Tag Archives: race reviews

2016 Norfolk Harbor 5k

Even though this was technically the third time I’ve run this event, it was the first time it was monikered Norfolk Harbor 5k instead of Harbor Lights 5k.  I paced the half marathon in its inaugural year then finished third female overall at the 5k in 2015.

My last race of 2016 and the end of my between training cycle down time, I knew my performance wouldn’t be as fast as last year.  I was OK with that and just wanted to get out there and have some serious fun before the long miles of marathon training took over my schedule for sixteen weeks.  That’s exactly what I did.norfolk harbor 5k

The morning was cool with a little wind that was barely noticeable once you were between the city’s buildings.  I felt OK warming up and shed a layer before the start.  I lined up right in front to avoid traffic at the beginning.  We went off right on time and I focused on running my own race instead of getting caught up with the faster runners around me.  Mile 1 featured a few turns and a tiny climb (6:54).  During Mile 2 I passed a lot of runners but knew I was still sitting 7th or 8th female.  One woman was within striking distance and I planned on going after her with 1k left.  I wanted to run an even effort but weaving through the city made it hard.  Especially the two sections we traversed some cobblestones.  Mile 2 clocked in at 7:00.

Another very sharp turn slowed me down with 800M to go but I was able to move up the spot I planned on.  More twists and turns (see braking/norfolk harbor 5kheel strike) kept my pace a bit slower than it could have been but I finished decently with Mile 3 at 6:56.  The final 200M were straight and fast.  I crossed the line at 21:50/3.16, winning my age group as 6th overall female.

Through the chute I picked up a bottled opener medal, banana, bottled water, chips and Norfolk Harbor 5k mason jar.  My legs felt good as I cheered Team ECRP runners on and enjoyed my complimentary stew and beer.  As always, J&A Racing put on a stellar event with great swag and a kicking after party. 

Meredith

What makes a good race in your book?  Swag?  Course?  Free photos?

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?

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?

RnRVB Win + Missed Goal

Rock n Roll Virginia Beach is in the can.  It wasn’t the race I was hoping for but I did finish as first female and get a solid workout in.  Even though I missed my goal of hitting a new PR, I did accomplish one thing I had set out to do: get an RnRVB win!rnrvb win

Race morning was cool, humid and windy.  Still feeling not so great about the chance to PR, I ran a solid warm up and felt decent heading into my corral.  It seemed like I stood there for a long time feeling my body slow back down when we ended up going off four minutes late.  Starting with a crosswind I felt good.  I was on pace through the first 1200M and into the first corner.  Turning into the headwind I kept pushing to maintain my goal pace.

I rolled my ankle on some broken pavement shortly after a mile and it definitely took my mind off track.  While I knew I wasn’t injured it distracted me enough to lose my rhythm.  The course turned back south at 1.5 miles but the next 1.4 miles of tailwind weren’t enough.  I couldn’t find my pace again and slowed.  I kept fighting until I saw the final turn ahead and tried to rnrvb winaccelerate.  There was nothing.  I definitely gave the course all I had and hoped for the best as I headed for the Finish.

After rounding the final turn I wasn’t sure if there was another woman in front of me.  Since the 5k breaks off from the half at a u-turn around a building in the opposite direction with roughly 500M to go there definitely could have been someone up there.  Coming out of that turn onto the boardwalk I got a nasty face full of wind and a calf cramp.  I also didn’t see any women running in front me of.  I tried to kick again but it didn’t happen.   When race staff stretched a Rock n Roll Finish line tape rnrvb winout I cruised through the final meters to break it for the first time.  Having never run through a finish line tape, it was a fun way to wrap up a difficult run.

While I didn’t get the PR I wanted or a big fat trophy and giant check, my RnRVB win did get me in the paper with this photo.  Goober alert!

Meredith

Do you have multiple goals for races?  How do you choose them?

*If you want to know more about the actual race, check out my review on BibRave*

Tropical Storm Hermine vs RnRVB

Tropical Storm Hermine tried her hardest to beat Team Rock n Roll Virginia Beach.  After threatening torrential rains and brutal winds Friday afternoon, she forced cancellation of the night’s American Music Festival concerts many were looking forward to.  Saturday and Sunday’s shows were moved inside with limited space.  While unfortunate for runners who traveled from long distances to attend this Labor Day weekend tradition, everyone’s safety was both the city and Competitor Group‘s (the parent of Rock n Roll) top priority.

As far as Rock n Roll Virginia Beach events, Saturday’s Mile in the Sand was also canceled by early Friday afternoon compliments of Hermine’s impending arrival.  After getting that news and hoping to bear the rain I made my way over to the expo as early as possible.  I picked up my swag, chatted with my RWB friends and stocked up on energy gels.  While herminethere I learned Mile in the Sand entry fees were automatically being refunded to all registered runners and they would still be able to collect their medals, towels and t-shirts.

Kudos to Competitor Group for this.  Those things were paid for and, honestly, what else would they do with thousands of items?  I guess they could have been donated but this decision was much better.  All in all, Competitor Group did an excellent job of handling the weather induced situation.  By Friday evening refunds were available not only to Mile in the Sand registrants but to runners of every race should they not wish to travel into Hermine’s path.  Emails were sent out a regular intervals to keep participants apprised of any and all changes to race conditions or expectations (like fewer bands for the half on Sunday).  They were as accommodating as anyone could possibly have expected them to be.

Luckily, even though Saturday’s race was cancelled, the beach was still open.  I took a walk down there at high tide, and almost blew away in the 40+mph gusts, but the surf was amazing.  It gave me a good idea of what to expect for wind conditions at Sunday morning’s 5k.  With possible rain, 25 mph NNE winds and gusts over 45 I’m not feeling too confident about hitting that PR.hermine

Every other runner will also be dealing with Hermine’s wrath but it just doesn’t seem like a best performance type of environment.  However…you never know, right?!  I’m estimating the first 1200M will have a crosswind, then a headwind for about 800M and a friendly tailwind for everything but the final 400M where it’s back in your face for the Finish.  I’m OK with that.  I’ll still give it all I have and get a good workout.

Meredith

How do you deal with weather changing your race plans?  Did you get out and play in Tropical Storm Hermine?

2016 Summer Series 5k

Another race recap on a Wednesday?  Yup!  This time the race wasn’t Tuesday night, however.  It was Wednesday morning.  J&A Racing’s Summer Series 5k takes place on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk at 8am Wednesday mornings all summer long.

In its inaugural year, the series is made up of 8 events.   Registration is available the morning of the race for those who are waiting to see what the usually hot and humid Virginia Beach weather might dish out for $30 or in advance online for $25.  There is garage parking at the race site with a discount for locals but the start is also easily accessible by walking, jogging or biking.  Hotels abound and are also easy to get to.

Featuring an out and back course from 31st Street on the boardwalk, the Summer Series 5k is a great opportunity to see how your training is going.  It’s very flat with at least one direction providing a tailwind.  There’s a water stop and cheerleading at the halfway summer series 5kpoint with a nice wide coned off u-turn zone.  Here Team FitNice is having some fun at the turnaround with Ryan from J&A.  Erin in the lead, Heather and I picking up the back half with smiles on our faces.  Boardwalk races can get crowded with people but they also usually take place on the weekend.  Since this one is during the week, there’s much less traffic out there and there’s plenty of room to run.

Swag includes a beach towel, a massive medal, bananas, bottled waters and eucalyptus ice summer series 5kwater soaked towels across the finish line.  The back of your race number also features discounts to three tasty local restaurants for your post-race refueling pleasure.

Taking part in one of the Summer Series 5k events is a must do for those runners who visit between June and August.  It’s a fabulous way to kick off the morning while enjoying the boardwalk before it gets too crowded.

Meredith

Do you race on vacation?  During the summer at all?

Allen Stone Memorial 5k

Saturday morning I raced the 17th Annual Allen Stone Memorial 5k.  I blogged about how excited I was to race in my new shoes last week and I was happy with how things turned out.

I could tell the second I walked out the door into a humid morning it wasn’t going to be a banner day.  I hadn’t had a full recovery day in 10 days and my legs were pretty tired.  My new shoes settled right onto my feet as I jogged an easy mile to get moving.  One of the allen stone memorial 5kthings that didn’t help my performance was that between the portions of my warm up I had a big break.  This race is full of tradition, including a reading of the names of special operations service men who have died in the line of duty, the national anthem, and three parachuters floating down with the flag.  After stretching and relaxing through that I finished with 800M of pick-ups to get my turnover and heart rate going.

Soaked in sweat with my heart pumping and legs feeling lighter but not fresh we snapped a Team RWB photo.  Then I was off to the Allen Stone Memorial 5k start line.  I knew the crowd was competitive and settled into the third row of runners figuring that would be roughly my speed.  I went out of the gate too fast for the first 400M, especially on the humid allen stone memorial 5kmorning, but was thankful the sun stayed hidden as I ran through the first mile.  I had a girl right next to me through the turn around then pulled away in the second mile.

Coming into the final kilometer I choked.  Not crapped out on performing but actually choked.  Some sticky spit got stuck in my throat with no water in sight and I slowed to attempt clearing my throat without making things worse.  It kind of worked so I picked it back up for the last half mile.  Set on cruise, the girl who had been neck-in-neck with me at the race’s start came on strong in the final 20M and we finished with a sprint over the line.

I ended up finishing in 21:40, averaging 6:59 miles.  Not the time I thought I had run when I crossed the Allen Stone Memorial 5k finish line, it was actually a few seconds faster.  I immediately grabbed some water to finally get my throat clear, collected my medal and waited for results with a bunch of friends.  I found out I had won my age group then jogged a cool down mile that took long enough to miss my award being presented.  I got a fancy handled mason jar with the Allen Stone Memorial 5k logo on it to match my medal and then called it a day.

I was happy to get a solid workout in, have success with my new shoes and still have something left for the next day’s long run.  With two more weeks in my base phase, I’m excited to see what I can do when the weather’s cooler, my legs are fresher and my weeks aren’t packed with miles this fall.

Meredith

How do you decide if a race was successful?  What training phase are you in right now?

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

EquiKids Cross Country 5k Recap

My favorite race of the year was Saturday and all mud aside, it was another fun day.  This was the fifth year consecutive year I’ve run the EquiKids Cross Country 5k.  It’s an event for the whole family with a half mile pony run for younger children, the 5k for everyone and a one mile run with the hounds.  I was excited even though I knew it was going to be muddy after five straight days of rain.  Trails, especially muddy ones, are far from my strength.

Race morning was overcast (but not raining!) with a little bit of humidity and middle of the road temperatures.  I went with long tights because of the mud, knowing I’d been running as close to the edges of the trails as I could for solid ground.  After my warm-up, I shed the half zip I’d been wearing against the morning’s cool breeze and lined up in my tank, long tights and about-to-be-muddy shoes.  We went off into the woods a few minutes after the little ones finished their half mile pony run.

There were the initial speedsters making the first section a bit crowded but they faded by the time we hit the woods.  I settled into an easy pace on the mushy surface and waited for my first foot to hit a puddle.  It took longer than I expected to find the first muddy spot.  Not being very skilled at racing through the mud, I slowly picked my way through with tiny, slow steps and picked things up when I was back on solid ground.  At the Mile 1 mark I had plenty of running room as the crowd spread out and it stayed that way through the end.  My watch was all over the place searching for help as I wove in and out of the trees with neither of us really knowing how fast I was moving.  I slipped a few times in mud, at one point swinging around a tree to help, glad I was taking things slowly instead of risking injury in an unfamiliar environment.equikids cross country 5k

I kicked as much as I could on the wet ground coming into the EquiKids Cross Country 5k finish and landed squarely in a big puddle of water.  It was a nice finish to a solid workout that had me smiling and working to stay balanced the whole time.  Definitely not one of my best 5k performances, I was happy to come out without having fallen in the mud or getting injured.  I ended up fourth female overall and second in my age group after the overall female was also the age group winner.  A bottle of water and two slices of pizza later, I was awarded my medal and made for the nice dry car.

It was another great year with weather that held out until after the dog mile, great people and good times.  In the end, 2016’s mud laced EquiKids Cross Country 5k taught me that I could probably benefit from hitting the trails more often.  With only one trail race and five or six easy trail outings per year, I tend to be overly cautious with my feet and also have lots of trouble feeling my pace on the soft surface.

Meredith

How do you run in mud?  Do you train specifically for trail races?

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.