Hello and welcome to Jillian Loves! You may have found me from Finishing is Winning, or you may be new to me all together…either way, I am glad you are here!
If you want to learn more about me, there are two very easy ways…
- Read the Who is Jillian? tab above
- Head over to Finishing is Winning and read the 100 and 101 things
Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!
I knew for a while that my July race would be a 5k on the 4th of July, since there are so many to choose from near me. I decided on Riverton because it is a cute little town, not too far and it was only $15! They have a HUGE parade post 5k (like, the whole entire town goes, plus towns around it) so I was expecting some decent spectating. I also liked that there was a portion along the river since I knew it would likely be hot.
Pre-Race: Met up with some friends, who were also racing and got some photos. It was about as hot as expected and I was not feeling it at all. Got to the line and figured it is what it is…
Race: I think feeling hateful prior to a run actually works for me! As soon as we took off, I felt great, despite sweating like a pig three seconds into it. I knew I was moving and when I saw my first mile pace, I thought it would be possible to have a post-accident PR. My fastest 5k to date has been the Sea Isle 5k back in February, so I have been chasing that for a few months. The second mile was a hill…and I mean, for a loonnnnggggg time. So much hill…until suddenly we were on a incline. A hill on a hill? Yes, that was happening. I wanted to stop…I wanted to be done…but I was really running well and also just wanted to be finished! As I headed onto the street where I could clearly see the finish line, I knew I had the PR! I hit the finish at 31 minutes on the dot!
Post-Race: Water, bananas, kids mile fun run, more food and the parade. Left pretty quick though because I needed more food, so I went to breakfast with a friend and skipped the parade!
When I started running again, I wasn’t sure I would ever get back under a 30 minute 5k. However, I now think that I could possible do it. I will have a few opportunities in the fall, so I have been working hard on my speed work. I have been pretty happy with my running this year, being that I have only been cleared from my accident for a little over a year. This time last summer, I was starting over with a couch to 5k program. Now I am gearing up for my second half-marathon in 5 months time.
Next up: Queen of the Hill Triathlon, relay. I am the swimmer, of course!
Well, I am about six weeks and three races behind! Sigh….typical!
Let’s get caught up!
The Scott Coffee 8k is one of my most favorite local races; yet, because of its timing, I haven’t run it in a few years. It falls the day after I get back from the 8th grade overnight class trip- the trip absolutely exhausts me since we work a full day, go to Hershey Park, stay up WAY past my bedtime and then get up and spend all day Friday at the park. We get home around 10pm Friday night. Needless to say, I am typically out of commission the next day. However, I have missed this race and with over 50 of my friends running, I knew it would motivate me to get to the start line.
I woke up Saturday about as exhausted as expected, but with a stomach ache I was NOT expecting (this may
or may not have been the dippin dots I ate the night before) and it was making for a rough morning. It was also raining. Thankfully, because it is so local, I knew I would be okay time wise and just hoped there would be a porta potty in case! There was and I’ll spare you the details but it involved many visits and finally walking over to the Rite-Aid for some meds. Lifesaving!
Pre-Race: Well, I spent most of it trying to to shit myself, but once I took some meds and knew I would be okay, I found my friends and we got some photos! It was a huge group, which always makes it more fun! Plus, my mom and my boyfriend were both there to spectate, so I knew it would be an exciting finish line.
Race: I took off with my friend Chell for the first quarter mile or so before catching up to my friend Renee and some of her friends. Ran with them for a while and the first three miles went FAST! Mile 4 was a bit slower, with quite a bit of walking, but I knew I was well within my goal time, so I tried to stay positive so I could pick it up for the last mile! I pulled it together and got to the finish, pretty much right when I had hoped!
Post-Race: They give out Lacas Iced Coffee and it is SO GOOD! Local coffee and one of my favorites. We also get it in our race bags, which is an awesome perk! The race ends at the beginning of the street fair, but unfortunately it was still raining. We still walked around a little but once we got lunch we were ready to go.
As always this is one of my favorite races. Very well supported by the locals and always a good time. For where I am in my training, I was happy with my time. I hope to be back next June!
In one week, I chaperoned an overnight trip for the 8th grade, ran field day and survived another graduation! Now I can get caught up on my draft posts, including two more race reports!
Decided on a whim to sign up for this race because it was a few miles from my house and only $10. I had off for the holiday and saw no better way to start the day than with a 5k.
Pre-Race: I was able to sleep in until 6:30 (yes, that is sleeping in for me..an extra 90 minutes!) and since it was close and small, I knew I didn’t need to leave too early. Got to the race about 25 minutes before start and caught up with some friends.
Race: Had no idea what to expect…have been feeling pretty burnt out from work, but based on my time at the 80’s 5k the previous Wednesday, I knew a (post-injury) PR was possible. The weather was perfect- a little humidity but cloudy and cool with a little rain falling from the trees from an earlier shower. We took off and I felt good right from the start…forced myself to keep it slow while I warmed up and then allowed myself to pick it up. About halfway, I felt like I might be going to fast but decided to roll with it for as long as I could. I was definitely pushing myself, but I walked the water stop and then regrouped for the rest of the race. I checked my watched at the three mile mark and knew a PR would be close, but possible. I gunned it for the final push and felt great! By my time I knew it was going to be one way or the other by seconds, but it didn’t matter because I truly felt great about the race overall.
Post-Race: Saw the print out and missed a PR by ONE SECOND. I was kind of bummed but figured there’s always next time. But then I got home and saw the adjusted time and I had a PR by 17 seconds!
For a small, cheap race it was well run and fun! Good course and a nice little post race. I would definitely do this again!
Next up: Scott Coffee 8k
Not going to do my standard race report because two things:
1- Not really a 5k…more like a fun group run. No bibs, no clocks, no traffic cones!
2- Not really that awesome…too much traffic, so many road blocks (it was trash day…imagine!) and had to wait at red lights. Odd…
That said, I had so much fun getting dressed up, being with my friends and at the post party, I don’t really care if it was a real 5k or not! Plus, despite everything I had a pretty good run. I spent the first mile warming up at about an 11ish minute mile, running with a few friends and then took off for miles two and three. I averaged 10:20 for those two miles and that included a traffic stop! I finished around 32 minutes, so had it not been for the roadblocks, I may have had my best 5k time all year!
Overall, this race was fun. I loved the theme (although, it was a struggle to run in leg warmers), they had a super fun after party and it was only $20! Plus, a free post-run beer 🙂 I like a night 5k, but it was an hour from home, so I couldn’t enjoy the after party as much as I would have liked. The only other note I’ll make is this: I have NO IDEA how girls wear so much make-up when they run. I had it caked on last night and it felt awful when I was sweating and I looked a hot mess when I finished. Yuck!
Have you ever done a costume or dress up race or fun run?
I tried NormaTEC earlier this year
I could stop there, but I will elaborate.
First, what is NormaTEC?
NormaTec is the leader in rapid recovery—our systems give a competitive edge to the world’s elite athletes, coaches, and trainers. Our goal is to establish recovery as an integral part of every athlete’s training, and we feel NormaTec systems are the best way to accomplish that. The NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems are dynamic compression devices designed for recovery and rehab. All of our systems use NormaTec’s patented PULSE technology to help athletes recover faster between trainings and after performance.
Our systems include a control unit and attachments which go on the legs, arms, or hips. They use compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with our patented NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern. When you use our systems, you will first experience a pre-inflate cycle, during which the connected attachments are molded to your exact body shape. The session will then begin by compressing your feet, hands, or upper quad (depending on which attachment you are using). Similar to the kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up your limb.
Here is what it looks like on my legs.
When I first heard of NormaTEC, I honestly thought it was pretty bogus. However, I had a free 30 minutes so I had nothing to lose. I am always sore after a long run, and considered skipping my long run since it was only days before a race in fear that my legs will be heavy/or stiff. Instead, I figured it was the best opportunity to give it a try. I had the normaTEC for the first time the day after a 7 mile long run and two days before my last 5k race. I felt a difference almost immediately. It absolutely aided in my recovery and by race morning I felt ready to go.
Since then, I have had NormaTEC two days before every race and two days post race. It has done so much for my recovery and I honestly think it is changing my running. If you have this available to you, I would highly recommend it!
And, if you are in the South Jersey/Philly area, I recommend Sports Recovery Lab in Haddonfield, NJ. I see them for chiro, ART, Graston and now of course, NormaTEC. They also offer Cryotherapy and a full range of personal training.
Have you tried NormaTec? Do you have a go to recovery plan?
Despite my lack of writing, I have been training! After the Hot Chocolate 15k, I was burnt out; I took a week off and got right back to work preparing for the Wildwood Half-Marathon, which I ran the Sunday before last. I have also been doing a significant amount of spinning and I am still swimming. Blogging took a backseat to life, but that happens!
First, some background: The Wildwood Half was my first half-marathon in 2.5 years. It was also my TENTH half-marathon! This race has haunted me for years. Way back in 2011, I signed up and made it my A-race heading into the Philadelphia Marathon. It was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene and I spent that day running 16 miles on a treadmill! I signed up again in 2012, but dropped to the 8k and then bagged it altogether because it was ridiculously hot that day and I felt unprepared. I signed up AGAIN for 2013 but they cancelled it altogether and moved it to 2014. The date didn’t work for me, so I deferred to 2015. Turns out, that weekend in May also didn’t work. I signed up AGAIN in 2016, but then had my car accident and wasn’t even running again yet by the time the race rolled around. Le sigh. I signed up…again…for 2017. Come hell or high water (and the race had seen both!) I was racing in 2017!
Now, given my history with the race, you would think I would have had my ducks in a row. I signed up way back in August, when I had just started training for the Perfect 10 miler. All winter I prepared foe this race- I trained hard and trained well. The 15k proved to be a solid predictor of how my half would go and I felt ready. Then, two days before the race, I got my confirmation. I was signed up for the 8k. WHAT??? I don’t even know how that happened! Luckily the half wasn’t sold out and it was an easy fix to move up. Ok, Wildwood, we’re on!
I drove down Friday night with my boyfriend so that we could make a weekend out of it. My parents were also down for a long weekend to celebrate their 40th anniversary (40 years!!) so it was and extra special race weekend.
Pre-Race: I picked up my packet on Saturday so I was able to scope out the course start/finish and figure out where my parents and Rich should watch for me. It was HOT that day and I was glad we were in for cooler temps on Sunday! Sunday morning I woke up and went through my usual pre-race ritual of breakfast, coffee and stretching. My mom and I walked down around 6:30am. It was empty; so empty, that I thought I got the start time wrong! I took the opportunity to make a bathroom stop (real bathrooms!!!) and by the time I came out the line had tripled. Time was right, haha! Got myself together, made another trip the bathroom and headed to the start line. Found my friends Lauren, Lesley and Amanda in the same corral and lined myself just ahead of the 11 minute pacer. I knew there was a chance I could PR, if I could hold myself under an 11 for a solid portion of the race. At the very least, I knew for my goal time, I had to stay under 12mm.
Race: The race starts on the street and loops up to the boardwalk. This was cool because within the first mile I was able to see my mom, plus the crowds were awesome. It was not cool because it was PACKED trying to get up the one area of boardwalk ramp up to the actual boardwalk. I stayed in a good pack for about the first 4’ish miles, before starting to feel myself fade. Just in time, I saw friends of mine that run a bit faster and spent some time keeping up with them. Then it hit…the wall. At mile 6! WTF!? My stomach was starting to bother me, my legs were feeling heavy and right ahead of me was not on bridge, but two! Just as I hit the first bridge, the 11 minute pace group passed me. Though not steep inclines, I was running right into headwinds- so much so that my visor blew off! Between that, my stomach and running over the large grates, I was losing my mojo fast! As I hit the turnaround, I noticed that although there was no headwind, there also wasn’t a tailwind. Just heat. Sun and heat and my upset stomach and back over the bridges. I was walking quite a bit at this point. I was still on pace for a PR but could feel it slipping away with every step. At just the right time, my friend Lesley came up on me and it was just the kick in the butt I needed to get moving again. We ran together for about a mile before I felt good enough to take off again. I felt back in control but my stomach was becoming more of an issue. I felt like I was thirsty, but with every sip of water I felt sicker and sicker. Finally, it all came to a head just past mile 10 and I got sick. I felt better immediately, but now had to contend mentally with my race that was clearly falling apart. I knew I had lost my PR, the crowd had thinned out to almost zero, I was completely in my own head and my body was not cooperating at all. I just wanted to finish, but I knew it was going to be a tough last three miles. I ran/walked the entire length of the boardwalk until just about a half mile left when there were TONS of cheer squads. It was the pick me up I needed (like miles beforehand) and I was able to run through to the finish. It was super cool to see my boyfriend and parents at the finish shoot and, although I didn’t get a PR, I did come well within my goal time. I was just so happy to be finished!
Post-Race: BEST POST RACE BRUNCH ever! Legit- all of the food. Eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, donuts, bagels, pretzels…and it was all still HOT! Plus, beer! I wanted to stay and hang out but I was tired and sore and also just wanted to be home. So after a few bites, we took off. A few hours later, we had lunch and then headed all the way home.
Overall, for everything that went wrong, I was pretty happy with my results. For the most part, I only have positive things to say about the race itself. It was well organized and they had plenty of water stops (are you listening Hot Chocolate rd’s??) and the course was beautiful. I loved running in my favorite New Jersey town and being able to stay the weekend. My only criticism is the lack of support on the course; I know nothing can be done about lack of spectators, but it would be cool to have the cheer squads all along the course. I felt pretty alone from about miles 5-10, which made the race feel like a regular run down the shore. That said, I would still do it again, and plan to next year. However, I think this time I am going to sign up for the 8k. Like, for real 🙂
All the signs waiting for me at the finish!
Next up: Bucks County 10 miler
This was without a doubt my strongest race and it was a 15k PR. The medal for this race is one of my favorites.
That is where the positives for this race end. You have been warned.
This was a race on my list for a long time; they give a great jacket as their swag and it is billed as a chocolate filled race. The concept is fun and tons of people from my running group were signed up. At one point they ran an incentive of a free visor for sign ups, so I went for it! The price, for a 15k, was steep (both of my 2017 half-marathons were cheaper, as were two of the three triathlons I am racing this summer) but considering I was going to get a jacket and a visor, I thought it was worth it. You know what I got for $65? Issues. A lot of them.
Pre-race: I couldn’t attend the expo due to their hours. I work an hour outside of Philly and the first night I couldn’t get there in time from work and I had a work event the next night. I could have had it mailed to me, but that was another $15. No thank you. Luckily, I had a friend willing to grab my things Thursday night!
I had read on their athlete guide that the only bags you could bring were clear 12 x 18. The expo bag was white, definitely NOT clear, and I don’t have clear race bags laying around. Again, luckily, I have friends who do and multiple people stepped up to let me borrow one. Just to find out the next day that it didn’t matter and their bag was just fine. Small, but annoying detail.
A larger, more annoying detail, is that my jacket was ripped at the zipper. At first, I thought it was just a few loose threads, but as I looked closer, I realized it was completely unthreaded down the entire zipper. I was hoping to wear it work, but folded it up hoping to be able to send it back. When I got to work, I emailed their support team. They suggest…ready…I leave work and come to the expo to exchange it. WHAT? Ok, so that option didn’t work. I emailed back with as much and acknowledged I would just be out the jacket. The more I thought about it, the more it was making me angry. I wrote them again, expressing my disappointment and asked them to mail me a new one. They told me I could pay to mail my jacket back to them and suggested I write a note with the issue. Trust me, you won’t need a note, it is pretty friggen obvious. I wrote them back, again, to tell them I was not interested in paying more money. Again, I paid $65 for this race! They wrote me back, saying they would make a “one time exception” and I could bring it on race morning to the information station and leave it with them. And then what? They didn’t say. But you can bet I didn’t trust that I would find a new one in my mailbox anytime soon. Again, never mind. So looks like I’ll need to have the zipper sewed if I want to wear the jacket. That is terrible customer service, if you ask me. And it colored the race for me before it even began. Spoiler alert: things did not get better from there.
Race: I went over in a carpool with some friends. We scored awesome parking and headed to the steps for our group photo. Going into the race, I knew there was a chance I could PR; my running has been so consistent and so strong lately. I wasn’t nervous but I wanted to get going.
The race started on time, but there was ZERO energy at the start line. The announcer tried, but it was just lackluster. The corrals were weird as there were two sets; one set was preferred, which meant you had to send in your time from a previous race, proving you could run under an 11:30m/m for at least a 5k. That set was split into 5 groups. Then, a second set made up of people who either didn’t enter a preferred time, or have a pace slower than 11:30m/m. That meant that people who ran faster than me, started behind me. And of course, people lie all the time, so within less than a half mile, I was weaving around walkers. The whole thing was disorganized and unsafe, as those faster than us were cutting us off out of frustration. I get it, but it sucked. It felt congested for a solid 4 miles.
I started the race with my friend Amanda. We have been running together for a few months and we really push each other. We started off so strong and, although we kinda slogged through the first couple of miles, we were hitting our miles ahead of our goal time. I wore my “positive mind” shirt and just kept reminding myself that I could do this and that I just had to tick off one mile at a time. I ran with Amanda for about 6 miles, before taking off just a bit ahead. Other than stopping to take my GU at mile 4, I didn’t walk until mile 8. That is a win in itself for me, as I am usually walking within the first five. I was feeling so strong, but starting to run out of steam in mile 8. I really needed some fluids at that point (I did not think three stops were sufficient, but that could just be me) and was just waiting for the stop. Finally, I saw it. The first table was handing out cups of marshmallows. Okay, I get the theme, but really, I needed water! One volunteer was basically shoving a marshmallow at me, and I finally said, “I need water” and he said, “This is a marshmallow.” UGH! (Also, sidebar…can we acknowledge the amount of cups wasted on one marshmallow a piece?!?!) Finally I found the nuun and water and put my hand out. The girl dropped it. That caused me to stop to grab another, which cause a girl to slam into my back and me to slam into someone in front of me. It really flustered me and I was having trouble getting back on track. But I knew if I kept it up, even at a slower pace, I was going to PR. I just kept that at the forefront of my mind and put one foot in front of another. I knew the finish was coming, because of the crowd so I put it on…saw the photographer (the ONLY ONE on the course) and gave my best photo op and then hauled it the inflatable which I thought was the finish. But then it wasn’t the finish, so I picked it back up until I saw the strips in the road and suddenly it was the finish. I was so confused. But I was ecstatic. I had over a 7 minute PR!!!!!
Post-race: My friend Amanda came in a little over a minute behind me and we went over to get our bowl of goodies. The bowl included a small package of two cookies, small bag of pretzels, one mini rice krispy treat, a marshmallow and a banana, with a small thing of dipping chocolate. It also included a cup of hot chocolate. (Note: I am not saying it wasn’t there, because I wasn’t actually looking for it, but I never saw chocolate on the course.) Turns out I completely missed the water at the finish, so I was out of luck with on that front. The hot chocolate was good and I dipped the marshmallow and banana. I gave away the rest because as cute as it all was, it wasn’t my kind of post-race food and I was struggling to hold the bowl and eat, all while shivering. I was feeling dehydrated and I was beyond freezing cold at that point, so I was happy to meet up with my carpool for the ride home. Got a cup of coffee, drank like five gallons of water and took a nice hot shower. Followed it up with some pizza and a nap!
As of my writing this, I still don’t have a race finish photo. This is a huge gripe, since it was the only photographer out there and I made the effort to look right at the camera. Turns out, quite a few people are missing them. They go on and on about free photos, which means nothing to me if you don’t get one. They keep saying they are “working on it” but I don’t have my hopes up! (Edit: no race photo. They suggested I look through the 118 pages of “lost and found” photos. No thanks.)
I very rarely post my splits, but I am super proud of how consistent I was throughout the entire race. I also think it is funny that my last .3 is my slowest time…proof that I didn’t know I didn’t finish…and then didn’t know I did, haha!
Overall, the race was redeemed by my PR. The volunteers were plentiful and appreciated, but the race itself was overpriced and their customer service gets a solid F. Between the jacket issue and the lack of a finisher photo…I would NOT recommend this race to anyone. Mostly because there is a major air of “I don’t care” when they message you back. I have no interest in supporting a race that treats me like shit.
You want chocolate? It costs about $2 for a bar at the store! So not worth it for the price and the ensuing frustrations. But yeah, I got the PR, so there’s that :)\
Next up: Wildwood half-marathon
Have you ever had a really disappointing race? Were you able to redeem it in any way?
Saturday: 6 miles with my friend Megan. It was HUMID but I appreciate it after all the cold runs we have had this year!
Sunday: Planned rest day.
Monday: HRC group run. My fastest 4 miles of the year so far, with two of them sub 10!!!
Tuesday: Took a friend to the pool for her first swim and did 650 meters of my own.
Wednesday: Cooperloopers group run; 4 miles for me! I felt slow and sluggish but my pace was spot on.
Thursday: You know…spin class But this time, with a friend, which always makes it more fun!
Friday: Planned rest day in preparation for my Saturday race.
Weekly High: Every workout was with a friend or multiple friends.
Weekly Low: I feel stretched so thin. I need a nap!
Quote of the week:
I sure hope this is the case…cause I have a race tomorrow and I have trained so hard!
Saturday: Adrenaline 5K. You can read about it here!
Sunday: Planned rest day.
Monday: Solo spin bike ride with a video. I always thought the videos were cheesy, but they are definitely helping! Followed it up with a run just under three miles.
Tuesday: Swam 1200. Feels good to be back in the pool after a few weeks off due to my hand injury.
Wednesday: It was cold and the wind was brutal but I still met up with my group for a 4 mile loop. I absolutely credit my consistency with my progress, so no matter what, I make the runs happen!
Thursday: You know…spin class 🙂
Friday: I toyed off and on with swimming, but I have a long run tomorrow and my body was telling me to rest. I went for a 3 mile walk just to get out, and while I did want to swim, I think I made the right decision.
Weekly High: I am really proud of my performance at Adrenaline. While not a PR by far, I feel myself getting stronger.
Weekly Low: Really, I just want some consistently good weather! Spring, I am ready!
Quote of the week:
This past Sunday, I hit up a local (very popular) 5k to check off my March race towards my goal of racing at least once every month this year. I have been looking forward to this race for over a year; before my accident, it was supposed to be my comeback race last year. I absolutely had to do it this year! And to think, it almost didn’t happen since a second snowstorm was being predicted all week. Thankfully, it never happened and we had a nice dry morning!
Pre-Race: It was a late start and local, so I didn’t even have to leave my house until 8am! Because the race director is also the owner of our local running store, and the founder of our #856 running club, I knew a ton of people running this race. Pre-race was mostly just chatting and catching up with friends.
Race: I started off with a friend who runs just over my typical race pace, because I did not want to go out too fast. Starting too fast is definitely my greatest racing flaw and I am working very hard at pacing myself! I was also worried about slick roads, but that was thankfully, an unfounded concern. After about a mile, I took off on my own and was feeling great. I know the course well, since it encompasses part of our bi-weekly Monday group run and I was really comfortable the entire race. There was great support on the course and the temperature turned out to be perfect! Their was a huge Ainsley’s Angels turnout and it was awesome to see them on the course as well. So proud of and inspired by my friends who run with these kids! It was a great race and I was stoked to have come in under my goal time. It was a few seconds slower than my last 5k, but I paced myself much better and felt stronger overall!
Post-Race: Got a chocolate milk and bagel, chatted with friends and hit up the post-race party back at the running store. Later that night we celebrated the race director and store owners birthday, along with the 20th birthday of the store! The funniest part of the night was how many people commented about how much hair I have! Most of them only see me at group runs or races, when my hair is up or under a hat!
Overall, it was a really great day and night!
Next race: Hot Chocolate 15k