2017 Rewind in Races – part two

And I’m back! July through December were slightly less eventful than the first half of the year – mainly because summer racing isn’t that much of a *thing* around here. Or maybe, more accurately, it’s not much of a *thing* for ME.

July 2017 – Firecracker 5k

Remember in part one of this, I mentioned that my son Lucas occasionally likes to run with me? He decided that this was a good time to run again. Even though he had not run a 5k since… probably February when we last ran together.

This was more about running together with my kiddo than breaking any records. I was happy to be out there with him and he was, well, he was happy when it was over.

September 2017 – Vacation Races Shenandoah Half Marathon

Shenandoah Half Expo - Vacation Races

Oh my gosh, this was such a fun weekend from start to finish. My buddy Rachel and I took a road trip to Virginia for the inaugural Shenandoah half marathon. We knew that it would be a tough course but we also knew that we always have a lot of fun wherever we go, so we decided to just embrace the hills and roll with it.

This experience was exactly what a non-racing half marathon should be! Though we weren’t going particularly fast, the miles just flew by. The scenery was incredible, we chatted the entire way, and waved to the locals watching from their porches.

I’m registered for Vacation Races Elk Double with Jenn next year and I know that if it’s anything like this one, I won’t be disappointed!

Shenandoah Half Marathon finishers medals

We did it!

September 2017 – Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia

This was my first race representing BibRave and I was so excited to meet many of my fellow BibRave Pros before the race began. I knew going in that this race would be more about having fun than anything else and as I started running how was I was feeling just solidified my plan to enjoy the run.

I loved this run because of the crowd during the first half of the race and then runners I met along the course the second half of the race. Philly is always a good place to run and this was no exception!

October 2017 – Run the Vineyards Destination Enoteca 5k

Running through a vineyard. Finishing with wine and music. What could be better? Nothing! This race and all the races that Run the Vineyards offers have been A+.

I ran this one with my friend, Erin, and we had a great time running but an even better time enjoying a cheese plate and wine afterward. Yeah, that’s right. I’m not ashamed to admit it!

October 2017 – Run Inspired 10k

Another BibRave race, another opportunity to meet a BibRave Pro friend, Ryan!

This race took place in the hills of Delaware and benefited Operation Warm, which provides winter coats for children living in poverty. It was a beast of a course but one that was so beautiful, I was happy and grateful for every step I took.

My family came with me to cheer me on and it was a great way to wrap my 2017 races.

I swore that was going to be it and that I’d be focusing on training for the winter months. I skipped the Philadelphia half marathon this year and I’m actually glad that I did because I was having some leg issues for a few weeks after this race.

I’m back in working order now and I had a friend that was interested in signing up for a local, non-timed 5k – The Light Run. It’s a fun run that supports a couple of local non-profits and I’m happy to be taking part!

Ornaments from last year’s run

Here’s to a happy, healthy, injury free 2018!

2017 Rewind in Races – part one

2017 has been a good and busy year for me, as far as races go! I hit a couple PRs, spent a lot of time with great friends, and was able to run my first Ragnar.

Now that we’re in December and I only have one fun run of the year left, happening next week, I’ve gotten nostalgic for the races of 2017. Let’s look back over the first six months, shall we?

January 2017 – The Chili Run

It’s difficult to find races in the colder months here in New Jersey. For the most part the ones, the winter months are used to get base miles in and prepare for the spring.

However, the Chili Run is a 2 mile jaunt through the town next to mine. Highlights of this race include seeing lots of familiar local faces (including running with my friend, Rachel), chili, really cute swag, and oh yes – running, of course!

I’m already signed up for the 2018 event and this year my husband will be joining in the fun!

February 2017 – Mad Eye Moody Virtual 5k

Jenn told me about the Mad Eye Moody Virtual 5k from Hogwarts Running Club and I decided to join her in running this one. After I told my older son, Lucas, about it, he wanted in on the action and decided to run with me for this 3.1 mile run.

Occasionally he gets run-inspired and that was the case this time – I think because it was Superbowl weekend. As always, we took the first mile too quickly and then we toughed out the second and third miles together. Even still, it was nice to have company and I was so proud of him, when we got the medal in the mail soon after, I gave it to him.

February 2017 – Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon

This race was a destination race for me – my parents live in Florida and the timing worked out so that I could run the race and have a visit with them.

It sticks out in my mind for several reasons.

  1. There was a train that went through the course about a quarter mile in and we had to turn around and start the race again. (It was a really, really long train.)
  2. Despite the train, I had so much fun running this race. I realized early on that it was going to be super warm. It wasn’t anywhere close to my fastest race but I pet dogs, drank beer on the course, saw my mom multiple times, and just had a really nice time.
  3. After the race, the 2nd place finisher was called out as cutting the course. Even my non-running friends were talking about it and it just goes to show that cheaters never win… especially when social media is involved.

April 2017 – Hot Chocolate 15k

Two 40 year olds!

The Philly Hot Chocolate race was on my 40th birthday and I could think of no better way to celebrate than meeting up with Christina and running 15k (which is 9.3 miles, in case you don’t want to do the math).

We had such a fun race together and of course, after we celebrated with adding Bailey’s to our hot chocolate. Nothing better!

April 2017 – AC April Fools Half Marathon

This was my big PR – I shaved 8 minutes off my half marathon time to come in at 2:40! I was really proud because I put in the effort and the training that I needed to do it, plus I trained consistently on the course.

I’m already registered for the 2018 race and I’m hoping to once again be able to hit my best yet. I’m fairly certain that if I continue with my training and remain injury free (knock on wood), I’ll be able to do it!

April 2017 – Run for Rowan 5k

I was full steam ahead in April – running a race nearly every weekend! This one was at our alma mater, just minutes away from our home. We ran together and got to see all the changes that happened to the campus (that we can’t see from the road).

The weather wasn’t fantastic but it was a nice little 5k and the price couldn’t be beat at $20.

If they have this run again, I’ll be registering for it. Hopefully I can convince Jay to run again too!

April 2017 – Run the Vineyards Heritage 5 Miler

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

I was able to hit a PR on this course too! With hills, sand, dirt, and road, I was really hoping that I would be able to come in at under an hour and thankfully, I was able to accomplish that.

The Run the Vineyards folks always put on stellar events, I enjoy running and volunteering with them. I’m already registered for the 2018 race; it will be my 3rd time running this race and again, I’d like to beat my time from this year.

June 2017 – Ragnar Relay PA

There are so, so many things to be said about Ragnar. It was 6 months ago and I’m still trying to process the event! I am so grateful that I was finally able to run a Ragnar and be with my teammates. I honestly don’t think if I’d ever do another one but I’m so glad that I ran this one with these people.

Can you believe that was only the first half of 2017?! I’ll be back tomorrow with the rest of the year.

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?

Ready, Set, Go!

This past weekend I didn’t run a race.

However, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t at a race! I always love volunteering at races whenever possible and the series that I love returning to time after time (I hope you’re singing with me) is the Run the Vineyards events, hosted by Good Day For A Run.

This year I’ve volunteered at three of their races and at each one I’m reminded of how much I love our running community. Most recently, Rachel and I were stationed at the mile 6 water stop of the 15k at the Bellview Winery Good Day For A Run 5k/15k Festival.

We brought along a cheering playlist (made especially for the occasion), a speaker, and a lot of sassy spirit!

It was SO MUCH FUN volunteering. Honestly and truly, if you have the opportunity to get out there and help out a race, you should embrace it fully! We danced, served up many, many cups of water, and cheered for the 250 participants.

So what’s up next for me? This coming weekend is the Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. 

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n Roll Philly 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!

And I’m really freaking excited! Because of these medals…

Philadelphia Rock 'n Roll 2017 medal

I’ll be getting the one in the middle.

And this shirt…

Philadelphia Rock 'n Roll 2017 shirt

And running in Philadelphia! I haven’t done a race in Philly since the spring so I’m looking forward to returning and having a rocking time. I don’t think that I’ll be PRing this race but that’s not really the goal this time around for me. The goal is to get out there and have FUN!

Music, after party, beer: it’s like they know me.

Online registration is closed but you are still able to register at the Health and Fitness expo prior to the event.

Then in October I’ll be returning to the Run the Vineyards races, this time as a participant!

A 5k through 2 neighboring vineyards, free pictures, a wineglass award (with a glass of wine), long-sleeved tech shirts, and an after-party with music and food. Um, I feel like I should do this every weekend.

I registered for this race with a group of friends and I know that we’ll have fun because it’s always a party when we’re together.

The weekend following that I’ll be heading down to Winterthur, Delaware for the Run Inspired 10k.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Run Inspired 10k 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 is a new to me race that benefits Operation Warm which distributes coats to local children living in poverty. I’ve heard that this course is hilly but I’m looking forward to my favorite distance and also to the after party. Are you sensing a theme here?

I have friends that will be running this race too and it’s always great to see familiar faces along the route. If you want to be one of them, you can register now with the code BIBRAVE to save 10% on a race entry. (And then let me know so I can look for you!)

Fall racing, it’s your turn to shine! Let’s do this.

Fall Racing – VA, PA, NJ, and DE

I know, I know. Summer just started. So why, oh why, am I writing about fall racing? Well, quite frankly… I don’t race in the summer and there aren’t all that many races in my area at this time of year.

The one summer race I’m doing is on the 4th of July with my older son. ‘merica!

If a summer race comes along that woos me with fun stuff (wine, amazing medal, friends participating) I’m sure I’ll sign up. That’s just how I roll. Other than that I’ll be embracing summer training (and praying that I don’t melt along the way) in preparation for the fall!

My fall race schedule is filling up and I’m excited to say that it’s mostly with new-t0-me races. Which ones? Oh, so glad you asked…

September 2nd – Vacation Races, Shenandoah Half Marathon (inaugural)

When my awesome friend Rachel was looking for a race and travel buddy for the Shenandoah Half, I was happy to join her! Jenn has raved about Vacation Races as an ambassador (here, here, and here).

While I’m a little nervous for the “challenging uphill course” that the race description boasts, I figure that as long as I am with Rachel, it will be all good! I’ve never run a race in Virginia before and if Ragnar, PA taught me anything it’s that the scenic views from the top will be well worth the hills.

If you’re interested in challenging yourself in Shenandoah Valley, registration can be found here.

September 16th – 17th – Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series, Philadelphia Half Marathon

This is a race that I ran in 2012 and am looking forward to returning to 5 years later! I’ll be honest, the first time that I ran this I didn’t train the way I should have so I struggled through the race. It was a tough one for me so this will hopefully be redemption!

Prior to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series taking over in 2010, it was known as the Philadelphia Distance Run and this will be the 40th consecutive running of the race. Race weekend has been expanded in recent years to include a 5k and 10k (this year is the inaugural 10k) on Saturday, while the half will take place on Sunday. Of course, that means that there’s the opportunity to run more than one race in the weekend. I’m currently floating the possibility of adding another race because GO BIG OR GO HOME, right?

Registration for Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia can be found here. Which distance would you chose to rock? If you go for the half, the code “BIBRAVE15” will save you $15 until 8/27.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia race as part of being a BibRave Pro. They’re currently looking for more BibRave Pros so feel free to learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. You can tell them I sent you!

October 8th – Good Day For a Run, Run the Vineyards Destination Enoteca 5k

While I have not raced this particular location before, I am a huge fan of the Run the Vineyards series! Not only have I run the Run the Vineyards 5 miler twice, I’ve also volunteered with the race series as well. This local series knows what runners want and it’s always a good time to run and then be rewarded with wine and entertainment. And free race photos!

I’m particularly excited for this race because a group of my local friends have registered for it as well, so I know I’ll be seeing lots of familiar faces during the race and after! Without a doubt, it’s going to be a good time.

The space for the Run the Vineyards events is limited (this one is capped at 300 runners) so if you’re interested in registering, earlier is always the key.

October 15th – Run Inspired 10k for Operation Warm

The 10k is my favorite race distance, which is only one of the reasons why I’m pumped to run the Run Inspired 10k.

Winterthur, DE is less than an hour drive from my home in New Jersey and I’m looking forward to my first ever DE race. This is a young race, last year was the inaugural run. The course will be beautiful and challenging through Winterthur’s 1,000-acre natural preserve and it’s one that I’m really looking forward to running.

Run Inspired supports the Operation Warm which distributes coats to local children living in poverty and the thought of that is something that will keep me pushing over those hills during the race. The Finishers Party sounds like it’s going to be amazing too!

If you’re considering running this race, register now to get the Early Bird registration. Prices jump on July 1st! And you can use the code “BIBRAVE” to save 10% on your race entry.

Disclaimer: This is another race that I’ll be running as a BibRave Pro, I received an entry to the Run Inspired 10k through BibRave. Want to learn more the BibRave Pros (ambassador)? Be sure to click the links and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews. You can tell them I sent you!

Will I be seeing any of you in September or October at these races? November and December are usually hectic so I’m actually trying to keep a little less on my plate as far as races are concerned but I’m always open to suggestions!

Volunteering at Run the Vineyards Wagonhouse 10 Miler

This past weekend was the Broad Street Run – a 10 mile race that takes place on Broad Street in Philadelphia.

However, this post isn’t about that 10 mile race!

When I didn’t get into the Broad Street Run via the lottery system, I was bummed for a few days. Then I settled on the fact that it wasn’t meant to be this year and quickly shook off my disappointment.

I decided that if I wasn’t going to be running, I could and should volunteer my time at a local race. Good Day for a Run hosts their Run the Vineyards series at a local vineyard winery and knowing that, I clicked the volunteer form and signed up! The previous weekend I ran their 5 miler and as I am a “professional philanthropist” I was very much looking forward to lending a hand.

The race director, Ken, and his wife, Beth, are great with communication and for me, communication is key. I’m a planner and Type A to the extreme so I want to know everything. About a week prior to the event I heard from Beth with instructions of what time I should be at the site (7:45, the race began at 9am) and where to head once I got there.

Immediately after arriving at 7:45am, I found Beth at the bib pickup table. While last week’s 5 mile event had over 650 runners, this one was capped at 120, due to the space the vineyard had to host the runners at the after party. There was a bib pickup the previous day at the local Running Co. however many opted to get their bibs the morning of the race. I grabbed a spot at the table and jumped right in handing out bibs to runners.

For the next hour there was a steady flow of runners getting their bibs, checking out the course map, and asking general questions. Local races are always good for seeing familiar faces and while I didn’t know anyone personally, I did recognize people from other events.

You know when you enter an established crew of people and you’re never sure if you’ll fit in? The potential for it to be awkward is high. Thankfully that was NOT the case! Beth and the other volunteers (who were seasoned pros!) were so warm and welcoming, I felt like I knew them for years.

Once the race began we knew we’d have at least an hour and change, which is when we set up the tables for post-race which held water, KIND bars, soft pretzels, finisher’s glasses and medals.

The weather was not consistent at all – there were moments of sunshine but it was mostly cloudy and occasionally a brief shower came out of seemingly nowhere so we wanted to make sure that everything was covered (rain and soft pretzels do not go well together). We wanted everything to be just right for the runners when they crossed the finish line.

Once the runners started to come toward the finish area, we all stationed ourselves at different locations.

There was an area where you could very well turn and go to the finish, but there was a last little loop through the vineyards. I stood right at that area and clapped for everyone as I pointed them in the right direction.

I got a lot of smiles, a few people pulled their earbuds out so they could hear me, and I heard a lot of groans, too. “But the finish line is RIGHT THERE!” Oh, do I know that feeling all too well!

I’ve volunteered at a few races during my time as a runner and I have to say that this was far and away the most enjoyable atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. While I might not have gotten to run down Broad Street with 40,000 people, I can honestly say that this is where I was meant to be on Sunday morning. Other than being cold and having to wrap myself in my dog’s WALL-E car blanket, I loved every moment!

Another perk to volunteering for the Run the Vineyards races, besides feeling really good about helping out? I scored an entry to a future race! Now which one should I choose?

You know what I’m going to say here, don’t you? Considering volunteering for a race? DO IT! Haven’t considered volunteering for a race? Well, I hope you are now because it is absolutely worth it!

Next race for me is Ragnar PA! After Ragnar I’ve got a break on my race calendar until September when I return with the Shenandoah half and Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia. Who will I see where?

Mary Poppin Bottles – Run the Vineyards Heritage 5 Miler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first mile. Thanks to Chad at Photo Runner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At 10:00 in the morning.

So I did.

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

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

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