Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend, I packed up the family for a racecation to Philadelphia. My friends Vic and Mer over at Scootadoot always have a good time when they run this race weekend. So I decided to sign up for the half this year. It did not disappoint!

We stayed at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown. I chose this location because it was the closest hotel to the start. A bit pricey, but to me it was worth it. It was just a couple minute walk before I was within the secure area. It was also only a 15 minute walk to the Convention Center for the expo.

I picked up my bib and awesome race shirt on Saturday with no problems and even walked around the expo a bit to shop. I was able to do this because my kids and husband were kept occupied at the Kids Zone! I walked around super quickly and made my way back to them only to find that I had to wait for them to finish. They were making bandanas to wear to cheer me on! It was adorable.

Kids Zone for the win. The kids wore these at the finish line cheering for me.
Also on Saturday, we ate dinner with Alex's Lemonade Stand. It was really nice to meet other runners, especially Malinda Ann of Twins Run. I am proud to announce that I raised $3260 for ALSF to help fight childhood cancer. It was an amazing experience running for Team Lemon and I am so glad I did it.

Sunday morning came quickly. I never sleep well the night before a race. I am always worried I will oversleep. I got ready and was out the door. I arrived way too early. I want to say I was there by 5:30. I had heard nightmares of security being crazy at other races, so I didn't want to take any chances. Well I got there ahead of everyone else because there was no one in line at all. That did change though, the lines got pretty crazy I heard so I am glad I was there early. I was able to use a port-a-potty with no lines and sit on a bench and relax before heading over to the ALSF tent.

I waited at the tent a bit and finally decided I should head over to my corral at 6:30. From there, it was a 20 minute walk to the orange corral! It was the second last corral. There were tons of people still in line for the port-a-potties as I made my way back. I was surprised. The race ended up starting 15 minutes late. I am not sure if that was because of security lines or if the bit they said about having to tow a car off the course was really true. In any event, it got chilly waiting around. I had a throwaway shirt and gloves but the temperature had gone down to about 45 at race start compared to 52 when I left the hotel. It was fine to run in though, really comfortable actually. Just cold to wait in.

I ended up taking off my shrug and buff after two miles because I was too warm.

View from the orange corral waiting to start.
Once the race started, the corrals moved fairly quickly. I started about 23 minutes after the first corral. I was on my way.
Start Line
The slogan for race weekend was "Run Fast, Run Far, Run Philly!" Well let's just say I did all three. I ran fast, too fast in the beginning, I ran far - 13.1 miles is no joke, and I had such a great time running Philly!

I was trying to PR for the fourth time this year so I took zero pictures throughout the race. As I mentioned, I went out too fast. The adrenaline of the race got to me and somehow my first two miles were 9:55! Eeeep, I don't run that fast ever! I am more of an 11:00 minute mile girl. I was shooting for a 10:30 this time around. It was just easy to get swept up in the excitement. My GPS was acting whacky too. I think all the tall buildings were interfering. It would turn off and pause occasionally or tell me I was running 8:45. So toward the end of the race I wasn't depending on it too much. But I really should have.

We ran by Love Park, through some neighborhoods I didn't know, by Independence Hall, along some shops where the spectators were crowding the streets - they really should have been about 5 steps back on the curb, by Drexel University, up a hill, by the zoo, up a huge hill!!!!!, along the river, and then back to the art museum for the finish. I never felt too crowded and was able to run my own pace the whole race. That hill was crazy and I shuffled my way up it, but it definitely slowed me down after. I slowed too much, which is where I should have been paying attention to my watch more. My last couple miles were 11:00.

I hit the finish line at 2:21:20. I was off my PR by 1:40. I was disappointed, but only for a fleeting moment. This was my second fastest race ever! I had raised so much money for ALSF! And I got the most amazing medal ever! I could hear jingling when I finished and I wondered what it was. Turns out it was the medals!!! They ring!

So happy to have had an awesome race for Team Lemon with my family cheering me on!

Awesome race shirt.

We also got heat sheets, which for the first time after a race, I wore the entire time back to the hotel. The chicken broth with rice really hit the spot - it was nice and hot and salty goodness. The soft pretzel was also amazing! I liked that they had bags for us to load up on all the goodies - bananas, oranges, orange and apple juice, chips and cashews. It was really a great post race experience.

I met up with my family very easily after the 10 minute walk out of the finishers chute. The kids wanted to see the Rocky statue so we walked all the way back to the art museum and up the steps!! I think walking up and down the steps was a bigger feat than running 13 miles.

When in Philly, you must stand in Rocky's footsteps, right?
I highly recommend the Philadelphia Marathon weekend. I loved the race, the shirt, the medal, the post race goodies, everything about it really.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ragnar Las Vegas 2015 Recap

Heeeeyyyy everyone! I know it's been forever since I posted here. Sorry about that. Life got in the way. That and I haven't been racing at all since May. Talk about a long hiatus! I have been running consistently though so I didn't give up on running altogether, just races for a while.

I did make a triumphant return to racing last weekend in Las Vegas! I ran the Ragnar Relay. Spoiler alert.....it was Ah-mazing!

Yay for free race pics!!
Let me back up to how I ended up signing up to run a race all the way out in Las Vegas. I have wanted to run Ragnar since I started running. Despite the fear of not knowing where I am going and running in the dark, it just looked like a lot of fun. I don't know enough people to get my own team together, so when someone was forming a team (thanks Tricia!) and asked my friend Shannon if she was interested, she thought of me right away because she knew I was as well. Except it was all the way out in Las Vegas. Ehhhh. You only live once, right? So I said yes, and the rest is history. Shannon got her BRF, Sara, and her friend Heidi, and Sara recruited her sister, Suzie, and BFF, Dashell. And we had Van 1 of the Red Hot Racers!

Love these ladies! And the skirts were so awesome! We could see each other coming from far away!
I didn't know any of these ladies except for Shannon, so I was worried about how that would go. There was nothing to worry about. These ladies were awesome teammates! So much fun and so supportive and now they are all my BRFs! I loved every minute of the entire weekend. I have never laughed so much in my life.

Besides all the fun, there was running thrown in there too. It was a race after all! I was runner 4 which meant I ran legs 4, 16, and 28. My mileage was 4.3, 5.3, and 6.3 miles respectively. We had an early start time of 6:00 am and had to be there an hour early AND it was an hour from our hotel. Whomp whomp. I am used to getting up early to race since I runDisney so much. But this was getting up early and then running twice more after that. The lack of sleep was a common theme to the weekend.

Thankfully we got to the start early because it was pretty clusterrific. It was at a ski resort (who knew in Vegas!?) and the temperature kept dropping as we drove up and up. It was 17 degrees at the start. Shannon totally took one for the team and ran the first leg. So anyway, we waited in a long line of vans for quite a while and no one was moving. Finally the van in front of us asked us to move a bit because they were turning around. Apparently vans were getting stuck in the snow! So we decided to do a seventeen three point turn and park right in front of the gate to drop Shannon and Heidi off. Thankfully the volunteer at the start (who was amazing and deserved a medal for dealing with directing traffic in that place) never said a word about our illegal parking spot. So we waited there warm and toasty until Heidi made it back to the van. I was disappointed to miss the start line though.

Waiting for Shannon to finish her first leg.
The rest of the race went fine. That was the only hiccup. The directions and parking and facilities at all of the exchanges were great. We had no problems. We got through the first three legs and then it was my turn.

Legs 4 and 5 were run on a trail. This trail meant that we had to sign an extra waiver so that if we got hurt or you know, died, it wasn't Ragnar's fault. It didn't give me any warm fuzzies. Apparently, these legs used to be run on the side of the road. I wish they had kept the status quo. This trail was full of little stones, big rocks, dirt, sand, rolling hills, you name it. It was awful. I had to keep my head down the whole time to plan out where I was going to place each step. I stumbled a couple times but never wiped out. Thankfully. I was so glad to be off that trail.

This was what I was running on.

So happy to be done!!
We finished our legs around 11 am and handed off to the other van. We stopped at Target on the way back to the hotel because why not? Most of us were starving so we ate lunch and showered. Oh side note, apparently this Ragnar isn't normal because it goes in a circle, so it was possible to go back to our hotel between the major exchanges. It was a really nice perk! I tried to take a nap but it didn't really happen.

We were back out to run again around 5 pm. We were lucky that we didn't have the overnight legs The sun sets around 4:30 so it was still in the dark.
We thought the weather was going to be warmer. Not so much. But yay for being twins!

Waiting for Tricia at the exchange.
I think my leg started around 8 pm. I had 5.3 miles to run on the side of the highway. I was really scared going into this leg. But thankfully, the shoulder was quite wide so traffic wasn't a problem. And I wore a headlamp as well as a lamp that I carried on my hand so I could see ok. I was happy to be done though!

Night running is fun! Ha.
We finished our second legs around 11 pm. We handed off the slap bracelet and happily went back to the hotel. We all showered and were able to sleep for about 4 hours before getting up to run again. It was about a 40 minute drive to the exchange. We started running again just before night-time hours ended, so about 6:30 am.

These legs were near Lake Mead and the view was just gorgeous. We stopped at the scenic overlook and took some fun pics.

According to the Ragnar app, my last leg was supposed to be downhill. Had I remembered what the leg map looked like on the web site, I would have realized that no, it was actually uphill. But I had no recollection and depended on the app to be correct. So when I started running my 6.3 mile leg and realized I was going up a mountain and there was no down in sight, I was frustrated! That was some hard work, let me tell you! It eventually went down a bit after three miles, but then it was right back up and then down and up some more after that. It was a rough final leg. I was so glad to be done when I hit that exchange!

Ragnar app on top, my Garmin on the bottom. Reversed!
Oh hey. I am running up a mountain.

This is exactly how I felt. It was more of a shuffle.

Gorgeous views though.
Many of the legs were no van support, so the van couldn't stop at all. The last couple of legs we were able to so we stopped as much as we could to offer water or a spritz. The weather had gotten quite warm. Oh, I totally forgot to mention that the weather was cold in Vegas! It only warmed up to about 45 degrees, which was fine to run in but was super cold to wait around to run in. Brrrrrr.

We finished our legs around 12:30 pm!!! We were done and just had to wait for the other van to finish. We headed over to Red Rock Hotel to meet them at the finish and get our medals. Tricia, our team captain, handed them all out. It was a special moment. I am so glad she volunteered to be team captain and asked Shannon to be on her team and that Shannon asked me. It was an experience I will never forget. It really was way more fun than I ever thought it could be. I highly recommend Ragnar!
I'm a Ragnarian!

Red Hot Racers!
Van 1