How to (Happily) Run a 25k Distance For the Very First Time

First, get yourself a small, comfortable group of running friends. If it’s during COVID times, like now, make sure they’re staying home as much as possible, wearing masks when they do go places, and are willing to put up with your early morning shenanigans.

August 2020 running – Amy, Keri, and me

October 2020 running – me, Keri, Amy

Next, you’re going to want to have a training plan. Or, if your friends have a plan and you can insert yourself into their plan, better yet. That’s what I did.

We signed up for the Dirty German 25k virtual race. Our running group is know as the Turtles (I’ll give you exactly one guess why) so we called it the Dirty Turtle. The base rules are listed above; the 15 week plan was one that Keri set in place. Anyone who knows me know that I love a good plan that this one was solid and not overly aggressive.

The longest training run was 10 miles, which I did twice about a month apart. We floated the idea of making the second one a half marathon (13.1 miles) distance but landed on keeping with the 10 miles instead.

November 2020

Which brings me to my next point: have a backup plan for training. I realized that I wouldn’t be available to run on our scheduled day with Keri and Amy so I invited my son, Lucas, along for the 10 miles. We ran on the same trail that Keri, Amy, and I planned to do the 25k and I was able to familiarize myself with every section of the path.

After conquering our 15 week training plan, it was finally go time! We landed on the date because it was Keri’s birthday. What better way to spend a birthday morning than waking up super early and running all the miles, right?

The weather forecast looked incredible – low 40s to start and ending in the low 60s. We went into the morning stocked with gels, hydration, hand sanitizer, Buffs for when we came across other people, and a solid plan of what we were going to do. Knowing exactly what to expect = comforting.

We parked at the trailhead, which always has a clean portapotty there – something we took into consideration when planning. Our cars served as aid stations so we made sure to throw things in there that we might potentially need.

Once upon a time, the trail we chose to run on was part of the Pennsylvania-Reading Railroad line, so it’s wide and flat. Some sections are a bit gravel-y, others are covered in leaves at this time of year, but generally speaking, it’s considered an easy trail.

The run was broken down into three sections. Two 3 mile out and backs (so that we could swing by our car/aid stations if necessary) and a final couple of loops in the park before returning to the trail for our last mile and change. While training we stuck with 1:1 intervals and we figured that’s what we’d do until someone said differently.

The first 6 miles were pretty amazing, as expected. Not expected was when I fell around 5.5 miles in, although perhaps I should have expected it, knowing my proclivity for such things. One moment we were talking about Dawson’s Creek and Pacey versus Dawson, the next moment, I was on the ground!

For a moment I thought my 15.5 mile journey might be reduced by 10 but thankfully after I made sure my ankles were okay, I was back in the “get it done” mindset. And, since we were close to the car 6 mile mark, I was able to stop and clean myself up before we set out again for miles 6-12.

Our dear friend, Emily, joined us for this portion and it really helped us mentally break up the run. We hit our halfway mark during this section, and as is our way, we did our halfway dance. To Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer.

But you know, copyright and all that. Just sing the chorus.

Once we reached 12 miles, we were all feeling the distance and needed a new game plan for the final 3.5 (which seemed longer than the first two parts, honestly). We decided to switch our intervals to 1 minute of running, 2 minutes walking and to get off the trail for awhile and swing through the paved park a few times.

Officially past 13.1 = our longest distance EVER!

We got a (very) brief second wind at the point we past the half marathon mark. Keri and Amy’s family members arrived to cheer for us so we said hello before making our way BACK to the trail for the final time. My family was at my son’s karate black belt test, but my husband did come out to cheer for us earlier in the morning and I was getting text messages throughout with updates.

After some quick mental math distance calculations which is usually NOT my forte, I figured out just how far we needed to go on the trail (and back) to hit the 15.5 mile mark.

The last two miles were rough. Wait, no, I take that back. The first 1.5 miles of the last two miles were rough. The final half mile we decided to listen to Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now and We Are the Champions. I think we might have been slightly delirious and I know we were singing very, very loudly in this beautiful, tranquil place (thankfully there weren’t too many people around).

Keri and Amy’s family were both there as we crossed the “finish” line. In our cars we had snacks, cake for Keri’s birthday, mimosa makings, the works.

And we celebrated because that’s what you do when you run a 25k for the very first time.

Love, put your medals on!

It’s been a few days since we ran and I’m still on a high from running this distance, still so happy with what we accomplished. I think that says a lot. For all the crap that 2020 has thrown our way, I’m a tiny bit surprised that I feel this happy about doing a virtual 25k. But I am, and it’s a great feeling.

Be well and stay healthy, friends.

Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, Rothman 8k

The Rothman 8k was my first ever road race in 2011.

I blogged about it back then.

Since 2011 I’ve volunteered, I’ve run the half distance for a few years, I returned to the 8k last year and made a last minute decision to run the 8k again this year.

Lucas was coming off the high of running his first 10k, I had a great coupon code, so we registered together at the beginning of this month.

The Rothman 8k has changed a lot since 2011 and so have I.

My thoughts about this race are all over the place; I think a PRO/CON list is the best way to go about it for the purposes of this recap.

PROS

  1. The 8k distance is a great middle ground for someone who isn’t looking to run a half or full marathon but still wants to be involved with race weekend.

    My Turtle Running group are always representing!

  2. The Rothman Orthopedic 8k starts at 10:45am. This is done so that people who are running the half marathon have the opportunity to run in both races (they added the race “challenges” a few years ago). What this meant for us was not having to head out of the house at the crack of dawn!
  3. Over the years, the Philly Marathon has added more bells and whistles to the 8k distance. When I ran in 2011, I got a cotton t-shirt. Now there is a tech t-shirt and a medal at the finish line.

CONS

  1. When I ran the 2011 race there were just over 2,000 participants. This year there were 5,200 participants. There are no starting corrals, but there should be. To put it bluntly, people don’t know how to self-seed. With the huge influx in participants, it would be helpful for the race directors to provide guidance.
  2. The 8k race feels like it’s the forgotten stepchild of the weekend. There’s a lot of emphasis on the half and full marathons and while the numbers have grown for the 8k there’s not a lot of signage or direction on where to go. The spectator guide handed out at the expo doesn’t even reference the 8k.
  3. The course. Oh dear lord, the course. I truly love Philadelphia but there’s one major issue with runs along the river: Martin Luther King Dr. It’s picturesque, the views of Boat House Row and the Art Museum are iconic. But… it has a horrible slant and the potholes are rough.
  4. There are pictures. They are not free. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think race pictures should be included in all races. But if they’re not, a digital download for one picture should not cost $29.95. I paid $20 for the race (with a coupon code). I cannot justify spending more than that on a picture of myself. I’ll just look in the mirror!

Or we can selfie!

Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros in this case. I think I’ll be taking a break from the Rothman 8k in 2020. Although, I have broken up with the Philly half before here and they’ve made changes so maybe if I put it out into the universe again, things will change. I sure hope so!

The rest 2019 has hikes, fun runs, and training runs on the agenda (not to mention the hustle and bustle of the holidays). All I can say is BRING IT ON!

Race Recap: Atlantic City Marathon Series 10k

Two facts you might know about me if you’ve read this blog for awhile:

  1. Summer is my least favorite time to run.
  2. Fall is my absolute favorite time to run.

Of course, it’s hard to sign up for Fall races when you’re not training consistently through the summer. In the past, that didn’t stop me. Oh no, I’d just sign up anyway and then miserably slog through the miles of a race.

It’s only taken 8 years but guess what, I’ve finally learned my lesson!

Not only have I been training consistently over the summer (I KNOW, RIGHT?), but I’ve also signed up for less races. The two are not mutually exclusive. I’ve made better decisions overall with my running and it’s equaling a happier running me!

Plus, and this is a big one, I’ve found the Turtles.

I’ve written about them throughout 2019 but I really feel like they need a huge shout out because this is the local community and support that I’ve needed. These folks are priceless to me, they are the party in the back and we are each others biggest supporters.

The Atlantic City Marathon Series hosts its fall races in mid-October each year. Saturday is the 5k/10k and Sunday is the half/full marathon.

2013 was the first time I ran the race weekend and I’ve returned each year since for the 5k or 10k.

With 3 races offered throughout the year, they sweetened the deal by adding a Triple Threat medal in 2019. It’s probably clear that Atlantic City Marathon Series is one of my all time favorites ever, so it didn’t take much convincing to go for the Triple Threat!

The fall series offers packet pickup at multiple locations throughout the week prior to the races. Originally I chose to do day-of pickup (for an additional fee of $10) but a Turtle friend was able to grab mine earlier in the week and there was no fuss with that, which was much appreciated. Less running around for me the morning of the race!

What I love so much about running in AC is the comfort that comes along with it. These races are a nice size – around 850 runners for both the 5k/10k. With a 9am start time for the shorter races, it’s easy to wake up early and drive down the morning of the race.

The race series also provides a coupon for runners which brings the $25 casino parking fee down to $5.

My race was what I expected, given my training runs. I chose to run solo to see what I was capable of and I was happy with the result!

Best part is air hugs to the Turtles on the out and back!

Running on the boardwalk is always fun for me. It was hard to see the 5k runners peel off, knowing that I still had double the distance to go but I love that it’s an out and back course so I could cheer on friends. My last mile was tough and I was very pleased to see the finish line, right outside of Bally’s Casino.

Once I crossed the line, I received my 10k medal. My bib had a mark on the back for the Triple Threat medal (it might have been easier to spot on the front – other runners had a sticker placed on theirs).

After showing the back of my bib, I received the mother of all medals, the Triple Threat!

After we cheered everyone in across the finish line, my group of friends made our way to the courtyard that held snacks (bagels, water ice, etc.) and drinks. If there’s a post-race beer I’ll usually have a few sips and Saturday was no exception.

We really lucked out with the weather and had a nice morning in Atlantic City. I’ve already got my eye on the 2020 Triple Threat medal and will be registering ASAP.

Tomorrow I’ve got a nice training running planned and then I’ll be headed to Kennett Square, PA for the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon relay. Woohoo! Want to register? There’s still time to save $10, use code brmushroom19.

Race Recap: Atlantic City April Fools 7k

First things first, if you’ve read our blog for any amount of time, you already know that I love the Atlantic City races. (Swing by our Race Recaps, and you’ll find a whole slew of reports about AC.)

I usually opt for the half marathon at the April Fools race but this year I’ve been embracing shorter distances and Saturday races during Healthy Kids Running Series season.

Additionally, my 14 year old son requested to join me this year so I figured the 7k distance would be the best bet. There’s also a 11k option on Saturday. The half marathon runs on Sunday.

Chrissy and me

For an additional $10 per packet, there was race morning packet pickup. To save myself time and travel expenses (it basically evens out), we did morning packet pickup.

Parking was only $5 with a Resorts Casino card, I picked one up a few weeks back when I spent the day in AC. Lucas and I met up with Chrissy and were quickly able to get our bibs and race shirts. Ladies got pink, men got blue.

A huge draw for the Atlantic City races is that without fail, I always see a ton of friends there. It’s a quick hour drive on the expressway from my house, which means that I can spend the night at home and just wake a bit early and hop in the car.

Run856 Turtles – I love this group of local runners!

The weather was rainy but not too cold, so it was actually comfortable to run in. This was the longest distance for my son so we chose to do 1:1 intervals to keep a consistent pace. After the Star Spangled Banner and a countdown, the race started at 9am.

The entire 7k course is on the boardwalk, which is somewhere I always enjoy running. There was a water station on the way out and back around the 2 mile mark (and the same on the return, not exactly sure of the distance). It’s always a really nice run – despite the weather.

Lucas and I rocked our AfterShokz headphones so we were able to jam out to our music and still chat with each other. He’s been running track at school, where the longest distance is a mile, but we also ran a 4 mile training run recently. The 1:1 intervals helped him feel good and confident the entire time and he stuck with me at my pace for 3.35 miles – the last mile I told him to GO and away he went.

Lucas’ main goal was to finish under an hour, which I assured him wouldn’t be an issue. He finished in 51 minutes while I rolled in at the 53 minute mark.

The finish line has lots of snacks and goodies, which Lucas loved every moment of. He went to get snacks and I stayed at the finish to cheer in friends.

What I love about this particular race, more than anything else, is that I got to run with Lucas. I was having a bit of calf pain in the days leading up to the race and there was a brief moment when I thought I might have to sit it out. Thankfully, he took it easy with me and as much as I was asking him how he was feeling and doing, he was doing the same for me.

Yeah, my kid is pretty great.

And so is this race. I’ll be back to Atlantic City in June for the 2nd Bungalow Beach 5 Miler. Will I see any of you there?