Tuesday, November 14, 2017

39th Annual Great Pumpkin 5K Race Recap

I'm pretty late in posting this race review, but here's my review of the Great Pumpkin 5K Race I ran on October 28th.

This was my first time running this long-standing local race as there are just so many Fall races to choose from. The race is hosted by a local running club, The Rock Hill Striders, and all proceeds are given to a local food pantry,  Pilgrim's Inn. In addition to the 5K, there is a 1 mile fun run for the kids that is free.

There was not a lot of communication prior to the race, mainly because I believe mostly locals run this year after year so most runners already know the drill. I did ask a question of the RD prior to the race via email and got an answer almost immediately. I registered for the 5K and my little one did the 1 miler which I did it with her also as they were scheduled 45 min apart.

There was no pre-race packet pick up - all packets were to be picked up day of. The packet came with bib and cotton long sleeved shirt. The shirts ran large and the race had no problem switching my M for a S at pick up.

This race started on the campus of Winthrop University and therefore has pretty great parking access. It had a fairly late start time, 9 am, but with the Fall temps, the weather was pretty nice. The university is about 3 miles from my house, so it was a pretty quick trip to the site and easy parking. The race is fairly small, a couple of hundred participants, so I was able to find some of my local running buddies for some pictures pre-race. The start is near the former student center, which is now offices, and the building was open for races to use the bathrooms.

The course was a pretty nice one and one I run quite often, as I live very close by - starting just down from Dinkins Building, up Myrtle Drive, around the Winthrop Coliseum and back down Myrtle back to near where the start was. The course is officially certified with a couple hills, but not too many. Pretty easy terrain.

I had a pretty rough October, having to take a week off any kind of training due to having a wisdom tooth extraction a week and half prior, so it was not my best race ever. I was a full minute slower than my previous 5K, and tried to view it as a fun, easy local race for a good cause and not as a competitive one. As long as I get in under 30 min, I'm fairly happy and I did.

The kid's 1 mile started at 9:45 and ran straight down Charlotte Ave. for .5 mile and back. It was very informal, no registration or bibs, but the kids are really just interested in the running, so that works. There was a race volunteer at the turn around point cheer on the kids. The kids ran through the same finish area as the 5K and were each given a pumpkin shaped flashlight  which my daughter adores.

After the race, there was a lot of food options including bagels, fruit, chips, baked goods and even Halloween candy (how my daughter was able to eat candy corn immediately after running, I'll never know, but I passed on that). There were also several race sponsors and area groups with tables set up for a mini-finish-area festival giving out the standard stuff like pens, cozies and so on.

Awards were given out for Age Group winners which is fun to watch as the prizes consist of a variety of pumpkin shaped items that you can choose what you want as your award is called. I had a few friends that placed so I stuck around to cheer them on.

Overall, a great local, low key race that depending on what else is going on the same weekend next year, I will more than likely run again.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Weekly Rundown

I have always been really good about planning out my workouts (I'm a bit of an obsessive planner - seriously, you should see my Excel spreadsheets) but I am trying to get better at looking back on what I've done and how things worked out. So I've decided to start doing Friday Weekly Rundown where I look at what I did and how it went. So here goes.

November officially kicked of the 2017 Holiday Challenge on Facebook that I joined where you are supposed declare a certain number of points you plan to earn for the week based on activity (1 pt for each mile and 1 pt for each 10 min of working out). There is a neat little tracking chart provided. Here is my breakdown for this week (Week 2)

So far I am on track.

Monday I got up early for the 5:30 am Burn Boot Camp which was a partner day of Plyometric (ugh) and Leg Work. Remembering how terrible my knee felt after last time I did Plyo, I taped up first and was glad I did. Practically no pain this time! Yay!! Plus, the Rock Tape I got was just adorable and I got lots of compliments on it which of course is important, lol).

Tuesday I ran with Fleet Feet for their end of session party. After the run, the plan was to hang out at the Grapevine for a little social and eat Tacos. Rather than worry about a ride back, I parked at Grapevine and ran the .5 to the store which gave me an extra .5 on top of the 4 miles we did as a group. I ended up running a bit longer with Katie so to make up for it, I had her take a picture of my fancy new KnuckleLights in action which were super helpful on my first post-Daylight Savings evening run.

I was back up again for Burn on Wednesday morning, 5:30 am this time for Push/Pull mini-camp. This is where you form groups and rotate on a few different arm based exercises. Arm work is my worst area, so it was super discouraging for me, especially when I was unable to do a handstand. Yeah, 10 year old me would be super disappointing.

Thursday was originally supposed to be a run day (I changed it in the above mid-week) but it was really cold and rainy and I was a wuss about it. I decided to switch Friday and Thursday instead making Thursday Rest.

That takes me to today where I put in a 4 miler during my lunch break. It was an awesome run and I could have kept going, but alas, I had to go back to work. I did post some sweet negative splits though. The weather was perfect and I wish I had packed a lighter shirt and capris instead of long tights, but oh well, it was a great run anyway.

Normally my Saturday miles would be much larger, but tomorrow my Girl Scouts are doing a 1 mile race as a part of the Charlotte Marathon weekend and I am doing that with then. It is going to be super cold and hopefully the girls will still have a good time. Depending on how miserable my Jenna is, I hope to stick around and cheer on some of the other distances. I have a lot of friends in several of the races taking place.

Sunday I plan to hit the usual Riverwalk Trail and I have ambitiously planned a 7 miler (I did 6 last Sunday) but I may just do 6. I am ahead of the game according to my Tobacco Road Half training plan, but I haven't been putting in long runs since the tooth thing and feel like I should.

In other fitness areas, I am also doing a Planskgiving Challenge which I have kept up with (today is a Rest Day for that thankfully). I have also been sticking as strictly as possible with the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) diet plan Kay from Burn put me on. I am still not hitting enough calories per day and I know this, but can't seem to eat any more and still either feel like it (thanks botched wisdom tooth - still no feeling in mouth) or hit my Macros (45% protein, 35% carb, 20% fat). I had a follow up Focus Meeting with Kay and I had lost 10 lbs in 3 weeks which she seemed excited about, but I still think is too much. I may self adjust those macros. While I wanted to lose weight for sure, I want to do it in a safe way, and not sure that is what is happening. Need to work on more calories. She has me down for 1300 and if I hit 1000, I consider it a good day (I've only had 1 good day this week).

Next week I kick off the Zooma Holiday Challenge also, so that adds in 3 more strength workouts per week.

And I also got my official re-invitation to join the Fleet Feet Sports Racing Team for 2018, so yay for that!

I think that is it. So what have you accomplished this week?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fuel Up like Warrior

Disclaimer: I received Health Warrior Chia Bars and coloring book to review 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!

When you are a runner (or doing any kind of workout for that matter), it is very important to make sure that your body is receiving the proper fuel that it needs in order to perform your best. With so many options out there to choose from, how do you know what works best? Well for me, I've always found that natural ingredients are the key. 

I can't tell you how many different bars, gels and chews that I have tried over the years that have left me with an upset stomach mid or post run. I am sure there is something to be said for scientifically engineered blends, but for me, simple, natural ingredients are the key, and that is why Health Warrior Chia bars have found a permanent place in my fueling plan. 

First of all, the #1 ingredient in these bad boys is Chia. Chia has huge amounts of amazing health benefits despite their small size. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and provide fiber, iron, and calcium. Plus they are fun to eat because they swell up in your mouth/stomach which works to make you feel full. And all the other ingredients are things you can actually pronounce and occur naturally. Those are real chunks of dried apples that you see in there. 

So anyway, as a perk of being a BibRave Pro, Health Warrior sent me two boxes of Chia bars - Apple Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate to test out. So we've already established that they are good for you, but how do they taste? Pretty great! I've been enjoying having one of these 100 calorie pick-me-ups right before my afternoon and evening runs and they are really good! And don't just take my word for it, my daughter was really into the Dark Chocolate Chia Bars (healthy and chocolate, yes please). Then my brother came to visit for the weekend and he had his hand in my box of the Apple Cinnamon Bars (my favorite ones) whenever I had my back turned. Seriously, the night he arrived, he ate 3 of them in 2 hours. Then the next morning, I found out he ate 2 more while I was making him a pre-race smoothie for breakfast!! So yeah, they're pretty good. 

You can order a 15 pack of Health Warrior Chia Bars on their website (https://www.healthwarrior.com/) for $15.99 or try the 16 ct. Sampler Box for $19.99, shipping is free for orders over $25! Or, you can find them in a local store by putting in your zip code here: https://www.healthwarrior.com/store-locator/ 

In addition to the boxes of Chia Bars, Health Warrior also sent me a really fun Marathon Training Coloring Book. This thing is a riot. It covers the A - Z the trials and tribulations of training for a marathon. It's been really fun to color (see below for a few of my favorite pages). 
I mean seriously, how cute is that Poop??!!

Want your own coloring book? Get yours FREE with the purchase of any bars here: http://healthwarrior.link/colorbookbr

Join us at 9 pm Eastern Time on November 7th for #BibChat with Health Warrior and a chance to win these bars for yourself!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Back in the Saddle - aka - Cancelling the Pity Party

Today is the day  that I start again. Well, technically yesterday I took the first step, but today is the day where all the pieces are back into place.

See a week ago today, I had my lower left wisdom tooth removed. It was impacted below the jawline so it had to be removed by an oral surgeon in the fun, cut your jaw open kind of way. I was told before the procedure I was off any kind of heavy exercise, running and whatnot for 5 days. That was a rough pill to swallow for me.

Me, looking pathetic right after surgery
Well, I'd love to say that things went smoothly from there, but unfortunately not so much. See my tooth was a stubborn little bugger and didn't want to come out without a fight. The doctor eventually won, but not without a bit of damage to the nerve that runs right below there. Long story short, today is Day 7 of not having any feeling in the front of my face. Well, no feeling isn't exactly right, sometimes it feels like crazy. But only randomly. Needless to say, I've been a bit down in the dumps about the lack of activity and lack of feeling in my face and have had pretty much a week-long pity party.

But that's over now. Time to get back to work. Numbness or not.

So here's where I now. Basically, the not being able to feel my front teeth thing has made eating an issue for me. Most form of chewing are right out as of now which has made it a challenge to eat enough protein and veggies without actually having to chew protein and veggies. I've had to been creative in order to get in the calories I need, and I'll be honest, I've been failing. I met with a nutritionist last week and she wants me to eat 1300 calories per day. I've been averaging around 700 on a good day. I know, not cool.

Yesterday I picked me up a big ol' container of Plant Based Protein shake stuff, almond milk and berries and made up some overnight oats and a smoothie. I also cooked up some chicken breast and blended it within an inch of it's life along with some celery, onion powder and mayo in order to make pasty chicken salad. I will attempt to consume these items today to hit my calorie count.

Meanwhile, I ran a pretty slow 4.5 miles yesterday at Riverwalk to get back into the swing of running. This morning, I did the Bi/Tri/Shoulder class at Burn. That felt pretty good. Had half the smoothie before and half after, and while typing this, I am working on the overnight oats.

Also, this morning I set my weekly plan for both workouts and nutrition. I've never been consistent with keeping a bullet journal, but I am hoping that this week will be the one where I can make it stick.

Mostly, this week I'm working to get back in the saddle of my active lifestyle despite my new normal. Hopefully the numbness is temporary. But there's no way of knowing at this point when or if feeling will return, so sulking over it any longer is not longer an option.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

For the Love of Chocolate

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K 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!"

Ever since I have heard about the Hot Chocolate race series, I have always wanted to attend. The race jackets were awesome and who doesn't love being  handed a heaping bowl of chocolate at the finish line. Plus, I love me the 15K distance - it's super challenging but is over before things get really rough (mile 11 seems to be my nemesis). But unfortunately, despite being a large city, Charlotte, NC was never on the tour schedule. Atlanta was always close enough to race, but the weekend that the Atlanta race fell on was the same weekend as my daughter's birthday, which meant the only chocolate I was getting was birthday cake.
Soon you will be all mine!

Imagine my excitement when this year, the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K announced a Charlotte race! I signed up for the 15K IMMEDIATELY. I'm not even kidding. I got the announcement and clicked register. All that yummy chocolate and awesome chocolate bar race medal and cute jacket will be all mine this year! (Well, technically next year, the race is February 10th).

But wait, there's more...

Also this year, the Atlanta race changed dates and is no longer in mid-January, instead it is the first weekend of February. Not only that, I had just gotten accepted as a BibRave Pro which afforded me the opportunity to get a free entry. I had a tough decision - Do I dare run two Hot Chocolate 15K races back to back? Can I handle that much chocolate?

Ummm.. YEAH! 

So I've gone from being sad and not being able to do a Hot Chocolate 15K to doing two!! Not only that, I am road tripping to the Atlanta race with one of my running besties so it's going to be an adventure! I can't wait!

What about you? You want in on some yummy chocolate? I can sweeten the deal for you even. Use the code "BRHCATL18" for a bonus Hot Chocolate Cap when you check out.

To register:
Atlanta - https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/atlanta

Friday, September 22, 2017

I've Gone Pro

I'm so excited to finally announce that I have been chosen to be a BibRave Pro

What's that you may ask. Well, have you ever heard about a race but didn't know too much about it so you were unsure of whether you wanted to run it or not? Were curious as to how actual runners felt about a certain course? Wanted to find out was the SWAG Bag really worth the cost? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then www.BibRave.com is just want you need. There, real runners post their honest review of the races they have run rating everything from course terrain (how about them hills), parking, SWAG, communication and more.

I learned about BibRave from a fellow runner friend, (check her blog out here - http://barkingmadaboutrunning.blogspot.com/ ) who posted about it on Facebook. I checked it out and was hooked. See, I am a researcher. I like to know everything about a race before I run it. Helps with the nerves. Being able to read real race day experiences has really helped me immeasurably.

From there, I learned about #BibChat - a  weekly Tuesday night Twitter event where runners from all over get together to chat about topics, learn about cool gear and get to know others in the running community. I've made so many awesome new friends though these chats and learned about so many cool things. They also give away two items from a sponsor each week. On my 3rd #BibChat I won a free pair of Oofos recovery flip flops - see my previous blog about them here. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join - Tuesday evenings at 9 pm EST.

Anyway, back to being a Pro. Over the summer, BibRave announced applications were open for their ambassador program, the BibRave Pro team. I had gotten pretty involved with BibRave at that point posting several reviews, being involved with the #BibChats and just making friends with several community members. Why not, I figured. Worst case scenario, they say no and nothing changes. Well, they said YES and here I am. A Pro.

So what does this mean. Basically, I just keep doing what I've been doing, interacting with an awesome community, post my race reviews, be involved in #BibChat and learn about new awesome products. But as an extra bonus, I now have access to really cool race and gear discounts that I can share with you. To see these awesome deals, check out the two new page tabs at the top of the blog. They are updated periodically so be sure to check back on occasion.

So what's your next race coming up? Afterwards, be sure to share your experience with us at BibRave!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Holy Hills!!

First let me get this minor disclaimer out of the way - I am close friends with the Race Director of this race, which is just one of the reasons I run it each year. She's awesome, but that will not influence my review.

This year the St. Anne School Nun Run, a race to benefit the church school, was moved to Sept (it had been in the Spring in the past) to occur during the school's annual International Festival, which I think was a great decision and led to more exposure and race entries than prior years. Pre-race, there is lots of email communication and Facebook posting to keep participants in the know. Pack pick up was race day only and despite that, it was a quick and well organized process. The pick up area and race start were located across the street from St. Anne Church and there was plenty of parking at and around the church. I parked, walked across the street and waited only a minute or two to pick up my bib and cute cotton shirt (seriously, the logo is adorable and filled the shirt front with sponsors on the back). There was a large table with all the regular rack packet items - chap-stick, pens, coozies and bottle openers that you could help yourself to, all with sponsor logos, but I have tons of this stuff already, so I passed. A quick trek back to the car to stash my shirt and back across the street to the race start.

The race atmosphere was very festive. It was a smaller race but it was located about 2 miles from my house, so I knew a lot of the participants. Lots of showings from local running groups and of course much of the St. Anne Church membership. The race was free for children, so there were a lot of kids there as well. One local group, F3 was there in a large showing and had several local disabled youth that they were pushing in racing wheel chairs/carts so that was really awesome too be a part of. The kids were all so excited.

The race started at 8 am right after the National Anthem and a short prayer. One thing I wasn't so keen on for the start is that we started the race in a grassy field before turning onto a neighborhood road after about .1 mile. I'm notoriously clumsy, but managed to make it to the road without incident. I also am not a fan of races that allow dogs, esp when those with the dogs don't start in the back, but that may be just me as I have a slight dog phobia.

I swear I didn't mean those things, Susan!
Time for honesty. This was probably one of the most brutally hilly routes I've ever done a 5K on. Holy hills it was a rough one. And I literally ran a race with the word Mountain in the name. The course zig-zagged around neighborhood streets near the church for 1.5 miles where you then turned around and went back the same way. There was a water station at the turn that was well staffed, but I passed without water which is typical for me for a 5k. It wasn't any less hilly coming back either. Around mile 2 I saw the race director, who I may have said a few unkind words that I had to apologize for later. This was the second year the Nun Run followed this particular route as they had to avoid the local university area due to an event. Fingers crossed next year's race is able to route on Winthrop campus again and not on this hilly hilly route. There were ample volunteers on course who helped keep everyone's spirits up and more than a few neighbors were out in their yards cheering runners. I spent some time running with some of the F3 guys and their kid companions and was able to forget the rough terrain.

Somehow I'm not slipping on grass at the finish
The finishing mat was a quick turn off the road back onto the grassy field which again made me a bit nervous with the still wet grass, but was fine. Lots of people cheering at the finish. There was a huge table with cups of water and Gatorade. There was another table that was filled to the brim with all kinds of snack foods. I'm not kidding, it was the best post-race stocked table I've ever seen. Fruit of all kinds, bagels, granola bars, chips, crackers, cookies, muffins, you name it. There were several church ladies making sure that everyone got food and they were super sweet.

There were no medals with the exception of those who placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the following- Overall Male/Female, Masters Male/Female and in 10 year Age Groups Male/Female. The medals were super cute, color appropriate (Gold, Silver and Bronze) with the race logo on one side and the placement engraved on the back. Despite the rough course, I managed a placing (time 29:39), in fact, my first Masters placing since turning 40 a few months ago - 3rd place Masters Female.

Overall, great local race, great community and a great cause. Will for sure do it again, I'll just be keeping my fingers crossed for a route change.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Run Around the Park - Carowinds Run and Ride Race Series Review

This was my second year with the Carowinds Run and Ride Series running the Half Marathon. I signed up for the series back in January which allowed for a pretty big discount, so I ended up registering for 3 of the 4 possible races - the 1 miler, the 5K and the Half. The other distance (Quarter Marathon) was not an option for me as it was at the same time as the Half.

Packet pick up was available the Friday evening before the race at the race site or on race day. I opted to pick up Friday evening. I arrived right when pick up started and walked right up. Snoopy was there to greet racers and he and his handler kept my daughter entertained while the volunteers pulled my 4 packets (my daughter was also running the 1 miler). There were 3 steps to pick up. First you got your bib in an envelope, then to another line where you got your shirts and then to a 3rd line to pick up your park tickets if you chose a registration that came with tickets. We have season passes to Carowinds, so I passed on the ticket option (which made for a cheaper registration), but later found out they were giving line cut passes to the Half participants, which I missed out on as this was not clear. Those running the 1 miler and 5K got cotton yellow Charlie Brown-like shirts. Half racers got red tech Charlie Brown-like shirts plus a bag with a hat, magnet, and buff. I had to ask for the extra swag bag as the volunteer kept getting confused on who should get what, but finally got all my items, pried my daughter away from Snoopy and left.

Day  1

On race day, we arrived to the theme park where there was ample free parking. There was a bit of confusion as the race start time ended up being different than posted on the website with the 5K now starting at 8:30 instead of the posted 8:15. Luckily, the 1 miler was also pushed back 15 minutes from 9:00 to 9:15 as I was planning to run both. The on-site DJ made this announcement several times so it wasn't really a big deal, just a bit more waiting.

The race started just outside the park gate and looped around the back of the parking lot onto a maintenance road, and then into a back gate next to a large wooden roller coaster, The Hurler. From there, it wound around the park, into the water park area, under several more coaster, through the Dinosaurs area (always fun to run past life-size dinos), back out a maintenance area. The miles go by fast as there are a million things to look at, especially since Carowinds had already started putting up their creepy SCarowinds decorations. I only ran past 1 Peanuts character, Franklin,  during the race and even then, I think it was just a coincidence as he was making his way to his station for the park to open, but he high-fived me as I zoomed past, which made me smile. There was a water station at the halfway point. I didn't stop, but it was well staffed. My only route complaint comes from the condition of the roads in the maintenance areas.The roads behind the scenes were extremely broken up with loose rocks and huge cracks in many places. I had a few footing slips due to them.

The finishers area was full of cheering people and Snoopy and Charlie Brown were there cheering on the runners. Volunteers were handing out medals as you crossed and there was lots of water bottles, Powerade bottles, bagels, bananas and apples on hand. Prizes were given for the top 3 finishers in each 10 year age group (the previous year had 5 year age groups) and I just missed placing with a 28:18 time for a 4th place finish. I didn't have much time to stick around as the start line for the 1 miler was inside the park and getting ready to be escorted there (only those with bibs were allowed to go to the start) so I had to quickly switch my bib and head over. Overall, the race was fun with only a few complaints - the biggest being there was no on course photography at all, and apparently very very very limited finish line photography for the 5K.  I was kinda bummed about that cause last year's pictures were so cool (hello, Dinos in the background) but luckily, my husband was there to take some finish line photos of me otherwise I wouldn't have any. The medals were adorable (Lucy for the 5K) and link up to others in the series to form a roller coaster car. That right there was worth it to me!

The 1 miler started 45 minutes after the start of the 5K which I also ran. The start line for the 1 miler was a short walk from the finish of the 5K so I had plenty of time to find my husband and daughter, switch bibs and head with my daughter to the 1 miler start just inside the park entrance. Since the start was inside the Carowinds gate, only those with bibs were allowed in so the husband had to wait at the finish line, which was the same finish line for all 4 races. We started directly under the park's iconic Sky Tower, which was pretty cool and after a countdown, we were off.

The 1 mile route was entirely inside the park with the exception of an short bit down a behind the scenes maintenance road and the very end which was just outside the park gate down a finisher's chute. We ran through the Planet Snoopy portion of the park and Dinosaurs Alive area, which my daughter loved. The mile flew by with so many things to look at. Would have been nice to see a few of the Peanuts characters in the park, but Snoopy and Charlie Brown were at the finish line giving out high fives. There was no aid station for the 1 miler, but there was plenty of water, Powerade and food (bananas, apples and bagels) at the finish. There was no on-course photographers, however, there was photographer at the finish line, though only a few of the 1 miler racers seemed to have had their photo taken. My daughter had hers taken, but I had backed up and let her cross triumphantly on her own and there was no photo of me when I crossed seconds behind her.

We were given an adorable Peppermint Patty medal which had a magnet on it allowing it to link to others in the series. My daughter and I had a blast running it together and she wants to do it again next year for sure!

Day 2

The Half started at 7:00 am to a wonderfully cool morning. Prior to the race, the National Anthem was played and we had a moment of silence for remembrance for the next day's Sept. 11th. Both the Half Marathon and the Quarter Marathon had the same start time and routes with the Half Marathoners taking a second loop around. We started outside the front gate and with a big circle around the exterior of the Carowinds parking lot circling back to the gate and inside the park. The route wound under roller coasters, through the Dinosaurs Alive area, past the SCarowinds decor, into the water park, under more coasters and out a back service area to take a turn and into the hilly Campground area, came back out down a service road, back into the parking lot and around to the gate again only to start over again. The parts inside the park seemed to go quickly with lots of things to look at with the parking lot areas and campground seeming to drag a bit. I had not had the best Summer training and had run pretty hard for the 5K the day before so I was just planning to take it easy and let how I felt guide me. I started out a bit ahead of the 2:15 pacer and figured at some point she'd catch me and I'd have to decide to either be okay with that or push it. She caught up to me around mile 10 where I overhead her tell the group she was with that they were a few minutes above pace, which I thought was a bit odd, but decided I felt okay and to fall in with them. The pace group's added distraction was welcome and we chatted the last few miles away. I crossed the finish just after the pace leader for a 2:12 finish (despite the fact she was the 2:15 pacer) and a new overall and course PR for me by 4 minutes. Again, as with the 5K, the condition of the roads in the maintenance areas were extremely broken up with loose rocks and huge cracks in many places. I knew to look for this from the 5K and took these areas a bit slower.

Throughout the course there were several aid stations giving out water and Gatorade and I believe 2 were even given out gels. I don't carry water for races and there were enough stations that I passed 1 or 2 without stopping with no problems. I carry my own gels so I didn't take any, but it was a nice option for those who do not. Again, I have to complain about the lack of on-course photography (I really loved last year’s pics) but at least this time I did have a finish line photo.

We were given an adorable Snoopy medal at the finish which had a magnet on the back to link to the others in the series to form a roller coaster. Prizes were given for the top 3 finishers in each 10 year age group (the previous year had 5 year age groups). Snoopy and Charlie Brown were taking photos with finishers and there was, as with the Saturday races, plenty of water, Powerade and food (bananas, apples and bagels) at the finish.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed last year's race better than this year's but feel it is a still a decent race series. Management, while great at communicating prior to the races, seemed a bit disorganized, especially with the photography, which is a big issue for me, especially with such fun scenery. I will probably do this series at least 1 more time and see how it goes next year.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cool Summerfest

This year's York Summerfest Road Races were nice and cool with a starting temp in the low-60s, despite having Summer in the the name. These races are an event during the annual Summerfest in York, SC.

This is an annual local race that I have known about for years, but never raced before. This year I was able to make the time in my schedule and signed up about 2 weeks prior to the event and was still guaranteed a tech shirt which was pretty great. Pre-event, the race management kept in great contact, often posting on social media and sending out email updates leading to the event. You could pick up race packets in 3 ways, in York prior to the race, at the Fleet Feet Sports store in Fort Mill prior to the race, or on site the morning of. I opted for the Fleet Feet pick up. The bag contained a tech shirt, bib, sponsor odds and ends like pens and magnets plus vendor ads. I walked in and right out again no problem - well except my daughter spent several minutes petting the FFS mascot dog.

The morning of the race I easily found the location and parked at a municipal building parking lot right next to the race start. The weather was perfect for a race day, low-60s and there were several local vendor tents set up (including my Fleet Feet Sports team) and ample port-a-potties. 5 minutes prior to the start, which was on the road in downtown York, a local ROTC group displayed the colors for the National Anthem and the race started. Both the 5K and the 10K started at the same time and would follow the same route for about 2.5 miles where they split with the 5K heading back to the finish (which was the same place as the start) and the 10K veering off for the remainder of their route before doing the same. The course was extremely well marked with several volunteers and police along the route for assistance. I ran the 5K and passed a water station around 1.5 miles in. I was told their was a 2nd water station on the 10K route as well. The route went through residential neighborhoods with a few challenging hills and there were a few spectators here and there. The last .1 mile back to the finish was a decent sized hill, but there were a lot of people there cheering you on so it didn't seem so bad. 

I crossed the finish line under my 30 min goal and was pleased with my time. Live time race results were posted on a monitor at the finish line and was even more please to find out I placed 3rd in my age group!

After the race there was lots of water bottles on hand and Fleet Feet Sports had a huge cooler of Nuun for the racers. There was a big table full of fruit, crackers and granola bars as well. I stuck around to cheer on the other runners as I had several friends on the course for both the 5K and 10K races. There were no finisher medals for either distance.

Awards were presented in a nice ceremony where medals and certificates were give to overall and AG winners 1st, 2nd and 3rd in 5 year increments. I believe overall winners received gift cards. There was even podium blocks set up for winners to stand on. I placed 3rd in the Female 40-44 AG. After awards, there were about 10 or so door prizes drawn from bib numbers. Overall, it was a great, well organized local race that I would highly recommend.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Ya'll it's hot! I mean, of course it is hot - it is after all Summer in South Carolina, but it is really really hot. And I know, it is cliche to say, it's not the heat, it's the humidity, but I'm not even kidding, IT'S THE HUMIDITY.

Every morning, for the past 3 weeks now I've woken up and looked at my new favorite weather app, WTForecast (seriously, this thing is HILARIOUS) and the humidity level has been at least 90%. It starts to take a toll on you. I keep telling myself, just think how badass you'll be in the Fall, but something has got to give. My running has suffered drastically in this.

These cows know what's up
For example, this past Sunday I met a friend for an 11 mile training run. We started at 7 am and it was 96% humidity and 73 degrees already. To say it was rough would be an understatement. More like miserable!! It wasn't as bad as my last month's worst run ever (see here) but it was bad. I honestly was hoping that my friend would want to bail after we did the trail once, but she was a trooper, so I was too. At one point during the run I heard some mooing and looked over and a whole herd of cows were chilling in the river. I was super jealous of them! Afterwards, I was able to literally wring out my hair and create a small puddle!

Unfortunately, I have a Half Marathon coming up in about 2 months so taking the summer off is not an option, however, I am toying with reducing my miles and doing more cross training until the worst of the summer is over. The next few Tuesdays will be trail runs in the woods to help with the worst of the heat. I may suck it up and do some treadmill as I have access to a gym.

How do you keep cool in the heat of the summer? Any tips (or even commiserating) are 100% welcome.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5th annual Common Heart Firecracker Run

This year my Fleet Feet Training Group chose as their Summer goal race the 5th annual Common Heart Firecracker Run. It was my first time running this race, but I had heard some really great things about it from friends, so I was excited to do it. Not only was the course highly praised, but it is a great local race in that it supports the Common Heart charity, a local food pantry that does a lot of amazing work in the area. I signed up for the 10K course.

We've been having a rough summer here in the Charlotte area already as far as heat and humidity and race day was no exception. In fact, it was 98% humidity when I arrived that the race site in the Lake Park Village in Indian Trail, NC (about a 40 min drive for me). The Start/Finish area was located right in the village center near a big park and shops, so there was plenty of parking available. My training group coordinator had picked up our packets for us the day before so I cannot comment on pick up, but the packets were in red, white, and blue bags and contained the usual trinkets, a few pens, key chain, magnet, lots of sponsor flyers, literature about Common Heart and the race shirt. Shirts were your basic 100% cotton grey unisex t-shirt with race logo on front and sponsors on the back. TBH, I will probably never wear it.

15 minutes before the 7:30 10K start, we were all called to line up at the Start. The 10K course was a large 3 mile loop around the Lake Park Village with a few turns here and there (basically, it was the 5K course twice with the start backed up .2 miles from the finish to get in the requite miles. The 5K course had been officially certified, but not the 10K. 

There was lots of cloud cover and some slight rain at the start, which did nothing to dent the oppressive humidity and temps were already rising in the mid-70s. The loop was beautiful, winding past the park, through the business district, around a lake and weaving through a few streets in the neighborhood. There were lots of course volunteers and a few police officers to direct traffic (the roads were partially closed, but being inside a neighborhood, there was very little traffic, all of which was held or re-routed away from runners. There was an aid station at the half-way point of the loop so 5K runners got 1 water station at mile 1.5 while the 10K runners passed it at 1.5 and again at 4.5. The clouds dispersed pretty quickly after the start and soon we were in full sun with little to no shade on the course. The course was very flat, but the humidity and the heat made the race a real challenge. I fell pretty short of my 10K PR but it wasn't my worst 10K performance and the course atmosphere, scenery and supporting a great cause made up for my lack of performance. Let's put it this way, I plan to make an impressive come back when I run it again next year.

There were no participation medals for either distance, but 1st, 2nd, and 3rd overall and AG winners received medals with 1st and 2nd also receiving gift cards to Omega Sports. Overall all, it was a great, well organized race for a great cause on a beautiful course, and I hope to run it again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bad Runs Happen

It's summer here in the south and that means HEAT and HUMIDITY, not exactly a runner's best friend. And this weekend, boy did I feel it. I had 2 runs to get in, a 5 mile and an 11 mile. I met my run group Sat. morning who was planning to do 4, so I figured I would do an extra 1 after. Feeling pretty good despite the humidity, I decided to try to keep up with faster pace group (who, full disclosure were taking it a bit slower due a race that evening) so I knocked out my 5 in around a 9:30 pace. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked with that. Seriously, it is 92% humidity. 9:30 pace!

This is me at the end. The smile is FAKE. I was dying!
Now Sunday, Sunday was a totally different story. Sunday SUCKED! It was what I consider the WORST run I've ever had. It was super humid again, 93%, and I started out at 6 am to meet a friend who would do the first 4 with me, leaving me 7 to finish on my own. The plan was to take it nice and slow, esp since the person I was meeting run typically a slower pace than me. So we set out on my regular Sunday trail (love Riverwalk). It was very apparent in the first half mile, that this run would be awful. I was dragging for some reason, and every single excuse I could think of kept echoing in my head. We ran out 2 miles, then turned around to head back to the trail head, with what I considered too many walk intervals. But I did keep going, so there's that.

I considered quitting at 4 and just trying again the next day, but I figured I was already out there and miserable, that at least if it got uglier there wouldn't be a witness any longer. I said goodbye to my friend, dug down deep and set back out onto the trail.

I kept telling myself, just do one more mile. And when I hit that, I did one more and one more and so on. The trail is just over 3 miles long one way and I kept pushing, at a horribly slow pace and walking on occasion, but I kept moving. My pace was well over a min per mile slower than I typically do for that distance, averaging in at 12:08, yesterday's 9:30 a distant memory.

Seriously considered just running right in
I made it to the end of the trail, took a quick break to take a photo, take a Huma gel, and texted my friend that I somehow pushed myself to the end of the trail. The trail ends into a river (literally! The path turns into a boat ramp) and I did contemplate just running right into the river as there is no way I could have gotten any wetter - I was sweat-soaked completely through.

Deciding against that, now I still had to head back. I was at just over 7 miles now with a bit over 3 to head back. The beauty of an out and back route is that you can't really quit, because you have to make it back to your car. More pushing and walking and pushing and walking, I somehow made it back to the front of the trail. I was at 10.3 miles, and that was all I could do. In order to get that last mile in, I would have had to turn back onto the trail and the thought of restarting, even for such a short distance, was more than I could bear. Plus, I had run out of water by now.

It was a bad run. A real bad run. But, I did it. I lived. I took yesterday completely off and tonight, I know I'm going to rock my run. At least, it will be better than Sunday's - right?

How about you? What was your worst run? Do you push through a bad run, or do you call it and try again another time?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Where I Learn: I Am Not A Sprinter

Subtitle: Be careful what you teach your children as it may come back to bite you

Each year a local running group in my area sponsors an Open Community Track Meet. It is a fundraiser for an athletic scholarship for the local university (which I attended) and it is a really fun event that somehow I've never had a chance to participate in until this year. The event starts out with a few kids races and then several adult races, all super casual and the fun part is awards are given to 4th place finishers (as 4th place is an underappreciated placing).

2 Tough Girls Ready to Run
I talked to my little, who is 7 about it, and she was interested in competing. See she is training in order to do the Insane Inflatable race in Nov. and as excited as she is to bounce on the obstacles, she is nervous about the 5K distance. So I've been scheduling small races throughout the year to prove to her she can do it. The plan was she would do the 2 kids events (the 50 meter and 100 meter sprints) and then daddy would take her home while I did a few of the adult races. She was nervous but excited and we geared up and headed to the track.

Unfortunately on the way I got a call from the husband that he wouldn't make it in time due to a meeting at work. No big deal, a friend and her daughter would also be there and my little could hang with them while I run a few events. The meet went kinda late so we'd have to leave early which meant no 5K for me which I was ok with. Wasn't looking forward to doing 13 laps around the track anyway, that just sound's kinda boring to me.

First event was exclusive to the kids of a local school so we just watched and the little got to see what she would be doing. Next up, the kid's 50 meter. She raced in the 2nd group (1st was under 6, her wave was 7-8 year olds) and she ran her little heart out finishing solidly in the middle of the pack. Pulled up daddy on Facetime so he could watch. She was super excited and got a ribbon. Next up was the 100 meter and it didn't quite go as well for her. First of all, it was a HOT day. 84 degrees with no shade, and this was her first time sprinting. I recommended that she not run as hard as she could and instead pace herself to not run out of steam. She took that to heart and ended up placing last, which she was disappointed in. It took a bit to convince her that finishing last wasn't a big deal, that I was so proud of her for doing it and the important thing was she tried her best and had fun. That being brave enough to compete was the real win here, and it didn't matter her place. Our friends did the same and we were able to convince her. This will come back on me though.

Next up were the adult races. I first competed in a 100 meter sprint. I am not a sprinter. It was just a small group of us, 4 ladies and I managed to squeak out a 2nd place finish (1st place was WAY ahead of me though). Next event, 1 mile sprint. I took 1 look at the competition and was like, nope. It was mixed gender, only 1 other girl, and pretty sure the other competitors were about 15 years younger than me on average. I told my friend that I was going to sit it out as there was no way I could compete with them. Then I hear a little voice telling me, "Mommy, it is fine if you come in last place, what is important is that you try your best. I'll be proud of you no matter what."

After the 1 mile. I may have been last, but was still feeling strong
So you know what happened next of course. I lined up, fully expecting to get killed. And that is pretty much what happened. Although I will say, I did not technically come in last as I did pass this guy during the 2nd lap, but he quit shortly after. So I was the last one to cross the finish, but I did complete all 4 laps. Really wish I had been wearing some kind of timing so I know what my pace was, but if I had to guess, it was somewhere around just under 9 min mile, which for me is pretty great. I got a huge hug at the end and a very happy little girl who didn't feel so bad about finishing last anymore because mommy, who is a "real runner" also finished last in her event. So yeah, humbling, but worth it.

After that, I competed in one last event, the 4x 100 meter relay. We formed a team on the side of the track which consisted of 3 of us who are in a running group together and this nice guy we just met at the event. I was the 2nd leg and had a lot of fun talking to this really nervous 4th grader who had never run a relay before. I gave him some tips and made him laugh some and he did awesome. I think our team came in 5th, but I honestly wasn't paying attention, it was just for fun.

By then it was almost 7 pm and I had a little who hadn't had dinner and needed a shower so it was time to take her home. Overall, it was a lot of fun and the little said she wanted to do it again (she was sad she'd have to wait a year). But yeah, while I may compete again next year, I'll stick to distance running over sprinting thank you very much!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kings Mountain Marathon (Half) Race Recap

This was my first year running the Kings Mountain Half Marathon, but it has quite a reputation with local running groups as it is touted as an out and back course that is somehow uphill both ways. I mean, it is on a mountain for goodness sake. I'm not going to sugar coat it, this is a tough course, but when you finish it, you feel like a total badass!
The race is pretty small, just 170 participants for both the Half and the Full which started at the same time. With it being so small, each running is given special attention, with a welcome to the race twitter post by the management company when you register, to several pre-race emails. The race management (coordinated by Adventure Geeks Productions) really get to know the racers, recognizing multi-year participants by face/name making it a real intimate race.
I did day of packet pickup and it went super smooth and quick. I arrived early and carpooled with a friend and we were able to park right at the start. Participants who arrived later would have to park a mile or so away, but there was a shuttle bus bringing them to the start, so it was not a big deal. We received bags with s really nice tech shirt, a buff and Clif bar. We were told to hold on to the bottom portion of our bib to exchange for a post race meal (burger, hot dog or chicken sandwich with chips, muffin and drink) provided by a local Boy Scout troop.
The course winds through Kings Mountain State Park, which is absolutely beautiful. It was an unusually hot and humid race day, but luckily being on the mountain cooled things slightly, plus the course is very wooded so there was lots of shade. I considered not wearing my sunglasses, but glad I did for the last 2 miles when the sun came up fully. The first 4.5 miles of the Half was on paved road, which wasn't closed, but very minimal traffic (the Half and the Full followed the same route for just over a mile with the Half turning left and the Full turning right). After cresting a pretty big hill, the next 5 miles (consisting of about 2.5 miles down and then back again at the half way point) of the Half were on a gravel road with some pretty decent up and downs. At the turn around there was a port-a-potty and an aide station. The course had fully stocked aide stations about every 2. 5 miles with water, Gatorade, gels, protein bars and toilet paper (just in case you needed to hit the woods) and lots of volunteers cheering on the runners. At mile 10, someone was handing out cold towels and ice. The last 4.5 miles was running back to the start but somehow, the hills seemed so much worse the 2nd time around, esp the one at around 11.5 miles. I really had to push myself up that one and I think everyone within my sight walked a portion of it (including me).
At the finish, there were lots of people cheering runners and the race director called out each person as they crossed the line. The medal was awesome and doubled as a bottle opener. Despite the hills, heat and humidity, I managed a 3rd place age group finish! The awards ceremony was really nice with place boxes for award winners to stand on. Overall winners were given glass plaques while AG winners were given pint glasses with the race logo. It was awesome.
In summary, this race was a challenge, probably the hardest race I've ever done, but also one of the most enjoyable and best managed. I will absolutely do it again next year. Highly, highly recommend!!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

For the Love of Oofos

My Project Pink Oofos. <3
This is a long overdue post that I have been meaning to make. About a month ago, I received via a contest on Twitter during a #BibChat, a free pair of Oofos Recovery Sandals. Let me just get this out of the way, THEY ARE THE BEST THINGS THAT I'VE EVER PUT ON MY FEET!! EVER!!

Okay, you can see I am excited about them. And I am feeling guilty that I haven't posted earlier, but ya'll let me tell you, go and get yourself some now if you are a runner. Previous to being amazingly gifted these flip flops that were sent from above, I was developing a nasty case of plantar fascitis in my left foot. I was keeping it at bay with stretching, but could feel it creeping up after each run. Now I have these bad boys to cradle my arches and the pain pretty much as disappeared. These shoes are no joke. I ran a crazy tough half marathon last weekend and smart me packed my Oofos in my race day bag. I'm not even kidding, I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and went straight to my car to change. My calves were starting to cramp up on the walk over and the moment I put them on, I felt my feet and legs relax.
No shame. Wore them right up on the podium.

Anyway, just wanted to extend a huge thank you to both BibRave and Oofos for gifting me these little clouds to walk on. I wish I could wear them at all times. I am planning to get myself a pair of the slide sandals so I can wear them with socks (yeah, gonna be that girl) too.

If you've ever been considering recovery footwear, seriously, you should. Check them out here- https://www.oofos.com. Also, be sure to join me and other awesome people in the running community each Tuesday evening at 9 pm (EST) for #BibChat on Twitter to chat about running topics and for chances to win awesome sponsor prizes. Just log on to your Twitter and follow BibRave - https://twitter.com/BibRave to find out more.

How about you? Any specialty footwear that you are all excited about? Love your shoes? Tell me about them.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Come See Me Road Races 5K Review

The Come See Me Road Races are a part of Rock Hill, SC's Come See Me Festival, a 10 day festival each spring with events all over town. This was my second time running the Come See Me Road Race 5K, though this year the race location moved back into the center of Rock Hill starting at the Winthrop University Coliseum. The past 3 years, the Road Races included a half marathon (which I had run multiple times), but with the move into town, the Half was eliminated and a 10K added. Was super disappointed about that decision as this Half had become my benchmark race for improvement year over year. But I will admit that it was nice to not have to wake up early for a race for once as it took place just 2 miles from my house. Heck, I considered running to the race!

Packet pickup was Friday evening at the Winthrop Coliseum, where the race would take place (you could also pick up morning of). It was easy in and easy out with lots of parking as the area is designed for large crowds. Packets were well organized. There were, however, lots of complaints about the race shirts. The good news was they were tech shirts. The bad news is that they were huge-to-size. I ordered a Med. as I usually do and realized upon holding it up that I easily could have fit 3 of me in it. There were no extra shirts for exchanges and those signing up at packet pick up were not going to get shirts, so I ended up actually giving my shirt to a man who was signing up for his first race ever. I doubt I would have worn the way too big shirt, and I felt he would appreciate the shirt much more. I heard from several others that the shirts in their packets did not actually match their registration order and some who had ordered before the deadline even did not receive shirts either. The packet also contained a 5K or 10K magnet, water bottle and chapstick with sponsor logos in a cloth bag (shopping type, not drawstring).
The morning of the race was a bit confusing as there was not much information on where to go. The race information said that the race started at the Winthrop University Coliseum. The Coliseum in fact is in the center of a 325 acre sports complex and the race actually started at Winthrop Lake, which is a pretty good hike from the Coliseum. There was also no official "Start" line, just a mark on the road and lots of people were asking where exactly to line up. On top of that, apparently the bullhorn for the start broke, so a volunteer sat on someone's shoulders and shouted to start the race.
From the race start, I'll be honest, I couldn't say if the route was well marked or not, I am assuming it was, but since again the race was so close to my house, I literally run this area several times a week so I could do it with my eyes closed. It is a beautiful area to run through, past the lake, through the sports complex past the baseball field, Coliseum and tennis courts and then down one of the most beautiful residential streets in Rock Hill. The route turns right before Winthrop University, and back up another street leading back to the sports complex. The final mile was a lap around the other side of the sports complex with Finish Line set up at the Historic Dairy Barn stone wall (the sports complex used to be a farm when Winthrop first opened). It's a super simple course, but I may be biased because again, I run this route a lot. I heard from friends running the 10K that the 10K course was a bit rough and knowing their route, I would agree. There was a tricky bit that goes down a pretty small bike path that could be pretty confusing if you didn't know the area.
The 5K began at 8:30 am and honestly it was already hot. Would have much preferred even a half hour earlier start time due to the heat. There were 2 water stations on the course that had plenty of volunteers handing out water. The finish had lots of water, oranges, bananas and bagels. All finishers, 5K and 10K receive a medal.
Overall it was a good local race and I will do it again for sure as it is a super convenient race and lots of my running buddies do it. I spend more time socializing this race than running it. My results were ok (28:54 with a 4th place AG finish) but I know I could have done better, so I was disappointed. I'm really hoping they bring back the Half (Race Director said they were looking into).