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Getting ready to race

It’s race season!!!!  Yay! You have no idea how happy this makes me. This weekend is my favorite race of all – the April Fool’s Half marathon in Atlantic City. This was my first half and is still my favorite. I mean, how can you beat running along the boardwalk with these views.

April fools half course

Plus, it’s close enough that a lot of my friends usually run it. This has been a tough training season, weather wise, so I will miss some of my usual running buddies at the race this year. :-( Here are me and my girls from last year.

Race buddies April Fools 2014

Here we are with our SOL Sisters.

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Time flies… I can’t wait to run it with Tara and Dawn this year. Here we are in 2013.

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It has been raining non stop here lately! I’m not sure we will ever get a full week of soccer practice in! Some of my boys came out despite the weather. I always remember having so much fun playing soccer in the rain. These boys loved it too.

Soccer in the rain

There was no convincing them that practice should end early, and that was fine with me. They were all smiles right up until the end.

My soccer guys

I’m hoping for a lazy morning tomorrow. We might as well get something out of spring break, right? Even our pets know the morning routine around our house. Everything is better after coffee and a protein bar.

White cat

So, I am wondering, what is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?

Central Park Half Marathon

Today I was lucky enough to spend the day with 17 of my great friends doing what we love on an unseasonably warm February day in Central Park.  It was my friend Kelley’s birthday, and she brought us all luck.  It was an amazing day.  Happy Birthday Kelley!  This is most of us before the race.

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It was an early morning, but that is part of the fun (sort of!).  The park was still snow covered and beautiful, despite the warm temperatures. 

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The race was limited to 1,500 runners and was not too crowded.  It was the perfect size for the park.  The course would have been confusing, but NYCruns.com did a great job of directing runners on the course.  It was two loops around the perimeter of the park with two smaller loops at either end.

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My usual race partners and I were ready to go!

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There were some crazy hills on this course!  The toughest was the infamous “Harlem Hill” at the northwest end of the park.  According to mapmyrun the bottom of the hill starts at an elevation of 34 feet and the highest point is 147 feet!  http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/9112472  I was too busy gasping for air to take a picture, but here is a picture I found  – this is close to the end of the seemingly never ending climb.

harlem hill

The good news is that once you finally get up the hill, you get to run down.  That is my favorite part.  :) 

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There were so many sights on this course and good friends to chat with along the way.  It felt like a Sunday run rather than a race.

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The CNN sign verified the 45 degree temperature -something we are not used to this time of year!

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We passed many famous locations, but one of my favorite places to spend a summer afternoon (well – before kids) is at the Boathouse, sitting outside next to the lake with a cold drink in my hand and the sun on my face.  Those were the days!

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I have been annoyed at being passed during races before, but I have to admit this is the first time I was passed by a horse!  Well a real horse, anyway.  Since he has four legs, I am ok with it.

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Holly – do you remember those two guys running in a horse costume in Atlantic City last year?  13.1 miles!  Some people are crazy!

horse AC

I don’t think any of us started the race looking for a PR (personal record), but a few of us did get them!  I was pleasantly surprised at about mile 11 when Eileen calculated our projected time, so I sped up for the last 2 plus miles.  It was worth it! I beat my best time by 5 minutes!  And, somehow, I ran the course a little long.  I was trying to avoid the slanted parts of the road to save my heel. 

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We were all happy when we were done, although the hills caused us all to feel immediately sore!

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The goodies for this race were top notch too – a shirt, medal and fleece scarf.

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Time for my date with my foam roller and then off to bed.  I don’t get sore very often after running anymore, but I have a feeling all of us girls will be walking a little funny tomorrow!

foam roller

So, I am wondering, have you used a foam roller?  What do you do when you are sore?

 

Half Marathon Training

The countdown has begun for the Central Park Half Marathon.  17 days until me and about 15 of my friends will wake up at four in the morning to make a freezing cold trip into the city with all of our race essentials.  Trying to figure out the timing of when to eat, when to have coffee and when to get in line for the bathrooms is all part of the crazy fun of race day.  Hopefully when we arrive it will look like this

central park

and not like this!

central park snow

One way or another I know it will be a great day with my friends and I will have run a race in Central Park – something I have always wanted to do.

To run a half marathon you really do have to train.  There are all different levels of training plans available – for novice to experienced runners.  There are even couch to half marathon plans (I bet you have already heard of couch to 5k plans)!  If you are completely new to running but would like to tackle a half marathon, set aside about 14 weeks to get ready.  It is actually a good idea to give yourself 15 or 16 weeks because life sometimes doesn’t cooperate with our plans.  This way you will have a cushion if you or someone in your house gets sick or if anything else comes up.  Here is a couch to half marathon plan if you are interested.  http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2013/09/training-tips/couch-to-half-marathon-training-plan_15065

I have mentioned before that I have not done very well with planning the half marathons I have already run.  It is not ideal, and I am sure I could run a better time with better training.  But, if you already run at an intermediate or above level, you will be fine training for less time.  Here is a sample of a 10 week plan for an intermediate level runner.

10 week half training

To see this plan in more detail, look here http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/half-marathon-training#.  From past experience I have learned that it is best for me to get 13 miles in at least once before race day.  Many people do not find it necessary though.

Surprise, surprise, I am behind on training for the upcoming half.  I ran 10 miles today and only have two weeks left until race day!  That means next week has to be my 13 mile week, since you would never want to run that too soon before the race.  Now if only the weather will cooperate…  I am just not a treadmill runner.  I did get to try out my new ponytail hat today.  It worked great – it was warm and not annoying.  What else can you ask for?

hat

Tonight we tried pumpkin pizza for dinner.

Pumpkin pizza 1  pumpkin pizza2  pumpkin pizza3

I adapted this recipe from the one posted on www.twopeasandthierpod.com  That recipe looks great too, but we love garlic and parmesan cheese and I didn’t have time to make the dough.  We liked this pizza a lot, and it is a nice alternative.  Traditional pizza is still our favorite though!

So, I am wondering, do you get up early to work out?

2014 – New Races!

2013 was my first official race year.  I have always run, but I didn’t really run races before this year.  Now I have no idea why I didn’t!  Races motivate and inform my training.  They give me something to look forward to.  Of course, I have a great running club full of inspirational and motivational women to run and race with.  I have mentioned that I am pretty lucky, right?  Also, as an adult I find there are not too many opportunities to be truly recognized for your efforts.  In races you are always recognized – whether it is with a finisher medal, a place medal, a PR or even just knowing your official time.  When you finish a race you always feel accomplished.  It was hard for me to take my race schedule down today, but I am slightly appeased by the fact that I will replace it with a new one!

2013 races all

Runners love race bling.  It is the tangible and lasting pat on the back we are probably all (runners and non runners alike) overdue!

medal holder 10 2013

It is officially time to start my 2014 race calendar.  I have signed up for my first race, and it is one I am really excited about!  The Central Park Half Marathon!

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I love the city and am so excited for the opportunity to race in the park.  A bunch of girls from my running club have signed up and we will be celebrating Kelley’s birthday while there.  It is sure to be a great time.  This is also the first half marathon that I actually planned to run in advance!  The other two were a result of circumstance.  So this will be the first race entered on my new calendar.  Maybe I should get a real calendar this year?  We’ll see.

I did get a training calendar.  I got it before I signed up for this race, so I am not sure I will be able to squeeze it in for this one.  Next half, I guess.

run the edge

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I’m looking forward to a great running year.  I hope you are too!

So, I am wondering, do you have any fitness goals for the new year?

2,010 Feet

A little over two hours after I started, I ran up the steepest hill I have seen in my running career and pushed myself to go faster and pass under the tall black rectangular finish line.  I had pursued this end with singular focus for the last three uphill and heavily slanted miles and now was having trouble getting my legs to stop moving.  I had smiled for the final camera man sitting on top of the finish line, but the truth was that last hill was a fight.  This picture is of the finish line and the overall winner of the race – Stanley Biwott.  You can see the incline a bit here, but most of it is just past that turn and to the right.

RnR Run Finish

I am not one to just stop after a race.  I need to walk it off a bit.  So I passed the volunteers handing out finisher medals in a bit of a fog and in search of Gatorade.  Soon, however, the excitement set in for me and I claimed my medal.  : )

RnR Medal

Of course I had stopped my Garmin and my Runkeeper after crossing the finish line.  So while looking for a cold drink I decided to check my stats.  This race was not a speed PR for me for a half marathon.  So I was surprised to see my Runkeeper announcing a new personal record.  As it turns out, it was for elevation climbed!  MY FAVORITE!  2,010 feet.  Well that explains a lot.

RnR Run1  RnR Run 0  RnR Run6

So, I am wondering, have you ever run a race with an uphill finish?  How did you feel about it?

Run Happy

Today my speed work consisted of “running” to Philadelphia to pick up my bib for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon while the boys were in school – and making it back in time to pick them up.  Success!  It was actually easier than I expected. I usually consider packet pick-up confusing and disorganized, but not this one.  Sometimes the differences between an established big race and a smaller new race are really obvious.

Bib RnR

Since I had not planned to run this race originally, I didn’t know much about the Expo or the “swag.”  I have to admit that I actually like the shirts.  Brooks is the major sponsor for this race, so the shirts are Brooks shirts and pretty good quality.  I even like the color!  Amazing!

RnR Shirt

Since I was one of the first in line I was even able to get an extra shirt – the original is going to my friend who was supposed to be running tomorrow.  Nothing too exciting in the bag…ho hum.  But that is ok.  Since Brooks is the sponsor, they were offering a good discount on their running shoes.  I love the Brooks pure line and desperately needed a new pair.  What a great coincidence!  (Yes, I sent the Pure Connect back.  Too minimal for me.)

Brooks Pure Flow 2

Being at the Expo did make the race more real for me though.  The starting line butterflies began to make an early appearance.  I am getting excited!

RunHappy

Probably the craziest thing there though, was the mechanical bull…I mean sneaker.  Maybe when I am back tomorrow with my friends I will ride it.  We’ll see.  Yes, it actually spins – fast!

Shoe Bull

One thing is for sure.  With 40 girls from my running club running this race, it is bound to be a good time.  So, one soccer game to go and then race day.  Wish me luck!

So, I am wondering, what is your favorite running shoe and why?

Eleven Miles

Today was an eleven mile day with a great friend of mine.  She is training for a half (which I may run now too) and my schedule said “long run.”  So when she said “Do you want to do eleven on the trail on Friday?” I couldn’t resist.  It is difficult to explain this experience to someone who doesn’t run.  The feeling of happiness and accomplishment and a sense that anything is possible that comes from a good run.  It is joy, pure and simple.  The “runner’s high” if you will.  As adults, we really do not experience enough true joy.  We witness it in our kids’ laugh and play, but in our own experience it is often missing.  Running brings it back.  Especially running with a good friend.

So we ran eleven miles on the trail today.  It was a beautiful day – cool and sunny.

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We saw people we knew, we laughed and chatted.  Our fuel belts annoyed us and we checked our Garmin way too many times.  And those two hours flew by.  It was a great morning.

This is the same friend I ran my first half with.  That is still my favorite race (I may have mentioned this already!)  These pictures are from that race.  Can you believe they ran 13.1 miles in that costume!?  At least I beat them. : )  That could have been embarrassing!

half horse

Half beach

I am sure there will be many more wonderful running days with friends.  I hope you get to experience them too.

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So, I am wondering, do you run with a friend?  What was your favorite running adventure with a friend?

 

Test Your Limits

Easier said than done, right?  Stepping outside of your comfort zone is, well… uncomfortable.  But it can also be very rewarding.  This works best for me when I don’t overthink my new goal.  For example, I ran my first half marathon at the last minute.  I am not generally a last minute person.  In fact, I had planned to run a half six months later.  I had a training program set up and was very excited to reach my goal.  But life (especially with kids) does not always go as planned.  The 10k I signed up for was supposed to be the same Sunday as the half marathon.  Due to an overwhelming response, however, the race directors decided to move the 10k to Saturday – opening day of Little League baseball in our town.  This was not going to work for me.  A good runner friend of mine that I was regularly running 7 miles with encouraged me to switch to the half marathon.  I realized that it was actually possible for me to do this!  So, with two weeks until the race I began to increase my mileage.  I didn’t think too much about it – I was afraid I would chicken out!  But I tested my limits by believing in myself and I did it.  It is still my favorite race.  Here I am (in blue) with some of the amazing girls in my running club.  My boys made me gear to give me luck along the way.

Half

Today I tested my limits in an entirely different way.  My trees needed some serious work.  I had dead trees, overgrown trees, and one providing residence to tent worms!  So, with the help of my dad and his chain saw, we took care of all of them.  I manned the pruning shears while he worked the chain saw.  And guess what?  It sure felt good to have accomplished that task when we were done.

tree Me  Branch pile

Sometimes it’s the little rewards that are the best.  Like flowers from my boys on my morning run.

Flowers

So, I am wondering, have you tested your limits recently?  What have you accomplished that you thought you could not do?

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