2019 Races

It’s that time of year. The time when runners eagerly start planning out their race schedules for the year. Obviously, I’m no exception. I didn’t run a single race in 2018 due to pregnancy and having a newborn, so I’m itching to get back out there. Some shiny new PRs would be great, but I mostly just want to have some goals to work toward now that I’m not working.

Because I’m a full-time mom and we are now living on a single income, I have to be a lot more selective about races. These days, location and price are paramount. Gone are the days when I could wake up at 3:30 am and drive to upstate New York and back in a single day just for a race. If it’s further than an hour’s drive, it’s not happening. And the price-to-swag ratio has to work out. I’m not paying $50 for a race with no medal, ya dig?

The pickings in my area are rather slim, but there are a few good races that I’m pretty excited about, including some repeats. Obviously, it’s early days, and I’m not 100% sure that these races will all work for me, but I think one-ish race per month from May through November is realistic from a training and expense standpoint.

Behold, my tentative race schedule:

May
Right now, I have three races that I’d like to do in May, but will likely only run one or two. First, the Respite House Jiggety Jog 5k, which I’ve run every year since we moved back from Boston except last year. They haven’t actually posted the date yet, but it’s an annual event, and usually takes place in early May.

Next up is the GMAA Pump it Up 5 Miler on May 4. I ran this race back in 2015 and really enjoyed it. With a $15 registration fee, it’s a deal, and it’s also very close to home. There are no frills–no medals, no shirts, but there are bagels at the finish line and VERY good raffle and age group prizes. Unfortunately, the Jiggety Jog and Pump it Up 5 Miler have a history of being held on the same day. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen this year!

Lastly is the Vermont City Marathon Relay. I’m definitely not ready to train for another full, but I’d love to run a leg of the relay. I have some friends who usually put a team together, so we’ll see what happens there.

July 
I’ve put the Stowe 8 Miler on my race wish list many times, but I’ve never actually gone ahead and done the thing. It’s a unique distance, it’s close to home, and finishers get a medal, a shirt, and a craft beer. This is my kind of race!

August
Another race I’ve heard great things about but never gotten around to running is the Fairfax Egg Run. They offer a 5k and 10k in addition to a kids’ race. I haven’t run a 10k race in ages, and they serve breakfast at the finish. This race is also super close to our house, which is a big bonus.

October
I got my current half marathon PR at the Leaf Peepers Half in 2017, and while it was a VERY challenging course, it was also lots of fun. Registration is cheap, and while you don’t get a medal, you can get a shirt for an extra $5. Post-race food is good, and again, it’s fairly close to home. I’m not sure I want to train for a half this year, but if I do, this will be it.

IMG_4540

Aaaah, memories

November
Another unique distance and fairly new race on the scene would be the Vermont 10 Miler. Last year was the inaugural race, and from what I saw on social media, it was very popular. The registration fee is very reasonable, and finishers get a medal and a shirt. Stowe is also just a hop, skip and a jump away, which makes it all the more appealing.

What are some criteria that help you decide which races to run?

 

Advertisements

Race Recap: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon 2017

What | Where |When: Leaf Peepers Half Marathon | Waterbury, VT | October 1, 2017

Weather: 50’s at the start, mid 60’s at the end. Breezy and sunny.

Pre-Race
I got up around 8, chugged some water, made eggs and toast, and got myself ready. The drive to Waterbury is about 35-40 minutes from my house, so I left around 9:30. I stopped for some iced coffee on the way, and continued to sip water as I drove.

Parking was well-marked and very easy. Also relatively close to the start/finish, which ended up being beneficial, as I went back and forth several times, forgetting stuff, fussing with my gear etc.

Getting my bib was super easy, and all runners also got a jar of Bove’s pasta sauce. I passed, as I didn’t feel like going back to my car again. As I was pinning my bib, I ran into my friend Jennifer, who was running the 5k. It was nice to see her, and she introduced me to a few women who were also running the half, who I ended up running near for quite a while during the middle miles of the race.

I used the potties a couple of times and did some dynamic stretching to warm up. The race started exactly on time at 11 am.

IMG_4536

Miles 1-3 (10:24, 11:15, 13:58)
These were without a doubt the hardest miles of the race. I had seen the elevation profile, and knew that the first three miles had a huge elevation gain, but knowing and seeing are two VERY different things. I ended up walking most of mile three because the hill was just.so.steep and LOOOOOONG. It was super demoralizing. When mile 3 beeped and I saw 13:48 on my Garmin, I pretty much figured my PR attempt was shot, but was determined to keep trying anyway.

Miles 4-8 (9:54, 9:27, 9:41, 10:32, 10:10)
These miles were largely downhill or flat, and I was able to significantly pick up the pace. Any time there was a downhill, I just opened up and let fly. I have long legs and strong quads, so downhills don’t really bother me at all. Around this time I passed Jennifer’s three friends, and we all shared a laugh at how freaking terrible the early hills had been.

I took my first package of sport beans at mile 4, and my second just after the turnaround at mile 8. I sipped water every mile, and felt very well hydrated and fueled the whole time. I wished fervently around mile 6 that I had paid more attention to the course map, because I kept getting faked out thinking “The turnaround MUST be soon,” but it was a lot later than I expected and I got a little frustrated with not knowing where I was.

IMG_4539

Miles 9-13.1 (9:36, 9:25, 9:31, 10:10, 9:12, 7:49)
After the turnaround, I knew that most of the remaining miles were downhill, so I just kept reminding myself that after the first three miles, anything else was easy. I started passing people at this point, which is unusual for me, but I just wanted to be done. I was fairly certain now that a PR was within reach, and I was determined not to somehow mess it up by getting hurt or blowing up.

Just after mile 11 beeped on my Garmin, I realized that I was about to head up another giant hill. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen this pop up on my stories:

IMG_4540

I think that pretty accurately sums up how I felt in that moment. Mile 12 took us out on to a dirt/grass trail that had a few very narrow sections. I got stuck briefly behind a girl, but managed to pass her when the trail opened up a bit.

Mile 13 connected back with our original “out” section, and was almost all downhill, which is likely why it was my fastest mile of the entire race. One of the things I really loved about this race is that they announce your name as you come into the finish. I sprinted across as they announced my name and knew that I had a PR in the bag.

Post-Race
My official time was 2:14:43, which is over three minutes under my old PR of 2:18:06, and I was ELATED. And also exhausted, sore, and hungry. I grabbed half a banana, some cheese, and a bagel, and hobbled over to some grass to stretch out.

IMG_4537

They started the awards ceremony shortly after I finished. They do a “King and Queen of the Hill” contest for the first man and woman to conquer the beastly hills at the beginning, as well as the usual age group and overall winners. As I was stretching on the grass, the most glorious thing happened. A woman approached me and asked if I wanted a gift certificate for a free pair of Saucony shoes. Apparently she had won it as part of an age group, but she wasn’t from the area and knew she wouldn’t use it. Score! The certificate is to a running/outdoor store that I’ve never been to, so I’m curious to see how their fitting process differs from Fleet Feet, and hopefully get some sweet new shoes.

Overall
This course was TOUGH, but beautiful, with great support.

Pros:
– 11 am start
– Cheap registration ($35 plus fees)
– Ample parking near start/finish
– Great on-course support, well marked route, plenty of food post-race

Cons:
– HILLS
– No bling! I somehow didn’t realize this prior to signing up. Maybe that’s why registration is so cheap?
– Shirts cost extra, are cotton

Would you run a half marathon that didn’t give out medals?

Friday Free-For-All – 09/29/17

Photo Jul 14, 10 05 37 AM

Fall has finally arrived! Even though September 22nd was the equinox, we had a string of hot, dry days that were like a second summer until just yesterday. While it was nice to have some extra summery days to sort of make up for our cold, rainy spring, I’m definitely happy that fall weather is here. Fall is my favorite anyway, but ESPECIALLY when I’m about to run my first half marathon in a while! It will be much nicer to run with temps in the 60’s versus in the 80’s.

Race weekend! In case you missed it, I’m running the Leaf Peepers Half Marathon in Waterbury on Sunday. Check out my thoughts and goals here. On the whole, I’m very excited to run my first “for time” race in quite a while. I just want to do my best and have fun.

We had our first meeting with our buyer’s agent this week. She came highly recommended by some friends who recently bought a house using her services. It was a good meeting, and I really think having a realtor in our corner will help a lot, both from a “seeing more stuff more easily” perspective, and from a “navigating the home-buying process” perspective. Fingers crossed that she’ll have some places for us to look at soon!

IMG_4525I can’t stop eating candy corn and/or mellocreme pumpkins. I know I alluded to this in last week’s FFFA post, but it’s bad. I bought two bags yesterday (one of each) and have already gotten into both. I prefer the pumpkins, but I can’t forget the classic candy corn shape. I always eat them by biting off the colored sections, starting with the yellow at the bottom. #typea They’re my favorite seasonal candies so I feel like I have to get as much as I possibly can before they disappear for another 11 months. I may just go buy a bunch of bags and hoard them for a while. Of course, knowing me, I’ll finish them all within a month.

Has fall arrived in your neck of the woods?

 

 

Leaf Peepers Half Brain Dump

You guys, it’s finally happening. I’m FINALLY running a PR attempt half marathon. I haven’t run a half marathon for time since I set my current PR of 2:18:06 in November of 2014–almost three years ago!

In some ways, I feel like I’m super ready and prepared. I’m stronger than ever, both mentally and physically, thanks to CrossFit. I’m also pretty well trained, having completed two 10+ mile training runs, which is more than I’ve ever done for a half before. Yet in other ways, I’m full of doubt. I haven’t run that much this year. I haven’t really done any speed work. I’ve been wanting to attempt a PR in the half distance for two years, so I’m feeling a lot of pressure. Also, there’s this:

Elevation

That’s a whooooole lotta uphill right at the beginning. I haven’t exactly been working hills lately. In fact, most of my long runs have been on the flat-as-a-pancake rail trail. This does not bode well.

Still, though, I feel like the circumstances going into this race are good. For one thing, the race starts at 11 am, which means I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to get to the race start. I can actually go to bed at a normal hour and get up at a normal hour and hopefully get a decent night’s sleep. Sunday’s weather is also looking pretty dang perfect.

Capture

I mean, I guess a few degrees cooler and overcast would be perfect, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m lucky it will be cooler than 80 after the last couple of weeks we’ve had.

SO. My goal is to PR, which would be anything under 2:18:06. Running an average pace of 10:30 would get me there by just under a minute. Obviously, any PR would be great, but I can’t help but want to PR by a somewhat wider margin. An average pace of 10:25 would get me a PR of just under two minutes, which I’d be SUPER stoked about. So that’s what I will aim for.

HOWEVER. With that crazy elevation gain in the first three miles this will be challenging, no question. My plan is to be very conservative during the first three miles. I will walk if I have to. I just don’t want to shred myself right at the start and be too gassed to finish strong. I will also use the downhills to my advantage. I’m a strong downhill runner, so I plan to just open up my stride and let gravity help me out.

And if I don’t PR? No biggie. I’m just excited to try, after not having run a half marathon for time in so long. This will likely be my last big race for a while, so I just want to have a good time and make it count.

Anybody else racing this weekend? What are your goals?

Setting My Sights on Fall

My plans to train for and then register last-minute and run the Stowe 8-Miler fell through spectacularly, as I sort of suspected they would. I was busy, I didn’t make running a priority, and I blew my budget yet again, making registration downright irresponsible, even if I had been properly trained.

Still, though, the itch to race remains. I’ve once again tentatively identified a race: the Charlotte Covered Bridges Half Marathon on September 9. Admittedly, 9 weeks to train for my first half since Wine and Dine may not be enough. But I’m much stronger these days, both mentally and physically, thanks to CrossFit. I think if I can just tough out a compressed 9 week bastardization of a Hal Higdon plan, it’s doable. It may not be pretty, and likely won’t be the PR race I’m hungry for, but it’s something.

One of the main reasons I’ve so got my sights set on this fall is because we are also aiming for fall as our target “get pregnant” time. I wrote a longer post about it but never actually hit “publish.” Long story short, we had to push back our timeline because of our Bahamas trip this spring, and that pesky little Zika virus. Our doctors recommended that we wait six whole months from our time of potential exposure, which puts our safe window right around the second week of September. When/if I get pregnant, I doubt I will have the time, energy, or desire to run long. So it’s now or never (at least for the next year or so).

It would feel pretty great to actually follow through on training and run this race, but here’s the reality check: my show opens in a week, and runs for three weeks. That’s another month of driving to and from Stowe 4-5 times a week, which only leaves my lunch breaks and weekends for getting in workouts, including both CrossFit and running. As I’ve said before, CF is my priority right now because I’m paying for it, and running on my lunch break can only happen on good weather days. So will I actually train? Only time will tell.

What’s the shortest training cycle you’ve ever used for a half?

Planning for a Fall Half Marathon?

Last year, I had hoped to make a half marathon PR attempt in the fall, either before or after Wine and Dine. For various reasons (mostly, budget restrictions), that didn’t happen. This year, I’m revisiting that idea. I’ve got a better handle on my budget, I’m not racing as much, and I’d really love to have a goal to work toward for the fall to keep me motivated after marathon training ends. I’m the type of person who needs a dangling carrot to keep up with training.

HOWEVER… While I do have this half PR on my mind, I still really want to relax this summer. I wrote about how marathon training is taking over my life, and I don’t want training for a PR to take over my life once the marathon is done. I mean, theoretically I need to train for a half anyway, because Team Can-Am will finally be together and whole for Wine and Dine in November (!!!). But training for an early November half (and one that I wouldn’t be racing), would mean that I wouldn’t have to stick as closely to a training plan, and I wouldn’t need to even start training until mid-August, leaving my summer much more open.

It’s funny, because I started writing this post several weeks ago, and the general content was much different then. It was more like “I want to run a half marathon PR this fall, and I’ve already got a training plan and this is gonna be so awesome!” But now that I’m deeper into training, and in the thick of Mary Poppins madness, I’m changing my tune. I actually came back to the original post and wrote in all caps “DO I EVEN WANT TO TRAIN FOR A PR ANYMORE? NO!”

I’d say that at this point, I’m about 70/30 in favor of just not doing it. There is a half close by that’s one month before Wine and Dine, so I could potentially train for that and then just do maintenance until November. Or, I could just take it easy this summer, doing some leisurely maintenance to keep up marathon fitness, and focus on fun at W&D. Of course, because I’m just a little bit Type A, I’ve already pulled together a training plan “just in case.”

I’m sure it’s just the burnout talking, but I’m almost feeling like I may not even run a half again for a long while after Wine and Dine. I love running, but I think I need a good long break from distance running. It would be fun to work on my 5k pace for a while and really see what I can do speed-wise. Just think of it: a whole summer of nothing higher than 5 miles in distance… Boy that sounds great.

Are you a fan of super long distance running, or do you prefer shorter distances?

 

 

 

 

Race Recap: Disney’s Wine and Dine Half (Quarter?) Marathon 2015

Warning: This is a long one. If you’re more interested in just the nitty gritty race details, check out my review on BibRave.com. Don’t forget to review all your races on BibRave to help your fellow runners!

What/Where: Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando, FL

When: Saturday, November 7 at 10:00 pm

Conditions: Very hot and humid

Pre-Race:
I was staying at a host resort, so transportation was super easy. Kim and I hopped on a bus right about 7 pm, and we were at WWoS shortly after that. I checked my gEAR bag and we were joined by Kellie and Nicole. While we were waiting for the start, I finally got to meet fellow BibRave Pros Heather and Danielle, which was so much fun! I hope we get a chance to hang out more in the future.

Me, Heather, Danielle

Me, Heather, Danielle (photo courtesy of Danielle!)

Now here is where things went a little sideways. A little after 9 pm, a high wind kicked up, and it started to spit rain. Shortly after that, the announcer came over the speakers and said that due to “extreme weather conditions in the area” all 14,000 runners and spectators were being evacuated into either Champion Stadium or the HP Field House. Huh? Watching the sea of runners move from the staging area up into the WWoS complex was so surreal. The worst part about the situation is that there simply weren’t enough bathrooms to accommodate everyone. Every line for a ladies room we passed as ridiculously long, so we kept walking toward the end of a concourse, to find that two lovely ladies had commandeered a men’s room. Seriously, these ladies guarded the door and kindly but firmly informed every male who came over that this was now a ladies room. Thank you, mystery ladies!

Disney-fied urinals

Disney-fied urinals

We waited. And waited. And waited. They were playing music in the stadium and trying to keep everyone happy, but it was tough to stay excited, not knowing if or when we’d get to run. My one gripe at this point is that they kept making announcements, but didn’t turn the music off while doing so, so it was difficult to hear and understand what was going on.

Trying to stay positive while we wait

Trying to stay positive while we wait

Eventually, we were given the news that the course would be “slightly altered,” and that we should head back to the staging area. Of course, they weren’t telling us what the alterations would be, and how long the race would actually be. By the time everyone got back to the staging area and then over to the corrals, it was already 11 pm. Finally, someone in our group was able to get online and determine that the entire Animal Kingdom portion of the race was eliminated, and the course would now be just short of 7 miles. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. My first runDisney race, and my only half marathon this year, would be shortened by almost half. AND I hadn’t visited Animal Kingdom because I thought I’d get to see it as part of the race, so it was like a triple whammy of bad news.

As we waited in our corral to start, I did my best to stay psyched up. I would still get to run with Team Can-Am. I would still get to run through the Osbourne Lights. And I’d still get to go to the after-party. And I’ve gotta say, when our corral’s fireworks went off and we started running, I perked up right away.

Photo Nov 07, 11 14 15 PM

Because Kellie’s hip and ankle were really bothering her, we decided to do 4:1 run/walk intervals, and walk all the water stops. It was really hot and humid, so I was happy to be doing intervals. I’m not super familiar with the race course, so I basically just broke it up in my mind by character stops. Our first character stop was the bears from the Country Bear Jamboree.

Photo Nov 08, 7 59 11 PM

Photo courtesy of Kellie

Next up were the green army men from Toy Story. For those of you who don’t know, Danielle started an unofficial challenge that we now refer to as the Nardi Challenge. When you see the army men, it’s time to stop, drop, and push-up!

Photo courtesy of Kellie

Photo courtesy of Kellie

And of course we had to stop for Lilo and Stitch:

Photo courtesy of Kellie

Photo courtesy of Kellie

My favorite part of this course, though, was running through the Osbourne Lights in Hollywood studios. I’d heard about how awesome it was, but I was not fully prepared for how overwhelmed I would be by the magicalness of it.

I'm so overwhelmed!

I’m so overwhelmed! Photo courtesy of Nicole

Photo courtesy of Kellie

Photo courtesy of Kellie

Photo courtesy of Kellie

Photo courtesy of Kellie

From here, we ran on a really narrow path along the boardwalk from Hollywood studios into Epcot. It was super crowded and hard for our group to stay together, especially trying to do run/walk intervals, but we made it work. As we came into Epcot, Kim’s husband Ed was waiting to cheer for us, and had a Bailey’s cocktail for Kim, which she carried for the remainder of the race. It was at this point that I had my only truly negative experience: some lady apparently didn’t like the fact that I was walking, even though I had carefully signaled that I was going to stop running, and moved to the side of the course. This women physically put her hand on my waist and pushed me out of her way. I just shouted, “EXCUSE YOU!” Because what else could I do? But seriously, I would NEVER do that to someone during a race, especially not a race that was already not really a race anymore, and in Disney? Come on, lady! Get over yourself.

And then we finished. Yay! Getting into the post-race party was a bit of a cluster. The finisher’s chute is long and crowded. You get a medal, a Powerade, and a food box. There are photo ops, but the lines are stupid long, so we just went to bag check. Shout out to the bag check folks, here: I walked into the tent, and before I could even look down at my bib number to see where to go, they already had my bag ready for me. Thanks!

From there, figuring out where to go was a bit tough. It was super crowded, and the congestion was massive. They split you into men or women to go to the changing tents, which are stupid busy. And then the line that they forced us into was actually going the wrong way, so it took a really long time to get where we were going, and then the post-race beer was Mich Ultra, which is just… gross. I know it’s a free beer and it could have been worse (I guess? Is there a worse beer than Mich Ultra?), but still. And then we FINALLY made it through that line, and we STILL had to wait to get into the post-race party. PRO TIP: if you can take everything out of your gEAR check bag and either wear it or carry it, you don’t have to wait through bag inspection. Second PRO TIP: don’t wait for the line in the changing tents. Find a bathroom in Epcot and change there.

We made a beeline straight for Soarin, and changed in the bathrooms there, then went Soarin’ over California before heading off for Food and Wine. Epcot was busy, but not awfully so. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for the food we wanted, and we actually closed out the party, staying in the park until they shut it down at 4 am, which is WAAAAAY past my bedtime. I never expected to stay out that late, but I’m glad I did.

Photo Nov 08, 4 04 26 AM

So yeah, maybe this wasn’t the race experience I was expecting, but I still had a ridiculous amount of fun. I know some people were super angry or disappointed about the shortened course, but I just tried to remind myself that the race could have been canceled entirely. That happens sometimes. For me, it’s just an excuse to go back next year so I can run the whole thing 🙂

Have you ever had a race course shortened like this? Or canceled entirely? How did you feel?