Monthly Archives: April 2016

BibSwitch, Bandits and The Struggle

Committing to a race is a big deal.  You train, you schedule, you pay (sometimes a lot) and you look forward to it.  Then life gets in the way.  For one bummer reason or another you aren’t able to use the bib you trained and paid for.  You’re also unable to sell, give or donate that bib to someone else.  It’s an issue we’ve all faced and BibSwitch is trying to make a change.

In addition to runners who can’t toe the line on race day with a bib they’ve paid for, there are those who just help themselves to the race course.  Called bandits, these are people who haven’t registered (or paid) for a race but run it anyway.  They use the race’s course marshals, water stops, timing devices, finish line treats and might even help themselves to a finisher medal.  This is definitely stealing.  I don’t know why someone would ever do this, just like the people who cheat to qualify for Boston, and it’s sad.  Maybe if there was a way for runners to transfer bibs they’re not going to use to someone who would otherwise bandit, everyone would be happy at the end of the day.

So there are people who would love to pass their unused spot in a race to someone and can’t.  There are people who want to run the race and can’t register so they bandit.  There has to be an answer.   Bibswitch is trying to work with race directors to come up with a much-needed solution to this problem.  Life happens.  If you can’t make it to the baseball game, you can give your tickets to a friend.  The tickets and seats are paid for.  You have the right to do with them as you please (mostly).  You essentially own them.

When you register for a race, you own a place at the event.  Why, then, can you not do what you want with that spot?  Race directors often point out the safety issues related to not knowing a runner’s actual identity.  What if they get injured?  What if you pass your bib to someone in a different age group?  What if they win an award but it’s in your name?  Having an anomalous race result could end up in you being accused of cheating.  The myriad issues are complex.

I see it all the time on social media.  “Can’t run this weekend.  Who wants my bib?”  I understand both sides of the issue.  Sometimes I think about grabbing one of those bibs for a surprise race weekend.  I never have.  I never will.  But someone should.  That paid entry deserves to be used.  What the right answer for both race directors, volunteers, medical staff and race participants exactly is I’m not sure.  I am glad that BibSwitch is trying to sort out a winning solution on behalf of all of us who race.

Meredith

What do you think of BibSwitch?  Bandits?

***This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own***

Coastal Delaware Half Marathon

My month of racing wrapped up as I finished my four straight weeks of ‘racing’ with the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon.  It was nice to wrap up the first week of my new training cycle by leading the 1:55 pace group of awesome runners to both hit new PRs and follow their coach’s orders by taking it easy.coastal delaware half marathon

I stayed Saturday night in Bethany Beach, a roughly 10 minute drive from the Start area.  Race morning was chilly and breezy but my car was warm for the quick and easy drive.  The Coastal Delaware Half Marathon pace team was rounding up at 6:15 and I arrived with plenty of time to spare.  We snapped a group photo then those of us waiting for the half to start at 7:30 headed back to our nice warm cars for a while.  When the marathon took off at 7, I downed a banana and a granola bar then hit the long row of Port-a-Potties that had quickly moving lines for a final pre-race go before the 9k runners started prepping for their 8am event.

I was in Corral 1 as we were given the go at 7:35am.  The course took us immediately through a quick u-turn then into the out-and-backs northbound portion into a 10-12 mile an hour headwind.  The wind wasn’t bad considering what I usually have here in Virginia Beach and a small group settled in with me by Mile 2.  The first water stop was at Mile 3, stocked with water and Gatorade.  We continued north to another water stop at Mile 5.5 before turning onto the soft gravel trail portion of the race where we hit 10k, made our out-and-back u-turn southward, ran past the halfway point and and entered road again past the Mile 7 mark.  I expected there to be some water coming up quickly at that point but there wasn’t.

The next stop was all the way at Mile 8.5 and I wasn’t the only one who suffered.  One of the guys who had been sticking with me, aiming to break 1:55, got a nasty cramp around 7.5.  Since we were solidly ahead I sent everyone else on while I hung with him to stretch for a second.  At that point we also got held up in a politeness battle with a car trying to cut across the course. Once the ‘you go’/’no, you go’ ended with some help from the awesome police department we got back on track.

Continuing onto the course’s westerly loop for Miles 10 and 11, we were dead on to hit 1:54 and change.  Two little jogs had us through Mile 11 as we were right on track heading into the final 2400M.  Somewhere in those last miles we picked up almost an extra 200M and I ended up coastal delaware half marathoncheering him on as he surged for a strong finish as I rolled alone in a few seconds late.  As I crossed the line four of my group were waiting for me and it was an honor to shake their hands and hear their ‘thank you’s.  Several hit new PRs way under 1:55, from 1:52 to 1:54.

We all received stained glass medals, bottled waters and granola bars before heading to the post race beach party and grabbing mimosas.  I wish I could have stayed for the post-race party, it looked like it would have been a great time.  Instead, I grabbed the constantly running free shuttle bus back to the parking lot, about 3/4 of a mile away, so I could shower and get on the road.

The course is flat and fast, a good opportunity to PR and/or BQ as long as you don’t mind a complete lack of crowd support or a missing water station.  Held in the town’s off season, there aren’t many spectators out there supporting until the finish line.  If you want good swag though, the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon’s is fantastic.  Not only do you get gender specific tech t-shirts, a medal with stained glass and a post race beach party, this year we also received a Tervis brand race logo tumbler.  I love my Tervis gear and was so happy.  The gift might be different next year but this well organized event is definitely a race worth checking out.

Meredith

Have you run in Delaware?  How do you use Tervis gear and do you love it?

New Training Cycle + I’m Sore

My new training cycle is in full gear.  Even though I’ve been ‘racing’ all month, the events have been more workouts than actual races as I’ve been slowly building my mileage back up.  Since my off season three weeks ago, I had weekly miles of 12, 16 and 20.  My goal this week was to hit 25 miles and add in some tougher sessions.

Monday was a rest day but I got things going with Tuesday’s Crossfit and the first official strength training workout of my new training cycle.  I definitely missed lifting weights while prepping for and recovering my marathon so it felt great to be back in the gym.  The WOD included back squats, front squats, kettle bell swings, burpees and overhead squats.  I dropped the weight for all exercises way down knowing I’d be sore as heck the next day and had fun.

Nailed it!  Wednesday morning I was pretty darn sore.  My quads were very unhappy, my shoulders mildly unhappy and luckily the rest of me was mostly neutral.  I did an easy four mile run that afternoon at 8:30 pace to shake out then spent twenty minutes with my best foam roller friend.  My legs felt much less sore Thursday morning but were still a bit touchy.

I debated swapping my schedule around since Thursday was supposed to be the second tougher workout of my new training cycle.  Speed work didn’t sound super appealing but I decided against moving the workout and hit the track for a better than I thought session.  Not that I was expecting much with my quads still less than 100%.  I almost forgot how much fun running those two curves can be.new training cycle

This morning I hit the gym again for strength training but focused on upper body to give my legs a breather.  Tomorrow is a rest day while I travel to Delaware for this week’s long run at the Coastal Delaware Half Marathon.  I’ll be pacing the 1:55 group and look forward to picking up an extra mile or two before the race to hit my 25 for the week.

All new training cycle soreness aside, it feels good to be getting back into a groove.  I know I’ll regain my fitness quickly and have a long summer to work on becoming a better athlete for my fall races.

Meredith

How do you deal with soreness?  Have you started a new training cycle?

2016 ODU Big Blue 5k Recap

Meredith’s Month of Racing rolled on this past weekend with the ODU Big Blue 5k.  In it’s second year, J&A put together another well organized event on a just about perfect day.  With only one speed work session behind me before race day I didn’t have very high expectations heading in but still wanted to get a good workout and possibly an age group award.

With a 10:30 start, this is a great race for those who like to sleep in.  I had an easy morning and after a 25 minute drive to ODU’s campus slid right into the free garage race parking.  It was filling up quickly, making me glad to arrive 90 minutes before go time.  Race day packet pick-up was crowded but moving quickly and there were plenty of Port-a-Potties in the start area.  With my number in tow, I took my gender specific tech shirt (which I easily swapped out for a men’s to give to Doug since I knew I’d never wear it) back to the car, rearranged some things then headed back to the start for some warm up.

A 1k kids race was going on making it was tough to find a good spot to run more than a few meters but eventually I managed to get in a little over a mile.  The starting corrals line up down a odu big blue 5knarrow street though the race’s small size prevent them from feeling very cramped.  The start was right on time and the day was warmer than I had expected.  Without any real goal for the race my watch jumping all over the place (I was definitely not running a 4:47 or 9:22 mile at any point) didn’t bother me too much as I settled in.

A quick right turn after the start lead to wider roads and more running room.  I got into a groove that let me know I was going to get that workout I wanted taken care of but nothing more.  The super flat ODU Big Blue 5k course weaves through ODU’s campus on roads of various width and some wide clean sidewalks.  In the end, there were a few more turns than I would have liked and the about face around halfway definitely cost me a few seconds.  But it did for everyone else, too.  There was minimal crowd support on a Saturday morning college campus except for at the well staffed water stop.odu big blue 5k

One of the race’s biggest highlights is finishing on the 50-yard line.  It was neat but be ready for the surface change.  The field is bouncy and also not as flat as I expected, kind of bumpy in fact.  I cruised through the finish feeling pretty good about the run I had.  I ran 22:19 and was 7th female, the 77th finisher overall and second in my age group.  I think the late start messed with me a bit since I’m a get-up-and-goer.  My legs could have performed better and my head just wasn’t in it but I successfully accomplished what I wanted for the day.  A solid workout and a bonus age group award.

In the finish chute I received an ODU Big Blue 5k bottle opener medal and a bottled water before heading to the post race party.  The beautiful day was a perfect chance to enjoy my three complimentary beers and chicken burrito from Moe’s.  There were also food trucks, massive Jenga games and multiple sets of cornhole boards for everyone to enjoy.  Another well organized event put on by J&A Racing, this is a fun, family friendly race that I really enjoyed.

Meredith

Want more?  Check out my review on BibRave.

 

Fit Friday: Get Back into Running

Getting back into running can be tough.  Whether it’s after an injury, planned off season, a pregnancy/infant or another life circumstance that’s pulled you away from your routine, finding the drive to start again is often challenging.  During my recent off season I was burned out.  I back into runningstruggled to get excited about heading out in the wind and cold for another training run.  Here are the things that helped me get excited to run again and will help you get back into running, too.

Find a run buddy.  When you’re in a rough spot and searching for a good reason to get back into running, a friend can be  your best bet.  Not only will they provide accountability for your workouts, they’ll keep you laughing and having fun the whole way through.  If you don’t already have a BRF (best runner friend), you can hook up with your local running club and find lots of them.

Set reasonable expectations.  It only takes two weeks to lose some fitness.  Be sure to remember that when you start training again.  You’ll get back to where you were before and possibly even further with some hard work but it’s not going to happen on day three.  Limit your speed work in the first few weeks, focusing instead on rebuilding your cardiovascular base and strength.  Significantly reduce weekly mileage in the beginning then add a few each week as get back into runninglong as you feel good.  Being armed with the knowledge that you’re not the same athlete you were before your time off is the best weapon you can have in your battle to get back into running.

Register for a race.  Races are fun.  Finishing a low pressure, fun 5k is a great way to remember how much you enjoy running.  The potential bling isn’t bad either.  Grab your new run buddy, remember to set a reasonable goal and race your way back into running with a smile.

Register for another race.  Now that you have a fun run under your belt and are pumped to hit the road training, throw those reasonable expectations and goals out.  Find another race in 8-12 weeks and set a harder goal for it.  Giving yourself something to work for will help give your workouts structure, keep you on a schedule and earn you another medal to show off.

Use these tips and like me, you’ll be exciting to run again in no time.

Meredith

How do you get back into running?  Why do you take long breaks?

Rock the Parkway 2016

Rock the Parkway was the second race in my Month of Racing.  With it I knocked off Missouri for state #19 and officially started my new training cycle.  I flew out with plenty of time to adjust afterwards feeling ready to rock this first long training run.  My plan was to run easy, maybe hang with the 1:45 pacer and have some fun.

After visiting the excellent World War I museum on Thursday, I picked up my number, timing chip and tech shirt at the small expo.  I really liked not having a bunch of things I didn’t want thrust upon me by a well meaning sponsor.  Friday was a day of relaxing except for hunting down morerock the parkway clothing.  My race plan before leaving home was good.  My packing was not.  The weather forecast prior to flying out claimed temperatures would be in the low 50s for race time.  Friday morning the report had changed to let me know Rock the Parkway would be starting with temps closer to 25.  That sent me on a hunt for long tights that ended in picky shopper failure.  I opted for some stockings even though it would be the first time I ever wore them with capri tights and my compression socks.

After the shopping I might have enjoyed a few too many cocktails with my big dinner but slept decently until my race day wake up call.  I felt pretty good pulling on layers, lashing my timing chip to my shoe, downing a bunch of water and a buttered bagel before heading out into the cold.  A short drive away was plenty of free race parking where I stayed on the heated front seat for about 15 minutes.  At 7am it was an easy walk to the staging area for the race’s 7:30 start time.  A good band was playing and there were lots of Port-a-Potties lined up.  The people lined up, however, were a mess.  It was it was pretty much the most polite free-for-all I’d ever been a part of and somehow I managed to get in and out quickly.

I stretched out a little, planning to use the first mile as my warm up, then weaseled my way into the packed corral for Wave A.  We went off right on time when I noticed no national anthem had been played.  Oh, well.  That first warm-up mile was a bit crowded and after it I had to stop to tighten my shoe laces.  Running room increased after that as the roads went from two lanes wide to four.  It was after climbing the first of many gentle hills through Mile 2 I realized I had definitely had too many cocktails Friday evening.  My legs felt great after my off season.  The rest of me, mediocre at best.

Essentially an out-and-back affair, Rock the Parkway covers a scenic course that climbs for the first few miles, levels out in the middle (mostly) and finishes downhill.  We definitely climbed through the first 5k but the rolling hills didn’t seem too bad.  Things leveled out a bit around Mile 3 as I walked through each of the well stocked, well staffed water stops knowing I needed the fluid.  Mile 5 was my favorite because the whole neighborhood got involved.  There was a beer stop (I skipped), music blasting and some great signs that definitely made me smile.  With crowd support scattered, this was the perfect place for an almost middle of the race pick-me-up.  After cruising uphill through a few turns and Miles 5, 6 and 7 the course began to head back home.  At Mile 8 I grabbed a GU then rolled on through the next two miles that included a repeat of those gentle hills in 4 and 5.

I enjoyed the out-and-back course because it didn’t feel like it.  You ran on both sides of a road that has a massive grassy median and got to see lots of the peaceful neighborhoods.  Volunteers blocking streets and police officers preventing runners from being crashed into did an excellent job of keeping the course clear while providing a good cheer every now and then.  rock the parkwayWalking through a water stop at Mile 10 my legs started to remind me this was the first hard workout I’d had in a while.  The first half’s rolling hills had caught up to me and I took it easy for the last 5k.  A nice downhill for Miles 11 and 12 was exactly what my out of race shape body needed.  I crossed the line in 1:49.15 feeling good about my Rock the Parkway training run.  It was cold, hillier than expected and I had been dehydrated until taking those leisurely strolls through all seven water stops.  I grabbed a bottled water, had my timing chip cut off by a volunteer and received a massive medal.  Because of the cooler temperatures and needing to catch a flight, I skipped the post race party and used a line-less Port-a-Potty before quickly heading back to my heated seat in the car.

Back at my hotel, I was surprised looking at my Garmin report.  There had definitely been hills to cover but I didn’t really think much of them.  Expecting to see around 300 feet of elevation gained the computer screen showed me just under 500!  The last time I picked that much it had been a beat down.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I’d just taken close to a month of an off season and was running without any pressure.  All in all Rock the Parkway was a fun race with a challenging but manageable course that provided the workout I needed.  Up this weekend is Race #3 of my Month of Racing, the ODU Big Blue 5k.  I’ll be better hydrated for this shorter, flatter race and seeing what I’ve got with little training to back it up.

Meredith

Have you ever raced dehydrated?  How do you tackle training races?

Hot Chocolate 15k Philly + PR

Last weekend I paced the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philadelphia.  Along with two runners who stuck with me for the entire race, I set a 15k PR.  Because it was the first time I’ve ever run 15k.  I’m sure I could have done it faster but not sure I could have had more fun.  I breezed through packet pick-up Friday afternoon and easily swapped my race jacket for a bigger size to give to my mom.  I was surprised with the quality and impressed.  Then it was home for pre-race pizza and an early night.hot chocolate 15k

Hot Chocolate 15k day began at 5:30am with some plain cereal and a bottle of water.  The morning was chilly with rain predicted from 6 to 10am.  The exact hours I and thousands of others would be outside gathering, preparing to run, actually running, collecting my goodies and meandering back to warm, dry cars.  I arrived around 6:20 and found a great (free!) parking spot.  I definitely recommend getting there early.  Then I collected my pacing gear (sign, shirt and complimentary 2XU compression sleeves) as it began to rain, took a pacer group photo and went back to the dry car to wait for the 8am start time.

Gear check seemed to be moving smoothly and when I went back to the start at 7:45 (still raining) the Port-a-Potty lines were moving nicely.  I made my way to Corral K and chatted away until we started right on time with 3 minutes between corrals.  With such large gaps traffic was minimal throughout the race which surprised me because I had expected the ‘open’ runners that started behind us to come weaving through at any moment.  They never presented a problem.

There weren’t as many chocolate stops at the Hot Chocolate 15k as I had expected with the first on course treat being strawberry marshmallows at water stop 1 around the 3 mile mark.  The rain had let up, or I didn’t notice it anymore, making for an actually decent day.  Water stops were also at Miles 5, 7 and right around 8.5.  There was also a second marshmallow station and each stop had both water and Gatorade with the second stop featuring Nuun hydration.  Near each water stop were banks of potties with mostly short lines.

Crowd support is almost completely absent except for the first mile and the finish but the out-and-back feature makes it easy for your fellow participants to be your cheer squad as you passed them in the opposite direction.  I did plenty!  The course is flat with some very soft hot chocolate 15kcurves and plenty of running room for the most part.  Time flew by with the two wonderful ladies who stuck by me for 14 of the 15k before taking off to rock the finish line.

After i crossed the finish at 1:32.25, I noticed the rain had picked back up, got my big medal, snapped a few photos with my fellow pacers, grabbed a bottled water and headed off the collect my Hot Chocolate 15k filled mug.  It turned out to be a perfect day for hot chocolate that warmed me from my soaked feet up.  Since I was handling that bottle of water, I quickly dipped my marshmallow in the liquid chocolate and ate it while beginning my trek back to the car.  With it still raining, my liquid was rock solid by the time I got there but I still got to enjoy the snacks.

This race did exactly what I needed it to.  Kicked off my month of racing with a great day that got my mojo back and made me ready to run again.  I had a blast setting a 15k PR on the simple course with some awesome runners.  If you’re looking for a competitive, scenic course this might not be the race for you but if you want to get there for some fun and a good excuse to eat lots of sugar,  Hot Chocolate 15k/5k might just be the one for you.

Meredith

Have you run a Hot Chocolate 15k event?  What did you like best?

A Month of Racing + Get Ready

I’m running a race five of the next six weekends and that makes April 2016 officially the ‘Month of Racing’ for me.  I’ve never run an event four weekends in a row and am looking forward to the repeated race environment exposure to get my head back in line for a long summer of training after I lost some of my motivation during these past two weeks of off season.

Here’s what my Month of Racing looks like and how I plan to tackle it.

2 April – Hot Chocolate 15k Philadelphia – I’ll be kicking off my Month of Racing in my hometown with the 10 min group.  A great way to get back to running more an three miles, the easy pacing month of racingspeed should be lots of fun and not much else.  I want to nail the pace for this one and get my group across the finish 10 seconds ahead of time.

9 April – Rock the Parkway in Kansas City, MS (State 19) – This one will be a long easy run with no pressure.  I might actually run with the 1:45 pacer just to keep me honest by making sure I don’t go overboard, or hard, as I continue my play and off season.

16 April – ODU Big Blue 5k – Without any speed work on the schedule between today and this run, it’s going to be a ‘let’s see what happens without any speed work 5k’ run.  I’ll push this one hard to see how I’m faring after a relaxing month post marathon debut.

24 April – Coastal Delaware Half Marathon – Pacing 1:55 group here.  A little mileage build for the week but this one will focus on fun.  I hope to have the opportunity to help lots of people break the two hour mark and earn new PRs.

7 May – EquiKids Cross Country 5k – I love volunteering here every week and love this race just as much.  It’s one of my favorites but I’m not sure what to expect performance wise this far out.  Last year my legs were fried and the weather was hot so in spite of lacking serious training before it in 2016, I think I can do well.

It’s going to be a busy spring but I’m looking forward to lots of running fun.  Hopefully I’ll see you sometime during my Month of Racing and you’ll enjoy all of the reviews that come after.

Meredith

What are you running in April?  Will you write reviews?