Tag Archives: 50 states

Run the Bluegrass + April Plans

March was a great running month and April kicked off in a similar fashion.  I tackled state number 24, Kentucky, with Run the Bluegrass on 1 April.  I hadn’t been doing much training for it after One City on 11 March but headed to the Start with plans to just have fun.

After a shorter than usual warm-up, I was ready to tackle the very hilly course.  My legs were fresh but I could tell I wasn’t in peak performance shape.  My goal was to run around a 1:48, taking things easy and enjoying the scenery.  Things started with an almost immediate climb and I knew I was in for a tough workout.  The hills kept on coming, up-down-up-down, without any flat stretches in sight.  I stuck with the 1:45 pacers until walking leisurely through a water stop around Mile 5.

After falling back from the 1:45 pacers, I decided to take things easy.  I actually looked around at the beautiful scenery and enjoyed the beat down I was getting.  It’s clear I don’t live somewhere that can adequately prepare you for big, hilly courses.  By Mile 8 my hamstrings and glutes were grumpy which was great since Mile 9 is the course’s toughest.  I took a walk breaks at all second half water stops and slowed down to check to out a few overlooks. 

I powered up and down more hills in the last 5k.  Aside from a little moaning and groaning from my glutes and hamstrings my body felt great as I run the bluegrasscollected my big medal.  It was by far my inconsistent half marathon ever but I had a great time and felt good crossing the finish in 1:47.11, 12 in my age group.  I was really happy with my performance on out of race shape legs on a very challenging course.

The rest of April is full of training.  I have one more race, the ODU Big Blue 5k, on the 15th but otherwise I’ll just be grinding away.  With lots of time before my next goal race, Smuttynose Half, I’m looking forward to a few weeks of 30-35 miles with loads of play time.

Meredith

Is Run the Bluegrass on your list?  What’s on tap for April?

Monumental Half Marathon

This weekend I checked off State #24 by finishing the Monumental Half Marathon.  With no idea how my run would go, I went out to have fun and check in on my fitness.  I arrived Thursday to hit the expo, explored the city Friday and was ready to go by Saturday morning.

Monumental Half Marathon race morning was crisp and clear if a little chilly at the start.  Since my hotel was only about a half mile from the Start/Finish area, I skipped gear check and lined up next to my corral after a one mile warm up.  I say ‘next to my corral’ because I was.  They were extremely crowded and I couldn’t get inside the fence until the runners in front of me started moving forward.

That traffic continued for a little more than the first mile.  I was seeded in Corral B, 1:45 and under expected finish times but found that at 1:38 pace I was passing an awful lot of people very quickly.  Including walkers and joggers.  Hopefully there will be bigger divisions or more corrals to eliminate this in following years.  Several other runners and I spent time running on monumental half marathonsidewalks until the roads opened up after the Mile 2 marker.

There was no timing mat at 5k (22:40) but I felt OK.  My pace had been all over the place due to the traffic and I still had no rhythm.  My legs and lungs felt good with a finally steady pace after a quick walk for water at Mile 7.  Shortly after that my calves starting getting grumpy.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working on stretching both them and my Achilles and I think the longer fibers aren’t strong enough to handle that much work for over 90 minutes yet.

With chatty calves I came through another water stop just past Mile 10 in about 1:15 and I set my goal to come in under 1:40.  I needed those two minutes of breathing room with less than 5k to go when I took a break to shake my calves out.  The last three miles I tried to slow my pace down.  Unfortunately, I was stuck in a move fast groove.  I took a final calf shake out walk at the Mile 11 mark.  An easy jog through that mile lead to a strong Mile 12.  I crossed the finish in 1:39.49/13.2 with very touchy calves.

I was happy with my race and to learn my fitness is still solid.  My walk was a bit ginger while picking up my medal, bottled water, chocolate milk, a new cap and lots of snacks.  The morning had turned out perfectly for my short cruise back to the hotel.  The Monumental Half Marathon was a great experience.  It’s a flat and fast course with good organization, course support and swag.

Meredith

How many states have you run in?  What’s the next one?

Mutt Masquerade 5k + Volunteering

This past weekend was filled with racing.  Volunteering at a race, running a race and getting ready for a race.  Friday I spent the afternoon volunteering at the Wicked 10k expo, Saturday I completed my last long-ish run before the Monumental Half and Sunday I raced the Mutt Masquerade 5k.

I wrote about the value of pitching in a mutt masqueradehelping at a race last week.  My time at the expo Friday did not disappoint.  Stationed at t-shirt exchange I saw tons of friends, met new runners and, since the shirts ran small, helped lots of people out.  Here I am hanging out with some of my good friends who are J&A Racing Ambassadors.

Saturday morning I ran my last big workout before I tackle state #24, Indiana.  The Monumental Half is a fast and flat course I’m feeling halfway prepared for.  I’m not in peak shape by any means but my legs are feeling good.  My last two long workouts were both very good and I’m looking forward to a solid performance.

Sunday morning the whole house packed up to hit the boardwalk for Virginia Beach SPCA’s Mutt Masquerade.  A morning filled with adorable dressed up dogs and lots of sunshine, it was lots of fun.  My legs were tired from Saturday’s finish fast long run and I didn’t mutt masqueradehave high expectations.  After a mile warm up, I lined up in the front pack of runners.  I took off, settled in to a comfortable pace for the out and back course and had some fun.  mutt masquerade

On the outbound side I realized my right shoe was tied too tight (still figuring out the new shoes).  My ankle was bothering me and an injury however slight was last on my list.  I decided to stop to fix it when I could hear my funky gait on the cement.  Passing all of the wagging tails on my return trip really made the race enjoyable.  Not one of my best performances after having to tie a shoe midway through, I finished second female overall (22:54) and won my age group.

Meredith

Do you run with your dog?  Would you do the Mutt Masquerade?

 

Goal Race Half Marathon Weekend

Well, it’s here.  My fall goal race in State #22, New York, the Wineglass Half Marathon.  The last week hasn’t been ideal for prepping but I’ve done all I can and am hoping for the best.  After a messy 10k last Saturday I’ve been getting plenty of rest, fluids and salt water air.  As a result, the congestion in my chest has clearly up considerably.goal race

Thanks to stronger lungs, my final workouts were solid.  I had legs that were fresh and fast for a track session Monday and a short tempo run Wednesday.  Both left me feeling as ready to race as I can and I’m ready to go.

My only concern is Race Day weather.  It’s looking cool (40s) with potential rain.  I haven’t had the chance to run in any temperatures under 60 since last spring and am curious if the sudden influx of cold, damp air will play a part in my performance.  Luckily I typically do much better in cooler temperatures.

My goal is to run an even split though ideally I’d like to finish strong with a negative one.  My perfect finish time would be somewhere between 1:35 and 1:35.30, averaging 7:16 miles.  With my nerves about the weather, some lingering sinus issues and an unfamiliar course, I’ll be ecstatic just to beat my current 1:37 PR.

Meredith

What’s your goal race this fall?  Are you hoping to PR?

Morgantown Marathon/Thirteener (State 21)

This weekend I made my way up to Morgantown, West Virginia to take part in their second annual Morgantown Marathon and half marathon, the Morgantown Thirteener.

It was a pretty drive through the mountains to get there and I went directly to the expo.  It was small but nice with friendly and helpful volunteers.  I picked up my number, a race themed long sleeve tech shirt along with a few other race themed goodies including West Virginia Lottery scratchers off of which I won $1!  Free money!  Thanks, Morgantown.  After the expo, I was off to my hotel for a nap before dinner.

After dinner I got ready for race day, checked the forecast one more time and settled in with a little college football.  The weather guessers had been calling for 100% rain all day Saturday and Sunday but no rain happened until about 2am Sunday morning.  It was quite the downpour as I steeled myself for a wet race and fell back asleep.morgantown marathon

I woke up race morning to find the day had broken dry.  Yay!  There was no parking at the Start so I took breakfast with me to the shuttle.  A short ride later we arrived at the race.  I picked up my pace sign, easily checked my gear and warmed up.  There was plenty of room to run in the Coliseum parking lot which was great for those of us who didn’t know the area.  A quick moving line had me through the Port-a-Potties and lined up in no time.

We went off right as scheduled at 7am on the cloudy, slightly humid morning.  After a little bit of traffic I settled right in with a small group.  We hit the first three miles right on track, walked through a well stocked water stop and rolled on.  A few runners dropped back as the hills started to take a toll around the halfway point.  A big out-and-back loop, the course is great for spectators.  I had some new runners with me as we covered the hills in reverse toward the finish.  At Mile 9 a few with me were aiming for PRs and two were first time half marathoners.  I walked through the next water stop where the group broke up.

At Mile 11 I was running alone as I had been most of the race.  Some of my buddies had fallen back while two others had taken off.  I hit the Mile 12 mark with 12.05 and 1:49.30 on my watch and was shocked when I saw the Mile 13 marker.  There was still a ways to go.  I thought I had morgantown marathonplenty of time to hit my goal of 1:59.50 but I was wrong.  Since I thought I had time to spare, I slowed to encourage a struggling runner in those last 800M and felt bad that by no fault of our own she wouldn’t break that 2 hour mark.  I crossed the line at 2:00.22 with 13.31 on my watch.  It was disheartening.

I still managed to help several people hit PRs and was very proud of the first timers who came through shortly after I did.  The Morgantown Marathon and Thirteener were well organized with solid swag.  Rolling hills accounted for roughly 511 feet of elevation gain over the 13.1+ mile course.  They weren’t too much of a factor for the half though they’re supposed to be bigger and meaner over the 26.2 mile course.  It was a solid last long run before my goal race and I definitely had a good time.

Meredith

Would you run the Morgantown Marathon?  Where are you racing this fall?

Getting Ready for My Races

My Races are here!  For the next three weekends I will be in racing in three different states at two distances and hoping for a pair of PRs.  Things kick off Sunday with the Morgantown Thirteener, continue the following Saturday in Norfolk at the Heart of Ghent 10k and wrap up Sunday October 2 with my goal half marathon in New York.  I’ve worked hard all summer and my racesam definitely ready to taper into a solid two weeks.

This weekend’s half marathon knocks off State #21.  It also features ‘mountainous’ terrain and plenty of scenery.  I’ll be pacing the two hour group, looking for an easy last long run before a two week taper into my goal race.  I’m hoping for a scenic drive and good weather.  Unfortunately, it looks like rain.  Oh well, I’ve been wet before.  Stay tuned for a recap and review next week!

After that hilly run, it’s back to the flat for a PR attempt at the Heart of Ghent 10k.  The second of my races, I had an age group win here two years ago but missed the event last year after it rescheduled due to a severe storm.  Even though I haven’t been training specifically for the 10k distance, my 5k racing and half training should be very helpful.  I’ll also be taking the week easy after Sunday’s half marathon to be ready.  Counting as my first week of taper, the second starts when I cross the Finish Line in Norfolk.

I’ll be wrapping up my races with State #22 at the Wineglass Half Marathon the very next weekend.  It’s the race I’ve been working towards all summer.  Another light week will follow that PR attempt at the 10k distance.  I’m expecting it to provide the perfect distance and difficulty to keep me tuned up without being unable to recover for the big one.  I’m looking forward to Wineglass’s net downhill course and cool weather.  And, of course, a new half marathon PR!

Meredith

What are you racing this fall?  Looking for a new PR at a distance?  Which one?

Red White and Boom Half Marathon

I checked off State #20, Minnesota, with July 4th’s Red White and Boom Half Marathon in Minneapolis.  It was my first visit to the city and I really had a good time.  This was a check-in race with no goal other than to push it a little bit here and there while having a good time.  After receiving an email with a heat warning Doug, who was running the 5k, and I were greatly relieved to see it was issued for a morning expected to be 64 degrees and 75% humid.  Temperatures 10-25 degrees below our current normal running weather were a welcome sight.  The humidity would be easy to handle and I knew I could stick with my plan.red white and boom half marathon

We arrived mid-morning on Sunday and went straight to the hotel gym for a shakeout session before checking out the Twins at Target Field.  The city was quiet, clean, friendly and had a park full of fun red white and boom half marathoncharacters to hang with.  After the game we had dinner at the hotel and hit the hay early.  Race start was 6:30 local time so it was nice to get up at what felt like a regular weekend time (7:30) to go for a run.  I downed a plain bagel and water breakfast then walked the short distance to race day packet pick-up.

The cool-ish morning was indeed humid but nothing unmanageable.  I quickly and easily nabbed my packet, checked my gear and set off for a warm up.  After my mile, I knew Red White and Boom would be the big improvement over last year’s summer half in Chicago I expected.  The weather was better, my training was more on track and I felt positive about it.

The start corrals were fairly crowded on a narrow road but after a solid national anthem for America’s birthday we were off right on time.  Things stayed traffic filled for a few minutes and around the 2k mark I started wondering when it would loosen up.  The course started to loosen in to the Mile 3 mark and by 8k there was plenty of running room for the rest of the race.  At that point I was glad to be able to take tangents and play with my pacing more after walking through a water stop around Mile 5.

I expected a climb before Mile 6 that had been on the course map but I didn’t notice anything too serious before 10k.  There were a few short, steep climbs and some longer slow ones but as a whole the race didn’t feel very hilly when I was on it.  Apparently it was because my Garmin told me I picked up 300 feet of elevation gain over the Red White and Boom Half Marathon.  In spite of the hills a large portion of the course was covered with shade and very peaceful.  I spent most of the race’s first half telling myself to slow down without actually doing it.  I tired to use uphills to really back off and was somewhat successful at doing that.  I wanted to come in somewhere between 1:40 and 1:45, more towards the latter, without leaving too much out red white and boom half marathonthere.  I hit the Mile 10 timer at 1:18+ knowing I was about a minute behind the official clock.  Perfect!

My legs were feeling good and my time was right around where I wanted to be, if not a bit fast.  My skin, however, was not so hot.  Around Mile 9 I had started to notice a less than lovely feeling around the chest band of my sports bra.  By the time I found medical at Mile 10, I was having some serious chaffing action and since I wasn’t in any kind of hurry stopped to get some tape.  After struggling to find the end of the roll, I stuck on a big strip and took off for the final Red, White and Boom 5k about 90 seconds later.  A few more slightly rolling hills sent me through the final water stop past Mile 11 then into an easy long down hill finish across Stone Arch Bridge.

I finished in 1:43.37 feeling good.  I ran for the most part right on plan and hit my goal range in spite of walking through three water stops and taking a 90 second break to tape myself up.  The race had great red white and boom half marathonswag including logoed pint glasses and Brooks brand tech t-shirts at packet pick-up for all runners then nice Red, White and Boom finisher medals along with red, white and blue ice pops, bottled water, chocolate milk, snacks and Cliff Bars in the finisher chute.

The race left me feeling really good about where my training is heading into the end of my base phase.  It was a solid run at a great event on a humid morning with more hills than I’ll face for a while.  If you have the chance to tackle the Red White and Boom Half Marathon, I’d take it!

Meredith

Summer Half Race Week

It’s my Summer Half Race Week and I have no idea what’s coming my way.  Training has been going well but I’m only in my base phase so I haven’t logged many race pace miles.  Definitely not anything over five in a row.  While I won’t be looking to PR or even come close, I am summer halfexpecting to out do last years summer half, Rock n Roll Chicago, which wasn’t pretty.  The weather was warm and humid, the course threw me a big curve towards the end and I hadn’t tapered at all.

That’s how I know my 2016 Summer Half will be different.  It’s off to Minnesota for the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon in Minneapolis with a better attitude on hopefully fresher legs and ‘a here goes nothing, let’s just get some miles in’ approach.  It will be state #20 and half number five for this year.  Since the race is next Monday I planned a down week for this week (25 miles) so I could kick off next week’s heavy training load with a nice long run to get a bunch of miles checked off.  That means I’ll be toeing the line after a seven day ‘taper’ and should signal a decent performance.

That is, of course, assuming the weather is friendly.  Humidity won’t serve me well and after three straight days of travel before race morning (five in the car Friday to Philly for a baseball game, five in the car Saturday home, an early flight Sunday), I hope I’ll be hydrated and rested enough to give my summer half the best I can.  No matter what, this race will be a good test of where my training is and needs to go moving towards my goal races in the fall.

Meredith

Do you have a favorite summer half marathon?  Which one and why?

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?

2016 First Light Half Marathon

The second half of my back to back weekend, the 2016 First Light Half Marathon was a totally different race for me than the one a day earlier.  After struggling in Jackson I was a little bit concerned about how this second race would go.  Happily, everything ended well.

My 2016 First Light Half Marathon experience began with a bus ride in from Jackson.  I felt tired but generally OK getting off the bus and heading to the small expo.  A quick packet pick-up first light half marathonwhere I was awarded my back to back plaque sent our group of four to check in to the hotel.  I was surprised to receive my back to back plaque before actually completing the second event.  Created by residents of L’Arche Mobile, the plaques are hand painted and come with a little bit of information about the person who made each one.

A short walk later we were in our historic hotel and ordering pizza for dinner.  Tired after a long day, all four of us went to sleep early and got a solid ten hours before a 6:30 wake up for the Sunday race’s 7:30 start.  My race day plan was to run about 1:45, log some marathon pace miles and enjoy the much flatter course after minor disaster on the hills of Mississippi.  Race morning dawned bright, brisk and with a slight breeze.  I had no idea what to expect from my legs, especially hoping my ankle would continue to feel as solid as it did when I climbed out of bed.

I ran a short 400M warm up to see what my body would do and it actually felt really good.  first light half marathonSeveral minutes later I had woven to the front of the start chute just in time to hear the gun go off right at 7:30.  With no corrals the race started out with lots of traffic that cleared up in the first 1200 meters.  Filled with few turns and lots of long straightaways, the flat course was apparently exactly what my legs/ankle/brain needed.

Rolling through the traffic and into Mile 3 I matched up with a nice gentleman running the full.  Brian (orange hat) had run the full the previous day as well and was shooting for a solid finish, just like me.  We stuck together through the half/full split at Mile 8.5 with the exception of my catching up after walking through a water stop.  Together we clocked an average of 7:30 miles and I was shocked.  I continued to first light half marathonroll on with some speedier than expected miles through the flat straight stretches but did start to feel a bit beat up around Mile 10.  My final 5k was definitely slower.  I easily stayed on marathon pace as I took a quick pit stop to chat with Joey from Run8va (who snapped this photo at Mile 4).  I walked through a water stop at Mile 11 then settled in for a strong finish back down at 7:20 pace for my last mile of the weekend.

I collected my medal and special back to back medal before trying to find some results.  Based on the 2015 results, I figured might have been in the top 10 but I also noted that the crowd seemed faster this year.  My watch had me in at 1:41.47 and the official clock pinned me at exactly 1:42.  Not knowing if I had to be present to collect an award at 10:30, I scampered to first light half marathonthe hotel for a quick shower and foam roll before trotting back to Bienville Park and meeting my troupe.

With awards going to the top ten before getting into age groups, I was lucky enough to be third in my age group at the First Light Half Marathon.  Like the Back 2 Back plaques, the awards were handmade by residents of L’Arche Mobile.  It immediately became one of my favorites because it wasn’t created by a machine and someone took time out to do something for a runner they don’t even know.  The four of us then went back for a little post race R&R and lunch before heading to the airport.

My 2016 First Light Half Marathon experience was wonderful.  The flat, well supported course and handmade medals and awards can make any runner’s day better.  A trot through the friendly city of Mobile was a nice way to wrap up a back to back weekend that didn’t go exactly as planned.

Meredith

Have you run back to back races?  Which ones?