Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Hot Chocolate 15k: Philadelphia edition

I've been wanting to run a Hot Chocolate race for awhile, but none of the locations/ dates were that convenient. This year, the Philadelphia one worked out perfectly. Sarah, Pam and I could visit with Megan and Chloe (the cutest 18month old ever!) and get a race in. We drove down Saturday morning and went straight to pick up our bibs. Seeing that it was in a running store, I was expecting the worst. Yes, it was a tad crowded, but all in all, it went a lot smoother than I was expecting. 

The Race Marshall. . . Mallow

The next morning, we drove to Megan's and hung out at her apartment until the race started. Her apartment is ridiculously convenient to the start; it's about a 5 minute walk to the Philly's Museum of Art (which is where the majority of races start/ finish in Philly. How nice is that?!). We left around 7:45 for the 8AM start and had plenty of time for a last minute portapotty stop. Surprise, surprise- there were no lines! It was awesome.

After seeing the course, I was a little concerned. It happens to be the last part of the Rock-n-Roll Philly course and I'm not that big of a fan of that part of the course. I'm usually ready for the race to be over and the Museum looks closer than it is and that drives me insane. But it's also flat and along the water, so life could be worse. Plus, a major positive of it being an out and back was I got to see Sarah and Megan speed by, which was a great mid-race boost!

Originally, I thought it was a little weird that they had the 5k start 45 minutes before the 15k, but I think it was logistically perfect- the 5kers could enjoy their post-race party and probably be on their way home by the time the 15kers were finishing. Smart. I never felt the area was over crowded.

Surprisingly, my race went really well. I knew I didn't want to race it, but I did want to push myself a bit. I've been running races just to get through them since before marathon training (for fear of injury if I pushed too hard) and since I'm trying to get faster, why not see how my progress is going? I was a little perturbed that I was over dressed (I switched out of my costume because it was freezing at 6am when we were leaving the hotel. At 8:15 when I started running? Not so much.) but it turned out to be really beautiful race weather. I decided to run how I felt and apparently I was feeling good. At the 5k mark I noticed I was only a minute off of my PR, so I decided to see if I could hit my 10k PR (since the ultimate goal is to 10k PR).

Then there was chocolate. Sadly, I couldn't stomach it at the time, but saved it for later. The volunteer handed me a handful, so I started giving the volunteers some as I passed them. Did I mention the volunteers were awesome?! Because every one I passed was cheering like no one's business. It was great. There weren't that many spectators (I'm assuming because of where the course was), but the volunteers enthusiasm definitely made up for it.

Once I got to the 10k mark, I realized I was about a minute behind my PR then, too! (sidenote: I later discovered that my PR is actually 3 minutes slower than what I thought, so I was ahead of pace! SCORE!) I decided I would continue to push myself to see what I could do. I had just run the Ted Corbitt 15k in December, but I wasn't running for time (just to finish without being a popsicle!). Even though I had no clue what my time was (note to self: you should probably check that before you run a race!), I just continued to run harder than I normally would've.

Which is of course when my knee started acting up (note to self: strength train. Seriously). I stopped to stretch a couple of times but not for very long. I started to do some math (note to self: mid-race math is never a good plan) and I figured I could try for a sub-2 hour finish. That sounded fun, right? Not to my knee! I laid off of it as much as I could, but pushed to the finish (who puts a hill at the finish, seriously?!) I finished in 2:01 on the dot. I'll take it! The plus side of being the slowest runner of the group? Having your own private cheer section as you cross the finish line!

Finally got my own finisher's mug!

One suggestion: More things to dip in the chocolate! One marshmallow was not cutting it for me and the airline sized pretzels didn't work very well with dipping either. I ended up eating the rest of the chocolate with a spoon (no shame!) which was DELISH, but turned out to be a terrible plan. I can't eat a lot of chocolate at one time because it actually makes me sick. Add that to warmer weather running plus a sensitivity to getting car sick and you have the perfect equation for a not so pleasant unscheduled stop on the side of the road on way back to the city.

With that aside, I really loved this race! From the easy packet pickup to the no line portapotties to the after race celebration, it was a great way to spend a Sunday- or weekend visiting with friends in my case. It was extremely kid-friendly, I saw a bunch of space walks and families hanging out. It was a tad pricey, but for everything you got, it was well worth the price. The hooded fleece lined jacket was enough! On top of that, I got a 9 minute PR- and who doesn't love PRs?! Hopefully I'll get another chance to run one of their races and I would definitely recommend the same to you!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Spartan Sprint (+ a race entry giveaway!)

Yesterday, I decided to go check it out the Spartan Sprint at Citi Field. I did not participate in the race, but I can tell you I was definitely regretting not signing up once I was there. I was extremely jealous of everyone who was getting ready to earn the title of Spartan. 

The race started on one of the stadium ramps and from there you ran back and forth and down and up on the stadium's upper seating area. The race was 3.1 miles in and around the stadium with many obstacles sprinkled throughout. I'm not sure about all of the obstacles, but the ones I saw were pretty intense:

Wall crawl, sword throwing and the Cirque tent- oh my!

You pick the ball up, you throw it down. You repeat.

These aren't your playground's monkey bars.

And just as you get back into the the field to run your victory lap, there is a rope climb, a wall climb and a net tower to get through before you get your medal. 

I'll be honest, I was extremely nervous about each obstacle that required upper body strength (because I have none) and the 30 burpee penalty (every time you couldn't complete the obstacles) is intense.  If I wasn't so worried about injuring myself for a couple of big running events I have coming up, I probably would have done it anyway. I love that there are no time limits for Spartan events- encouraging everyone to just get it done! Now that I've been to an event, I'm pretty convinced I need to do one.

LOVED the camaraderie!
This guy's team waited for him and gave him a badass welcome in! 

The winners! First time I've ever seen an awards ceremony. 

There was also tons of stuff for spectators to do as well. Being that this was in a stadium, you could see your Spartan a lot throughout their race. If you just wanted to hang out in the stands by the finish line, that's cool, too. The jumbotron and all the monitors throughout the stadium were showing clips of the Spartans at various places along the course. About once an hour they were shooting t-shirts into the crowd as well. It was a lot of fun! There were even kid races for your Spartans in training. 

Getting to watch the different obstacles on the jumbotron.

Check this site out for more information on Spartan races near you! 

Do you want to WIN a chance to earn the Spartan title? Well, lucky for you, the Spartans are allowing me to give away a free entry to any US 2014 Spartan Race! See below for more details.

Don't want to wait/ didn't win? Don't worry! Here's 15% off:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nike Women's DC Training: 2 weeks to go!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 2.5M

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: HILLS

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 8.5M

Sunday: Rest

I really thought the week was going to go to crap when I couldn't make it to the park on Tuesday. I had a work meeting downtown that ran over, so off to the gym I went! It's funny, when you start running outside again, the treadmill does not sound like much fun. My body was not happy about that and it let me know- my feet and my knees were not fans of the moving belt. The upside was I got in and out of there in no time. The downside was I ran an entire mile less than I would have had I been at the park. 

Not to worry, I still got to the park on Thursday. Pam suggested running the 81st St. Bridal Path hill. I had never heard of it, but when I mentioned it to another runner friend, her comment was "Good luck with that. Have fun!" Awesome. The hill seems to go on forever and it feels like you'll never see the top. I definitely had some I feel like a smoker again moments trying to will myself to get up it at the fastest speed I could muster. There was lots of mentally cursing Pam and her bronchitis the entire workout. I have no idea what my mileage was for the night because I forgot my Garmin but that might've been a blessing to not know how slow I was actually running up that hill. I need to keep reminding myself all of this is going to make me faster.

But faster I was not on my long run this weekend. Not gonna lie and I will say it, Saturday was HOT! Then again, I did decide to start my run at noon- so that's no one's fault but my own. It did make me long for those cooler winter runs though. I am really not looking forward to summer runs- then I remember I'm not training for a marathon this year, so rock on. I'm seriously contemplating retiring from running for July and August just because I can. Although, the race I want to potentially PR in will be in the beginning of June- I'm definitely wishing for a freak cool front for that. 

I also decided it had been a while since I ran along the Brooklyn waterfront and what better day to do it?! It also happened to be where the Williamsburg Brooklyn Flea was. Oh, and surprise! I think this was the 1st weekend they held it outside for the season. I'm sure you can imagine how awesome it was trying to bob and weave around the entire hipster population for miles. Because of the heat and the direct sun, I didn't think about how thirsty I would be. Luckily, I made it to my favorite park with a working restroom and refilled in the sink twice. I also grabbed a Gatorade at the CVS on the return trip. I was pretty sure I was going to be sick for the rest of the day, but luckily I was not. 

RIP midday long runs. We had fun while they lasted. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

(3 Things) Sparkly headbands, 50 years and Scandal.

The More/ Fitness Half Marathon is this weekend. As much as getting an Athleta race shirt sounds appealing, running 2 loops of Central Park for $80 does not. The price of this race will continue to baffle me- especially when there is a corporate sponsor! I guess I shouldn't be complaining that much, though, that's how they can keep the other races cheaper. Anyway, I was hoping I could get to the expo, but alas my schedule isn't working out. I was hoping to score one of the new Sparkly Soul Rockstar headbands because they're amazing!

I really need this headband in my life ASAP.

Today is The It's a Small World attraction's 50th anniversary. It's one of my favorite attractions (thanks to my father's tradition of it being the first ride of every trip to Magic Kingdom). I love that they are using Mary Blair-esque branding for 2014 because of the anniversary as well. Speaking of The World's Fair, I'm excited to run the NYRR Queens 10k again this year- in the famous Flushing Meadows Corona Park, specifically so I can go to one of the museums afterwards (since getting to Queens isn't usually as convenient as you'd think).

Let's talk TV. Anyone else kind of over all of the story lines of the shows they watch, or is it just me? My main beef right now is with Olivia Pope on Scandal. She is no longer the bad ass empowering female that I loved when the show started. If all she's going to do is act like the President's love sick mistress, she does not deserve the title of gladiator. I just realized this happened with Meredith on Grey's. . . maybe it's a Shonda Rhimes thing. Either way, my new favorite is Jake. . . because he's pretty badass and pretty hot as command- right?! Even B thinks so ;) 

Does anyone else go to race expos in their city when they're not running the race? Have beef with a TV show you're watching right now?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nike Women's DC Training: 3 weeks to go!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4M- Hills

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest

Saturday: The Hot Chocolate 15k

Sunday: Rest

This week's hill training was something different Pam sent me with. It involved running hills for 15 minutes, then running out and back for 5minutes each way- 3 times. When I got there, it seemed like every running group in the city had the same idea about hill repeats on Strawberry Hill- so I cut it to 2 repeats and 1 out and back. Apparently that defeated the purpose of the workout. Oops.

Thursday I was going to do an easy run, but I had a traumatizing experience with the company wide biometrics screening and blood work, which included nearly passing out/ vomiting in the conference room in front of lots of coworkers. Fun times. So, I just chilled out for the night. I went errand running on Wednesday night, which included toting a new suitcase all over the Union Square area of the city (because of course I would find my dream carry-on for 50% at the first stop of my multiple errand running, while shopping for something completely different)- so that counts as cross training, right?

But in all seriousness, I need to start including real cross training. I felt it in my knee again this weekend during the Hot Chocolate 15k. Where, spoiler alert (unless you follow me on instagram and twitter), I got a 9 minute PR! Who knew?! I didn't realize I was already so close to my 10k PR, so maybe it's not that unrealistic!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging to talk about something that I'm geeking out about. No, I wasn't asked to write about this, I'm just that excited about it.


I read a news article about The Fabergé Eggs yesterday, and then kind of forgot about it. Then, I went to Columbus Circle to run in the park last night, and discovered about 10 of the over 260 eggs that are all over the city. I'm already a huge fan of the artistic sculptures that cities will randomly do (my favorite to date are the New Orleans Bead Dogs they did a couple of years ago), but put an interactive aspect to it, and I'm sold! 

Enter The Big Egg Hunt app- You can collect eggs with the QR codes, see the latest news and even view a map to let you know if you're close to any eggs you haven't cracked yet. There is even a leader board letting you know how other many eggs the top collectors have. The campaign started yesterday and by the time I downloaded the app and got involved, some people had already found 80+ eggs. That's impressive. There are also a few different sweepstakes/ contests going on that you can win prizes for which definitely ups the stakes.

When you collect the egg, you can also read the description of the piece and find out more about the artist. This really made me do a double take at a few eggs and appreciate some more than the ones I was initially attracted to.

Then, there is merchandise. I've never in my life wanted to own a Fabergé egg- until now! I've scoped out a few of the ostrich sized replicas I'd put on my mantel. . . whenever I have one ;)

The hunt will go on until the 17th, then they will move them to Rockefeller Center. They will be on display there until the 28th and auctioned off for charity. The charities are Studio in a School and The Elephant Family- saving the arts and animals, what could be better?! 

So, now you know what I'll be doing next weekend and probably my lunch all week.

Kudos, Fabergé and all of your sponsors!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nike Women's DC Training: 4 weeks to go!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Yoga

Thursday: 4M- Hills

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6M

Sunday: Rest

Remember how I was so excited to start hill training last week? Well, I conveniently forgot we had tickets to see Cirque's Amaluna on Tuesday night. Not to worry, I still did hills on Thursday. 

I also continued with yoga, which I'd like to keep in the training rotation. I took a wellness assessment at work this week because starting next year, that's how they're going to allow for our insurance discounts. I put down that I stretched once a week because I assumed yoga is what they meant, but technically I stretch at least 5 times a week. Anyway, with that answer, I got a red mark! (the scale was green yellow red) I'm really kind of peeved by it because I already know I'm going to get another one when I find out my BMI. But let's not get started on that. 

It's been raining all weekend, so I seriously contemplated skipping my long run again. It really is hard to push yourself to get out there if the weather isn't perfect. It was also a weekend for lots of races, so after seeing a ton of friends' race photos online, I got some serious Runner Envy. If everyone else was running in the rain, dammit, I would too! Once I was actually out there, it wasn't that bad. What's another 5.75 miles if you're already soaking wet? It was really nice after I got over that. The park was pretty desolate for midday on a Saturday but there were enough runners to make me feel less insane- training happens if it's raining or not. Thank goodness it wasn't that cold, then it would've been seriously miserable. 

Next week: more hills and a 15k with some post-race hot chocolate. YUM!