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!

Race Recap: Vacation Races Yellowstone Half

Last weekend, amazing races took place all over the country. Maybe you even participated in one. (If so tell me allllll about it in the comments!) I was lucky enough to be one of those people, and I can’t wait to show you all the pictures from  the Vacation Race Yellowstone 5k and Half Marathon. I had dreamed of doing the Caldera Triple this year, but other obligations (tickets to see Roger Waters) kept me from the mother of all medals. Next year, it’s on!

Disclaimer: while I am a Vacation Races Ambassador, I did pay for my registration for this race and I didn’t receive any compensation for this race review.

I live about ten hours from Yellowstone. Honestly, when the scenery is as beautiful as it was and you’re driving your Mustang, ten hours feels like five.We drove up last Thursday and got into Yellowstone at around seven o’clock in the evening. Along the way, we stopped at an overlook to take in the most beautiful mountain range I’ve ever seen, and keep in mind, Rocky Mountain National Park is my backyard. If you’ve never been to the Grand Tetons, you need to add it to your bucket list.

Jackson Lake and Grand Teton

We came from the south which meant we had to drive through Grand Teton National Park to get to Yellowstone. We decided to buy an annual park pass since we’ll soon be living so close to a national park ourselves. Eighty bucks to support our national treasures was money well spent in our book.

I had signed up for the Bison Double, which meant I was running the 5k Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. My husband and I decided to get up before dawn on Friday to see some of Yellowstone while the light was still good for photography. It was the right choice!

He was the only other guy on the road at 5:30 am. Also, he wasn’t moving for us.

Sadly, the Grand Prismatic Spring was too steamy to see.

Kepler Cascade

Yellowstone Lake and Thermal Vents

A real life postcard.

After a morning of exploring the park, we headed back to the hotel to take a nap and prep for the 5k. The weather forecast at race time was less than dry. I was volunteering at the race expo before the start, so I headed over a little early and met up with the rest of my team at the start. My husband, sisters-in-law, and their husbands all ran the 5k, and exactly none of us were looking forward to running in rainy drizzle and 42 degrees.

There’s some first timers in this pic!

The course was beautiful despite it being wet. I don’t have many pics of this race because the conditions made it hard to snap shots. We started on paved town roads for the first mile then transitioned to gravel trail riddled with puddles and mud for the rest of the race. We had to watch where we stepped so we didn’t slip in the mud. I’m glad I’d packed so much gear, options are so important when the weather is unpredictable. Plus I’d bought an emergency poncho for which I was so grateful! I was slow because of the conditions and I wanted to be sure I was okay to do the half the next morning. My husband and I crossed the finish, then waited for the rest of our team. We were disappointed to learn that the 5k medals had been lost in shipping, but we were assured that they’d be mailed to us once they were located.

The next morning, I woke up to a weather forecast calling for hail and more rain before the half marathon. Yes, hail. Well, tiny little pellets, but still, when they hit your cold cheeks, it hurts! I shook out my disposable poncho and layered up. With some fleece lined leggings, a Lioness skirt from Skirt Sports, and three layers on top, I was as ready as I could be for my first wet, cold trail half.

I knew this race was going to be my hardest one yet going into it. I knew the elevation gain was no joke, and that it was mostly on a trail. I also knew I wasn’t able to train for this race like I wanted to. Since February, I’ve had to focus on selling my house, moving, and finding a new place to live.  Doing all those home improvement projects did get me into better shape than I was in after the holidays, but I was no where near where I wanted to be for this race. Getting a PR wasn’t my goal, not getting hurt was. My strategy was to do walk a brisk pace with some splashes of running until the big hill. Then, I’d walk as briskly as I could up that bish.

Around mile five, it started to get steep. The course was still thick with mud, and I tried to stay on the edge of the trail to keep from getting bogged down. Mile six is where it started to get nasty. Hence my face in the photo below. It was yucky, but at least the sun had come out and the rain/hail stopped! Once I got over that hill, I found one of my Skirt Sports sisters on the course, and I couldn’t have been happier! Kim is the best. We’d run the Skirt Sports 13er together last year and running with her is always so much fun.

After I’d made it over the hill and found a friend, the race took on a new feel. The course turned technical with large rocks as we began to descend in elevation. I took my time through the rocks but still stumbled a few times. The views were completely worth it, though, as the course took us beside the river and through pristine forest.

As I was out there feeling better than I expected to be at mile nine, I took a moment to appreciate my body. I have ridiculous expectations of it. I ask it to do amazing feats of endurance without ever putting in the 100% training I should. As I climbed that hill and listened to those around me struggling to breathe due to the altitude, I sent my body some messages of gratitude and I promised to not ask it to do this again without the proper preparation.

We counted down the miles together, stopped for orange slices at the mile 11 aid station, and were fueled by the thought of our medals waiting for us. Unfortunately, the Bison Double medals and the Caldera Triple medals were lost in shipping along with the 5k medals. But we did get our half marathon medals, so it was great to have that waiting for us at the end along with the always yummy post race fuel box and bananas.

It hurt so much but we did it!

Kim and I hugged goodbye before I took a few family photos with our race team. I think some of them may have caught the race bug! I’m already planning to come back for the Caldera Triple next year, maybe we’ll make it a tradition!

It was a fabulous race in one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Aside from the medals being lost, everything went smoothly and we all had a blast. This race may not be an annual one for me due to traveling, but it’s certainly one I’d like to do every few years. Vacation Races didn’t disappoint, they really now how to pick their locations! It was so gorgeous everywhere you looked that I wanted to share a few last photos with you of your Yellowstone National Park.  Enjoy!

Elk buck

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Bison herd

You could literally reach out your car window and touch them. But DON’T.

Half medal with Old Faithful erupting in the background

 

As a safety reminder, I ask that when you read my recaps of high altitude races to not underestimate the affects of altitude. I’ve lived at over 5000 feet elevation all my life, and soon I’m moving to 8500 feet. My lungs and muscles are acclimated to the elevation despite having asthma. If you do a race at altitude and you aren’t already acclimated, be sure to train appropriately, take precautions against altitude sickness, and be kind to yourself on the course if you don’t hit your pace goals.Save

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Motivation Monday (and Every Day)

Monday’s aren’t always my favorite but this Monday? This Monday is always a favorite of mine!

Why?

Because it’s Marathon Monday a.k.a. Boston Marathon watching day!

I’ve informed my family that if they need me, this is where they can find me the majority of the day.

I know that I’ll never actually run the Boston Marathon but I love spectating (from my computer) each year. I dream of the day that I can spectate in person. All of the emotions are felt and it motivates me with my own running goals and dreams.

I have a few of my favorite races coming up in the next few weeks (Rowan 5k, AC April Fools half, Run the Vineyards 5 Miler) and then a volunteer opportunity and Ragnar.

The summer months are usually less densely populated with races and more about training runs. My goal for this summer is to remain consistent with those training runs because I already have a few fall races lined up!

My buddy Rachel first brought Vacation Races Shenandoah half marathon to my attention. She had a free race entry for herself and a friend and she invited me to join her at the inaugural Virginia race.

After a few snafus with registrations we were both able to get set up so we’ll be traveling there the first weekend of September! The course looks INTENSE, with lots of elevation changes but it also looks beautiful. I know we’ll have a good time together.

Just a few weeks later I’m excited to return to a familiar stomping ground: Philadelphia’s Rock ‘n Roll half marathon on September 17th through BibRave! I participated back in 2012 but timing and other commitments have kept me away the last 4 years.

I’m really looking forward to returning to this series. The race weekend includes a 5k and the brand new, just announced, 10k distance!

The 10k is my favorite distance and I know it’s crazy but I’m considering maybe signing up for that as well. I’ll keep you posted if I decide to take the plunge!

If you’re considering signing up for the half, I have a discount code to share! Woohoo! BIBRAVE15 will get you $15 off the half and is valid until 8/27. Is anyone out there running this one (or another Rock ‘n Roll race)? I’m so excited to return!

Okay, the elite women just started the Boston Marathon so I’m jumping back to that window now! If you need me, I’ll just be over here, being inspired!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Philadelphia Rock ‘n Roll 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! All opinions are my own.

Vacation Races, Here I Come!

Sometimes, begging actually works. I don’t recommend you use the tactic often, but I’m not above begging for something I really want, even if that something doesn’t exist. Believe it or not, begging can be a very effective tool. Case in point, after running the 2016 VR Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, a.k.a, my favorite race, I basically begged the Vacation Races race series to let me be an ambassador even though they didn’t have an ambassador program.

Pro Tip: When begging, bargain by making promises to spend money on their races. 😉

When I heard from the Race Director a few days later, I was ECSTATIC.  After applying and hoping, it’s official, I’m a VR Ambassador!! I can’t wait to represent the series at this year’s Yellowstone Half and the Rocky Mountain Half. Maybe (hopefully) a few more!

 

I wanted to be an ambassador for Vacation Races because I think they put on the best races in the country. The courses are spectacular, the race organization is top-notch, the medals are absolutely THE BEST, the aid stations are the best I’ve ever seen (water, energy drink, bananas and oranges), and I feel that you really get your money’s worth with a fantastic overall race experience. Honestly, I’d take a VR race over one at Disney any time. I can’t say enough good things about VR, and I can’t wait to share more stuff from my favorite race series with you. Details about the program are still coming out, so I’ll share any codes I get in a future post.

 

Have you ever done a VR race? How did it go for you?  Is one of their races on your bucket list? 

Summer Races…and Beyond – The 2017 Caldera Triple

A few weeks ago, I turned forty. Surprisingly, it wasn’t horrible. In fact, it was pretty flippin rad. First, my Subaru that served me well for 11 years decided it didn’t feel like driving anymore. Goodbye, rD magnets.

I loved this car so much.

I loved this car so much.

So I was forced to get a new car.

Hellllooooo, Lover.

Hellllooooo, Lover.

This really was a coincidence. Promise. No for real, though. But in a way, you could say I got a pony for my birthday. (I’ve always wanted to say that!) Since before I had a license, I’ve wanted a classic Mustang. I can’t afford a classic, but my husband agreed to this new one. Because he is the best. (And he liked it a lot, too, truth be told.)

THEN, as if that weren’t enough, my husband (being the absolute best husband on the planet (see above new car)), had arranged a gift for me long before my Subaru died. This was my face when I opened my itinerary to SPACECAMP, something I’ve wanted to do since I was eight.

spacecamp

They do have an adult program and I will have to get in the Multi-Axis Trainer. They claim it doesn’t make you sick. Ummmm-hmmmmm. Anyway, I work for an aerospace company and I’m a space/sci-fi fanatic, so yeah. I’m SO STOKED I CANNOT EVEN.

But birthdays tend to make me reflect on what I’ve accomplished and what I still want to achieve. My birthday did remind me that at 40, I need to focus on fitness. My biggest fitness goal is to not be frail in advanced age. To keep running, I need races to stay motivated. I’m registered for 3 races this summer that I’m excited for: The Skirt Sports 13er, and the Elk Double Challenge hosted by Vacation Races.

Last year I ran the Skirt Sports 10k at the 13er, but this year I wanted to represent with my fellow skirt sisters and do the half. It will be a whole weekend of strong women supporting each other, and that’s pretty hard to beat.

PR of 1:23:42 and I'm thrilled!

PR of 1:23:42 and I’m thrilled!

I loved the Rocky Mountain Half in Estes Park so much last year that I registered for their inaugural Elk Challenge this year. It’s a 5k on Friday afternoon and a half on Saturday morning. My oldest friend lives in Estes Park, so I’m staying with her that Friday night. SLEEPOVER! Seriously, though, last year’s half was my favorite race to date. Yes, even more than runDisney. I know, but it’s true! It’s still my favorite medal.

Poking around the Vacation Races website,  I made a discovery that will likely be the death of me and my pocket book. It’s called the Caldera Triple  because who wouldn’t want to run in view of the Grand Tetons one week, followed by Yellowstone the next? And a 5k in between?? I SAY BRING IT, NATIONAL PARKS.

caldera

Image Credit: Vacation Races

2 National Parks, 3 races, 4 UH-MAZING medals, and some of the prettiest land in the nation. Who’s with me?

Have you ever done a Vacation Races race? What races do you have planned for the summer, or beyond?

 

New Year Water Challenge

Many, many folks have done a 30 day water challenge wherein they commit to drinking the recommended 64 ounces a day for a month. But guess what? I’m doing the same thing! (Bazinga!)

IG

I drink a lot of water. A lot of flavored water. Flavored with leaves. Black leaves. Okay, Earl Grey. I drink a lot lot lot of hot Celestial Seasonings Earl Grey tea.  Somewhere in the neighborhood five, twenty ounce cups a day. That should count for my 64 ounces of water, honestly. HONESTLY. And really, it can’t be that bad because I sleep like a log all night, every night. Caffeine, schmaffeine.

It’s totally bad. I know.

The real problem with this  habit is the sugar. Basically, I’m consuming a small sugar cane plantation every month. A big can of white sugar sits beside the hot water dispenser at the office and I just pour it into my cup. It’s horrible, I know. Something needs to change or I will be diabetic in the very near future.

my addicition

I even have a cup (or stein, as you will) right before bed.

So why have I decided to be a follower? Great question! Well, aside from the aforementioned risk of diabetic shock descending at any moment, I’m curious to see the changes drinking 64 ounces a day will bring. If I can flush some toxins and get rid of the circles that have been under my eyes since childhood I will be so happy. I’m also hoping healthier skin will help fade my adolescent acne scars. Let’s not mention the laugh lines and crows feet entrenching themselves in my face. I turn forty this year and it’s starting to show. Water, nature’s cure-all, to the rescue!

The "Before"

The “Before”

The plan is to go from five or six cups of tea a day to two in the morning. Then I’ll divide the sixty-four ounce daily intake into eight ounce segments throughout the rest of the day. Using my favorite race sticker covered bottle, fruit infusions, and Nuun should help me say on track. In 30 days I’ll check in and let you know if my bags took a flight home. If you don’t hear from me, I’m laying on the kitchen floor in front of my electric teapot, slipping into a diabetic coma.

 

What’s your method for staying hydrated? Are you a water or sport drink person? Show us your water bottle on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

So long, 2015, You Were Pretty Awesome!

With the year drawing to a close and Thanksgiving later this week, I found myself reflecting on 2015. Since joining Scootadoot last November, I’ve gotten to do a lot of great things and meet some really wonderful people. I’d like to take a sec to just say I’ve had a great time being a Chick, and thought I’d share some of my favorite memories from my first year with Scoot.

Philly Stray Boots Tour – This self-guided walking tour was the kick-off to a great first half marathon weekend! Meri, Cam, and I saw the sites of historical downtown Philadelphia while looking for clues scavenger hunt style. The fact that it was self-guided meant that we weren’t part of a group crowded around a guide in period costume tell us stuff we earned in elementary school. Plus, we’re occasionally inappropriate, which likely would not have been appreciated by fellow tour goers with small children.

tour5

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See, inappropriate.

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See, inappropriate.

And the actual sites were pretty cool, like the first ever US Post Office! It’s still a working post office! (It had a creepy vibe, too, it you’re into that kind of thing.)

tour2

A few days later, I ran my first half with my fellow Chicks Mer, Cam, and Vic at the AC April Fool’s Half. There were so many things to love about this race! I hadn’t seen my girls for three years and a visit was long overdue! Plus, we had costumes, and they were cute, so there was that. I ran my half in 2:55 and was pretty darn pleased with myself!

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

Coming to the finish with a new friend. (Photo Credit: Ken Shelton Photography)

My first medal ever and it's soooo purdy!

My first medal ever and it’s soooo purdy!

I met some great folks, including Bonnie, a.k.a ‘Cuse Runner Girl!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Bye, Bonnie! Until next time!

Meri and I played cat and mouse with these lovely people the whole race, then shared a beer afterward.

New Friends!

New Friends!

The best part was the end! Seriously, when I saw that finish line I was SO HAPPY. I grabbed Meri’s hand as we crossed because there wasn’t anyone else I would have rather finished my first half with.

Aaaaaand we're done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

Aaaaaand we’re done! (Photo Credit, Ken Shelton Photography)

The other best part was the winning of the costume contest because we won stuff! After all the hard work Cam and I put into making our costumes and Vic and Meri put into looking cute in them, we celebrated with our favorite food group.

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

Mmmmmm, chocolate.

Then there was that time the Meridith came to visit me and we ran the BolderBOULDER! Before the race, we got to see Abdi and Meb and Pete at a press conference. It was certainly a highlight of the weekend.

IMG_7014

One of my favorite photos from this year, Meri and I at CU’s Folsom Field with the Flatirons behind us.

Ready for a nap. And beer. Maybe beer, then nap.

Ready for a nap. And beer. Maybe beer, then nap.

At what other race in this country do you see seriously talented belly dancers supporting and entertaining the runners? You will only see this in Boulder, folks.

Onlyinboulder

This might be my second favorite photo. Ever.

Run, Betty, run!!!

Run, Betty, run!!!

As the end of the summer came I focused on my second 1/2, the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon. This was by far my biggest race of the year as far as fitness and athleticism were concerned. It was also the prettiest course I ran in 2015. I have nothing but positive things to say about this race, and it will probably be an annual entry for me from now on.

longspeak

mile10

The elite runners (and my husband) got to see some elk on the course!

The elite runners (and my husband) got to see some elk on the course!

This was the hardest race I’ve run to date. The elevation in Estes Park is 7,522 and the course gains just under 500 feet over its thirteen miles. That’s why I’m so proud of this gorgeous medal, it represents all the things I was told I couldn’t do as a person with asthma.

medal

Throughout the year, I pulled out my 2015 achievement board to check my progress. My goals were many and ambitious. Most of them did not happen. Some, however did, and the ones that I succeeded at were some of the most important I’ve ever set for myself. I can’t wait to make my achievement board for 2016.

IMG_1307

Most of all, I’m grateful to the other Chicks and all of you for welcoming me into your community. You all amaze me, and inspire me to keep setting the bar high. Thanks for a fantastic 2015, Scootadoot!

 

What achievements are you most proud of this year? What are you setting your cap after in 2016? Tell me all about it in the comments!