Cheers to 2020!


I have this weird thought that odd years are good and even ones are notoriously bad for me.

Hear me out.

Good things happen in my life in odd years. I could go through a list but I won’t. I started attributing the bad things that were happening in my life to evenness. Which is stupid and totally not a thing until I made it one. It made me loathe even years and let me tell you, a year is a long time to deal with negative thoughts because of a made up problem.

Anyway, I’m done with that.

Because I KNOW that 2020 is going to be amazing.

The momentum that I’ve carried through the last few months of 2019 is going to push me right into 2020, and I am here for it! I feel like I’ve made smart choices in 2019 (including focusing on shorter race distances rather than automatically going for the half marathon) and it’s helped me remain injury free and ready to conquer some new PRs in the new year.

So what races are ahead for the first few months in 2020? Well, pull up a chair and let me tell ya!

january

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Virtual Challenge race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I’ve spent the month of December streaking, which is something I never, ever thought I’d say again. After streaking through the holidays in 2013 and 2015 I was ready to be done with streaking forever.

But then I started with my 10k steps per day on December 1st and something magical happened… I’ve (mostly) enjoyed it. It’s day 30 and then tomorrow is the last day of this self-imposed challenge.

The reason why this time it’s working so much more is that I’m streaking with steps rather than with running. As an added bonus, I have been running a lot more this month, but I don’t feel like I HAVE to but rather that I GET to.

The 465 Challenge is a virtual event that takes place in January and February. The goal is simple – 53 miles between the two months; walk, run, hike, bike, you name it. Given that I’ve been rocking this December streak, I think that I’m going to carry it into January. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do two loops (53+53= 106 miles).

We don’t have many January races here in New Jersey so this is the perfect way to stay engaged in my training. If you want in, use discount code BIBRAVE to save 10%.

february

This is one of my favorite winter races and I’ll be back again for the February race. It’s a two mile hilly run with great swag and chili and beer and the finish line.

Last year, Rachel and I did this one, I PRed the distance, and then we went on to run 5 miles through the town. I’d like to do that again this year too (the PR and the post-race run).

march

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Yuengling Shamrock 1/2 Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Remember earlier when I mentioned my training? This is what it’s all about! It’s time to reach for a new 1/2 Marathon PR and I hear that this is the place to do it! I’ll be road-tripping down to Virginia Beach for the weekend of March 21st-22nd.

I have been doing my research by reading reviews on BibRave and talking to people about this race. Every single person that I’ve spoken to about Shamrock is a big fan. I’ve heard NO negatives. Not one. It’s been on my bucket list for awhile now and I’m so looking forward to experiencing it for myself.

I’ll be traveling down with my road-trip buddy, Rachel, and there’s a BRP Summit happening that weekend so I’m might explode from excitement. Brace yourselves.

april

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Moving right along, April is my birth month and brings more fun races!

I’m returning for my 4th year at the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k in Philly. It’s one of my all time favorite Philly races with terrific swag and fantastic people. I’ll be honest, the course is not my favorite location in the city but since I’ve opted for the 5k distance, I know I’ll be ready to go. This is a race I usually do with Ana and this year she’ll be achieving her legacy status!

Furthermore, they’ve added medals to the 5k distance, which is a fun addition. Everyone in my area is usually at this race, it’s a good “starter” event and for those of us who have been running for awhile, it’s a good time too. I never expect to PR at the Hot Chocolate races in time, but in fun it takes the cake! (Or the chocolate!)

If you’re planning on registering for the Philly Allstate Hot Chocolate race, be sure to use code “BRHCPHILLY19” and get your free Hot Chocolate running hat with registration.

Another tried and true one for me, the Atlantic City Marathon Series puts on fantastic events. I love the ease of these races. It’s a quick hour drive, easy parking, and the run is mainly on the board walk.

I’ll be running the 11k distance on April 25th. When I registered, I signed up for this, the Bungalow Beach 5 mile race in June, and a race during their fall weekend. I’m nothing if not a planner and when I saw the special pricing for the three races, and the extra bling for taking part in each of their race weekends, I was in.

Take my money, Atlantic City!

I’ve got my eye on more races in the second half of 2020 (and a few that I’ve registered for). It’s going to be a great EVEN year and I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

What’s on your calendar for the first few months of the year? What are you doing to ring in the 2020? I’m planning on hanging out with my family and maybe staying awake until 10pm. 

 

Race Recap: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Tampa

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

This weekend I had the pleasure of running for chocolate! Now, I usually reward myself after every race I run…just because. To me, there’s nothing better than a post-run brunch with lots of bacon and coffee. This weekend, however, the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K was giving out chocolate at the finish line.

I’ve never done a Hot Chocolate race so I was thrilled when the Tampa came up with BibRave! The race was super easy to sign up for through Athlinks and the rest was history. You’d think, of course, that since I signed up for the race a few months ago that I’d been training for it, right?

Well, it’s like you guys don’t know me at all. I did run a 15.9ish Ragnar Relay the weekend before, however. Does that count as training?

Anywho, I headed up Saturday to pick up my race packet since the race is a big one and they didn’t have race day pickup. I was going to be running the race alone, so my dude made the trip with me. I tried to convince him to run too, but no dice after the week before’s Ragnar. We still had fun walking the Riverwalk Saturday and prepping for the race with pizza and drinks. (My go-to prerace dinner!)

The next morning my dude dropped me off at the Tampa Convention Center for the start of the race. The course and start line were the same as Gasparilla and I knew parking would be difficult. Having a driver for the day worked out nicely. The morning was chilly and I seriously considered taking my sweet Hot Chocolate hoodie with me. I’d opted for my BibRave tee and my SkirtSports Pocketopia in Bonita print, knowing it would warm up once the sun was out.

Before the race started, I did my usual rituals: walk around aimlessly for a few minutes, visit the porta potty, and eat a bagel.

You could tell the crowd was excited and ready to go. (To the bathroom.)

Everything was great at the start line, despite still being cold. It was nothing like the temps for Ragnar, but I was still feeling chilly.

The sun was up once we started and I was excited for a strong beginning, too. I was nervous since I hadn’t run since Ragnar. After the first half mile I started with some intervals, knowing I wouldn’t be able to run the whole 15K without stopping. For intervals I went with a minute long high and a thirty second low. The intervals were perfect and I kept a fairly steady pace for the first part of the race and was happy with how things were going.

There were aid stations every couple of miles with potties and, of course, chocolate!

Chocolate and nuun – a combination you didn’t know you needed.

The course was familiar as I’d run the Gasparilla 15K twice before, so I was used to the road and the scenery. I do love taking those “sun shining over water pictures” though.

I maintained my pace and intervals for the majority of the race, even with stopping at the bathroom twice. Michelle wasn’t there to yell at me for going to the bathroom, so I did what I wanted! My pace was a pleasant surprise because, again, Michelle wasn’t there to yell at me! She’s usually the one motivating me on these long races, so I hope I made her proud. Ha!

There was the usual watching who/where others were around me that helped me know I was keeping a pretty steady pace. I always love to see the same runners throughout the course. It helps me to know that I’m still doing okay, even when I feel like I’m not.

It’s easy to get frustrated or fall behind when you’re running by yourself, but I felt like I did an okay job for this race. I finished strong and my pace was close to the other races I’d run on that course. After I crossed the finish line I headed to grab my chocolate goodies and wait for my driver. I was impressed at how well everything was organized and set up. It seemed much easier to navigate than Gasparilla (which is one of my favorite races).

This is definitely a race I’m going to keep on my watchlist for next year. If you’re into tasty treats after a run, you should too!

I Forgive Myself

Last week I was planning to write about the hikes I’ve done recently.

I didn’t though.

Today’s post was supposed to be about The Light Run.

It isn’t though. Not in the sense I meant it to be.

This time of year is filled with family and winter concerts and get togethers and shopping and wrapping (for both Hanukkah and Christmas) and plans plans plans. And plans that are forgotten until it’s 5:13 on Monday morning and you realize “Oh shit, I was supposed to do xyz for today. And I didn’t.”

I forgive myself.

I forgive myself for the thing that fall by the wayside this December.

I remind myself that there are people who have far greater things to be worried about.

I impress upon myself that not everything has to be perfect and not everything will be perfect. It’s the imperfect that makes me who I am and my family who we are. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay.

And I hope that as you’re going through your days and maybe struggling a little bit with getting everything done, you are forgiving yourselves too.

Race Recap: Ragnar Florida Trail

About a year ago my BFF and RBF came to me with the idea to sign up for a Ragnar trail race. I say yes, obviously, because I’m a runner and we are insane. I did my first Ragnar in Pennsylvania with Mer and Cam (my first time meeting either one of them IRL) and had a blast. We had a little trouble getting our Ragnar trail team off the ground and ended up deferring from 2018 to 2019…which brings us to this blog post.

We were in limbo with a team for awhile, but managed to get it all taken care of just in time, ending up with our team of eight a few weeks before the actual race. We recruited people from work, who recruited people, who recruited people. I even managed to recruit a guy I’d been on one date with a few months ago. He’s my boyfriend now, so it all worked out.

My friend and I took off Friday since the race started that morning, and the majority of us headed up Thursday night. I know we were diligently checking the weather to make sure we’d packed the right things for our three loops, sleeping, and lounging.

Camping and running supplies for two people…

…and four people.

While we practically brought everything but the kitchen sink, what we didn’t do was check the weather again. Temperatures were projected to be in the forties and for this Florida girl…that’s rough, y’all. I’d packed capris and tanks for my night/early morning runs and a skirt and tank for my first run. I was not well-prepared! We’d also only taken a couple of blankets because I was afraid we’d be “too hot”. Insert straight-faced emoji here, okay? Thursday night was brutal, but we survived. I woke up the next morning and asked Ali to bring us another blanket because I could not suffer sleeping in a tent in 45-degree weather again!

Just a small part of the campsite.

In true Florida fashion, the weather was perfect once the sun came up and our team was ready for our 9:30AM start! The course was divided into three loops: Green – 5.5 miles, Yellow – 4.6 miles, and Red 6.1 miles. Each runner was to run each of the loops basically before the course closed. Sounds easy, right? Personally, I’ve never done a trail race…or ran on a trail before. I prefer my races and running to be on flat ground where the only thing that can trip me is my own feet.

Michelle started our team off on the Green loop and I followed with Yellow. Yellow was the “middle ground” as far as trails went, but there was definitely elevation and a few obstacles involved. I knew I’d be feeling it later on since I in no way shape or form trained for a trail race. Yeah, I said it: I DID NOT TRAIN. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you.

Once I was through the Yellow loop, I was still feeling pretty good. I wiped down with my shower wipes and changed into my lounge clothes to hang out with the rest of our team and wait for everyone else to run their first loops. There was also a visit to the gear shop since I’d only packed tank tops and it was supposed to be in the lower 50s for my night run. I snagged a cute Ragnar long-sleeved shirt, but ending up wearing something of my dude’s that was snug and fleece-lined. I’m glad I did, because once I headed out on my Green loop, I stayed cold the whole time! Green was the easiest loop, but my run started at about 9PM. It was a struggle to get dressed in the tent. Then I had leave my comfy air mattress and kind of warm blankets knowing I was going out into the wilderness in the dark.

Most of this loop was nice and flat, but some of it went through a “forest” of sorts of a lot of tall grass. Naturally I was terrified and tried my damndest to run the whole thing. Did I mention I didn’t train very well for this? Obviously that didn’t work. And it was cold. So, I fell. Luckily I was so far behind any other runner and no one had caught up with me yet and therefore no one saw me. Of course, that meant that I was too nervous about falling again to move too quickly.

I trucked on and my dude met me at the transition with fresh clothes and hot chocolate. Did I mention there were no showers and only porta-potties? Each time I had to change I managed to commandeer the larger potty which made me feel a little bit cleaner, but not much. After my second run I settled into the tent to rest, knowing that I’d have to be ready to run again by 6AM or so.

Our group text kept us all updated and we managed to cheer each other on through all of our loops, too. It was nice to stay connected that way and definitely kept us entertained throughout the day/night. Only a few of us happened to be really close but there’s really nothing like a Ragnar race to bring you together. When it was finally my turn for the Red loop I went into it kind of…meh. I’d gotten my period the day before (sorry if that’s TMI, but we’re real over here at Scoot), couldn’t find my Advil, so my quads were killing me and I had cramps like nobody’s business.

The first part of the Red loop was the same as Yellow, so it was nothing new. I started this loop before the sun was up and it was a struggle to get warm. Once the trail parted and I was on the official Red loop…I knew what all the fuss was about. Red was 6.1 miles of ups and downs, bridges, ledges, and buzzards.

Yep, buzzards. Just waiting for us runners to die. I sent a picture to my teammates of them around three mile marker and kept on going. It felt like I’d been at it for a long time, but it turned out that I was only at mile “4ish”. This was a little disheartening considering I felt like I was working SO HARD. I’d started texting Michelle telling her that I felt like I was behind on time and was feeling slow, but she always does a great job of cheering me up. I knew we had plenty of time to complete our loops, but there was still six runners after me and I didn’t want to hold anyone back.

Even though the Red loop was tough, it was pretty. You can always count on me to stop and take nature pictures, no matter if they all look like the same damn tree.

 

Getting out of the Red loop was hard, but I made it and our team finished strong, in my opinion. I mean, we weren’t called the World’s Okayest Running Team for no reason, you know?

After my loop I grabbed some breakfast with a few teammates and a delicious cup of REAL coffee. (Sorry, Ragnar – your coffee is weak.) There were food trucks on the grounds the whole time and we had a great time picking from them. Breakfast was a variety of waffles on sticks and it was pretty magical.

Gimme alllll the bacon.

I manged to clean up, have a nap, and start the slow process of packing while everyone finished their loops. In true Ragnar fashion we joined our last runner crossing the finish line, then picked up our really sweet medals and took our group picture.

World’s Okayest Running Team

 

I know there are a ton of things I’m missing here, but it all feels like a blur. I know some of us had our struggles but the best part of Ragnar is the team that keeps you going, even if some of them are strangers! All I wanted to do when we got home was shower and sleep for a few days. This was definitely a fun time and I would probably do it again. Like…95% sure. Maybe.

Just…not any time soon.

Kick off 2020 with the 465 Virtual Challenge!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 465 Virtual Challenge race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I know how I’m starting off my 2020! The Inaugural 465 Challenge, here I come.

Or wait, it’s a virtual race, so I’ll just stay put. And run/hike/walk.

Virtual races are a great way to stay on the motivation train, especially in the cold winter months. I’m not a huge fan of run streaks but working toward a set goal is an awesome push and a great way to start the new year.

I’m aiming for a half marathon PR in the spring of 2020 and I know by dangling the metaphoric carrot in front of me, it will help me stay on course when it comes to training.

There are two tiers of registration, depending on what swag you may or may not be interested in:

  1. PREMIUM – $39.99
    465 Challenger Super Soft Finisher Shirt
    465 Race Car Slider Finisher Medal (for first 1,000 registrants)
    Super Cool Bumper Sticker
    Training Program
    Motivational Emails
    Virtual Bib
    Certificate of Completion
  2. BASIC – $24.99
    Super Cool Bumper Sticker
    Training Program
    Motivational Emails
    Virtual Bib
    Certificate of Completion

And of course, if you use discount code BIBRAVE, you’ll save 10%!

What’s the significance of 53 miles? That’s the distance of the loop around Indianapolis!

Can’t run but still want to get in on the moving? That’s perfectly all right – this challenge includes swimming, biking, somersaulting, and everything in between.

Who’s with me?!

What’s on Your Wish List?

With the holidays just around the corner, I’m sure everyone is busy prepping and buying gifts for their friends and family. It’s such a great time of year to shower others with gifts and, hey, maybe you’re picking up a little something something for yourself while you’re at it. I know I have been.

So, what’s on your wish list as an active person/athlete/runner? I thought I’d put a few things together that I know I’d like to have!

New Kicks

My current shoes trained and ran a marathon, and still have a lot of love left in them. I’ve also got some great cross-trainers and I’m the proud owner of a brand new pair of trail running shoes (to be used this weekend!), but I know a runner will never say no to new shoes!

How adorable are these Christmas Brooks?

 

Fresh Clothes

As a SkirtSports Ambassador I get a great deal on any Skirt product, but who wouldn’t love to get some awesome gear as a gift! I know I love funny running and workout shirts, and gift cards are always a plus.

Headgear

Since testing AfterShokz with BibRave last year I’ve been IN LOVE with mine. I’m sure there are plenty of other products like them out there, but these are definitely my favorite.

 

Socks

I love the fun socks from Sox Box. They have great compression and funny sayings! You can’t go wrong!

Race Entry Fees

If you really love someone, find out a race they want to run and pay for them! There are a ton of races out there that people are dying to run!

Coffee/Snacks

Getting up for those early runs or staying up late to take care of those workouts can be tiring and also leaves us a little hangry. Feed us and tell us we’re strong.

What’s on your list?

 

Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, Rothman 8k

The Rothman 8k was my first ever road race in 2011.

I blogged about it back then.

Since 2011 I’ve volunteered, I’ve run the half distance for a few years, I returned to the 8k last year and made a last minute decision to run the 8k again this year.

Lucas was coming off the high of running his first 10k, I had a great coupon code, so we registered together at the beginning of this month.

The Rothman 8k has changed a lot since 2011 and so have I.

My thoughts about this race are all over the place; I think a PRO/CON list is the best way to go about it for the purposes of this recap.

PROS

  1. The 8k distance is a great middle ground for someone who isn’t looking to run a half or full marathon but still wants to be involved with race weekend.

    My Turtle Running group are always representing!

  2. The Rothman Orthopedic 8k starts at 10:45am. This is done so that people who are running the half marathon have the opportunity to run in both races (they added the race “challenges” a few years ago). What this meant for us was not having to head out of the house at the crack of dawn!
  3. Over the years, the Philly Marathon has added more bells and whistles to the 8k distance. When I ran in 2011, I got a cotton t-shirt. Now there is a tech t-shirt and a medal at the finish line.

CONS

  1. When I ran the 2011 race there were just over 2,000 participants. This year there were 5,200 participants. There are no starting corrals, but there should be. To put it bluntly, people don’t know how to self-seed. With the huge influx in participants, it would be helpful for the race directors to provide guidance.
  2. The 8k race feels like it’s the forgotten stepchild of the weekend. There’s a lot of emphasis on the half and full marathons and while the numbers have grown for the 8k there’s not a lot of signage or direction on where to go. The spectator guide handed out at the expo doesn’t even reference the 8k.
  3. The course. Oh dear lord, the course. I truly love Philadelphia but there’s one major issue with runs along the river: Martin Luther King Dr. It’s picturesque, the views of Boat House Row and the Art Museum are iconic. But… it has a horrible slant and the potholes are rough.
  4. There are pictures. They are not free. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think race pictures should be included in all races. But if they’re not, a digital download for one picture should not cost $29.95. I paid $20 for the race (with a coupon code). I cannot justify spending more than that on a picture of myself. I’ll just look in the mirror!

Or we can selfie!

Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros in this case. I think I’ll be taking a break from the Rothman 8k in 2020. Although, I have broken up with the Philly half before here and they’ve made changes so maybe if I put it out into the universe again, things will change. I sure hope so!

The rest 2019 has hikes, fun runs, and training runs on the agenda (not to mention the hustle and bustle of the holidays). All I can say is BRING IT ON!

The One Where I Won My Age Group

Spoiler: I was the only one in my age group.

(Maybe I shouldn’t have lead with that?)

ETA: a friend shared this with me and I had to include it in this post. 😂

This past weekend Lucas and I took part in the 5k portion of the William T. Nace Tin Man 5k/10k. This race is a small, local race and serves as a fundraiser for a student scholarship.

In its 8th year, the race has raised thousands of dollars to further their nonprofit’s mission, established in honor of their family member, William T. Nace.

With Ali Nace Smedley, one of the race directors. Ali’s law practice is a sponsor of the Healthy Kids Running Series – Mullica Hill/Mantua, which I coordinate.

The race takes place at Cooper River Park also known in the running community as the Cooper Loop. It’s actually where I learned about running and where my son did his first running clinic.

The 5k and 10k races were scheduled for 9:30. The fields were small; 12 5k runners and 16 10k runners. It was easy to grab our bibs and cotton t-shirts the morning of the race around 9:10. There was no prior pickup.

After a quick stop in the lovely heated bathrooms (I did NOT what to leave), the 5k runners walked with a representative of the timing company to our start.

The loop is just under 4 miles which meant that the 10k runners would be doubling back at some point – they had a different start and ran in the opposite direction so we passed them on the far side of the course.

My comfortable training pace has been 12:30 minute miles so I knew I’d probably be able to push the pace with this race. However, I also figured that I’d be toward the back of a very fast pack.

A couple of my Turtle running group pals were doing a training run around the loop, independently from the race, so I got to see them a few times. Always awesome to have familiar faces and cheers!

I ran the first mile straight through and when I looked down at my watch, I saw I’d kept a 10:45 pace, which is awesome for me but also freaked me out a bit. After that I jumped into my 1:1 intervals. I could see Lucas ahead in the distance (but not for long).

The route is a loop around a river. Around the halfway point there was a volunteer with water bottles, which I opted to skip.

On the far end of the course there’s a great view of the Philadelphia skyline. The wind also works with you at that point, which is lovely. However, the last mile back, the wind was right in my face, making it cold and difficult.

Lucas did great, finishing in 30:42 – his sub30 goal is going to happen sooner rather than later. I finished in just over 36 minutes, coming in 10th out of 12th for the race.

Great snack spread for all the runners!

After the 5k finishers crossed the line, the results were quickly posted and awards were distributed.

There’s no finishers medals, but because it’s a small race nearly everyone who crossed the line got age group awards. Additionally they have a few raffles for the runners of each event. Lucas and I won a $25 Visa gift card!

When our awards finished, the 10k runners started to cross the line. The overall winner was a friend of Lucas’ from school; it awesome to see an 8th grader rock her first ever 6.2 distance!

There’s something very special about a small race – you can feel the love and importance of the event to their family. That said, I hope that next year it grows in size and even more students are able to benefit from the scholarships.

Next up… Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, Rothman 8k!

Will Run For Chocolate

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Who’s excited to eat some delicious foods next week? I know I am always up for something tasty and I can’t wait until Thanksgiving. It’s hard to believe that my favorite holiday is just around the corner. It really feels like 2019 is just flying by and, before you know it, we’ll be planning out our races for 2020!

It’s also hard to believe that in less than a month I’ll be running my very first Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K! This race seriously looks so fun and I can’t wait to get into it. Granted, I haven’t been running like I should be (at all) and I know nine and some change miles might be a challenge for me, but I’m really looking forward to meeting up with some BibRave Pros and, obviously, grabbing some tasty snacks at the end of the race.

Look at this haul! I cannot wait to shove my face with all this deliciousness! Obviously I’m going to be really proud of myself for running a 15K with minimal training (I’m going to run tomorrow, I swear), but I also can’t wait for the fun! This year has been all about making running fun again, and I feel like it’s been going well. I’ve done a race every month, although I’ve got three lined up for December, and I’ve had no pressure on me for anything. It’s been great and I’m really looking forward to whatever next year brings.

But first, chocolate.

Use the code BRHCTAMPA19 a free Hot Chocolate running hat