Category Archives: Racing
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?
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?
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
There was a time when I thought I would never find anything I could wear comfortably around my waist while I run. This makes running more difficult than you might think, as I have to find a place for my keys, hold my phone and most annoying, plan every route around where I will be able to find water. I used to wear a spi-belt, which I loved; it held everything perfectly and hardly moved. But, it wasn’t ideal because it didn’t solve the water problem. (And, eventually my phone outgrew it.) When I trained for the marathon, I actually did my 20 mile run on a 5 mile loop, so that I could stop at my car for water/fuel. Ridiculous, right?!?
When I started running again, I made it my mission to find a hydration belt I could live with. I went through five. I even went back and tried ones I had tried before. I. Hated. Every. One. I absolutely cannot run with something bouncing around on my waist and not one of them would stay put. I would read amazing reviews just to find out they did not work for me. It was frustrating to say the least and I spent the summer running the same routes with the same planned water stops (thank GOD for CVS!). This had to stop! I knew the search for the perfect belt was in full force. I could not begin to train again for any distance until I found something that would alleviate this issue.
I determined pretty quickly that a handheld anything would be out of the question. I already hated holding my phone, so I knew I wouldn’t want to hold water. However, at the insistence of a few running friends, I tried. It was a clear cut no from me.
Sometime in late fall I saw an ad on Facebook for Flipbelt*. Flip belt comes in three styles- zipper, classic and water. That’s right…a belt that comes with water bottles AND holds a phone, ID and a key. It looked too good to be true but I could not find one negative review. I posted on my local running page and turns out, a few of my fellow runners had also recently discovered them and loved them.
A few weeks after first seeing the ad, I saw they were running a sale. I was not going to pass this up. I emailed the link to my mom with the subject line “Christmas Gift” and crossed my fingers that this would be the belt to end the belt search!
I am happy to report that the Flipbelt has been the BEST belt I have ever used. I love it! I haven’t had to use it with all three water bottles yet, but so far with my phone, key, ID and up to two of the bottles, it works awesome. I hardly even know it is there- everything fits perfectly and it really does not move at all. It took almost zero getting used to. At first, I was aware of the bottle on my waist, but after a few minutes of running it settled in. I am still working on getting items in and out while keeping a pace because it can be difficult to slide them while moving, but that is a (very) small criticism, especially because the entire point is for everything to stay put!
The flipbelt is fast becoming my favorite piece of running gear. I love being hands free while running and having water with me. (And being hands free at the gym since I don’t need to carry my phone around.) I am most looking forward to what a relief it will be come summer to be able to run routes without having to be concerned about hydration.
*Disclaimer- I received this as a gift from my parents for Christmas. I am not being compensated in any way for my review.
One of my goals for 2017 was to do at least one race per month. My hashtag for the year is #nooffseason, and I know from past experiences that if I have a race to work towards, I am much more likely to keep up my training. I checked off the month of January with the Chili Run. The Chili Run is a local run, the race director is part of my 856 running team and we had a great showing at the event. It is a 2 mile run, all hills, that of course ends with a bowl of chili!
Pre-Race: The race started at 10am but I got there bright and early since I was doing race day bib pick up. This race was pretty pricey but I did get a chili crock and a pint glass (plus chili and beer at the end) which is some of best race swag I’ve ever received.
Race: It was a COLD start but I took off and felt great right from the go. As I hit the turn around at mile 1, I realized I was about 40 seconds ahead of my anticipated pace. I was shocked! My training has been so consistent and I have been feeling great, but I don’t get a lot of hill work, so I really wasn’t expecting to do so well. I had told myself not to go out to fast and when I saw my time, I was a little concerned, but I actually felt like I still had a lot left in the tank; since it was only another mile, I thought to myself “push, push push” and just hauled to the finish. As I approached the finish line, I could see the clock. I saw that the time was 19:51 and was hell bent on crossing before 20! Came through at 19:57!
Post-Race: I was pretty ecstatic in the moments after I crossed the finish line. I thought for sure my time would be closer to 21-22 minutes. To come in under 20 minutes for my first race of the season has given me the confidence I need to keep pushing myself. Coming back from injury has been frustrating at times, and this really reminded me that I am doing the right thing by being patient and trusting the process of my recovery.
Finish line pic, and perhaps one of my best race photos of all time!
Post-Post Race: This was one of those races that has an after party (big motivation for me to sign up!) so afterwards we stayed for some chili and beer. A ton of people in my group won overall and age group awards and we won for largest team. It was an overall great day and an awesome way to start the 2017 racing season!
Next up: Sea Isle 5k in February
I suppose it would be best for me to get this post done before the first month of the year is behind us. To me, goals are different than resolutions. It took me a while to come up with mine for the year. I have trouble at times with keeping up with the Jones’ so to speak. When I hear other peoples goals, I tend to want to push harder and sometimes my goals are unrealistic. I also struggle with my indecisiveness, even with goal setting! I do not want to underestimate myself, but at the same time, I do not want to overestimate either.
After much thought, I came up with the following three for the year:
1- Stay injury free: I mean duh, right? Isn’t that everyone’s goal? Except, I don’t just mean to not get hurt. In my past, there have been both unavoidable and avoidable injuries. There was honestly nothing I could have done about my broken foot, or my car accident. But when it comes to my IT band and my shin splints, I know there is more I can do to be preventative. Additionally, since my car accident, I have had to deal with a lot of tightness in my back, so daily stretching is even more important than ever. So while I know there are no guarantees, my goal is to take care of myself in such a way that I reduce my chances of getting injured.
2- Complete one race every month for the year: Having a race planned, makes training easier. For example, twice last week I ran, when I would have normally bailed. One day it as snowing and on the other day, it was 22 degrees and I ran outside! I am accountable to staying on schedule for my training and if I didn’t have races to look forward to, excuses would come easier. So far, I have races planned for January, February, March, April, May, June, Oct & Nov. Pretty good if you ask me 🙂 Distance doesn’t matter, just looking to compete against myself at least once a month!
3- Complete two half-marathons: The last time I ran 13.1 was November of 2014. It was ugly. I was unprepared and uninspired. It was not a fun time. It was when I finally admitted that I was truly burned out and had to take a nice long break from racing. My next race was just this past October, almost a full two years later. Now, I am ready to conquer the 13.1 again! I’ll be running the Wildwood half in May and I am planning another for the fall, although I haven’t determined which one yet.
In addition to the three main goals, I really do what to focus on strength training and I also want to get back into spinning. Lastly, I want to continue doing well with my sugar in-take and get on a better sleep scheduled. Doing both of those things will certainly reflect back into my fitness!
What are your fitness goals? Do you set goals by the year, or do you break them down?