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?

Keeping Busy in the New Year


As with every new year, plans are made, goals are set, and we all strive to make this one be the best one yet!

This year has started off with me doing the Ragnar 30 Day Challenge. And starting Focus T25. And committing to another round of the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. (You’ll notice those last two are two competing companies. See me, caring not.)

Of course, I’m continuing my 2 times a week weight training session and running, too. Running in December sort of fell by the wayside but I need to start stepping it up again.

Because races.

There are SO MANY RACES that I have on my radar. I would love to do them all and I suppose eventually I will; however, these are the ones that have made the schedule for the first half of 2017. There are a couple of newbies along with a few tried and true. February and May are empty as of right now… but there’s always last minute additions (Broad Street?).

january

There aren’t too many races to be found in my area in January, which is why I’m stoked for this one! Local race organizers, Good Day For A Run have two dates for this race, January 29th (I’ll be at that one) and February 11th. I’ve had this race on my radar for a couple of years now for several reasons.

  1. It’s right down the street from my house. (It was right down the street from my old house too!)
  2. It’s a 2 mile chipped event. I’ve never run a 2 mile race before! Have you? The quirky distance definitely has me intrigued.
  3. It starts and ends at one of my favorite restaurants. And after the race? There’s chili and beer!
  4. The swag is unique – a CHILI BOWL.
  5. My buddy, Rachel, is coming down to run with me!

I’ll keep you posted with how it goes!

march

In March is a tried and true race, the Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k. This event is hosted by our local South Jersey Running Company which fosters a great sense of community within our local runners. Minus last year, I’ve participated in this race since 2012. This is the only race that my husband looks forward to each year so it basically goes without saying in our house that we are going to register.

We always see a large group of friends at this race and the party that’s held at the Haddonfield Running Company after is a good time. This is one of the few 5ks that I’ve done that have finisher medals (and they’re awesome) as well as Brooks race shirts.

My PR from this race has been my 5k PR since the first year I participated. This year needs to be the year that I finally beat it on March 18th.

Here’s a couple of past race recaps, if you’re interested: 2012, 20142015

april

This is when things start ramping up!

April 1st (which just happens to be my 40th birthday, btw), I’ll be running the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philly for the very first time!

I’ve had my eye on this race since Brandi did a guest post for us in 2015. The swag looks awesome: a medal, hoodie, chocolate mug and goodies at the finish… plus I’m getting a visor because I used the BibRave code: BRPhillyHC.

I’m running with honorary Chick, Christina. Christina is celebrating her 40th birthday just before mine so we’ve declared this a joint birthday celebration!

Side note: Christina will be representing Scoot a Doot at the Disney Marathon this coming weekend! If you want to follow along, swing by the Scoot a Doot Facebook page.

April 23rd marks the 6th time I’ll be running the April Fools Half Marathon. So what keeps me coming back to this race? It’s flat and usually a lot of fun. I do training runs in Atlantic City so it’s familiar territory and through the years they’ve added things like free race photos and an awesome finish line village, complete with free beer.

I’ve run this race since its inauguration and since it switched dates to later in the month, I’m able to do both the Hot Chocolate 15k and this race. Win all around!

Blast from the past?Here’s last year’s recap.

Rounding out April, I’ll be running another Good Day For A Run race, the Heritage Vineyards 5 Miler. I participated in this race last year for the first time and it was absolutely perfect, which is why I’m returning for a repeat! It’s just down the road from my house (in the other direction from the Chili Run) and it’s an easy race for me. Easy packet pickup, easy drinking wine, etc.

The swag isn’t shabby either: a race shirt, free photos (I love free race photos – it should be standard!), a wine tumbler and wine ticket. People bring snacks or buy them from the multitude of food trucks and make a day out of it! If the weather cooperates, that’s my plan!

june

Ah, Ragnar. I don’t want to say that this is the most important race but it’s definitely the one that has been on my bucket list the longest amount of time and also I’m quite sure will be the most physically challenging.

I’ve been talking about participating in a Ragnar since Cam first told me about it back in 2011. She’s blogged about Ragnar many times on Scoot a Doot and each time I sighed longingly because I wanted to run long distances and hang out with smelly people in a van, too!

When Ragnar announced that their Pennsylvania race would be returning in 2017, I knew this was it: the Ragnar that was meant for me! June 2nd-3rd I’ll be running with 11 teammates past horse-drawn buggies and into the Poconos (those are mountains for those who aren’t familiar with the regional).

That’s what on tap for me for the next six months, race wise! Everything from a 2 mile race to a relay with three legs of varying degrees of distances/difficulty. It will be fun, right?

What do you have on your agenda for the first half of 2017? Will I see you at any of these events?

When the Weather Doesn’t Cooperate: 2016 Atlantic City April Fools Half

There’s a new hashtag circulating for Atlantic City: #thisisAC

After this weekend’s race I would like to add an asterisk that reads #thisisAC *but please don’t base your opinion on the weather this weekend.

This weekend marked my 5th April Fools Half Marathon. Forget about 13, apparently 5 is the unlucky number when it comes to the Atlantic City Race Series.

The normal pleasant conditions that I associate with this race were MIA. With steady rain for the 7k/11k and the gale-like winds for the half marathon on Sunday, racers were not dealing with what we would call “ideal weather”.

And to think when we got our hats, we were worried that we might be too hot in them. Not so much.

And to think when we got our hats, we were worried that we might be too hot in them. Not so much.

Chrissy and I had our normal text conversations going the whole week prior, discussing weather, outfits, changes to outfits because of the weather, plans on what to do if one of us blew away, etc. We had a couple of windy training runs in Atlantic City but nothing that quite prepared us for Sunday’s half.

What did help us prepare for the half was doing those weekly training runs in AC. Honestly, I’m so very glad that we were able to do that because it did help us know our way around the casinos, boardwalk, and gave us an overall idea of what to expect.

However… we were not planning on the heavy winds and really, there’s no way TO plan for something like that.

So you can do one of two things:

1. bail
2. run, smile, and keep a positive attitude (as you’re getting sand in your mouth and pushed all over the course like a rag doll)

We went with option number 2, of course.

#finsup

#finsup

It was a little disorganized prior to the start. I’ve grown accustomed to this; the host hotel has changed more than once over the years and packet pickup is always at a different location from year to year. However, it’s still challenging to figure out exactly where to go. Runners rely on runners and we were all following each other around the Resorts Casino, looking for packet pickup.

Close to 8am, we made our way outside to get ourselves acclimated to the colder air. While heading out I overheard a coordinator saying that they were pushing back the start time 10 minutes.

The blow up start line was not out, due to the high winds. The race director also cautioned us to watch for blown over cones on the course.

The blow up start line was not out, due to the high winds. The race director also cautioned us to watch for blown over cones on the course.

I’m not exactly sure why that happened but the extra minutes went by fast. There was a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem and then we were off!

I don’t have many pictures from the course because it was pure survival mode out there. Plus, I was afraid my phone might blow away. But a big highlight was seeing Hollie (FueledbyLOLZ) being escorted with a cyclist as first female. What does it even feel like to run that fast? I’ll never know.

I was on the lookout for music on the course so I could break out a little dance solo, as Jenn has done previously. Click the picture to see her little jig.

With the wind, it made things difficult for musicians to be out there. So I was very excited when, at mile 6 or so, I heard the sweet wail of the bagpipes played by Piper Rick. Chrissy grabbed my phone and I geared up to do my very best bagpiping dance moves. Click the pic to see!

Sadly, you will never get to see my bagpiping dance moves. I’m truly sorry for that.

The winds were not hitting us directly from the front, or pushing us along from the back, but rather coming sideways. Which meant that we were getting literally swept off our feet both out and back along the course.

It was… not fun. There was never a point in the race that I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad.” It was mostly just gritting our teeth (and the sand in our teeth).

I kept thinking it might get better. Alas, it did not get better. The only better was when we were finally done and we were able to not be in the wind anymore.

But through it all, Chrissy and I stuck together and looked out for each other. The conditions were miserable; we were not happy. But we did it and I’m so glad that we did it together. Once I got home I was ready bed I was looking on Facebook and found that I had shared this image a year ago, to the day.

Thanks Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Via Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

We adjusted our sails yesterday. And while admittedly, it was not perfect, we did it anyway.

Plus, we got some pretty awesome bling.

medals2016

It spins!

And also awesome drinks.

drinks

So while yes, #thisisAC, I hope first timers to the race don’t get scared away by the ridiculousness that Mother Nature threw at us this weekend.

Because this is also AC!

Running by the ocean. So perfect. #atlanticcity #doac #livelifemakewaves #sweatpink #fitblog #cityfitgirls

A post shared by scootadoot (@scootadoot) on

This was my first race of 2016 and my thought is when you start with the toughest conditions, it can only get better. Right? Right! A few days later, my body is still hurting although slowly but surely, I’m feeling back to the status quo.

Did you #doAC this weekend? Run another race? I heard Syracuse was brutal (Bonnie had frost on her brows!), and the Philly Hot Chocolate 15k ran out of medals. What races do you have coming up? Next up for me is the Vineyard 5 miler and Broad Street 10 miler!

How Do You Know I Did A Training Run?

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you!

Seriously though, I know that there are two camps of people.

  1. Those who want to hear all about my training, running, food, water intake, breathing.
  2. The rest of the world… who are probably not reading this blog post.

So, for those who fall into the first camp, it’s no secret that I’m training for the Atlantic City April Fools Half. I talk about it a lot because it consumes a lot of my free time. AND, for the first time in a long time, my body is actually behaving, feeling pretty darn good, and seems to be on board with this plan.

As such, it’s training time and I’m armed and ready. I’ve got my 12 week half marathon plan. Bonus? I actually started training 12 weeks ahead of time. That rarely has never happened before.

Thanks to City Fit Girls and Coach Marcy for this plan!

Thanks to City Fit Girls and Coach Marcy for this plan!

I’ve got my sneakers (and new GoPro camera – heyyyy!).

Wave Inspire 12s love the boardwalk.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 12s love the boardwalk.

And I’ve got my training partner in crime.

Chrissy and me, after our first training run.

Chrissy and me, after our first training run for the April race.

Usually I don’t have the opportunity to train with my race day buddies; the majority of them are scattered across the country. You might remember Chrissy from last year’s Broad Street 10 Miler and Philly half – she’s local-ish (and we’ve been friends for the better part of 30 years).

Just before the open strains of Auld Lang Syne, Chrissy and I were texting about our training plans for the April Fools half and we came up with our long run game plan.

While we both live in New Jersey, we’re about an hour and a half apart. However, Atlantic City is equidistant from both of us so we figured, wouldn’t it make sense to train on the course? Yes! Yes, it would.

We both got really excited by this plan. We texted more. We messaged on Facebook and Instagram (to cover all our bases). We talked about the distance we wanted to go our first run. And then?

Then we looked at the weather.

So you're saying New Jersey is cold in January?

So you’re saying New Jersey is cold in January?

We persevered! The excitement overrode the nervousness of the cold weather and we dressed appropriately.

And when I tell you it wasn’t that bad, it really wasn’t that bad! Once you start moving and enjoying the scenery, 5 miles goes fast!

5milestraining

5milestraining2

The following week, we had 6 miles on tap. Again we checked the weather and while it was supposed to be cold, it was also supposed to be windy. Really windy. Extreme winds.

We made the executive decision to take it to the treadmill and text throughout to hold each other accountable. No wimping out!

treadmill6

My basement =/= the beach

I watched Pretty Little Liars (I’m liking it again, for the record – the 5 year jump did it for me).

Did 2:1 intervals and we got it done.

Well, that was not so much fun.

Well, that was not so much fun.

Then I laid down on the belt for awhile and took a rest.

treadmillsixselfie

I started a little bit earlier than Chrissy so I was about 2 miles into the run when she started. While supine, I texted encouraging messages to her until she wrapped up and sent me her finished selfie!

chrissytreadmill

Look at that smile!

We were back out on the boards this week for our 7 mile run, with weather much like the first week of training. Hooray!

7milerun

We felt pretty ready to be done at 5 miles but we kept going, circling back around because we ran out of boardwalk.

boards7

We’re still figuring all of this out as we go but there are a few hard and fast rules of our training runs.

  1. We do what we want. For awhile we were doing 2:1 intervals but Chrissy has been doing 1:1 for about a year now. This past week, mid-run we decided to change back to 1:1. Why? Because it felt better. If we want to stop mid-run and take a picture in front of a sign, or the ocean, or the cool wall we found, we stop. Long slow distance, we take it to heart.
  2. If you hear music, you must dance. There are a few places on the (very empty) boardwalk that have speakers with music playing. There is ALWAYS dancing. And sometimes singing. I haven’t gotten a video of it yet but trust me, I’m sure one will show up on the Instagram.
  3. Stairs or escalator? No. There’s no or. See, that was a trick question. It’s always stairs. And if we’re feeling especially motivated we might run stairs after our run just for fun. (Okay, that only happened once so far.)
  4. Food. Eating is a key part of the training run regiment. We found a little place that makes breakfast sandwiches and man, is it amazing. Seriously.
  5. Ducks Fly Together! And when the roosters are crowing and the cows are spinning circles in the pasture? DUCKS FLY TOGETHER.

That last one is the most important. We stick together. And as long as we do that, by race day, we win no matter what.

Next week we have an 8 miler on tap and we’re really hoping that the impending blizzard doesn’t force us back to the treadmills. But if it does, I know I can do it because I’ve got my training partner in crime and together we can handle anything!

Are you training for a spring race? What’s the longest distance you’ve done on a treadmill? Do you try to run a local course before race day?

 

So long, 2015, You Were Pretty Awesome!

With the year drawing to a close and Thanksgiving later this week, I found myself reflecting on 2015. Since joining Scootadoot last November, I’ve gotten to do a lot of great things and meet some really wonderful people. I’d like to take a sec to just say I’ve had a great time being a Chick, and thought I’d share some of my favorite memories from my first year with Scoot.

Philly Stray Boots Tour – This self-guided walking tour was the kick-off to a great first half marathon weekend! Meri, Cam, and I saw the sites of historical downtown Philadelphia while looking for clues scavenger hunt style. The fact that it was self-guided meant that we weren’t part of a group crowded around a guide in period costume tell us stuff we earned in elementary school. Plus, we’re occasionally inappropriate, which likely would not have been appreciated by fellow tour goers with small children.

tour5

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See, inappropriate.

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See, inappropriate.

And the actual sites were pretty cool, like the first ever US Post Office! It’s still a working post office! (It had a creepy vibe, too, it you’re into that kind of thing.)

tour2

A few days later, I ran my first half with my fellow Chicks Mer, Cam, and Vic at the AC April Fool’s Half. There were so many things to love about this race! I hadn’t seen my girls for three years and a visit was long overdue! Plus, we had costumes, and they were cute, so there was that. I ran my half in 2:55 and was pretty darn pleased with myself!

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

My first medal ever and it's soooo purdy!

My first medal ever and it’s soooo purdy!

I met some great folks, including Bonnie, a.k.a ‘Cuse Runner Girl!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Meri and I played cat and mouse with these lovely people the whole race, then shared a beer afterward.

New Friends!

New Friends!

The best part was the end! Seriously, when I saw that finish line I was SO HAPPY. I grabbed Meri’s hand as we crossed because there wasn’t anyone else I would have rather finished my first half with.

Aaaaaand we're done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Aaaaaand we’re done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

The other best part was the winning of the costume contest because we won stuff! After all the hard work Cam and I put into making our costumes and Vic and Meri put into looking cute in them, we celebrated with our favorite food group.

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

Then there was that time the Meridith came to visit me and we ran the BolderBOULDER! Before the race, we got to see Abdi and Meb and Pete at a press conference. It was certainly a highlight of the weekend.

IMG_7014

One of my favorite photos from this year, Meri and I at CU’s Folsom Field with the Flatirons behind us.

Ready for a nap. And beer. Maybe beer, then nap.

Ready for a nap. And beer. Maybe beer, then nap.

At what other race in this country do you see seriously talented belly dancers supporting and entertaining the runners? You will only see this in Boulder, folks.

Onlyinboulder

This might be my second favorite photo. Ever.

Run, Betty, run!!!

Run, Betty, run!!!

As the end of the summer came I focused on my second 1/2, the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon. This was by far my biggest race of the year as far as fitness and athleticism were concerned. It was also the prettiest course I ran in 2015. I have nothing but positive things to say about this race, and it will probably be an annual entry for me from now on.

longspeak

mile10

The elite runners (and my husband) got to see some elk on the course!

The elite runners (and my husband) got to see some elk on the course!

This was the hardest race I’ve run to date. The elevation in Estes Park is 7,522 and the course gains just under 500 feet over its thirteen miles. That’s why I’m so proud of this gorgeous medal, it represents all the things I was told I couldn’t do as a person with asthma.

medal

Throughout the year, I pulled out my 2015 achievement board to check my progress. My goals were many and ambitious. Most of them did not happen. Some, however did, and the ones that I succeeded at were some of the most important I’ve ever set for myself. I can’t wait to make my achievement board for 2016.

IMG_1307

Most of all, I’m grateful to the other Chicks and all of you for welcoming me into your community. You all amaze me, and inspire me to keep setting the bar high. Thanks for a fantastic 2015, Scootadoot!

 

What achievements are you most proud of this year? What are you setting your cap after in 2016? Tell me all about it in the comments!

The Top 5 Things I Learned from the Atlantic City Half Marathon

Because I had SO MUCH to say about my first half marathon experience, I had to break it up into two posts. Mainly because it wouldn’t be fair to push that much excitement on  you at once.

You’re welcome, eyeballs.

So here are the top 5 things I learned at the race.

  1. Runners also like to re-fuel.  A lot.

I came totally unprepared for the race as far a fuel goes. I’m not much of breakfast girl, and was relying on the advice Mer, Vic, and Cam as far as what was best. Because Cam is the sweetest, she gave me some of her stock; a packet of Gu and CLIF Shot Bloks packet to try out. On race day, I forgot to pack my Honey Stinger and Cam forgot all of her fuel, so I gave her back her Gu and stuck with the Bloks, which, for the record, tasted pretty yummy! By the time we reached the turn in the course, Mer had eaten her Gu and I was busting open the Bloks. At mile 9, we were looking for a station with some fuel because, as we all know, rungry is a very real thing, and it can make for grun-py runners. Perhaps we missed them, but one thing we didn’t see any Gu or fuel at the water/Gatorade stations. The lesson I learned here was to always remember to pack extra fuel. Because we really like, and need, our Gu and Bloks and stuff.

  1. A big, shiny medal is muy importante.

Since this was the very first pretty shiny medal I’ve ever earned, I was pretty stoked to get it no matter what. The fact that it was MASSIVE and BEJEWLED was even better! Everyone was oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over it because it was totally fabulous. Meri said she thought it was the best medal of the race series, and since she is a legacy runner for this race, I took her word for it. Back at her house, she pulled out her past AC medals and sure enough, this year’s was special. They kept it classy and simple and BIG. Thank you AC Race Series!

My first medal ever and it's soooo purdy!

My first medal ever and it’s soooo purdy!

Legacy Girl Mer's AC Half Medal Spread

Legacy Girl Mer’s AC Half Medal Spread

 

  1. It’s all about the intervals.

                As I mentioned, I really had no clue what I was doing. The furthest distance I had run at once was 10k. Yes, I was worried about this, but once again I knew I could rely on my girls to suggest the best plan of attack. Also? Sometimes ignorance is bliss. The initial plan was that Meri, Cam, and I would start together doing intervals of two minutes running and one minute walking. After a few miles, Meri planned to pull away to pursue the PR she wanted. We started off, and before long, I realized that this was going to be unlike any run I had been on yet. I was feeling so fantastic! I stuck with Meri and we stayed with the 2:1 run/walk interval until about mile 10, when we switched to walking for two and running for one. We played cat and mouse with some lovely people who were pursuing their 50 in 50 goal. We teased, and taunted, and toasted with them after the finish. Bonds on the course are quick to form!

New Friends!

New Friends!

Toward the end, we started bargaining with ourselves to run to different landmarks along the Boardwalk like “those apartments” or “that restaurant”. I wanted to run to a particularly tasty looking Gyro shop around mile 11 but we kept on, and averaged a pace of 13:14. I’ll take it for my first half!

  1. A great race partner makes ALLLLLLL the difference

We had our plan and all was set, but sometimes things don’t always work out the way we plan. We got separated from Cam, and I felt badly because I had promised her we’d stick together. Meridith reassured me many times that Cam would want us to run our own races, because she’s awesome like that and friends support each other’s goals. She found a new friend to finish the race with and we went out to escort them to the finish. And this is what I love about running; the love and support of one another is something rare and precious in today’s world, and it’s my favorite aspect of the running community.

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

It’s been said on Scootadoot many times that Meridith is the best cheerleader and race coach. Seriously, folks, if you have an opportunity to run with this girl, do it. She knew exactly what to do when to do it, what to say and when to say it. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said we might have been having the most fun of anyone out there. I NEVER thought running could be fun, but with the right partners it always is.

  1. You can do anything with the right attitude.

My only goal for this race was to finish. The clock didn’t matter, I just wanted my first medal. Much more importantly, I wanted to have a great time with friends I don’t get to see nearly enough. The race was really just an activity we would be doing together. Together is what’s important. And fun. Fun is important, too.

That being said, I was curious to find out how I would do at the race. I promised myself, and all of you, that I wouldn’t half ass this race. Even though I didn’t train like I meant to, I was determined to push myself as much as was safe and, of course, fun. I don’t ever get to run with friends so that alone made the race infinitely more fun, and Meri and I laughed and danced and got many compliments on our costumes, which always helps. Before I knew it, the race was ending. Our time of 2:55:15 felt like an hour. I grabbed Meri’s hand to cross the finish together, and it was honestly one of the best feelings of my life.

 

Aaaaaand we're done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Aaaaaand we’re done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Once reunited, we collected our costume contest prizes, said goodbye to to friends (Bye, Bonnie!) , and left to stuff our faces at the Melting Pot in full costume. Because runger, omg.

Our winnings! Goooo Peaches!

Our winnings! Goooo Peaches!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

This was the best race ever. At least, until the next one I get to run with this wonderful friends in this fantastic community we call running.

Speedy, happy miles of smiles to all! <3

10 Things I Learned from the Atlantic City Half Marathon (Well, the first 5 at least)

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Last Sunday, a few of us Chicks gathered in New Jersey to run Meridith’s birthday race, the 2015 Atlantic City April Fool’s half marathon. You may have noticed that this has become an annual Chick tradition, so please join us next year! I highly recommend the race, and you can’t go wrong with the company, if I do say so myself.

Coincidentally, it was also my first half marathon, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Training hadn’t been as successful as I would have liked, and my hip decided to be a jerkface the week before the race (I heard and felt something snap when I got out of my car one morning, totally random). So I walked into this race really not know what to expect, or what I was doing, for that matter. One thing I did know is that I would be in fantastic hands, i.e. Meridith, Victoria, and Cam’s hands, and I was determined to see how hard I could push myself while making it as fun as possible.

  1. Sewing Costumes can be time intensive (but oh so worth it!)

Ahhhhh…sewing. Let it be known here and now that I love to sew. I really do. From quilts to handbags to costumes to doggy diapers (aka, bitches britches), I’ve done it all. So when Meridith texted Cam, Vic, and I to say we needed Rockford Peach uniforms, I didn’t bat a lash. Of course we needed to needed Rockford Peach uniforms because HOW CUTE IS THAT, OH MY GOODNESS. Cam and I started researching patterns and fabrics and before long, we had a plan and sewing commenced one week before our flight to Philly.

From start to (almost) finish.

From start to (almost) finish.

Soooo, what I learned from this particular sewing project is that I need at least one week to make each costume. I started on Victoria’s costume first and then feverishly worked on mine, which gave me some trouble (stupid buttonholes). And that right there my friends is what you need to remember. In my thirty plus years of sewing experience, I’ve learned that every project will hit a snag (or five) and extra time is needed to deal with such annoying delays. I also wish I had sewn in a zippered pocket at the waist seam to hold that pesky inhaler I am forced to carry everywhere. Run and learn, I suppose! The costume itself, made from 100% cotton, was super comfy and not too hot, which was a relief. Vic supplied the PRO Compression socks to top off our outfits (and keep our legs happy), and Cam purchased the red baseball caps for the finishing touch!

May we present, the Rockford Peaches! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

May we present, the Rockford Peaches! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Annnnd we're off!

Annnnd we’re off! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Our costumes were a BIG hit! Everyone loved them and we heard “dirt in the skirt”, and “there’s no crying in baseball” more times than we can count! We always replied with “but there is crying in running”. No one argued with that!  Meridith and I passed an older gentleman who, based on the Navy veteran baseball cap he wore, may have been a WWII vet. When he saw us running toward him in our costumes, his entire face lit up and it was obvious that for a moment, we sparked a memory and made him feel young again. For me, that was definitely a highlight of the weekend!

  1. It is possible to run in full make-up and hair (even false lashes!)
When it comes to costumes, Cam doesn't mess around #allout #falselashes

When it comes to costumes, Cam doesn’t mess around #allout

I’ll be honest, running in foundation and mascara seemed like it would be an exercise in futility. I mean, it’s called sweat, and not even Coco Channel could conquer THAT amount of dewy sheen. But sometimes a girl’s gotta sacrifice for the sake of her…costume. After all, one cannot run as a Rockford Peach and NOT have red lips and victory rolls. So I was charged with hair because I’ve been known to rock some rolls from time to time, but realistically, I worried that my handiwork wouldn’t last through the first two miles of running.

Mer and Vic rockin' some rolls!

Mer and Vic rockin’ some rolls!

We snapped tons of photos before the race (Ken Shelton Photography did an absolutely fantastic job with the race photos), and were SO GRATEFUL that our costumes were judged PRIOR to the start because you and I both know we would be looking a hot mess after the race. Our faces and hair held up so well, I have to give a shout out to our hairspray, TRESemme Mega Firm Hold and lipstick, NARS “Fire Down Below”.

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Ready to play ball! (Photo by Ken Shelton Photography)

 

  1. Altitude really does make a HUGE impact on one’s ability and endurance.

HOLY WOW. This is how running at sea level felt for me.

Kingoftheworld

Seriously you guys, if I could run at sea level all the time, I would be completely, irrevocably, in love with hitting the pavement for miiiiiiles and miiiiiiles. Now I fully understand why Kara Goucher (and numerous other pro/elite athletes) live and train in Boulder. My lungs felt so strong, and my legs didn’t begin to tire until around mile 9.5. Back home, the longest I had run was a 10k. Lesson here is low-landers beware when running at altitude. It’s no joke.

Feeling so great at the halfway point that I was dancin'!

Feeling so great at the halfway point that I was dancin’!

  1. Names on the Bibs

Attention AC Race Series, the Rockford Peaches would like to formally request that runners’ names be on their bibs. Once I ran as She-Ra, Princess of Power, and it was pretty awesome. If given the option this time, I totally would have listed Marla Hooch for my bib name, then I wouldn’t have had to wear make-up. It’s just one of those fun touches that enables us adults to be goofy and silly and, in my case, really nerdy. I will totally run as Princess Leia of Alderan at the Disney Rebel Challenge if I can.

Cool, but could maybe be a teensy bit cooler.

Cool, but could maybe be a teensy bit cooler.

  1. Runners appreciate when the race is well prepared and stocked with goodies.

After last year’s race, I heard faint grumblings about the snacks being gone before all the racers crossed the finish line. I’ll tell you that the thought of that amazing pretzel and popcorn waiting for me at the finish helped me ignore the uncomfortable fact that my thighs were seizing up on me at mile 12. If they weren’t there waiting for me I would have been soooo sad panda. Thankfully there were PLENTY of snacks when we crossed the finish, so much so that they were giving runners two or three helpings to rejuvenate. They had popcorn and amazing pretzels and bagels and water and Gatorade and stuff! WAY TO GO, AC RACES! We don’t have photos of the pretzels. We ate them.

Thanks for hooking us up, AC Races!

Thanks for hooking us up, AC Races!

Next Tuesday, I’ll be posting part duex; the top five things I learned from the AC (and my first) Half. Until then, here’s a photobomb. Sorry we’re not sorry! Thanks again to Ken Shelton Photography for the amazing race photos!!

Quite a turnout!

Quite a turnout!

We got to see Bonnie S.! What a sweet lady blessed with a beautiful family!

We got to see Bonnie S.! What a sweet lady blessed with a beautiful family!

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Cam coming around the turn and looking strong!

 

It takes all kinds to win the race. #NB #Mizuno #Brooks

It takes all kinds to win the race. #NB #Mizuno #Brooks

Vic looking lovely with her shiny new medal!

Vic looking lovely with her shiny new medal!

FYI, If you run this race, a photo with Lucy the Elephant is obligatory.

FYI, If you run this race, a photo with Lucy the Elephant is obligatory.