Jersey Capital Corporate Fun Run 5K Race Recap

At the end of May, one of my coworkers passed along an email about a Corporate Fun Run in Mercer County Park with the following subject line: “Would you be interested if we can get a team for this?” A 5K with my coworkers at the beautiful park near our office? Of COURSE I was interested!

So over the next few weeks we recruited a total of 11 people, ordered tech tees with our company logo (and persuaded our boss to sponsor our registration fees, thanks Josh!), and with that, Team IG was ready to run.

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On race day, the weather was typical for mid-June: overcast with some sun, muggy, and kinda gross. We all showed up at the park with time to spare, and after I picked up our bibs as Team Captain and handed them off to everyone, we goofed around and got psyched up while we waited to start.

The whole thing was a fundraiser for Tackle Kids Cancer, a really great organization here in NJ at the Children’s Cancer Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center that’s committed to advancing research and providing children access to the highest level of care, and we were psyched to be able to raise more than $400 for them!

As we toed the start, we realized the race was smaller than we thought – there were only 65 runners total! Plus, a handful of my coworkers were running this as their FIRST 5K (what’s up, Rani & Sathya! So proud of you!!). My friend and running buddy Alex said she wanted to keep pace with me – she’s usually faster than me but had been sick that week and just wanted to have a good time, so we stuck together most of the way.

At the horn we took off over the mat, we got caught up in the excitement of watching our SUPER speedy coworkers take off at the front of the pack (and screamed our heads off at them across the pond when we saw them take the lead ahead of us)! Soon we fell into a good rhythm and chatted, even snapping Alex’s first ever GoPro Runfie!

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We soon realized that this was no ordinary 5K. Even though the course was billed as an out and back, we didn’t see anyone coming back until just before the turnaround at mile 1.8. And yes, for those of you playing along at home, the turnaround for a 3.1 mile, out-and-back course should NOT be at mile 1.8! But we screamed our heads off when we DID see people coming in the other direction – because they were ALL of our coworkers! One after another, we screamed and high-fived the speedy folks that took the lead, then stopped at the water station turnaround for water and a walk break.

Up til then I’d kept our pace at a semi-uncomfortable 11:45-11:50 – with the humidity, we had tossed the idea of PR’ing out the window. The humidity was a beast – even though we were running in shady forest, it was hard to breathe. Just before the “2 Mile” marker on the ground at mile 2.5 (LIES!), Alex told me to go ahead without her so I took off.

I started picking people off one by one. One woman kept pace with me that whole final mile, stopping to walk after she passed me, then running again when I passed her. When I knew the finish wasn’t too far away, I chose her as my “no way” target: NO WAY I was letting her pass and finish before me. So I took off over a little bridge and around the park – it was so awesome to see all my coworkers who finished before me crowd together at the finish line and cheer me over the line at just over 40 minutes!

Not long after, Alex finished, and we hung out to cheer on the rest of our teammates as they finished too (while enjoying some post-race beer).

It was a great vibe where everyone cheered each other on, and even the race director stuck around at the finish to apologize to everyone for the course being so long. I was stoked to hear all about how everyone else did, especially when I discovered that one of our guys WON THE RACE!

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Photo by Brian Zuleta

Seriously, he WON the thing in just over 25 minutes (or according to him, 4 “Hotel California”s) and snagged the First Place Male Overall award! But that’s not all – we all finished we hung out to wait for the awards, and we were blown away when we realized just how well we did:

1st Place Overall Male

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Photo by Brian Zuleta

3rd Place Largest Team AND 2nd Place Team Spirit Award (for live-posting on Twitter and Instagram before and during the race!)

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Photo by Brian Zuleta

Third Place Male Team!

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And…. FIRST PLACE FEMALE TEAM!

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Photo by Brian Zuleta

You guys, I finally won an award! I was on the team with the top 3 females, and I was NUMBER 3 IN THAT TEAM! I’m not kidding: I cried a little bit. I had to suck it up so I didn’t cry in front of my coworkers, but seriously, look at that crazy face up there. Those are some full-on Crazy Eyes, and I wasn’t about to let that award go.

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5 years of running and I finally got an award!

As it turns out, I actually finished as the 9th Female Overall (which is ludicrous!) but proves that this race was purely a numbers game: the fact that there were many more speedy guys ahead of me – and a lack of female runners out for blood – meant the odds were stacked pretty high in my favor. But I’m not complaining, I’m too busy finding the perfect spot for my very first running award!

Fun tidbit: after we’d gotten our awards and were hanging out eating and celebrating at the post-race party, my NO WAY target (who was an extremely fit, serious-looking chick!) came up to me and congratulated me: “Nice work, thanks for helping me push the pace, I was trying to get ahead of you there. You still beat me though.” I was dumbstruck. Normally I’m the one saying “you beat me”. I thanked HER and she moved on, but I had to laugh: I finally nailed a No Way Target and she knew it.

Overall this was a great race, as far as evening races in 90% humidity on a long course go. The fact that we did it as a group made it even more fun though, and I would happily do it all again. Once word got around our office after we returned victorious, the murmurs about running it again next year have already started. And with any luck, I’ll be there to defend my title!

What’s Up?

I don’t know about you, but lately the weeks are just flying by here! I feel like once we hit May, every weekend has been filled with traveling, working out like crazy, weddings, parties, BBQs, and general craziness with no clear end in sight. Last weekend we had legitimately nothing on the calendar and freaked out: I swore I had to be forgetting something! But it was nice to relax for about 2.4 hours before swinging right back into things.

Let’s take a look at some highlights from the past month or two and get caught up, shall we?

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered last week’s Mermaid Club Giveaway – I love being able to give you guys cool stuff 🙂 And now, drumroll please…. our winner is Michelle B!

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Check your email, girl, I’ve sent you the deets on how to get your goods 🙂

I’m Tri-ing (Again)

After two polar opposite experiences at the Jersey Girl and One More Tri sprint triathlons last year, I wasn’t itching to burst back onto the triathlon scene anytime soon. But I’m highly suggestible, and when my coworker said she wanted to do her first sprint tri and I mentioned the Jersey Girl as the best one for beginners, before I knew what was happening I was registered for it again.

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I don’t know how it happened, I swear!

I’m honestly really excited – all the tri training I did last summer had a HUGE impact on my endurance and speed as a runner once I got back into a single sport come the fall, so I’m pretty stoked to have all that cross training to look forward to.

I unofficially started training a few weeks ago by incorporating biking and swimming into my weekly workouts, and as of next week I’ll start doing brick workouts to get back into the swing of biking then running. I also continue to bump up my strength training to get stronger overall, which I hope will pay off in the long run.

My friend got married (and we had a vacation too)!

On June 10th, my friend (and sometimes running/racing buddy) Tina married her sweetheart Justin in LBI and we had the honor of celebrating with them and a bunch of our wild and crazy friends!

This crew is the best – they’re the most loyal, drama-free people I know, and they REALLY know how to party, so it’s always a good time. And to keep the good times rolling after the wedding, we stuck around in LBI for the weekend and fully embraced the island life. We go down there every year and have adopted it as our second home, so it’s always a nice relaxing getaway.

I won a Kylo Ren doll at a carnival stand on the first spin (!!) and Mike got to test out his Captain chops, then the morning we left we headed over to Barnegat to climb the lighthouse like we do every year – my knees were aching after but it was worth it!

I’m still running happy

While I haven’t been the best at keeping you all up to date on my running adventures here, if you’ve been following along with me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you can attest to the fact that I’m still running, and almost all of those miles are indeed happy!

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I even discovered a new trail – right in my hometown! It’s not so much of a trail as it as a nature preserve, and I was the only runner on it the day I went (aside from a family of fishermen and women on the opposite side of the lake), but it was so cool. I spent an afternoon on my own, exploring the ins and outs of this new area, snapping pics as I went.

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I even got to nail my first solo jumping picture!

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In addition to solo exploration, I connected with Mere again for some bright, beautiful miles down at the canal near my office too!

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Running happy together 🙂

There’s been a few other exciting events – namely, an awesome 5K I helped my company take part in, which I’ll recap later this week – but other than that it’s quiet and I like it that way!

How about you: now that summer is here, how’s your training going? Do anything good the past few months? Share!

Race Recap: NYRR Retro 4Miler

On Sunday, June 5th, I earned my 5th race towards my 2017 NYC Marathon 9+1 entry and ran the NYRR Retro 4 Miler in Central Park!

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Full disclosure: I almost skipped this race. After hanging out with sick people the weekend before, I came down with a nasty throat infection and a cough that kept me up 3 nights in a row. The medicine I started on Thursday helped almost immediately, but I was left with wheezing and coughing that wouldn’t go away. I wasn’t quite ready for my first DNS though, and decided I’d walk the damn thing if I needed – I wanted that 9+1 credit!

Happily, Sunday morning I woke feeling pretty good. Three days of meds and 12+ hours of sleep a night really did the trick, and while I still felt tightness in my chest, my legs were itching to run after 3 days off. So I geared up with my new Pro Compression Neon Waves and Skirt Sports Ambassador trucker hat and we headed into the city for a warm, rainy race.

The forecast called for thunderstorms later in the day, and it was overcast from the start, which kept us from overheating. After getting there super early and bibbing up (that’s a thing, right?), I made my way back to the corral and stretched for a bit. This was a fun race that I’ve wanted to do for a while: NYRR gets into the whole “retro running heyday” theme by blasting 60’s and 70’s music, encouraging people to run in vintage tube socks and sweat bands, and time-callers on ladders at every mile marker barking out the race time from their stop watches. It was a cool vibe, if I may borrow a retro turn of phrase! [omg I’m so sorry that was so lame. I’ll see myself out.]

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color-coordinated cheeseball

After the gun went off, we made our way around the 4 mile inner loop of the park in a thick pack. I really love running NYRR races – the corrals are packed all the way to the end and it’s just a totally different experience when you’re surrounded by other runners at the same pace and have the opportunity to pass people. It’s so much more motivational!

As we shuffled along, I kept an eye on my pace – to keep from coughing, I aimed to go SLOW, but my body was not having it. I was averaging 10:30 through the first 3/4 mile! Also, I was pleased to realize that running kept my cough at bay. Finally at the end of Mile 1, we rolled up on my favorite terraces and I couldn’t help but stop and smile.

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I had to take a picture – this was the first time this year I saw my favorite spot in Manhattan all covered in lush greenery, and the sight of that balcony breaking through the trees really made my heart swell. I had to remember that moment 🙂

As we coasted through into Mile 2, I was surprised at my first mile split: 11:07 even with the photo stop! And it felt effortless! Even as the skies opened up and it started raining, my new music was jammin’, the crowds around me were flowing – I even picked off a few people and kept them in the rearview the whole way just to challenge myself. Briefly I thought: wouldn’t it be cool to nab a new 4M PR, even while sick? I did some mental math: I’d need to run sub 11’s the whole way, but shoot – the first mile felt like nothing, why shouldn’t I try??

So try I did. And Mile 2 FLEW by at 10:30 (!!) – I was pumped! So pumped, in fact, that I burnt out [insert sad trombone music]. Hahaha – I had to know it was too good to be true. There was a pretty killer hill around the 5K mark that I charged through at full speed, using my arms to pump and build momentum. As this is something I rarely do, my whole body was on fire by the time I got to the top of the hill, and my breathing never got back to normal. Oh well. That’s what I get for being ambitious after coming off a sick break!

I walked a bit through the last water stop & watched my pace creep back down into the 11:30 range. At mile 3.5, I figured what the hell and took off again. I could do anything for a half mile, right? So I dropped the hammer and rounded the corner to the finish, passing two particularly obnoxious friends who had been walk/running and throwing their arms dramatically out to the sides for the past mile (WHY? There are PEOPLE around you, sweethearts!) and sprinted into the finish for a 45:42 finish at an 11:26 pace.

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Garmin time is always better, dammit.

Once I crossed the line, I slowed to a stop and almost immediately started coughing and wheezing. There was a moment of panic there when I couldn’t catch my breath without coughing even more, so I slowed my breathing, walked carefully, and briefly glanced at the medical tent. But after a few more yards and a big ol’ cup of water (thank you, soaking wet volunteer, for manning a water table in the rain!) I was fine. I grabbed a cinnamon raisin bagel and an apple, found Mike, got my shirt, and we headed home.

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All in all I did much better than I expected to –  my 4M PR is 44:13, so I came pretty dang close – and for a fun themed race, I’ll definitely look to do this one again next year.

Giveaway: Calling All Mermaids!

It’s been a while since I hosted a good giveaway, so let’s fix that!

I’ve got a fantastic, shiny new pair of mermaid-scale print shorts from The Mermaid Club in a size Large that I want to give to you! All  you’ve got to do is enter here or click on the image below!

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You’ve got multiple ways to gain entries – so jump right in and get started! Even if they’re not in your size, spread the love and share the giveaway with your followers and keep an eye out on future Mermaid Club ambassador giveaways in the future too! In the meantime, here’s some fine print:

Open to US residents only! The shorts are a size L, and the size chart can be found below. FYI I’ve got a pair myself and find that they run a little smaller than my usual running shorts. So take a look at the measurements to see for yourself what you’re working with.

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Giveaway ends at midnight EST on Saturday, June 18, so go for it – enter here, spread the love, and good luck!!

I’m Going to Disneyland!

No, forreal you guys – after going over the budget and looking closely at my calendar for the next year, it’s official: I’m running the Star Wars Rebel Challenge in Anaheim in January 2017!

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This is huge. REALLY huge. For a number of reasons:

  1. It’s my first trip to Disneyland – I’m not a huge Disney lover, but come on – I get to say “I’m going to Disneyland!” and mean it!
  2. An escape to California in the middle of a NJ winter? Yes please.
  3. This will be my first “challenge” race – The Rebel Challenge is a combination of the 10K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. 19.3 miles over 2 days? Bring it on!
  4. It’s a STAR WARS themed RACE. Two of my favorite things in the world? I don’t think I need to say anything else about that.

 

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I won’t lie – a challenge like this kind of scares me. It’ll be my first challenge and longest total weekend running distance ever. But here’s my logic:

  • Fiscally, it’s better this way. I’m not travelling across country for one friggin race.
  • YOLO, after all (are the kids still saying that?).
  • I will by NO means be doing these races for time – the photo ops alone along the way will destroy my average pace. I’m doing these for the experience and the memories. And the chance to run a race as Rey. Come on. REY.
  • The 10K on Saturday is a perfect intro to the whole Run Disney machine. By running two races, I’ll get to explore the process and see how everything works during the first, ensuring there’ll be no surprises the next morning for race #2.
  • Finally – even though it’s scary, when the hell else am I going to get to do something this cool?? It’s truly a once in a lifetime thing, a bucket list adventure that I’m so blessed to be able to experience, and in the words of the great Yoda:

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So there you have it – I’m going to Disneyland!! NOW for the important part: have you done a Run Disney race? Especially out in California? I need ALLLLLLL the advice you’ve got. Seriously, PLEASE tell me everything – tips on where to stay, what to pack, what to expect, where to go, what to do, I want to hear it all!

And to all of you folks who registered as well, I can’t wait to meet you all out there – and May the Course Be With You!!

 

 

 

Global Running Day Flashback

OK so in case you haven’t noticed yet, I SUCK at this whole “regular blogging” thing. But I never promised you a rose garden (or a blog that you can count on reading regularly), so there we are.

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For those of you who still actually read this dusty old online journal of mine, let’s take a peek back at Global Running Day, which took place on June 1!

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The team at Brooks Running was kind enough to send me a little GRD care package (and a super sweet note!) in advance of the day, and my sis-in-law Meredith and I decided to celebrate with a post-work trail running adventure on a new (to me) path near Princeton.

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You guys. It was GORGEOUS. I’d never been to this canal before, but now that I know it’s only about 8 miles from where I work, I will definitely be going back more often. Thank you Mere, for the tip on this place!

We met up after work and set off in one direction on the trails, stopping for pictures and exploring the little bridges and different paths. The canal itself was my favorite part – about every 50 yards or so along the one part of the trail we explored, there were little clearings, some with benches, that gave you a beautiful view of the canal and the sunset.

Because it was Global Running Day, this run wasn’t about speed or distance – it was about enjoying the journey and having fun. Which we TOTALLY had to be forced into, you know:

Super serious runners. That’s what we are.

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I wished we could have stayed out there forever but the lack of bathrooms, deluge of BUGS, and quickly setting sun left us no choice – it was sticky and itchy and getting dark quickly! We called it a day after 5K and vowed to return to the canal for another post-work running date ASAP.

How did you celebrate Global Running Day?