Race Recap: Run the Vineyards Destination Enoteca

The Run the Vineyards series, put on by a Good Day for a Run, is a favorite of mine. You might have noticed that I talk about them… A LOT. That’s because they are probably the most local to me race company and also, and this is important, because they are awesome.

I often volunteer for their events; it’s a great way to give back to the running community. I’ve also done the Heritage Vineyards 5 miler, twice. After volunteering through the summer and early fall – I decided that it was time to run and the 5k at Auburn Road Vineyards (Enoteca is explained here) worked out well with timing in my schedule.

With over twenty Run the Vineyards events, this race series has their races down to a science when it comes to preparing and having everything covered for their runners.

They keep the races manageable for the locations in terms of field size and parking. Packet pickup is either at the local running store (Mullica Hill Running Company) or race morning. And they always have FREE photos!

The weather wasn’t looking fantastic for race morning and for a brief moment, as I listened to a downpour of rain on the roof of my house, I even considered skipping the event. However, I had a friend that I was meeting up with and I’m not really one to let a little (or a lot of) rain scare me away. While overcast, the rain showers moved out for the actual race.

Thankful for Erin meeting up with me!

This is the third year this race has been run and it begins running through the vineyard (vines on both sides/grass) which leads to a dirt road. From what I understand the course was slightly different than the previous two years. I asked a few people who had run the race before and they liked this course better. We had the opportunity to run through two sections of vineyards, which was neat! There was a water station in the middle of the race, which we passed twice in case more water was necessary.

The t-shirts were long sleeves tech shirts although this series has a variety of options when it comes to shirts. I’ve gotten tech t-shirts, tanks, and long sleeves from them – depending on what race and what season I’m running.

Thanks to photographer Chad for this shot!

As you cross the finish line there’s a bottle of water offered to each runner, a KIND bar, and the Run the Vineyards wineglass. The results are immediately emailed to you, as you cross the finish line.

On each race bib there’s a tear-away ticket for wine from the host vineyard, putting the wineglass to good use right away! I went with the Good Karma red blend from Auburn Road vineyard. Erin and I grabbed seats inside near the musician, ordered a cheese plate, and enjoyed the morning after the run.

Run the Vineyards is always an occasion – it’s never rushed, it’s really easy-going and relaxed, after the running portion, of course. We got to watch the awards given out to overall winners (a bottle of wine and a medal), and age group awards (medals).

Overall, a great time, as usual. I’m already signed up for the 5 miler in the spring and I’m scouting out the races that fit into my schedule to volunteer at!

Tell me about your favorite local races. Have you ever run at a vineyard? What do races offer that make you return time and time again?

Summer of Yes!

Summers are when I get to flex my mom muscles.

10 months of the year, my boys (12 and 8) are in school most days but mid-June to the beginning of September, the majority of our days are spent together. Last summer we created a family bucket list.  This summer, my goal is to say YES as much as possible to their requests.

Contrary to Phineas and Ferb’s count of summer vacation, we have a total of 83 days (104 days of summer vacation – debunked! Trust me, we counted). We are about 50 days in and while not every day is a grand adventure, we are keeping busy, while attempting to keep activities budget friendly.

Aquarium and zoo visits are always favorites! We had free passes we won for the Adventure Aquarium and we have a membership to the Philadelphia Zoo.

Visiting parks and picnicking has become a favorite summer activity.

There are things that they’ve asked to do throughout the year that we just haven’t gotten the chance to do for numerous reasons but my goal this summer is to get to those things that we’ve been putting to the wayside. Rather than saying SOME DAY, I’m embracing the word YES.

This kiddo has been asking to visit the art gallery at our local university (Rowan U.) since the spring. He was so happy that we were finally able to visit. And I was so happy to get out of the house after dealing with bronchitis!

My older son has been asking to take the GoPro into the pool since last summer. Oops? I finally unearthed it, charged it and made it happen. They were thrilled! I have more minutes than I can count of looking at the bottom of our pool or the sky but I’ll just repeat it again: they were thrilled!

While this was not free/cheap it was so much fun for my immediate family to take the grandparents to the recently opened escape room!

I personally don’t really understand the appeal of mini golf but my kids really enjoy scoring a hole in twenty. *shrug*

What can I say, my boys have lots of fun ideas! And if I can make them happen, I want to do it for them. After all, isn’t that what summer is all about?

I can take a nap in September, when they head back to school!

We still have quite the list of things that they’d like to do (Six Flags Great Adventure, fishing, going back to the zoo, going to the local Led Zeppelin laser light show, hitting up the drive-in movie… to name a few)! What have you been up to this summer?

2017 Woodstown, NJ Firecracker 5k

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

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

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

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

He quickly put the kibosh on that.

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

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

On a wing and a prayer.

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

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

No such luck, kiddo!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Next time, I’ll train…”

Mmmhmm.

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

Race Recap: 2017 Chili Run

What do you get when you add runners with chili and beer?

You get a good time, that’s what!

What exactly is The Chili Run? It’s an out and back, 2 mile race in Pitman, New Jersey hosted by Good Day for a Run. It starts and finishes at a favorite restaurant of my family’s, Carolina Blue. After the run, that’s where the chili and beer comes in!

As soon as I heard about this race, it piqued my interest. Why?

Because I (mostly) love to run.

And I love to eat chili.

And I love to drink beer.

My friends have raved about it in the past, solidifying its place on my race bucket list. There are not many races in New Jersey in the winter months so I was looking to keep my training alive and also to socialize. Yes, I said it. I wanted to see my friends!

Jog ‘n Hog buddy, Rachel, heard the siren song of chili and running as well, so we signed up together. Run 856 and Run 215 unite!

Registration was $35 after a group discount, plus a processing fee.

Packet pick-up was a breeze. They had race day pick-up as well set times at the local running store. I chose to grab mine the day before at Mullica Hill Running Company, Rachel got her packet the morning of the race. No muss, no fuss.

Prior to the start, we hung out in the heated tent area of Carolina Blue. It was a runner’s reunion, seeing both new and old running pals.

The race started at 10am. Hello, awesome! Usually races start right around sunrise so this was appreciated. We headed to the start around 10 minutes prior; after announcements, safety information, and the National Anthem, we were off.

The weather was perfect and hills were, well, hills. It was only 2 miles so we prepared for the challenge. Rachel and I hadn’t seen each other since the summer so it was a great time to catch up and chat as we ran together.

The feeling of this race was one of camaraderie, which is always the best feeling, in my opinion! There was a lot of hooting and hollering and high fiving as we passed on the out and back. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time.

As we approached the finish line, I saw familiar faces in the crowd of people hanging out and cheering. My husband and kiddos were there! It was a terrific surprise!

They stopped while on their way to Lowe’s! Yay for hometown races!

So, you all know that I’m a Type A planner but there’s one thing for which I did not plan well.

I started the Advocare 24 Day Challenge last Monday, which meant no chili or beer for me! I didn’t want to self-sabotage during this 24 day period. No biggie though, I joined Rachel as she grabbed hers and we chatted some more (no surprise there!).

That cheese looks really good though, not gonna lie.

There were other fun things like an ugly sweater contest, prizes for the fastest team, biggest team (yay Run 856/609!), and free photos.

 

Communication from Ken at Good Day for a Run was fantastic both leading up to the event and after, from the packet pick-up and race information to links with results and pictures.

The super cute swag! I know my younger son has his eyes on it already because he loves penguins. 😉

Also, I got EXTRA swag, not from the race coordinators but from Rachel! Her cousin makes these gorgeous cookies and while I can’t eat it right now, it’s waiting for me in the freezer.

Are you local and sad because you missed out on this? Good news, there’s a second date for The Chili Run – February 11th. I have a feeling it is going to sell out FAST so if you want to register, get stepping!

2016 Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10k Recap

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A lot can change in four years. 2012 seems like a lifetime ago at this point but it was actually the first time I participated in the Run the Bridge 10k. Dinosaurs weren’t exactly roaming the earth but it was pre-Scoot a Doot days, when I used to blog about my races on Tumblr, so I think that’s saying something.

Packet pickup was quick and easy – I live right near one location of the South Jersey Running Company. When you register you are able to choose your packet pickup location of choice.

I was in and out of the store in less than 3 minutes, although they did offer bridge runners 20% off that day. I refrained but it was a challenge! There was also a 15% coupon in the race packet so my plan is to get back there soon for new Mizunos for the Philly half.

The packet had the race bib, long sleeved cotton t-shirt, and a couple of papers regarding the course and other little odds and ends.

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The race benefits the LARC school, which is a local school that assists students with disabilities at no cost to the families. It’s a great cause and one that I feel really good about supporting while participating in the race.

The emails from the race management were informative and they kept good communication lines, which is always appreciated! They suggested getting to the parking lots early and I did just that. Roads apparently started closing around 7am so I arrived at 6:30. Plenty of time to tailgate in my car with water and a banana and play on social media – #runnertailgating.

Most races I’ve done I wind up carpool with friends or meeting up with them for pre-race pictures/post-race drinks. I was solo for this race – I saw a lot of people I recognized from other races and our local Run 856 group, but I wasn’t there with anyone. I missed my buddies!

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Campbell’s Field used to host the Camden Riversharks, a minor league baseball team, but within the past year the organization disbanded. I’m not sure what they’re doing with the stadium now that the Riversharks are no longer playing there but it was well kept and ready to host 4,000 runners and walkers.

A plus of being at the stadium was that there are real bathrooms to use prior to the race. I will always opt for that over port-a-potties. They were also offering coffee and other assorted things, as well as checking IDs for the post-race beer garden. Very cushy in comparison to other races!

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The walk from the stadium to the bridge provided a warm up and there were two lines of port-a-potties along the way, as well.

As the name suggests, the Ben Franklin Bridge is a huge portion of this race. Once on the bridge, there were no official corrals but they did have pace markers for people to self-seed. I placed myself in between the 11-12 minute mile, which I knew was what I would be doing for this run.

bridge11min

We started exactly at 8:30. I don’t have any pictures from the course because I was just trying to focus on breathing and getting up the hills of the bridge. I haven’t done much hill training so the incline, while slow and steady, was still felt. I definitely took advantage of the downhills. There was brief stint in Philadelphia around the loop and then it’s back for round two of the bridge.

The second part of the race is through the streets of Camden, along the waterfront, near the Battleship New Jersey, and then back to the stadium. There were 3 water stations and plenty of police and volunteers throughout the route. Not many spectators but the enthusiasm of the volunteers was fantastic!

My legs weren’t too pleased during the second portion of the race. Additionally I think I made a mistake with pre-race fuel by taking it too early. I wound up finishing in 1:13. Not my best, but given the course it was pretty much what I anticipated. I’m definitely proud of getting out there and getting it done!

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Finishing on the field is always exciting and immediately after volunteers had medals waiting for us.

There was plenty of water, chocolate milk, snack bags, bagels, waiting for the dinners. There were lines for each and I wasn’t exactly sure what was what so I just found the end of one and stood in it. You can probably imagine my happiness when I found out it was the beer line! YES PLEASE! I think this was the first year that they offered a beer at the end of this race. (Yards, for those interested.)

bridgemer

Easy getting to my car and I was back home before noon. Mother Nature had my back this time because the weather was perfect! A lot can change in four years but this race stays consistently challenging and great.

Next race for me is the Philly half. I’d like to get a couple of training runs in before then – possibly do a bit more hill work in the interim. But first, this week is the start of No-school-vember – my kids are off Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Give me strength! 😉

Race Recap – Stomp the Grapes 5k

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A little under an hour from my home, tucked away in the town of Egg Harbor City lies a winery that hold a special in my heart: the historic Renault Winery. 

Nearly 15 years ago my husband proposed marriage to me in the gourmet restaurant; We hosted our wedding in its banquet hall 13 years ago in May. We’ve been back many times since then for festivals, wine tours, dinners, and brunches.

renault1

But I’d never been there for a run before! When Chrissy (my long-time friend and running partner in crime) asked if I would be interested in doing the DQ Events Stomp the Grapes 5k at the Renault Winery, my immediate response was YES!

Chrissy and I have been on a bit of a training run hiatus for the summer months so I was really looking forward to meet up with her! As an added bonus, the Renault Winery is exactly the same travel distance for each of us, so it made perfect sense.

There was day of packet pickup which is always appreciated. We got our cotton t-shirts (originally the description said they were supposed to be tech t-shirts so we were a little disappointed with that change) and our race bibs.

We met up nearly an hour before the race began so we were able to take our sweet time and meander around the grounds for a bit.

We stared longingly through the gift shop window, which didn't open until 10am.

We stared longingly through the gift shop window, which didn’t open until 10am – thankfully we were able to visit after the run!

And relaxed on the patio with a fan whirling overhead.

Relaxing on the patio with a fan whirling overhead.

It was great to take that hour to just nose around the area and catch up on each other’s lives. We wandered around, chatted with other runners, and eventually found our way to the starting area.

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This wasn’t the start line but how much fun is Prohibition Alley? The Renault is one of the oldest continuous running wineries in the U.S.A.

It was a chipped course but there was no mat at the start so your time began when the clock did. We lined up near the back of the 250 participants and waited for our instructions. We knew that the course was an out and back and it was mainly going to be on a dirt trail.

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I haven’t participated in any 5ks recently so it was a nice change to get back to a shorter distance, especially in the hot summer months.

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However, I will say that this course was no joke! The dirt trail was sand, rather than compact dirt, so each step was an effort that seemed to slog on longer than it should. The humidity didn’t help either and while the trees gave us nice shade, the air was soupy.

I was a little disappointed because while the run takes place on the Renault Winery grounds, I thought we might be running a bit closer to the vineyards. This course didn’t have much of a winery feel. How can I stomp the grapes if I’m not near any grapes?

This was the only portion of the run near the vineyards - right at the very beginning and very end of the course.

This was the only portion of the run near the vineyards – right at the very beginning and very end of the course.

The volunteers along the course were great and we made friends while we were running with people keeping the same pace as us. We pushed along, walking for little spurts but mostly running and reminding ourselves that it would be over quickly and then we’d be getting our reward of wine!

Renault Pink Lady

The finishers wine glass with celebratory wine. There was also a meal option for an additional $10 which we opted not to pre-purchase.

There were 3 wine choices and both Chrissy and I went with the Pink Lady. It was refreshing after a hot run! And we also got a chance to go back to the gift shop once it opened. For the record, I got Blueberry Champagne, a favorite among the wedding buddies back then and now!

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You say banana, I say bah-na-na!

I’m already counting the days until Chrissy and I start our weekly training runs in Atlantic City again in the fall! I’ve missed this girl like crazy!

The fall races I’m registered for are in November: Run the Bridge event and the Philly Half. Who wants to make a bet that I’ll sign up for more in the interim? It’s probably a sure thing.

Hey, have we connected via all the social media outlets? Drop a note with your blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter links (click on the words to find us at each!).

A Non-Runner’s First Mudderella

Friday night, I went to bed so nervous I thought I was going to be sick. Saturday morning, I got in my car and drove to Englishtown Mudderella 2016 praying to baby Jesus the entire drive. I was finally going to participate in my first Mudderella and I was petrified!

muderellaana

My name is Ana and here is my story.

Last October, I signed up for my first Mudderella with my best friend and big sister. Two weeks later we had a team of 22 women! O.M.G. It just got real. I was no longer participating in an event with my two besties, now there were other people! I felt pressured!

muderellabefore

So I did what every logical human being would do. I trained for the event. I started going to the gym to run. Except there’s one problem… I HATE RUNNING! I mean, I seriously hate running. I have always hated running. Let me put this in perspective for you. In the twelve years that I played softball, my goal was to either walk or hit a home run because neither of these would require me to run hard. I quit the basketball team because there was too much running. It was that drastic…. and it still is.

But, I signed up for a Mudderella and now I had to train.

I spent many days in the gym running and trying to do pull-ups, push-ups, core strengthening exercises, and anything else my former Marine of a husband suggested. This lasted 3 weeks.

Then a kidney stone decided to take it’s sweet time and kept me out of the gym for about 6 weeks. But determined, I went back to the gym.

Then I sprained a rib from a nasty cough…a few more weeks out of the gym.

All of a sudden it’s April and being an entrepreneur, bouncing two kids to track (they don’t take after me) and band is kicking my butt!

Then May… at this point why even bother training.

Look! It’s June! This is when I renew my faith and start praying. No wonder I felt sick to my stomach last night. I am totally unprepared for my first Mudderella.

mudderellasisters

Muddy sisters!

My sister and I decide to walk it. Our goal for the day was to complete the entire event without having to use our medical insurance benefits. And we succeeded! Yes, we walked the ENTIRE event! We also completed EVERY obstacle! I even got over the difficult wall without any help. But that was not a shocker to me. You see, I can do the obstacles. It’s the running that I cannot do.

So, as we walked through the entire event, I felt a little “pang” in my gut. I felt as if I was cutting myself short by not running the event. I watched women and men of all ages and sizes run past me, covered in mud and feeling empowered.

As we completed one obstacle at a time, I realized something. I realized that I still hate running and the only reason I wanted to run is because everyone else was running. In reality, who cares? So what if I can’t run, some of the runners couldn’t pull their own weight. That doesn’t make them any less competitive. That doesn’t make them less worthy of feeling empowered.

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Once again, my big sister taught me a lesson by smiling and being herself. One’s empowerment does not come from Mudderella. One’s empowerment comes from inside! It comes from being able to handle a wacky 11 year old, curious 15 year old, stepchildren, former Marine husband, being an entrepreneur, and let’s not forget the trying relationship between the dogs and cat.

Honestly, we should already feel empowered with our daily accomplishments. I doubt anyone could handle my life without crying, and I doubt that I could handle yours. We all have different emotional, psychological, and physical strengths.

Retired in style!

Retired in style!

Mudderella was a BLAST and I would totally do it again! I will try to train and probably fail again, but I will be OK with that. I love working out and being outdoors but running isn’t that important to me. Simply put, I don’t like how it makes me my body feel. One twelve minute treadmill mile is my personal best, and that’s OK. So, for all you runners: GO GET IT GIRLS! YOU ROCK! For all of you who like to read about running in hopes that you’ll be inspired enough to complete your first 5K or Mudderella: I’LL TOTALLY WALK IT WITH YOU WITHOUT SHAME!

Who cares how you finish the race? Whether you walk or run, the distance and obstacles are all the same. Besides, you still get the Mudderella Finisher t-shirt at the end.

I deem my first Mudderella a success! Next will be the Inflatable 5K… now that looks like a fun time!

Ana Soley is an entrepreneur who opened her own business with her husband, Fast Response Plumbing, LLC She’s having a great time raising 2 kids and 2 stepkids while trying to keep her humble abode from imploding. Loves the outdoors, kayaking, archery, walking the dogs, and hiking. She’s a big fan of a good sweat but hates running, as can be determined by this blog post.