#RaceRecap: Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon

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Hope you enjoyed my recap of the Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon. If you missed it, check out my recap.

Just to refresh, I ran both the Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon and Half Marathon as part of their 39.3 challenge. I originally would’ve just run the marathon, but when I learned about the added challenge I set a goal and am thrilled to say I completed both races.

Now, on to my recap of the marathon!

The marathon is a point-to-point course starting in Kennebunk, Maine, traveling through Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Biddeford and ends at the same finish line as the half marathon on the campus of UNE Biddeford. The bulk of the marathon course was completely new to participants as only the latter few miles of it overlapped with the half marathon course. This meant plenty of new scenery to enjoy!

Like the half marathon, the marathon was mostly flat with some minor hills. The only one that proved to be really tough was at mile 24ish. It just felt really, really long.

Prior to the race I checked out the course preview video, course map and the elevation chart.

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As you can see, the marathon course offered a lot of chances for beautiful ocean views. Thankfully the weather had changed just a bit since the day before. It was in the 50s for most of the race and the sun was mostly behind the clouds making for pretty perfect running conditions, at least in my opinion.

I had originally thought I would ride the shuttle bus from the finish to the start, but my friend offered to drop me off, drive back to the finish and ride his bike along the course. It worked out really nicely and meant I could leave the apartment a little later.

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The start line was in front of Kennebunk High School. We were able to hang out outside the school to stretch and warmup before the closed the street. The race offered lockers for people who wanted to check their bags, which was a nice plus if you needed it. Those lockers then met you at the finish.

After moving into the starting corrals, I positioned myself back near the 4:45 pacers with the hope of eventually catching up to the 4:15 pacer. My goal was to finish between 4 and 4:30. I’d be happy with any time in that range. I realize that’s a large gap, but my PR is a 4:10 and that was without running a half the day before.

I met a few other women in the start area who were running their first marathons. They were nervous, but excited and their main goal was to finish. I told them to just soak in the experience as there’s nothing quite like your first marathon.

The roads were closed for the first bit of the course before they reopened to car traffic. I thought there was plenty of room for runners between the side of the road and the sidewalk especially in the first few miles. We did snarl traffic, but I noticed the race had signs up that were clearly up for a few days warning locals of the impact the race would have on traffic patterns.

One of the things I enjoyed along both courses and just being up in Maine was the architecture. The cedar shingles on many homes, both new and weathered, really are beautiful. The style of the homes and many buildings is just quintessentially New England. One really neat example of exquisite architecture was the Wedding Cake House. We passed it maybe around mile 3. It caused quite a bit of rubbernecking by runners.

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We passed through the cute town center of Kennebunkport twice. There were tons of spectators too and they were so loud and supportive. After our first pass through we got out first ocean views along mile 7 before heading back into town. We crossed a waterway in town and it, too, offered a beautiful and serene scene to take in as we ran.

13232994_10110790979357754_6211840498494562754_nMiles 10 and 11 saw us  back along the shoreline before turning to head inland.

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I finally crossed paths with my friend Scott at the halfway mark. He had ridden his bike back, which seemed to be a popular thing to do for many spectators. Having those people on bikes and moving along in cars, while I’m sure did add a bit more traffic to the roads, it ensured that there were spectators just about everywhere. I appreciated it!

Scott brought his fancy camera along and ended up taking a lot of fun photos along the latter half of the course and at the finish. It was also nice to have a friendly face along the way.

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We didn’t start overlapping with the half marathon course until somewhere around the 22 mile mark. With different weather than the day before, it changed the views a bit and it honestly felt like you were seeing the area for the first time.

I finally decided to take a break to walk around 24.5 where we hit the long hill. I felt pretty good, but my feet and knees were getting to be a bit sore. I walked for a bit and then at the water station at the top of the hill I picked it up and ran the final 1.2.

One of the cutest of the themed water stations was in the final mile. It was a very patriotic group and the little girls were so sweet and excited to see us runners. One even appeared to be dressed as Hilary Clinton.

As with the half there is one final climb to get to the last .2 and then it’s easy. I was even thrilled to find I still was able to speed up to the finish. The final stretch was packed with spectators cheering for everyone.

At the finish after getting both of my medals, I then picked up my finisher’s jacket. It’s quite nice and actually worked a lot better at keeping me warm than one of the foil blankets would have. The weather was starting to change over my last few miles. It never rained, but it certainly started to get windy.

The food tent once again did not disappoint. I grabbed a piece of pizza, cookies, watermelon, a banana, and some pretzels to go with water. Scott and I sat on the grass for a bit watching people finish before finally heading home.

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Since the weather was kinda crappy, I opted to return to the course Wednesday morning to get some photos on my own. It was a beautiful sunny morning so that’s why the sun is out in all my pictures. It was not on race day.

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I ended up stopping in Kennebunkport while driving around and doing a little shopping. I love shopping small and supporting local businesses. It was nice to get a few things to take home, a delicious iced chai from a local coffee shop and some taffy for my coworkers.

I think it’s obvious that I loved this race, both days! It was so well done and so organized. It was a smaller race, but offered amenities that even some of the biggest races can’t even offer. I felt they really put the runners first. I hope to come back and run one or both of the races again sooner rather than later. The race really was quite the advertisement for the Maine Coast and let’s just say I’m sold!

Have you ever run a race in Maine? If not, where was one of your favorite races that you hope to return to again? 

Costa Rica #Recap – Part 1

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Costa Rica

Costa Rica

I’ve been a bit MIA the past two weeks, but that was because I was out of the country on a vacation to Costa Rica. I didn’t think ahead enough to plan any guest posts, but I figured recapping our adventures might make up for my absence. These posts might be long, but I’m hoping to share lots of photos too.

We headed to Costa Rica on Feb. 25. Our itinerary was all mapped out already through a company called Anywhere Costa Rica, minus the airline stuff. I’ll be recapping the trip in three separate posts, rather than one long one.

The first leg of our flight to Costa Rica was a short trip to Atlanta where we’d catch our connection to San Jose after a two-hour layover. Due to a rain/sleet storm in Atlanta with their unseasonably cold temperatures, we got delayed several hours. After boarding the plane, the pilot announced we’d all have to deboard so they could run a pressurization test. Thirty minutes later the plane had failed the test and the airline was off trying to find us another plane.

An available plane was located two gates down so we all headed there, rechecked in while our luggage was transferred and boarded the plane around 10:30. At this point, I had reached out to Anywhere Costa Rica so they could alert our hotel that we’d be late. Despite the weather, the flight started out pretty well but for some reason we ended up taking a path right into a pretty intense section of bad weather. Drink service was discontinued with haste by the crew, the pilot said it would be about 10 minutes, and I proceeded to brace myself against with the window and squeezed Gabe’s hand. I was terrified and the movie, Big Hero 6, was not at all a distraction. Let’s just say a few tears were shed and leave it at that.

Eventually the weather calmed down and we touched down in San Jose shortly after 1 a.m. After a bit of confusion at the pick-up zone, we grabbed a taxi to our first hotel, The Adventure Inn. Thankfully they were waiting for us and took us right to our room where we settled in for a few hours of sleep.

Breakfast was included. I opted for just some fresh fruit, while Gabe enjoyed what looked to be quite a delicious meal. We headed back to the room to pack up and meet our transfer bus to Arenal.

After a beautiful trip to Arenal, we arrived in La Fortuna and our hotel, La Pradera. It had beautiful views of the volcano and was only a 20 minute walk down to town. We stayed in a private bungalow, which was really cool. We saw lizards, a gecko and plenty of birds.

View of Arenal Volcano from our  bungalow.

View of Arenal Volcano from our bungalow.

Gabe outside our bungalow.

Gabe outside our bungalow.

We arrived around noon and had the rest of the day free. We killed about two hours hanging out by the pool, where I had the most delicious pina colada ever. The bartender cut up a fresh pineapple for it. Doesn’t get any better than that!

Our first afternoon we hung out by the pool for a bit and were joined briefly by this pretty moth.

Our first afternoon we hung out by the pool for a bit and were joined briefly by this pretty moth.

The rest of the afternoon we spent walking down to La Fortuna where we browsed some shops and checked out the town square. We decided to eat at a restaurant we passed on our walk down. I remembered I’d seen its 5-star Tripadvisor rating and thought that was a good sign. We weren’t disappointed.

We shared this plate for dinner. It was delicious!

We shared this plate for dinner. It was delicious!

We had a busy day the following day with three activities. First up was the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Tour. Our guide was very knowledgable and explained why certain plants grow the way they do, how animals and plants interact and even how different plants interact with one another and the environment. The bridges offered incredible views and you were often incredibly high up in the canopy. There was also a nice amount of hiking.

From the base area of our natural history hanging bridges tour.

From the base area of our natural history hanging bridges tour.

The bridges were quite large, but offered amazing views of the rainforest and the volcano.

The bridges were quite large, but offered amazing views of the rainforest and the volcano.

This waterfall went most of the way up the mountainside, but this was the only section you could clearly see.

This waterfall went most of the way up the mountainside, but this was the only section you could clearly see.

After returning to the hotel, we had lunch in the hotel restaurant and then waited to get picked up for our volcano hike and visit to the Baldi Hot Springs.

We had a small group for our hike, just the guide and another couple from the Chicago area. It was a short trek over to the national park, but we got our first taste of the bumpy roads we would encounter during the rest of our visit to Costa Rica.

Upon entering the park, the ranger told our guide about the snake you can see below. We all hopped out of the van to check it out. It was an eyelash pit viper, known for their scales above their eyes that make them look like they have eyelashes. It was a beautiful color. They’re apparently nocturnal, so my guess is he wasn’t too worried about us. They also only tend to bite humans if threatened or if they’ll get trampled on.

We saw an eyelash pit viper at the start our of volcano hike. It's one of the smallest poisonous snakes in Central America.

We saw an eyelash pit viper at the start our of volcano hike. It’s one of the smallest poisonous snakes in Central America.

During our hike we saw a variety of wild birds, a troupe of coatis, and some agoutis. We hiked through an area that was mostly regrowth from the last eruption. The top soil was only about two feet deep so we saw a number of felled trees due to their shallow root systems.

I got three good shots of this fella. He seemed keen on getting his photo taken.

I got three good shots of this fella. He seemed keen on getting his photo taken.

Our entire hike was about a 6k. We got to head out on old lava rock, which offered stunning views of Lake Arenal and the volcano. Some interesting facts about the volcano include that it’s actually rather young, only about 7,000 years old. It’s also active and it’s last major eruption was in the late 1960s, but it’s had smaller eruptions since then. That eruption killed about 67 people, but people have died in recent years illegally hiking the volcano due to rock slides and other such dangers.

Arenal Volcano is tucked up inside that storm cloud. It never ended up raining on us, but it made for some neat photos.

Arenal Volcano is tucked up inside that storm cloud. It never ended up raining on us, but it made for some neat photos.

The hot springs were really fun. There were numerous pools of all different temperatures. A lot of them had bars. My personal favorite had these great lounges in the water so you could just relax. Afterward we had dinner before catching our shuttle the short drive back to our hotel. It rained almost all night and it sounded incredible on the roof of our bungalow.

I feel like that was a really short summary of our first taste of Costa Rica. It was just the beginning, but it was a great first few days. There were plenty of more memories to make and I’ll share those with you next week in part 2!

Vacation #Recap

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As if I needed another excuse to go through photos from vacation, I decided to share some here. We spent the week in Litchfield, S.C. It’s about 45 minutes south of Myrtle Beach. There are no high rise condos or huge hotels, so the beach and the general area stay quite a bit quieter than further north.

We visited Murrell’s Inlet, Pawley’s Island, Coastal Grand mall, Huntington Beach State Park, and spent a lot of time on the beach. We had sun every day. If you’re looking for a quieter vacation that still puts you in reach of the hub-bub of Myrtle or if you are a nature lover, I’d recommend the area.

Our paradise for the week!

Our paradise for the week!

We rented a golf cart for the week. It's a popular thing to do in the area since traffic is light in North Litchfield.

We rented a golf cart for the week. It’s a popular thing to do in the area since traffic is light in North Litchfield.

The backyard at the house. It backs on to Huntington Beach State Park so it will always look like this.

The backyard at the house. It backs on to Huntington Beach State Park so it will always look like this.

View along the Marsh Walk in Murrell's Inlet.

View along the Marsh Walk in Murrell’s Inlet.

Looking across Murrell's Inlet toward Garden City.

Looking across Murrell’s Inlet toward Garden City.

Found this awesome Clemson-themed chair in Huntington Beach State Park. They had another one with USC colors.

Found this awesome Clemson-themed chair in Huntington Beach State Park. They had another one with USC colors.

This lil guy entertained us through dinner on the last night. He was catching his own meal.

This lil guy entertained us through dinner on the last night. He was catching his own meal.

One of a couple gators we saw in Huntington Beach State Park. This one was pretty big!

One of a couple gators we saw in Huntington Beach State Park. This one was pretty big!

Now it’s back to the swing of things. I wouldn’t mind another beach trip, but I’ll just have to enjoy my photos for now.

Question: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

Fall Race Schedule

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It’s been a little over a week since I’ve posted due to being on vacation. I’ll make it up to ya!

I spent last week on the annual family vacation trip to Litchfield Beach, South Carolina. My parents have been going down since before I was even born as my grandparents had retired there. Despite the fact that my grandparents are no longer with us, we still continue the trip. We rent a cute house about a block from the beach that backs up to Huntington Beach State Park. It’s a quiet area that doesn’t get too crowded.

We’re about 45 minutes south of Myrtle Beach so we can always go up there for some fun. However, I find there is plenty to do down where we are. We had a great week for weather, including two days with low temps and low humidity, something completely unheard of in July in South Carolina. I did manage to get in one run of about 3 miles, but for the most part I took the week off. I did do a lot of walking along the water.

One of the areas closest to us is Murrell’s Inlet, the seafood capital of South Carolina. It has a ton of great restaurants, marinas, and the Marsh Walk, which offered stunning views like this one.

View from the Marsh Walk.

View from the Marsh Walk.

I’ll share more on my week in another post, but for now I’m going to dive into my fall race schedule. Up first is the Beat the Band 5k in Lewisburg on Aug. 13. It’s a Wednesday evening race and a Bee Gees cover band is going to play a 32 minute set. The goal is to make it to the finish line before they finish. A group of us are carpooling there. It was inexpensive for a 5k and it sounded low key and fun.

Next up is one I’m super excited to do. A friend of mine had to back out of the Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon on Sept. 6 and offered up her bib. I bought it and we got her registration transferred to me. Awhile back, Runner’s World did a story about a group of Amish who run at night in that area and also mentioned a half marathon that the Amish are very involved with. I added it to my list of races. Soon after, another story from Runner’s World highlighted some of the coolest race medals, including the one from the Bird-in-Hand Half.

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I admit to being motivated by bling, and this medal is pretty awesome! I knew this was a must-do race, except it was already sold out. I made a mental note to register for 2015, but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it then either. September 2015 is a long way away. But now I get to do this year’s race and I’m really excited.

The final race I’m committed to is the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 26 in D.C. I got selected from the lottery and will join two other friends from Ki’netik. It will be my second marathon and I’m really excited to finish and hopefully with an improved time.

There are a few other races I’m considering. These include the Lewisburg Half Marathon on Sept. 14, the Lewisburg Lights 5k on Sept. 19, the Hershey Half Marathon on Oct. 19 (or maybe being part of a team for the Tussey Mountainback Ultramarathon and Relay), as well as a few local 5ks yet to be determined. We’ll see!

I’m also thinking about joining in on some track workouts with the local running club. They just started them up again and you don’t need previous track experience. I can’t go until next week, but I’m thinking it could be beneficial.

I’ll be back to check in later this week. Have a great Monday!

Question: Do you have any races planned?

A Weekend With the Girls

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Ten years ago, I was blessed to have met a wonderful group of girls during my freshman year of college. We’ve been there for each other through the ups and downs, the good guys and bad guys, and the many miles that have since come between us. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

This past weekend we celebrated our 10th annual beach trip, which happened to coordinate perfectly with our dear Lissbird’s Bachelorette. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since our first trip, but I remember that first trip to Ortley Beach well. While we all haven’t been to all 10, we’ve made it a point to make sure as many of us as possible can attend each Heifer Beach Weekend. Yep, we call ourselves heifers even though none of us actually qualify as one. We just love our food 🙂

Anyway, for the 10th annual event we headed to Ocean City, Md. where we stayed in a great townhouse right on the beach. We got in some quality sunbathing, lots of laughs (and drinks), and some fun nights out enjoying the nightlife. It went by so fast, but I think Alissa’s bachelorette weekend was a success! It was so much fun to celebrate with everyone and I can’t wait for Alissa’s bridal shower in August and wedding in October. We have a lot to look forward to in the next few months.

We lucked out with beautiful weather most of the weekend. Saturday was cloudy and cool, but we did manage to spend some quality time outside. Check out the view from our townhouse!

Just a short walk over the dunes and we were right on the beach!

Just a short walk over the dunes and we were right on the beach!

We’re planning to put together a frame of pictures from the last 10 years. So far it’s been fun going through all the old photos looking for our group shots. I just realized we forgot to take a pyramid timer photo this time. Oh well…we still got this great shot of us with the bride-to-be!

The Heifers clean up pretty nice!

The Heifers clean up pretty nice!

Prior to the trip, Caitlin asked me to put together a circuit workout like the ones at my gym. I wasn’t sure we’d actually get to do it, but I had fun putting one together just in case. It definitely motivated us to get up at least one morning early enough to get a workout in. After a late night Saturday, I woke up Sunday pretty early, but didn’t wake anyone up since it was before 8 a.m. I dozed off for a bit longer only to wake up to Caitlin poking me asking if we could go workout. Of course! It ended up being three of us out on the beach and we got in a pretty good workout.

CircuitI’ve been toying with getting a NASM certification, so I really enjoyed creating and leading a workout. We did two rounds, which was perfect for a Sunday morning after a late night. We definitely worked up a sweat! You don’t realize how soft sand can change things until you try it.

 

All done!

All done!

After a few more hours on the beach, we cleaned up the house, packed up, and headed our separate ways. I hit up the outlets in Rehobeth before continuing my trek home. It was worth the stop!

Another successful bachelorette (and heifer reunion in the books). I’m so glad these girls are in my life and I’m definitely looking forward to continuing our tradition for years to come!

Question: Do you have annual get together’s with friends?