Race Recap: Philadelphia Children’s Hospital Parkway Run

Back in September, I ran the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital (CHOP) Parkway Run as a representative of CURE Magazine (my 9-5) and had one of the best races in more than a year.

IMG_8103

The day started early – and I mean EARLY – because the race was in Philly, which is a solid hour and change from my place. I’ve also never driven in Philly and frankly, was terrified of the idea of trying to find a parking lot in a major city I was unfamiliar with at 7am. I was very lucky though, because my coworker Kristie (who was going to run the race with me but had to drop out due to injury) is a Philly girl and offered to drive from her house, which was on my way.

Full disclosure: Kristie was super nice and even offered to have me sleep over the night before the race to save me that extra hour, but Adam Driver was hosting SNL that Saturday. And if you know me at all, you know your homegirl here needed to be in her own living room with exactly one (1) pre-race glass of wine to take in the spectacle. And I did. The fact that I stayed up past 1am the night before a 4am wakeup call is an issue we’ll address later.

IMG_8106

So yeah, after driving an hour in the dark and arriving at Kristie’s, she drove us into the city and found us the perfect parking lot, and we found the start of the race relatively easily using my tried and true Comic Con logic: just follow the people in neon and spandex.

IMG_8109

It was shaping up to be an absolutely perfect weather day, and I said a silent thank you prayer to the running gods. After running the NYC Marathon in a cold drizzle for 6+ hours, I will take every crisp, clear morning as the blessing it is.

IMG_8190

This was my first run in Philly, and I must say – it was quite lovely. Granted, I saw approximately 2.5 miles of the entire city on the run, but what I did see what delightful. It’s making me consider other Philly races, tbh.

With a good hour or so before the start, Kristie and I entertained ourselves with dancing to the – admittedly EXCELLENT – DJ (seriously, it was like a wedding DJ with all the awesome dance-along songs) and filming some BTS social footage for the magazine.

Clearly the lack of sleep had not yet taken its toll on me at this point, because I was a dancing fool.

We also took advantage of the sparse crowds and got some awesome pictures with the Rocky statue right outside the Art Museum.

IMG_8119

Once we were done messing around, I handed off my backpack to Kristie at the last minute and jumped into the corrals right at Eakins Oval, and after a quick National Anthem, we were off.

The course had us go down the Ben Franklin Parkway (hence the “Parkway Run“) to Logan Circle and back, past the museum and down the Parkway for another mile and back.

I went into this race with some high hopes – after a mildly disappointing finish at the Seaside Semper Five a few weeks back, I wanted to run the race I knew I could. I also knew that as part of a team (and with a reputation as a runner in my office), leaving it all on the pavement was pretty much my only option. So I raced smart and started slow down to the circle and back, with a nice breeze and a solid crowd of runners the entire time. Once we passed the museum at a little more than a mile, I was grateful for the slight downhill we had for the next mile along the parkway – because the sun was starting to come out and it was hot on my back.

IMG_8143

The view was beautiful – there was a cool waterfall to our right and the rest of the parkway to our left. I didn’t walk once the entire time, and ran smart with a steady pace. The only water station at the turnaround at just past mile 2 was a blessing, and I held onto my cup for a few meters because I knew there weren’t any more stops from there.

After the turnaround, just as I expected, the sun was now directly in our faces and the heat was starting to build – but not like full-on summer running. This just made me want to run slightly faster, so I switched to my Power Running playlist and took on the final mile with determination.

The teeny tiny incline the whole way made my calves burn, and I knew from running down it at the start that there was a SOLID hill just before the finish line, so I wasn’t shocked when we came to it. I did slow my pace just to make it to the top, and then motored through the final 100m to the finish at a respectable 36:25 (12:03 pace).

IMG_8148

Of course my Garmin said I did much better, but I still managed a 1:30 improvement over the Semper Five two weeks prior, and for not racing in more than a year, I’ll take it.

The best part is that the runners and their friends raised more than ONE MILLION DOLLARS for pediatric cancer research, which is AMAZING. I learned later that there were more than 10,000 participants at this run, too – making it probably the biggest 5K I’ve ever done!

The only downside was having to drive home for more than an hour and change by myself on my pitiful 3 hours of sleep while keeping myself awake with blasting music and open windows. But I regret nothing.

All in all this was a great race that I’m looking forward to next year!

Race Recap: 2018 Seaside Semper Five

I’ve done the Seaside Semper Five 5K basically every year since it started – yes, including the year a bomb went off on the course. So I never miss it. Even this back in September of this year, when I had basically done zero running up til that point, save for a handful of miles every week and a solid 20 mile week the week before the race.

IMG_7239.JPG

As usual, this race calls for an early wakeup, so when race day rolled around on September 15th, Mike and I headed down to Seaside in the dark and got there just as the crowds were starting to form – and got to admire the local art:

IMG_7254

I enjoy this race for a number of reasons, many of them having to do with logistics. There is plenty of parking available (if you get there early enough) and a super clean bathroom in the bar/restaurant it starts in front of (again, if you get there early enough – the lines soon get out of hand just like any race). So since we were there from the get-go, I was able to sneak in to the bathrooms and get my bib before it got too cray-cray.

(Though I got a little cray-cray over the excitement of my first real “I’m going to race this thing” race in nearly 10 months!)

I met up with a bunch of folks before the start, including my friend from the Rebel Legion (and badass Marine) Sean and his beautiful girlfriend, some IG friends, my cousin Heather, and my friends Jess and Ed (Ed was running) and Liz and John (who were both running). You could say this was more of a social event than a race for me, and I liked it.

By the time the opening ceremonies started, I was hungry, so I took a gel. I have to admit – treating this as a real race had my nerves a little jangly, so I had to kind of rely on muscle memory to remember how to prep. I’ve run a few little fun runs since the NYC Marathon last year, but not for time. So wanting to do this right had me a little rattled.

But all those nerves were for nothing, because it was a beautiful morning by the water, and the race turned out to be great.

IMG_7295

I mean look at this picture Liz took from the roof of the bar we started at! *chef’s kiss*

At the sound of the gun we took off going north on the boardwalk on the newly modified course that was started last year. Previously this run was just a straight 1.5 mile shot south on the road then back 1.5 on the boards, but last year they switched it up to take us like half a mile north then out into the city. It’s a fine switch – still fast and flat – and honestly a little more fun because the winding streets give us a little more to look at and give people in those houses we pass a chance to cheer us on.

IMG_7263

The whole 1.5 out to the turnaround point was great – I had been working on not walking in the weeks prior to the race, and raced for the first time in my Altra Escalantes, which, if you haven’t tried, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. They are so choice. Full review to come.

Anywho, I was feeling good through the turnaround, and loved the fact that I got to cheer on the folks behind me when I turned around. All the Marines in this race also make for some serious motivation – there are folks that run this race with prosthetic legs, crutches, the whole nine yards. It’s seriously awe inspiring and makes you realize what some people have given up for our ability to do stuff like run races and write blogs about them. Thank you, veterans and active duty military, for all you do for us!

The sun was starting to get hot once we turned back around and got through mile 2 before getting back on the boards, so I finally took my first walk break for the 2nd water stop. And that’s where I kind of fell apart.

IMG_7267

Well, I didn’t FALL APART like full-on meltdown mode, but I basically said “Oh hey I can walk, I forgot about that option!” and kind of jogged it in through most of the final mile. I wanted to find the right power song, then I had to stop to sip some more water, then I wanted to take a picture, and before I knew it I’d blown the lead I’d given myself by not staying strong – and proving to myself that this running thing is nearly 100% mental.

IMG_7269

Either way, when the finish was in sight I kicked it back up into high gear and crossed with a relatively solid time of 37:53, for a 12:22/mile pace…. Aaaaaand a face for the record books, because I was laughing at my friends for waiting past the finish line and getting the most unflattering finish line photo ever:

fullsizeoutput_185f.jpeg

IMG_7281

After the race we got to enjoy the boardwalk and the beach for a bit, before heading over to Jess & Ed’s family’s place down the road to clean up then grab some bangin’ post-race food.

img_7287.jpg

and a cupcake, because otherwise what’s the point?

Overall this year’s Seaside Semper Five was another success, and I can’t wait for next year’s race!

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.

img_8543

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!

img_8554

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!

img_8583

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.

img_8612

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.

139444-493-007h

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.

139444-483-036h

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!

139444-382-001h

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:

img_8667

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!

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.

IMG_1281

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!

DCIM108GOPROG3811195.

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!

CFR_Jersey_16-06-16_0086

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

CFR_Jersey_16-06-16_0070

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!)

CFR_Jersey_16-06-16_0061

Photo by Brian Zuleta

Third Place Male Team!

IMG_1341

And…. FIRST PLACE FEMALE TEAM!

CFR_Jersey_16-06-16_0072

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.

IMG_1346.JPG

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.

giphy.gif

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!

IMG_8547.JPG

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.

IMG_8571.JPG

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.

IMG_8775.JPG

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:
Capture.JPG

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? 

Cinderella’s New Shoes

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

0225

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.

12234929_907406689352017_8285388635018131890_n

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!

IMG_1386 (1)

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).

IMG_1294.JPG

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!

IMG_1204

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.

DCIM120GOPRO

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.

IMG_1221

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!

DCIM120GOPRO

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.

IMG_1222

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!

IMG_1301

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?

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 🙂

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!

IMG_0026

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.

IMG_0032

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).

IMG_0052.JPG

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 😉 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!

IMG_0037

IMG_0033

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.

IMG_0048IMG_0044

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? 😉