2017 Woodstown, NJ Firecracker 5k

On Father’s Day I was blessed with a gift from my older son, Lucas. Not sure why… but he agreed to do a 4th of July race with me. For anyone who knows me (and my son), you know what a big deal this is because he doesn’t always love the idea of running.

Which, you know, I get, because I didn’t always love the idea of running either.

Way back when: cheering with his little brother at the 4 miler.

At first I tried to sell him on the local 4 miler, the Pitman 4 Miler. When asked if there were hills though, I could not tell a lie. There are hills and lots of them. I’ve run it twice and it’s a thoroughly challenging course!

He quickly put the kibosh on that.

After looking around a bit, I found the Woodstown Firecracker 5k. Small, 20 minutes from home, less than $30 for both of us to run, and from what I could tell, fairly flat. SOLD! We registered immediately.

He planned to train but didn’t train (at all), and when we woke up on race morning, he confessed that his sneakers were shot and he needed new ones (not exactly the ideal time to tell me).

On a wing and a prayer.

The race started at 8am at Marlton Recreation Park, with packet pickup beginning at 6:30am. We arrived at a little after 7 and were immediately able to get our bibs and shirts. After asking where the starting line was (we saw the finish, but not a start), we headed in the direction we were pointed. We saw an arrow sign and figured we’d just line up when we saw other people doing the same. There were a few portapotties but we didn’t need to use them.

Since we arrived early, we wandered around the park and found a few animals. Lucas likes chickens and roosters so he was content just watching them. In fact, I think if I told him we were going to skip the race and just hang out there, he would have been absolutely fine with that.

No such luck, kiddo!

There were 186 participants and the start was actually on the grass (which is why we didn’t see a start line). From the grass line, we were to run toward a path that we’d all eventually go on.

It was a little awkward because we were lined up length wise rather than what I’ve come to expect but it worked out well because people naturally fell into place rather than trying to self-seed. After hearing a few words from the race director, we were off!

The course was about a mile loop around the park, then a mile through a neighborhood, with the third mile being the same as the first but in reverse.

Lucas was unsure with how well he’d be able to do, so I suggested that we run intervals. We ran the first half mile before switching into 30 second intervals of running and walking.

Hanging in the ‘hood, just after the water station.

The first mile and a half were great for Lucas, he was feeling good and was fairly content. Just after the water stop, which was around 1.5 miles, he started getting down on himself.

You guys, I hate to admit this but in the past I’ve not been very supportive when he’s gotten emotional during a race. Which is not okay!

I know that self doubt can be a hell of a thing to deal with and while yes, he should and could have trained more, he didn’t need to hear that from me once we were in the thick of the race.

Before going to the race, I decided that there were only going to be positive affirmations and motivation coming from me toward him while we were running. If he was feeling discouraged, I’d remind him how great he was and what an awesome kid I think he is. Because that’s what he needed in that moment from me and I want him to feel good about himself when he’s running and accomplished when he’s done!

Last mile, running by our chicken friends, who were obviously cheering him on too!

He was not as happy as he appears in this picture, but then again, we runners have that “fake it ’til you make it” smile down pat, amirite?

I tried the best that I could to read him and what he needed to hear from me while we were in the home stretch. I didn’t want to be too strong or inauthentic with my motivating. I asked him his motto for the rest of the race and he started chanting “almost done” about a quarter mile from the finish line. So I joined him and we both chanted “almost done” until we crossed the finish at 41 minutes.

There were no timing mats, instead they kept track by collecting the bottom tab on our bibs. After handing over our information, we were given a bottle of water and continued to walk in order to cool down and get in the shade.

Stayed cool on a hot and humid morning wearing my super cute Minnie Bow tank! You can save 10% at Donna’s etsy shop with the code MRCScootaDoot.

The Woodstown parade was starting after the race was over but we decided to hit the road so I could make us a yummy breakfast. It was the perfect way to start our celebration of America’s birthday. He even told me that he was glad that he did it and he was looking forward to running another race with me.

“Next time, I’ll train…”

Mmmhmm.

What did you do on the 4th of July? How do you motivation someone during a race?

Race Recap: Vacation Races Yellowstone Half

Last weekend, amazing races took place all over the country. Maybe you even participated in one. (If so tell me allllll about it in the comments!) I was lucky enough to be one of those people, and I can’t wait to show you all the pictures from  the Vacation Race Yellowstone 5k and Half Marathon. I had dreamed of doing the Caldera Triple this year, but other obligations (tickets to see Roger Waters) kept me from the mother of all medals. Next year, it’s on!

Disclaimer: while I am a Vacation Races Ambassador, I did pay for my registration for this race and I didn’t receive any compensation for this race review.

I live about ten hours from Yellowstone. Honestly, when the scenery is as beautiful as it was and you’re driving your Mustang, ten hours feels like five.We drove up last Thursday and got into Yellowstone at around seven o’clock in the evening. Along the way, we stopped at an overlook to take in the most beautiful mountain range I’ve ever seen, and keep in mind, Rocky Mountain National Park is my backyard. If you’ve never been to the Grand Tetons, you need to add it to your bucket list.

Jackson Lake and Grand Teton

We came from the south which meant we had to drive through Grand Teton National Park to get to Yellowstone. We decided to buy an annual park pass since we’ll soon be living so close to a national park ourselves. Eighty bucks to support our national treasures was money well spent in our book.

I had signed up for the Bison Double, which meant I was running the 5k Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. My husband and I decided to get up before dawn on Friday to see some of Yellowstone while the light was still good for photography. It was the right choice!

He was the only other guy on the road at 5:30 am. Also, he wasn’t moving for us.

Sadly, the Grand Prismatic Spring was too steamy to see.

Kepler Cascade

Yellowstone Lake and Thermal Vents

A real life postcard.

After a morning of exploring the park, we headed back to the hotel to take a nap and prep for the 5k. The weather forecast at race time was less than dry. I was volunteering at the race expo before the start, so I headed over a little early and met up with the rest of my team at the start. My husband, sisters-in-law, and their husbands all ran the 5k, and exactly none of us were looking forward to running in rainy drizzle and 42 degrees.

There’s some first timers in this pic!

The course was beautiful despite it being wet. I don’t have many pics of this race because the conditions made it hard to snap shots. We started on paved town roads for the first mile then transitioned to gravel trail riddled with puddles and mud for the rest of the race. We had to watch where we stepped so we didn’t slip in the mud. I’m glad I’d packed so much gear, options are so important when the weather is unpredictable. Plus I’d bought an emergency poncho for which I was so grateful! I was slow because of the conditions and I wanted to be sure I was okay to do the half the next morning. My husband and I crossed the finish, then waited for the rest of our team. We were disappointed to learn that the 5k medals had been lost in shipping, but we were assured that they’d be mailed to us once they were located.

The next morning, I woke up to a weather forecast calling for hail and more rain before the half marathon. Yes, hail. Well, tiny little pellets, but still, when they hit your cold cheeks, it hurts! I shook out my disposable poncho and layered up. With some fleece lined leggings, a Lioness skirt from Skirt Sports, and three layers on top, I was as ready as I could be for my first wet, cold trail half.

I knew this race was going to be my hardest one yet going into it. I knew the elevation gain was no joke, and that it was mostly on a trail. I also knew I wasn’t able to train for this race like I wanted to. Since February, I’ve had to focus on selling my house, moving, and finding a new place to live.  Doing all those home improvement projects did get me into better shape than I was in after the holidays, but I was no where near where I wanted to be for this race. Getting a PR wasn’t my goal, not getting hurt was. My strategy was to do walk a brisk pace with some splashes of running until the big hill. Then, I’d walk as briskly as I could up that bish.

Around mile five, it started to get steep. The course was still thick with mud, and I tried to stay on the edge of the trail to keep from getting bogged down. Mile six is where it started to get nasty. Hence my face in the photo below. It was yucky, but at least the sun had come out and the rain/hail stopped! Once I got over that hill, I found one of my Skirt Sports sisters on the course, and I couldn’t have been happier! Kim is the best. We’d run the Skirt Sports 13er together last year and running with her is always so much fun.

After I’d made it over the hill and found a friend, the race took on a new feel. The course turned technical with large rocks as we began to descend in elevation. I took my time through the rocks but still stumbled a few times. The views were completely worth it, though, as the course took us beside the river and through pristine forest.

As I was out there feeling better than I expected to be at mile nine, I took a moment to appreciate my body. I have ridiculous expectations of it. I ask it to do amazing feats of endurance without ever putting in the 100% training I should. As I climbed that hill and listened to those around me struggling to breathe due to the altitude, I sent my body some messages of gratitude and I promised to not ask it to do this again without the proper preparation.

We counted down the miles together, stopped for orange slices at the mile 11 aid station, and were fueled by the thought of our medals waiting for us. Unfortunately, the Bison Double medals and the Caldera Triple medals were lost in shipping along with the 5k medals. But we did get our half marathon medals, so it was great to have that waiting for us at the end along with the always yummy post race fuel box and bananas.

It hurt so much but we did it!

Kim and I hugged goodbye before I took a few family photos with our race team. I think some of them may have caught the race bug! I’m already planning to come back for the Caldera Triple next year, maybe we’ll make it a tradition!

It was a fabulous race in one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Aside from the medals being lost, everything went smoothly and we all had a blast. This race may not be an annual one for me due to traveling, but it’s certainly one I’d like to do every few years. Vacation Races didn’t disappoint, they really now how to pick their locations! It was so gorgeous everywhere you looked that I wanted to share a few last photos with you of your Yellowstone National Park.  Enjoy!

Elk buck

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Bison herd

You could literally reach out your car window and touch them. But DON’T.

Half medal with Old Faithful erupting in the background

 

As a safety reminder, I ask that when you read my recaps of high altitude races to not underestimate the affects of altitude. I’ve lived at over 5000 feet elevation all my life, and soon I’m moving to 8500 feet. My lungs and muscles are acclimated to the elevation despite having asthma. If you do a race at altitude and you aren’t already acclimated, be sure to train appropriately, take precautions against altitude sickness, and be kind to yourself on the course if you don’t hit your pace goals.Save

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She can fly!

When I signed up for the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend months and months ago, I had big plans.  The Tinkerbell Half was my first Disney race with Meri and Vic so it holds a special place in my heart.  I had been promising my daughter a Disney race for awhile so back when I was feeling super motivated, I signed myself up for all three of the Tink races and signed up my girl for the 5k.  I had high hopes of training and PR’s and what not, but you know how it goes.  Sometimes you accidentally get pregnant.

Luckily, I was able to get a refund for the half and 10k, which, by the way, I thought was super understanding of the peeps at RunDisney.  We decided to go ahead and run the 5k together.  I thought a Disney race would be perfect for Sophie.  Disney races are super family friendly.  There’s always runners of all athletic abilities and all ages.  Sophie’s a very active 11 year old, she plays soccer and runs a lot at practice so I had no doubt she could do this race.  I was more worried about being able to keep up with her!

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She was so excited to have a bib with her name on it. 

We stayed the night close to the park before the race so we could make the 5 am start time and so we could pick up our bibs and hit the expo the night before.  We didn’t plan costumes, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything pregnant friendly that wouldn’t be suffocating. Also, the more pregnant I get the less motivation I have to do stuff.  So when we got to the expo, Sophie found a Tink tee from Raw Threads that she just loved.  Obviously, a girl can’t run her first Disney race without some kind of sparkle, so Sophie got a sparkle skirt and some fairy wings to go with her shirt.  Because that’s how we roll!

The race started right on Main Street, which I haven’t ever experienced in a Disney race before.  There aren’t Corral placements for the 5k, it’s first come, first Corral, and we ended up in Corral C.  Sophie couldn’t contain her excitement.  She whooped and hollered when the MC’s roused the crowd.  She danced and cheered for her favorite songs.  And she was mesmerized when Tinkerbell flew around Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

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Not bad for a last minute costume!

As our Corral moved toward the start line, Sophie was ready to run.  We planned to meet at the finish if we got separated.  I told her about pictures with characters and so she decided she would stop and get pictures and maybe I’d be able to catch up to her.  However, when we finally started, she took off!  I didn’t even get one picture of her running.  There weren’t many characters out for the 5k, so that plan blew.  The whole race I expected to see her walking or at a bathroom or something, but nope, that girl left me in her pixie dust and never looked back.

 

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Our only picture together!

 

I walked my way to the finish and looked for Sophie.  She was no where to be found.  I began to slightly freak out, trying to ignore every worse case scenario that popped into my head.  I decided to check the post-race area before I panicked, and that’s exactly where I found her.  Shoe-less and fresh out of snacks, she flagged me down with a wild wave.  She finished in 38 minutes. It took me at least an hour, so she just hung out for twenty some minutes.  I had no idea she was so responsible and independent!  We headed back to the hotel with our medals proudly displayed.  She wore that medal later that day when we visited the park until she left it in the seat pocket on Big Thunder Railroad.  Luckily, a cast member found it for her and she promptly stowed it in my bag for the rest of the day.

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Best medal ever! 

 

To be honest, I would have skipped the race if it weren’t for Sophie, but I’m so glad we did this.  She made it magical and I love that I get to share this part of my life with her now.  So many changes are happening in her life this year.  She’s getting a new sibling, she’s going to middle school, we’re moving (again!!!), but I hope these races are something we can share for as long as we’re able.  She even wants to do a Ragnar!  Like she said, this can be the start of a family tradition.  She already has costume plans for next year.  That’s my girl!

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Mary Poppin Bottles – Run the Vineyards Heritage 5 Miler

You might have noticed that I’m a girl who likes to run for food and drink.

Yes, medals are awesome however throw in a beer, chocolate, chili, ice cream, WINE, and I’m yours. I suppose many runners are like that and the folks at Good Day for a Run know it!

Heritage Vineyards is located 2.4 miles from my house and hosts festivals and other events throughout the year, including the Run the Vineyards 5 Miler. Run the Vineyards is a series put on by Good Day for a Run and has events at over 20 vineyards in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Last year I registered for the race at the coaxing of friends and quickly fell in love with everything about the race. It’s a challenging course but also familiar as it’s right near my home. The packet pickup is at the local Running Co. AND if you pick up your packet there (rather than race morning) you can save 20% on anything in the store. Guess who has a new pair of Mizunos! Moi!

My time from last year was 1:01:48 and I was pretty pleased with that once I saw the course and the terrian. It’s got grass, it’s got sand, it’s got a bit of road, and it’s got tons of rolling hills. The goal for this year was to beat last year’s time and if I managed to get under an hour, even better!

Kate, Brandi, and myself! We’ve been friends since our kids were in strollers.

This event sells out every year so I made sure to register early, back in the fall of 2016. My bro in law and sis in law made the trek down from Central Jersey to watch my younger son while I ran; we planned to picnic and hang out at the race after party, filled with music and fun running themed booths.

The race began at 9am and due to a rough start, my fam rolled into my driveway at 8:48. Normally I would have been freaking out but I knew that we would still get there with time to spare. I jumped out of the car as we arrived (8:52), found my friends (8:55), and was ready to run at 9am. How’s that for timing?!

There was no official corrals, so the 655 runners had to place themselves in the spot where they thought they’d fair best.

It’s difficult because the first stretch of the race is narrow and if you don’t put yourself in the right area, you risk either going out too fast or holding up people around you. I think I did pretty well placing myself this year and tried to be mindful of the people around me.

The first mile. Thanks to Chad at Photo Runner!

Ya’ll know that free race photos rank high up there on my list of things I love to see at races and the Run the Vineyards races not only has them but they’re ready for download the day of the race.

I had my phone tucked into my BibRave Buff on my wrist so I didn’t take many pictures at this race. When there’s a professional out there capturing the day, there’s no need!

My Garmin was a little off from the mile markers, reading about .06 behind. Interestingly, my first two miles were the exact same pace (11:45) but my legs were feeling tired, which didn’t bode well for the next 3 miles. The hills seemed to be non-stop and while the day was perfect in terms of weather (gray skies and 66 degrees), the pollen count must have been high and I was feeling it.

There were three water stops so I grabbed a cup of water at the second and third ones in an attempt to ease my throat (no dice).

Miles 3 and 4, I clocked in at exactly 12:27. Way to be consistent, huh?

The last mile consisted of one last hill, a nice downhill, and then a few more turns around the trail. I heard the announcer say “these runners are going to come in at just under an hour” and that was all it took for me to hit the gas!

Thanks to Chad for making me laugh – “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the wine go down!”

I crossed the line at 59:36, which means that I got a PR of over a minute! Woohoo!

My sister is law is the best, isn’t she?

Immediately after I finished my son gave me a hug, let me know that I was sweaty, and then requested that I buy him pizza.

At 10:00 in the morning.

So I did.

Because if I could drink my free wine from my finishers wine tumbler, he could surely eat pizza. After all, fair is fair.

This coming weekend I’ll be giving back and volunteering at the Run the Vineyards Wagonhouse 10 Miler and I can’t wait!

My next running adventure comes a month from now when I’ll be at my first ever RAGNAR. Holy moly. However I have some fun travel plans lined up for mid-May, too!

PR Race: 2017 AC April Fools Half Marathon

I’m doing my PR dance all over the place! (Yes, it’s just as awkward as you’re imagining.)

The Atlantic City April Fools Half Marathon holds a very special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons.

  1. I was born on April Fools Day! It was actually one of the reason I signed up for the inaugural race way, way back in 2012.
  2. I’ve run this race with many friends over the past 6 years! A birthday race calls for a birthday party, am I right? I’ve had friends from all over the country travel in to do this race with me and I’m forever grateful to every single one of them.
  3. For over the past year I trained the course with my lifelong pal, Chrissy!

Over the years this race has gone from great to phenomenal. The race director really pays attention to feedback and it shows.

What do runners want that this race provides? Great communication leading up to the race, multiple locations for packet pickup (this was added after I registered, I opted to do race morning pickup for a small fee), bag check, starting on time, flat/fast course, on course entertainment, free race pictures, wonderful volunteers, unique medals, costume contests, and yummy post-race snacks, and free beer. Yes, yes, and more yes! Much appreciated!

I live an hour from Atlantic City so I always opt to just drive the morning of the race.

Tiptoeing around my house before I left.

After fueling with a homemade nutrition bar and drinking Spark, I also brought water and an apple for just before the race began. I have a bad habit of not planning fuel well before races and I wanted to avoid that if possible.

The drive was uneventful (just how a drive should be) and parking at Resorts was free (just how I like it). I needed to get there early because packet pickup was from 6am – 7am so I arrived at 6:15 and quickly got set up with my race bib and bag. The bag contained the race shirt (blue – I love this year’s color, design, and fabric) and a few freebies – including saltwater taffy!

I planted myself in a lounge area and waited until closer to the start of the race to go outside. This was the most relaxed I’ve felt before I race ever and I was able to zone out for about a half hour. Having the option for bathrooms inside a casino rather than portapotties is always nice, too, and I stopped by before heading to the boardwalk.

Just after I checked my bag, I ran into longtime friend, Rob! I’d seen him at the Rowan 5k the day before and it was great to see a friendly face immediately. We spent the remaining minutes before the race chatting.

This was the first time I ran this race solo and I knew that I could achieve a PR, given my training and my familiarity with the course. I went in feeling very confident. The weather was fantastic (very different from last year!) and I knew that it could be my day.

I decided to run the first mile and then settle into 30:30 intervals. I wanted to play with my speed on the run intervals and I knew that with short bursts I would be able to keep a steady pace but also push when necessary.

The first 7 miles were fairly consistent. I felt good and strong while running, both on the boardwalk and when we turned onto the street.

I knew where the boards were a bit more springy, where the road slopes to the left, and where to put myself so that my feet were even and I felt secure. I know some people don’t like out and back courses; personally, I love that I had the opportunity to see my friends and cheer for them along the way.

Free race photos! Which is good because I hardly took any pictures during this event – I was on a mission.

Looking at my splits I’m sure it’s clear when I hit the turn-around and was slammed with headwind. Ooof!

Yep, that’s right… 7 and a half. This was also around the time that I started talking to myself. Out loud. With feeling.

“Meridith, you can do this. YOU CAN DO THIS. You can and you will! You need to stay strong and keep pushing for that PR. This is all a mental game and you know you can do this.Let’s go. Hustle!”

I made it my goal to stay under 13 minute miles. I was still a little scarred from my Philadelphia half but I knew this course. I trained on this course. And I was positive that I could stay under 13 minute miles and attain a huge PR.

My self pep talks continued throughout the last miles. The volunteers energy at the water stops was contagious and once I hit the main area of the boardwalk, I knew exactly what I needed to do.

I know this is totally cheesy but it was as though a montage was playing in my head. There were places along the way that reminded me of Chrissy and our training runs together. There were songs that reminded me of my children. The year we dresses as beauty queens and then the next year when we dressed as the Rockford Peaches flashed through my mind. Even though I was running this race alone, it didn’t feel that way.

I did my best and didn’t give up. When I saw the clock as I approached the finish line, I was elated! An 8 minute PR was mine!

I feel so, so good about this race. I knew that I would be able to do well and I’m really proud! I hit a lot of PRs last year but my half PR was a bittersweet because I didn’t have a good race experience. This is what I wanted my experience to be and what I wanted it to feel like and I could think of no better place to do it!

Immediately after I got my medal, my IG friend Angela found me! I don’t know if I conveyed just how grateful I was that she did that; I was so happy to see a familiar face! We were able to catch up for a few minutes and then parted ways. I also got to catch up with Hollie both before and after the race, which is always great!

I went along to grab a bagel, drink, and Johnson’s popcorn. There were other treats as well but I wanted to get my bag from bag check and my free beer at the bar! Priorities!

Happy, happy, happy! This race was everything that a PR race should be! I’ve already registered for lucky number 7, the Atlantic City April Fools half on April 15, 2018. Who’s with me?

Run for Rowan 5k

When I first started running in 2011 I looked for races that would entice me to run because, to be honest, running was not enticement enough. Shirts, medals, runner camaraderie? That’s what I was looking for. That’s what I needed.

Meeting up with friends, traveling, eating, and a side of running. It was more about the first three and the running just gave me the excuse. Mud runs, Disney races in both California and Florida, Color Runs, I was drawn to them all. The further from New Jersey, the better!

I came to enjoy running somewhere along the way and within the past year and a half, I’ve settled into doing races that are more “local” to me. If I can drive or take a train to the start the morning of the race, I don’t deviate too much from my daily routine with my family. Certainly, I still love to travel and race but there’s a comfort that comes along with running on familiar turf.

Pretty sure that 20 years ago Jay piggybacked me across this very spot when my heels got to be too much after a date party.

Which is why when I heard about Rowan University’s 5k (and the early bird rate of $20 per person) I registered myself and my husband, Jay!

When we graduated from school we planted roots not too far from the campus so it was not only convenient but also familiar. We’ve done training runs though the campus and it’s less than 10 minutes from home.

It was gray and rainy on Saturday morning for this 5k and I knew that I would be running the AC April Fools half the following day so I figured Jay and I could run together at his pace. He hasn’t been feeling well nearly the entire month of April so he hasn’t been training much (read: at all) but he was ready to do his best.

We caught up with old friends and then lined up to run. I’d wager a guess there were around 200 participants. It had a later start than most races I do; it began at 10am.

The route for the 5k was through the campus, to the perimeter of the campus, and then back through the campus. Since it’s hosted by the Rowan Alumni Association, they did a good job of highlighting all the newer buildings on the campus. There’s been a lot of changes since I graduated nearly 20 years ago!

It was all sidewalk running so it was a little tight for the first mile as people tried to figure out their pacing and where they landed within the pack of runners.

Although the day was gray and dreary, overall the campus was a lot prettier than I remembered. It seems like there’s been a lot of attention paid to beautification projects and updating sitting areas and gardens. Every time I visit, there is something new!

The engineering building was brand new 20 years ago. Now it’s expanded to a second building with a walkway connecting the two.

This walkway as not quite as extensive when we were students.

We even got to run past the building we met at as Resident Assistants (so romantic!).

At that point we were about a 10th of a mile from the finish so we didn’t get too wrapped up in nostalgia, we just pushed to the finish line. We finished in 37:36, which was what we expected.

Look, it’s the Rowan Prof!

Thanks to Rowan University for hosting its running alumnus. No matter how many changes have been made, returning to campus is like going home.

I’ve decided that I should focus more on the 5k distance. My body and mind are so conditioned to running longer races that when I run shorter distances; I don’t know exactly how to tap into the speed. I think it comes down to training and speed work.

Of course, that’s not exactly what I was trying to do for this race but looking ahead, I would like to sign up for more 5ks and finally break my 2012 PR. It’s time.

Speaking of PRs, I achieved a significant PR the follow day at the AC April Fools half marathon! Recap of that race is coming up on Friday. Woohoo!

Any advice on how I can work on my 5k speed?

Cam Runs With Child

Two weeks ago, I ran SoCal Ragnar like I’ve never ran before…12 weeks pregnant. This pregnancy was the biggest surprise. It’s been almost a decade since my last pregnancy. After ten years of birth control, I found myself with a positive pregnancy test and half a dozen race bibs I’d already paid for, including two Ragnars and all three of the Disney Tinkerbell races.  I had not planned on being pregnant for any of them.

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Now, we all know how diligent I am about training (please note sarcasm).  However, I really needed to be prepared for this race.  I’m over 36 which makes me a “high risk” pregnancy.  Also, I’m overweight and was actually in the middle of a transform session when I found out I was pregnant. I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to run much.  I hadn’t really been running prior to the pregnancy but I had been strength training so I was pretty confident I could walk my little heart out.  So yeah, I walked an entire Ragnar.  It was surprisingly difficult to walk while everyone around me was running.  I did end up running a tiny bit when I just couldn’t take it anymore, but overall, I felt pretty proud of my 16 minute pace!

 

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Van 1 at the Start right after I headed out!

I’ve ran SoCal Ragnar many times, but not since they changed the course.  The course used to come inland through Temecula Wine Country, which made for a very warm race at the end of April.  The race now stays close to the coast, starting in Huntington Beach and ending on the Silver Strand in Coronado, starting on sand and ending in sand.  The course has a virtual exchange at Exchange 12 because of Camp Pendleton.  Van 2 ran into Dana Point and Van 1 ran out of Oceanside during this exchange.  Usually the hand-off between vans is a big exchange with a lot of celebration.  The virtual exchange kind of squashes that but luckily we had five more hand-offs to celebrate.

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Van 2 at the first major exchange.

For the first time ever, I got to start the race early Friday morning!  I was really nervous to race while pregnant, mostly because I hadn’t been training as well as I should. I ran for a little while along the boardwalk of Huntington Beach, then slowed to a fast walk and finished my 2.3 miles.  After this first leg, I felt confident I could finish the race.

My second leg ran along the San Luis Rey River Trail around sunset.  The trail was easy and flat but the bugs were out in full force.  I don’t know if they were attracted to my headlamp light or what, but by the end of my four miles, I was wiping them off my glasses.  During this leg, I got to run with the famous Ernie, the 93 year old Ragnarian who just ran Del Sol in March and finished his 6th Ragnar at SoCal.  Talk about inspiration! You can read more about Ernie on the Ragnar Blog.

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I finished up with 3 miles through a beach town in Encinitas that I didn’t even know existed, and I’ve lived in Southern California all my life.  Once again, Ragnar, you remind me while I love you so much.  It’s always to best way to see this country: from the pavement.  My legs were super sore, and not in ways that I was familiar with.  Walking this much and at this quick pace pulled at muscles and tendons I don’t normally strain.  This part of the course was on a main street that was covered in restaurants, shops, and bars that I wanted to explore, especially the donut shop!  I finished up my leg with a little jog and sighed with relief.  I had finished and thanked my body for putting up with my decision to spend 36 hours in a van, walk swiftly for 9 miles after sleeping less than 2 hours on zero caffeine, all while making a human.

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Baby’s First Ragnar

Sorry body, but we’re going to do it again, in Pennsylvania this time and at 20 weeks pregnant.  I’ll be walking my little heart out.

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