Celebrating 100 races… and the Best Of!

20 Apr

Since I recently completed my 100th race (the Hershey 10k) I thought it would be fun to look back at the 100 races I’ve done and break down my race history with some stats and give some thoughts on the “best of” races in lots of different categories (based on the races I’ve run). I would be really hard pressed to give my overall favorite race ever, but I think I can give some suggestions and things to consider if you are creating your own race schedule.

By the numbers…

3 marathons

33 half marathons

9 10ks

38 5ks

4 color runs

3 relays

2 mud runs (Warrior Dash and Dirty Girl)

1 Bermuda Triangle Challenge

1 Goofy Challenge

7 years, 10 months of running from my first race to #100!

The Best Of…

(based on the races I’ve run at least 🙂 )

Best Half Marathon for a First Timer: Disney Princess Half Marathon – This race is all about fun and the course time limit is very generous. Instead of focusing on a finishing time (which you shouldn’t do on your first half anyhow) you can focus on having fun in the happiest place on earth!

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Best Marathon for a First-Timer: Wineglass Marathon – They have a really long time limit and the volunteers are super friendly. The water stops stay open for the back of the pack runners. The course is a net-downhill so you can focus on completing the distance and less about the course itself. They also leave the finish line open for the very last runner (and the photographers stick around too). Oh and the medals are hand printed glass!

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Best Half Marathon to Race: D&L Heritage Half Marathon – I may be partial since this race holds my current half marathon PR, but this course can’t be beat. There is one hill at the beginning and from there it is smooth sailing downhill. The hill does not set your time back at all, given the rest of the course. The course is also shaded so it doesn’t get too hot, even if the sun is out. They offer pacers (including 2:45 and 3:00 if I remember right) so you can tag along with others to help reach your goal!

Best 5k to Race: One of my favorite 5ks was the Rock n Roll Savannah 5k which I realize is pretty random. But it is flat, runs through a scenic park and ends in a baseball stadium which is really cool.  It’s definitely PRable if the weather cooperates!

Rock n Roll Savannah 5k (4)

My Proudest Performance: Niagara Falls International Half Marathon – I ran this race as miles 8-20 of a 20 miler during marathon training, and managed to PR and break the 2:30 barrier for the first time. Oh, and it was rainy and windy. 🙂

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Races I’d Do Again and Again: Pittsburgh Half Marathon – It may be clear from my race history but I love Pittsburgh. This year will be my 6th year running it. The energy and excitement that running in Pittsburgh brings keeps me going back year after year. The fact that there are tons of awesome spectators, it’s so well organized and the registration price isn’t insane for a big city race (as long as you register early) are the icing on the cake.

Pittsburgh Half 2015 (8)

I also love the Hershey 10k (5 years and counting…) because of its simple packet pickup and fun course that runs through the theme park. It’s a challenging one because of the hills but I love being able to push myself for “only” 6.2 miles during this race.

Hershey 10k 2014 (2)

Race I’d Never Do Again: Hershey Half Marathon – This is nothing that is fault of the race itself, more my own preference (since clearly I’ve gone back year after year for the Hershey 10k and also gone back to do the half marathon relay). I had a really rough race here in 2011 – my legs were tired by mile 5. And the hills just never gave me a reprieve.  I have no desire to give the entire half marathon another go.

Race that is a Rural Gem: Bird in Hand Half Marathon – From starting in a field and dodging cow poop to running between Amish farms and school houses, it really does not get more rural than that. Throw in some wonderful scenery (think green hills and clear blue sky) and well stocked water stations (and Rita’s ice!) and you’ve got an awesome rural race.

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Race that is a City Gem: Cherry Blossom 10 miler – This is a wonderful race through Washington DC that doesn’t go through the mall. Instead you run around the tidal basin and are treated to some gorgeous waterfront scenery.

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The Route 66 Marathon/Half Marathon or 5k are also great races that give you a tour of Tulsa Oklahoma and the surrounding neighborhoods. The locals come out and cheer for you and running through Tulsa is like one big party!

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Most Challenging Race: Harpers Ferry Half Marathon – There are so many insane hills during this race.  Throw in some trail running and running through a battlefield and you’ve got a tough race in front of you. But, the views and the gorgeous course make it pretty worth it. Plus running through a National Park is pretty cool too!

Harpers Ferry Half (7)

The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon Half Marathon comes in a close second place for most challenging race. It’s also got some relentless hills and can be hot since it is in the summer but again, the views are spectacular. Unfortunately upon doing some research I’ve found that this race has been discontinued. Hopefully some day it will come back!

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Best Water Stops: The Springfoot Half Marathon had some awesomely fun themed water stops (like Harry Potter!). The volunteers were having a blast which made the runners have a blast too!

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Best Challenge Series: While I know Disney’s Goofy Challenge has some huge fans, I have to hand this one to the Bermuda Triangle Challenge.  With the first race (1 mile) being downtown, the second (10k) in the middle of the island and the third (13.1/26.2) a loop (or 2) around the entire island, this challenge shows you a LOT of Bermuda and there’s little repeating. The locals are out and cheering and super friendly too, and those ocean views can’t be beat!

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Best Bling: Monster Mash Half Marathon – I’m not sure exactly why but this medal is one of my favorites. It’s huge (the largest one I own probably), heavy, glows in the dark, and has a spinner. and really, its just super unique and has a fun theme for a late October race!

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Furthest From Home: Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon – I am so thankful that work took me to Portland, Oregon and I was able to time my flights to take in a half marathon outside of the city.  The scenery was amazing. This race was a true “YOLO” experience for me.

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I hope this may help someone who is curious about races. As always, I have a complete listing of all of the races I’ve done on my Races page so you can find links to all of my recaps there.

It has been quite a ride. 🙂

 

 

Weekly Workout Recap 4/10-4/16

17 Apr

 

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Happy Marathon Monday!!! My thoughts are with all of the runners traveling 26.2 to Boston today!

Last week was a really good week of running though I did end up missing GRIT due to some evening commitments.

Monday – 3.3 miles easy in the AM

Tuesday – BodyPump + 2 miles easy in the AM

Wednesday – 5 miles easy in the AM

Thursday – BodyPump in the AM + BodyAttack in the PM. 280 squats + 56 push-ups (FINALLY.)

Friday – 5 miles easy in the AM, 3 miles in the PM – I wanted to simulate a Ragnar run (since I have a Ragnar race in June) so I ran twice on Friday, and then again on Saturday morning. 290 squats + 58 push-ups

Saturday – 9 miles – I felt surprisingly good for this third run in ~28 hours, though I didn’t want to run any further. haha 🙂 Post run I did 300 squats + 60 push-ups and finally finished the 30 day challenge I started in march!  Even though it took me 45 days I’m still glad to have finished it. 60 push-ups is no joke.

Sunday – Rest

Have a great week!

Hershey 10k and Race #100

14 Apr

On Saturday April 8th I ran the Hershey 10k as my 100th lifetime race! This was my 5th year running the 10k (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013). I go back year after year because it is semi-local, well priced, well organized and you get some nice swag!  Plus I love kicking off the spring running season with a 10k!

In the past I have driven to Hershey (about an hour and a half drive) on Friday, the night before the race. This year I decided to try leaving super early from home and driving straight there. I left home around 4:30am (yikes) and picked up my dad. The drive was easy and there was no one else on the roads. We got to Hershey Park Stadium around 6:15 and had plenty of time to pick up our bibs and shirts and check a bag before the 7:30 start. I also got to pick up a special mug for being a 5 year participant of the race! I loved the idea of something special for runners that come back year after year!

I don’t typically check a bag for this race because you can park right near the start/finish. Since we were driving home from the race directly, we decided to check our bags with a change of clothes, baby wipes, etc so we’d have less walking back and forth to do post-race.  This worked out fine.

This year they seemed to really be upping the security in the stadium and were not allowing anyone with any type of bag into the stadium itself (they had a separate area for the bag check.)  So, you weren’t allowed to take a bag inside the stadium, where packet pickup and the restrooms were, which seemed to be causing a bit of confusion for a lot of people. This is the only area where I think things could have been communicated a little bit better.

It was chilly – in the high 30s and low 40s, so I wore full length tights, and a long sleeved shirt. I also had a jacket in my car but decided not to wear it, and instead layered the participant tech shirt we got (that was short sleeved this year) under my long sleeved shirt. I figured that since it was only 6ish miles my risk of chafing was pretty minimal. 🙂

As we were milling around a bunch of Hershey’s characters came out so we snapped some photos.

I also started thinking about a pace I could try to aim for, because I figured it would be awesome if I could PR my 100th race! In 2016 I PRed the race with a 10:45 pace, and in September I ran the Hershey Half Marathon as part of a relay team and ran my leg at slightly over a 10:30 pace. So I thought that maybe I would aim for a 10:30 pace but take it mile by mile. This course is pretty relentless with its hills so I knew I just had focus on the mile I was in.

The race started right on time at 7:30am and I crossed the start line shortly there after.

Mile 1 – It is easy to take the first mile of this race very quickly because you immediately go down a little bit of a hill, heading under an overpass but then are hit with an equal uphill. I was flying. I told myself I would have to reel it in to get through the hills that were coming and finish the race strong but was feeling good so I went with it. Interestingly the 1k marker was at the 1 mile mark, oops. The kilometer markers were off for the first half of the race (at the miles instead) so I was glad that I had my watch. 9:38

Mile 2 – The second mile continues up a bit of an uphill and I knew I would slow down some. I focused on staying strong and exerting a consistent amount of energy on the uphill and flat part that came after. You do a loop around the parking lot before making a right on Hersheypark Drive. 9:52

Mile 3 – This is the hardest mile of the course for me because you are running up Hersheypark Drive, going up a slight incline, and it feels like you are never going to be not running uphill again. I decided not to stop at the water stop because I didn’t want to have to slow my pace when I knew I didn’t need water for 6 miles. 9:41

When I hit mile three I switched my watch over to the cumulative time and was thrilled to see that I had hit the 3 mile mark in 29:17!!! I couldn’t believe I came in under 30 minutes. I knew I was in a really good place to PR (which meant coming in under 1:06:47). But I also wanted to see what else I could do so I continued forcing myself to push, knowing that my pace would probably slow down some as I got tired from the hills. Unfortunately I managed to accidentally stop my watch when I was switching the screen so I lost about 10 seconds of data and my watch ended up being a little short in the end. So the paces I’ve got for the second half of the race are probably a tad slower than I was actually running.

Mile 4 – During mile 4 you turn off of Hersheypark Drive and head behind the outlets and there is a slight downhill followed by yet another gradual uphill. 9:37

Mile 5 – This is my favorite mile of the race because there is a nice downhill and you make a right to enter the parks. From there you loop through the water park area of the park and make a 180 turn to head towards the center of the park. It is a slight downhill followed by a slight uphill but it doesn’t matter because it’s so fun running by all of the rides and the energy of the runners is really great. I kept looking at my average pace and made a goal of keeping it under a 10 minute mile even though my legs were feeling fatigued by now. I kept visualizing the finish line clock with a 1:02 on it and felt that it was an achievable time given the paces I was running and what I knew was left of the course. 10:13

Mile 6 – The last full mile takes you by all of the roller coasters, and you are greeted with some awesome downhills. Around 5.75 you exit the park and have one last uphill to get up to the stadium. Looking at my watch I knew I was going to come in somewhere around 1:01/1:02 and was so thrilled. 10:10

Mile 6.2 – From there you go down the side of the stadium and enter it. As soon as I made the left turn into the stadium I started sprinting, knowing I was going to be super close to 1:01. 9:49 pace

When I stopped my watch it said 1:00:52 and was thrilled that I had come in under 1:01!!! A few minutes later I got a text with the official results – 1:00:51.

I was so incredibly happy and thrilled about how I had done. I really have no idea where a 9:48 average pace came from, but I am so glad I was able to hit those kind of paces on a tough course. I also love that my 100th race time starts with “1:00”. It seems kind of perfect. 🙂

I waited for my dad to finish and took a selfie with the craziest hair ever.

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I kept looking at the results and was amazed after they all came in and it says I came in at 202/598 in my age group and 556/1789 in women and 1042/2634 overall. A-mazing.  Definitely not anything I thought I would ever achieve.

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Post race we grabbed our checked bags and asked a security guard if we could take them into the stadium to change in the restrooms and luckily he was understanding. In fresh clothes we walked over to Chocolate World for a few treats before hitting the road.

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I am so thankful that I was able to celebrate my 100th race with my 5th year at the Hershey 10k and a 6 minute PR!! Hershey10kCollage.jpg

Next goal: Sub-60 10k. 😉

Weekly Workout Recap 4/3-4/9

10 Apr

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Good morning and happy monday friends!

I had a really great weekend thanks to some gorgeous weather we are having.  I’m crossing my fingers that spring is here to stay! (and that I didn’t just jinx it by saying that-ha!)  I feel like I finally got my life back in order last week, after being kind of a mess from vacation and getting sick.  I feel like I’m no longer behind on work, and I’ve caught up with things around the house and am back on track with my workouts. Finally. I kind of love routine. 🙂

Monday – Rest day. After running Cherry Blossom the day before I took Monday as a rest day. I ended up getting a stomach ache later in the day (maybe the last effects of being sick?) so some post work relaxation, a nap and an early bedtime were how I spent my rest day.

Tuesday – Finally back to BodyPump!! I bumped my weights down a little since it was my first time back in about three weeks but felt good all things considered. I considered running Tuesday evening but decided to wait another day.

Wednesday – 5 miles in the AM, GRIT Strength + CXWORX in the PM. My legs felt fresh and great during this run, so I was glad I waited until Wednesday to run. I even felt fresh enough to head back to GRIT in the evening, though CXWORX kicked my butt. Apparently I lose my core strength really, really quickly when I’m away from the gym.

Thursday – BodyPump in the AM.

Friday – 3 miles in the AM. I planned to do 5 but I was tired and decided it was better to save my legs for the race the next day.

Saturday – Hershey 10k!!! I finished my 100th lifetime race in Hershey and even managed to PR big time. Race recap coming this week!

Sunday – 3 mile hike. I’ve got a trail race on the calendar this year so I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and decided to hike up a local trail that leads to the top of a mountain. From there I ran around the trail at the top (and almost fell on my face a few times) before hiking back down. It was tough. I definitely need to get in more of these hikes before race day in July.

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Oh, and I am still trying to complete this dang 30 day push-up/squat challenge. I’ve got three days left, but it has been hard to get back into the daily routine of it since being sick. I want to finish it up this week even if that means it’s a 45 day challenge for me! 🙂

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run (race recap)

7 Apr

On Sunday, April 2nd I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in Washington, D.C.  This was my first time running in D.C. so I was super excited to get the opportunity to run this race.

The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 5k are done via lottery so you register before the lottery close date and then find out a few weeks later if you get into the race (and they charge your credit card). I registered with a team that included some ladies from my running group and we found out in December that we were lucky enough to get in!

We drove into D.C. on Saturday morning, getting to our hotel around 1. We stayed in Capitol Hill, about 2 blocks from the Captiol building. We were able to check in (yay for our room being ready) and walk about 10 minutes to the National Building Museum for packet pick-up. We were directed upstairs to pick-up our bibs, which were color coded according to our assigned corral. From there we went downstairs to pick up our shirts. A purple cotton shirt was included in registration or you could pay a little bit more for a tech shirt. I opted to just get the cotton shirt because I do NOT need anymore tech shirts. haha. In addition, you could pay a little bit more to get a medal, which myself and my group all did (more on that later).  I wrote down that the race cost me $60 (which I believe included the medal) so it is overall very affordable.  We walked around the expo for a bit, and I purchased a Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Sweaty Band (can’t ever have too many headbands.. lol). There were vendors for anything you’d need but it was also pretty crowded so we didn’t spend a ton time there. We eventually left and roamed the city a bit before going to dinner at Dino’s Grotto.

The next morning I woke up around 5:30 to eat my cereal. We left the hotel a little bit before 7.

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I was dressed perfectly in capris, a tank top and arm sleeves. I actually didn’t end up pulling the sleeves off during the race, but had I been without them I’d probably be fine too. The sunglasses were a must because it was pretty sunny.  It was a little chilly on the walk to the start but I had a few old heat sheets we wrapped up in to stay warm. I hoped that being chilly before the start would mean pretty perfect running weather!

The race started at 7:30 but since we went to the last corral to run together, we wouldn’t be actually starting until closer to 8. We got to the race area right around 7:30 and had time to check a bag before getting in the purple corral. One cool thing about the bag check is that they gave me a wristband and a sticker (for my bib) that had the bag check tent information on it. I loved this idea since it’s sometimes hard to remember where you checked your bag after running a long race!

Our corral left right on time.  We started by heading towards the memorial bridge and doing an out and back on it before mile 2. The beginning of this course has a number of out and backs so it gives you a pretty cool view of runners running in all different directions. The first three miles or so were also very congested since there were a lot of runners (17,000!) and a lot of turns. We were never alone during this race.  If you plan to race this race you definitely need to make sure you are in the appropriate corral.  We were all about having fun and enjoying the day though (I hardly looked at my watch), so we had a blast taking in the sites enjoying the perfect weather. Cherry Blossom (2).JPG

(Photos are mostly from my friend Loren.)

And those Cherry Blossoms!

Around mile 4.5 you head across a bridge over the Tidal Basin and we stopped on the other side for a group photo with the blossoms!

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Many thanks to the random stranger who took this photo. 🙂  From there we headed out along the Potomac river (and away from the finish line) and the trees were just gorgeous.  Cherry Blossom (3).JPG

This was probably the toughest portion of the race for me but really it all felt like it was going SO fast. I was enjoying it all.

At mile 7.5 we turned back towards the start. From there you head around the Tidal Basin before going up a little hill and down into the finish line.

We finished really strong – our first 5 miles were a little bit all over the place because of crowding and the photo stop, but our last 5 miles were negative splits. We all felt really good and finished in 2:02:36. I was just glad to be out running after being sick all week and since our goal was to enjoy ourselves we were happy with our time.

After finishing we grabbed our bag from the bag check and walked over to the tent to pick up our medals. They check your bib, which says if you purchased one or not.

The medals this year were pretty and pink and sparkly. 🙂

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We also grabbed some photos by the Washington Monument, as you do when you’re in D.C. (and hey it was right there).

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Overall, I really loved this race. It was a great tour of DC and had some gorgeous scenery and great spectators. We lucked out with amazing weather too!  I definitely recommend this one for your running bucket list!