2017 Frederick Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday was my second running of the Frederick Half Marathon. In 2015, I ran it as part of the Nut Job Challenge (5k Saturday night, half marathon Sunday morning).  Originally, I had planned this race as my sub-2 attempt, but I ended up shooting for, and making it, at the St. Luke’s Half two weeks prior.

On Saturday morning, my son and I headed up to Frederick in the rain to pick up my packet and do some adventuring in Maryland.  We arrived at the fairgrounds, found parking fairly quickly and went to pick up my bib (one building) and my race premium (another building).  After wandering around the small expo, we headed over to see the farmers market.  Puddle jumping was too tempting for my little buddy to resist, so I ushered us back to the car to continue our adventure.

The rain was slated to stop by 11 and I had hoped we’d make it to the South Mountain Creamery to learn about ice cream making on our way home.  Sadly, there was no end in site to the rain, so we headed over to Brunswick, Maryland to check out a small train museum.  My father-in-law loves model trains and has a huge set up in his basement, so Michael is quite familiar with watching trains.  This particular exhibit wound all the way through the third floor of the museum and followed the train from Union Station up through Maryland.

IMG_0347
The rain stopped long enough to check out the old caboose in Brunswick.

We headed home, still in the rain, and I went about gathering items for my “Flat Erin” for the race. Since the goal was to have fun, I really went all out for this one – channelling the character Poppy from the movie Trolls.

IMG_0348
Skirt: Sparkle Athletic, Headband: BAMR Bands, Shirt: Run Happy by Erin on Etsy.

Saturday morning at 5am, I met my friend Kim at a local Starbucks to head to Frederick for the 7am start.  I knew that it was an absurdly early hour to leave, but if we didn’t we would sit in massive traffic upon arrival into the small town.  Packing 4,000+ runners is never an easy feat and I did not want to be stressing for no reason.

We arrived in plenty of time, got organized, and met up with our friends for some silliness before the gun went off.  It was COLD out, so we spent our time being goofy and staying warm.

When we lined up for the starting line it was STILL COLD, but we seeded ourselves around the 2:20 pacer and off we went.

 

img_0357.jpg

It remained fairly cold and the sprinkles that had begun right before the national anthem turned into full out rain by mile 2.  The course was much hillier than I remembered or was expecting and my legs were super tired, but we were all about fun — so fun we had.  We chatted about everything and everything as the miles flew by.  I was not carrying water and had a bit too much before the start out of nerves, so we had to stop for me – which took over 5 minutes because two of the potties were just not OK for female use.  Before we knew it, we were at the final 2 mile stretch a crazy up hill climb back to the fairgrounds.

IMG_0359

We finished at 2:14 and change.  MUCH slower than 2 weeks prior for either of us, but as speed was not the intention – we focused on what a lovely catch up we had for 13.2 miles.  Shortly after crossing the finish line, we met up with two of our MRTT buddies and proudly showed off our new bling.  The wind was picking up and it was getting COLD, so Kim and I headed back to the warm car to trek home.

This year they offered the option of posting FREE photos directly to Facebook for finishers.   VERY COOL, but two caveats. They come posted with not just the race logo, but a full advertisement for the race on the bottom.  AND they post all your photos – even the ones you would never post yourself.  We have had a lot of laughs looking at one another’s pics and quickly deleting them before too many of our friends get a good look.

It was a fun race and one I’d do again, but not on tired legs after two weeks of racing. Overall – Frederick does a GREAT job of putting together an A+ race with a wonderful vibe!

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.

18194263_10155138718313592_6700010157597647121_n.jpg

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!

IMG_0335.jpg

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.

IMG_0336.jpg

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.

IMG_0345

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.

IMG_0342.jpg

 

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.

18010803_10155105650558592_492539541635540361_n
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.

18033287_10155112716413592_4590914770063371614_n
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.

IMG_0326

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.

halfelevationhalfcoursemap

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.

979762_1

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.

IMG_0334
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.

IMG_0331
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.

IMG_0329

IMG_0330

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.

IMG_0332

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.

IMG_0333
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!

A year from now you will wish you had started today…

Today, as I was updating my blog, I took this picture as a potential header photo.

 

cropped-img_47525.jpg
Always earned.  Never given.

It contains all my full (1) and half (18) marathon medals and the one from Ragnar trail.

In the summer of 2013, there was one medal.  Now there are twenty.

Whenever I forget how far I have come, I just need to turn my head from my computer to just over my left shoulder.  Because three years ago – I would not have believed that the person sitting in this chair could get over those finish lines.

But I did.  AND YOU CAN TOO.

 

Race Recap: Frederick Running Festival

This weekend was my VERY FIRST challenge race – The Frederick Running Festival Nut Job Challenge!

In its 13th year, they have gotten this event down to a science.  It was SO well run and had great communication.  From the very first communication through race day follow up, I have been sufficently impressed.  Since this was my VERY FIRST challenge race, I had two goals.

Goal #1 – Celebrate with my MRTT friends.

015fdffe80fc97b89c1a3b65dfcf1f3dce69db82ae

Goal #2 – Forget about a finishing time and HAVE FUN!!

0148e5970a7a84f18634a5f7e1e49c34acffb62949

Mission accomplished on both fronts!!!   This was my second slowest half marathon by a LOT, but I had a tremendous amount of fun and got to really enjoy the adventure with my friends.

Saturday Night: Twilight 5k

There were many MRTT’ers slated for this event, but only three of us from our chapter doing the full Nut Job Challenge. On Saturday afternoon, we headed out for the 5k early because we all had to grab our packets.  Plus we heard there was an expo and I LOVE expos.  Frederick is about 45 minutes north of us and the route goes through some really pretty countryside.  We arrived in pleanty of time to pick up our packets and get ourselves dressed and ready to go before the 6pm 5k gun.  Challengers recieved both race shirts, which are a soft, comfy material.

Jen and Katie showing off our swag.
Jen and Katie showing off our swag.

We headed over to the race start, which was on the track.  They had two waves of kids runs and these kids were pushing it!

018812c8b16be71885d565d8ddff01f717bf1d40b4

The gun went off at promptly 6pm and about 1,500 runners were off.  It was A HOT RACE.  I am always thrown by the first warm race of the season and this was no exception.  I allowed myself to get too hot and too dehydrated, but still managed to have a great time with my friends before heading home to rest up for the half.  I was pleased to see my MRTT magnet got flipped (a little game we all play – when you see a felllow MRTT magnet, you turn it upside down or move it somewhere else on the car or turn it sideways – you get the idea!).

018a2fb14337ba6a3f4c69cd83bf30502b37c4aa08

Half Marathon

I woke up JUST in time to head back to Frederick for the Half.  I was definately feeling the 5k on my legs, even though I’d taken it easy, and the dehydration.  We headed out at 5am and made pretty good time getting to Frederick.  I had been warned to get there early and thought making it before 6 would be pleanty of time.

After 13 years of doing this race I would have expected better traffic direction from the organizers, but we got off of the highway and came to a DEAD STOP.  While watching the light cycle through, I realized that the problem was that the head car of the “go forward” lane was not getting into the intersection when our light turned.  By the time the light changed those making a left turn blocked that person from moving.  After watching this for about 15 minutes, the NJ girl in me took over.  I swung up the right turn lane and when the light turned again, crossed the intersection.  No one even beeped!!  I was SHOCKED.  And am very glad I did not get a ticket.

We parked, met our friends (who had GPS’ed a better route and not violated traffic laws) for a photo op, had time to use the potties, and headed out to the starting line.

01dcf43e0994643717debeecadc404e4e1275ed4fc

We had agreed we would all try to run the race together and take it easy.  And we did just that.  We had SO MUCH FUN taking pictures, stopping to cheer for our friends, snacking and chatting.  Frederick has some really beautiful areas and an adorable downtown.  The sun really picked up around mile 8 and my body was not happy with the 5k.  We pushed on, but it was one of the more physically demanding races I’ve done.

official

I crossed at 2:24:06, was handed two medals by lovely volunteers, grabbed some food and waited for my friend Jen to join me.  We had our photo snapped by an official photographer, but also by some lovely ladies who grabbed one on my phone. This was our FOURTH half marathon together since March 14th and we have had so much fun on our “Half Marathon Tour” this spring.

11203726_10153203272493592_7554026436365953774_n

We met up with our friend, Katie at the M family meet up area (M for MRTT, of course).  We all streteched a little, drank a ton of water and headed home. I will do this race again in the future, but most likely not the challenge. It was fun, the medal was awesome, but I need my rest.  It was a fabulous adventure with my wonderful friends!