Runners World Half & Festival Day 3

When we last left off on Day 2, I’d had a ridiculously fun-filled day with the Runner’s World crew and my fellow ambassadors, and was prepping to run the Five & Dime.

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At about 7AM (thanks, 8AM start time!) Ryan, Amy and I met up with some other folks in the lobby and headed to the start about a mile away. It was brisk out there; 33 to be exact. I had opted to check a bag with clothes to change into, but my dumb ass didn’t actually pack a jacket, so I chattered my way there in one long sleeved layer, easily checked my bag, and we hung out in the corrals for a bit.

I was so excited – I even ran into my Fifth Avenue Mile buddy, Arun!

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He rocked the Grand Slam like a boss (congrats again, you magnificent bastard!)

As the gun went off we shuffled our way through the chute and up the first little hill to start the 5K. Given my foot issues in the past week, I planned on treating the 5K as an easy warm up, and even kept my phone out so I could snap pictures of the scenery I’d heard so much about.

Admittedly, photos of the scenery don’t do it justice – especially the pictures from the run over the bridge. The only negative thing about the race I will admit to is the construction happening on the bridge: the huge crowd of middle-to-back-of-the-packers could only fit so well in the half lane we had to share with the returning faster runners and around the first half mile we came to a full stop. I’ve never had that happen in a race before. But whatever, I wasn’t going for time here!

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super serious runner, extremely angry about having to stop for 3 seconds during a race

The course was quick, kind of hilly, and there was a surprisingly good amount of folks out there cheering us on so early in the freezing cold! By the time I got to 2.5 I snapped a few more pics, made a beeline for the finish, and crossed in 36 & change.

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With a bit of time between races, I ran back to my bag and dropped off my medal and some finish chute goodies (hello Veggie Straws and Godiva Chocolate bars!), circled back to the start area for the 10K, met up with Ryan again, and then we were off!

I put my phone away for this run so I don’t have any scenery shots, but the professional race photos were FREE (!!) so I have lots of those to show off.

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thumbs up for free race pics!

I felt good through the 5K mark and realized that I was pushing a pretty fast pace with absolutely no pain. I walked through some of the more challenging hills at mile 4, got a high five from a dude dressed as Jesus outside a church (and I’m pretty sure that was a real nun sprinkling holy water on us too, so there’s that), and took a gel at around the 5 mile mark. As we went back up over the bridge we ran in the 5K for the same final 1.5-ish miles, I realized it was mostly downhill from that point on, and I could potentially PR.

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So I sucked it up and started passing people left and right in the final mile, run-dancing a bit when 24K Magic came on, and before I knew it I was crossing the finish line at 1:11:19, setting a 2+ minute PR!

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When I looked down at my watch as they handed me my second medal of the day, I felt a happy tear or two well up – coming off of such a disastrous race in Brooklyn the weekend before, this was just the performance I needed.

 

Needless to say, I floated on cloud 9 for the rest of the day. On the way back to the hotel, I grabbed a slice of cheesesteak pizza and a salad for my victory lap, and managed to get in a solid nap before our Pasta Dinner with the Runners World Editors and other runners.

Bart even played host and got us our cake!!

It was a great dinner – there was even a marriage proposal at the table next to us! What a time to be alive. David Willey, Bart Yasso, and Brogan Graham all said a few words – and sang Happy Birthday to Runner’s World!

Apologies in advance for the shaky camera and profanity.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel, but not before taking some awesome pics at the little red carpet setup they had outside the dinner:

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The best part about taking photos with so many people is the abundance of angles and cameras – one person even had the iPhone that takes video pics (how Harry Potter/living photograph!!) so we get gems like this:

With the paparazzi appeased and our bellies full, we got back to the hotel just in time for the hotel bar band to start up. While some more responsible folks opted to turn in for an early bedtime because they were racing the next day, I hung out with the stragglers, listened to the band, talked shop, and had a glass of wine to celebrate my PR and unwind. I was a bit sad to think that my weekend was basically over, save for the cheering on at the half marathon I planned on doing the next day! But the next day was just as great as the rest of the weekend – stay tuned for the final day recap, coming soon!

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon (or any race, really)

When I first started running I had NO idea what I was doing. I showed up way too early to my first 5K in a cotton tank top and shoes I bought because I liked the colors, I didn’t eat enough before the race, and I had a miserable time. Ask my husband: after that race, I said “I don’t think racing is for me.”

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Clearly, I AM A LYING LIAR WHO LIES.

Fast forward 6 years and here I am nearly 9 half marathons and countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and other distances later, and a lot smarter about how to prepare for race day. Whether you’ve run one race or 1,000, here are a few lessons I’ve learned that will hopefully help you get to the finish line with a smile:

1. Make a list

I am super Type A. I love order and planning and preparedness and lists. I will legit write something I’ve already done on my to-do list just to cross it off and get that feeling of accomplishment. Should I probably see someone about that? Perhaps. BUT, this character trait (flaw?) has served me well in my 6 years of racing, and it’ll help you too.

Make a list of everything you will possibly need for race day – and I mean EVERYTHING – like a week in advance, and start gathering it in one space like the dining room table or a box in the corner of the bedroom. Check the list often. And while you’ve probably got a handful of your own things that you know you’ll need on race day, here’s a list to get you started:

  • sneakers
  • socks (no cotton – spend the money on good running socks and your feet will thank you!)
  • top (tank, tee, longsleeve, layers, in tech fabrics – no cotton!)
  • sports bra
  • bottoms (capris, shorts, tights – same tech fabrics)
  • underwear (if you don’t run commando)
  • headband/hat/ponytail holder/bobby pins/any hair/head gear you usually need
  • headphones & music player (if your race allows them)
  • GPS watch or phone
  • anti-chafing gel or vaseline
  • lip balm
  • deodorant
  • sunblock
  • sunglasses
  • race belt
  • extra safety pins
  • fuel (Gu, energy gels, etc – 2x what you normally need just in case)
  • race number (if you already picked it up)
  • toss away water bottle
  • toss away top layer (if it’s going to be cold at the start)
  • garbage bag (if it’s rainy)
  • phone holder
  • any good luck charms or jewelry (I’ve always got to have my MARSOC Foundation bracelet and an inspirational wrap)
  • dry top & bottoms (and underthings) for post-race
  • flip flops or a second pair of sneakers & socks for post-race (because trust me, you will NOT want to put the ones you ran in back on after you take them off)

I love to lay out a Flat Runner the night before to keep track of all my gear and double check that I’m ready – and it helps to post on social media so that folks at the race know who to look for and can cheer you on in the comments, too!

2. Figure out your race day fuel plan early

Depending on your speed, fitness level, what your stomach can handle & what you prefer, race day fueling strategies vary from runner to runner. My best advice is to treat your long runs like race day and figure out what works for you by testing out your options every run.

It took me a while to perfect my plan, but on race morning I have a slice of whole wheat bread with chunky peanut butter and a banana, and half a cup of coffee. Then I’ll take a chocolate Honey Stinger gel about 10 minutes before the race start with a few sips of water. During the race I’ll drink water as I feel I need it (every 1-2 miles depending on the weather), and take a gel every 5 miles or 50-55 minutes with a cup of water. For some people that’s overkill, and for others it’s not enough.

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Not a wise choice: fueling entirely on Reeses. Although I’ve  never tried it…. brb, eating 5 lbs of Reeses and running a half marathon, will let you know how it goes.

It’s worth noting that I can’t take other gel brands – even other flavors of Honey Stinger! – without getting stomach cramps, so don’t give up on something if it doesn’t work the first time. I used to think that ALL gels gave me cramps, but after experimenting with different flavors and brands, I figured out what works for me and you will too.

3. Fuel your body right ahead of time

I’m the first to admit I’m not the best role model when it comes to food. I don’t deny myself wine and cake if I’m craving them, but I also do it all in moderation too. So what works for me might not work for you.

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And I love pizza. Did I mention pizza?

But the week before a race, I cut back on cheese and greasy foods and load up on water and carbs – not pasta twice a day every day, but just a little more than usual. And the night before a race my go-to meal is a serving or two of regular pasta with plain tomato sauce and simple grilled chicken.

Just like you should use your long runs to find day of fuel, treat the day before your longer runs like the day before a race: drink lots of water throughout the day, find a pre-race meal that keeps you satisfied and doesn’t weigh you down – and get PLENTY of sleep!

4. Pace yourself

This may seem like common sense, but for me – and many others that I’ve talked to about it – it bears repeating: throughout your training, be honest with yourself about your pace and know what to expect on race day. You can’t run at a solid 12:00/mile for most of your training and expect to run a sub-2 hour half.

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Not unless your name is Meb and you were phoning it in your ENTIRE training cycle. But I doubt you’d be reading this if you were.

It’s also easy to get caught up in the excitement of race morning and take off at an 7:30/mile pace with the folks around you at the sound of the gun, only to burn out like a tenth of a mile in because your usual pace is almost double that.

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This is important especially if you’re just starting out. In addition to your GPS watch or tracking app, whatever you prefer to run with to track your pace, they make these neat little wristbands or tattoos that you can wear on race day. They’re a great way to stay on target and save yourself a bunch of mental math out on the course. I’ve used them at a few of my races and really like them!

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5. Get there early, have fun and smile!

 

On race day, things get hectic very quickly. Plan to get to the start at least 45 minutes before you need to be there (or before your corral closes). It may seem like overkill, but the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out by running late. And once you’re there, remember that the hard part is over! You’ve already done all the work. Now you get to celebrate your hard work on the course with thousands of your fellow runners – and you’ll probably get a medal at the end of it!

Have fun, make small talk with the folks around you (if they want to), soak in the atmosphere, high five spectators on the course for extra energy (I pretend every high five is like a Super Mario Super Star), and enjoy the ride. Keep an eye out for photographers and throw up the devil horns or peace signs or wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, and cross that finish line with a smile – you did it!

 

There’s plenty of stuff I’ve probably missed and could write more posts about, but do you have any other advice to add here? Let me hear it in the comments!

Runner’s World Half & Festival-Bound!

For as long as I’ve been running I’ve wanted to participate in the Runners World Half & Festival; it’s literally around the corner from me in a beautiful area I’m familiar with, and the awesome events around the races were a huge bonus too. Unfortunately due to timing and other circumstances it just hasn’t made it onto my race calendar.

This year, because I planned on running the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon as my goal race the week before the RW Festival, I wrote it off as another loss, but then the folks at Runners World surprised me and asked me if I wanted to participate in the races as an Influencer. Well, I almost fell out of my chair trying to respond to them with a big ol’ YES and now I’m ready to run beautiful Bethlehem, PA this October!

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I know for sure I’ll be running the 5K and 10K, but racing a half the weekend before, I’m not 100% sure I’ll be doing the half just yet. My training has been going really well so far and I don’t want to jinx anything, but if my legs are feeling good in the weeks before, I might consider it a “fun run” – how can I NOT jump feet first into such an awesome opportunity?

In addition to the races, I’m super stoked to check out all of the extra activities they offer: seminars, talks, advice, meet & greets – it’s going to be like Running Heaven. And because the RW Team is so cool they’ve even given me a code to give YOU 10% off your registration for ANY event! Simply register here with code JessRunsHappyBlog – and be sure to let me know, because I can’t wait to see you out there!

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!

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? 

Is it Spring Yet?

I know, it’s only February 19th. But can we at least fast forward to like… April 1st? I’ve got SO many exciting races coming up and I want to RUN ALL THE RACES NOW!

Okay, that might be the coffee talking (and the fact that I just keep killing it in training, with sub 12-minute miles becoming the new norm). OR it could be the fact that my favorite running club of all time, the New York Road Runners, just opened up a slew of new spring race registrations and I kind of went on a bender yesterday.

No, for real. I registered for 4 races in one day:
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And if you think that’s nuts, my original list had 7 races! I only cut back because I had to be realistic. I have the April Fools 11K on 4/2, then I’ve got my goal race (the NJ Half) on May 1, so I swore off racing in the weeks before and immediately after that. The races I committed to are all far enough out from those dates that I’m confident I’ll be able to compete at top form. Also, there were a few races where signing up would have meant 3 or more racing weekends in a row, with multiple trips to Atlantic City and NYC. As much as I want to #runalltheraces, I’ve got a bank account and a family and adult responsibilities (dammit). So for now, this will have to suffice.

In short: My spring racing calendar went from “meh” to “whoa baby!” pretty quickly. And because I’m not 100% sure of my fall racing calendar, who knows what else I might add?

All I know is I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for March 8th, when the NYC Marathon Lottery drawing happens. I want into that race so bad I can taste it!

How about you – have you locked down your racing calendar yet? If you could RUN ALL THE RACES what would your ideal list be? Any bucket list races in the works? 

Happy Knees, Happy Life

Ever since my ACL reconstruction in early 2013, I’ve had knee pain. The surgery knee aches when the weather changes, and I’ve got patellar tendinitis in my “good” knee from favoring it so much post-surgery. To deal with the achiness, I turned to glucosamine and chondroitin (PS, don’t tell me these aren’t words, autocorrect. They very much ARE words). After surgery, my surgeon recommended I take them via a supplement to help with joint discomfort – but the pills were HUGE. Seriously, they’d get stuck in my throat and hurt all the way down… not fun. So I chose achy knees over choking and stopped taking them.

When when I discovered Joint Juice, angels sang. It’s the same stuff in those honking-ass vitamins, but in a tasty liquid that’s only 20+ calories per bottle. Full disclosure: Joint Juice hooked me up with a bunch of juice and asked me to talk about it here on the blog, but I was happy to do so because I was already a fan. I love reviewing stuff – and don’t hold back on my real opinions, even if they’re negative! – but when it comes to something you put in your body, like this supplement, I would never recommend something I didn’t use myself.

And use it I do! It doesn’t erase the pain entirely (nothing will do that), but the aches take longer to set in during a run, and go away faster afterwards. I also threw in a Plyoga class (hello, jump squats and side lunges), lifting, biking, boot camp, and other stuff that make my knees go “nope”, and never slowed down. Even last night’s 4 mile treadmill run felt like a breeze, and the treadmill is usually where my knees go to die!

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Because I’m a science-behind-the-magic nerd, I learned that glucosamine occurs naturally in your body. We tend to produce less as we age (and piling on the miles doesn’t help either), so supplements like these actually do help. And chondroitin is a major factor in healthy cartilage, meaning that when you combine it with glucosamine, you get improved joint function and mobility.

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Yes, that’s a mini fridge filled with Joint Juice and champagne. This is 32, guys.

Long story short, I highly recommend this stuff! If you’re looking for something to help your joints as you ramp up your spring training, you can find it at Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, or order at their online store. I dig the Cran Pomegranate flavor (if you couldn’t tell by the picture of our mini fridge up there), but the Blueberry Acai was delish too. Try it out and let me know how it helps you run happy!

Do you have any favorite supplements of your own? Any knee issue sufferers prefer something different? Let me know in the comments!

Cinderella’s New Shoes

You know that saying “the grass is always greener”? Turns out it applies to running shoes too.

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Back in November, I noticed my knees ached after running even shorter distances. The two pairs of trusty Brooks Transcends I rotated (1’s and 2’s) were both getting up there in mileage, after getting one pair in June and the other in July. So I went back to Road Runner and had my gait analyzed, where I discovered that while my Transcends would still be just fine for my over-pronation, their most popular shoe, the Adrenaline, would also work.

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I’d been running in my Transcends for years. They were like a piece of well-loved furniture. Comforting, molded to me, you know how it goes. But I was intrigued by a different style. I had the seven-year itch, but for another pair of sneakers. So I caved and bought the Adrenalines.

The first run was great – this shoe is much lighter than the Transcend, and as a result I felt quicker. But there wasn’t as much cushioning. It felt almost like a pair of well-loved Transcends when all the oomph was gone; not like a hug for my foot, but still comfy. I ran shorter distances for two weeks in them, when suddenly I noticed a new kind of ache after a longer run of 6 miles: my arches were killing me and my calves were tight. With super high arches I’d experienced this before, but never like this. Could it be the shoes?

To test it out, I switched back to my old Transcends for my next run and it was like heaven. The aches and pains disappeared, I ran long and steady, and while my knees were kind of ouchy at the end because they were older shoes, my arches and calves felt like new. That’s what I get for cheating on my old lovers!

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After a few more experimental runs in the Adrenalines vs. the Transcends, I deduced that it was in fact the shoes that were causing me those pains. This is by NO MEANS a knock against Brooks – I’m one of the  brand’s biggest fans and would never think of jumping ship because of this. It just proved to me once again that there is most definitely such a thing as “the right shoe for you”. I’ve heard horror stories from other folks about switching shoes for a cute style or new color only to get sidelined by injury because of the wrong shoe.

So I returned my slightly used Adrenalines (thanks for the full refund, Road Runner Sports!) and went back for good. Because the Transcend 3 is now out and the 2’s gave me a tiny top-of-the-arch issue, the 1’s will forever have my heart. And without knowing what the new style has in store for me, I got 2 pairs of 1’s for the same price as ONE pair of the new 3’s. Bargain shopping for the win!

Have you ever cheated on your perfect shoe before? How did it go?

Race Recap: Toys for Tots 5K

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to Prancer (left), and Dasher (right).

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Yes, that’s me and my sis-in-law Meredith, dressed as elves/reindeer. And YES, we get extra points for style in case you were wondering.

Since Mer and I had such a great time dressing up as turkeys for a Thanksgiving 5K in November, we decided to kick things up a notch and go all out for a Christmas race too! So we hit the dollar stores for some fun gear and headed to the Freehold Area Running Club’s annual Toys for Tots 5K.

The night before the race, I was up WAY past my bedtime babysitting (we’re talking 1:30AM), so I was… let’s say “less than jingle-y”. I was exhausted and knew I wasn’t going to set any records. Thankfully speedy sis-in-law didn’t have a problem with us taking it easy either, so we aimed for fun and had a blast!

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Between our mismatched Naughty & Nice socks, Santa/Elf shorts, funny shirts, jingly ponytail ties, and the best glasses EVER, we were quite a sight!

We got there early, donated our toys (love doing races that have tangible benefits for the community!), and hung out in the parking lot with our hubbies.

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The weather had been unseasonably warm around this race, so we kind of knew it wouldn’t feel like a true Santa Dash – and once the sun came up we realized just how far from winter it would feel like. By the time we left the park, it had gone up to 73 degrees, and the humidity felt like it was 90% the whole time! Seriously rough weather to run in.

It was a small race, the results say only 192 runners in all. So once we had stretched out and noticed the abundance of… let’s call them SERIOUS Runners (with a capital SR)… we headed for the starting area and focused on letting the rest of the folks run their race and having fun at the back of the pack.

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The course ran through Michael Tighe Park in Freehold, a pretty park that I’d never been to before this race. When it comes to 5K’s, I usually don’t go nuts researching the course, but I kind of wish I realized it was a loop course going into it. On loop courses, a part of my soul dies. Do any of you feel the same way? There’s something about having to loop around the same terrain more than once – especially passing the finish line! – that just crushes my will to keep going, even in a 5K.

We were instantly drenched with sweat because of the heat and humidity (in DECEMBER, who says global warming isn’t a real threat?), but  we held on through the first mile, chatting and passing the time. The fun thing about running easy is being able to actually have a conversation with someone – it’s like hanging out and getting a workout in at the same time! Plus, everyone we passed loved our gear, shouting out encouragement and laughing and jingling their bells at us. There were a few other people in full-out gear like us, and we all had a good time when we’d pass each other, ho-ho-ho-ing and ringing our bells. The glasses were the biggest hit by far!

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Once we got to 1.5 and passed the finish line, the second half was a real struggle for me. The combo of the weather and the lack of sleep the night before really took a toll and I just wanted it to be over. But another nice thing about running with someone is that you can’t really stop. It’s embarrassing! So I pushed through the discomfort and we kept going, taking a walk break or two to finish strong.

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With the finish line in sight we gunned it around the people in white and blue you see up there – they were being cheered on by their friends at the sidelines: “Don’t let the elves beat you!” they yelled at them!! Well that just made us want to go even faster… and so we did, blowing right past them and finishing strong in 35:38, which is NOT bad for me!

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Overall this was a great race – even though it was small and I would have been lonely at the back of the pack if I’d run it alone, it was so much more fun with company and costumes! I’d definitely run it again next year just to burn off some extra Christmas cookies 😉

And as a bonus, our fun gear even got us the front page of the FARC website!

IMG_1303I think next year we may need to up our costume game to see if we’ll get on their front page again! 🙂

 

What’s On Your Calendar?

2016 is fast approaching, and with it comes a new chance to fill up the weekends with races and long training runs – one of my favorite parts of the new year! I’ve already started building my race calendar, and while I’m still waiting to hear about a few races (helllloooo, NYC Half Marathon lottery??), I’ve managed to come up with quite a list so far:

  1. NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K  – I’ve unofficially (er, “officially”, now that I’ve said it here??) decided to enter the 2017 NYC Marathon via NYRR’s 9+1 Program by running 9 races and volunteering at one throughout 2016. The Joe K 10K is my first of 9 and while I’ve done Central Park a few times, I’ve never been in what’s probably going to be about 15 degree weather!
  2. NYRR Gridiron 4Miler – This is another “hey why not?” race that I’m adding to my calendar for something different to do in the throes of a tri-state winter, and to add to my 9+1 for the year.
  3. Atlantic City April Fools 11K – After getting serious runner envy when I see everyone running these races every year, I finally decided to sign up for my first 11K ever. Auto PR anyone? And because I’m not doing the AC Half this year,
  4. NJ Half Marathon – This is going to be my major goal race of the spring. Instead of running the Asbury Park Half like I’ve done for 2 years now, I’m finally doing this one instead. Just like the AC Races, I always get runner envy seeing people at this race and it usually falls the day or week after Asbury, making it impossible for me to participate. But this year I switched things up and it’s going to happen!
  5. NYC Triathlon – Holy crap, THE New York City Triathlon, enough said.

There are also some tentative races I’ve got in the pipeline, depending on budget, lotteries, and/or if I’m able to coerce others into joining my hair-brained schemes:

  1. The NYC Half Marathon – This is dependent on the lottery drawing next week. While I’d love to run this one again, I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t get it. It’s a lot for me to race two halves in one season, and it’ll clear up a lot of training time in February and March for me to run other smaller races for fun instead.
  2. The Asbury Park 5K OR Marathon Relay – Because I’m not doing the half here this year, I can’t NOT run in Asbury. It’s my favorite place to run in the world. I’ll definitely do the 5k, but if I can convince a few other people, I’d love to do the marathon relay! Any takers? 😉
  3. The Runners World Half Marathon – This would be my ultimate goal race for the fall of 2016, but I’m not pulling the trigger yet, ONLY because I’m not sure if I want to go for the full monty and register for the whole weekend’s worth of races and do the 5k, 10k, hotel and everything, or if I’m just going to head into town for the race on the day. Budgets and timing will help me decide later on – either way, excited for this one!
  4. NYRR Central Park Spring Classic 10K – This all depends on if I get into the NYC Half, which is scheduled for the weekend before. Not sure if I’d be ready to race a 10K a week after a half, but stranger things have happened.

What does your 2016 Racing Calendar look like? Do you have any plans yet or are you waiting like me?