Tag Archives: Half Marathon

Monster Mash Half Marathon Race Recap

27 Oct

On October 17 I ran the Monster Mash Half Marathon in Dover, Delaware.

My dad and I picked this race purely by chance. We wanted to find a race in a state near Pennsylvania that we hadn’t run in yet and Delaware was perfect!

The race turned out to be a great random choice. It was super well organized and we were able to find a hotel very close to where the race started.  We went to packet pickup on Friday evening and since it was a smaller race (about 1500 doing both the Half and the Full if I remember right) packet pickup was a breeze. They were selling Gu and other last minute supplies too which was a nice perk.

The swag for this race was some of the best I’ve seen. An awesome tech shirt, very nicely designed bib, a race specific oval car magnet and a few other goodies. The medal ended up being huge too!  🙂

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The race director was encouraging runners to dress in costume so I grabbed my red tech shirt and Minnie Mouse ears that I wore for the Disney Half!

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The race and packet pickup was at the Dover International Speedway.  The race started at 7 on Saturday so we got there around 6:15 which was plenty of time to use the (real) restrooms a few times and acclimate to the chilly weather. It was in the low 40s when we had to get out of the car for the final time before lining up.

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The race started right ON the speedway which was pretty cool!

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The first mile is literally going around the speedway before heading out and around Dover. It was really cool to see the banked turns on the raceway.

I went into this race knowing I wanted to push myself and try to PR. It was cool and I knew the course was flat so I was hoping the conditions would align for me. I planned to do 1:30 walk/30 sec run intervals to help me keep a regularish pace.

For the first mile I actually skipped my first few walk intervals because it was a bit crowded on the speedway and the sides were pretty slanted. I just let my adrenaline take me. About .75 miles in, I took my first walk break.

As we left the race track and went through Dover I felt REALLY good. I was booking it as fast as possible during the runs and using the walks as a little bit of recovery so I didn’t over exhaust myself. I kept looking at my watch and being happy with how my pace was going.

I hit 5 miles in just under an hour and was really happy.  10k came shortly there after in 1:11:00. I was a bit in disbelief in HOW great I felt and HOW fast I was able to run those intervals but I just went with it. I tried not to fear bonking and instead focused on hydrating at the water stops and taking my Gus at the appropriate intervals.  Every now and then I would think “okay you are feeling great, you can keep this up” and I did just that.

When I hit mile 10 in under 2 hours I knew I was in an awesome place. I started calculating how much time I had until I expected to finish and I was shocked that I would not only PR but could come in under 2:40!  Finishing in the 2:30s is a long term goal I’ve had since I ran my first half marathon 5 years ago and I couldn’t believe I could potentially finish in that time.  As I thought about this there were a few times when I got choked up and thought about how far I had come.  Then I’d remind myself to keep going, I wasn’t there yet. 🙂  In the last three miles the race became not about PRing, it became about proving to myself that I could do something I never thought I could.

And then I did it.

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I crossed the finish at 2:34:42. The official time has me at 2:34:00 – which frankly doesn’t make a ton of sense. But regardless, I finished COMFORTABLY in the 2:30s. I PRed by 16 minutes from the Path of the Flood Half in May, and overall this means I have cut 22 minutes from my half marathon time this year (my previous PR was 2:56:00.)

I also hit a 3 1/2 minute 10k PR during the first 10k of the race.

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I’m glad the medal was huge and heavy for this one because man did it feel good to have it around my neck. 🙂

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I wish I could tell you exactly what I did to have such an awesome race. In the week since I have been trying to peg it down to one thing and I just can’t. But I know I am becoming stronger, and if I don’t PR for the rest of the year it doesn’t matter, because I am stronger than I was even 6 months ago.

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Fall Race Schedule

24 Jul

Hey there and Happy Friday!

You may or may not have noticed that over there —-> my “upcoming races” list has gotten much bigger compared to what I was planning earlier in the year. A lot of really cool opportunities/cheap flights have presented themselves and so my fall race schedule has gotten a little crazy. I’m also getting a late start – no big races in September – because of some weddings and other stuff we have going on.

So here’s how the second half of the year looks for me:

8/16/2015 – Trail to Wine 5k – This looks like it’ll be a fun run around a winery with of course, wine at the end!

10/17/2015 – Monster Mash Half Marathon – In our quest to run some of the neighboring states, my dad and I found this race in Delaware to run!

10/31/2015 – Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon – Two weeks after Monster Mash we are heading back to Philly to run this race for the third time! It was my first half marathon back in 2010 so I love heading back! This race is typically in September but since the Pope is visiting Philly at that time they’ve moved it to Halloween weekend which will be a fun change for this year! The medals and shirts have Halloween touches which I love!

11/1/2015 – Delaware & Lehigh Valley Heritage Half Marathon – Yes, you read the date right. This will be Half Marathon #2 in a weekend. I wanted a new challenge, and though I’ve done back-to-back races during the Goofy Challenge, I’m not really interested in running a marathon this year. So back-to-back halfs it is! It will also give me the opportunity to “moon” up in the Half Fanatics and reach a new level! I’ll moon up from Neptune (1 moon) to Jupiter (4 moons)!

11/7/2015 – Rock n Roll Savannah Half Marathon – Just one week after the back-t0-back weekend I’m heading to Savannah to run a race in GA that I have heard such wonderful things about! I’m excited to explore a new city on foot!

11/8/2015 – Rock n Roll Savannah 5k – Since I’m there I might as well complete the remix challenge, right? Right.

11/22/2015 – Philadelphia Half Marathon – This has a bucket list race for me for years. They offered a huge registration discount on National Running Day and since I have friends in the area I can stay with, I was sold.

1/15/2016 – Bermuda 1 Miler
1/16/2016 – Bermuda 10k
1/17/2016 – Bermuda Half Marathon
Another bucket list race experience that I am SO excited about. It’ll help me get through cold December for sure! Airfare to get to Bermuda from the easy coast is actually pretty inexpensive, who knew? And if we’re heading to Bermuda we might as well do the whole “Bermuda Triangle Challenge”! I have some friends who did this race/challenge and have heard wonderful things about the organization and the course so I’m psyched to get to experience it.  Plus it’ll be the first International race I’ve ever done! How cool!

So there we have it. Five halfs before the end of the year, and then another right after the start of the new year. I’ll probably fit a turkey trot in there on Thanksgiving, and run my normal New Years Eve 5k just for fun too. It’s going to be an exciting and busy fall!

Path Of The Flood Half Marathon Race Recap

18 Jun

On May 23rd I ran my 20th Half Marathon – The Path of the Flood Half Marathon in Johnstown, PA.  The Path of the Flood races were held last year to commemorate the 125th anniversary of a flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The races were a success so they brought them back this year for the 2nd year! There was a 5k, 10k and half marathon.  I live about 90 minutes from Johnstown so the day of the race my dad and I drove there and picked up our bibs and shirts.

The races were point-to-point, so you parked at the finish and then they shuttled us up to the half marathon start.  The race follows mostly the Path of the Flood Trail that goes along the path of the flood.  It is mostly crushed gravel.  I knew that this race was going to be the smallest I have run – there were only 200 runners doing the half. So I fully expected to pretty much be alone while I ran.

The race started right on time, and it honestly was a bit chilly for May. So I wore my arm sleeves with a tank top and skirt, assuming I could pull off the sleeves as needed.  The overall course was a net downhill which was awesome, and you could definitely feel like you were going on a slight decline for the majority of the time. I stuck to me 3/1 run/walk intervals, and like in previous races I planned to walk up any longer hills to preserve my energy.

The first mile or so goes through a neighborhood, which includes a huge hill, and then connects with the Path of the Flood trail.

The trail was gorgeous and the weather ended up being perfect. I never took off my arm sleeves but it was a little bit sunny and had a ton of shade so I never felt over heated. Especially for it being the end of May!

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It was also pretty easy to stay on the course, despite being alone, since it was a trail! I felt really good and ran quickly on my run intervals and allowed myself to recover on the walks. I kept my watch on the interval view so I wouldn’t get caught up in paces and just flipped it over to see my overall time when I’d pass large milestones – 5k, 10k, etc.  About 10k in I was feeling great. I hit the 10k mark in 1:17:00  I started to do the math in my head and knew that if I kept this pace up I could totally PR this thing.

Around mile 8 we went through the Staple Bend Tunnel which was a new experience!PathOfFloodStapleBendTunnel(source)

That tunnel was a bit DARK. But I focused on the light at the other end of it and slowed my pace a little and just kept going. It was really neat to run through it.

Shortly after the tunnel there were some pretty steep and rocky uphills that I had to trudge up and take my time coming down on the other side. My pace suffered a little here but I knew I could still edge out a PR.

Around mile 11ish (I think) I came to the end of the trail and saw the race photographers.

PathofFloodProI was still feeling really good. And major kudos to this race for offering the photos for free!

The last few miles of the course went through Johnstown, and honestly there were a few times when I was unsure that I was going the correct way. There were volunteers at major turns but not all of them. So I did second guess myself a bit between water stops and volunteers. I did provide this feedback to the race organizers, so hopefully this will get fixed in the future.

I kept doing my intervals and checking my watch. I knew a PR was a definite at this point, it was just a matter of how much I’d PR by. 🙂

I saw my dad about quarter mile from the finish and told him I knew I was going to PR by at least 5 minutes!

I crossed the finish and saw the best sight on my garmin…

PathOfFlood (2)OT was 2:50:50!! (There was no timing mat at the start which is why I think my watch is a slight bit off.)

That is a PR of 5:36!!!!  I was so happy to finish my 20th half and it was even better to get to celebrate it with a PR! My dad PRed too, so it was a good day all around.

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PathOfFlood (4)Overall, this was a great race, and I had a great time running it! It was awesome to find a close by race that explored an area I have never run in before! We will be back next year if they continue to do it!

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Asbury Park Half Marathon Race Recap

30 May

Okay, I’ve gotten a little flack for not staying up to date with my race reports (Hi Bruno!) sooooo it’s time for me to spend some time catching up. and I have THREE half marathon recaps to share. Three. Whoops. So, since I’ve gotta keep it chronological (it’s more fun that way) lets head back to mid April. My first half marathon of 2015 and #18 total.  And my first time on a reality TV show. Or at least signing a release for one…

My dad and I were looking for a race in a neighboring state (there are many options since we are in Pennsylvania). We were getting the itch to run before the Pittsburgh half at the beginning of May so we took a look in New Jersey and found a well reviewed race along the Jersey Shore in Asbury Park, NJ.

The race was on Saturday so we left around lunch time on Friday to make the 4.5 hour trek to the shore. Packet pickup was right along the shore in Asbury Park and was a breeze. It also gave us a chance to check out where to park the morning of the race since it was in the same place.

Quick story…

The Race Director had posted on facebook a few days prior that there would be a TV show filming at the expo and during the race.  There was also plenty of guessing on facebook about what TV show it was… Real Housewives? A Jersey Shore spin off? I didn’t really think much of it to be honest.  When we went to the expo there were signs up everywhere saying that by being at the location you were agreeing to be represented on TV. My dad and I were walking around and I stopped at the Gu booth to get some free packets of Gu blocks (yes, seriously, totally complete packets for free!) and as I turned around I saw a camera crew right behind me with lights, a boom mic, everything. I quickly ducked out of the way and hoped I hadn’t actually got in the shot.  As I walked back towards my dad there was a tap on my shoulder and a guy from the film crew asked me to sign a release and take a photo holding it since I was in their shot. Oops. I asked what show they were from and they said they were filming for a show called Human Resources. I had been joking with my friends that I planned to avoid any potential camera crews at all costs and then accidentally ended up in their shot anyhow. Figures. 🙂

My dad and I stayed in a hotel about 20 minutes away so after (mis)navigating a multi-lane traffic circle we grabbed dinner and headed to the hotel to relax and sleep.

The next morning the race didn’t start until 8:30 so we actually got to sleep in a bit, eat breakfast, and head out. Parking was free and right near the race start/finish, right along the boardwalk. We parked right next to The Stone Pony – the bar where Sprinsteen aparently got his start.

Before the race we hung out and chatted with a few other runners – including a fellow Half Fanatic.  She actually snapped a photo of me for the facebook page. Asbury Park Half (2)This was actually my first race wearing my fanatics gear and I picked a good one. There were so many other fanatics on the course and it was awesome to cheer each other on!

My dad and I also grabbed a photo in from of the ocean. Asbury Park Half (1)

 

We also ended up in the background of another part of the filming for Human Resources. No release form needed this time though.

Right around 8:30 the race started.  The temperature was in the mid 50s and got up to about the low 70s if I remember right. There was also very little shade and so honestly from about 9:30 on it felt warmer than what I was used to.

The course is flat and close to the ocean, and comprised mostly of a bunch of out and backs. This can be fun because you see the other runners a LOT so I got to wave to my dad a lot. But can also be a bit demotivating when you are heading out and watching people head back in. Around mile 9 we actually passed the finish line, and had to keep going past it. That was a bit rough mentally.

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I felt great for probably the first 8 miles. I stuck to my tried and true 3/1 run/walk intervals. I felt like I was able to push myself appropriately on the runs and recover some on the walks. I said hi to a ton of fanatics and looked at the ocean and just took it all in. It was very scenic.

What I didn’t anticipate was how it would feel to run on the boardwalk itself.

Asbury Park Half (4)New Jersey is still recovering from Hurricaine Sandy. As a result, different parts of the Asbury Park boardwalk are different materials. The first stretch of boardwalk was wood, and it was old so it was a bit warped. I had to watch to make sure I didn’t trip on anything uneven.

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Another area had synthetic wood planks that were laid diagonally. I was shocked to realized that it made me feel dizzy to run on this. That coupled with the increasing sun and temperatures and the fact that my fueling got out of whack (completely my fault, I wasn’t paying attention to when I needed to Gu) made the last 4 miles or so feel really really rough.

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That is the photo of someone ready to be done and over that finish line!

I finished in 3:04:08 – not a time I am particularly proud of, but despite that I can tell I am getting stronger. A year or two ago I probably would have finished even slower given the conditions.

My dad and I snapped a photo at the end.

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Major kudos for this race providing FREE race photos! What an awesome perk!!!

So all in all, not the start to my Half Marathons this season that I was hoping for since I had PRed a week before at the Hershey 10k. But it was fun to run along the Jersey Shore and check NJ off the list. The race overall was very well organized and a good course if you like something flat.

 

 

Battlefield Half Marathon Race Recap

26 Jan

On November 8, 2014 I ran the Battlefield Half Marathon in Winchester, Virginia.  Unfortunately, I cannot find their website anymore (it seems to have been taken down), but it is put on by Frederick County Parks and Rec.  This was an inaugural race that my dad and I signed up for on a whim. We were looking for a race in early November in a state close to Pennsylvania. 🙂

For an inaugural race the packet pickup was really well organized!  It was held at a sports center and there were a good number of vendors, including some where you could by Gus and other running nutrition. They also offered a *free* pasta dinner at the expo, though my dad and I had already made plans to eat somewhere else.

We also got a really nice long sleeved tech shirt.

Battlefield Half Shirt

Since this race was in early November, it was the coldest race I had run this year. However I hate being hot when running, so I planned to wear either a tank top + arm sleeves or a short sleeved tech shirt + arm sleeves and capris.  There was also only 3 water stops on the half marathon course so I opted to run with my Camelbak since I need water more frequently.  I’d never raced with my Camelbak before but trained for the Wineglass Marathon with it so I knew I’d be fine.Battlefield Half Outfit

The morning of the race it was chilly – my Garmin data is saying it was 34 degrees! So I opted for the short sleeved tech shirt instead of the tank top.

My dad and I made the drive to the race start/finish at Kernstown Battlefield.  The area was gorgeous! Since it was chilly my dad and I hung out in the car until about 20 minutes before the start time.  We then went up closer to the start line and ducked inside the visitors center to stay warm until we heard the opening announcements.  It was a smaller race so this was totally doable. 🙂

The race started on time. The first 2 miles or so required us to actually run away from the battlefield, through a neighborhood and then back across the start line. 

Battlefield Pro Photo

I actually bought the above pro photo – that was after came back toward the start line.

My plan for this race was to do 3:30/1 Run/Walk intervals.  I also really wanted to try to run the run intervals strongly.  I did know that the course would be a bit of rolling hills so my plan was to tackle the big hills and run up them as much as I felt comfortable but not exhaust myself on them.  Then I would use the downhills to make up some time.  This was a strategy similar to what I used on the hilly Runner’s World Half course last October.

The course itself was really nice – lots of rural roads and gorgeous views. Lots of green. 🙂Battlefield Half Course

There was a relay option so everytime a relay exchange point was coming up there would be a lot of people cheering.  I never felt alone running this course, but it wasn’t crowded either.

My outfit choice ended up being perfect – as the sun came out things warmed up and I felt very comfortable.  I never ended up taking the arm sleeves off until I finished.

Carrying my Camelbak was also the right choice for me, I needed water many times when there was not a water station. It also meant I didn’t have to stop. 🙂

My 3:30/1 intervals felt great as well. I felt like I could good fast enough on the run portions but wasn’t tiring myself out.

Around mile 11 I remember thinking how great it felt to be passing people! 🙂 I took this as a sign that I had paced myself appropriately.

From mile 10 on I started to really look at my watch and do the math.  I realized I was on pace to do a sub-3. Considering I have only done this one other time in Cleveland in 2011 I was thrilled!  I wasn’t sure if a PR was possible but I decided to keep following my run/walk intervals until the very end and then push myself for the last .25 mile. I knew that if I wasn’t careful I’d start going too fast and burn out over the last 3 miles.

I finished the race in 2:58:48. My fast half since May 2011, and only 2 minutes or so off my PR.  I was momentarily bummed I missed my PR but realized it was incredible that I had run this hilly course that quickly within a month of my marathon and within a few weeks of another half marathon!

Battlefield Half 2

I kept thinking about how strong and proud I felt. It was the perfect last half marathon of 2014. 🙂