Northface Endurance Challenge 10k Recap

As I planned out my race schedule for the spring in January, I decided I wanted to add a trail race to my schedule – just for a little variety.  Ragnar was off the table, but I liked the idea of testing out the Northface Endurance Challenge and settled on the 10k race.

Packet pickup was the least wonderful part of the experience. You had the option of going to a Northface store, the closest one being 17+ miles from the race site, or picking up the day before or day of the race (via a shuttle bus).  Because I HAVE TO have my packet before I run, I went to the closest store on my way to a client meeting.  It wasn’t TERRIBLE and I was pleasantly surprised by premium long sleeve, hooded tech shirt. From what I could gather, each race received a different color and they were gender specific.

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In my typical fashion, I laid out my “Flat Erin” the night before the race to post on social media and was pretty happy with how the shirt from my Etsy shop turned out!

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The morning of the race, Sunday, I headed to the shuttle location and met up with two of my amazing MRTT friends who were running the half-marathon.  Our races were held on the second of two race days – Saturday had been the 50 miler, 50k and full marathon. We hugged and photoed, but unfortunately my buddies started at a different location and we only had time to say hello before heading off on our respective busses.

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Upon boarding the bus to Algonkian Regional Park, I found a family from my neighborhood who were planning on running the 5k.  We chatted on our way to the park and while we waited for the race to start.  It was warm, but not nearly as bad as the day before had been.  And it was overcast, which actually made it quite pleasant.

The 10k started right on time at 8:00 am with several waves of runners.  I seeded myself in the middle of wave 3, knowing that I had not put in enough trail miles and didn’t want to hold anyone else up.  When we were released, we started out in a field, ran along a road, and onto the trail.  One water stop was there at about mile 2, just before heading into the more technical portions of the trail.  (And allowed for 2 stops from one location.)

I was surprised at how good my legs felt and how well I was navigating all the trees and limbs.  So good, in fact, that after we turned around I decided to see how I could do for the second half.  As we hit the paved portion of the route, I kicked it up and found myself passing several people along the way.  As I crossed the finish line, I realized that most folks around me looked quite a bit younger and maybe I placed in my age group.  Sure enough, after checking my time in the “hut”, I found out I had placed 3rd among women 40-44!  There were no age group awards (aside from 1st for each catagory) and no ceremony, but I’ll take it anyway.

Upon crossing the finish line we received a nice water bottle and attractive finisher’s medal.  Apparently the medal is the same for all races, with only the ribbon color changing.   Had I run 50 miles, I don’t know if I would have been pleased about that.  But I was happy to get a new addition to my medal rack.

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My favorite chiropractor’s office was giving out massages after the race and the line was short, so I chatted with Jane from Beyond Wellness while she got rid of some of the tension in my calves.  After some more water and a quick snack, I ran into my neighbors boarding the bus.  The son had placed 1st in his age group and the dad 2nd in his age group.  We chatted while we waited for the busses to arrive and return us to our cars.

I would definitely recommend this race as a nice, well organized trail option.  The mud was good for my legs and the nature good for my soul.  All in all, not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

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St. Luke’s Half Marathon Recap

Last weekend, I participated in the St. Luke’s Half Marathon in Allentown, PA.  I signed up as part of their “Half and Half” – this half in April, followed by the Runners World Half in October.  I had been eyeing the Runners World Half and when I ran the idea of doing BOTH by my sister-in-law, she was game to join me.  Plus they had a cool sweatshirt if you did both and I am not ashamed to admit that I am motivated by good swag.

Some time in late-March/ early-April, I shifted my goal race from the Frederick Half Marathon on May 7 to this one.  One of my training partners, Hadley, was training for the Loudoun County Half on the same day.  She is faster than me and SO STRONG, so it was fun to reach a little bit to up this training cycle.  We had already added speed work (thank you, Molly!!!) and hills to our regime and I figured – I’m working hard, I’m healthy and it’s finally time to retry for that sub-2 half.

Physically I felt good overall, but went to see my favorite sports chiro, Dr. Wong, the Wednesday before the race to work on my left foot which was feeling “off”.  There was NO WAY that was going to stop me from my goal. Dr. Wong worked his magic on my foot while simultaneously helping me think through my race day strategy.  We talked food, fuel, pre-race warm up mile, and water consumption.

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Selfie with Dr. Wong

On Saturday morning, I headed up to Allentown (about 3.5 hours from my home) and upon arrival, promptly wandered about the expo.  It was a VERY well organized event and with some nice items and vendors.  I picked up my race shirt (disliked, but I’m picky), bib (special color for the half and half), and sweatshirt (LOVED).  I also grabbed two tanks, a shirt, a headband, and some fuel from the various vendors around the ballroom.

After checking in the hotel, I wandered around Allentown a little to get my legs moving.  Luckily the rain that had haunted the forecast earlier in the week was no longer on the horizon and, though cool, felt good to get my legs moving.  I headed back, grabbed a salad for dinner, and set out my flat mama before my sister in law arrived from NJ.

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Skirt by Sparkle Athletic. Socks by Gone for a Run. Headband by BAMR Bands.

I read, watched girl movies and worked on my computer.  When she arrived, the family had been at a water park for 2 days, we chatted for a while and got settled in for Sunday.  I was so enjoying our visit and hated that we had to go to sleep without grabbing a glass of wine together.  Between her 4 boys (!) and my 1, we rarely get to chat without tons of interruptions.

Race day arrived with a starting temp in the 40s and a clear sky.  We drove over to the fairgrounds, parked easily and got to wait in a comfy gym with REAL BATHROOMS!!!  We, of course, grabbed a picture before the start.

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We had agreed from the beginning to run our own races.  At around 7:50, I headed out for my warm-up mile while she stayed inside to stay warm before the race.  The 5k got underway at 8am, with our race to follow.  After my mile-ish, slow run – I found some friends to take my picture and this cute clown to snap a selfie with before seeding myself somewhere between the 1:55 and 2:00 pacers.  I had originally intended to stick with the pacers, but decided I was a good enough self policer to watch my own pace.

At 8:10, the gun went off and we were headed on the road in a down hill start.  I let the momentum carry me, careful to remind myself to run my own race.  I knew the hills were rolling and I also knew, from studying the course map, that miles 7 to 11 had crushed gravel – the VERY THING that had killed my first sub-2 attempt back in 2014.

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I know better than to “bank” miles, but I was also aware of the hazard of the gravel.  So I ran at a good clip for the first 6+ miles, reminding myself to keep a little in my tank.  I also tried really hard not to waste time passing people or weaving in and out.  I did walk through the water stops to make sure I stayed hydrated.  When I got to the 10k mark, I was pleased to see 54:44 – only 40 seconds behind my 10k PR.  And I was still feeling good.

My pack of runners headed into the park with the gravel JUST as the leaders were headed back out – and onto mile 12.  That still BLOWS MY MIND.  The park was beautiful and picturesque.  BUT THE HILLS AND GRAVEL WERE UNFUN.  I knew I had to keep around a 9 min per mile pace, even with my first half being so strong, to make my goal.  Just before we went through a covered bridge (very pretty, but this was not a race for stop and photo moments), I chatted briefly with a girl who was after the same time goal.  We commiserated on the gravel and possibly going out too fast.  Don’t you just love the running community?

We came out of the park and I felt how shot my legs were.  I also knew that the last 1.5 miles was going to be ALL HEART.  SO I kept repeating, “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me…” (YES – I am a boy mom!) all the way to the stadium where we needed to finish.

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I had read that there was an uphill climb and a 3/4 trip around the track oval before the finish line.  And I decided it was time to leave it all behind.  That this is what nothing in the tank was about.  I pushed around that oval and SAW 1:57 on the clock.  After sprinting over that finish line, I pressed done on my Garmin, looked down and realized – I DID IT.

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Pic from the St. Luke’s Photographer

TWO+ years after mentally eyeing the goal and 4 months of hard work lead me to my first sub-2 half marathon.  My watch said 1:57:27, but the official time was 1:57:25.  FOUR WHOLE MINUTES faster than my previous PR of 2:01:28.

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Official Finishers Certificate

I hobbled my way around to some benches, after grabbing a medal and heat sheet, to find my sister in law.  She had finished out at just over 2:04 after an insane week of spring break.

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We walked back to the car to head back to the hotel and I had to grab one last pic of Allentown before my long drive home to VA.

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When I arrived in my driveway, my amazing neighbors greeted me with champagne and flowers.  Hadley had also had an amazing race, coming in at 1:53 and change.

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Flowers from Molly. Champagne from Lisa. Photo by Lisa’s son, Benji, and hugs from all!

I’ve spent the past week taking it easy, resting my legs, and determining what the next big goal might be… Because this runner is no where NEAR done!

Race Linkup: April 2017

This morning I am joining my friend Deb at DebRunsFit for her monthly race linkup.  Coming off of yesterday’s GOAL half, it’s hard to believe that there is more to come for 2017!   I promised my hubby that I would try to do less, but sometimes it’s hard to say no.  I WILL NOT run 27 races, like 2015, or 21, like 2016, but with the 5 I have already done this year, and the 11 (OOPS!) I have on the calendar — it will still be a fun year of racing!

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Thus far I have run:

Race Location Date Time
St Luke’s Half Marathon Allentown, PA 4/23/2017 1:57:25
Van Meter 5 Mile Run Brodlands, VA 4/1/2017 0:47:17
Rock and Roll Half Marathon Washington, DC 3/11/2017 2:19:58
For the Love of It 10k Reston, VA 2/4/2017 1:00:59
New Year’s Day 5k Reston, VA 1/1/2017 0:30:39

Up next:
April 30: Northface 10k in Sterling, VA
May 7: Frederick Half Marathon in Frederick, VA
May 20: My Health Matters 5k in Herndon, VA
June 4: NJ Sharing Network 5k in New Providence, NJ
July 4: Firecracker 5k in Reston, NJ
August 20: Leesburg 20k in Leesburg, VA
September 10: Parks Half Marathon in Rockville, MD
October 22: Runners World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, PA
November 13: OBX Marathon in Outer Banks, NC
November 23: Thanksgiving 5k in Ashburn, VA
December 10: Jingle Jog 5k in Ashburn, VA

Hope to see some of you there!!!

St. Luke’s Half Marathon – The ANTICIPATION

I’m here!  In Allentown!  BY MYSELF IN A HOTEL ROOM.

15 hours until go time for my attempt at a sub-2 hour half marathon.  I’m well rested.  I’m well trained.  My flat mama is ready.  The forecast has changed to my favorite running weather.  AND I AM SO EXCITED.

And nervous.  This is the first time in 2+ years I’ve seriously trained for a time goal and put it out into the universe.  One that was a little hard.  A little bit of a stretch.  All week long, I’ve been working on mental training.  I am ready to embrace the suck.

That’s all for now… If you have a moment between 8:10 and 10:10, send me good thoughts.  I will need them.

HERE GOES!!

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The Perfect Jumpie

Getting the perfect jump shot on your phone after a run is a wonderful way to celebrate your miles.  It takes a lot of practice and a whole bunch of jumping around before you get it right.  We have dubbed this shot the “JUMPIE” for our self-taken jump shots.

Some tips from the jumping trenches:

  1. Angle Upward: It helps to make you look higher off the ground when you jump when you angle your camera UP.
  2. Practice: Is it on 3 or after 3?  We have ONE person count and usually go ON THREE.  And typically we do a practice shot first.  But NOT after a 20 miler.
  3. Bend and Snap: Well, really just bend.  If you bend your knees – to the side or behind, you are more likely to get a good picture. And you look like you’ve jumped higher!
  4. BURST: The burst feature/ timer is your friend.  If someone else is taking the photo, have them hold the camera button (angled up!) when you start counting.  If you are using the timer, watch for the numbers and begin your jump when you see “1”.
  5. Smile when you JUMP: And watch your head position so you don’t end up with what I affectionately call, “turtle head”. It takes practice, but keeping your head forward and your body upward looks the best.

And have fun!!  Happy jumping!

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