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!

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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

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!

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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:

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(So dark, so terrible at picture taking)

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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!

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

I promise I will get better at updating…

I have the tendency to forget to blog a bunch of stuff then just pile everything into one post. Which is going to happen again. However… I will definitely start blogging more. For reals this time.

I was happy to finally have a long weekend off from work. Work has been getting me down lately, and I’m completely mentally exhausted EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. But I constantly remind myself… just take it one day at a time. Do your best and give it your all every day and be satisfied with your performance.

We spent Memorial Day weekend just kicking back and relaxing for the most part. We let the hills kick our ass on our new 5 mile out-and-back route on Friday and drove down to Alexandria on Saturday.

We signed up for the Alexandria Half Marathon a few months back. It seemed like an easier race, with a flat course and seemingly small crowd. Packet pickup was pretty smooth. The location was easy to find (Trademark Building) and the volunteers were very friendly. We got a short sleeved technical shirt and a baggie filled with random stuff–fruit leather, water bottle, men’s deodorant, etc. So far, so good. We spend the rest of the day hanging out in Old Town and then finally settled into our hotel… which was across the bridge, but only about 15 minutes away. Best part of the hotel: THIS was present.

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Love me some potatoes. And it wasn’t real. I checked.

Free parking in an almost empty garage on race day. THAT was probably the best part about the race. On the way to the race, I decided to read some reviews about the race (why didn’t I do this earlier?). It turns out that the race is notorious for starting late and being an overall shit-show on race day. Great. Oh well. We were already there and ready to race. I even (finally) bought some body glide to use and was fully glided-up that day. (SIDE NOTE: No chafing. No blisters. Where have you BEEN all my life, body glide? Especially during ruck marches?! Dang!).

Surprise, surprise. We started about 30 minutes day. I don’t mind that it was a late start. Hey. Things happen. The reason that I was annoyed was the fact that they had THE EXACT SAME ISSUE LAST YEAR (roads weren’t closed in time, cones weren’t set up, security wasn’t in place) and the race coordinators didn’t seem to capture the lessons learned from the LAST race and implement some fixes into the race this year. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as hot at the start this year (70s) as it was last year (80s).

The race WAS very flat. A couple of rolling hills here and there, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. There was also a mix of road racing and trail racing. I took the trails a little slow because I am incredibly clumsy and didn’t want to totally biff it on the course. One thing I didn’t like about the course was the long stretches of the route that had absolutely NO shade. I drank a TON of water the day before but still needed to stop at EVERY. SINGLE. WATER. POINT. Which I rarely have to do. I can usually run at least 6 miles or so without needing water but the heat and the sun totally zapped me during this race. I ended up finishing at 2:10ish, which I wasn’t pleased with, but I also went into this race with the mentality to just ENJOY it and not kill myself.  The medal was also kinda blah. Meh.

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We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and rehydrating. On our last day of the mini break, we decided to go hiking and do a recon of a potential trail-running route. We headed down to Big Gunpowder Falls and did the 5ish mile loop. It was so beautiful and so great to be back in the woods. I grew up in the country with woods behind my house and I loved every minute of this hike. We were totally soaked by the end but it was nice to get out and shake out our legs after the half. I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to actually RUN it entirely (lots of large, steep, narrow, root-infested hills) but I’m looking forward to incorporating it into our routine, especially when P gets here for the summer.

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Can you tell how sweaty we are? PS. My teeth are getting closer and closer together!!! YES INVISALIGN!

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He’s thrilled. I promise. And about the clothing choices…. we had to make a target run after this hike. Don’t judge us!

I suck at hills.

Straight up. I suck at hills. Regardless of how much I have been running or what shape I’m in, hills always kick my ass. (and stairs. Freaking eh. Always winded going up stairs, even if I’m running every day… they always get me).

Lately, as mentioned before, I have been really struggling to get back into my running groove and make progress. I’m trying to make little gains in each race I do, trying to shave off a minute here or 30 seconds there (depending on the distance). Since I’ve been traveling a lot, I have been confined to the use of a treadmill but I still make sure to thrown in intervals to try to help get my speed work done. But I still feel like I’m not getting any better (probably getting worse).  My race times show that I am making progress because each race this past year has been an improvement from the previous race.  However, I feel that during my day-to-day running, I just cannot get my speed to pick up. And I think running lots of little rolling hills has been killing me.

While I’m out running, I FEEL winded and I FEEL like I’m constantly going up and down hills. It has been really frustrating because when I was living in NY, I ran a specific route that had a HUGE hill that I had to climb every day. To me, if I could run that route comfortable in the 9:00s, then I shouldn’t be struggling in the 10:00s running the route here. Yesterday, I decided to map the route and check the elevation and compare the two running routes to see why I am struggling so much.

This is the 5ish mile route I would run in NY:

NY Elevation

NY Elevation2

This is my new 5 mile route:

MD Elevation1

MD Elevation2

Uh… yea… I can see now why the runs here have been kicking my ass. Stupid small, frequent hills.  (SIDE NOTE: my 3 and 4 mile routes are also along similar roads / hills).  The only way I can get better at running hills is to continue to run hills… so I guess I will keep pushing myself. I just have to remember not to get frustrated and that progress isn’t instant…. If you want something, you have to work for it!