Monday, August 26, 2013

Charm City Trail Run at Boordy Vineyards Race Recap & Review

Yesterday I ran the Charm City Trail Run at Boordy Vineyards. This 5k included a beautiful twilight course around a vineyard, a cotton t-shirt, a wineglass, and wine, cheese, and grapes at the finish. I've been wanting to do this race for a few years but it always sells out quickly- only 800 runners are permitted. Spectators are encouraged at this race- there was catering, wine tasting/sales, and a band there to entertain before, during, and after the race.

Matthew and I got to the vineyard about 5 pm. We picked up our shirts, bibs, and wine glasses and took them back to the car. Then we headed back to the vineyard and found a place to sit down until the race.

As we are sitting there, I happened to look over and see a former co-worker (Robert) and his girlfriend (Kimberly). What a wonderful surprise :-) We sat with them and chatted about upcoming races until it was time to go to the start.

Matthew and I decided to run this one separately. Since we've both been training a lot, we wanted to see how fast we could go. We probably should have taken this one easy because we have the Dumbo Double Dare this weekend, but we didn't- sometimes runners are stubborn :-)

I lined up towards the back of the pack; Matthew lined up towards the front. I started my ipod, started the Map My Run app, and we were off! I was fiddling with my watch so that started about 10 seconds after the start.

Matthew is in the front in the white shirt; I'm behind him in a pink shirt- looking at my watch. 

I started off with a very easy pace for the first three minutes. The first half mile was around the vines- pretty cool.

Grape vines on the right!

Then we hit the road and a slight hill. I was feeling pretty good so I decided to push it and see how fast I could go. Around mile 1, I looked at my phone and saw I was running about a 10:35 mile/minute- super fast for me. Even though I thought I may puke and the sun was beating down on me, I decided right then that I was going to push this entire race and actually run for time.

At mile 1.5 we hit the turn-around and I was feeling ok- not great, but not as bad as I thought pacing as fast as I was. I love races with turn-arounds- I was able to see Matthew, Robert, and another friend Megan as they were speeding past me. I also caught up with Kimberly around mile 2.5.

After the last huge hill, I knew we only had a half mile to go back around the vineyard. I looked at my watch and tried not to get excited. I just kept saying, "It doesn't matter what the time is, it doesn't matter what the time is." But I was just so pumped to get to the finish line.

Such a beautiful run!

Finally, I could see the finish. I ran at the fastest I think I ever have. After crossing the finish line, I stopped my watch and it said 33:49. My app said 34:05. Either way, I knew I'd pushed the entire way as hard as I could.

Matthew joined me at the finish, we found Robert and Kimberly, and got a glass of wine to celebrate. We listened to the band, got something to eat, and then checked out the official finish times. Matthew finished in 27:22.  I finished in 33:55- a PR by 7 seconds. This is one of the best feelings in the world- if you run, you know what I mean.

This course was beautiful, fast, and the after-party was just awesome. Food, wine, and friends- literally the best way to end a Sunday. I would highly recommend this race. It's also walker and stroller friendly.

Good times!

There was another reason to celebrate this weekend- since January I've lost close to 18 pounds. I wore shorts to the race this weekend. I started running over two years ago and it wasn't until this weekend that I felt confident enough to wear shorts to a race. And let me tell you, shorts are so much cooler (temperature-wise) than capris!

Finally in running SHORTS!

With only two days until our Disney trip, I'll be busy packing and tapering- only two more training runs until the Dumbo Double Dare! Can't wait to share the experience here!

Happy running!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Marathon Training Week 8 OR Adventures in Temporary Hair Dye

This post may be a bit random and all over the place- my apologies. I'm just so excited because we leave for Disneyland the and Dumbo Double Dare in nine short days! For those of you that may not know, the Dumbo Double Dare is the Inaugural Disneyland 10k on Saturday, August 31, followed by the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday, September 1.

Quick training update- As the mileage for the weeks slowly creeps up, I've been noticing that I've been able to have a quicker pace during my short conditioning runs. Last week, I ran at an average pace of 11:18! While that may not be impressive, it's crazy fast for me and much quicker than where I was a year ago. So yay :-) I ran 39.32 miles in July and I'm already up to 40.98 for August.

As the weekly mileage is ticking up, my biggest concern is injury. Building from 12-15 miles per week to 40 miles per week is challenging enough and with my nagging plantar fasciitis, it could be potentially very painful. BUT, I've been doing everything the doctor recommends- stretching, icing, strengthening. I have also switched from a stability shoe (Brooks Adrenaline) to a neutral shoe (Brooks Ghost) so I can wear my orthotic inserts while I run. The Ghosts took a few weeks to break-in and get used to. I'm still not sure if I can wear them over 7 miles- I'm going to try out some new shoes here in the next few weeks and hopefully find a pair that will work for the marathon in January.

Also, the boyfriend and I got a pretty neat package in the mail this week. As a surprise for me, Matthew ordered some new medal racks- and they are simply awesome. He also ordered some motivation for the Dopey Challenge- a 48.6 medal rack! He's the greatest. For real.

Shout out to HeavyMetalz for such cool products!

Our wall of awesome :-)

New motivation to kick ass in Dumbo and Dopey

"Once Upon A Run"
Love this Minnie inspired one!

 Switching gears...

Why temporary hair dye is a bad idea- Because it's Disney and because I'll use any reason to dress-up, I'm running the Disneyland Half as Ariel. I've already made the green tutu, picked out the flowers for my hair, etc. The one missing piece- the trademark red Ariel hair! Because I won't do anything on race day that I haven't tried out on a long run, I decided to try out a temporary red hair dye this past Saturday for a 7 mile run.

I found this brand, "Splat," at Walmart. $5.00 for about a three ounce tube. The instructions said to put it on your hair, blow dry, and then use hairspray to set the color. The color should last until you wash it out. Seeing as how I only want to be red for a day, I figured this would work.

As you can see, it's pretty darn red.
Using this was sort of like painting your hair. Once it was applied, I dried my hair with a blow dryer and then decided to braid it. Now, my hair at this point was really, really stiff- kind of like I had just put paste in my hair- not fun or easy to braid. But, I managed a somewhat decent braid and went out for a run.

The sort-of finished product.

The good- the color actually didn't run! I was worried it would run once I started sweating but surprisingly, it stayed in my hair.
The bad- It didn't look that red once my hair was braided.

After the run. Not quite Ariel red. Boo.
The ugly- It literally felt like I had paste in my hair. Once I finally got the braid out, it actually looked pretty cool. But not cool enough for me to actually replicate it on race day.
It looks like a regular braid for me for the half. On the plus side, running with my hair braided was AMAZING! I have a thing about hair touching my neck when I'm running- I hate it. As my hair gets longer, it gets more challenging to find ways to pull it up. This braid was fantastic! I may start running with a braid more often :-)
Ok, that's the end of my scatter-brained post. Next post- packing for a destination race! Happy Monday!


Monday, August 12, 2013

Charles Street 12 Race Recap & Review

Saturday was the inaugural Charles Street 12- "Maryland's Most Monumental Race." The course followed Baltimore's historic Charles Street from Towson to the inner harbor. It promised to be mostly downhill and wind through some of Baltimore's beautiful neighborhoods. I was really excited about this race for two reasons- it was downhill and it was the inaugural event.

Packet pick-up
Because I'm no longer a Baltimorean (recently moved a few hours away), I had a friend pick up our packets at a local running store, Charm City Run. In an Under Armour draw string bag, we got our premium (which was awesome!), bibs, and timing chip. Because this race was a point-to-point (park at the finish and shuttle to the start), there would be on-site packet pick up but no bag check- at least that's what I was told when I emailed the race organizers.

Under Armour Premium
Race day logistics
We drove to the finish line in downtown Baltimore, parked the car, and were on the shuttle bus to the start by 5:30 am. The start line was in the parking lot of a shopping center. There was a DJ, on-site packet pick-up, bag check, about 10 port-a-potties, and a few vendors in the parking lot. With an hour and a half to kill, Matthew and I found a curb and people watched. I was a little ticked because there WAS a bag check and we would have been able to do on-site pick up and bag check- but at that point it didn't matter.

I used the bathroom around 6:30 and then started to do some stretches. I'm glad I didn't wait any longer because the line for the port-a-potties became ridiculous pretty quickly. With almost 2,000 runners and 10 bathrooms, it was a recipe for incredible lines.

The bathroom line that wrapped around the parking lot- the port-a-potties are on the left.

Miles 0-4
At 7:30 am, we were off! While this race advertised being downhill, the first 4 miles were chock-full of rolling hills. It was already around 75 degrees and incredibly humid. Our plan was to run 13:30 pace for the first 4 miles, 12:30 for the next 4, then 11:30 for the last 4 miles. Well, I was super excited and ran the first 4 miles between 12:18 and 12:45. Which was cool, but I seriously need to pump the brakes for the next distance race.

This part of the race also had very cool scenery- we ran past Towson University and crossed the county/city line.

Yup, that's not a downhill.
Miles 5-8
These miles flew by. Around mile 6, we could see the city and since we were ending downtown, I knew we were getting close. Also at mile 6 was a single port-a-potty. One. For almost 2,000 runners. This was the only bathroom we'd see on the entire course. There was a line about 15 runners long. Matthew and I decided to seek refuge in the shrubs and trees just beyond the port-a-potty. This was the day I became a "real" runner- peeing in the bushes on a race course.

Pace for this section was 12:04- 12:44. So much for slowing down :-)

Graffiti that I thought was picture-worthy.  

Miles 9- 12
Here's where the course got a bit tricky. We were downtown in Saturday traffic and there were a lot of ticked off motorists. Most of the course was on Charles Street- which is a four-lane road. They blocked off one lane for the runners.  While there was incredible police presence- some on motorcycles followed us the entire course- there were still cars that were driving quite fast and close to the orange cones blocking our running lane. While we were running through some of the intersections, you could hear motorists honking and cursing at the police who were holding them back. It kind of put a damper on the race.

Pace for this section was 11:42- 12:09.

One cool part of this race was running around the Washington Monument- pretty awesome.
Now, THIS is a downhill :-)

Finish line and after-party
After running the last few miles through downtown Baltimore, we rounded the corner towards Power Plant Live and the finish line. Official finish time- 2:31:57, 12:40 average pace. I'll take it.

After we got our medals, we picked up our free beer and food and sat down to enjoy the finish line band. I also had to switch out my premium- they allowed you to switch sizes at the end of the race- the XL I ordered ended up being way too big but I was able to trade in for a smaller size.

The bling.

I'd give this race a 6/10. The course was beautiful, enjoyable, and well-stocked with water stations. The premium and medal were really nice and the post-race party was easily-accessible and fun. However, there were not nearly enough bathrooms on the course and being so close to the traffic was anxiety-provoking. There also was ZERO crowd support. Because this is a brand new race, I think a lot of these issues will be straightened out for the next one.

On the plus side, I felt awesome after the race! My left foot (the one with PF) was a little sore and hurt during the race, but not so bad that I felt I needed to stop or slow down. We are SO ready for the Dumbo Double Dare in just a few weeks! :-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What I Can't Run Without!

I just got in from a great training run- 3 miles around the campus of Shippensburg University. Today I ran with a new gadget- an ipod shuffle (a birthday gift from my awesome bff Kelly)! I know I'm probably a million years behind everyone else but before today I always ran with my phone or an ipod touch- both of which are somewhat bulky and have become increasingly cumbersome to run with. All I had today was this tiny little ipod- it was glorious!

While I was enjoying this newfound feeling of freedom during my run, it got me thinking about all the other things I need/love/have-to-have while running. Here's my list of "musts" for any run:

  • Brooks Adrenaline running shoes- a great stability shoe in fabulous colors.
  • Enell sports bras- a MUST for high impact exercise. They just started selling new colors- my "orchid" one is being delivered this week!
  • Capris- I love the Champion series from Target.
  • Race shirt- it's incredibly motivating wearing previous race shirts to train in.
  • Body Glide- this stuff changed my life. True story.
  • Balega socks- breathable and supportive.
  • Music- favorite songs to run to include "Gold" by Britt Nicole, and "Shut up and let me go" by the Ting Tings.
  • Sweaty Bands- perfect for thick or layered hair and they have HUNDREDS of designs to choose from.
  • Map My Run- the app is the next best thing if you can't afford a fancy GPS watch. It's also great to see how many miles you've logged, calories burned, etc. I ran over 40 miles in July!
  • Shot Bloks- I use these on 5+ mile runs. Favorite flavors are tropical punch and cran-razz. The margarita is kind of gross but has a high salt content which is great for long distances.
  • Awesome running partners- I like to think I have some of the BEST running partners out there- Matthew, Kelly, and Morgan- you all are rock stars! :-)
And finally, the most important thing you need for a run- no matter the distance- is a positive attitude. It's no secret, most people have a love-hate relationship with running. There are days where I feel strong and powerful and unstoppable. Then there are days where I struggle, whine, and claw my way to finish a run. And it's those days that my "running mantras" kick in to high gear. The next time you find yourself struggling with a run, try repeating some of these:
  • I am stronger than this challenge. This challenge is making me stronger.
  • There will come a day when I can no longer do this. Today is not that day.
  • Dead last finish is greater than did not finish which trumps did not start.
  • You don't have to go fast, you just have to go.
That's all for now! Check back this weekend for my review of the inaugural Charles Street 12 (8/10/13).

Tonight's motivation- Disney Half shirt and Princess Half Bondi band.