Does This Spark Joy?

You can’t go anywhere lately without hearing about Marie Kondo and the KonMari minimalist method.

My husband and I have started applying it to everything in life. We jokingly ask “Does that spark joy?” while holding bills (they don’t, by the way), snuggling our dog (she definitely does), and we literally spark joy in our dry house when we give each other hugs and kisses.

You know what else has been sparking joy for me?

Running.

Team Run856 – photo credit Chad Finley

This is so, so important. I’ve been running for 8 years now and you know, there’s nothing like a new running relationship. 8 years ago, everything was brand-new and exciting.

I talked about running non-stop.

I was overly cautious when registering for races but quickly got over that.

I asked a million questions and looked for my niche in the running community.

I encouraged everyone to join me in running because running brought me such a sense of accomplishment and I wanted them to experience the same. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t/didn’t spark joy in all of those people.)

My first run, the Down n Dirty 5k. While being with friends sparked joy, being muddy did NOT.

But like so many things in life, after a certain amount of time, that brand new feeling wore off. It would have been very, very easy to say thank you, next.

However, lately it’s been good. It’s sparking an incredible amount of joy. My runs have been going well and I’ve been healthy, both mentally and physically. *knock on wood*

This past weekend, I did a 2 mile race known as The Chili Run. I’ve done it for the past three years and while it’s challenging because it’s hilly, it’s also incredible because it’s ONLY 2 MILES.

You guys, I PRed by nearly 2 minutes. It’s amazing what a PR can do for your confidence levels. I’ve been on cloud nine since Saturday.

I’ve had the opportunity to run with one of my favorites, Rachel, for a few longer runs. She’s a friend that works with me, pace wise and connection wise. Being together, running or otherwise, sparks joy!

The long runs help because I’m gearing up for spring races representing Team BibRave:

305 Half in Miami on March 3rd
Allstate Hot Chocolate 5k in Philadelphia on April 6th
NJ Marathon 5k on April 27th

With my buddy, Heather, at the HKRS Conference in January. She received Best New Series and I got the Social Media Presence award!

Furthermore, I’m returning for another season as the Healthy Kids Running Series coordinator for my local series which starts at the end of March. I love this non-profit so much; it’s a great way to motivate children and to be active in the community.

I’m surrounded by so much good and all of that goodness sparks joy! Everything is going according to plan, nice and tidy.

Have a great Wednesday!

2019, Let’s Do This!

2018 started of with a bang and a whimper. The bang was me hitting the icy ground as I took out the recycling, one January morning. And the whimper was when I quickly realized that my arm really, truly hurt.

My 2018 goal was to focus on shorter distance races and while I did that, I feel like my training was somewhat derailed after the first couple of months were a wash. Simply put, my heart wasn’t really into racing. Yes, I was doing races but my level of of pushing myself was not there.

I was okay with that then.

I’m not now.

I’m ready to train harder and make achievable goals that I can hit. Not every race is going to be a RACE for me, but I know what I’m capable of and 2018 wasn’t it. I suppose my 2019 goal is to try diligently and train better.

I have a (surprise!) run streak going right now. I didn’t start on the first of the year because hey, why be normal? Instead I started on December 28th and for the past 11 days I’ve run at least a mile a day. I have a good feeling about 2019!

So far, here’s what’s on the race calendar. Of course, I have my eye on a few more races so this could/will need to be updated soon.

february

This will be my 3rd year returning to The Chili Run. It’s a hilly two mile race (you read that right, two miles!) and it starts/finishes at a restaurant, Carolina Blue.

Run out a mile, run back the same mile. Chili and beer await at the finish line!

Good Day for a Run is a local NJ race company and they always put on quality events. Last year runners got a hat, the year before the swag was a chili bowl and spoon. This year it’s a medal and shirt.

If you’re near me and considering this race, register soon because the January date is already sold out and February is close to being capped. (And then let me know so I can look for you!)

april

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

This is yet another race that I’m returning to for a three-peat. What’s not to love about the Hot Chocolate series? You get a run, awesome swag (I can’t wait for this year’s jacket), and at the end of the race, a big ol’ mug filled with treats and hot chocolate! The 15k runners also get a medal!

This race draws new and old runners alike. It’s a big name, the distance options are appealing, and the swag is fantastic. Plus, there’s chocolate on the course. Yeah, that’s right!

If you’re registering for the Philly race, code “BRHCPhilly” will get you a free armband like mine.

Or, if you’re looking at a different Hot Chocolate race, swing by the discount codes page and grab the code for your location.

Next up on April 13th is the Atlantic City April Fools 7k.

Usually I run the half marathon during this event. I skipped 2018 and this year I’m running the 7k for the first time ever. Instant PR! My son, Lucas, is registered for this one too and I have a couple of friends who plan to be there as well.

The 7k and 11k are on Saturday. With my Healthy Kids Running Series program running through April on Sundays, it just makes sense that I opt for Saturday races. I’m looking forward to returning to AC and running a familiar route.

Disclaimer: I also received race entry to the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Intrigued? Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This has been a bucket list race weekend for quite some time! I live in New Jersey but have yet to participate, which just seems silly! Therefore, when the opportunity came through BibRave to sign up for the 5k, I knew this was the time to get it done.

The 5k is on a Saturday, which once again, works really well in my schedule for the spring. I’ve heard good buzz about this race from friends and on Twitter. While the BibRave reviews mostly focus on the marathon and half marathon, it seems like a fun, well organized event.

Want to join in the weekend events? Use code “NJMBIBRAVE19” for $5 off any distance (5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Marathon Relay).

june

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to AC I go! I’m sure no one is surprised that I’ll be returning to Atlantic City for the Bungalow Beach Run!

2018 was the inaugural year and I’m looking forward to getting back and stretching my legs out on the boardwalk. Last year was a bit overcast but I’d much rather that than hot.

The finish is on the beach and I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous about that portion. Thankfully it’s a short distance!

Registration for the Bungalow Beach Run is currently $45. Not bad for a 5 mile race that includes a medal, shirt, and beer.

Crazy to think that brings me through the first 6 months of 2019! What else is in store? Only time will tell but I’m ready for whatever comes my way!

Race Recap: 2018 Chili Run

Last year’s Chili Run was a great one: great weather, great running with my buddy, Rachel. All around GREAT.

This year? 50 degrees and RAIN was in the forecast for the January Chili Run. Additionally, this race had an extra challenge because… I can’t get my arm wet.

It sounds so silly but yep, it’s true. You can learn more about my injury here and here. It’s been 3 weeks since I initially fell. I finally had the MRI last week because the X-Rays didn’t show enough; it’s a fracture of my radius. I’m going back to the doctor later today and we’ll see what they have to say.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, I’m dealing with an injury, it was raining, and my reluctant runner husband, Jay, was signed up to run this race after he agreed to it after drinking a few beers. (If you want to get Jay to agree to something, that’s usually the best time to ask.)

All signs pointed toward a DNS – Did Not Start.

But c’mon. Is that me? No. No, it is not.

That’ll do! I even was able to put my thumb through my jacket’s thumb hole. BONUS!

Before I was injured, my goal was to try to hit the 22:00 minute mark for this two mile race. That would have been fast for me and a course PR. Honestly, even before I was injured, it would have been a bit of a stretch.

But given that I haven’t run for the past 3 weeks and I’ve been babying my arm because it hurts, my main goal was just to RUN. I was nervous going into this so I decided that I would stick with Jay, in case I needed to stop for any reason.

This year’s swag: The Chili Run beanie hat! Additionally you get a bowl of chili and a beer after the run!

The convenience of this race couldn’t be better for us. The start and finish is located at Carolina Blue, a local restaurant that is 2 miles from our home. With a start time of 10am, we rolled out of the house at 9:30am and were there minutes later.

We had friends running and I messaged with a few but we decided rather than going inside, we’d stay warm and dry in our car until the last possible minute.

If he looks less than impressed it’s because he is.

I knew my husband planned to listen to his music rather than chatting with me, so I brought along my AfterShokz and paired them with my phone.

About five minutes before the start of the race, all of the runners came out from the warmth of their cars and the patio to line up for the start. It was steadily raining but thankfully it wasn’t freezing cold.

My outfit consisted of capris, Bib Rave tank, running jacket, Momentum hat, and plastic bag.

There are no pictures from the race but if you’re really curious, feel free to visit last year’s post from the same race. My phone was safely tucked away in a plastic bag!

Something to note is this race doesn’t have a timing mat to cross when you begin. Therefore your time begins as soon as the race starts. Jay and I crossed the finishing timing mat at 24:49. To give you an idea of the speed of some of the runners, the top male finished in 11:13 and the top female was smoking fast at 13:19. Wowza!

After crossing the finish we cheered as a few friends crossed the finish and then we quickly jumped in the chili line. The line snaked outside into the rain so I kept my plastic bag firmly in place! We saw even more friends while waiting in the line and that’s another reason why I love this run so much, it’s got a great community vibe.

I just realized i didn’t have a picture of this year’s chili so last year’s will have to do!

Overall, despite the rain and in spite of my arm, this is always a fun race and well worth the $40 entry fee. A few spots just opened for the February race but I know they’ll go fast!

Have you ever done a 2 mile race? What’s something you look forward to eating/drinking after a run?

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: 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!