1/2 Sauer, 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon

Let me begin by saying this was one of the most fun half marathons that I have ever participated in. It is a small, but well-managed and beautiful race!

Race Communication: Unlike some races, the director did not inundate the runners with emails every week. I received an update with the pertinent race-day information the week of the race. The instructions for packet pickup and information for the day of the race were succinct and to the point. Informative without being annoying!

Packet Pickup: There were two options for packet pickup: the Saturday evening prior to the race or the morning before the race. I opted to pick up the packet the day of the race because I live about 1.5 hours away (and didn’t want to make the trip twice…). The packet pickup was very low key. Just a handful of volunteers handing out the packets. It was not an expo with vendors, but there was an opportunity to purchase shirts from previous races. The prizes for the age group were also out on display, which was a nice touch.

After packet pickup, runners can take a bus out to the race start. There is parking at the race start, but it is limited and the race organizers encourage runners to take the bus to the start.

As mentioned before, the race was a pretty small race (approximately 500 runners), with mix of half and full marathoners (mostly half-marathoners). There was German music to pump up the crowd and the race started off with a German count down!

The race takes places at Pennypack Park, north of Philadelphia. The course was absolutely gorgeous. There were warnings prior to race day about the heat being an issue, but the weather was actually pretty great at the start of the race. The first 5 miles or so run along a paved bike/run/walk route. As with most races, the start was a little crowded (even for a small race), but the crowd thinned out as the miles progressed.

There is a random “open grass” area of the route, which stretches across an open area marked with cones. It feels like a cross country race, but it was a nice change. Shortly after this portion, the race becomes a true trail race. There is a narrow, rutty path with rolling hills. The trail is VERY narrow, so runners will form a single-file line on the path. Although this is arguably the most challenging portion of the run, I enjoyed it the most. Unfortunately, this is also around the time when the weather started to warm up a bit.

After this portion, the race returns to the wider bike trail. Mentally, this is great because you know the race is over halfway and all you have to do is tackle the hills that you’ve already ran on the way out! I captured the elevation changes via my Garmin:

Elevation

As you can see, there were definitely some “rolling hills.” Running in the hilly neighborhood over the past few months definitely helped me to conquer the sometimes-steep upgrades. Normally, I would have selected to walk up the steepest portions, but I was determined to maintain a run pace throughout the race. And I did.

The race is a lollipop, out and around the trail portion, and back to the start. At the conclusion of the race, there are treats for the runners, to include pretzels, candy, banana bread, etc. (And water of course!). After grabbing some treats, I got on the bus and headed back to the after party.

Each runner is given two tickets to use for a brat/sauerkraut and a beer. There is an EXCELLENT selection of beer to choose from (not the normal Michelob Light).

Beer Selection

If you are still hungry or thirsty, you can also choose to purchase more food or drinks. As you relax and enjoy your post-race goodies, you have the opportunity to listen to performers play German music and there is also a costume/German garb contest.

I am pleasantly surprised at how I did given the hills, the heat, and some of the issues I’ve been having health-wise. I was able to finish in 02:10:30, making this a trail run PR by about 19 minutes (I got a 2:30 on my last trail half, and it was definitely less hilly than this one!)

I also have to mention the swag (don’t you always?). Runners receive a half-zip premium and a medal upon completion:

Pullover and medal

I will say that this is definitely the most fun that I’ve had at a race in a while. I loved it (even though it was tough) and recommend to everyone!

Training Recap for March 13-19, 2017

Another week in the books. Another week of training that is focused on keeping my heart rate at a reasonable level.  I took the time to read Hanson’s Marathon Method this week and tweaked my current running plan to resemble the “Beginner” plan in the book. The mileage is a little more than I am used to, but I think as long as I keep my easy runs easy (key word being EASY), then the mileage should be just fine. I jumped in about 3 weeks into the plan, since I already have a pretty solid HR base built over the past month. The next race on the agenda is the Hot Chocolate 15K in Philadelphia on April 1st. I ran the race last year, so I am hoping to make some improvements this year (and hoping the HR training will pay off)!

Here’s what my week looked like:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Easy 4m on treadmill (1% incline) [11:15 min/mi avg pace, 151 bpm avg HR] + Jillian Michael’s Shape Up Front  (affiliate link)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Easy 4 miles outdoors [11:37 min/mi avgpace, 159 bpm avg HR]. Looked like this:

Thursday HR and Pace

(HR in red, Pace in blue)

Friday: Intervals on the treadmill (2 mins @7.0mph, 2 mins @ 5.0mph) for 4 miles [10:39 min/mi avg pace, 165 bpm avg HR] + Legs/Back Lifting + 10 minutes on the StepMill

Saturday: Rest (and St. Patrick’s Day recovery…)

Sunday: Fitness Blender Total Body Workout + easy 5 miles [11:33 min/mi avg pace, 156 bpm avg HR]. Looked like this:

sunday run

Under Armour Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K Recap

This will be my third year racing the Baltimore B3 Distance Series and I have made it a goal to try to improve on my races from last year. For those who are unfamiliar (and don’t want to click the link), the series consists of 3 races hosted by Charm City Run. The series kicks off with the St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K, and is followed in April by the Sole of the City 10K and concludes with the Charles Street 12 Miler in September). The races, although packed, are always a good time. The series started this past weekend with the 5K.

Packet Pickup:

Since I was out of town during the day designated for pickup at our local Charm City Run, I had Husband pick up the packets for us. I made it a point to follow the directions entirely and sent him off with a signed permission slip to pick up the packets and my B3 registration information. He was able to get both packets without any issues. Perks of being married—having the same last name makes it easy to pick up packets!

The Goods:

There isn’t a medal for this run, but there is a gender-specific, Under Armour technical T-shirt. Unfortunately, it pretty much was exactly the same as last year’s shirt.

shamrock 5k shirt

But FORTUNATELY, we received our B3 premiums as well. I absolutely love mine and probably will now go purchase the regular UA version because it is so comfortable. I think that the female premium (blue) is definitely better than the male one (orange).

The Race:

The race starts at Charles Street and Mulberry Street in Baltimore. As much they tried, the race volunteers/ leaders could not avoid the massive convergence of the cross streets at the start. I wasn’t surprised though because it has happened for the past three years. I just accepted it and trudged along slowly… starting my watch just a little too early. I need to work on getting it started AS I’m going over the timing mat. Maybe next time.

Mile 1: The race starts out going down Charles Street. Charles Street will always be my favorite street in Baltimore because the Church where we got married and are current parishioners at is located on Charles! Sorry… back to the race! If you race this event, just prepared to spend the first mile (give or take) going downhill. Unfortunately, you likely won’t be able to really gain ground pacing-wise because you will be focused on dodging people and potholes. Other than the dodging, slowing, rapid lateral movements, and constant need to dodge holes, it is a great mile! Average Pace: 8:59; Average HR: 168

 Mile 2: The second mile is pretty unremarkable. You just run. Little downhill here, little uphill there, mostly flat. When I say up and downhill, I am talking in feet. Not tens of feet, just feet. So … it is flat. Not scenic, but flat. And by not scenic, I mean, there is literally nothing interesting to look at. You are running towards the turnaround point and turning around towards Mile 3. So just run and enjoy the race. At this point, my heart was elevated and my breathing touch labored. However, unlike most races, I felt GOOD. Really good. It was tough, but I could keep going. Average Pace: 8:44; Average HR: 189

 Mile 3: The last mile is probably the most “scenic” of the miles. During Mile 3, you’re kind of skirting the water (but not CLOSE). The mile winds into the Inner Harbor area and you pass a few shops and the aquarium. You’re past the turn around, and you’re in the inner harbor, so it mentally feels pretty good to know that you’re just moments away from the Power Plant Live! area and finish line. This last mile was pretty tough and my legs burned just a little. But like with Mile 2, I was working but feeling great. Average Pace: 8:36; Average HR: 191

Mile 3.1: The last little bit takes you past the shops and around the corner to the finish and Power Plant Live! I pushed pretty hard for this last little bit and was thrilled to see that I had a PR for the 5K distance! Average Pace: 8:45; Average HR: 194

This is what the route and my HR looked like:

5k elevation chart garming5k hr chart

Pretty thrilled about a new PR:

Kelly St Patrick Photo

(See. Lack of a filter makes a HUGE difference!)

Garmin Results: 3.12 Miles, 27:20, Average Pace: 8:46, Average HR: 183

Actual Results: 3.10 Miles, 27:14, Average Pace: 8:47

Overall, it is a pretty great race and I would recommend to anyone who loves flat, fast (but maybe a little boring) 5Ks.

Training Recap for March 6-12, 2017

Heart rate training. I’m committed. As painful as it is to run slowly, I am doing this for the long haul. And by long haul, I mean until until it stops working. So far, I can say I have made some progress in my races times (I will post my Under Armour KELLY St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K race recap tomorrow).

Here is what my week looked like:

Monday:  1 hour on the recumbent bike [116 bpm avg HR]

+ Arms and Chest lifting

Tuesday: 10 min warmup, 1 min sprint (7.5), 1 minute recover (5.0), 5 min cooldown (1% incline) on tread mill; [12:26 min/mi avg pace, 161 bpm avg HR]

+ Back and Biceps lifting

Wednesday: Rest (Was traveling for business—perfect opportunity for a rest day)

Thursday: 40 min easy (3.61m) outdoors [11:09 min/mi avg pace, 158 bpm avg HR)

Looked a little like this:

training run elevation

HR Thursday

Training run pace

(Aww, look how pretty a filter makes me look. Take away the lighting and add some more sweat…)

Friday: 10 min warm up, ½ mi at 5k pace (7.0mph), ¼ mi cooldown (varied, but usually around 5.0 mph), 5 min cooldown on treadmill (1% incline) [11:18 min/mi avg pace, 172 bpm avg HR]

+ Legs, Shoulders and Abs lifting

Saturday: 30 min easy (2.7m) outdoors [11:11 min/mi avg pace, 157 bpm avg HR]

Saturday looked a little like this:

elevation Saturday

HR Saturday

(I think I paused my garmin, but can’t remember why around 18mins)

Sunday: St. Patrick’s Shamrock 5k

And that wrapped up my week. Husband has a work trip, so we went to his favorite Mexican restaurant and treated himself to a couple pineapple chipotle margaritas. I was the driver, so I just had a soda but I DID indulge on some queso dip. SO. GOOD.

Hello? Anyone there?

Wowsers. It has definitely been a while since I’ve written here. Well. The good news is that I did accomplish my goal of running 30 races in my 30th year. In FACT, I finished my 30th year completing 31 races total, to include a half marathon trail run on New Years Eve. Pat on the back for me. Ish. It was rough.

I found out a lot about myself that year in racing. I definitely burned myself out. I found that I didn’t do as well. Quantity does NOT mean quality. As I completed races week after week, I found that I didn’t really GAIN anything except a pile of medals that really didn’t mean anything to me. I literally have a bin of metals. And I don’t look fondly upon them and reminisce about the race that lead to them. Honestly, I barely remember them. How sad is that? That’s not what I wanted this whole experience to amount to.

2016 was a little different. I did a few races here and there. My training went to the wayside and I focused more on my job and my pending wedding. My annulment went through and we went into full throttle planning a small (but heavily detailed) wedding for the fall of 2016. I was selected to a highly coveted position (unexpectedly) and my life kind of got turned upside down (a’la Fresh Prince). However, I realize how incredibly blessed I was to be selected and have been soaking up every minute of it.

But here we are now. Life is about to change again in the coming months. My job is coming to a close and I’m about to move to a new location for some additional schooling and I need to focus back on the things I originally started this blog for- fitness, well-being, health (let’s be honest-weight!) and my relationship with God and involvement with the Catholic Church. That’s not to say that I haven’t been an avid Church-goer. D and I love our Church here. But as I move onto my next location and a new Church, I want to remain engaged and give myself. ALSO! It’s almost Lent… Time for reflection, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I want to re-engage this blog as a means to hold myself accountable and forge onward as the best version of myself!

Baltimore 10 Miler

Hills. Small hills. Moderate hills. Some more hills.

That about sums up my experience during the Baltimore 10 miler. My body was totally dead from the race, but I might have myself to blame for that partly. I did stay up until almost midnight the night before… had a couple margaritas… So yea… Not the best discipline when it comes to racing. I DID drink a lot of water though so that’s a good thing right…

Anyway, we got up around 6 am to get to the race. Luckily, the race start/finish was only a 10 minute drive from our hotel and getting there was really smooth. The race started (and ended) at Druid Hill Park. Even though we have been in the area for a few months, we still have a lot of Baltimore to explore and experience. The park was really beautiful and the weather was pretty good. It was slightly overcast and mildly humid, so I can’t really complain about the weather.

The course was a lollipop course, starting at Druid Hill Park and heading out to Lake Montebello, running around the lake, and then ending back at the park. The only really flat portion of the course was the loop around the lake. Otherwise it was a lot of ups and down…. Which I definitely felt. Even fiance was complaining about his IT band bothering him after the race. The course was a little boring overall.

Pros:

Very well organized start… The race organizers separated the runners into waves and people actually adhered to the waves! It didn’t bunch up a lot like normal races.

There was a lot of support from the Baltimore Police and Fire/Rescue. And a lot of the runners took the time out to thank the police and fire/rescue personnel. It was really nice to see that out on the course.

COLD. TOWELS. I loved that they handed out cold wash cloths at the end of the race. Definitely hit the cool-down spot!

Cons:

We didn’t get the premiums until AFTER the race. I would have liked to avoid waiting in a line at the end of the race to get our shirts… I’m not quite sure why they didn’t distribute them at the packet pickps.

Lots of hills. But it’s Baltimore… so I just need to accept that there are hills everywhere and learn to embrace my burning leg muscles.

Overall, I did enjoy the race. I hated it DURING the race, but I secretly loved how tired and spent I felt afterwards… Sign of a good, tough run for me. (Even though I sucked and my pace sucked and it just was a sad, sad day of facing for me…). Being a King Crab Challenger, I also was able to get a medal! Only the King Crab peep received a medal for this race. I felt kind of bad for the other runners who were protesting and asking how come THEY didn’t get a medal. I guess that’s part of the perk of paying a chunk of money at the beginning of race season for three Corrigan Sports races. Ch-ch-check it out!

IMG_1606

Weekend Highlights

I feel like time has been flying lately. I think a lot of it has to do with being so busy at work… I get in at 8:30 and DO NOT STOP working until at least 5. And yes, that includes eating at my desk while reviewing documents for work. Welcome to my life for the next 2+ years. I actually feel like I’m starting to enjoy my job, stress and all. The hours are not too bad, the travel is tedious but I’m glad to get out of my office. And the location is pretty good. It’s nice being able to get to a few major cities within an hour of driving. What I DON’T like is the lack of daily mass nearby during lunch hours. It used to be my routine to go to mass at lunch every day, but the closest Church only offer lunch hour Mass on Tuesdays and Thursdays… and even that schedule is intermittent (depending on when the Priest is actually available). But I can’t complain. Being here offers me amazing, fun filled weekends like the one I just had.

Let’s start with Friday. We got off early at work (WOO!!) and I took advantage of it! Fiance and I got ready and headed down to Baltimore in the early afternoon. After all my travel for work, I was able to use rewards points from IHG to score a free room at the Holiday Inn Express downtown. It was a pretty great location for the cost (nothing!)–it was just a 15 minute walk down to the inner harbor and the Baltimore Soundstage. We headed out to Power Plant Live to grab some dinner before the Less Than Jake / Reel Big Fish concert. We ended up going to Mex’s Tequila bar and took advantage of their happy hour margaritas! Over the course of the dinner, we had 3 margaritas (black cherry, mango and regular flavored) and it only cost $12 for all three. Gotta love happy hour! I had a salad (which was REALLY filling, even without meat) and fiance had a giant burrito. Which he loved. Which we will probably go back and eat every time we’re at Power Plant.

We headed to the show and the venue was PACKED! The announcer said that the show was sold out and it definitely felt that way. We had gone to a concert on Wednesday of the week before and there wasn’t a huge crowd… but that wasn’t the case on Friday night. It was a fantastic show, lots of energy and lots of fun! I love seeing Less Than Jake live… they’ve been my favorite band for over 15 years and I will probably never get sick of them. Even fiance seemed to enjoy it! A few (crappy) shots from the show:

IMG_1600

(So dark, so terrible at picture taking)

IMG_1601

They really are an incredible band.

The fun didn’t stop there! We got up early and ran the Baltimore 10 miler (more on that later) and then hobbled back to our hotel. After a quick rest and shower, we headed to Bristow, VA for the Lady Antebellum concert at the Jiffy Lube Live Amphitheater.

For lunch, we had some boring Olive Garden. But I was craving massive amounts of salad and bread and this place delivered!  We picked up some chairs after lunch and headed to the concert.

Again, it was a great show! I didn’t really care for the first artist (Sam Hunt, I think his name was) but Hunter Hayes was great! The sun finally set and Lady A came to perform. It was so beautiful having all the lighting and stage effect with the dark, outdoor backdrop. It was an awesome show! I recommend seeing them. It was also fiance’s first country concert! YEE HAW!

IMG_1610

And now we are headed off to mass! I hope everyone had a great weekend!