Run Find Your Happy Pace

finding my happy pace in running and life

Handle It, Move It and Get Ready to Run It! Plus a review of Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Long time not write.  Seriously its been since May???  How did that happen you say?  Because life people, life happens. Sometimes you need to prioritize. For me family comes first always!  Sometimes you put down the blogger hat and strap on that Mom hat a little tighter and handle when the poo hits the fan.  Sometimes you have to fall on your knees and pray (pretty sure I should do that way more often)  And oh yes that whole moving thing yea that happened too.  Because when we move we don’t mess around.  I moved from Cali back to the east coast with three kids, 2 cats and, oh thank God, my Dad to help me drive.
 We are pretty much settled in. Honestly I have just started ignoring the boxes in the “dinning room” that are still sitting there at least for the moment. For the most part those boxes are not mine so I cannot really do anything with them anyway.  The plan is to not move again any time soon. (fingers crossed)  Maybe that is wishful thinking but I like this little happy place of ignorant bliss for now.  🙂  Don’t judge me.
 Any who, now that I am back on the East Coast and finally re-adjusting to the humidity / dew point that was practically nonexistent in Cali.  I am ready to race.  I signed up for most of my upcoming races before leaving Cali. Gotta keep the motivation going. If you don’t a move will take over your life and next thing you know you haven’t run in weeks or even months.  I did well not letting that happen when we moved to Cali and have been doing great with this move too. So my first official race back east was this weekend in Swanzey, New Hampshire.   Check it out:
One of the 4 Covered Bridges on the course.

One of the 4 Covered Bridges on the course.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon (also known as Elijah’s Race) Swanzey, NH.

If you’re looking for a small New England Race this is for you! Classic New England town, beautiful scenery.  The course runs through (literally) not 1 but 4 covered bridges.  There is also about a mile of beautiful trail along the route.  Sigh, brings back the thoughts of all the lovely trails in California so I was stoked to run them.  You will also find rolling hills along a good portion of the course.  Pretty typical for the North East.  They weren’t steep but there were quite a few so if you ever run this race be prepared for them.   The weather was wet!  Like start to finish wet, rained the entire race.  A first for me and yes I realize how lucky I have been.  The saving grace was that the temps were in the 50’s and not lower.  Lower temps would have just been miserable!  The only time I got cold was after I finished and stopped running.  Brr.

So here is the good:

1) the 4 covered bridges are absolutely beautiful and you literally run right through them.

2) It’s a small race, there were less than 200 runners.

3) Beautiful country views. Lots of trees, Inns, some horses, donkeys and cows too.

4) About a mile or so of some lovely trails.  I like trails a lot so this is a good thing for me 🙂

5) The race is extremely easy to get to, packet pick up is day of the race and is at the local high school.

6) Great water stops manned by the local high school and scouts. They dressed up as characters and were very encouraging.  Star Wars, pirates, fairy’s and minions to name a few.

7) Free photos…always a bonus!

8) BBQ after the race. Hamburgers, watermelon, corn. Since it rained the entire morning the burgers were rather cold and blah. I’m pretty sure they did the best they could and if the weather was better we would have enjoyed it more.  Although I am not sure I would have eaten the corn anyway after running that far, but maybe that is just me.

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.42.36 PM

Corn poop, lol. Maybe corn isn’t the best post run food?

The Not-So-Good:

1) NO port-o-poties on the course, none what-so-ever.  And nobody mentioned that to us before we got to the start line. So make sure you go before you walk to the start. I do fine with that but I know some people don’t so beware.

2) The town DOES NOT close ANY of the course to traffic. It’s not an extremely busy town BUT since its small race you do have to keep an eye out for cars since there is a chance you may not be running with a group. There are some cones along some of the busier sections but between the rain and the cars it was a concern.

3) The course has a lot of bends and turns which made it hard to see oncoming traffic and for cars to see you. If found myself switching from side to side depending on how far ahead I could see. Also since it rained, the entire race, I had to give myself a bigger safety buffer.

4) If you’re in it for the bling….this probably isn’t the race for you. You do get a medal but this years was a stock medal with a sticker on the front. Its cute but its nothing to fancy if that’s your thing.

Would I recommend it? Yes, Swanzey is a beautiful New England town and the views don’t disappoint. Just be sure to check the Not-So-Good section to see if its right for you 🙂

21272326_10212540583343431_9030371293828296358_n

Headed into one of the bridges. You can see the traffic ahead too.

21270846_10212540583703440_2021510499857032313_n

Trails at the beginning of the race. Sorry its blurry didn’t stop running for the pic.

21316164_10212541224039448_8630698847230413298_o

Free photo 🙂 That’s me, I couldn’t run through the middle because of the truck that was oncoming.

21317534_10212540643664939_4767586019894151315_n

Finished! It rained the entire time but I did it!

1 Comment »

In a Running Rut? Need some Motivation? Aaptiv could be right for you!

This is the true story about how the app Aaptiv helped me to find MY happy pace in running again.

Backtrack to late last fall.

I had trained on my own for The Big Sur Half Marathon in November.  And by training I mean I managed the workouts, and the long runs etc, but my motivation was kind of in the pooper.  Like on a scale of 1-10 I was probably at a 3 or 4 at best but only because I was still running.  It wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t really enjoying myself at all.  I ran the half with no real expectations, no big hopes for a new PR.  I knew I would finish and chocked it up to enjoying the sights and sounds of my last Big Sur Half Marathon while here in CA.  Mission accomplished, in other words I got it done.  It’s a beautiful half for sure. Thank goodness.

Next up for me was the Star Wars Light Side Half in January.  Problem was although I was super excited to run the Star Wars themed race, I was still lacking any real motivation to continue to train.

Enter Aaptiv.

Changing word Unmotivated into motivated

Please note: I DO NOT receive ANY monetary compensation from sharing Aaptiv.  Nor did they ask me to write this post.  However I really and truly enjoy the app and use it regularly.  If you’re in a rut and lacking motivation like I was, or just want to try something new then this might be just the app for you

November 2016

My husband has been in a rigorous accelerated collage program to get his masters degree. In other words lots of time in class and even more time at the library.  That’s the reason we are in California so I’m not complaining just stating facts.  We also have three very active children, I work part-time at a local running store, and am responsible 99% of the time for making sure the kiddos get where they need to be, when they need to be there.   School, sports, scouts etc, etc. Like many of you my training is often superseded by family schedules.  Add in lack of motivation and you have a recipe for a running disaster.

face-plant

I had heard about Aaptiv online and had been curious about it.  I found out a local friend of mine had become an ambassador.  I contacted her and she hooked me up with a free trial, I mean what did I have to lose?  Except maybe my severe lack of motivation.  If this could help, then I was all in.

One word.  Wow!  I have to tell you joining Aaptiv has been a HUGE motivational boost for me!  It not only saved my half, but has given me a whole new outlook and joy in my everyday running and training.  In fact I was so hooked that before my trail period ended I not only signed up for the year I also applied to become an ambassador.

But before I go any further let me explain exactly what Aaptiv is?

Aaptiv is way more than a running app!  It’s a complete on demand, multi coach, fitness audio training app right on your phone.  It’s like having a coach in your pocket 24/7.  Chock full of classes you can do in your home, at the gym or take it with you outside.  The app has taken off since I have joined and now includes:

  • Indoor (treadmill) Classes
  • Outdoor Running Classes
  • 5k – full marathon training plans
  • Indoor Cycling classes
  • Yoga Classes
  • Strength Classes
  • Meditation Classes
  • Stairclimber Classes
  • Walking Classes
  • Stretching (classes are automatically suggested right on the app after each class, which I love because I can be a bit lazy when it comes to stretching)
  • elliptical classes
  • 7 minute quick HIIT classes
  • monthly challenges and so much more
  • there is also an Official Aaptiv Member Facebook page where you can connect with other members

In addition to choosing which type of class you want to take, filter options also include sorting by:

  • duration of the class
  • incline level (when applicable)
  • speed
  • difficulty level (green for beginner, yellow for intermediate and red for advanced)
  • classes by trainer (choose your favorite or try someone new)
  • new classes or classes previously taken

Classes are set to fantastic music too.  No stale old “who the heck is this?” music here.  You will find everything from Hip Hop and Rock to Country.  Everything from Foo Fighters, Brittany Spears, AC/DC and everything in between.  The trainers are motivating and informative, I love the extra push I get from having that trainer in my ear.

Back to my Half Training:

For the Star Wars Lightside I jumped into the half training plan at the appropriate week for my half schedule.  Weekly runs in the half plan include cross training / recovery days. (a complete explanation of the plans are available on the Aaptive website)  The half training includes days of speed work, tempo runs and even long runs.  Each day is led by a seasoned instructor who both motivates you and gives great information on how to prepare for your half.   Just click the day of the plan your on and go!  I was able to do most (and could have done all if needed) of my training on the treadmill because that’s what works best for me time wise.  The plan is great for indoor and outdoor training.  I not only performed really well at Disney I enjoy every single minute of that half!  Honestly.

16177624_10210467079667135_8193170896804561726_o

This was in between miles 12 & 13…see still smiling.

So what now?

Since January I have continued to use Aaptive 4-5 days a week.  I branched off from the plan and now include weekly classes like hill training, speed training and even cross training days.  I am so thankful to be excited about working out and especially running again.  I have found new motivation to work on getting better, faster, stronger all while finding my happy pace in running and life!

17553524_1485648808135946_2272903127172598121_n

Great run thanks to Aaptiv even with some hills!

Are you needing a little motivation or a change in your routine and want to try Aaptiv too?  Feel free to use my code

DARLENAKOLPAKCLUB (click my code for the website and enter it there)  

Cancel at anytime during the trial period if you don’t love it.  

Any problems or questions, just ask!

 

 

No Comments »

2017 So Far… Did Someone Say Star Wars?

Its been a while, and this post is pretty late but I haven’t fallen off the running wagon!  In fact I ran Disney in January.  But not just any Disney race, a total “Bucket List” Star Wars half marathon race for me.

0cfb9514c4d899d114fd1cbc0154c27c

This wasn’t my first Disney race but it was my first half at Disneyland.  And having it be a Star Wars was more that just the icing on the cake for me.  I am a HUGE Star Wars nerd.  In fact we are an entire family of Star Wars nerds.  No regrets, no excuses.  I grew up on Star Wars and my favorites were always the droids….and of course Princess Leia. #princesspower

 

As luck would have it my kiddos also had a few days off from school around the race so we made it a Mommy & kiddo weekend.  We are currently about 5 1/2 hours from Disneyland so we drove.  Through fog (lots of fog) a crazy rain and wind storm (thank you Grapevine!?!) and fog and almost snow and fog because did I mention the fog?  Geez who knew I might have to worry about snow driving to southern California?!?  Amazingly we made it in exactly 5 1/2 hours on the dot.  BAM.  Go Mom.

The kiddos and I headed to the expo not too long after we got to Anaheim.  The hardest part for me was figuring out where the expo was and how to get there, lol.  I am slightly directionally challenged, ok maybe more than slightly.  But we managed.  Packet pick up complete.  Next we were off to lunch at Rainforest Cafe.  No rest for the wicked (or pre-race Mom) we spent most of the day in the parks.  #worthit

16115017_10210447139768650_4914294464232896052_n

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate in any of the weekend challenge races but it was fun to see people walking around the parks with all their medals.  My race was all about Sunday’s half.  I was ready and so excited.  I had decided to dress as BB8 because I had gotten a SWEET BB8 shirt from InknBurn.  And I am always a sucker for the droids.  Not too long before the race the world lost our Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)  so I decided to do an ode to Leia by wearing my hair in Princess Leia styled buns for the half.  RIP Carrie.

Race morning was chilly but I meet up with a fellow Subbers (Sub 30 club) Shannon and Mary and we headed out to the half together.  OK they totally showed me how to get to the start because apparently the kids and I had been taking a round about way to enter the parks.  See, directionally challenged my friends.  We met up for a pre race group Subber pic and then said our goodbyes as we were in different corrals.

15977573_10210466073961993_3977498331332962420_n

Members of the Sub 30 Club

If there is one thing I am always happy for it’s a good toss away shirt / sweatshirt for waiting in the corrals at the start of the race. Can I get an Amen?  Even though Disney always keeps things lively there isn’t much they can do about the cold.  I was really happy I had a sweatshirt for that 30-40 minute wait for my corral to get on their way.  Running through the parks and Anaheim were magical for sure. If I included all the pics I took this post would be more like a mini novel.  Here are a few of my favs and no surprise with some of my favorite droids.

16113979_10210466042721212_8117250786309886962_n 15977770_10210466775299526_7460023301019920892_n 15977875_10210466828140847_8295724558710960243_n

 

By far this was my favorite Disney race so far.  And yes it was totally because it was Star Wars themed.  Characters of all kinds were plentiful both inside and outside the park.

16177624_10210467079667135_8193170896804561726_o

Getting close to the end and yes I was still this happy!! #StarWarsNerd #foundmyhappypace

My time was even better than I had anticipated despite stopping too many times to count.  I know a lot of that had to do with my training.  Since my last half in November I had been using the Aaptive App Half Marathon Training Plan.  What you have never heard of Aaptive??  Oh my friend have you been missing out….but that’s for another blog entry.  Best App I have ever used for running hands down, just saying.

16105889_10210466045521282_6213173361594755996_n 16142709_10210466045001269_4812043367240470424_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After more pics and making my way back to the hotel I showered and changed and soon the kiddos and I were off to the parks for the next few days.  Admittedly I was quite sore after this half, more so than usual.  The only thing I can think is maybe all the stopping and starting for character pictures but again #worthit.

16143226_10210466046761313_8717148310130428060_n

Me and Chewie!!!

I can’t wait to do Disney again and it will be another new race for me.  Disney Wine and Dine back at Disney World in November. Bonus…I will earn my coast to coast medal too!

 

Have you ever run Disney?  What was your favorite Disney Race?  

If not which would you like to run?

 

No Comments »

Heart Rate Training (HRT) Works! I Ran Slow and Got a PR

As some of you may know I have been know to do a HRT Heart Rate (based) Training.  Read months of running slow…very slow in my aerobic zone.  Following my last half back in November I decided to go back to HRT once again.  After completing another round of purely base HRT I switched to an 80/20 Half Marathon Training plan for my next half marathon.  What is 80/20?  Basically its running 80% of your runs at / below your Max Aerobic Heart Rate Training number.  So yes I did continued to run 80% of my training slow.  The other 20% of it was spent in my anerobic training zone.  As the plan progressed that included things like hill repeats.  This past Sunday I ran the Surfer’s Path Capitola Half Marathon a beautiful course that started and ended at the famous Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The course took us passed several well known surfing spots (thus the name).  As luck would have it the waves were not happening Sunday morning.  Lots of surfers basically just wading in the water 🙁  However the view…still amazing.  But the best part?  I PR’d!  Up until last November I had not PR’d a half marathon in a few YEARS. So yes you can be older AND still get faster 🙂 using HRT, as long as you give it time.

13256142_10208411288873650_5772759318718785007_n

Surfers waiting on some waves.

So how did it go?  

First off I had NO planed goal for this race.  My friend had to pull out earlier in the week so I was going solo and my eating over my birthday weekend and beyond was less than stellar.  I wasn’t expecting anything other than enjoying the views and finishing.  I was more than pleasantly surprised by the PR!

My plan: I decided to go with a 2:1 run/walk ratio. I did run the entire first mile just to break up the field of runners a bit and warm up.  I also ran this race by Cadence rather than a pace. Why you may ask?  Well just out of curiosity I did my last tempo run by cadence and it felt pretty good and my time wasnt too shabby.  My cadence goal for running was 180.  I’m very happy to say I nailed it!  My walking cadence was around 124, personally I would like to see this go a bit higher, but that’s my new goal for the next race.

The course:  It wasn’t super hilly, but it wasn’t all flat either. The unfortunate part was that most of the roads had a very noticeable slant to it.  I did my best to stay on the flattest part of the road, however this wasn’t always possible.

My race: After the turn around (it was an out and back) I noticed I started passing people #winning
However by mile 8 I felt a twinge in my right knee.  No,no, no…try to adjust my form, don’t get lazy, don’t slouch!  However by about mile 9 the twinge turned more into pain. IT band related knee pain.
I continued to push through with the walk/ run.  I had IT problems happen to me about 3 years ago during a race and I knew it wasn’t as bad as that time ( I hobbled to the finish line for that one, it was awful) so I figured as long as it didn’t get worse I could continue on.

Finish:  I never looked at the time on my watch during the race. I just kept an eye on my cadence. In fact I didn’t realize I PR’d until I got home later, lol.

Feeling happy that my knee held out and didn't get worse!

Feeling happy that my knee held out and didn’t get worse! InknBurn Run or Die, the perfect shirt choice for the day :)

I like walk run because it helps me keep my HR down (however I don’t wear my Heart Rate Monitor when racing) I run by feel for races and I have to say I felt good during the entire race, knee pain aside.

13263776_10208411279673420_6345244621250117570_n

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

13240598_10208411279993428_2021341827283771088_n

Chillin’ at the beach post race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you might be wondering how one gets injured if doing HRT? I am 99% sure my IT band issues are from two things, and 100% sure none of it has to do with my actual HRT training!
1)Too much actual racing too close together
2) Not stretching enough.

I have done 3 “longish” races in less than a month. A nine miler, a double road race (8k followed 30 minutes by a 5k) and now this half. My body isn’t used to doing that much fast pace racing so close together.

Phillip-4032

No Comments »

Race Recap: Big Sur Half Marathon On Monterey Bay and a 5k to Boot

Back when I was still living in Virginia I signed up for The Big Sur Half Marathon mainly for two reasons.

  1. To keep myself accountable as far as continuing to run once we moved
  2. Because its one of America’s most beautiful half marathons

Mission completed.  I’m still running and it truly was an absolutely beautiful run.  Here’s my recap of the weekend:

5k

Late Friday night I decided last minute to run the Lighthouse 5k on Saturday morning.  The 5k is part of the Half Marathon weekend and because well why not right?  Back in VA there are plenty of events with multiple races on the same weekend.  Why not make one for myself.  The course is a short walk from my house and my youngest would be there for the annual Cub Scout pancake breakfast.  So bright and early Saturday I made my way down to Lover’s Point and signed up at walk up registration.  I decided to use this flat beautiful course as a shakeout run, nice and easy.  It was a perfect cool sunny morning for a run along the beautiful coast.  In the end I was pleasantly surprised that I completed my shakeout at a pace I use to struggle to complete a 5k at.  Could those training hills be working?  Or did I go too fast and possibly jeopardize my half?  Eeek!  

11220902_10207031737385725_2484590155314541342_n

IMG_0685

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Night.

I met up with a few fellow Sub 30 Club friends who came to town for the Half Marathon.  We had dinner in downtown Monterey with some great food and conversation.  It’s funny how runners can just meet up and talk for hours and hours isn’t it?  Awesome peeps!  Highlight of the night, we each got to sign one of the famous Sub 30 Flags.  The flag is being sent all around the country to subbers for good luck and comradery from the main group of almost 4,000 running buddies.  What a great boost for Sunday’s race!

12226983_10208662556460240_416965690629514831_n

Subbers and I from the Sub 30 Club

 

Race Day:

I had plan A, plan B and the no fail plan C for Sunday’s half.

  • Plan A – shoot for a new PR of at least one minute
  • Plan B – shoot for an even better PR
  • Plan C – if it doesn’t happen, enjoy the ride!

California has brought me some new running buddies along with lots of hills to train on.  Hills are something that are hard to find in Virginia Beach.  So for the past 4 months I have learned the love/hate relationship of running them.  Oh and Palo Corona, which is more of a mountain really.  But I digress, in my mind if I have been running all these hills then they must have a pay off at some point.  At least I sure hoped so!  Thus my quest for a new PR.

The half itself is run like a well oiled machine.  The folks at BSIM (Big Sur International Marathon) sure know what they are doing.  Everything from packet pick up and the shuttles to/from the race were easy to find and navigate.  Volunteers were plentiful on the course as were water / Gatorade etc.  I even had the joy of having my oldest volunteering on the course!  Getting a hug (and some water) at around mile 8-9 from my son was amazing 🙂  The course has a few uphill climbs, but nothing close to what I have trained on so I did fine.  There was live music and DJ’s along the course, and post race grub was also plentiful.  But the real winner of the race… the views along the course.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 6.28.46 PM

I was blessed to bump into one of my Wednesday night running buddies in he starting corral.  I told her about my hopes to PR, she graciously volunteered herself and her husband to pace me for my goal.  Saki is awesome, and a machine, for real.

12195749_10207037740175791_5559037219342616299_n

Saki and I in the starting corral

And by the way her husband is an awesome pacer!  The two of them had just come off a 10 mile trail run the previous day and were taking it easy for the half (lucky for me!)  Her PR for this course is a 2:01!  So we decided on a plan of staying with the pace group for the first half and then seeing how I felt at the turnaround.  *Except for a quick stop (yes I failed and got in the corral to early and had to pee!! Ughh.)   We stayed with the pacers until just after the turnaround.  side note:  If that port-o-potty stop had cost me my PR I would probably never forgive myself.   After the turnaround (just about mile 7 1/2) we slowly and steadily we made our surge.

Mile 10 is usually my hardest mile, and this half was no different.  I started with my self-doubt.  “I can’t PR, I have to walk blah, blah, blah, etc” Then I started to hear the pacer’s voice from the group we had broken away from.  I may have used a few choice words, which I shall not repeat here, out loud and decided “That’s it!” “I do not want to hear them again!”  Off I went.  Did you know being mad really can make you faster?  I thought about God, my Mom and my I run 4 buddy Logan.  I wanted to do this for all of them and myself.  I kept repeating their names in my head.  Saki paced me until sometime around mile 10 1/2 – 11 and then sent me on my way.  I was in the zone and the last two miles ended up being my fastest miles of the entire race.  I really appreciated Saki more than she can ever know.

I PR’d by almost 3 minutes!  Which for me is huge!  So hooray for hills, I might be getting older but I am also getting a bit faster 🙂  And I have to admit there were also some tears of joy at the end of the race.  And as if it wasn’t already a great day I got to meet the Kara Goucher!  She ran the race and had come in first for the women with a 1:11.  An additional bonus was I actually got to see her on the course.  She is amazing.

Here are some additional pics from the day.  First California Half (and 5k) in the books!

 

12208794_10207037420567801_2137622872344741133_n

Kara and I…she may be my girl crush

12227611_10207037563371371_1980457917477288510_n

Sub 30 “Dark Side” Flag. Post Race

 

 

1 Comment »

Motivational Monday – The Historic Half – What I Learned About Me

Quick Motivational Monday and Historic Half recap in words and pictures:

 

Things learned from a truly hot and hilly half marathon.

  • Hills are tough, I am tougher
  • I need more hill training in my life
  • Take Gatorade at the water stops on a really hot day, even if you hate it, you need it (done)
  • You can accomplish much more than you think.  Less doubting..more doing
  • Challenges are good and make you a better person & runner
  • HRT (heart rate training) truly does improve your endurance
  • I finished and it wasn’t about my time it was about my effort
  • When conditions aren’t ideal, run smart
  • Marines are good motivators
  • Bring on the next one!
11025659_10205842153846880_6918628638368618816_n

Done!

 

God is good, life is good  🙂

11165321_966752126692286_6466150699243770337_n

11050094_10205842168007234_939275476622227210_n 11077373_10205843597802978_2310662848765204414_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11053485_10205843599603023_4609109206495965919_n

Not the first or last but, the biggest hill of the half

11295727_10205843599323016_2071608471372482803_n

Making our way up Hospital Hill

 

 

 

l

 

 

 

 

 

 

11014968_10205843600643049_4315933065198898634_n

On course entertainment – downtown Fredericksburg

 

2 Comments »

Recap – Inaugural Petersburg Half Marathon

History meets Half Marathon.

Saturday, April 18, 2015, I participated in the Inaugural Petersburg Half Marathon in Petersburg Virginia.  I have been excited about this race since it was first announced.  Petersburg itself has a lot of historical significance and the theme of the race was based upon that.  A good portion of the movie “Lincoln” was actually filmed in Petersburg.

11164666_10205666709300876_2798980861339269045_n

The race course ran not only through historic downtown but also the beautiful and hilly (wink, wink) Petersburg National Battlefield.  As an added bonus the course also featured Battlefield re-enactment inside the historic park.

Pre race "selfie" with my friends and some of the re-inactment crew  and yes my friends photobomb very well :)

Pre race “selfie” with my friends and some of the re-inactment crew

 

I was very pleased that the sponsors of the race had done an excellent job relaying information via their Facebook page since the announcement of the race.  Info was easy to access, they responded quickly to questions and keep all the racers well informed.  Inaugural races can sometime be a little un-nerving because you don’t know what to expect.  I did not feel that way with this race.

The course itself was a challenge compared to the flat races I am used to in Virginia Beach, and admittedly I was a bit nervous about the course.  The only other “hilly” race I have ever done was back in November in CT at the Manchester Road Race which features one very L…O…N…G hill.  And Petersburg was hilly, not super tall hills but there were plenty of rolling hills along the course.

10924819_799628340085144_5225514058917742958_n-2

The hills helped me prove to myself that I am much more capable than I have led myself to believe.  The week before I had a rather not-so-hot race at the Dismal Swamp Stomp, a flat-out and back half.  I started out too fast and had a hard last 5 miles.  Not a great feeling heading in to a more challenging course.  My goal for Petersburg was to finish well.  I did that and more.  I not only finished well but only 4 minutes slower than on the totally flat course the week before.  #winning

Here are a few pics from the race course as it traveled through Petersburg National Park and beyond.

11040403_10205666710500906_8551584287318866034_n 10926371_10205666710180898_6215687982518469973_n 11078058_10205666711460930_1881180877450254161_n 11049117_10205666711100921_4247488812084548035_n

 

11169666_857218097659501_8397410362714340505_o

 

Post race featured a large finishers medal for the Half Marathoners, pizza, drinks and music.

11068412_10205666712900966_211217107033708929_n

10409725_10205692329941376_4375492517771855501_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all the race was well planned, challenging and fun.  The sponsors have been wonderful about taking feedback from the runners and next years race is already open for registration.  The sponsors have also promised more entertainment as far as the amount of participants in the Battle re-enactment and possibly even cannon fire!

 

 

 

No Comments »

The New Harbor Lights Half Marathon and 5k Get Lit Challenge #harborlights14

This past weekend, November 22 and 23, I participated in the Inaugural Harbor Lights Half Marathon and 5K Get Lit challenge in Norfolk, VA.

I was excited as always to participate in another J&A Racing event.  J&A Racing is the premier racing company in the area. I swear they have their skills down to a science.  And this new race was no exception.  Well organized, plenty of cool swag and a great new course in Norfolk.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.35.46 AM

The 5k

Saturday morning was one word……brrrr,.  It was very cold for this time of year in Virginia.  Like most of the country we had been experiencing below normal temps for most of the week.  Saturday morning was no exception.  With a start time temp of 27 my buddy Cara (Running in Sanity) and I bundled up an headed for the start line.  My goal for this race was nice and easy.   I have been fighting a cold virus all week and I wanted to stay as healthy as I could.  So no PR goal just a nice shake out for Sunday’s main event.  This was the first time I have ever run the day before a half marathon and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Although cold for VA the breeze was light and there was some sun.  The only negative for me was I wasn’t a huge fan of the two cobblestone roads that we hit during the course,  (we adapted by running on the brick sidewalk) the race was a nice new course to run.  This was also the first race Cara and I have ever run together from start to finish.  It was enjoyable to run with her as I often run solo.  I never got too warm during the race and my hat, headband, gloves etc stayed on for the entire 5k.   Race #1 done

Pre Race Selfie

Pre Race Selfie

 

Yup it was cold.  All these clothes stayed on me!

Yup it was cold. All these clothes stayed on me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race #2 The Half Marathon (lots of firsts this weekend for me)

  • first time I completed an entire half marathon using run/walk
  • first time I ran with a buddy at my pace
  • first time doing a race challenge weekend
  • first time I have ever run a race sick.
  • first time there was mini pie tarts at mile 10ish! 😉
  • first time I had negative splits during the second half of a race

Sunday’s weather started off about 10 degrees warmer than Saturday at about 38 degrees.  Thank goodness.  The high by my anticipated finish was supposed to be in the upper 40’s low 50’s.  I decided to go with a visor, short sleeve shirt with a long sleeve half zip top over that, capris and a gloves.  I also brought a “throw away” fleece I got from the thrift store for waiting at the start and warm up miles.  I am not a fan of cold and wanted to have options.  I had a plan to meet up with a buddy Natascha whom I met through the Sub Thirty Club on Facebook.  We had met in person at Crawlin’ Crab Half  but missed each other at Wicked 10K.

Cara, Myself and Natashca

Cara, Myself and Natashca

After catching up with Natasha at the corral we headed to the start.  I had warned her ahead of time about my cold and that I had no definite time goal because I wasn’t sure how I would feel.  We decided on a run/walk interval of 3/1 and off we went.  The course was really nice with some great views of Norfolk.  I guess I never realized how lovely Norfolk really is.  Natascha and I ended up staying together until somewhere between mile 7-8.  I was feeling way better than expected and decided to go ahead and stick with my 3/1 intervals.  I truly enjoyed pacing with another runner, it really did make the miles wiz by.  I wished my buddy luck and headed out on my own.  I have run a few races in Norfolk before (Heart of Ghent, CHKD 8k and The Freedom Half) but never this exact course.  I wish I had more pictures to share because I have to say this was my favorite race in Norfok by far.  And the tiny tarts around miles 10 didn’t hurt either!  YUM!

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.17.21 PM

View of the Battleship Wisconsin near the Nauticus Museum – photo credits HarborLights Facebook page

Tiny tart pies at around mile 10 ish

Tiny tart pies at around mile 10 ish  Photo Credits Harbor Lights Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At mile 10 I was more than pleasantly surprised at how good I felt.  Run/walk and the HRT or heart rate training  (you can learn more about that by clicking here) I have done since August definitely made all the difference for me.  At about mile 11 I realized I was in PR territory, even while not at 100% health.  Wow!  I found a few people around and ahead of me to set my sights on for those last few miles.  I missed my PR by only 28 seconds!   Of course a PR would have been nice of course but I am 100% satisfied with my race effort.  I took off just over 11 minutes since my last half in October.  That’s huge!  Kudos to J&A Racing for another amazing race!  Now its time for me to get healthy so I can enjoy the Manchester Road Race with my brother on Turkey Day in CT!

Running in Sanity and I Get Lit Challenge Finishers!

Running in Sanity and I
Get Lit Challenge Finishers!

Happy girl!  Ran sick yet only 28 seconds off my PR!

Happy girl! Sick and only 28 seconds off my PR!

9 Comments »

Great Gifts for Running Friends $20 & Under!

It’s that time of year again and you have a long list of Running Buddies that have helped you rock 2014.  The big questions is…”What can I give them this is running related and won’t break the bank?”

No worries!  Here is a short list of fun running related items under $20 each!

 Help your friends:

Show their fun sporty and colorful side with gifts from Runner Decals.  Decals, Tumblers and more!**

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.23.51 AM

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.26.00 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Safe with gifts from Road ID.  ID Bracelets, reflective items and accessories and more! *

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.31.23 AM

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.30.38 AM

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.30.58 AM

Keep fun in run in the run with gifts from Crazy Compression.  Compression socks and sleeves**

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.35.52 AM

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.37.44 AM

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.35.52 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show them they are special with gifts from Momentum.  Beautiful, inspirational “Foot Note” bracelets, necklaces!***

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.43.58 AM

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.42.10 AM

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.41.44 AM

 

 

Great Holiday themed gifts from Gone For A Run.  In fact they have an entire Holiday Shop! Personalized Ornaments, Mugs and fun socks!***

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.55.16 AM

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.56.07 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.56.31 AM

Keep your essentials with you on a run with the Running Buddy Mini from Running Buddy. (additional colors available) ***

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 12.03.09 PM

 

 

Keep cool while looking hot 😉 with Hippie Runner.  Sweat Wicking Headbands in hundreds of different patterns!***

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 12.11.26 PM

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 12.10.52 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man th

Man that chick looks familiar?!

 

Accessories from Skirt Sports.  Socks and visors.  

Under $20 when you use code RWM25AMB thanks to Running While Mommy and get 25% off!

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 12.55.11 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 12.55.39 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope some of these ideas might come in handy.  Enjoy your holidays!

Do you have a favorite runner gift to give for under $20?

Disclosure:

* I am an affiliate of Road ID and will receive a percent of items sold only when my affiliate link is used.

** I am an ambassador for crazy compression and runner decals however I do NOT receive any monetary compensation from these companies.

*** I am not an ambassador / affiliated with Momentum, Gone for a Run, Running Buddy or Hippie Runner or Skirt Sports (I just really think they had some cool items to share)

3 Comments »

Why Running Slow Really Might be the New Fast: Training by Heart Rate

Please Note:  I am not a coach or professional runner.  I am writing this blog using my own experience with HRT.  You should check with your doctor or medical professional before starting any exercise regime.  🙂

Also note that my HRT plan is based on the book:

Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot by John L. Parker, Jr.

There are different books with slightly different plans, choose which is best for you.

 

As a runner you have probably seen something like this…

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.52.34 PMAdmittedly I love this slogan!  Why?  Because I believe every runner fast or slow is still a runner.  We cover the same miles in the end no matter what the time!  But did you know running slow may actually be the key to running faster with less effort?

Welcome to the world of Heart Rate Training or HRT.

So where in the world did I even hear out about HRT? 

After reading Finding Ultra” by Rick Roll (in which he touches upon his experience with Heart Rate Training)  I remembered reading a blog about HRT on  Shut Up + Run (click here to read her post)  a while back.  Being August (at the time) and with a half marathon on the schedule for October, I decided that book was a good place to start. I was not in great long distance aerobic shape at all since I hadn’t run a half in almost a year.

I bought the book,  “Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot” by John L Parker, Jr. and got started. Now I have to tell you Heart Rate based training is first and foremost HUMBLING. It will knock your butt off your running pedestal  after run #1.  But we will get more into that later. The basic idea is that most people train far too often in their anaerobic zone, even when they don’t realize it.  That was totally me and most likely, it’s also you.  While most gains are actually made in the aerobic base building zone.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic training

For the sake of keeping things as simple as possible (you know keep it simple stupid)  I will use the following colors for each word to help us keep track:

  • Aerobic (pink, easy runs where most of HRT takes place)
  • Anaerobic (red, faster running, less time is spent here in HRT)  Not that there isn’t a place for faster running because there absolutely is.  But it’s how often should you be in this anaerobic zone that might surprise you.

OK so lets step back a minute and discuss the differences of Aerobic vs. Anaerobic.

 I found this on My Food Diary :

“During aerobic conditions, the muscle cells have adequate fuel and oxygen, and they can contract repeatedly without fatigue.”

“During anaerobic conditions, muscle cells must rely on other reactions that do not require oxygen. This anaerobic metabolism in the cells produces waste molecules that can impair muscle contractions. This results in fatigue. Fatigue causes you to experience added discomfort and weakening muscles. Eventually you will need to lower your intensity level and allow your body to remove the waste molecules.”

Using the above definitions we can conclude the idea behind aerobic training is training without fatigue to build your running base.  The heart of HRT (no pun intended) is building your aerobic base. 

 Less fatigue = less stress on the body = less injury = stronger base

Build a strong base and eventually the faster pace will come.  The science behind HRT is actually pretty cool and I enjoyed learning about it.  However I won’t be going all scientific on you in this post.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.18.58 AM

 If you do want more info you can check out this great article from Runners Connect it’s worth the read.

Note: There are a few different books out on HRT and they do have some variations.  

As I mentioned earlier the book I am basing this post off is the one I started off with:

“Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot”  John L. Parker, Jr.

 

So how exactly does one build their aerobic base with HRT?  

Well that’s the kicker.  You do MOST of your weekly running slow at or below your aerobic training heart rate. And by slow I mean…

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.27.17 PM

How slow?  That depends on your specific training heart rate. And will differ for each person depending on factors like age, health, injuries etc. 

Wondering what your easy training heart rate might be?  

An fairly simple formula to use is called the MAF 180 (Maximum Aerobic Function)

Click here to find out more from 

TriFind.com about calculating your MAF training heart rate.**

**MAF is not the formula used in Heart Rate Training for Idiots but it lined up pretty darn close.  And is popular among those using Heart Rate Training.

 

And so it began:  Time to set aside your pride and get humble, really humble.

The hardest part of HRT for me (and it seems most participants) has been realizing how slow my base building pace really should be.  In fact in the beginning I had to walk…a lot.  Even today I still have to run/walk on my easy run days.  Seriously humbling.  On a happier note I have read about elite athletes (i.e.: Rich Roll) having to walk hills when beginning HRT.  That made me feel a lot better. 😉  In other words you can be a fast runner and have a crappy aerobic base.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.08.29 PM

It’s also NOT easy to give up your “get out there and get it done as fast as you can” mentality.  I have read about people ready to throw the towel in after day #1 of HRT.  So if your going to do it your really need to commit to the process.  Check your pride and the door and dig in.  I admit I have strayed off the path a few times myself, but I buckled myself back in and am seeing benefits.

So what can HRT do for you?

Let me break it down in layman’s, or even better Runfyhp cupcakey (yes it’s a word, don’t judge) terms.  You will be doing most of your weekly running slowly, at first possibly even painfully slow (maybe even walking like me).  But this is how you will  begin building up your aerobic base. In our “cupcakey” example the base is the bottom half of your cupcake.  You know the part that holds up all the good magical stuff (the frosting!).  Strong, sturdy and the biggest part.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.39.16 PM

If your base is not strong you won’t be built to last.  And I don’t know about you but I would like to keep on running for as many years as I can.  I’m not saying you can’t get fast any other way, BUT training at your anaerobic threshold on a regular basis is more likely to get you injured, fatigued and at some point dare I say it….you’ll drop your frosting!!!!!  Gasp!!! And no one wants that.

Injury / Fatigue =Pain / Frustration =Time off

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.43.26 PM

However over time using HRT at your aerobic pace you build a strong base and will begin to reap the benefits of your running potential.  That’s when the sweet stuff happens “the frosting” if you will. You begin to reach your happy pace with less effort!  Easy runs become easier at a faster pace, tempo runs become quicker AND you don’t feel beat up after a run.  Then when the time comes to race you should be strong, healthy, injury free and able to hold up and enjoy every bit of it. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.46.41 PM

OK so there is some bad news: 

  • Progress is slow, running at first is also slow.  It will take time, probably more than most of us would like
  • Patience and persistence are key.  This WILL NOT happen overnight.
  • Once you begin to reap the base building benefits you have to push yourself harder on tempo and speed work days to get your HR up.  But this is actually a good thing!

Benefits will happen.  I am starting to see progress with my pace. And best of all I feel great after a run!  It works if you have patience and stick to the program.

You might ask….Do you run slow on every run?  No.  The program I have followed from Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot” includes a weekly tempo run (at a specific Tempo Heart Rate) and weekly speed work (also at my specific Interval Training Heart Rate)  These heart rates are different from my easy run HRT.  But yes all other weekly runs should be done at my easy pace. I’m trying I swear! 🙂

The Pros:

  • You will build up a solid aerobic base
  • You will run more efficiently
  • Most runs are done at an easy comfortable pace (which gets faster with time I promise)
  • It will prevent over-training or under training by working at the right intensity for each run
  • You don’t feel beat up at the end of a run
  • You should be less prone to injury
  • Eventually your pace will improve (you will be running longer and stronger at an easier effort)

The Cons:

  • I would, at least, get a HRT book, or a coach if your so inclined, to help walk you through the steps of HRT
  • Be prepared to run slow (and possibly walk) in the beginning (like painfully slow, I’m not gonna lie)
  • Progress takes time (how much depends on the starting point of your aerobic base)
  • You will need to invest in a Heart Rate Monitor (if you don’t already own one)
  • Humility and Pride need to be checked at the door BEFORE you leave for your run

For me Heart Rate Training has been a huge blessing.  I don’t feel as tired and beat up after a run, my times and paces are beginning to show improvement and I have been able to find my happy pace on almost every run.  If your worried about your pace or training I would suggest starting HRT in your “off-season” That may help you with persistence at sticking to the program.

I would love to hear if any of you decide to try HRT out.  Its working for me, maybe it can work for you too!

So who’s ready for the challenge?

9 Comments »