Category Archives: Race Recap

Hangover Half 3.5 Mile Race Recap

Happy 2011!   My year is off to a great start 😀  After a hilarious hot yoga class last night (the room was done up like a disco and the instructors were a weee bit tipsy on champagne), I headed to SUNY Albany this morning to run the local running club’s 3.5 mile race.  In addition to the 3.5 miler, there was a hangover half marathon going on- a few of my blogging buddies ran the half (and did awesome!) and it was great to run into them before the race. 

To me, SUNY Albany’s campus has always been a bit imposing.  Maybe because the only other time I’d been there had been to take the LSAT (shudder).  Anyway, driving onto the campus I had no idea where I was going.  I saw a car that had a 26.2 marathon sticker on the back of it- I figured that driver was heading to the race so I just followed them.  The cars in front of them all had running stickers on them too!  Gotta love runners 🙂  If you are lost getting to a race, a good tip is to just follow the 13.1, 26.2 or tri stickered vehicles :p

I got to the race about a half hour before the start and it was BANANAS!  I wasn’t expecting it to be so crowded.  In the lobby I saw all of my fellow CDNY bloggers- I quickly registered then headed back to the gang to get in the obligatory group shots 🙂

Jen, Me, Melissa, Cynthia, Heather and Erica

I especially love Melissa in this photo.   Thanks for the photos, Jen!

You can’t really go wrong with the price of this race- a mere five dollars!  If you are a member of the local running club (I believe $15/year), the races are all free!   I think I’m definitely going to join. 

The girls and I headed to the start, marveling about the unseasonably warm temps.  It was around 45 degrees and I was wearing my running tights with my new coldgear top and I felt great.  No gloves, no ear warmers- I wore heavier clothing in Virginia Beach at the New Year’s race last year!  I’ll take the nice weather though 🙂

Heather snapped a pic before we started- without fail, I always have the same goofy expression before a race:

Jen, Melissa (looking down), me and Cynthia.  Cynthia, love the expression!  Too funny.

Before the race actually started, Jen and Melissa were talking about time goals.  Jen said she wanted to finish in under 33 minutes.  “YOU DO??”, I asked, thinking that it seemed fast.   Then again, Jen is super speedy.  I learned this after she smoked me in the squirrelly six mile trail race 😉   Originally I wanted to finish around 35 minutes- a nice ten minute mile pace.  I decided to just run as fast as I could. 

The race started and we were off!  At certain points the path was narrow but there was no bottlenecking.  It was a fairly hilly course, which I wasn’t expecting.  The hills were rolling and not too tricky, with some nice downhills here and there.  At certain points on the course we were running against traffic coming towards us a few lanes over, which was interesting.  I pretty much played this song on repeat during the race, interspersing it with “Run this Town” a few times.  I tend to find songs I like and play them to death until I can’t listen to them anymore.

Before I knew it there was less than a half mile left!  The half-marathoners continued on in the race and the  3.5 mile peeps made the turn to get in the final mileage.  As I approached the finishing chute the time clock read 32 minutes with change.  Sweet!  I kicked it into high gear (seriously- my fastest pace during the last half mile was a six minute mile pace- holy!) and crossed the finish line in 32:37, giving me an average pace of 9:15/mile.  YAY!   As the runners came in, a race volunteer gave us a numbered slip of paper to fill in.  I was the 113th person to finish the race.  I saw Melissa and Jen (they finished just under 31 minutes- speedy mc speedersons!) and headed inside to drop off our time slips and get some water.  For a five dollar race, I am INCREDIBLY impressed with all that was available after the race.  Water, soda, pizza, orange slices, vegetarian soup… I couldn’t believe it! 

I grabbed some water and an orange slice while Melissa and Jen went on to run 3.5 more miles (overachievers 😉 ).  Before the race I was thinking of joining them; after not so much.  I called Heather and Cynthia- they both ran an awesome race!  We grabbed starbucks (caramel brulee latte, I love you) to kill some time before meeting up with Melissa and Jen at Cafe Madison

Cafe Madison was outstanding!  It was my first time there and I will definitely be back.  The service was phenomenal and the food was delicious.  I had a Tuscan omelette but snagged some of Melissa’s strawberry almond stuffed french toast- heavenly!  We stayed and chatted for about two hours.  I love getting together with other bloggers- there is never a lack of things to talk about! 

All in all, it was a great start to the new year :D.  The Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club put on a great event and it was nice to meet up with my blends to race and share delicious food. 

How was your New Year’s eve?  Did you participate in a race today?  It’s a great way to kick off the year 😀

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Filed under Blends, Race Recap, Running

Thanksgiving Trotting

Happy Thanksgiving friends!  Thank you for all of the insight as to who the green character was in my last post- apparently I need to start watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 😉  Funnily enough, my brother and stepmom told me that they saw the green man the turkey trot I ran this morning! 

This morning my dad and I ran the Christopher Dailey Turkey Trot in Saratoga.  It started at 8:30 so we made sure to arrive by 8.  It was really reallllly cold out but we dressed appropriately.  Well, aside from my dad, who forgot his gloves (duhhhh dad).  Looking cold: image

We quickly decided that we should warm up in the City Center before the race started, which was wise decision. image

By the time we headed back out, it had warmed up a few degrees and we were ready to go!  My dad started the Couch to 5k on October 11.  I remember the date because it was one day after my half-marathon 🙂  He indicated that he wanted to run a 5k so I told him to saddle up and start training because he was running the turkey trot with me! 

After the nation anthem we got ready to start.  Excited/nervous/cold:image

The race started out very slow.  There were SO many walkers.  I’ve run a bunch of races and I have never had to dodge so many.  We spent the first mile weaving around the walkers.  It was a good course but the walkers made it annoying- I think there should be more clear instructions in future races- ie, walkers stay to the right and start at the back.  You know, basic race etiquette 😉

After the first mile we entered the grounds of Skidmore College, which meant one thing: hills.  There were some fairly steep hills!  My dad was doing really well though, although I told him to not look down at the hills and instead stare straight ahead.  I may have had to break out my hazing skills from last week gently encourage him by saying “up!  Look up!” a lot 😉

The best part about the uphills was then going downhill.  One lady loved it so much that she was chanting “I. Love. Running. Down. Hills.”  repeatedly to herself.  People are funny, hahahah. 

After all of the hills we were maintaining a decent clip.  We had about a third of a mile to go so I told my dad to smile pretty: 😀image

Yippee!  We crossed the finish line at 36:50!  Yay dad!  He ran the entire race, an awesome feat considering the hills, the cold and all of that good stuff.  I think I have him hooked on running now 🙂  image

Post-race happy.  Awesome job dad- I’m so proud of you! 😀  Did you run a Turkey Trot today?

After the race I enjoyed a bagel with this yummy cream cheese from Trader Joe’s: image

It is SO delicious 🙂  Now I’m off to bake some cookies and risotto- I decided earlier in the week that I am going vegetarian until the end of the year.  The Omnivore’s Dilemma really has me thinking so I’m going to try it out and reevaluate how I feel come January.  It was pretty brilliant of me to declare myself a vegetarian a few days before Thanksgiving and right before I head to dinosaur bbq, an AWESOME bbq place that just opened up in the Capital district, this weekend.  Heh.  Whatever though. 

I hope that you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends.  Bri, I miss you and can’t wait to spend our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple next year 😀

Enjoy all of the food, friends! 😀

21 Comments

Filed under Race Recap, Running, Trader Joe's, Vegetarian

Squirrelly Six Mile Trail Race Report!

Hi friends!  I hope that everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!  Mine started out in one of the most fun ways possible (seriously!)- my first trail race!  When I first started running last summer I was perusing a local running website for potential races to run.  The Squirrelly Six Miler immediately piqued my interest but, being a new runner, I figured I wasn’t quite ready for such a race yet.  This year, however, I was ready!

I awoke early Sunday morning to bright skies and cool weather, ready to tackle the race.  The race was held in Thatcher Park in Voorheesville, so I had about an hour drive.  I have to say, I felt like a very dedicated runner going to sleep early on Saturday night when a lot of people were likely out partying.  Although, let’s face it- it’s not like I would have been out partying if I didn’t have a race to attend in the morning anyway 😉  I found my costume in Target the day before- the selection was quite limited but I managed to snag a ladybug outfit from the girls section (I think it was supposed to be a dress, I wore it as a shirt :D)  I rocked my cold gear for the first time this season, laced up my trail sneakers and hit the road!

When I got there, I immediately met up with Jen, who was a bumblebee 🙂

It was a lot of fun to see everyone in their costumes.  We found one of the squirrels, so we had to get a picture:

Do you like my orange hat?  It was a part of our race swag!  I wore it during the race and it actually really came in handy- parts of the course were super windy!

Jen and I decided that we would run part of the race together.  The race started and we were off!  There were a lot of fun decorations around the course and everyone was happy to be there.  “This isn’t so different from road racing,” I thought to myself.  Then, the hills came.  Holy hills batman!!  I’ve never walked during a race (except to take a gu, I think) but there was a lot of walking up the killer hills!

This photo doesn’t really do it justice but trust me, there were some serious hills for the first three miles.  When a runner next to me said that we were approaching the last hill, I could have cried with relief.  Okay, a bit dramatic but let’s just say I was happy 🙂  You know the hills are crazy when one of the race volunteers apologizes about the hill ahead!

Jen and I split off after the last hill- I was running slower to catch my breath and she zipped off.  She is one fast lady!!  Approaching mile 4 I caught a second wind and was so happy to be out on the trail.  It really is a different experience and it was such a nice change of scenery.  Approaching mile 5, my knee started to SERIOUSLY hurt.  I knew it was an IT band issue but I was ready for the race to be done!  The race support was highly entertaining and made the final miles go by quickly.

Yes, that is a gorilla in a tree.  Gotta love it!  🙂  I tripped and fell with about a half mile to go.  There was a girl right beside me that didn’t even stop to ask if I was okay, which I thought was odd.  If you see someone fall, isn’t it your natural reaction to point and laugh ask them if they are okay?  Thankfully I wasn’t injured at all and just kept going (Jen fell too and tweaked her ankle- I hope you feel better girl!).  As I turned the corner to run to the finish, some creepy character jumped out of the bushes and scared the daylights out of me.  Well-played! 

I crossed the finish line at about 1:13, a few minutes behind Jen.  It was so fun!

I have to say that I am really glad that I didn’t sign up for the half-marathon trail race.  This six mile trail race was harder than my half-marathon last month, if you can believe it.  Flat and fast road races are a world of difference from trail races.  I love both!  There is something to be said about running along in the woods, not really caring about your time (because let’s face it, you are going to run slower on the trails!)

After the race, Jen and I headed to Jake Moon, an awesome cafe that used fresh, local ingredients.  They even brought fresh apple butter to the table!  Love.  It was great to catch up with Jen and eat some delicious food.  There is nothing better than your post-race meal! 

Thoughts on the race/trail running:

  • The race was incredibly well-organized.  I would run it again in a heartbeat.  The volunteers were friendly and entertaining!
  • Be prepared to be wicked sore after trail running.  It is a whole different beast than road racing (in a good way!)
  • It was so fun to see everyone dressed up to run- I couldn’t believe some of the costumes!
  • Where can I sign up for my next trail race?
  • 

    How was your Halloween?  Have you ever run a trail race or dressed up while running?  Thanks Jen for all of the photos 🙂  Have a great day, friends!

18 Comments

Filed under Race Recap, Running, Trail Running

Hudson Mohawk Half-Marathon Recap!

Technically the race started at 8:30 A.M. on Sunday, 10/10/10 (perfect day for a race, eh?).  I’ve been training for the half for over two months now so on Friday when I began my final prep (downloading new songs for the iPod, laying out my race clothes) it felt as though it really started for me.  Obsessively Writing out lists of what I would be wearing/what gear I needed/reminding myself I needed to pick up a bagel for the morning and the like were all a part of this journey to 13.1. 

Saturday brought the race expo and I was super excited- my first one ever!  There were two exciting things about the race expo: 1) I ran into Jen and my friends Nicole and Michael and 2) my race bib had an odd number on it!  A double odd number!  I kind of have a thing about odd numbers.  The alarm always has to be set to an odd number (Brian thinks I’m weird and yeah, I guess I am).  Anyway, the number itself was odd (2383) and when you added all of the numbers together (2+3+8+3=16 and 1+6=7) it was an odd number.  I thought that this bode well for the race 🙂

Saturday night I went out to an early dinner with some friends and looked longingly at their glasses of wine.  None for me, no sir.  I was taking this half-marathon seriously!  Nevermind the wine and dancing at my friends’ wedding last weekend 😉 .  I did carb load to my heart’s desire with some cheesy artichoke dip with french bread.  Excellent pre-pre race fuel!  When I got home on Saturday night, I reviewed my clothing checklist:

  1. Girls on the Run tech tee with lucky race number attached
  2. nike running capris
  3. purple sports bra (I developed a weird affinity towards this sports bra)
  4. thick balega running socks
  5. bondi band
  6. throwaway fleece from old navy
  7. sneakers with timing chip attached
  8. Road Id/iPod fully charged/garmin fully charged/glide for toes

I was all set to go so I set my alarm for 6:01 (heh) and 6:19.  Originally I was going to have to leave my house at 5:30 (wah) to catch the bus to the start but my friend Nicole generously offered to take me to the start at 7:30 since she was bringing her husband anyway.  Sah-weet!  An extra hour of sleep could only be a good thing.  I got a restful night’s sleep, got dressed and checked weather.com.  35 degrees.  Awesome.  There was nothing I could do about it though!  Good thing I had my throwaway fleece!  I had half of a plain bagel with maple peanut butter with three ibuprofen to stop any foot pain in its tracks (which would come back to bite me in the ass quite literally after the race but that story is for another time.  Or for never).  The temperature gauge on my car was not looking any more promising- 38 degrees.  I received a surprise good luck phone call from Brian all the way from Afghanistan, giving me an extra confidence boost! 🙂  I arrived at Nicole’s mother’s house and we were on our way! 

The race literature indicated that the parking at the half was very limited.  Not really.  I was pleased to see that the start was at the Colonie Town Park.  I spent many days in summer camp there swimming in the pool and jumping off the high dive (aside from one embarrassing incident where I climbed to the top of the high dive, walked out to jump and stood paralyzed with fear for a good five minutes before I climbed back down).  We arrived with a half-hour to start time and I figured I should use the bathroom while I could.  The line was around the building!  I waited for 25 minutes and did my thing, arriving to the start area with three minutes to spare.  Talk about a close call!  

This is right before the gun went off (I’m in the green/black waving at the camera):

Miles 1-5: The starting gun sounded and we were off!  The first mile of the race was very congested- it was kind of trail like and the space was limited so the runners were shuffling at that point.  Still, we were running and I was so happy! 😀  We came across some bag pipers around .75 miles and that was neat!  I was waffling between wearing my headphones or not, since I heard they weren’t allowed and you could be DQd.  Yeah, that would have sucked!  Tons of people were wearing them so I figured I was okay. 

This was around half a mile into the race- the runners were still pretty crowded together:

The first five miles passed in a blur.  I had no foot pain at all and the weather had warmed up slightly.  I was still wearing my fleece though!  I remember stepping on a branch and it sounded like a gunshot- I startled all of the girls around me!  Yikes.  I told myself to just break it down into two 5 milers and one 5k- totally doable!

The half started on a pretty trail and then we ran through some roads and past a train track.  Once I hit mile five I stopped off next to a gas station to take the first of two mint chocolate gus that I would take during the race.  It didn’t slow my time. In fact, I realized that I was way ahead of my predicted schedule!  I kept looking down and seeing my pace hovering around 9:40 and I felt great!  I tried not to push it much harder than that because I didn’t want to fade out at the end.

Throughout the race there were mile markers indicating which mile we had reached, with sayings from a sponsor.  One sign in particular really resonated with me- I think it was mile 4- it said “trust your training.”  Damn right, I thought!  I think it can be so easy to doubt yourself come race day but you just have to remember- you put in the time and the effort and your body knows what to do.  Trust it!  😀

Miles 6-10:  Once we hit mile six I took off my fleece and left it on the side of the road.  I heard that the race peeps come by and pick them up and donate them.  I’m hoping that’s the case.  This portion of the run was mainly on roads that were not closed for traffic- we had to stay inside the cones or else risk being hit!  I began to understand why they forbade headphones and took them off.  We were running next to a major highway (on the other side of a fence) so that was interesting.  I actually drive down it on the way to work so now when I do I will look along the road and think about the half 🙂

Around 9.75 miles my foot started to ache a bit.  At that point I had less than four miles left so I told myself to suck it up!  We entered the bike path portion of the race and it was really pretty- right next to the water.  Here’s a gripe: the bike path was not closed to bikers, which was fine with me.  A lot of them announced that they were coming on your left, etc.  However, this one woman kept riding around the runners without a helmet on wearing headphones, not announcing herself or anything.  Who does that?  She passed me going back and forth a few times (and she definitely was not affiliated with the race).  So weird. 

Miles 10-13.19:  This part of the race was really nice but also challenging.  I ventured off the path at mile 10 to take another mint chocolate gu.  My foot was acting weird on and off but it wasn’t too bad.  The weirdest thing was that I felt like I was running by myself.  There really was no one around me.  I looked at the river and felt at peace.  I was running my first half-marathon, the leaves were crunching under my feet, the sun was shining.  Life was good.  Once I reached mile 11.01 I was at a new personal distance record and couldn’t stop smiling!  I came across some runners and zipped right by them.  I felt really strong!  I got to the last half mile and started to get really excited.  There were a group of drummers- my parents were watching them and apparently I ran right by them!  I came down the chute and saw Amanda and my friends Nicole and Kristin 🙂  I was so happy to see them, as you can tell by this photo!

 As I approached the finish line I noted that the time read 2:14 something and I couldn’t believe it!  After I crossed the finish line I felt a bit like a crazy disoriented person.  I was like that with the Boilermaker too.  A nice volunteer cut my timing chip off and I was handed my mylar blanket (cool!  I felt official) and race medal.  Final chip time: 2:13:33.  Yippee!

(Many thanks to Nicole, my unofficial race photog 😉 )

I hurried off to find my friends and family.  The word yay was tossed around quite a bit (by me.  I have an extensive vocabulary).  I found my friend Bekah and she and her husband and friend Sindy made these awesome signs- “toenails are overrated” and “run like you stole something!”  Hilarious!  And awesome. 

ktjenhalffinish

Jen and I after finishing! (photo courtesy of Jen) Don’t we look legit in our mylar blankets? 

Afterwards, a delicious brunch was had, which included a raspberry mimosa.  That probably wasn’t a good idea since I didn’t drink much water during the race (race foul!) but it was delish 🙂 

As I’m sitting here typing this, my feet are yelling at me (seriously, so many blisters dangit) and it is hard to walk around (ice bath and all!) but I am so happy!  When I first started my running journey I always said my ultimate goal was a half-marathon.  Now I am here (I can’t believe it!) and am incredibly proud of myself.  At the same time, I can’t help but ask- when can I start training for a marathon? 😀

Thank YOU for all of your encouragement and support- it truly means a lot.

25 Comments

Filed under Goals, Half Marathon, Race Recap, Running, Uncategorized

Southern Saratoga YMCA 5k Race Recap!

Hi guys!  Thanks so much for your well wishes yesterday- it worked!  When I took up running last year, my ultimate goal was to run a 5k in under thirty minutes.  Why, I don’t know.  Just an arbitrary number that sounded legit to me.  I ran my first race (the Crossings Challenge) on September 27th and crossed the finished line at 31:50.  I was incredibly pleased, as I was aiming for a sub-33 for my first time (again, just a random number I selected based on my couch to 5k training).  Crossing the finish line got me hooked on running races.  It is true what they say- a 5k is truly a gateway race, as I later went on to run a 14k and 15k and am training for my first half.  I went on to run a few more 5ks, setting a PR this past New Year’s day of 30:37.  So close yet so far from sub-30. 

Last night, I shattered my goal and ran the 5k in 28:13.  YES!  I was SO excited to cross the finish line and see 28 on the board.  I feel like I have come so far in the past year.  Less than a year ago, I was nervous about my ability to even run a 5k.  Now, I KNOW that I can run this upcoming half and run it well, so long as I put in the requisite training.  It feels really go to have shaved over three and a half minutes off of my first 5k time. 

Okay, let’s get to the race recap, shall we?  The race began at 6:30 P.M., which I was a huge fan of.  I definitely think my body clock has me functioning better in the early evening than it does in the early morning.  No sleep running during this race!  I arrived around an hour early and hung around with my friend Melissa, stretching and talking.  I was immediately impressed with the race- the entry fee was only $20 and I received a glass similar to the ones we received at the boilermaker PLUS a pretty cute tech shirt.  Sa-weet. 

I looked over at the finish line and noticed that there weren’t any timing mats.  Then I realized that we weren’t handed chips.  Apparently this race was all on one timer, which is kind of a bummer if you don’t start up at the front.  I was surprised by the number of runners.  I was expecting it to be a lot smaller for some reason!  I think there were probably around 300 or so runners but I’m not sure. 

We started to line up and I felt ridiculously nervous.  Get it together Katie, I thought to myself.  This isn’t your first race, ya dumb!  I just couldn’t shake the nervousness.  Melissa and I lined up towards the front of the start line.  I programmed my garmin to start beeping if I dropped below a 9:15/mile, much to the chagrin of those around me later in the race probably :p

After a little speech by the organizer, we were off!  There was a bullhorn, but it didn’t work right away.  No matter.  Um, now I realize why I usually don’t start in the front.  Holy speed demons!  I looked down at my garmin and was running somewhere in the six and change minute mile range.  Uh yeah, WAAY too fast.  Just run your own race, I told myself.  I dropped back and let my heart rate get back to a decent clip.  My heart was still beating fast.  I told myself to get in the zone.  Whenever I think of getting in the zone, I think of that ridiculous youtube video, “my new haircut.”  Some Jersey shore wannabe parodies the typical stereotype and the dude in the video says “Not now chief, I’m in the $$#@%$ zone.”   Yeah.  I’m a flipping weirdo. 

The first mile went by in a blur.  I looked down at my garmin- first mile in 8:49!  Woohoo, probably the fastest mile I ever ran.  The course was out and back, and the first mile incorporated a “trail”- really, just a short run up a little wooded path. There was a water station at the end of the first and second mile, which I didn’t utilize because I had my trusty handheld water bottle.

Mile two was okay.  My pace dropped here and there and my garmin yelled at me to remind me to speed up.  I felt bad for  being that girl with the garmin going off but I was looking to PR!  At some point during the second mile I heard someone coming up behind very heavily.  What on earth?  Yes, I was about to get smoked by an eighty year old.  No lie.  It was so awesome to see someone still running well at that age. 

The race took us through a residential neighborhood, and some folks were out clapping and supporting.  I tried to smile and wave at everyone, because I really appreciate the support.  After I passed mile marker two I was having a tough time maintaining a 9:15/mile pace.  I probably ticked off a lot of people with my garmin.  Sorry!  I was ticking myself off.  Ha.  Anyway, with a half a mile to go I kicked it up and tried to finish strong.  I hovered around 8:40/mile until the last .1 of the race- I could feel myself starting to drop heavily.  I pushed through and crossed the finish line at 28:13.  Goal: achieved 😀

Immediately I looked for somewhere to sit down.  However, Melissa and I caught up with Suzy, who I was so excited to finally meet in person!  We hung around and chatted for a bit and then had a delicious dinner at Moe’s.  Suzy was able to snag some pictures of me finishing:

Approaching the finish line

Almost there.  And I think I have a mid foot strike- YES!

Byeeee

Overall, it was a great race.  I would definitely run it again!

Positives:

  • Awesome tech t-shirt and souveneir glass
  • Lots of gatorade at the end
  • Flat course
  • Decent crowd support, especially given the size of the race
  • Well-organized

Negatives

  • Not chip timed

My split times were as follows:

  • Mile 1- 8:49 (fastest pace 6:13 eep)
  • Mile 2-9:05 (fastest pace 7:41)
  • Mile 3- 9:12 (fastest pace 7:58)
  • Mile 3-3.12- 1:04 (8:38 pace)

Not exactly negative splits, haha.  I’ll take it though!

Lastly, some pictures of the swag:

 I spy a cute puppy in the left of the picture.  Holding up the shirt with the glass.  And my celebratory honeymoon beer.  Not really working so I put the shirt on:

Good stuff.  Thank you for reading!  Make sure to check back later in the week- I have a post regarding all of your amazing comments on my Eat Pray Love post– some of your “words” were really inspiring!  Have a great day friends 🙂

33 Comments

Filed under I'm random, Race Recap, Running, Uncategorized

Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run Race Recap

Hello friends!  I’m sitting here on this lovely Monday morning feeling the sting (literally) of yesterday’s mud run.  It was really fun but definitely not a race one could expect a PR from.  Not that I was shooting for one anyway!  The weekend began on Friday night when I drove to Wilkes-Barre to visit one of my best friends, Kristin.  We had wine and watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall, one of our favorite movies.  That movie is seriously a gem and so quote-worthy, if you have our wacky sense of humor that is.  Kristin wanted to try hot yoga at a studio in her town that she hadn’t been to before, so I told her we should definitely go.  After going to bed around one in the morning I didn’t think we would be up in time for the 8 AM start, but we made it!

This was my first true “Bikram” class and it was awesome.  I’ve done all of the poses before at my studio back home but never in a true Bikram class where you go through the series of 36 poses twice.  It was great and we both felt so amazing afterwards.  The most clutch part was at the end, when the instructor handed out cold lavender infused towels for us to use.  They were amazing!  Kristin is now addicted to hot yoga and went to another class on her own yesterday.  That makes me so excited!  🙂

On to the race recap- after some pool lounging on Saturday, I drove to my mother-in-law’s house outside of Philly to have dinner and get ready for the race.  My mother-in-law signed up to do the race but hadn’t been feeling well lately so had opted out earlier in the week.  However, on Saturday she said she was back in.  She hadn’t been training so was feeling a bit nervous but I told her I’d run with her and pace her.  She wanted to leave the house at 4:50 in the morning to pick up her co-worker who was also running it and get our race packets.  Mind you, the race started at 8:45 and she lives about 25 minutes from Philly.  LOL.  Accordingly, I wanted to get to sleep early and headed to bed around ten.

4:30 A.M. came quickly.  We grabbed towels and a change of clothes (we weren’t sure how muddy we were going to get) and headed into Philly.  After meeting up with her co-worker we got to the race around 5:30 A.M., scoring a primo parking spot.  We picked up our packets and then had around an hour and a half to kill before the mandatory pre-race briefing at 7:15.  I was really excited to be running the race, not only because it was something different but also because some of the proceeds went to support Operation Gratitude, a wonderful organization the sends over 100,000 care packages per year to our troops in conflict zones.  Needless to say it is close to my heart. 

Going through the race swag bag I was pretty impressed.  We received a sweet mud colored tech tee, a merrell headband (which I immediately put on since I forgot to bring one) and other food related products.  I then convinced my mother-in-law that we needed to nap in the car before the pre-race briefing so we did just that until about seven.  After the briefing the 10k runners started at 7:30.  We watched them go through the first obstacle (a rope net climb) which was humorous until the contraption started breaking.  Yeah, not so good.  They directed the runners around the obstacle while frantically trying to nail the net back in place.  Hmm, don’tcha think they would have tested this beforehand?

After that we went to the photo booth to take a goofy pic. 

Ohh, good times.  Definitely rocking the superstar pose.  I forgot to mention that I committed a mayjah race faux pas and wore the race shirt during the race.  I wasn’t planning on doing so (I personally think you should run the race before you wear the shirt) but one look at the mud pit had me reevaluating my race gear of choice.  Mud colored shirt it was! 

After meandering about we set over to watch the 10k-ers finish the last of the race. I clapped for every runner going by, so much so that my hands started to hurt.  It made me appreciate the spectators at the Boilermaker that much more!  We we so engrossed in spectating that we didn’t realize that the people running the 5k had already started to line up in the (self-seeded) race waves!  The cannon going off signaling the first wave alerted us.  Oops.  We walked over to the start and saw that it was packed.  We slipped into the seventh wave but didn’t end up running until the ninth.  We waited about twenty minutes to start and man, it was hot.  Once our cannon signaled we were off!

The race started up a grassy uphill, which is a cruel way to start a race in my opinion, haha.  I paced my mother-in-law through the grassy hills and we then encountered our first obstacle, the rope net climb.  Fortunately the race directors had figured out a better system and were only letting three on a time up the net.  I whipped my way up and down in a flash.  It was fun!  After that we grabbed some water and continued the run.  It was really hot and we had to take a few walk breaks for my mother-in-law, although technically we could have just walked to the next obstacle course and not have lost any time, since there was a TWENTY minute wait to climb over a four-foot wall.  Quite frankly, it was ridiculous.  There were hundreds of us at a standstill waiting to go through the obstacle.  Granted it was the first running of this race in Philly so issues are to be expected, but this was a bit extreme. 

After waiting our turn we climbed over the wall and continued on.  The race was mostly on grass or a dirt path and was quite fun and challenging.  I remember thinking that it would have been an awesome 5k to just run all out without any clogging or backup, but today was not to be that day.  The next obstacle was climbing over haystacks, which was entertaining.  We then encountered a gigantic hill that mostly everyone was walking.  I was surprised by the amount of walking in the race.  I’m thinking that people were discouraged by all of the waiting they had to do for the obstacles so they didn’t really care about their time, but who knows. 

Finally, we approached the last two obstacles.  The first one was a rope pull up a slanted board that was covered in shampoo to make it slippery and challenging.  Watching the 10k I saw so many people biff trying to go up it.  Luckily for us they were JUST about to “re-shampoo” it so we made it up no problem.  Then came the mud pit.  All of the racers had to crawl through it military style on their bellies.  Seriously, the announcer kept yelling “on your belly” over and over to the racers.  I took the plunge and was overwhelmed by a disgusting smell.  EW it smelled so nasty.  Mud was EVERYWHERE.  Yick.  I felt it pulling down my shorts, which would have been a disaster.  I went through as fast as I could and waited for my mother-in-law at the end, wondering why on earth my legs were stinging so much.  I guess there were rocks in the mud pit because my legs are scratched up and bruised.  Yikes.  Some big dude did a somersault out of the mud pit and splashed me, which was hilarious.  My mother-in-law crawled out and we crossed the finish line.  Everything but my face was covered in mud and man, the stench.  Awful.  We didn’t even want to wait in line for a pic it was so gross.  Thankfully, there were hoses to hose off so we waited in line and hosed a lot of the mud off.

After that we headed back to the car to change.  I changed my shorts and just took my shirt off and walked around in my sports bra.  I still felt gross but at least the mud stench wasn’t really emanating off of me any longer.  We went back to the race for the free barbecue and had a burger and chips.  The burger wasn’t really good but I was STARVING so it tasted amazing.  After that we got into the car and I realized I still had mud on me in a lot of places:

Too funny.  They also handed out a cute dogtag race medal, which I thought was a great touch.

Overall, I think the race was really great.  It was a ton of fun and something different.  However, the wait times at the obstacles were waaaaay too long.  On the other hand, though, it was the first running of the race in Philly so I’ll give them a bye for that.  I would absolutely run this race again.  How could you not love a race that supports such a great cause?  I would not, however, recommend that you go into this race seeking to PR.  It is something you should do for a great time.  Next year I’m going to do the 10k, hopefully with Brian beside me.  Overall, it was so much fun and a great way to bond with my mother-in-law.  If there is a down and dirty mud run near you, run it!  You will not regret it.  😀

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Boilermaker 15k Recap!

If I had to sum up my boilermaker experience with one word, it would be “wow.”  It was seriously such a fun, challenging, humbling and amazing experience.  I’ve never experienced a race with such great crowd support and aid stations.  The directors of the Boilermaker sure know how to put on a great race!  Let me start from the beginning…

I registered for the Boilermaker around the end of April.  As soon as I registered I tried to reserve a hotel room.  Everywhere I checked was already sold out.  This did not deter me; I only live an hour and a half away so I figured I could make it work somehow.  I kindly told asked my dad if he would be so nice as to drive me to the race in Utica.  Being a sweet father, he agreed.  However, I think he thought we were leaving around six in the morning rather than the 4:30 leavetime I had planned.  He was saved when my friend Nicole told me that she and her husband (who were originally staying in Utica the night before) were going to be leaving from her mom’s house in Albany the morning of- they live in Long Island and had come to the capital district for the weekend with the plan of her mom watching their dog while they took off to Utica Saturday evening to spend the night with friends.  Her mom ended up going out of town and they couldn’t leave the dog alone overnight so I now had a ride and someone to go to the race with (Nicole’s husband was running).  Yippee!

I arrived at Nicole’s mom’s house on Saturday evening.  This way I didn’t have to leave Saratoga at 3:45 in the morning to meet them.  We left bright and early around 4:30 in the morning, relieved in the fact that their friends had picked up mine and Michael’s race packets the day before at the expo.  That was seriously clutch and SO nice of them.  Around 5 o’clock I fueled with half of a plain bagel and peanut butter.  We arrived at their friends’ house in Utica around six in the morning and scoped out our goody bag and race numbers.  There was a neat Boilermaker glass in the bag, along with clif gu packet of some sort and some other coupons.  After gearing up, Michael and I took off to head to the race around 6:15, with Nicole telling us she would be around mile 5 to cheer us on.

Michael is from Long Island and I’m from Albany so we pretty much had no idea where we were going.  His car had navigation and we had the address to the start line.  This plan was foiled as we saw that a ton of roads were blocked off.  We found a random parking lot and what looked like runners heading towards what looked like a registration table.  That would have been way too easy- it was actually the 5k start we were at!  Oops.  We asked a guy in the parking lot where we should go and he told us to head to Route 12N.  It was getting close to race time at this point and we were both nervous but the guy seemed like he knew what he was talking about.  We made it to 12N and saw a bunch of cars just parked on the side of the highway.  We stopped to ask some policemen where to go, and he again directed us to the 5k start.  Thankfully, we said we were looking for the 15k and he said “oh, I have no idea- head towards Court street.”  Hmm, okay.  The clock read 7:15 A.M. at this point.  We headed towards Court street and saw a HUGE line of people and school buses.  Okay, now we were getting somewhere.  We looked for parking and saw that there were some paid lots- but we both did not have our wallets or any money on us.  FAIL.  By the grace of God we went to the next unpaid lot and there was ONE parking spot available.  I don’t know how we finagled this but it worked! 

We headed over to the line for the shuttle bus, which was long but moving quickly.  By the time we got on the bus it was 7:40.  We were seriously pushing it!  The bus dropped us off and it took us a few minutes to get near the start.  At this point Michael and I separated as he went into the woods to take care of business and I searched out the porta potties.  At this point there was seriously three minutes left to the gun.  I used the porta potty and then squeezed myself into the crowd of 13,000+ runners.  The gunshot sounded and we were off!  Okay, not really- it took me about five minutes to cross the start line.  The Governor was there waving to the runners, which I thought was nice.  He ran the race two years ago and apparently was the first Governor to do so.  Kudos to him!

Miles 1-3:  As soon as I crossed the start line my heart rate was up, not from running but from nerves and excitement.  There was seriously sooo many people and I couldn’t believe I was doing this!  A year ago I couldn’t even run a half a mile without stopping and I felt so glad and happy to be at the race.  The crowd was so fun and had all sorts of interesting signs- .1 down, 9.2 to go; 9 miles ‘til free beer; and You’re off to a great start were among the ones I remember.  There were all sorts of people running, from girls dressed up in tutus to a guy in a white bodysuit.  The first three miles flew by: there was a really tough hill at mile two that I thought was harder than the hill at mile four, but after that we ran down a residential street that was covered in glorious shade from the hills and had a ton of spectators and people handing out popsicles, freeze pops, water and ice cubes.  I just remember smiling at all of the spectators pretty much the entire time; there were so many and they were so fun and supportive.  

 Miles 3-6:  I crossed the 5k marker around 33 minutes, which is slower than normal for me but I wasn’t fazed- it was hot and the route was hilly!  At mile four we started up a long, windy hill but I did great on it!  It ran through a golf course and towards the top there were a bunch of golfers sitting on their golf cart drinking beers and watching everyone go along.  I remember thinking only five more miles until that is me!  I took a cliff shot black and grabbed water at the water stop at the top of the hill and poured it over my head, which was a bad idea since it got into my headphones.  The right one stopped working and the left one was working but tinny.  No matter, I thought, I’ve run without headphones lots of times.  I took the right one out and headed down the hill.  At this point I was really getting into a groove and maintaining my normal long run pace of about 10:15/mile.  At the bottom of the hill my headphones worked again.  Sweet!  Shortly after this I heard someone yell “Katie!” and saw Nicole cheering me on.  Yay!  After that I saw a dude dressed as Santa Claus riding his bike on the sidewalk in the opposite direction.  Too funny. 

 Miles 6-9.4- After mile six we started up a long, slow, gradual hill.  The sun was beating down and my pace started to suffer but I was still in good spirits. From about mile 4 onward my hips were really tight for the rest of the race, likely due to all of the hills. I tried to catch the shade wherever I could and ran under one of the misting stations, headphones be damned.  I really started struggling at one point and then I saw two gigantic American flags hanging from firetrucks.  It was just what I needed at that point.  I thought of Brian and how proud I am of him for serving in Afghanistan and just pushed through the hill.  After the big hill I was relieved but exerted and starting to feel it.  My pace stayed around the 11:30/mile mark but I didn’t care, as long as I finished and didn’t have to stop I would be proud of myself.  Around mile 7.5 I saw a poor girl being attended to by medical personnel.  I hope she is okay.  A little after that there was a guy on stilts throwing out high fives and another misting station, which I took full advantage of.  Music was blaring and the crowd was huge.  My hips were killing me but I was still so happy and excited!  Around mile 8.5 there was this awesome guy screaming encouragement at all of the runners- “NO PAIN, NO GAIN, you worked for this!!”  and that sort of stuff.  It was so fun.  At mile 9 I could see the finish line so I sprinted towards the end.  I forgot about my hip pain and just gunned it.  I had a lot of gas left in the tank, as my garmin said I reached a pace of about 6:34/mile.  Yeah, that would have been adrenaline- I only wish I was that fast!  I crossed the finish line at the 1:50 mark, with my chip time reading 1:45.  My goal was 1:40 but I am still very stoked.  It was soo hilly and I was pleased that I didn’t have to stop at all.   I crossed the finish line and all I could think was “Must. Stretch. Hips”.  I met up with Michael and Nicole in front of a bar called O’Donnell’s and we set off to find beer.  And water.  It took a while to find water but we did and after that it was beer time.  Holy crowd.  It was so fun though!  I had a Saranac summer ale and then half of a pomegranate wheat beer.  Yum! 

Michael and I after the race

Nicole and I

We listened to the winners being announced, which was nothing short of amazing.  Both the male and female course records were shattered, with the male runner from Ethiopia winning it in something like 42 minutes.  Insane. 

Photo of the winner that Nicole caught around mile 5. 

After that, we headed back to the car (turns out we were parked close to the finish!) and drove home.  I passed out at 7 PM after icing my hips and knees and am having a bit of trouble walking today but I feel great.  It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to run it again next year.

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