#RaceRecap: Rumspringa Half Marathon

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This is a few days later than I planned, but work has been very busy. Better late than never though!

I’m back with my second race recap of 2016 for the Rumspringa Half Marathon in Adamstown, Pa. This race came just a week after the Garden Spot Village Half, which worked perfectly with my training schedule for Shipyard in May.
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Heading into this race my plan was to push myself to hopefully PR. With Garden Spot my plan had been to take it easy since I had another long run the following day. While I didn’t quite take it easy at that race I still wasn’t aiming to PR. This weekend that was my goal.

I signed up for this race after two friends ran it last year and had only good things to say. I also managed to convince two friends to join me. It was a fun little overnight trip. Friday night we stopped for dinner at a Panera. This seems to be becoming a tradition, especially with races with my friend Ivy. I figure it’s a great option since there are lots of healthy items to choose from.

One of the local hotels partnered with the race and offered a block of rooms at a really affordable rate. The hotel was just 2 miles from the start and finish line at Stoudtburg Village and its checkout was noon. This was great as it gave us plenty of time after the race to come back and shower before hitting the road. That’s not always a possibility with hotels with earlier checkout times.

In the morning we headed to the race, which started at 8, around 7:15 since we were so close. We even managed to stop on the way at Dunkin Donuts for coffee for Maureen and bananas for all three of us. Note to self, buy a bunch of bananas at the grocery store because bananas at a Dunkin Donuts are $1/piece.

Parking for the race was super easy and convenient right at the village. We went and checked in, dropped our stuff back at the car and then headed over to warm up. The race is on the smaller side with just a few hundred people, but it made for a bustling start in the central courtyard and along the pathway in the village since it was a bit narrow.

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This gives you an idea of what the village is like. People actually live in these neat homes and there are also some quaint shops on the lower levels.

Once we exited the village onto the road we were able to spread out widthwise and speed up.

The weather was perfect. It was in the 40s to start and in the 50s by the time we finished. The sun was out and shining and there was a light breeze at times, but mostly the air was still.

The course was basically lollipop shaped and boasted gently rolling hills. The first 3 miles, which are also the last 3 miles, were mostly downhill. The rolling hills started once you began the loop.

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The biggest challenge was the long hill between mile 7 and 9. It wasn’t steep, just long and gradual. This was where things really started to spread out.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.52.10 AMThe scenery, especially once we got out of the housing development in the beginning and into the rural area was stunning. It was beautiful farmland, many of which belonged to Amish and Mennonite families. They were out in their buggies, doing field and house work, and often waved to us runners along the way.

Maureen captured this awesome photo as this little girl peeked from her buggy.

Maureen captured this awesome photo of this little girl as she peeked from her buggy.

Somewhere around mile 8 as I was climbing that long hill, a couple came up next to me and said, “You must train on hills.” I laughed and said that’s all I have where I live. They turned out to be from Pittsburgh and were lucky enough to also train hills. We chatted about how the runners had really spread out at this point thanks to the challenging section of the course we were currently running.

We hung together for a bit before they moved on ahead. I ended up catching up to them when I reached mile 10 where you head back to the village the way you started. The last 3 miles were challenging since it was almost entirely uphill back through the development. After leaving the development, you continued uphill to the village. As I rounded the corner onto the path around the village to the finish line, I could hear the husband pushing his wife to catch me. It made me push myself to run faster and I stayed ahead. I turned around after crossing the finish line and went and high-fived both of them and thanked them for pushing me.

Since I had a few minutes, I headed over to the laptops to check my chip time. I knew I had PR’d, but I wanted my exact time. I finished in 1:46:28, an almost 3-minute PR, which exceeded my goal of 1:47. I was thrilled. I also then noticed something else…I had placed 2nd in my age group, 30-39! I was super surprised and happy.

I went over along the village path to stretch in the grass and cheer Maureen and Ivy in to the finish. They both did great and enjoyed the course as much as I did.

After finishing, the race offers you one free beer from the nearby Stoudt’s Brewery, as well as German fare like sauerkraut, potato salad, sausage, and desserts. I had a little of everything just to try it, but am never that hungry after a race initially. I took the beer to take home and just enjoyed some water. While waiting for the awards ceremony, we were treated to music by a man in lederhosen playing the accordion. He was quite good!

It turned out that the girl from Pittsburgh was a year younger than me and placed 3rd in the 20-29 age group. I was glad we both did so well. It’s always nice when you meet great people out on a course in a race. Each person who placed in their age group received a German Weather House in addition to the finisher medal everyone received. It’s quite adorable and it looks great in my office at work with all my race medals.

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The grumpy lady unintentionally photobombing cracks me up!

The three of us after the race with our medals.

The three of us after the race with our medals.

After hanging out a bit longer we headed back to the hotel with an hour to spare. We hit the road and stopped a short time later at the Saturday Market, which is this crazy flea market in the area. It was slightly overwhelming, but very interesting. Ivy and I came away with some delicious Amish baked goods. We stopped in Hershey at Red Robin for lunch and then finally tackled the last bit home.

Overall I would definitely recommend the race if you’re looking for a smaller race with beautiful scenery in the Lancaster area. The course has its challenges, but is friendly to all levels of runners. The volunteers were great and the post-race food was a fun change of pace. I would definitely do this race again.

Do you have any upcoming races you’re looking forward to?

#RaceRecap Annapolis Running Classic

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It was great to be out running a race again this weekend. I can’t believe I only have one race left on my schedule before the year is out. Then it’s time to bring on 2016. Still trying to make a list of races to do.

Anyway, back to the Annapolis Running Classic. I ran this race two years ago and loved it. It was pretty special to run around a place I spent a lot of time visiting growing up and to bring a friend to her first race. She got hooked! This year I once again convinced a friend who hadn’t run a race before to sign up for the 10k. He did great and I think is now inspired to keep running and do another race.

You never know what weather is going to be like late in November, but it was perfect. I woke to temps in the 30s and by race time it was around 45. The sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Parking was a breeze, but I have noticed some posts on social media from other runners who got stuck in traffic. Not sure there is any remedy to this than to just tell people they have to arrive much earlier. The race is at 7 a.m. and despite being less than 2 miles down the road, I left at 6 a.m. and was parked by probably 6:10.

After parking I met up with my friend and his wife in the heated tent before heading over to the Blue Angels plane for a photo with two other childhood friends. It was fun to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen since graduating high school 11 years ago. Can’t believe that much time has passed!

Two of the friends I met up with. We both have buddies through the I Run 4 organization and their names both happen to start with "L."

Two of the friends I met up with. We both have buddies through the I Run 4 organization and their names both happen to start with “L.”

By the time we all headed to the starting chute, it was pretty backed up. I thought about moving up but by then they were literally counting down to the start so I stayed in the back near the 2:20 pacer. Gotta love chip timing!

The half marathon and 10k follow the same course for the first 5 miles before the 10k turns to head back to the stadium, while the half marathon turns and heads over the Severn River.

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There have been some complaints that the course is long for both races. The race directors disagree and said the courses were both recertified on Friday, the day before the race. I know it’s really hard to run the exact distance between weaving, not being able to cut the corners exactly right, etc. I don’t wear a watch while running but I know when I have, my GPS watches have been off .2-.5 of a mile. Who knows?

Regardless, the course is beautiful. You start at Memorial Stadium and head straight into downtown historic Annapolis where you round Church Circle, head down Main St. and around the dock area. Then you run past part of the Naval Academy, St. John’s College and back out of downtown briefly for the first out-and-back section. After heading back you head across College Creek and that’s where the two courses split.

The half marathon takes you across one of the bridges over the Severn River. This bridge arcs like a rainbow so it provides a challenging climb in both directions. Despite the climb, the views of the bay and the academy are incredible and I think take your mind off what you’re doing a bit.

On the other side of the river are some challenging out-and-back sections on tough hills. For the most part I like hills and they’re similar to what I run here in PA so I was prepared. I spent a nice chunk of this section of the course hoping to chase down the 1:50 pacer. I had caught the 2:10 and 2:00 pacer within the first few miles. I wanted to PR and thought my best bet was to catch that pacer, forgetting I didn’t cross the start line until almost 3 minutes after the race started.

As I began the trip back up and over the bridge I realized that with a little more than a mile remaining I was not going to catch the 1:50 pacer. I was bummed but decided to just finish strong. There is one final climb through the parking lot to the finish line and the clock said 1:52 when I crossed. I was hoping my chip time would be better, but wasn’t sure how much.

I look rather angry in this photo, but I swear I was having a great time. Contemplating buying this since I don't have a lot of photos of me running.

I look rather angry in this photo, but I swear I was having a great time. Contemplating buying this since I don’t have a lot of photos of me running.

One of the things I loved was that within minutes of crossing the finish line I got an email with my actual time. There was no waiting or searching for results. I was thrilled that I PR’d with a 1:49:26. It might have only been 14 seconds faster than my previous best, but it meant I attained my goal. I also finished 20th out of 273 in my age group and was the 101st female finisher. I’ll take it!

The medals were once again really nice, as were the ribbons. My friend Justin and his wife and I headed straight to the party tent and had no trouble picking up our swag, getting some food and beer and listening to a bit of music. However, when I left the line to get in the tent stretched almost the entire way across the parking lot to where I was parked. I think they’ll have to reevaluate the setup for next year.

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The sun was a bit of a problem, but I tried.

Overall, I once again loved the race. They really do a nice job and it’s such a great place to run. There are some things they should evaluate for next year, such as the post race tent situation. In addition, it might be necessary to recertify the courses again to truly confirm the distances for those who are convinced they’re off. I definitely recommend the Annapolis Running Classic for anyone looking for a late fall 10k or half.

Did you run this weekend? Where? How’d it go?

#RaceRecap: Runner’s World Half Marathon & Festival

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Wow, what a weekend! I don’t think I could have asked for a better event, weather or experience. I highly recommend adding the Runner’s World Half Marathon and Festival to your race bucket list. Why? Keep reading 🙂 Sorry, it’s a long one!

I’ve wanted to run Runner’s World since they first started the event a few years ago. After originally deciding to not do a fall marathon (I’ve since changed my mind), I thought doing the Runner’s World Hat Trick would be a great challenge to undertake. The hat trick is the 5k and 10k on Saturday and the half on Sunday. I managed to convince another friend to join me, as well.

Once signed up I started getting the race newsletter. It had a lot of great information and got more and more detailed as it got closer to race day. When it came to the week of the race, I had no questions about where to park, what time to arrive, the schedule or anything else. In addition to the newsletter, they also had a free app that I downloaded. It was very helpful throughout the weekend with the schedule, parking maps, spectator maps, live results, and info about the city of Bethlehem.

My friend and I arrived on Friday evening, too late to hit the expo. We stayed about 5 miles away from the race at one of their partner hotels. Runner’s World had blocks of rooms at several area hotels that guaranteed you a specific nightly rate. All were reasonably priced and within a reasonable distance of the race. I loved the location of our hotel. It was across the street from a big plaza with several restaurants, a Target, Old Navy and numerous other shops. If we’d forgotten anything we’d certainly have been able to pick it up at the plaza.

Saturday morning, we left the hotel around 6 a.m. The 5k didn’t start until 8, but I wasn’t sure how crowded parking would be and we still needed to hit packet pickup. Runner’s World had a number of free lots set up, as well as a few paid options. A few of the free lots were along the course so there would be a certain time period where you wouldn’t be able to leave. We ended up in a free lot within walking distance of the Steel Stacks Campus and the ArtsQuest Center, home base of the race. It was perfect. We didn’t have to use gear check at all since we were so close.

5K

The 5k was a great course. Due to the short distance, I didn’t find that the field spread out until mile 2. My strategy with the 5k was to run it, but not push too hard since I still had the 10k afterwards. The course was nice and only had two hills that were pretty minor. Here’s a look at the course map and elevation profile.

Runner's World 5k

Runner’s World 5k

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I finished in 25:07, which was right around what I was hoping  to run. It left me with about an hour between races. Ivy and I took some time to stretch, hydrate and hit up the very nice, clean and warm bathrooms in the visitor’s center. Runner’s World had port-a-potties, but the fact that the visitor’s center was so accommodating was a huge plus. There wasn’t even a line since the bathroom was so large.

10K

The 10k course had a bit more variety in terms of elevation and only minority overlapped the 5k course. This meant you had plenty of new things to look at. It took us through the beautiful historic section of Bethlehem with its many beautiful homes. There were a few more hills, but again a very manageable course.

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My goal for this race was a PR and I managed it with a 50:53, almost two full minutes off my previous personal best.

After the 10k, I was able to meet up with a distant cousin of mine, Dan, who lives in Bethlehem. Coincidently, he lived only a block off the 10k course. While we had never met prior to this, he grew up with my mom and I had spent time with his mother growing up when visiting my grandparents.

One of the other great things about this weekend are the many seminars Runner’s World has for participants. They ranged in topics from nutrition to running form to a conversation with 3-time Olympian Deena Kastor to a half marathon strategy session. Ivy and I signed up for the nutrition seminar and the half marathon strategy session. After the 10k we had about two hours until the nutrition seminar so we walked around the Steel Stacks Campus with Dan. Below are some photos.

The new walkway that gets you up close and personal with the historic steel stacks. It's similar to the Highline in NYC.

The new walkway that gets you up close and personal with the historic steel stacks. It’s similar to the Highline in NYC.

It was so neat and a beautiful day to be walking around exploring history.

It was so neat and a beautiful day to be walking around exploring history.

View of the a small portion of the campus, the ArtsQuest Center, the finish line, the flaming arch, and more.

View of a small portion of the steel stacks campus, the ArtsQuest Center, the finish line, the flaming arch, and more.

After heading back down to the ground level, we came upon the 1-mile dog run. It was adorable with dogs of all shapes and sizes, from Yorkies to Alaskan Malamutes.

The start of lap one.

The start of lap one.

The dogs seemed to have a great time. Some of them seemed like they really wanted their owners to run faster too. Some of the smaller pups eventually decided they weren’t so into the race and put on the brakes to make their owners carry them. It was all quite fun and adorable.

We parted ways with my cousin to head to the nutrition seminar with plans to meet for lunch. After the seminar, we headed to change and off to lunch. Dan then gave us a fun tour of Bethlehem and the Lehigh University campus. We had a great time!

Since we still had time before our half marathon strategy session, Ivy and I headed to a local ice cream shop that’s been serving homemade ice cream for 85 years. It was on the list of places to visit for a sweet treat from Runner’s World. It was so good! I highly recommend visiting the Bethlehem Dairy Store if you ever find yourself in the area.

With a bit more time to kill, we walked around the expo. The expo was a bit on the small side, but it was solid. There were a nice selection of vendors and I ended up getting a new pair of my preferred Thorlo Experia socks and a shirt from Aardvark Sports, a running store in the city. We also visited the Runner’s World Bookstore. There they would take your picture and make it look like you were on the cover of their magazine. It was free too!

So cool!

So cool!

Bart Yasso and two others led the half marathon strategy session. They offered insight into everything from when to arrive, where to park, when to push and when to coast. I tend to like to be blissfully naive when it comes to courses, but it did help to know where the challenging hills were and that it was a negative split course. Definitely a worthwhile seminar. Bart Yasso is also incredibly nice and quite entertaining.

10906445_10109595705536074_4605026817188965563_nWe pretty much fell into bed Saturday night super early. I’m not sure what time I fell asleep, but it was definitely early. I slept straight through until 4:30 a.m., which was amazing since I rarely sleep through the night. The nights before races can be even worse than normal since I’m always worried I’ll miss the alarm.

We were out the door of the hotel by 6:30 and parked by 6:45. Couldn’t have been easier. If you ever run the half, park in the Sands Casino parking garage. It’s huge, free and you can hang out in the lobby and keep warm, which is exactly what we did. It was just steps from the starting line.

Half Marathon

I was anticipating a challenging course, but I was confident it would be similar to running the hills at home. I’ve also become someone who prefers running uphill vs. down.

The course really showed us the best of Bethlehem.

The course really showed us the best of Bethlehem.

As you can see, the terrain was much more varied, but that the bulk of the challenge was before miles 8-9.

As you can see, the terrain was much more varied, but that the bulk of the challenge was before miles 8-9.

Only a half mile or so into the race I experienced a pain I’d never had before. Immediately I knew it was my IT Band. I’ve always wondered why people complain about that pain, but now that I’ve experienced it I understand why. It’s pretty damn awful.

I want to blame myself for the pain. I didn’t warm up as well as I could have. For the 5k and 10k, Ivy and I ran around the parking lot a few times and that really helped warm us up. I should have done that again. Not sure if it would’ve made a difference, but I’m probably going to try to make that more of a habit.

The first several miles were spent with me attempting to keep a conversation going with Ivy to distract myself from the pain. If we weren’t talking I was taking in the scenery, which helped. At times I debated whether it was pain I could and should run through, or if it was pain I should stop for. Since it was a new one for me, I just didn’t know. I kept hoping it would go away…probably not the best strategy in hindsight. I did notice the pain was less on uphills than downhills. There were a lot of hills in the first 8 miles so the pain was fluctuating with them. I didn’t have a time goal for this race other than under 2 hours, so even with the pain I made it my goal to stay in front of the 2 hour pacer.

After Ivy and I parted at the 10k mark, the pain eventually went away. I’m not sure why or how, but it did, although I knew I’d feel it later (and I do). The rest of the race went well and I even managed to catch the 1:55 pacer on the bridge back across the river just before mile 12. I was just going to stick with him, but he cheered me on and told me to keep pushing so I did.

The energy from the crowd the last 3/4 of a mile was awesome. They were lining the street and cheering everyone on as they went by. Somehow I was able to find my usual burst of energy at the end and push to the finish line. I finished with a 1:52:48, which was better than I expected or had hoped for.

I got my medal and grabbed a bottle of water and looked for Ivy to finish. She came in only a few minutes later and we hung out in our foil blankets snacking and warming up.

Here's a shot of the finish line for all three races. I took it early morning before the 5k. What a great backdrop!

Here’s a shot of the finish line for all three races. I took it early Saturday morning before the 5k. What a great backdrop!

Runner's World had a postrace concert lined up, although we didn't stay. I bet it was a good one.

Runner’s World had a postrace concert lined up, although we didn’t stay. I’m sure it was a lot of fun.

The postrace buffet for each race was good. For the 5k and 10k, there was water and Ultima, bananas, bagels, raisin and Subway cookies. For the half they added Entemanns mini muffins and brownie bites to the rest of the goodies. It all hit the spot! I also loved the foil blankets we received after the half. It’s the best one I’ve gotten thus far. It doesn’t crinkle much so I decided to save it. It folded up well and I’m planning to use it prior to a future race on a chilly day.

You can see the race shirt in the magazine cover photo we took. I wish I could show you the back. It has a silhouette of the steel stacks on it. It’s a nice dry fit too. I don’t have a lot of long sleeve shirts like that, so it was great to add to my collection. For running the Hat Trick, we also got a commemorative fleece reversible hat that even has a ponytail slot in the back. Finally, all participants got a pair of running socks.

Finishers for each race received a medal, so if you did the hat trick you walked away with three medals.

The Bethlehem star is the backdrop behind the Runner’s World Logo.

The aid stations were well-equipped and the volunteers were cheerful and energetic. I even got to yell “We Are!” at a couple in Penn State gear, which was fun. The crowd support along the courses was also pretty good.

So with all that said, would I do it again? Absolutely!

Would I recommend it to others? 100% yes!

Start watching for signups for next year’s race. It was such a fun weekend. They also offer a 3.8 mile trail run and a kids run on Friday. I wouldn’t mind trying out the trail run next time. I heard it was fun, but challenging.

Overall, I had a wonderful weekend!

Did you race this weekend? How’d it go?

#RaceRecap: Hollidaysburg YMCA October Half Marathon

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After a busy running weekend, I’m excited to recap the first of two races I completed. I ran in two very different half marathons with the first being the Hollidaysburg YMCA October Half Marathon.

I found the Hollidaysburg race on our local running club’s website. They keep an updated list of area races. Sometimes it seems like I find a new race added each time I visit the site. What caught my attention was that this one was relatively close by and was inexpensive as far as half marathons go.

I mentioned it to two running friends of mine, but figured maybe I’d do it regardless of whether or not I had company. As race day approached and the forecast turned ugly, I wasn’t surprised my one friend backed out. He has a full marathon in only 2 weeks so I can’t blame him for wanting to play it safe. My other friend decided to go with me the night before. I was glad to have company even though we woke up to steady rain and a high temperature for the day of 45.

In addition to the half, the YMCA also offered a 10k run and a 5k walk. While they were all on the smaller size, they had great turnouts even with the weather.

The races started and ended at the YMCA with the 10k starting out with the half marathoners until a turnaround at the 5k mark. The half marathon course continued out of Hollidaysburg into a rural area where it ran a big loop before retracing the course back into town. The organizers said the course was a nice mix of rolling hills. You never know what that means around here until you’re out on the course.

Here's a look at the elevation chart for the half marathon.

Here’s a look at the elevation chart for the half marathon.

Ultimately I didn’t find the hills too bad at all. The only hill that wasn’t all that fun was within the last mile when we were back in downtown historic Hollidaysburg. I turned a corner and the road just went straight up. It wasn’t too long, but it was steep. Once you crested the hill you faced a steep and long downhill. It was a bit tough on the legs, especially since I was trying to find a happy medium between making up some time and protecting myself from trashing my legs or face planting (haha!).

The course was open to traffic, but there was very little of it. Even in the rainy weather, the volunteers at the aid stations and intersections were friendly and cheerful. I appreciated them being out there.

After the race, there was a tent with food from Sheetz, including a variety of sandwich wraps, parfaits and fruit. You were also welcome to use the locker rooms and showers in the YMCA. It was great to be able to change out of soaking wet clothes before the 45 minute drive back home.

I have to admit I was really surprised by my time. I PR’d with a 1:49:40. I remember coming around the corner into the parking lot at the YMCA and squinting to see the clock. I saw a “4” and was shocked that I had a chance to break 1:50. Honestly, with the weather and how my training runs have been, I was just hoping to finish under 1:55. An almost three-minute PR is awesome! Maybe it was the rain? Who knows!

My friend Ivy followed shortly after with a 1:51, a time I don’t think she was expecting to see either. She was thrilled!

We had to get a rain selfie before changing to warm clothes and heading home.

We had to get a rain selfie before changing to warm clothes and heading home.

Overall, the race was great. You can’t do anything about the weather. It could’ve been worse, but thankfully Hurricane Joaquin changed course. The low price still provided a tech shirt (or a t-shirt depending on when you registered) and a medal. The course was pretty, even in the rain, especially the historic section of Hollidaysburg. If you’re ever looking for a smaller, inexpensive half marathon with hometown charm…check this one out!

I followed this race up with a trail half marathon on Sunday. Look for that recap later this week.

Did you race this weekend? How did it go?

5 Marathon Training Tips

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I’m back to join in with the Friday Five link up with Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?, Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, and Mar from Mar on the Run. This week’s topic is 5 Running Tips. Since I’m starting marathon training again, I thought focusing my tips specifically on marathon training would be perfect.

If you’re interested in joining in on the Friday Five link up, click the icon below and add your post. Don’t forget to check out the other blogs participating too!

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  1. Find the right training plan for you.

Having a plan that fits you is important to the marathon training process. There are many plans out there, including plenty of great free ones. I’ve personally used the Novice 1 and Novice 2 plans from Hal Higdon. I’ve also heard good things about Train Like a Mother plans. Some races offer discounts on training plans or free plans that you can try.

Another option is to hire a running coach. You may be able to find one in your local area or can find one online that you can connect with via email, text and/or Skype.

Keep in mind with any training plan that you have already built a solid running base and that you don’t add mileage too quickly. That is a big contributor to injury.

2. Be consistent.

Make sure you’re training consistently throughout the months leading up to your race. Don’t blow it off and try to make up for lost time during the last few weeks.

However, if you have to miss a training run once in awhile it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes life gets in the way or sometimes you might need that extra rest day. Listen to your body and make the best decision for you.

3. Find some running buddies.

Running with friends can be a great way to make training go by quicker and be more successful. Recruit a friend to join you in the race if you can. Then you have someone that you can keep accountable and who can also keep you accountable.

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Can’t convince anyone to join in for the race? Invite them along for all or parts of your training runs. The runs range in distance from 3 miles to 20 miles or more. For my 20-miler back in April, I had two friends meet me for parts of it and it was great.

4. Plan accordingly for the weather.

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Right now it’s really hot in many parts of the country. Keep that in mind. Schedule your runs for the morning or evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Wear sunscreen. If you’re going on a longer run make sure you have hydration with you, have some stashed along your route, or plan a route that allows you to swing by your house or car for a quick drink break.

5. Change up your route.

Always finding yourself running the same loop or course? Change it up a bit. Fresh scenery can keep your mind occupied on both long and short runs. Not to mention it’s great to change up the terrain. When you run the same course over and over, your body adapts to it and it no longer challenges you. Even if you just reverse it, that’s a great way to surprise your muscles.

I know when it comes to my long runs, I try to map out a course that incorporates new parts of town and neighborhoods I haven’t explored. Again, the new sites and sounds often makes the miles and the time fly by. Before you know it, you’re done!

What other tips do you have for marathon training runs? 

 

#RaceRecap: Garden Spot Village Half Marathon

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All done!

All done!

Another great race weekend in the books! On Saturday I ran the Garden Spot Village Half Marathon with my friend Ivy. It was in New Holland, Pa.

We headed down Friday after work and pulled into the parking lot right at 8 p.m. Packet pickup was set to close at 8 p.m. but we decided to try anyway. They must not get a lot of late arrivers because they had already packed up. One of the women was very kind and gathered our numbers, shirts and bags for us anyway.

Afterwards we headed to the hotel to check in before going to find food. When Ivy asked the front desk attendant if she could recommend a place to eat her response was, “Well it’s after the 8 o’clock hour.” Ivy was like, “Yeah, so?” I guess that’s late in some of these small family farming communities. Thankfully there were a couple places and off we went to dinner. After we headed to bed since it would be an early morning. Thankfully, the hotel was just 5 minutes from Garden Spot Village, a retirement community that plays host to the race, so it wasn’t as early as some other race mornings tend to be.

The race benefits Garden Spot Village’s benevolent fund, which helps individuals who, for some reason or another, are no longer able to pay for their care and allows them to continue to be able to call Garden Spot Village their home. A lot of the residents of the community serve as race volunteers as parking attendants, food servers, cheerleaders and finish area attendants who hand you your medal, hat, water and foil blanket.

On Saturday morning after arriving, we sat in the car for awhile. It wasn’t that cold out but the wind was rather strong making it feel quite chilly. This race is the sister race to the Bird-in-Hand Half in the fall. Many Amish, Mennonites and Brethren run in it as well. I think it’s so cool that there’s a thriving Amish running community. While waiting we saw one of the marathon pacers arrive who was Amish. He had a 3:25 marathon pace sign. So impressive to be that fast while holding a pace sign too!

After heading over to the start line, Ivy and I decided to stick near the 2 hour pacer for the half to start. Since it’s a smaller race, they don’t start in waves but it was chip timing so your time was as accurate as possible. I didn’t stick with the pacer long and just ran on how I felt.

The course, which is USATF certified and can be used as a Boston Qualifier, ran along country roads outside Lancaster. It was hilly, but nothing impossibly hard. The scenery was stunning and it was such a clear day you could see for miles. The roads were closed initially, but even the sections that were reopened really didn’t have any traffic except course officials.

Here's a look at the elevation for the course.

Here’s a look at the elevation for the course.

What I thought was the toughest hill of the course began shortly after the turnaround at mile 7. At that point the marathoners continue on, while we headed back the way we came until about mile 10.5 where we turned off. As you can see on the elevation profile, there’s a nice quick and steep incline beginning at mile 8. It was nice that there were tons of people at the top of the steepest portion cheering you on. I might not have been moving too fast up the steep section, but I definitely didn’t want to walk with everyone cheering.

After that it continued to climb but at what felt like a more gradual rate. It was then followed by a nice long downhill almost the entire way to the finish line. The last couple miles were flat and wide open between farm fields. The wind was very tough along that stretch, but when you’re that close to the finish line you just keep going.

After turning into the Garden Spot Village community, I caught up to a running couple that was arguing. The guy was mad that his wife or girlfriend was ahead of him and so she stopped and then he yelled at her for stopping. She was yelling at him to get moving since they were so close to the finish line and to stop arguing with her. It was really immature and they were dropping the F-word repeatedly. I was definitely glad to pass them.

I finished with a personal best time of 1:52:34, a little more than a minute faster than my previous best. The volunteers at the finish line were very sweet. After Ivy finished we got some pictures and headed into the food tent. They had chocolate milk, trail mix, bananas and oranges, cheese omelets, pretzels, soup and sandwiches. It was quite the spread. It was also nice because the tent was heated!

Gotta love the foil blankets. They were definitely necessary with the wind.

Gotta love the foil blankets. They were definitely necessary with the wind.

An added bonus we didn’t take advantage of was use of the community’s wellness center. They had changing rooms, showers, and more. We just ended up changing in the car and hitting the road, but next time I’d probably take advantage of the changing area as opposed to using my backseat.

Overall it was a great race! I’d definitely do it again. It was so well organized and everyone was so nice. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a spring half or full.

I now have less than two weeks until Gettysburg. I’m nervous but excited. I just have short runs to get in between now and then. Looking forward to the recap!

Did you run over the weekend?

#Recap: 20-miler

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I wrapped up the bulk of my marathon training on Monday with my 20-miler. I was nervous going into it, but tried to plan accordingly and just listen to my body as I went. I have to say it worked out well!

It seems the winter weather has finally left and we’ve had a couple nice springlike days the past two weeks. Saturday-Monday were a few of those days, sunny with highs in the 60s. Due to traveling for the Easter holiday, I postponed my 20-miler to Monday.

I didn’t sleep well Sunday night. My kitten was very excited I was home, and after probably sleeping for most of the time I was away he was ready to play all night long. I didn’t have much food in the house, but settled on some Van’s Whole Grain waffles with some pb on them as pre-run fuel.

I started at 10 a.m. The temperature was a cool 35, but with the sun out I warmed quickly. I opted to wear my hydration belt rather than drive around planting water in various spots around town. I also wore my Spibelt to carry my phone as I had mapped out my course using the MapMyRun app. Despite my best efforts  the hydration belt won’t sit on my hips. It rides up to my waist so I just learned to put it there and it really doesn’t move. The only issue with it is that the pocket on it isn’t very big, just large enough for some gels or other fuel. My Spibelt is adjustable and sits wherever I put it. It doesn’t ride up or down and you couldn’t even tell I had it on despite my relatively large phone stuffed in it.

I started off on my own, but met a friend less than 2 miles in at one of the parks off the bike path. We continued on and met another friend, who was fresh off the Charlottesville Half, another 1.5 miles down the path. They kept me company for about 5-6 miles and then I was on my own for the rest. They definitely made those early miles fly by!

I decided to try something new with my fueling. In the past it’s always been really spread out, but I decided to try putting things closer together and see if that sat well with my stomach and kept me from getting too hungry or thirsty. I ended up eating gels at miles 6 and 12 and just drank as needed. I thought about another gel at mile 18, but since I was so close to home I decided to push through. During the actual race I will definitely have at least one or two more.

I did stop at a local restaurant to refill my water, which was around mile 15. I’d already drank three of the four 6 oz bottles. It wasn’t warm out, but the air was very dry and there was a nice wind. There was also a controlled burn going on outside of town and the smoke was blowing in to this part of town so that wasn’t the most pleasant thing.

During my run I only checked the app on my phone twice, just to make sure I was still on the course I mapped out. I never stopped it at stoplights or when I stopped to refill my water. Part of it was it was just easier to let it stay in the pocket, but also because you don’t get to stop your chip during a race. I was curious about my actual time.

I finished 20.5 miles in 3:31 with an average pace of 10:19. When looking at my splits, I hovered around a 10 minute pace with a few exceptions, such as when I got stuck at a stoplight for two cycles around mile 9, when I stopped to refill my water bottles around mile 15, and when I stopped for some free lemonade from two kids at their lemonade stand around mile 19. They were really cute!

I also stopped briefly at another point relatively early on because there was a duck couple that looked like they wanted to cross the street. I ran by them but turned around to see the female walking out in front of an SUV. I stopped  and thankfully so did the SUV. Once she was out of the way the SUV continued but another car was coming from the opposite direction. He stopped as well and laughingly waved the ducks across. Once they were safely on the grass I continued on my way.

Overall I felt pretty good throughout the entire run. I had two steep downhills during mile 19 that were difficult on my knees. I’m pretty sure I looked hilarious coming down those hills. I also mapped my course to leave me with about a 1/2 mile walk back to my house. I used that as a cool down and then spent some time stretching.

I’m hoping for a repeat performance with an additional six miles in a few weeks at Gettysburg. I’m sure the course will have its fair share of hills, but I’ve trained for that so hopefully it’ll be just fine. Now it’s time to taper!

I’m looking forward to my half this weekend. It’s supposed to be a nice course and currently the weather is looking quite perfect!

Are you training for anything?