Don’t Look Backwards – You’re Not Going That Way

Somehow, some way, it’s the middle of May.

I’m not sure how this happened. We were just sitting here, watching the snow fall last month (literally, it was just last month). New Jersey managed to skip over spring completely. Oh wait, not completely, because ALLERGIES are here in full force.

But yeah, other than that, it’s basically summer with temps most days in the 80s. Or raining. That’s what we’ve got going on over here. Summer or rain.

Here, for example, we were able to give out awards to our awesome HKRS runners… right before the skies opened up to a lovely downpour. Thanks to Kathleen B Photography for this picture!

At the end of 2017, I shared my race plans for 2018. Due to changes in plans and a few injuries, three of those didn’t happen. Did that stop me for registering for more races? NO! IT DID NOT. And now that the spring Healthy Kids Running Series is complete, I can begin training once more, the way I should prepare for races.

june

The inaugural Bungalow Beach Run is a 5 mile race that takes place in Atlantic City. As soon as I heard about this race, I knew I had to register!

First of all, it’s held by one of my favorites, the Atlantic City Marathon Races Series.

Secondly, the first 100 people to register get a beach towel (and you know I was one of those first 100 people!).

Registration cost was only $35 when the race opened (hello, affordable) and is currently $45. There’s day of packet pickup, medals, beer, entertainment, and THE BEACH. Plus, many of my local friends signed up for this one so I know it’s going to be a good time. I can’t wait!

august

Here’s a destination race for me – Vacation Races Elk Double. I’ll be taking a little trip across the country to join Jenn at her favorite race weekend!

I’m so excited for this for several reasons:

  1. JENN. I get my Jennifer! I haven’t seen her for far too long and I can’t wait! Not only that, but I get to spend 16.2 miles with her.
  2. Colorado. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. If you haven’t been there, you should go!
  3. I’m bringing my family along with me! My boys are SO EXCITED for all things travel related but they’re really fixated on going to Colorado. Probably because of number 2.

So yes, I am really pumped for this and while I don’t want to rush time along or anything, I am very much looking forward to August! (And yes, I totally just copied and pasted my blurb from the previous blog. Not even going to pretend otherwise.)

I love a good 10k and I have it on good authority (aka all of my friends RAVE about this race) that The Philly 10k is amazing! This races sells out quickly each year and its piqued my interest mainly because it’s a race that takes place in Philly but not by the Art Museum. For those who live around this area, we know that most races happen on the same course, or at least a good portion of it does.

NOT THE PHILLY 10k! The course goes through South Street and Center City, which is a refreshing change! Sure it’s in August, and sure it may be hotter than the surface of the sun, and sure I might be regretting this in a few months… but for now? I’m stoked.

september

Back in 2013, Vic and Kyle ran the Bird-In-Hand Half Marathon. I believe it was then that I added this race to my bucket list. Five long years later, I have finally registered. Rachel and I needed a destination road trip and when she mentioned Bird-In-Hand, I said SOLD!

Last September we ran the Shenandoah Half together but since it’s not returning this year, we decided to set our sights on a tried and true race. Many runners, including many Team Shenanigans members talk about their love for this one so I’m really excited to experience all the hills it has to offer. Having run Ragnar PA last year also gives me a good idea of what to expect.

HEALTHY KIDS RUNNING SERIES HAPPENS MID-SEPTEMBER TO MID-OCTOBER. I’M BEING SMART (THIS TIME) AND NOT REGISTERING FOR ANY RACES DURING IT. I LEARNED MY LESSON!

october

I’m going back to A.C. and I’ll give you a hint: I won’t be doing the marathon, half marathon, or 5k during this race weekend. That’s right, it’s my favorite race distance, the 10k! I’ve run this race a couple of times in the past, both times were in the rain actually so I’m not really sure how the bodes for this October but I’m hoping for a nice fall day.

And I’m just going to put this out there: Finish Line Beer Garden.

Do with that what you will.

november

My very first road race was the Rothman 8k in 2011 during the Philadelphia Marathon weekend. While I was laid up with my broken wrist and in the middle of what I like to refer to as FOREVERWINTER, I decided that I was going to return to the race where it all began for me. After posting about it on Facebook, a good amount of people decided they’d sign up too! (I swear, I didn’t even work at talking anyone into it.)(Okay, maybe a little but they were highly motivated!)

I’m looking forward to this one because I really like this race weekend but I don’t want to do commit to training for a half (or full, for that matter – but that sorta goes without saying) around that time of year. A late November 8k is just right and since the weekend before Thanksgiving it always leaves me with warm fuzzies about running as we go into the holidays.

As always, there could be another race that comes on my radar for 2018 but these are the ones that are set in stone for now! I’m looking forward to all of them. I’ve adjusted my goals for this year, I’m not looking to PR any of these races and with my training thus far, I don’t think it’s very likely. My main goal is to get them done, remain injury free, and have a good time!

Race Plans in 2018

I’ve written it on my heart and I am ready for all that 2018 has to offer.

Thus far I’ve signed up for 9 races for the upcoming year. That’s right – NINE. I have plans, my friends! While my goal for 2016/2017 were PR based, my goal for 2018 is to focus on shorter distances.

january

2017 was the first time I did a Good Day for a Run’s Chili Run, a 2 mile race which is just down the street from my house. I decided to return again this year and when my husband had imbibed in a few beers one night, he agreed that I should sign him up as well.

I love when that happens!

Last year’s swag was a really cute chili bowl and spoon. This year all runners will receive a Chili Run Beanie with an embroidered logo! While the January date is already sold out, there is also a February date that appears to have availability left at this point.

The race ends at Carolina Blue restaurant and each runner gets a hot cup of chili and a beer ticket!

march

You might recall I did The Light Run a few weeks ago. While at the after-party, my friend Beth won an entry for The Lucky Run. She isn’t quite at the “timed event” mark so she graciously offered the entry to me!

I’m very excited for this one because it will be my first 5k of 2018! Unless something else jumps in there ahead of schedule (which is always a possibility). It takes place at the park where I used to teach Stroller Strides so in addition to an awesome event, I’m sure I’ll be a little sentimental too.

In 2017 I was so excited for the annual Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k. My husband was looking forward to it, I was looking forward to it… and then the week of the race I realized that I hadn’t registered us for the sold out event.

*cue the sad trombone*

Yeah, somehow in my excitement for the race, I didn’t remember that we hadn’t signed up. We discussed it and I guess I thought I had. But alas, I did not.

As soon as I saw that registration was open for 2018, I immediately registered for us. Make no mistake, we WILL be there!

This was an impulsive decision. I’ve never run the Philly LOVE RUN before but I feel like I’ve run nearly every other Philly based half and therefore needed to do this one.

Of course, a few weeks after I registered for the half distance, a brand spanking new 5k distance was announced. So now I’m vacillating between wanting to stick with the half or seeing if I can switch to the 5k. Hmmm, what to do, what to do. I’m still mulling it over.

april

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Hot Chocolate Philadelphia 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 past year I celebrated my 40th birthday at the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k. In 2018 I’ll be celebrating my 41st (and 6 day) birthday at the Hot Chocolate 5k!

And, what’s really, really cool is that many of my friends are going to be at this race too! Retired Scoot a Doot Chick, Bec, will be visiting and will be there; Past guest poster, Ana, just signed up as well.

Fellow BibRave Pros Joe, Sara, and Janelle will also be there!

If you want to sign up, use the code BRHCPHILLY18 and you can pick up a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap. You’re welcome! (Also, please comment and let me know so we can find each other!)

I’m returning for my 7th April Fools half marathon in Atlantic City in April as well. I’ve run this race since its inaugural year and I attained my PR this past year on the course!

It’s one of my favorite places to do training runs and races. Being that it’s tried and true, I love this race thoroughly. I can’t wait to return for another year of running!

This is another race that I’m returning to; this will be my 3rd time running the Run the Vineyards Heritage 5 Miler.

Rachel is registered to run it with me and it’s always a great time with her. I’m looking forward to getting out there and stretching my legs on this course. Also, I’m looking forward to chilling and having a glass of wine afterward. It’s all about balance!

And now for the portion in my schedule where I jump from APRIL TO AUGUST. I’m certainly that I’ll be filling up the months in between, I just haven’t yet.

august

Here’s a destination race for me – Vacation Races Elk Double. I’ll be taking a little trip across the country to join Jenn at her favorite race weekend!

I’m so excited for this for several reasons:

  1. JENN. I get my Jennifer! I haven’t seen her for far too long and I can’t wait! Not only that, but I get to spend 16.2 miles with her.
  2. Colorado. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. If you haven’t been there, you should go!
  3. I’m bringing my family along with me! My boys are SO EXCITED for all things travel related but they’re really fixated on going to Colorado. Probably because of number 2.

So yes, I am really pumped for this and while I don’t want to rush time along or anything, I am very much looking forward to August!

I can’t wait to report back and let you know how all of these go. Plus, I’m looking forward to seeing what other races I add to the list!

What events are you looking forward to in 2018? Will I see you at any of these?

Race Recap: 2017 Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Elk Double

For the third consecutive year, I ran my favorite race; the Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Half in August. Because I am an ambassador for the race series, I did receive a free entry in exchange for this post, so let me tell you allllllll about it! If you’ve been reading our little blog for a bit, you’ve likely seen my previous recaps of this race here and here. But this year was different for a few reasons, and none of them were easy.

Lake Estes and the glacier topped peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park

Like last year, I completed the Elk Double, which means I did the 5k race on Friday evening and the half marathon on Saturday morning. About a week before the race, I was told my beloved dog, Archie the Pug, had a spleen tumor and might only have thirty days left with us. All my race plans and thoughts went out the window. I almost decided not to run the race at all in favor of spending every minute with Archie. The problem was that after all these years of running, I had inspired some family members to sign up for the 5k too (a post about that is in the works, because it’s the coolest feeling). All of this meant I had an obligation to them to be there, they were counting on me. My husband and I decided that we could maybe include Archie in the race by buying him a bike trailer/pet stroller and we would push him through the 5k and dedicate our race to him.

A few days before the race, we decided to get a second opinion about his tumor because it just wasn’t adding up with what we knew about him and his symptoms. He’s been struggling with some other serious health issues this summer, and we wanted to be positive about his prognosis. Low and behold, he didn’t have a tumor at all, but an enlarged liver! Not a good thing, but certainly not terminal! THERE WAS SO MUCH REJOICING.

At that point, we were all in for the race weekend we had planned months ago with family. I knew this race weekend would be pretty pathetic for me as far as performance was concerned. As you may have heard me say previously, Archie’s health issues require 24-hour care and that means my time for training over the summer vanished when he got sick in June. Although, carrying a 32-pound dead-weight dog to get water, to potty, and to eat does work the core and back muscles.

I had NO expectations for myself other than to finish the races in the allotted time, but a last-minute half marathon course change an unexpected foot issues had other ideas for me, but more on that in a sec. Race weekend arrived and we excitedly departed for a weekend of camping on our property, racing. And of course, looking cute on the course.

Flat me for the weekend, and all in Skirt Sports, of course!

We arrived at the expo and met up with my sisters-in-law and their husbands. After chatting for a few, I headed off to volunteer at the expo. Since all Vacation Races events are cup free, I pitched in at the Hydro Pouch booth to give runners their pouches they’d bought in advance. Showing people how to use the nifty little Hydro Pouch was fun, and I got to encourage lots of runners and welcome them to Colorado and Estes Park. After my stint at the booth finished up, I swung by the merch booth to buy another patch for my Toasty Girl Vest. I can’t wait to add all the Vacation Races patches eventually!

2 down, many more to go!

The 5k followed the same course it has since its inception and took us around Lake Estes’ paved bike path at sunset. One of the things I like about this race, and all Vacation Races, frankly, is the race size. There are usually around three thousand runners give or take, and it makes for the perfect level of comradery between runners and a comfortable race experience. No waiting too long for port-a-potties or being packed in your wave like a runDisney runner.

On the course, Archie was a big hit in his stroller, but my goodness, he HATED being pushed. He actually howled and whined and cried and made other runners laugh, and look at us funny, and some, I’m sure, wondered if we were torturing him. It was pathetic, and funny, and slow going. My husband, who never runs, kept outpacing me with the stroller and at one point was far ahead of me. After playing catch up to him, we kept a brisk walking/running pace, which was a mistake I paid for the next morning. Through it all, Archie looked cute, as he does, and when we finished with a horrible time, we gave him our medals.

Archie’s a finisher! I think he just wants my banana, and Lily (left) just wants a ride.

The half is not only my favorite race, but now it’s also my ‘hometown” race since it’s the biggest race near where I’m building my house. It was so awesome to get up pre-dawn and drive the beautiful drive from my property in Allenspark to the start line Estes Park, a distance of about 20 miles. I saw deer and elk on the drive, and it was so much better than getting up a 3:30 to drive an hour and a half like I had to do in previous years. I’m claiming this race as mine!

My strategy with this race is always the same; run the downhills, walk the uphills, especially the big hill that lasts foreverrrrrrrr. I knew they had changed the course, but the announcement went out the same week as the race and I didn’t have a chance to see what changed.

The start was chilly, it was in the low 50’s, and the music was loud. Coffee, hot cocoa, and bananas were staged at the start for runners and spectators. Warm drinks are always welcome at pre-dawn starts, especially at 7500 feet elevation where there is always an early morning nip in the air. I was feeling good and was ready to walk/run the race. I was having no pain as I waited, and no concerns about my race at all. I expected I’d finish around 3:20. Runners from all over the country come to this race, and their excitement is catching. People posed for photos while they moved around to stay warm.

Finally, my wave started and I was right behind my pacer. Almost immediately, I knew there was a problem. Not even a quarter mile in, the top of my left foot was not having it. I could feel a pinching pain deep in my foot with every footfall. The impact of running was too much. I was in trouble, and started to wonder if I would finish at all. It hurt, and I wasn’t even up the first hill yet.

This is the kind of selfie I take at 5:30 in the morning

About that hill. Remember all the folks from out-of-state who were so excited at the start? Those same folks are walking up the first hill too, angry with themselves that they’re already walking and that the elevation is more of a challenge than they expected. I see it happen every year. This is when I try to engage with them and ask where they’re from. No matter what their reply, I reassure them that the elevation is hard for locals like me, too, because it is. 7500 feet of elevation is no joke, and no amount of training can fully prepare you for it. When you take on challenges like this, be kind to yourself when things don’t go as you hoped or planned.

Just keep smiling!

The half course is all on paved surfaces, and follows the 5k course for the first mile which takes runners on the wide bike path that hugs Lake Estes. The course was the same as previous years for the most part, but in order to avoid having runners cross a major highway, they routed us a little differently. Now, we used a new bike underpass under the highway that took us to the beginning of the dreaded long hill. This course change made the race more safe, but it had a drawback mentally for those of us who’d run this race before. What used to be mile six was now mile two.

I made it to mile three where an ambulance and two EMTs waited to help runners in distress. Unfortch, they didn’t have any Biofreeze for my foot. I stopped for a potty break and to fill my hand-held. Before heading out again, I ran into two of my Skirt Sisters, Deb and Jennifer, who nursed me through the race. Deb was also recovering from an injury so the three of us stuck together the rest of the way. Honestly, without them, I doubt I would have been able to finish. Going it alone and in pain was getting to be totally not fun at all.

We kept trucking along and made our way through the race. Aside from my foot, this was the most mentally tough race for me to date. The reason was the course changes. As we came down a slope that used to lead to mile marker eleven, I could see the aid station next the new mile marker; mile seven. I’ll tell ya, when you’re brain sees scenery it remembers from last time and thinks you’re almost done, but you’re not, it’s a punch in the gut. We trudged on, talked a lot about running injuries and treatment, how much we love the scenery, and of course our devotion and love for all things Skirt Sports. Having friends to race with is always so much better.

Mt. Meeker on the left, Longs Peak next to it.

Fighting through the pain was tough, and after describing my symptoms to Deb and Jennifer, we concluded it sounded like I had pulled a tendon in my foot. Not much I could do but bear it. Luckily, Jennifer did have a packet of Biofreeze that she gave to me. Oh, what a wonderful, cooling miracle that green goop is! It helped me finish for sure.

The new route had us backtracking a bit to get back to the underpass and the lake. Mile eleven was finally in sight! We turned onto the Lake Estes bike path and followed it around the western curve of the lake. For me, this was the longest part of the race. You can see and hear the finish line, and it seems like these last two miles are never going to end. We kept asking (rhetorically) where the heck the finish was. That’s what happens when you take almost four hours to finish, you just want it to be OVER.

Worst race time ever, but worth every moment with great people.

 

Still love Vacation Races medals most!

I was never so happy for a race to be over, and although it was a terrible showing on my part, I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. I’ve been known to quit things, and I didn’t quit. I may have hobbled and grumbled a smidge, but that’s okay. I made it, and had to remind myself that even though this is my “hometown” race and in my backyard, it’s the most challenging course in the Vacation Races circuit in terms of starting elevation and hills. Plus, there’s always next year to chase that PR!

Medal Haul

I’ll do it again next year. The challenges I faced were mine, and part of that is learning how to mentally deal with curve balls like course changes. Even though I didn’t finish like I wanted to (my goal back in February was to beat my PR for the race by ten minutes), I learned some great things about adversity and how to listen to my body. This race was a great experience this year. I always recommend Vacation Races events!