, and possible inclement weather… sign me up!!

Being a flat lander from the eastern shore of Virginia without access to any technical trails I ran the trails at my local YMCA 4 times before the race and only did a couple of small hill workouts. My expectations for the race were to finish, and not hurt myself. I wanted to do well for the team and run strong, and I felt I did that considering my lack of experience on trails, though most of our team was in the same boat with no real hills or trails to train on. If nothing else it would be a fun camping weekend with lots of beautiful trails thrown in, but the adventure that awaited me in West Virginia was one that I’ll truly never forget.

I spent several days laying out odds and ends for camping and running.
ragnar prep

I met up with Carolyn and Joe Thursday morning and headed to West Virginia. We had a great road trip but the storm clouds loomed, and the closer we got to West Virginia the more it rained. The forecast of scattered storms was unfortunately very accurate. We arrived not long after our other team mates and got the tent setup in between rain showers. As much as I thought I had packed to much stuff, our neighbor campsite had a couch, and many other campsites had some elaborate decorations. The first night we spent hanging out and camping and other than the rain the trip was off to a good start. Jonna and I hiked part of the yellow loop because I was scheduled to run that portion in the dark and wanted to get a glimpse in the daylight before the race started. The yellow trail was really beautiful lined with ferns through groves of pine trees. I also got a taste of how hard the inclines were and how technical the trail was because it took us 30 minutes of hiking to just go a mile.

camp
Fleetfoot Max Campsite

We woke up on Friday and decided to hit the camp store for coffee since the race was not in full swing. Someone at the store told us there hadn’t been a bear sighting since Memorial Day. I was really nervous about seeing a bear and was hoping that the volume of people and the noise of the race would keep the wildlife away while we were on the trails. We attended the safety meeting where they also warned us about possible bear sightings, and other details of the race and how to stay safe. Friday started as a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the sky seemed mostly clear. I got my Supergirl shirt on, and my sparkly skirt and got in line with the 12:30 start group and the next thing I know I’m running my first loop of Ragnar Trail WV.

ragnar

My first loop went really well, but it was challenging. I didn’t wear my headphones because the trails were really narrow so I wanted to be able to hear when people were coming so they could easily pass me. We started in a big group, but thinned out after about five minutes and I was in the middle of the pack all alone for most of the green trail. I passed several people, but also got passed. Overall I think I did ok. I was running what felt like a normal race pace but it was really about two minutes slower than my normal race time. I could also hear my breathing get heavy at times on the inclines, just wanted to make sure any bears would hear me coming and run the other way! I did walk some of the rocky parts but I made it to the transition area where Susan was waiting for me for the yellow loop.

transition
Transition area.

After Susan came in our next runner, Alan started the longest trail the red loop. I think Susan and I both had a lot of fun on our respective loops. Between the late night Thursday, pre-race nerves and 38 minutes of the hardest trail I’ve ever run I got some lunch and took a nap. Knowing I had a 2 am loop to run I wanted to get as much sleep as I could before night time rolled around. I’m not sure how long I slept but when I woke up the wind was blowing so hard the tent was shaking so much I thought it might come out of the ground. I looked out the window and our canopy was being held down by Joe and Alan because the wind lifted it off the ground and had snapped one of the poles. I quickly zipped all the windows to keep the rain out and changed into my rain gear. Luckily I had packed my rain boots, which were awesome because the campground was very muddy from the rains on Thursday. Bill our last runner had arrived and was setting up his tent so we stood under the awning while the rain poured down and the thunder rolled through. Jonna was out on the yellow trail during the downpour, and I was really anxious to see how she was doing. I met her at the transition area after she had finished, and was happy to see that even though she was drenched she had a blast. The race was stopped for several hours because of the thunderstorm and two of our runners didn’t get to run their loops. We started back at 6:40 pm with Bill doing his first loop the yellow trail.

I was really happy that Carolyn decided to run with me since her red loop was skipped because of the thunder. Joe also ran his green loop even though they cancelled his as well. Armed with her backpack of goodies and her Mrs. Claus costume, we started around 7:57 on the “Mother of Crack”. The longest trail and the most technical after an hour of heavy rainfall. I’m used to running in the dark because I run in the early morning a lot during the winter months, so I wasn’t really worried about running at night. I was really in for a huge surprise. The mud on the trail felt like running on ice or grease at times. The trail was a slippery sloppy mess. The first half of the trail took us an hour and by 9 pm it was really dark under all the tree cover. The first loop I had run in a pair of Solomon demo shoes, which I really liked called the fell raiser. With all the rain the shoe tent had shut down and my Nike Kigers were no match for all that mud. I went through some puddles where I sank in mud over my ankles. Carolyn also slipped and strained her hamstring and we spent the last half of the trail taking our time and basically hiking. We passed a couple of people, but there were quite a few runners that came blazing by us sloppy trail be damned. We sang songs, talked and even scared a frog with our head lamps. We picked up a runner, Monique along the way and luckily made it to the end with no other issues. As we neared the transition tent I could hear the sounds of the music from the Village and have never been so happy to hear country music in my life. I can usually finish a half marathon in about 2 hours, which was how long it took me to complete the “Mother of Crack” red loop. We made it to transition and I handed off the bib to Susan and she was off for the green loop. We stopped by the water hose and I sprayed down the bottom half of my legs and my shoes which were covered in mud. Once we got to the tent I changed into some warm clothes and crashed into my sleeping bag around 11. I had a fitful sleep knowing I’d have to get up at some point to run, and knowing my friends were out there on sloppy muddy trails at night. I heard Susan return and say the green trail was a huge mess as well. I drifted in and out of sleep hearing people walk by talking about the trails and how bad it was.

I finally got up at 5 am and no one was in the tent. I went up to the transition area to see when our last runner left on the red trail so I’d know when to get the next person to the transition area. I found Carolyn asleep in her van and also Susan was in the tent asleep. I went back up to the village to get some coffee and cooked myself a smores, then walked back to the camp site. I was able to get Bill up and we headed to the transition area when we thought Joe would get there. They have tv’s setup that show when the runner is 2/10ths of a mile from the transition so the next runner can get ready. We missed our transition because Joe had finished and couldn’t find us so walked back to the camp site, and ran into Bill who had gone to get his camera. Then I went back to the campsite to get the report from Joe and get ready for my final Ragnar loop. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the condition of the trail and very little sleep and tired legs. It was a little chilly but that was nice and at least the sun was out and the fog was going away. I headed out onto the yellow loop. This trail was the most beautiful and my favorite of all the trails. I was able to get a pair of Solomon’s demo shoes at their tent, though they were a size to small. I really loved the grip that I got with those on the rocks and roots and mud. I made my way through the trail and had a lot of fun out there. I think it helped knowing that I had less than 5 miles to go before I was done all the loops. There was a beautiful scenic overlook on this trail and any time I’d go by a runner or get passed we’d cheer each other on. Breakfast was waiting at the end!

transition bridge
This is the transition bridge that you run over to hand off to the next runner. The last time I ran over it I was really choked up. I had conquered the hardest race I’ve ever done. I was proud of myself that even though it was some really challenging running, I never got to a point I wanted to give up or throw in the towel. Honestly, it was also some of the most enjoyable running I’ve ever done. There is no other feeling quite like it.

After I came through my last loop I headed back to camp and got changed into my Ragnar shirt and jacket that I bought. I was finally able to relax and enjoy watching everyone run and transition. As the day went on we watched as teams started to finish. Everyone runs over the bridge together at the end. It was an awesome feeling that everyone on the team shared.
Team

After we got our medals we went back to the camp site to celebrate. Many teams packed up to leave, but the campsites are open until Sunday and most of us decided to stay on for the night to relax and have fun. I was sad to pack up Sunday morning and go home. As tired as my legs were I wanted to go out and hike on the trails a little more but I guess I’ll have to wait for next year.

ragnarmedal
The medal and my trail shoes and socks. When I sprayed down my legs most of the mud came off my shoes, but my socks took a real beating as well. I’m happy to report that other than general soreness and some scrapes we made it through Ragnar without any major injuries. We heard that two runners had broken a leg, one person an arm and another person had a broken ankle. Even though it was dangerous, I’d still do it again in a heartbeat. The volunteers were great, everyone on the trails was very polite and friendly and we all had a great time. Congrats to all the runners and thanks to the race directors and volunteers of Ragnar Appalachian WV 2014!!

Posted in Race, Running | Leave a comment

Salisbury Run or Dye and the best photo bomb ever!

Today I did the Run or Dye Color race in Salisbury, MD.  I was part of the Crayola Cronies crew of runners. This was the first race I’ve ever done in a tutu. I’ve always wanted to run in a tutu, just not for a long distance so I thought todays 5K would be a perfect time to do it. Plus, the team came up with this awesome outfit to incorporate the tutu so it was a win – win for me! The parking was pretty good at the Perdue stadium. We got there early to get our packets and left to get coffee and still got back in time to get a good spot. We didn’t get color packets with our t-shirts because they had run out, which was a bummer. This race also didn’t seem to have as many dye stations as previous runs I have done. The race course was out and back and very crowded, and also didn’t seem quite long enough, but my watch wasn’t tracking distance though it seemed we got done really quickly. The after party was fun though, and if you didn’t get covered during the race, there were certainly chances to get more color after the run. Here is my morning in pictures, and last but not least the best photo bomb ever!

Here we are all nice and clean, minus our friend Melissa. She was sick and couldn’t make it and we all really missed her being there.
runordye7-

The obligatory matching sock photo! Notice my flames on my shoes.
runordye-

Here we are at the finish all nice and colored.
runordye6-

My friends that got really dyed after the run!
runordye2-7681

The CC crew selfie!
runordye4-

We also witnessed a proposal after the race. It was really cute, and I teared up.
runordye1-

If this does not make you LOL, I don’t know what will. This is truly the best photo bomb I’ve ever had. We didn’t know this woman, but her face is awesome. I was looking through all the pictures I had taken today, and there were a couple other photo bombs in my photos. This photo takes the cake though.
runordyebomb-
Congrats to all those who did their first 5K or color run. I had a ton of fun today and I hope everyone else did too, it was a great day!

Posted in Race, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Advances in running

Last night I advanced my running technique like I never have before. I met up with several friends, and learned how to make my first tutu! How does this advance my running technique you might ask? My answer is, “Have you ever made a tutu?” There is a lot of teamwork required to make these fancy, fluffy wonderful little running costume necessities, especially when there are 10 people on your running team. Thankfully a couple of my running friends came up with the most awesome outfit I will ever race in. Don’t forget I have run as a sparkly skirted zombie in the past, but this will far surpass that. Our team has creative minded ladies who all pitched in with ideas, procurement, meeting coordination and healthy snacks to keep us a going while the tulle and ribbon was flying! Team building at its best.

This weekend some friends and I will be doing the local Run or Dye race. This will be my third color race. A little bit of history… I first heard about The Color Run back in 2012. Most of my friends were training for the Marine Corps Marathon and I spent that summer trying more minimal running shoes, and recovering from my marathon injury and not running lots of miles. So a fun color run seemed like a great idea for a “race”. My husband and I made a trip to Richmond for the weekend and I ran my first color run with about 8000 other people. When I arrived at the race having only seen the video on the race website I was way under dressed. I was dressed in all white, but no fun socks, or wigs or anything else a color run begs for. I also got up front and wanted to see how fast I could go. In short, I missed the point of the color run, because they don’t time color runs. How fast you can finish a distance isn’t always the point of the run, and I learned a lot that day. I also learned that I should have covered up my ears because I was scrubbing green corn starch out of my ears for what seemed like a week!

In 2013 I went with a group of friends to the Va Beach Color Me Rad. This time around I had my kids and husband with me for the run. My lovely pre-teen daughter was very distraught that I had signed her up to “run”. She is very adamant that running is not her thing, and she hates it. Which I can accept, however she also didn’t understand that getting colors pelted at you for three miles is huge fun! I think she was worried that I was going to bolt off and leave her to be out there by herself. This was the first race I walked the entire distance to help her feel more comfortable. I really wanted her to have a good time, and I was very dismayed that she was probably the only person out there who was completely miserable. Again, I learned a lot that day, but I hope she did too.

I hope for this weeks “race” that we join everyone at the event and have the most fun we can possibly have, and possibly be the most styling group there. I have learned something from every race I have done, no matter the distance or reason for the race. There are a lot of facets to running. Sure there are long slow distance runs, tempo runs, fartleks, splits, training plans and sometimes I get really bored with those things. I do love running, with a passion, but I love all facets of it. I like short races where you run as hard as you can. I like longer distances where you test your endurance. I like running with friends, I like running by myself in complete solitude on an early morning. So this weekend I am looking forward to running my first race in a tutu! I will feel so pretty!

Posted in Race, Running | 1 Comment

Island to Island Half-Marathon 2014

On Saturday April 26, 2014 I ran the Island to Island Half Marathon in Ocean City, Maryland along with 2700 other runners. We started the race this year backwards. Well, not backwards to those who haven’t run it before. This year for the 10th anniversary the race started on Assateague Island and ended at the Ocean City inlet and all years prior it was run starting in Ocean City. Most of the runners were bussed from the Ocean City inlet to the island start line. Since the race is growing, and this was the first year transporting around 2700 people we ended up starting the race 30 minutes late while we waited for all the busses to get everyone to the start.

Here are all 2700 of us running across the first bridge of the race – (photo credit Mike Labesky)
10300698_10202699544504529_7931535719897794993_n

I had a friend ask me what it was like to run with so many people. I will admit I felt a little claustrophobic at first, especially going over the bridge. At most races though, I feed off of the immense start line energy. Everyone is excited, and probably nervous hoping to have a good race day. I like feeding off that energy and it gets me really pumped at the beginning. A large part of race success is not starting off to fast, and this is really hard when you get caught up in a herd full of excited runners. This race I started out with the 2:00 pace group. My friend Corrinne was pacing, which was really cool because we stood at the start line and chatted. It was fun to see all her energy and how pumped she was to help the 2:00 hour group meet their time goals for the day. My friend Summer was also pacing a group and I was really excited for her too. Several friends were running their first half marathons, and others it was the first time they were running the OC half.

IMG_7603

The night before the race I went through my ritual of laying out Flat Race Lisa. I was a little bit nervous wearing my super girl shirt considering the last I race wore this I completely blew up. But I don’t tend to be superstitious to much, and I figured with the weather short sleeves might be in order over a tank because of the high winds forecasted.

Race morning we hit the busses at about 5:30 and this worked out great because the lines weren’t to long, but getting on the bus was a little chaotic and it was something new for me. I wasn’t thrilled to find there were only 8 porto potties at the start and got inline immediately off the bus while the line wasn’t to long. I then headed to the tent to find some of my friends. It was really hard trying to find people for some reason. I knew at least 10 people running the race but only met up with Summer who was in the pacer area. We got a quick picture before we headed out to the start from the warmth of the tent.

IMG_7605

After a moment of silence and finally starting a little late we were off. I was determined not to start to fast and stay with the 2:00 hour pace if I could. My goal was 2:00 hours or bust! My training volume hasn’t been the greatest but my ankle feels fully recovered so I was willing to give it a try. I also felt good and the weather was awesome so I had no excuse to not go for it! I pulled away from the group pretty early because it was a little crowded but I wasn’t to far ahead as we went through the first neighborhood I saw the pace group pretty close behind. I skipped the first water stop which was a little to early in the race in my opinion, at mile 1.5 Took my first gel around mile 3, and things were clicking along really well. Then about mile 4 I started feeling a blister under the ball of my right foot so I tried changing my foot strike to accommodate that. I had shoes I’ve never worn during a race, though they never bothered me during training runs I think they were to lightweight for a half marathon or they weren’t tied tight enough hence the extra friction in a weird spot. Once the caffeine from my gel kicked in I felt great till mile 8. That’s when I really had to keep myself on pace, I was getting tired. I kept replaying the same three songs to keep my pace. We went through a second neighborhood and I didn’t see anyone I knew which was a bummer. Then we get closer to mile 10-11 and my pace is on target and I still feel ok but not as good as I’d like and don’t have much left in the tank to speed up. I was so excited to see the Route 50 bridge because I knew we were so close to the finish. Happy, that is, until I had to run over it. At this point in the race I was cursing this bridge being at the finish. I felt like I was on it for an eternity. Running over the grates was complete torture on my blisters. I clicked my iPod onto Runnin Down A Dream by Tom Petty. This put some extra pep in my step, and I was so pumped and sped up a little bit and I could see the boardwalk and hear the angels singing I was almost done… then bam my right foot misstepped, and I screamed and went flying. I really don’t remember how I fell because it happened so fast but I’m pretty sure I rolled somehow and a couple of guys came up behind me at lifted me up under my arms. I was thanking them profusely for the help and I kept on moving, albeit much slower. Moving at this point was a super girl challenge because all my leg muscles decided to lock up on me, and my foot kept cramping as I made it onto the boardwalk. Then I started looking for my husband and friend Carrie who was there cheering for her husband. This took my mind off my legs for a bit. Although I didn’t see either of them, and was quite frankly riding the pain train by this point, the finish line was so close and I knew I’d hit my time goal with some cushion and I was so relieved to finish.
IMG_7608

My official finish time is a little bit off my watch time. Most of the race my watch was clicking off about a tenth of a mile before the markers which was frustrating, but tends to happen quite often at races. My only goal was under 2 hours and I did that. I was so excited that after 2013’s year of not so great racing that I got to end the spring season on a high note. Another cherry on top was meeting some new running friends, and connecting with some friends I hadn’t seen since high school.
1292177_388073307999032_2698375423001308565_o
Me at the finish – (photo credit Joe Mitchell)

I think Joe said it best that even the best runners (haha thanks Joe) fall down sometimes, but when Tom Petty is telling you to run down your dream, you must listen! That song may be a new running favorite for me. Congrats to all the finishers and many thanks to the race directors and crowd supporters. Having people there to support you is really the icing on the cake. Next up will be Ragnar WV trail in June, and I can’t wait!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Run for the Animals 2014

For as bad as last year with regards to running, this year is taking the cake! Today I ran in the 3rd annual Run for the Animals 10k & half-marathon. The weather was gorgeous, low 40’s and not much wind, perfect running weather. I ran the 10K race with my friends Beth and Emily, and my friends Becky and Joy ran the half-marathon. This race was a lot of fun. It was a very small race, but it was only a 45 minute drive from my house and all the proceeds went to support the local SPCA. This was the first time I’ve run this race and it won’t be the last. My friend Beth has run the 10K the past two years, and I was really in love with the trophies that she got each year. This race has the coolest trophies of any race I’ve ever been in. They are made by a local metalsmith. I love running. I would love running even if I never got a trophy. A large percentage of the races I run I know there is no way I’m going to place. On the local scene though, I have a chance. Though I wouldn’t have it any other way, I knew that Beth was going to give me a run for my money. She was first female last year after all.

After a short meeting to give us the race details we moved over to the start and without much fuss we were off. I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself in terms of finish time. I’m not really sure what kind of shape I’m in, which may sound odd, but my training has been a little off this winter due to injury recovery and a lot of bad weather. I haven’t been willing to do any speed work or hard running except on race days, because I don’t want to push my ankle during training and get another injury. My previous 10K races times were 50 minutes, but I didn’t think I’d be in shape to do that though I didn’t rule it out. Even though I run with a gps watch to record my pace and distance I try to run by how I feel, and I check periodically to see if my pace is dropping and try to pick it up or sometimes slow down if I’m going to fast at the start. My goals today were to try and keep up with Beth, and also possibly try and get an awesome trophy.

This 10K was an out and back course, and I was surprised that there were some little hills in the beginning. I almost missed the 5K turn around because I was drafting behind a woman who was doing the half-marathon. I was in the zone coasting behind her, enjoying the fact that she was taking the brunt of the wind only to realize we were at the water stop and I had to go a different way so ended up running a little past the turn around. By this time Beth was enlarging the gap between us and I was starting to get tired. Around the mile 4-5 area I lost sight of Beth and this meant I didn’t have anyone to follow since she was the first female and I wasn’t sure I would not end up getting lost. Mile 5 was my slowest. Lucky for me the race course was well marked with arrows and little paws on the road and balloons and a sign at each turn. When I turned around after mile 5 to see if anyone was close behind me I was startled to see another woman really close on my heels. Running with headphones leaves me in ignorant bliss to a point but I can’t hear who is near me. At this point I knew I was second female, and I was pretty intent on keeping it that way so I at least had a chance at some kind of trophy, even though I was never able to keep up with Beth. Knowing someone was so close made me really push hard that last mile. I was running with my headphones so I really had no idea how close she really was until Beth sent me a text later in the day with this picture. Beth took these at the finish line. Wow…

IMG_7445

Today I feel like I really earned my 1st age group spot. I really expected the woman behind me to kick it in and pass me so I was trying to give everything I had at the end. The end of the race was brutal. I mean I ran out of energy back at mile 5. There was a down hill part, but also a little up hill right before you cross the line. There was a finish kick sprayed on the road and at that point I thought my legs were going to fall off and my lungs might explode, I laughed to myself and thought “yeah right” but I knew I was almost there and it would be worth it. Today I was the one patting the woman behind me on the back telling her it was a great race. The guy doing the timing told us right away that I was first in age group and the woman behind me was second. The woman that came in behind us was third. Way to go 30-39 year old ladies! We killed the 10K today. haha

I was also really happy that I could hang out with some new running friends I’ve met this winter through my friend Becky. Joy and Emily each ran their first races today and I think they are both now hooked! I look forward to many more training runs and races with them!

1941532_10152116642569615_5953812743464950677_o

This was also the first race that I’ve run with my friend Beth. We were top two females in the 10K and I don’t see how that could be any more awesome.

IMG_7431

Today was the first race this year that landed on a “Mommy” weekend and my girls were with me. Lucky for me there were also cute dogs everywhere, and they had a great time.

IMG_7442

I’m so thankful for a great day of racing. The race was very well organized and small, which is always fun and the trophy’s are awesome. We also got a nice wine glass at the finish and a Brooks tech shirt and a finishers medal. Couldn’t have been a better day of fun running in the sunshine, surrounded by friends and family. If you have the chance to check out the Run for the Animals in Onancock, VA it will be held next year the first week of April. I can’t wait. It’s a good thing my husband was there today too, because I’m sure I would have come home with a little dog. I fell in love with a little girl that has been at the SPCA over a year. If you need some furry love, go check out your local shelter. I may have to go back and visit sometime, there are a lot of sweet animals there that need homes. Thanks to the race directors, fundraisers and runners for doing so much to support our local animals in need!

Posted in Race, Running | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Winds of change.

Life is ever changing, isn’t it? I walked out my front door this morning at 5:15 to meet my workout buddy, my jogging partner and one of my best friends. I’m so lucky. I’ve been so lucky since Summer and I met. Had I not landed down the street from my friend Summer I would probably never have run a marathon, or even wanted to. It was one of those things I always thought impossible for me. I never thought I’d be one of those people to get up at 5am on a daily basis, also something I thought was impossible for me. When I walked out the door this morning the sky was just amazing. Some mornings the stars are, kablam, in your face and so bright and gorgeous like you could reach out and touch them. Then I see the crescent moon just above the horizon with Venus. A breathtaking sight. It is a bittersweet sight. Bittersweet because my mornings will be somewhat different because Summer is moving, and I’ll probably be less inclined to get up at 5am in the morning and see these things. 

Luckily Summer is not moving far away, about a 15 minute car ride away. Though not as convenient as three houses down, we’ll still run together. I do wonder, though, where will my running go? Will I run as much? Will I get the miles in? Will I take a break? Will I hit the snooze button like I would so often do in the past?

Before Summer and I embarked on our marathon training in 2012 I ran with another group of awesome women from my local YMCA. We spent so many Saturday mornings getting up early, running, training for races. It was a blast and I miss that group of ladies too. With them I learned I could really run long distance. I trained on my own to get to my first 10 mile race, but training with them for the 5 half marathons we ran that year became much more fun.  I think you create a bond like no other when you run with someone. It’s hard to explain, but there is just something really awesome about the running community. When you spend time on the pavement with people, magic happens. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of running with occupies a special little place in my heart.

In true throwback Thursday form, here are some pictures that never would have happened had I not met the awesome people that I run with.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 8.59.25 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 9.00.24 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 9.02.15 PM

IMG_1173-2

IMG_1430-2

IMG_1007

IMG_1317

IMG_1319

IMG_0998

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 6.14.32 PM

100_0615

IMG_7337

IMG_1589

IMG_4701

20130902-171232.jpg

 

Do you run with a group, or do you like to run alone? I do a little bit of both. Sometimes I need the solidarity of a run by myself, but I’ve achieved greater things and had way more fun running with a group.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

2014 Va Beach Shamrock Half Marathon

IMG_7324
Finally a good half marathon! Today’s race was my eleventh half marathon finish. I was really nervous about the race for a lot of reasons. It was the longest distance I have run since the last half marathon I did in December. The longest training run I did was 9 miles and I had to do that on the treadmill two weeks before the race and I stopped several times. All of the training runs I have been doing I’ve been going at a really easy pace because my ankle has still been hurting until the last couple of weeks. I was confident that I could finish, but wasn’t sure of my fitness level. My friend Becky was hoping for a 2:05 finish time, and I was hoping to be able to stay with her, and luckily we stayed together until the last mile, and we both hit our time goal! My finish time was 2:04:14.

Whoop whoop – a six minute PR for Becky, and our friend Melissa finished in 1:53 and got herself a shiny new PR as well. Congrats all around with me being super excited I finished strong!
IMG_7340

The last post I wrote I raved about the Tim Kennard 10 mile race. Luckily I can do the same about the Shamrock race. It is an awesome race, and if you ever have a chance to run a J&A race in Virginia Beach I can’t recommend their races enough. Top notch all the way around. The Shamrock weekend is a lot of fun, but the races are really big. This year’s half had almost 9000 finishers, and it’s a different experience than running with just 400 people.

I met up with Becky and Melissa at the expo Friday around 7:30. Last year I tried getting to the expo at 3:00 thinking it wouldn’t be crowded and it was bananas! Crowds are not my favorite, so going at 7:30 was much better for me. It was still crowded but not nearly as bad, and I got suckered in by the Newton shoe company and bought a pair of new shoes!

IMG_7325

This year I only signed up for the half marathon. Becky did the Dolphin challenge, where you run the 8K on Saturday and the half on Sunday and you get an extra medal. The dolphin challenge medal was really pretty and I was really wishing I had signed up, so maybe next year I’ll add on the 8K because the medal was really nice. I like bling! With Saturday to putter around Virginia Beach and weather that was 100% gorgeous, Jeff and I hit the Bayville frisbee golf course. Felt really good to get outdoors, and fling some discs! They have updated the course and put in all new cement tees if you happen to be in the area it was a fun short course.
IMG_7331

After some pizza and a little shopping I headed back to the hotel to get off my feet, and set everything out like the good little type A runner I am.
IMG_7333

Jeff, my husband, took this picture this morning. He is a trooper and I’m really thankful that he comes to races with me. He’s almost always waiting at the finish line for me, and I love that. While the temps said it was in the upper 40’s the wind was really cold and had really strong gusts. I can’t thank the volunteers enough for standing out there to cheer us on, hand out finishing goodies and take pictures. J & A races have some of the best course support of any races I’ve ever run. Lots of spectators really help keep you pumped up along the way, and I really enjoyed the DJ’s and the bands out on the course this year. Becky’s Dad was also out riding his bike, and he’d meet us every couple of miles to see how we were doing which was so awesome.
IMG_7342

This year I had the great idea to not stay on the waterfront and instead drive to the race and park in the morning in a parking garage. I think that at least 5000 other people also had this idea to get to the parking garage when it opened around 6 which was a little bit stressful, but this year I’m glad I didn’t jog 2 miles to the start line. The awesome thing was the parking garage was right around the finish line so we also didn’t have to walk far from the finish, so that was great because the wind was really gusting. I did have to jog to the start and hope to meet up with Becky and Melissa. I was sure that it would be easy to find them, but I was running a little behind getting to the start. This was the first time that I’ve used a gear check at a race. I’ve never done that before, but I was also so glad that I had extra clothes to put on at the finish because it was so windy. I was able to meet up with my friends at the start, and we were all so excited, and had just enough time for some quick pictures. There is so much energy at bigger races, I always feel this electric feeling in the air at a start line. I love that feeling, it’s a nice little rush right before you start.
IMG_7337

Overall this was one of the most fun races I’ve had. I think the weather was good once we got going. Most of the race course was buffered from the major wind until the last part of the race on the boardwalk. The course support is so awesome, Becky and I chatted away and got into a groove right at the pace we were going for and I was so thankful to finally have a race where I was feeling good. I was happy that my ankle seems to be recovered and didn’t hurt at all the whole time. This race was also full of inspirational people, like I’ve said before, most races are. Melissa saw a blind runner out on the course this year, and we had several military out on the course cheering us, as well as Team Hoyt. So awesome. What I really wanted though, was the finisher beach towel. At the J & A races you get an awesome medal, and a running hat at the end of the race. Then to top it off, they give you a special gift of some kind. Two years ago it was a sweatshirt, last year was a fleece blanket and this year was the towel. I didn’t care if I had to crawl to the finish I was getting my medal and towel! haha I’d still run if I didn’t get these things but I can say that getting goodies for running 13.1 miles does make a girl happy!

The other great thing about the Shamrock is the post race party. They setup a huge tent about half a city block in size and put in a stage where they have several bands, food and my personal favorite post race treat – beer. I don’t drink a lot, but I love having a beer after a race, even if it’s 9:30 in the morning. I didn’t stay at the party very long, you can see from the photo below that Jeff is not thrilled about crowds either and really wasn’t a fan of the 9:30 beer idea. haha Overall great day. I feel blessed to be able to Shamrockon another year, and can’t wait to go next year!

IMG_7341

Posted in Race, Running | Leave a comment

Tim Kennard 2014 Race Recap

Today was so inspiring on so many different levels. I ran in the 11th annual Tim Kennard River race. There is a 10 mile option, a 5K, a 10 mile two person relay, and a 5K fun run/walk where dogs are allowed. This race is run in memory of Tim Kennard, a local runner who succumbed to his battle with kidney cancer in 2004. The race proceeds go to local charities each year. To say that this race is awesome, is an understatement. It is one of the most well run races that I’ve ever run in. Each year they plan a great event for the runners, and each year they keep making it better.

What do I think constitutes a great race you are thinking? Registration is online, and easy, and their website is very well organized, east to navigate and informative. Packet pick up is convenient. The shirts are always top notch, usually a new balance tech shirt. The race Facebook page is well attended and posts frequent updates, and they even posted videos of the course preview this year. The pre-race ritual is fun because they sing the anthem, and then have a local fitness instructor take you through a quick warm-up inside the local Salisbury University gym. There is plenty of access to bathrooms, and water, and you are inside so you can stay warm if the temps are low. There is also plenty of university parking available. This year the race teamed with Athletes Serving Athletes. The race course is well marked, no chance of getting lost. They have tons of volunteers manning water stations, and cheering with cow bells all along the way.  Race photos are taken along the route, and there was an announcer at the finish line cheering everyone who came through to the finish. This year they added medals to all finishers (even 5K yay!) The post race spread rivals any race I’ve been to. Lots of water, gatorade and coffee. Lots of different food options from fruit, bagels, and yogurt to 4 different kinds of soups and sandwiches, and donut holes. The race is relatively small, with 400 finishers as compared to say a Rock-n-Roll event but that’s an attraction in my opinion. The timing was relatively flawless and results were ready really quickly as soon as each race was over and awards were given out quickly.

The race hits all the technical aspects of an awesome race experience. But more than that, this race is inspirational. Most races are. Every year you run in memory of a fallen runner. There are great local charities that will benefit from the race fees. This year they topped it off with Athletes Serving Athletes. I’ve seen them before in other races, and I’d love to participate next year. Volunteers aka wingmen either push a stroller or wheel chair or help another individual complete the race distance. Today I ran by three, and each time my throat would catch and I’d tear up a little bit. Running is challenging all on it’s own, then add the extra challenge of pushing someone along takes a lot of heart. www.athletesservingathletes.org 

The other thing that helped me during the race was the inspirational signs along the route. I almost lost all ability to breathe when I saw the Steve Prefontaine quote “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” I’m getting all teary eyed even writing it. Then every couple minutes I’d repeat the quote to myself and I’d start to get the lump in my throat again and kept on digging as deep as I could to have the best race possible. I’ve been struggling with some kind of ankle problem, I’m guessing tendonitis, likely overuse. Typical runner problem. I took off most of December after the Rehoboth half and I’ve been slowly building up mileage and just trying to get ready for the Shamrock Half in VA Beach. Slowly building mileage is an understatement. The unusually cold weather this winter is totally messing up my 5:30 am running mojo. Today’s race was my first attempt at speed since my last failed race attempt so I was nervous, wondering how the ankle would hold up when I let the rubber hit the road for some attempt at fast running. Overall emotional day. I finished. I finished strong. I got a small ankle pang at mile 3 so just had .1 to hold on to the end. My ankle is a little sore but hopeful I didn’t do any worse damage. And….. I got first place in my age group 

IMG_7255

Overall, great day. The cherry on top was that it was a friend’s birthday and we went out to lunch post race. I got to meet some new runners, and it was just a great day. The sun was shining, the weather was gorgeous for a while. I’m bottling up this wonderful feeling in this little blog post so that when I get more of the winter blues I can re-read this and know spring is just around the corner. Congrats to anyone who ran the Tim Kennard today, and thanks to the race directors for an awesome day of running, and thanks to the lady that gave me an orange hat after the awards ceremony. I hadn’t brought any money with me, but she was gracious enough to let me have one!

Posted in Race, Running | Tagged | 1 Comment

Where do we go from here.

As I look back into 2013, with feet firmly planted in a new year I’ve wondered what the new year will hold. Let me explain a little. I’ve never been one to write a list of goals to reach for. That’s not my thing. I’ve never made “resolutions”. In my opinion, life is ever changing. My goal is to live every moment to the fullest. To quote one of my favorite movies of all time, Forrest Gump (I am a runner after all). “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” I like to be open to possibilities. Although, rather ironically, I’m a huge list maker and tend to get more done if I have a list for small tasks. So with that out of the way, why am I even writing this? I like introspection. What did I learn from my running in 2013? Quite a lot actually.

The first half of 2013, the VA Beach Shamrock half was my foray back into long distance running after 2012’s year of tuning my stride and trying to go with as minimal as possible. I wasn’t feeling well Shamrock weekend, and had not trained adequately prior to the race to be able to bust out a shiny new pr. I knew it would not be a day for a pr of any kind, just get it done. I’m also one of those runners who puts the earbuds in, and zones out with my playlist for 13.1 miles. In true introvert fashion I don’t talk to anyone and get into such a zone that I don’t even know where I’ve run, just follow the heard. Get er done. Before the start of the race I ran into someone in the bathroom on the way to the start line and we both figured out we were in the same age group, and shooting for similar finish times. This race was a huge turning point for me. Laura and I talked the entire race, like old running friends. We ran the whole race together and finished at exactly the same time. While I wasn’t high on my finishing time, it was my slowest half-marathon, I had a great time meeting someone new and talking the whole time. Consequently had some of the greatest race pictures ever, which I actually purchased. It was grand. I also slapped more high-fives to every kid and cheerleader I came across during the race. Awesome. I finally broke out of my shell, and it was great.

Enter the year of some of the hardest races I’ve ever run. The Island to Island half-marathon, I had bronchitis, which doesn’t lend itself well to strenuous exercise. I was armed with some decent training, and an inhaler. I started that race trying to keep up with my running friends in the 8:30’s and made it to mile 5 before I had to slow down. Kept the miles around 9-9:30 until mile 11 and breathing got really rough so I walk jogged to the finish with my best half time of the year. In hindsight I probably should have not run that day, but you never know unless you try, although I probably pushed recovery back several weeks racing with bronchitis.

I did have a 5K pr this year which was nice, since the long distance scene wasn’t proving to be great on the finish time front for me. There were also a couple of smaller races where I placed in my age group. That’s always nice. But more than that, I had a couple of races where I “gave good race”. If you are a racer, do you give good race? In at least two races this year I did. I know this because at the finish line the person you happen to be “racing” for a good portion of the race makes a comment of some kind, a “good race” type of thing. I ran a 10K race in June and stayed with one guy for almost the entire race. I stared at the tattoo on his calf for a good five miles, and I drafted behind him quite a bit. Although I passed him a couple of times, we went back and forth over the race course. We were definitely helping each other in a sense, though we both had our headphones on and never spoke we pushed and pulled each other through. At the finish line he gave me a pat on the shoulder and a “good race”. This same thing happened during the 10 mile race I ran in October. Around mile 5 I caught up to a woman and stayed with her for several miles, we even chatted a bit. She’d fall back at water stops and catch back up to me. At the finish line she came in and said that I had really pushed her pace, good race. I love the friendly competition amongst runners that helps us push each other to the best we can be.

Running the VA Beach Rock n’ Roll half was really hard because of the heat, and seeing a runner down in the first mile of the race. I ended the year with a rough race because of a calf cramp. The theme of 2013 seemed to be perseverance. Hopefully 2014 will prove to be a little more fun! But this year I came to find that racing is much more than just the time on the clock at the end.

While I don’t resolve to do anything but become better at the things I currently do, there are quite a few things I’d like to accomplish this year. I’d like to do a streak where you run at least a mile everyday a certain number of days in a row. Not sure when I’ll do this but runner’s world announces streaks every once in a while so the next one I come across I’ll try. I’d like to get my half-marathon time under 2:00 hours again. I’d like to complete the Ragnar trail relay in June. I’d like to continue running as injury free as possible, which means taking some much needed rest time right now. I’m still cross training, and even did some pool running (which blows by the way). But I can’t wait to get back on the road, and see where it takes me! Cheers, and happy new year!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment