Tag Archives: Friends

Hartwood 10 Miler [2016]

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Over a month ago on August 18th I ran one of my favorite local races, the Hartwood 10 Miler. This was my 4th year running this race and I’ve had a lot of success with it in the past. Even despite it being a hilly race in mid-August, the weather has usually cooperated enough for me to pull out a time I was proud of, and even a new PR a couple of times. I had high hopes for the race this year. In 2015 I ran it for fun since I was 3 months post partum. I don’t even think I wore a watch. I was building my mileage base back up and wasn’t overly concerned with getting faster again quite yet. Over the course of the following year I had worked a lot on my speed, so I wanted to use this race to test myself and see how I had progressed.

As the date of the race got closer, I started stalking the weather forecast and getting nervous. This summer was absolutely BRUTAL in Virginia, as I wrote about often in my marathon training recaps. I was holding out hope that the 95+ degree, 100% humidity days would go away just in time for me to have a great race, but it didn’t happen. It was another sweltering, sticky, uncomfortably hot day, with the real feel already at 89 degrees and 95% humidity before 6 AM the morning of the race. I knew it would only get worse closer to the 7 AM race start and as the sun came out.

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Weather at 5:51 AM!

I knew I had two choices: 1) Run the race like I wanted to, HARD, and feel miserable and defeated and/or die in the process, or 2) Throw out my goals for the race, run with friends and have fun. I chose the latter 🙂 We also chose to be brave, take off our shirts, and run in our sports bras. That was a racing first for me!

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Once I adjusted my expectations for the race I felt so much better. We arrived early, found parking easily, chatted and hung out in the park until the start. I love this race because it’s small and local and has easy logistics, plus the course is on beautiful back roads that are normally unsafe to run on when a race is not happening. I felt pretty naked at first in my sports bra but it helped a ton knowing my friends were right there with me, and I forgot about it after a few minutes.

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The sports bra squad!


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Moms Run This Town!

We met up with more friends from our Moms Run This Town group and lined up at the start. I thought the weather might deter a lot of people from running, but there was still a good amount of people out there. I was sweating just standing there waiting, so I knew we were all in for an interesting race!

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Soon we were off, and I immediately was thankful that I didn’t have any extra clothing to deal with. The air was thick and heavy and felt like a wet blanket. Our friends Stephanie and Kimmie went ahead while I stayed with Dina and Laura. Our first mile was a little fast out of excitement, but we slowed it down after that.

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The only way to get through a race under these kinds of conditions (in my opinion) is to have fun with it. So we did! We laughed, talked, ran, walked when we wanted to, ran again, cheered on runners around us, and had a great time.

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This course is beautiful but the hills are no joke! There are some decent ones in the first half, but the bigger rolling hills happen between miles 6-9. We stuck to our word to stay together and walked whenever one of us needed to.

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Finally, we re-entered the park and ran the final half mile to the finish line. The picture below doesn’t even convey how soaking wet we were. My shorts felt so heavy because they were DRIPPING and my socks and shoes were filled with sweat. Gross!

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We were so happy to cross that finish line, get a cold towel and some water, and of course some beer! One thing I love about this race is that in addition to a nice race shirt, you get an awesome engraved glass as well.

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I took a few minutes to change into dry clothes before heading over to the post-race area where we got food, drinks, and recapped our races for each other. When the awards ceremony began we were so excited to hear that a few of our ladies got age group/masters awards! So impressive especially on such a tough day!

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We definitely earned that beer!

Even though this year’s Hartwood 10 Miler wasn’t the race that I originally wanted, I still had a great time and made the best of it. I plan to continue to participate in this race in the years to come, I’ll just be crossing my fingers for slightly better weather 🙂

Finish Time – 1:42:18 / 10:13 average pace

Previous Hartwood 10 Miler recaps:

Kyler’s 1st Birthday

As of May 22nd, my baby boy is officially 1! It is definitely very bittersweet to think about. On the one hand, I love watching him grow and develop new skills, and seeing his little personality emerge. But on the other hand, I’m 99% sure he is my last baby, and part of me wants him to stay this little forever.

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As his birthday approached I also felt really sad, because our family situation is not at all how I envisioned it being a year after Kyler’s birth, or ever. When my marriage suddenly fell apart this past January, I had hoped we could keep things civil enough to still do things like birthdays together even after separating/divorcing. However, I quickly realized that was not going to be possible – at least not right now. The last 4 months of Kyler’s first year of life already have a black cloud over them. I feel like they have just been a blur because of everything else that has been going on. I did not want to spend his birthday celebration around people who make me angry and sad. I wanted to spend it with the people who love us unconditionally and who have been supportive no matter what. So Kevin and I had separate birthday parties for Kyler. He actually took them for the first time overnight on Friday, had a party with his friends and family on Saturday, and then I got them back early on Sunday morning. I knew it would be a very hard weekend for me since I hate being away from my kids, especially for an extended time like that. So I invited some of my friends and family down from Pennsylvania (and even all the way from Oregon!) to spend the weekend with me, and we had a nice, small party for Kyler on Sunday – his actual birthday!

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The pre-party crew that arrived on Saturday!

I am so thankful that I had a house full of my closest friends and family to help me celebrate my sweet and happy baby boy’s birthday. It truly made all the difference in helping me stay positive and focus on the people who love and support me rather than the people who don’t. I wanted to share some photos from the party that were taken by my dad. We kept it sweet and simple. I ordered food from Wegmans, my friend Cynthia made cupcakes, and I did a little “Oh the Places You’ll Go” theme, incorporating the bright colors that are in Dr. Seuss books, quotes, and even a copy of the book that everyone signed and wrote wishes in for Kyler. I made his smash cake myself and reused a lot of decorations I already had from little Kevin’s past birthday parties. Simple and easy!

Here are some photos from our special day!

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I cannot thank my family and friends for making the trip down to see us. It was a very special day, and a great way to kick off the second year of my sweet boy’s life! I will be writing a full update on both Kyler and myself at 12 months and what’s going on in our lives now, hopefully over the weekend.

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Happy Birthday Kyler James! I love you!

Historic Half Wing Women

When you become a runner, first it’s all about you, your progress, your goals. But then you realize there’s a whole big community out there consisting of other runners. People who share the same passion as you that other people just don’t understand. You find yourself growing closer to them because of this connection that you have as runners, and suddenly running is about more than just you. You begin to have a desire to support others, and become invested in their journeys and the progress they make. It’s a beautiful thing!

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One day I had a random idea to recruit some friends of mine to be ‘wing women’ for a big local half marathon that takes place in my area called the Historic Half. I had a vision of us wearing costume wings, positioning ourselves on the toughest parts of the course, and helping our girls get up the hills and to the finish line. I posted about this idea of mine on two local Moms Run This Town groups and got a great response from both the people who were running the race and the people who weren’t, but wanted to volunteer. And so my “Wing Woman” idea came to life!

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I even made us special bibs!

I have run the Historic Half a few times before and continue to run parts of the course all the time since it’s not far from where I live. Because I was so familiar with it, I knew exactly where the hardest parts were and where the runners would need the most support. This race is a little evil in that the first 10 miles are mostly flat with some hills, followed by 2 miles of huge/steep hills, and ending with a flat final mile to the finish line.  It is a beast of a race and course and requires a slightly different strategy than other half marathons, because you really need to make sure you conserve energy for those last and hardest 3 miles of the race. Knowing this, we planned to have a group of ladies waiting at the first hill, infamously known as “Hospital Hill” – which is a long, slow climb. Another group (including myself) would be at the hill that followed, which was shorter, steeper and in my opinion even harder since you’re pretty done at that point in the race!

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Our crew gathered bright and early in Fredericksburg sporting our sparkly wings. We arrived as the race started so we got to see all the runners off as they passed by. As we waited for more people to show up, some of our ladies headed down to the hills so that they would be able to catch runners who were doing the 5 mile race. We didn’t want to leave anyone hanging.

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Once everyone had arrived, we hurried over to the base of the second and final hill of the course. We watched and cheered for the 5 mile runners, and saw the first half marathon finishers come through making it look effortless. Not too long after that, we started seeing our ladies come through!

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We had posted about what we were doing ahead of time, so our friends in the group knew where to find us and to call out to us if they wanted a ‘wing woman’ to run with them up the hill. It started off a little slow, but soon enough there were so many that it was hard to keep up with the demand! We easily ran with at least 30-40 people that day.

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Every woman that we jumped in and ran with was so happy and appreciative. Their faces went from looking pained and tired to lighting up when they saw their Moms Run This Town tribe there for them. I was also excited to be able to support two runners that I’ve been coaching since December. I almost missed my first one, Pandita, because I was running another person up, but caught her right as she neared the top and told her to turn the corner, get to the finish line and get her sub 1:50 half marathon goal. She finished in 1:49:55.

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Shortly after I saw Dina, who was looking strong and confident. When I jumped in with her she asked me to run her all the way to the finish line (another mile away) and I couldn’t say no. She has been working on her fast finishes and this race was no exception. She went from not thinking she was going to make her sub-2 hour half marathon goal, to finishing in 1:58:23. To say I am proud of these two incredible, hard-working women is an understatement!

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At the end of the day, I had run 7 happy, amazing miles of hills with friends that are very special to me. It was such a great morning. Afterwards, we heard from many people who said that seeing us wing women was one of the biggest highlights of their races. I was so glad that we could help and that I could give back a little to this wonderful community who has been supporting me a ton over the past few months.

I think we are going to need to make this wing woman concept a tradition at all the local races!

Manassas Runway 5K

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a friend/coaching client to run the Manassas Runway 5K with her and hopefully pace her to a new PR. I have been really loving my “downtime” from marathon training, because it gives me more opportunities to run with others and help them with their goals. Kevin had the kids that morning so I decided to take advantage and have some fun with my friends in my local Moms Run This Town group.

This race is unique because it takes place entirely on the runway of a small local airport. This means it’s super fast, flat and a great PR-maker! It was perfect conditions that morning as well – nice and cool and not humid at all. I was cold in my tank top and shorts at first, but luckily we were able to wait inside the warm airport. I knew it would feel amazing once we started running.

Shortly before the start the girls and I went out to do a little warm-up run. We ran a little less than a mile before we headed over to the start. I gave Dina (my friend who I was running with) a little pep talk about how hard she’s worked and how strong she is, and then we were off!

Dina’s goal was to come in under 25 minutes, or an 8 minute pace, to get her a new PR. She’s been working hard on her speed and has gotten huge PRs in the half marathon distance lately, but as we all know, the 5K distance is a whole other kind of beast. It’s short, fast, and it hurts! Unfortunately, our bodies had cooled down a bit after our warm-up because we had to wait longer than expected to start. I wanted to make sure we didn’t go out too fast because of that, and also because Dina has been working on her fast finishes. Starting slower and finishing faster is the key to success. Why did it take me so long to learn that? LOL.

We settled into around an 8:00 pace, which felt like a slightly uncomfortable tempo run for her at first. It was amazing to be running on flat ground since we’re so used to running hills around where we live. I noticed her tensing up in her upper body and looking at her watch a lot, so I tried to tell her to relax and not stress about pace. When I ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon, one of the best parts for me was running with a pace group. It took all the work out of thinking about maintaining a certain pace, and helped me save so much energy. Pacing someone to help them meet a big goal is a stressful job and I take it very seriously. I told her to trust me and she did 🙂

  • Mile 1 – 7:59

We came in right on target for mile 1, which I was super happy about and so was she. We ran along, passing people who started too fast which was a confidence booster. We even passed her teenage son, which was awesome. I don’t like to talk much during the shorter, faster races but I noticed her breathing was sounding a little shallow. She has asthma and tends to be a chest breather. We’ve been working on getting her air from deeper in her belly and taking fuller breaths. I reminded her of this and it seemed to help her get her breathing under better control.

  • Mile 2 – 7:58

We hit mile 2 right on target as well, coming in just under an 8 minute mile. Yeah! Dina was doing an awesome job and looking strong. At this point, I was really happy with my choice of clothing because it was getting warm and the sun was out. However, during the third mile, Dina slowed down some and told me she was getting a side stitch. I felt terrible for her because I know how hard it is to push through those, especially at the end of a race that already hurts like a 5K. Even despite the side stitch, she maintained a good pace and didn’t lose much off her overall time.

  • Mile 3 – 8:05

After we passed mile 3 we rounded a corner and it was a straight shot to the finish line. I told Dina that this is what she’s been practicing in her long runs and some easy runs… her strong and fast finishes! She amazed me by picking up the pace and sprinting ahead of me all the way to the finish line. I was so proud of her!

  • Final .1 – 6:51 pace!
  • Finish Time – 24:48 / 8:00 average pace

She came in exactly where she wanted, just under 25 minutes with an average pace of 8:00 per mile. After we crossed we got some water and reunited with our friends, and waited for some others to cross afterwards. Once they posted results we realized that many of our group members won age group awards (and one even won first overall for Women’s Masters!). I was happy and surprised to see that I also won first in my age group. This was one of my goals before turning 30- place in my age group before I enter a new one in a few months- so I was excited.

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We waited around a while for the awards ceremony. There were some timing issues so it was delayed a bit. Luckily by now the weather was beautiful. Nice and sunny and warm. I loved being out in the sunshine.

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After a tough couple of months, it felt really good to be out with some of the women who have been supporting me, and helping a great friend of mine reach her goal. It also made me want to run my own 5K soon! Off to do some research 🙂

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On New Years Day, my friends, family and I brought in 2016 with a 5K race! I really can’t think of any better way to kick off a brand new year! A bonus to this race was that it didn’t start until 11 AM, so we had time to sleep in a bit – which was nice because we were up until 2 AM at our friend’s house celebrating with a little too much food and quite a few drinks once all of our kids went to sleep 🙂

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Classy husband drinking champagne from the bottle 🙂

Even though we were tired, we got ourselves up and got ready to head out. When I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to do this race, I was surprised that he said he wanted to do it too. He’s been really wanting to get back into running more regularly and he thought this would be a great way to kick it off. He said he would push the boys in the stroller so I could race it.

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Going into this race, I didn’t expect to PR, but I did want to push myself to do my best. I hadn’t raced a 5K in a year and a half (shortly before I got pregnant), and that’s when I set my PR of 21:55.  I decided to do this race in place of my tempo run for the week, and I figured I’d finish somewhere in the 22-24 minute range based on my recent speedwork. I wanted to make sure to warm up a little beforehand, so after getting our bibs and making a quick bathroom stop, I ran about a mile and a half around the park to get myself ready to race. I got back to the starting line just as the race was supposed to start, said hi to a few friends, and went up toward the front.

The race started exactly at 11:00, and we were off! I spent the first minute or so trying to shake off my nerves. Then I made sure I wasn’t going too fast. I wanted to stay around 7:15-7:20, a pace that should feel hard but not too hard, to ensure I had enough leftover for the last two miles. My first mile came in and I felt good about it. I thought I could probably maintain that pace for the rest of the race.

  • Mile 1 – 7:14

And then I realized that maybe I couldn’t! I have ran this course before during a 4 mile race a few years back, but I had forgotten how parts of it were on rocks and dirt, and how it had some short but steep hills. I tried to maintain the pace I was running but ended up slowing a bit during mile 2. Since part of the course was out and back, I was able to see my friends and my husband with the boys, and that gave me a little boost that I needed.

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I was a little disappointed when my split for mile 2 came up. I was irritated at myself for probably starting too fast, but I tried to keep myself focused. In my speedwork and tempo runs lately I’ve been working on running fast while keeping my body and form controlled, as well as my breathing. This helped me stay as relaxed as possible.

  • Mile 2 – 7:30

During the last mile I started to feel the effects of the little sleep I got as well as the other poor choices I made the night before. But I gave myself a little pep talk and thought about how I have been practicing finishing strong during this training cycle – and how important that is physically and mentally. I picked it up as best as I could, even out-sprinting some people in the last stretch to the finish line.

  • Mile 3 – 7:22
  • Finish Time – 22:48 / 7:20 average pace

My first thoughts immediately after crossing the finish line were: “Ouch. So this is why I don’t race 5Ks very often. They hurt!” Yes, they do. I’m definitely more of a lover of slower, longer distance racing! But I was still VERY proud of myself for my finishing time and the fact that it was within a minute of my PR. Maybe on a different course, with better fueling and hydration I could have done better, but I truly gave it all that I had and I was happy with how I did.

My friend Cynthia came in about a minute after me, getting a HUGE new PR! Our friend Erin finished right after her. Once I caught my breath a little, I went back out on the course to see if I could find some other friends, along with my hubby who was running with Laura since she’s coming back from an injury and wanted to take it easy. Once I found them, we all ran/walked to the end, and we let Kevin get out of the stroller to run the last quarter mile or so. He crossed the finish line all by himself and was so proud!

It felt so good to start the new year in such a fun, active way with some people who I love!

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The icing on the cake was that I actually ended up winning first place in the 20-29 age group! One of my 30 before 30 goals was to place in my age group before I enter a new (and usually extremely competitive!) one, and I’m so happy I was able to do that!

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What a way to set the tone for a new year. 2016, I’m coming for you!

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Richmond Half Marathon

A year ago, I was 14 weeks pregnant and in Richmond to support many of my friends who were running the full marathon, half marathon and 8K. I wasn’t officially running a race, but I was there to support my friends and run with Amanda for the last 8 miles of her marathon. While I was there I fell in love with the Richmond Marathon races, and I started dreaming about running the half the next year. I knew I would only be about 6 months postpartum, so I figured I’d run it for fun as a way to get back into longer distance racing. That changed a bit once I started realizing how well my training was going. I was hitting awesome new paces in speedwork and even on long runs. I felt strong and ready to test myself. I decided it was time to get rid of my half marathon PR that was set way back in 2011 – 1:48:55. I started training for not only a PR, but I was hopeful for a finish around 1:45:00. I had no idea if I was dreaming too big, but I figured it was worth a shot.

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Kevin and I took a half day at work and headed down to Richmond around 1:00. We were hoping to miss Friday traffic and thankfully we did. We arrived by 2:30 and went straight to our hotel to check-in. We couldn’t get a hotel downtown because they all booked up really fast, so we stayed about 8 miles away near the airport. It ended up working out great though, because it was cheaper, we had a suite style room, and we were right next to our friends Stephen and Laura who also have two kids. Score!

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After unpacking and feeding Kyler, we headed out to the expo. I picked up bibs for myself and Laura, and we spent some time wandering around. I love checking out the expo before a race – it makes me really excited and gets me even more pumped up to run.

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One of my favorite parts of the expo was a huge wall that had all of the runners names on it. Can you find mine? 🙂

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After the expo we went straight to dinner to meet our friends. Many people recommended a place called Joe’s Inn, so our whole crew (6 adults and 5 kids) arrived right around 4:45 and we were ordering by 5:00. We have all learned from experience that eating early the night before race is very necessary! Plus it’s just better with all of our kids schedules and bedtimes. We had a delicious meal and some good beer, and left feeling fueled and relaxed!

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Once we were back in our hotel and starting to wind down for the night, Laura and I set out all our race stuff to make sure we didn’t forget anything and to take a photo of our ‘flat’ selves. We went back and forth on what to wear, since the forecast said it would be in the 30s-40s and a little windy. We decided on shorts with compression sleeves and long sleeve shirts. We also had old shirts that we were planning to wear and then throw away once the race started to keep warm.

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Once everything was ready to go and the kids were asleep, I went to bed shortly after. I think I was in bed by 9:45ish, but I woke up quite a bit throughout the night. Kyler woke up to eat around 2 a.m. and I was restless until my alarm went off at 5. I got out of bed feeling really nervous. I hadn’t run a race where I was putting a significant amount of pressure on myself in a LONG time- it had been over a year due to pregnancy and the initial postpartum period. I almost forgot what it felt like! I got myself all ready and tried to eat my usual pre-long run/race breakfast [peanut butter and honey toast] as best I could, but it was hard to get down thanks to my nervous tummy. I also drank some coffee, which is always part of my pre-race routine!

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The kids both woke up shortly after, so we all hung out for a while before Laura and I needed to leave. I nursed Kyler at 6:00 and then we headed out around 6:20. My hubby volunteered to stay behind with all four kids (two 3 year olds, a 10 month old and an almost 6 month old… brave guy!), while Laura’s husband dropped us off near the start. Thankfully, it was a quick ride into the city, and we were able to hop out of the car and into the lobby of the Marriott by the starting line. We waited in the warmth for a bathroom, then went to meet some ladies in our local Moms Run This Town group before we had to get in our corral. It was great to see familiar faces and helped ease some of the nerves!

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By this point it was around 7:15 and Laura, Cynthia, Erin and myself needed to get into our corral with wave B, which was scheduled to start at 7:32. We gave each other quick pep talks and then Laura and I moved up to be near the 1:45 pace group. We both hoped to finish around 1:45, but were not planning to run together since we really wanted to run our own races and had slightly different strategies. My plan was to run around 8:00/mile. I needed an 8:18 pace or less to PR (my PR from 2011 was 1:48:55). I knew an 8:00 pace would feel comfortable for a while but I was concerned about maintaining that. My goal was to keep around that pace for as long as I could to push myself and see what I could do. Since I didn’t eat my whole breakfast, I decided to eat a half pack of Honey Stingers to make sure I started the race fueled. I also threw off my extra shirt, and got myself mentally ready to run.

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The race began right at 7:32 and we were off. For the first mile or so I stuck close to the 1:45 group, but I quickly became annoyed by how many people were clustered around the pacer and felt the need to get away. Once I did I was able to settle into my own rhythm at a comfortable pace. I tried to hold myself back and stay around an 8:00 pace but it was hard. I felt great and I wanted to go with it. I wasn’t sure if I would regret it later but I really wanted to finish this race knowing I gave it my all, so I decided not to be a slave to that pace and instead go with what felt good.

  • Mile 1 – 7:55
  • Mile 2 – 7:44
  • Mile 3 – 7:52

I kept Laura in my sights for a while and then around mile 3 we ran side by side for a little bit. We didn’t want to talk very much because we were really focused on not wasting energy. She started picking up the pace and I backed off a little. I knew she was going to finish ahead of me and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I wanted to make sure that I ran my own race. I ate another half pack of Honey Stinger chews around the 30 minute mark and decided to continue with that, eating again at 1 hour and again and 1 hour 30 minutes.

  • Mile 4 – 7:49
  • Mile 5 – 7:56
  • Mile 6 – 7:54

I don’t have any pictures from the race itself because I didn’t want to expend any extra energy trying to mess with my phone, but shortly before the 6 mile mark we entered a park and it was gorgeous! I passed 10K in 48:50 (7:52 pace), which is actually faster than my current 10K PR from a few years ago. However, the park ended up taking a LOT out of me. Richmond is advertised as being a flat, fast race, and my experience running the last 8 miles of the marathon with Amanda last year verified that for me. What I didn’t get to experience last year was this park. It was hilly and the ground was made up of broken and cracked asphalt. I wasn’t expecting all the hills and they really broke my momentum in my stride and my breathing. My pace creeped up into the 8:00s during these miles, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to recover well from that extra effort I expended during that part. I lost sight of Laura ahead of me, and the uneven terrain was bothering me. I felt like I had to focus really hard on how I was landing which was distracting. I couldn’t wait to exit the park and get back on the regular city/neighborhood roads.

  • Mile 7 – 7:56
  • Mile 8 – 8:13

After we exited the park a little before mile 8, I spent the next couple of miles focused on getting back into my rhythm. It was hard. I did get my pace back down a little but it stayed above 8:00. I also ate some more Stingers which helped boost my energy some. Even though my pace started creeping up, it was still easy to judge if I was staying under my goal of 8:00 average pace since it was an even number. For example, I knew I needed to be at or under 1:12:00 at mile 9 to still come in around 1:45, and then 1:20:00 at mile 10.  I continued to meet these goals (beating my current 15K and 10 mile PRs in the process!), but the nice cushion I had built up was closing. I started to wonder if I’d be able to keep it up. I was feeling it and ready to be done.

  • Mile 9 – 8:05
  • Mile 10 – 8:09

As I worked on mile 11, I kept having flashbacks to running this part of the course with Amanda last year as she finished her marathon. It made me smile and took my mind off everything. My feet were hurting a bit in the shoes I had gotten on Tuesday – Brooks Adrenalines I have worn for years but just didn’t give them enough time before racing in them – and I could feel myself getting a nice blister. Around this time the 1:45 pace group passed me, and I immediately felt myself getting my second wind. I was NOT letting them get too far ahead of me. I also passed the Penn State cheering tent (my alma mater!) and that boosted my adrenaline as well when I yelled “We are!” to them and they said “PENN STATE!” back to me.

  • Mile 11 – 8:19
  • Mile 12 – 8:07

I knew I was going to come in very close to 1:45 based on my watch and the math I was doing, so I tried my best to keep the pacers in sight. I saw a sign that said “only 3 turns left to the finish” I knew I was going to get it if I could just maintain my pace. I finally made the final turn onto 5th street and I saw the most incredible view of the best downhill finish, and I literally lost my breath for a minute. It felt amazing to run down that hill, like I was actually flying. I heard Kevin’s voice off to the side but couldn’t look over because I was all teary eyed and trying not to fall.

  • Mile 13 – 7:43
  • Last .10 – 6:42

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I crossed the finish line in 1:44:33, which is an average pace of 7:58/mile. I burst into tears as soon as I stopped. I was so happy and couldn’t believe I had just ran 13.1 miles at a sub-8:00 pace. I walked through the finish chute and collected my awesome swag (medal, hat, blanket), and tried to find Laura. We finally connected on the bridge and excitedly told each other about both of our huge PRs. She had finished in 1:42:33, which is a 14 minute PR for her (!!!). We were so happy to see all of our hard work and training together pay off.

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Our families came across the bridge and found us in the post-race area, and shortly after that we found Cynthia. She also had a HUGE PR of 6 minutes, finishing in 1:51! It was such an awesome racing day for all of us – and extra special for us too because we all had babies in 2015. Training alone is hard enough, let alone with an infant AND while breastfeeding, but we all did it. I’m so proud of us!

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This is the first race in a LONG time (years!!) where I truly have no regrets. I’m confident that I gave it all that I had and I’m so happy!

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After showers and some food, we all headed out to a local brewpub to celebrate before heading back home. Beer and fries never tasted so delicious!

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When I first started running I never would have dreamed that I could run 13.1 miles at a 7:58 pace. My last half marathon PR was set back in 2011, before any babies, and was 4 1/2 minutes slower. It feels so good to be getting stronger and it blows my mind what can be accomplished with a lot of hard work both physically and mentally.

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Also, aside from an awesome race experience, I love the Richmond Marathon for all the swag you get! A nice fleece blanket, hat, medal and I love, love, love the shirt!

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I plan to take this week nice and easy, and then MARATHON TRAINING begins!! BRING IT ON!

Our Own Half Marathon

Last year I ran the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and in my recap I said it was probably my favorite half marathon to date. I was so excited to run it again this year along with many of my friends and running buddies. It was going to be my “comeback” half marathon 4 1/2 months after baby #2 and I couldn’t wait to see what I could do. My goal was to run it faster than I did last year at 8 weeks pregnant (1:56:20). I was motivated and ready!

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And then rumors of another government shutdown started happening, and I got nervous. When the government shutdown in 2013 due to budget issues at the end of the fiscal year (September 30th), the Wilson Bridge Half couldn’t happen because most of the course went through a national park. It was postponed to early November, and I had to defer to the following year since the make-up date conflicted with the OBX Marathon. It was disappointing, but I was thankful that I was able to defer my registration and run it in 2014.

This year the government didn’t end up shutting down since they were able to reach an agreement in time, but I couldn’t really breathe a sigh of relief yet because a bigger problem was heading our way: Hurricane Joaquin. The storm turned into a category 4 hurricane and apparently the WWBH had to make a decision whether to hold their race or not, since the expo was coming up soon. They decided to cancel on Friday due to the forecast of heavy rain and high winds on a course that’s prone to flooding. I understood their decision – even as the forecast started looking better as the hurricane went to sea. I even understood their no refund policy, since most of the funds had already been spent on the race. What upset me the most, however, was that they were not rescheduling to a new date or offering any kind of deferral. They only offered 25% off next year’s registration to people who were supposed to run this year.

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My friends and I were more than a little upset and angry by this. It honestly felt like a slap in the face, especially since I loved this race so much last year. Hey – come register for this $100 race and when it’s cancelled, spend an additional $75 to run it the following year! $175 for a half marathon – no thank you. Oh, and you have to come to us (an hour away) to get your medal, bib and t-shirt. Really?! In order to channel our disappointment we decided to take action and run anyway. My local Moms Run This Town group set up our very own half marathon “race” for all of us that were supposed to run, and some others who wanted to be a part of it. It started as one person’s idea to run a shadow race on Sunday morning, and it took off in a big way! Once we starting talking and planning I got super excited. I was thankful that it gave me something to look forward to after all! On Saturday night I went to my friend Laura’s house and we made our own homemade bibs with construction paper, Sharpies and tape. We were very proud of our work 🙂

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I got my racing gear all ready and laid it out. I felt like I was actually running a real race, and I loved it! I decided I was still going to go for my goal of running faster than I did at last year’s WWBH while 8 weeks pregnant – which was 1:56:20. I didn’t know if it was realistic at 4 1/2 months post-partum, but my running has been going really well so I wanted to try.

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Some other people and running groups from this area also did their own replacement race, but they ran the actual course from Mount Vernon to National Harbor. My group decided to do our race on an out-and-back running path that we were familiar with so that our ladies could easily come out to participate or to support us. We had a big group- some that were running 13.1, some that were running more or less, some that just came out to cheer… it was awesome! Almost everyone also contributed a treat or a drink for our own “finish line” celebration. So exciting!

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Some of our big group… not everyone made it in time for the photo!

Some of the registered WWBH runners

Some of the registered WWBH runners

The weather was chilly and it was raining lightly with a little wind, but it was definitely not the hurricane that was originally predicted.  We all started the run together a little after 7 AM, and quickly settled into our own paces and little groups. I ran with my friend Cynthia who was interested in running a similar pace. Laura went ahead to try to get herself the PR she wanted at the WWBH, and everyone else spread out. It was comforting to know we were all out on the same path running together at the same time, even if we weren’t all physically together.

The first few miles flew by as Cynthia and I chatted. She was not originally going to run the WWBH and was only scheduled to run 12 miles, but decided to run all 13.1 instead. I was very thankful for her company, especially when the rain and wind picked up a bit. We knew there would be some of our ladies around mile 5 who had set up their own water and cheering station for us. It was so nice seeing them and knowing they came out for us on this rainy day! We also started seeing some of the faster runners turning around to head back, including Laura who was killing it! I was so excited for her and ready to turn around myself.

Once we turned around at mile 6.55 I felt a lot better. The rain was no longer falling right into my eyes, the wind was at my back, and the rolling hills were more downhill than uphill. Plus, we got to see our friends again as we passed by the table on our way back!

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My stomach started hurting a little bit between mile 9 and 10. I told Cynthia I may have to slow my pace a little and she didn’t mind. We started running around a 9:08 pace until about mile 12. I saw that we had about 10 minutes left to get in around 1:56, which was my goal and would also be a half marathon PR for Cynthia! I told my stomach to quiet down and we finished strong. I almost fell over when I saw that the ladies in my group had made their own finish line for us to run through. Sweetest thing ever!

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After we crossed we checked in with the other runners who had finished, including Laura who had a HUGE 10 minute PR, running a 1:47! We also watched more runners come through and cheered them on. There was a whole spread set up for us that included coffee, water, bananas, pumpkin muffins (made by me!), cookies, trail mix, mimosas (!!) and more. It was so unbelievably nice!

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Mini mimosas!

Mini mimosas!

Here are our splits:

  • Mile 1 – 9:05
  • Mile 2 – 8:41
  • Mile 3 – 8:41
  • Mile 4 – 8:37
  • Mile 5 – 8:47
  • Mile 6 – 8:52
  • Mile 7 – 8:57
  • Mile 8 -8:49
  • Mile 9 – 8:55
  • Mile 10 – 9:09
  • Mile 11 – 9:08
  • Mile 12 – 9:08
  • Mile 13 – 8:40
  • Last .10 – 7:45 pace

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Finish Time – 1:56:13, 8:52 average pace

I feel so lucky to know and be a part of this amazing and supportive group of women. Many of us met our goals and we really made the best out of the situation. Two of my friends got new PRs, some were running 13.1 for the first time, and I met my goal of running faster than I did last year at 8 weeks pregnant (by 7 seconds, whew!). I’m so proud of all of us! Who needs the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon? Not us 🙂

BAMRs = Bad-Ass Mother Runners!

BAMRs = Bad-Ass Mother Runners!