Mercer County Turkey Trot Race Recap

Happy Thanksgiving everyone in the USA! I hope you all had a great holiday filled with love and laughter and food, and if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a great weekend anyway πŸ™‚

My Thanksgiving was great because it involved running. That’s right, let 2015 go down in history as the year I finally ran my first Turkey Trot!

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A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law Mere (a super speedy, hardcore inspirational runner who blogs here and is on Instagram too!) mentioned wanting to run a Turkey Trot to kick off Thanksgiving, and I was all in: an excuse to hang out with family AND earn an extra scoop of stuffing? Aces!

In the week leading up to the race we had some fun picking out ridiculous race-day gear and finally arrived in Mercer County Park on Thanksgiving morning, ready and raring to go.

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Our hats may have been the best things EVER.

It was COLD out there! The temperature hovered around 34 degrees; even though the forecast called for 60 degrees later in the day, the air in the park didn’t get the memo. So we danced around and hung out with these two turkeys while waiting for the starting gun (my hubby, right, and his brother, left).

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Even the boys wanted in on the sweet turkey hat action.

At the gun we took off with almost 1,000 other runners in silly outfits, regular running gear, people with kids and strollers and groups – and we even managed to stayed relatively bunched together with a good group of people the whole 3.1 miles! My two longsleeve layers and gloves kept me warm, but after the first 1.5 miles I quickly warmed up and shed the gloves and extra hat under my turkey.

The best part about running a race with a speedy runner like Mere is that I didn’t stop to walk once! We set out not to “race”, but just to have fun, and that’s exactly what we did. I know it can’t be easy for a faster runner to stick around at the back of the pack with me, but the motivation boost, pace-pushing, and company are always much appreciated!

It’s even MORE fun when you’re running with someone who also wore pants with a wider waistband like we both did, because we spent a good 1.8 miles of the 3.1 pulling up our pants and laughing πŸ˜‰ And every 5 minutes or so, people either passing us in the race or on the sidelines would yell out to us, “Nice turkeys!” or “Love the hats!” Even the guy fully dressed as a pilgrim near the finish complimented us – coming from a guy with buckles on his racing sneakers, that meant a lot.

The course took us through the park via the main road and through a semi-paved trail path. It was gorgeous, but a little crowded as we ran through the woods past a lake and back around the start/finish area, over some rolling hills for another mile or so, then back downhill on the main road towards the finish again. The whole time we talked about our spring racing calendars, how much we wished we’d picked pants that fit, family, life… everything. It was great! And just as I was starting to overheat and my dreams of stuffing and turkey became all-consuming obsessions, we finally crossed the finish line hand in hand and cheering at 35:10!

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Our men cheered us on as we finished, and we hung out for a bit afterwards taking some fun pictures and waiting for the area to clear out so we could leave the parking lot safely.

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And those hats… my god those hats. They were worth their weight in gold, let me tell you! Endless entertainment on the course and off, for us and for the folks who can’t help but play with them (see above).

All in all this was a great race that I will definitely add to my calendar in the future! While I’ve never run a race on a holiday before, I loved the novelty of it and look forward to doing it more. It breaks up the usual lazy-day feeling of a holiday, gets the heart moving, gives me an excuse to hang out with my speedy sis-in-law, and makes more room for an extra sliver of pie: a win-win-win-WIN!

Did you race on Thanksgiving? How do you feel about Huffing for the Stuffing? And do you have a pair of pants like ours that just won’t stay up during a run? πŸ˜‰

Cold Weather Running Motivation

Here in NJ, we’ve been lucky this fall. The weather hasn’t been as blisteringly cold as it’s been in previous Novembers. Unfortunately, though, that’s made me a little soft now that the REAL cold weather is on the way.

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Case in point: since it’s been about 60 degrees for the last two weeks, this morning’s 30 degrees for a morning run felt like -10 and I went back inside!

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I’m a baby when it comes to the cold, I’m the first to admit. As much as humidity sucks the life out of me when I run in the summer, I’d much rather have to constantly rehydrate or waitΒ  until sundown to run comfortably than have to face single-digit temps. I know deep down as a runner that cold weather is better for me – hell, every one of my PR’s was set in 40 degrees or less! – but I just can’t bring myself to freeze for the first mile or two while my body acclimates to the weather.

As we get further into the cold season, I’ll get used to it for sure. I always do. But until then, here are a few things that motivate me to get up, get out and get running when the polar vortex makes me want to do anything but that:

Sleeping in my running gear. This is a win-win: once the temps drop below 40, our house gets perpetually cold. Wearing my running gear base layer of tights and long sleeve tech shirt to bed keeps me sleepy-time cozy and takes one prep step out of the equation in the morning because I’m already dressed!

New Music. I don’t know about you, but this is one of my best motivators year round, actually. Knowing I’ve got some new tunes waiting to pump me up in those first few frigid miles makes it a bit easier to bear: if I can just get through that first song, I’ll be warm!

Friends. No one wants to be the person that keeps the group waiting in the cold. NO ONE.

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Self-bribery (see also: Shame). I’mma keep it real here: knowing that I get to go back home and curl up under warm blankets on the couch with a glass of wine after my run is sometimes the number one thing that gets me out the door. The gross feeling I get when I plan a workout only to skip it is reason number two.

A new route. One nice thing about running in the cold is that pretty much everywhere is fair game. In the summer, the thought of heading down to the beach for 8 miles on the boardwalk at 10am is unthinkable, thanks to blazing sun, ridiculous tourist crowds, and the unbearable heat. But in the middle of November? The beach is like a ghost town and those endless miles of boardwalk are ALLLL MINE!

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What about you: how do you stay motivated when it’s so much more tempting to stay in the toasty warmth of your house? Share your tips!

NYC Triathlon: I’m IN!

A month or so ago, my coworker asked me how I felt about being the runner in a relay team for the NYC Triathlon. After a little research showed me what a ridiculously cool race this is (and that the run was only a 10K around Central Park, yes, please), I was stoked: of course I said yes!

Cut to a few weeks later when we realized that the entry was a fundraising spot that we’d all have to raise upwards of $1k for, each, in addition to the entry fees. That’s a lot of money, so we shelved the idea until the race lottery opened and we decided to enter as a relay team that way. “Who knows”, we reasoned. “If we get in, we get in, and if not, no sweat.” We’d find another event to enjoy together.

Fast Forward to this afternoon when I came face to face with the following email:

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Few subject lines make me squeal as much as “You’re In!”

I immediately ran to find my coworker – the biker of the group – and we promptly high fived and jumped in the air, Anchorman-style.

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(but with less mustaches)

I then texted my other co-worker (or rather, former co-worker, as she recently accepted an awesome new position!) and we freaked out for a bit via text. She’s the swimmer of our group, and the initial idea was hers in the first place.

Once I got through all of the details and filled out our form officially registering us, it finally sank in: I’m going to be doing the NYC Triathlon, and as a part of my first-ever relay team! How cool is that? I never pictured myself doing this event, but once the tri bug bit me, I knew I had to be a part of something larger like this. My confidence in my swimming skills, however, are somewhat lacking, and my biking… well, let’s just say I’m more Beach Cruiser than Iron Man. But with two unbelievable athletes like these folks by my side, with their own strengths in swimming and biking? Piece of cake!

The Reluctant Tri-ers (yes, that’s our team name) are headed to the Hudson River on July 24th, 2016!

How about you – have you done a relay race before? Or the NYC Tri? Any tips for a first time relay team member?

Five Things That Happen During Every Race

If you’ve ever run a race, chances are you’ve experienced some of the standard race-day highs and lows that most runners can relate to: the bliss of a clean port-a-potty, the agony of missing a PR, that tingly-all-over feeling upon seeing the finish line…

But what about the things that no one really talks about? Those things that happen during a race more often than we care to admit? I’ve run my fair share of 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons, and everything in between, and there are some things that have happened so consistently that I’m sharing them now: the five things that happen during every race.

1. The Faster Person

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Listen: we’re all running our own race. I get that. The only person you’re competing against is yourself and all that jazz. But it’s only natural to feel that surge of anger and adrenaline when someone who’s been pacing you for the last 5 miles suddenly sprints past you triumphantly in the final mile.

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It’s even more infuriating and ego-crushing when that person is wearing a giant banana costume. Or is dribbling basketballs. Or wearing a Tom Brady mask and juggling deflated footballs. Not that I know from experience.

2. The Bathroom Fake-Out

We’ve all been there. I don’t care how well-trained your colon might be. Even the most seasoned runner knows that bubbling, burning feeling that can only mean one thing:

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(and if you say you don’t, you’re lying.)

It always seems to hit at like mile 3 of a half marathon that you aim to PR in. But the worst part is when you sprint to the nearest port-a-potty for emergency relief…

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Only to have nothing happen. Nothing!! I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened to me. The intense pressure just seems to build and build with every step, but once I’m finally in a safe place, the urge just disappears as quickly as it hit. I think Kramer called that “missing the window“?

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3. Running Regret

This tends to happen later in a race. The endorphins of a strong start have worn off, you’re long past the last aid station and you’ve still got the final few miles staring you in the face and a blister the size of Texas growing on your big toe. That’s when you say to yourself: “Never again.”

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Even in a good race, this fleeting moment of regret is enough to make me seriously reconsider my own sanity. I paid to do this? To wake up at 4AM on my day off, drive an hour, stand in the cold with a bunch of people I know are faster than me, then run for 3 hours? That’s it. I’m retiring from racing and booking myself a rubber room to roll around in for the rest of my life.

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Bonus Points for knowing what movie this is from.

Until I cross that finish line and the taste of victory is so, so sweet, then I’m all like, “When’s the next one??”

4. Mental Math

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You know exactly what I mean. “OK, so if I keep this 10:55 pace for the next 3 miles I’ll be at an 11:15/mile pace, but can I crank it up for the final 3 mile stretch? 3 miles is from my house to the park and back, that’s not so bad. But really I have 6 miles so it’s double that. That sucks. OK, 6 miles, that’s one loop around town, maybe that’s not so bad.”

Similarly, there’s the phenomenon (please tell me I’m not alone) where the mid-race mania causes all math knowledge to fly out of your brain. Like when my friend once met me at mile 6 of a half marathon and asked me how I was doing as she ran alongside me. “Not bad,” I shouted, “Only 4 more miles, I’m feeling good!”

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She just patted me on the back and sent me on my way with, “It’s more like 7, but you’ve got this!”

I cried for the whole next mile.

5. The Single-Serve Friend

This could just be a back-of-the-packer experience, but I’m putting it on this list. In every race, I tend to make at least one single-serving friend. The “Hi new Bestie, I love your running skirt! OMG how did we never know each other before this moment? OK I’m heading off now so take care, bye-bye forever” friend.

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These are the folks that you meet in the starting corral, or out at mile 5, or in the final mile when you’re both hurting and walking and experiencing the regret I just talked about up there.

Case in point: in my last half marathon, I made a single serving friend with an elderly gentleman who had been pacing me from pretty much mile 6. Instead of feeling anger when he would shoot out ahead of me, I’d use it as fuel and pick up my pace slightly to catch him. Finally, after 6 miles of that as I passed him in the final turn, he caught up to me and thanked me for pushing him the whole race. I had no idea – I thought he’d been doing the same for me! I thanked HIM and we laughed and ran for a quarter mile together, and then I continued on my way. Sure, they’re “friends” in the most basic sense of the word, but Single Serving Friends are sometimes just what you need out there!

What do you think? What things do YOU experience in every race that I left off here? Share in the comments!

Trenton 10K Race Recap

This past weekend I ran my second 10K race and spoiler alert: I set a new PR!

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I signed up on a whim for this race because it was just too cool to pass up. So when Saturday rolled around we headed in to Trenton and had some minor issues getting to the start. See, Trenton isn’t the easiest city to navigate. And while the participant guide did everything it could to identify parking lots, there’s no exact address given for the lots, and there are also a handful of other nearby lots that look the same at 6:15AM when no one else is around! So we ended up parking in the wrong lot. A few volunteers or flags or signs would have gone a LONG way. Thankfully we spotted some runners in the lot across the street as we left, and moved to that lot (the correct lot!) with no problem.

The other issue involved the shuttles: the participant guide noted two spots to pick up the shuttle, but no one seemed to know where that second spot was, so we all ended up walking the mile and change through quiet neighborhoods to the start line. Not the worst way to warm up, but still minorly stressful.

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Cousin Cheesin’

Once we got to the start area, everything was perfect: the port-a-potties were plentiful and clean, the crowds were electric – it was awesome! And the fact that we started right outside Trenton Thunder stadium was just too cool. I met up with my friend Alex and cousin Heather, and we hung out for a bit chatting and warming up near the start. It was overcast and around 60, which was perfect!

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Hey, Alex!

Once we lined up with the almost 4,000 other runners for the 10K and Half start at the same time, it only took about 10 minutes of milling around before the gun went off. We took off right onto the highway and up an inclined ramp past the Delaware River, then back down the ramp on the other side of the highway and past the stadium once more. That was cool – Mike even got to hang out on the median with a bunch of other spectators and caught me going by near mile 1!

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I can’t say it enough: this race was fantastic. I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much! I’ve only ever felt energy in a race like that in some of the larger NYRR races I’ve done. I also give the race directors major kudos for how well signed and organized the actual race is. Even though there were many people running three distances at relatively the same time – 5K, 10K, and Half with three different courses, no less! – I never once felt confused or crowded.

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We ran through Trenton for about 2 miles or so, then jumped onto the Trenton Makes the World Takes bridge – what an experience! All the recaps on this race mention how strange the bridge feels to run over, and they aren’t kidding: the grating on the ground is like 3 inches apart, it feels so weird! I clung to my phone for dear life because the grates looked just wide enough for an iPhone to slip out of a sweaty runner’s hands and fall to its doom in the Delaware. Thank goodness it didn’t happen to me, but I can only imagine the horror!

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Once we crossed into PA, the support on the sidelines was unbelievable. I truly felt like I was in a parade, even at the back of the pack. Folks lined the streets – one guy even had a cooler and was handing out bottled water to us! – and I was so energized, giving high fives to the folks who had brought their dogs and kids and whole families out to cheer us on from their folding chairs.

I especially liked that the half marathon course coincided with ours: our mile 4 was about mile 7 for the half-ers, and so the speedier folks passed by us at a steady stream, providing some nice motivation.

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At about mile 4, we crossed a second bridge back into NJ for the final few miles. I was feeling great at this point – my legs were strong, the hills were rolling along, and the crowds kept me energized like never before. Plus the scenery was breathtaking.

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Along the final 2 miles, I started to flag: those hills were harder than I expected! While I was maintaining a good 12:20-ish pace even with photo stops and water breaks, I didn’t expect to PR but kept pushing anyway.

And I’m glad I did: the final stretch of the race is by far the best ending of a race I’ve run so far. Once you get back to the stadium, you run single file through a short tunnel surrounded by cheering folks into the Trenton Thunder stadium, around the outfield, and through the cute to finish at home plate! I had goosebumps and had to keep from crying the whole time. The feeling is really indescribable. The wall of spectators truly took my breath away, and I told myself to keep running because I had so many eyes on me now!

So I pushed to a final pace of 12:17/mile and crossed the finish line with a huge smile at 1:16:22 – a PR of more than 2 full minutes!!

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Once I crossed, I was handed my medal and made my way back up into the stands to meet Mike and Heather (Alex spotted me at the finish because she finished before me), and we hung out enjoying the post-race pretzels and other goodies.

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I was super psyched – I didn’t expect to PR at all, with a week or two of light running/training at best, I just wanted to finish happy. And I completely surprised myself! All in all, it was a top notch race that I cannot wait to run again next year.

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Skirt Sports Running Skirt Giveaway

If you’ve got eyeballs and you’ve seen my photos, you probably know I’m a big fan of Skirt Sports. I’m also an ambassador for them, and love what they’re about: empowering women of all ages, sizes, and abilities to get moving.

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Me in my Happy Girl at the NYRR Oakley Mini 10K this summer

I know I’ve been giveaway crazy lately, and today is no exception: I’m giving away my favorite piece of Skirt Sports gear: a Happy Girl Running Skirt!

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That’s right, I’m giving away my namesake skirt because I love it so much and I know you will too. The 17″ skirt is longer than most you’ll find out there, but it’s not dowdy. In fact, it’s even better than shorter skirts! That’s because the 7″ built-in semi-compression shorts are long enough to stay put, eliminating those dreaded thigh-chafing issues. Short-waisted gals or those of you with a booty you’re proud of (like me!) will love this one – it covers all the right places but is still super cute without looking like a skirt a nun would approve of (although I’m sure they’d like it too)! Just like the rest of the Skirt Sports pieces, it’s loaded with pockets and made of high quality tech fabrics, but the key to this one is its versatility. I’ve worn it both on the race course and in the office, and swear by it on the weekends.

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So what are you waiting for? Enter here, spread the word, and good luck!

State of the Union

First off, a BIG congratulations to our Cocogo winner, Miss Laura Coyne!

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And secondly, apologies for the delay since my last post. Life, as it tends to do, got in the way, and put things into perspective. I won’t go into details, but if you take anything away from your internet time today, let it be this:

Life can change in a literal heartbeat. If you’re waiting to say or do something, PLEASE just do it. Don’t wait. Say what you want to say, do what you want to do, and don’t put it off, because you have no idea what the future holds for you or anyone.

OK, now that I’ve gotten myself all emotional again, let’s move on to some less serious things. Like my next race!

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Yes, I finally registered for the Trenton 10K this weekend. This looks like it’s going to be a fun run for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s only my second 10K. Given that my first was in Central Park and “just for fun”, I’m hoping for a new PR to close out my 2015 racing season.
  2. The course of this race takes us through TWO states. That’s right: We start in NJ, race over the Trenton Makes, the World Takes Bridge into PA, and go back into NJ to finish. Pretty cool, huh? My first time racing in PA AND crossing state borders during a run. Whee!
  3. Lastly, we finish the race by running around the bases and ending at home plate in the Trenton Thunder baseball stadium. I’m so psyched that I may literally slide across the finish line, but I make no promises.

I can’t wait! It’ll be a race filled with firsts, and I’m looking forward to earning that medal (and taking a ridiculously long nap when I get home).

How about you guys? We’re in the thick of racing season, so let me hear it! Any NYC Marathon finishers out there? Show off your accomplishments in the comments πŸ™‚