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Jan 11 / Jane

Princeton Half Marathon 2014

A couple weeks before this race, I decided I really wanted to run it. So I volunteered to pace the 2:15 finish time. Together with my friend, Keri, we committed to a 10:18 pace for the Princeton half marathon. I was excited to be part of  the pacing team, but a little disappointed when I found out we would not actually be timed.

We lined up with minutes to spare, and started out too fast. I had all intentions of printing a pacing band to wear and go by the elapsed time, but for the first half of the race, we just averaged Keri’s Garmin (had us going too slow) and my Nike (had us going too fast). There wasn’t really anyone in our group, everyone just wanted to finish faster than 2:15. Which is great: go, run, don’t let us beat you!

The course was beautiful, we started by the Library and ran to the Battlefield. So a little trail action before heading back towards the University. Then up a big hill on Washington… At mile 6, I started calculating based on elapsed time. We were way to fast. We slowed it down, chatted and skipped. We cheered the runners around us, the spectators out to watch us; and enjoyed the gloomy day. The final mile we really slowed it down… We finished just under 2:14, which isn’t terrible considering our fast start. And while I feel a little guilty now being “that pacer” who went too fast, no one around us was vocal about a 2:15 finish, and everyone who stated they wanted to be faster than 2:15, was. So there’s that.

Yay 2:15 Pacers!

Yay 2:15 Pacers!

We caught up with the other pacers after the race and headed back to the new Princeton Pacers store for coffee and bagels. I ended up out to lunch at the Crepe place in Princeton (it’s fabulous!) with Keri, Anne, and Michele, and then back home for a nap. =)

I was really grateful for the opportunity to pace. I really enjoyed this race: the course and the people in it. It was well done and a lot of fun. I loved running with Keri, she was great company. I’m looking forward to pacing again someday. I feel this experience was definitely a learning one, and I know what I would do differently to keep my group on pace next time. Namely wear a pacing band and base it off elapsed time; I’m very consistent once I find my groove, I know I can nail it next time. But I also might want a little faster finish time… We’ll see how it works out!

Jan 11 / Jane

Happy 2015!

It’s certainly been awhile since I’ve blogged, oops? The holidays got a little crazy, as usual. I thought about stopping this, not continuing to blog… But I really like rereading my race experiences and having easy access to some of my favorite recipes. I really like my blog. So I’m back. Expect some long-overdue race recaps and recipes coming at you now! =)

Hope everyone had wonderful holidays, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Nov 24 / Jane

Run For One 5k 2014

This race was the Girls on the Run end of the season 5k. I was only asked to substitute coach once this season and that practice ended up being cancelled due to bad weather. I’m bummed I haven’t had the opportunity to coach, but I was happy to help at the 5k. Anne made me a “Course Marshall,” so I ran the course in a GOTR Cape and was charged with making sure the girls were okay: running with an adult and in good spirits.

Ironically, the weather was just as bad as the day practice was cancelled, although it was likely even colder. I arrived and hung out with Claire’s Robbinsville group until the start. When I started running, I picked up Sydney, the GOTR NJ East Executive Director, and we chatted the whole time, running through the cold rain in our neon capes.

It was a great experience, I love this 5k course, my PR is on this course. I loved taking it easy and cheering on the girls. I loved the time I spent speaking with Sydney. I really connect with GOTR, the mission, the values. I just wish I could do more for them. Sydney and I discussed the Sole Mates program. I’m totally in. Expect more from me on that, soon. 😉

So it was not a fast 5k by any means. 30:32 is my official time. As soon as I was done, I went back and walked/jogged the course backwards to check on the remaining girls. My fingers were frozen by the time I got back inside. There isn’t much to say on this being an actual race, because I did not race it. I just ran it with the girls and was happy my entry fee went towards a good cause.

After the race, I followed Claire to her place. With a change of clothes, we went for lunch and had the most amazing mac and cheese at this awesome bistro in town.

Nov 24 / Jane

Perfect 10 Miler 2014

I wanted to run this race because lots of other women I know were racing this race. CGI Racing, who organizes the race, usually does a nice job with lots of nice race perks. But by the time I signed up, it was a little pricey (I paid over $86), and the reason I didn’t race it last year (the first year) was because of the course: a boring loop through Mercer County Park and the parking lots of the neighboring community college. I decided to give it a chance this year regardless and try and make it a fun experience with some fun ladies.

I worked a bit of the expo on Saturday for Girls on the Run, after my 5k race. I got to visit with Meghan and my co-worker Amanda, who was volunteering for Ryan’s Quest. It was a small expo that made me grateful this is a local race for me: I’d be disappointed having to travel for something so small any other time, since CGI does not offer race-day packet pick-up.

Race morning it was chilly, colder, and more windy that anticipated, but I felt well-dressed in long sleeves and knee high socks. I found Keri and Alison easily at the start line (I’d first met them both in June on a “Run to River Horse” that Meghan organized and then didn’t run, but that’s another story). Then we met up with some more of the ladies from RAP. I lined up in the front with Keri and was really hoping I could match my time from the Army 10-miler a couple weeks earlier.

Ladies before the race.

Ladies before the race.

The race started and I went out a little fast. I was able to sustain it for about 3 miles. I ran mile 4 to 5 with Keri as we headed into the parking lots of MCCC, but then she went on ahead. I was hurting, cramping a bit, and feeling really discouraged with my performance and my view of the scenery (so boring!). I was thinking to myself how the water stops and promised Halloween candy on the course were not there. I took a Hammer Gel at mile 8, it was delicious. We were back in the park and heading towards the finish. Then you hit mile 9 and watched the finish go by on the right. That was rough. It was the longest mile ever, super windy too. And then you got to the super narrow finish chute, in the grass.

I finished in 1:30:26. It’s a totally respectable time, just not what I was hoping for. I think it was very much mental for me, I could not get past the fact that I didn’t want to like this race. So it’s a true one and done for me. I did not like the course, although I did enjoy an all-female field. I was also not impressed with the “perks.” I feel like CGI over-promised and under-delivered. They made a big deal about the mimosa bar after the race, but never mentioned that it was not included in the race fee! The water/fuel stations were not at the announced intervals. It was over-priced.

So I guess I got what I deserved. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of this race in the past, and I, unfortunately, focused on what I didn’t like about this race so much that I did not perform well. And I only have myself to blame. I think a lot of the awesome women I ran with had a fabulous time. And I do very much love a race that embraces “Girl Power,” but this one isn’t for me.

Some of the RAP ladies after the race.

Some of the RAP ladies after the race.

After the race, Keri, Alison, Stephanie, and I went to the Americana Diner. It was fabulous! Bonding with some amazing women, that was my favorite part of the day. That and pumpkin pancakes. Yum!

Race bling.

Race bling.

Nov 23 / Jane

Oat Bars

Adapted from Michelle Pfennighaus‘s Detox Diet. These are a great go-to breakfast. Feel free to experiment and substitute ingredients.

IMG_9488

4 c rolled oats (not instant)
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1 c raisins
1/2 c pumpkin seeds
2 T ground flax seed
4 medium-large ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
1 T cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Mix all ingredients and press into a greased 9×11 pan.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
4. When cool, slice into bars. Makes 12. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Nov 10 / Jane

Yuengling Oktoberfest 5k 2014

I received an Email notification for this race, but figured it was in-between too many other races and was quite expensive for a 5k ($50), so I deleted the Email. Then Alex forwarded me the same Email, “let’s do this.” So I mentioned it to Flo, who lives 10 minutes from Bethlehem, where the race was to take place, to see if she wanted to meet up afterwards at Oktoberfest. She decided to run the race as well.

So race morning, we pick up Flo and Dan at their place and drive over to the Steel Stacks. The place is a mad house: it’s so incredibly crowded. They only have restrooms on the 1st floor of the Arts Quest building (the 2nd floor is closed for a private event… did I mention this race benefits Arts Quest?) and adjacent museum. The lines for the women’s restroom are out the building, it was comical. Alex and I checked a bag and headed into the chute.

Flo and I, German girls, pre-race.

Flo and I, German girls, pre-race.

And with the boys: Alex, myself, Flo and Dan.

And with the boys: Alex, myself, Flo and Dan.

They capped this race at 5,000 participants, but registration was still open, so it was not full. With so many runners for a 5k, they had a wave start. Alex moved towards the front so we went off in the first wave. The course was somewhat hilly, not an out and back, but not a full loop. There were some portions were we saw participants running the other direction. They had German dancers along the course. Alex and I started together, but I found myself running ahead about halfway through. It was not my best race, but not my worse.

I finished in 25:14, 22nd in my age group (out of 641), 297th overall (out of 4,043). I think the wave start worked out well, we were not crowded on the course. The course was fun, challenging, but with a fast finish. It was very scenic and fun to see everyone dressed up for Oktoberfest.

I ran straight through the finish and into the restroom. Then made my way back to see Alex (25:39) finish and grab some goodies. They had one tent set up with water, chips and Lara Bars. We grabbed our bag from the bag check and ran into Brad, who’d biked over 50 miles to get there. Alex and Brad went into the Oktoberfest to find our friend Phil, who’d finished quite a bit ahead of Alex and I (Phil ran a PR that day, 22:07). I went back along the course to run Flo in. I cheered Dan (37:49), then found her about half a mile back; she sprinted to the finish (39:42).

By the time she was done (her and Dan had gone off in the last wave, having waited to use the restroom before), the line through the small snack area and into the Oktoberfest was maddeningly slow. It was such a narrow chute for so many runners now joined by their families to retrieve the 2 free beers with bib.

We finally made it up to Alex and Brad and had our free beers. We met up with Phil and some of his friends and found a table in the sun. It was windy and chilly. Even with a change of clothes, I was cold in two sweatshirts and a scarf. I enjoyed some potato pancakes and Flo and the boys drank pitchers of beer. Eventually, we headed back to Flo and Dan’s to thaw out and order some food. Brad rode back 50+ miles in the cold for his first 100 mile day.

HATR (or PI?) photo: me, Brad, and Phil.

HATR (or PI?) photo: me, Brad, and Phil.

It was a fun day with good company. The race itself went well. A couple things could have made the day go more smoothly, namely some port-o-potties at the start and more than one tent to redeem the free beer at. Warmer weather would have been great too, but nothing anyone could have done about that. 😉 Suppose it made drinking a few pitchers easier for sure, but someone has to drive. =) But all in all, not bad for an inaugural 5k.

Nov 9 / Jane

Haunted Harvest 5k 2014

This race wasn’t originally on my radar, but my office offered me a free entry, so I figured why not? Being Halloween themed, they encouraged costumes. I dressed up as the Running Cow again and arrived in time to grab my shirt and bib, meet a co-worker in the parking lot, and run into Bill at the starting line. I wasn’t planning really race this, just run it since the next day was the Perfect 10 Miler.

Bill and I stuck together as the course went around some sports fields in Veterans Park, then onto a bike path. The bike path looped to another park entrance then back towards the start. It was uphill coming back and I started feeling a little taxed. Out of the woods and back onto the road, Bill started pushing me to the finish. I picked it up and we finished at exactly the same time.

Crossing the finish line with Bill. (Photo: Isles)

Crossing the finish line with Bill. (Photo: Isles)

Our official time is 25:18, placing 33rd and 34th out of 145. Due to the small field, we both placed in our age groups as well. I came in 1st and Bill in 2nd. There were also a decent number of costumed runners, and the race directors had an award for pretty much every one. There was another guy (who finished right ahead of me) wearing a cow costume: they thought we were together. The race director marked how odd it was to have two separate cows show up at a small race, among other funny comments that made the awards very enjoyable. I ended up with $20 to Small World Coffee in Princeton. Mmm… Coffee.

Bill and I with our awards.

Bill and I with our awards.

So, this race was definitely worth getting up early for. I got the entry for free and went home with a nice long sleeve t-shirt, an AG award, and $20 to a local coffee shop. It was a well-run race with a fun, family-friendly vibe and nice goodies. I had a great time.

Oct 14 / Jane

Army Ten-Miler 2014

Several months ago my plan for 2014 was to complete the Spartan Trifecta. Beyond the Beast on September 20th, I had made no plans for fall races. That’s when my friend Beth invited me to run the Army Ten-Miler with her on October 12th. I’d known from a co-worker last year that the race sells out very quickly, so when registration opened, and I saw that my friends Dan and Amanda had signed up to run it as well, I put the race on my calendar. I was in!

I didn’t think much about it before last week. I arrived at Beth and her boyfriend, Brett’s place on Saturday afternoon. We took the Metro to packet pick-up and were disappointed to find they’d run out of every race shirt size other than men’s large. How does that happen? We picked up some goodies and headed back to their place before picking a Mexican joint for dinner. Quesadillas and a pitcher of margaritas later, we were setting our alarms for 5:30 am.

5:30 am came faster than expected. We were out the door and in a crowded Metro train within the hour. By the third stop, it was standing room only and I don’t think we could have fit another person in the train car! The station was worse when we arrived, still full from the previous drop off. We meandered towards the start, in the parking lot of the Pentagon. I checked a bag with sweats for after the race. The forecast called for sunny skis and temps in the low 50’s: good running weather, but I figured I’d be freezing once I stopped moving.

We were in the corral by 7:30 am. The race began at 8 am, but would be in a wave start; 8 waves with 8 minutes in between each. We were Wave 4. I shed my $5 Goodwill sweatshirt once the canon signaled the start at 8:24 am, and we were off. I was hoping to keep a 9 minute pace, finishing at 1:30. Brett was looking to do the same. Beth would meet us at the finish.

Beth and I in the corral before the start

Beth and I in the corral before the start

We started running towards DC, over a bridge to the back of the Lincoln Memorial. We turned left and looped around, towards the National Mall. We didn’t run on the Mall, but around it. It was a scenic course, although I seemed to find some of the points I’d really like to look around and enjoy DC were right when I was picking which volunteer soldier to grab a drink from. Oh well. It wasn’t completely flat, with some small rolling hills and over two bridges in and out of DC, but it definitely was not hilly.

Brett and I stuck together, at mile 5 we checked in: if you’re up to it, go ahead, I’ll meet you at the finish. -Ditto. We were running a consistent 8:30 pace, and it felt good. Comfortably hard. We hit the 6 mile and I thought (and said) “less than 5k to go!” I do that during the half marathon too: at 9 miles I always think it’s only 5k to the finish. Oops? My running brain cannot do basic addition. So we ran on, and over a bridge back into VA. Mile 8, still feeling good. Mile 9, who cares if you’re feeling good? ONE more mile, GO!

We rounded a corner and a spectator shouted, “just past the bridge!” I saw the Army banners signaling a finish chute and figured the finish was just out of sight. I hit the beginning of the banners and lengthened my stride, all the way through the finish. I had a little too much left at the end, which makes me think 8:30 may not be out of the question for the Trenton Half… But I can worry about that later. Brett and I had just destroyed our 1:30 goal with a 1:25 finish!!  And we’d done it together.

This was my first time racing 10 miles, and I loved it! My official time was 1:25:17.

With Beth a bit behind us, we walked through the chute, collecting water and our finisher coin, waiting in line for snacks; then we found free coffee at the USO booth. Mmmmm, coffee! There were TONS of vendors at the finish, maybe more than at the race expo the day before, so we walked around a bit, collecting more snacks and smoothies. Back at the finish, we reunited with Beth and continued visiting various vendors. Before heading back to gear check and the Metro we met with Dan and Amanda. It is always good running into friends who run. 😉

Coffee and coin (in contrast to beer and medal)

Coffee and coin (in contrast to beer and medal)

Beth, Brett and I with reenactors at the finish

Beth, Brett and I with reenactors at the finish

With Dan and Amanda

With Dan and Amanda

We walked back to the start together and picked up my gear bag. It ended up not being worth checking anything since the gear check was so far from the finish it would not be an option to quick grab your things then walk around the finish festival… Thankfully, it stayed warm-enough I was not uncomfortable. The ROTC tent was also handing out free t-shirts so I took a large to give to Alex and wore over my race outfit (tank top) until I was reunited with my sweatshirt. We Metro’ed back to their place, and had a short lay-over before heading out to Beth’s friend’s 25th birthday brunch.

Bottomless mimosas and a personal pizza later, we were playing Pay Day in a bar back near Beth and Brett’s place. Beth and I grabbed a quick bite on the way back to her place and hung out until it was time for me to drive home. I opted for a night drive to avoid traffic. My sore legs appreciated cruise control, and the easy drive made easier by an audiobook (Gone Girl, not sure how I feel about it…).

I had today off to sleep in and catch up on a couple things. All I did was shop and clean the pantry. I’ve had some time to reflect on the weekend though, and it was AWESOME.

I really enjoyed spending time with Beth and Brett. They were so welcoming and flexible with me. The race was great. I was nervous with the amount of people running it: big races are not my thing. The expo turned me off a bit since the first thing we did was receive the wrong shirt size. Then the Metro became incredibly claustrophobic. The start brought some much needed fresh air and the waves moved very smoothly. We did do a decent amount of bobbing and weaving on the course, but it didn’t feel as crowded as other races have. The finish area was large and I had decent cell service so it made getting back together easier. I really do love DC, and I have so many friends (excuses) to visit! I hope to get back there again soon (and with Alex next time!). It was such a short trip!

WWII planes in formation over the finish

WWII planes in formation over the finish

Oct 3 / Jane

Changes for 2015

So, in addition to finally getting some blog posts completed this week, I’ve taken two steps towards the future.  The first was a small step, but a fun one. I upgraded my one-day USA Triathlon membership from the Hightstown Triathlon to an annual membership (yay!).

Why is this a step towards the future, you ask? Well, I’ve rather become hooked with triathlons this summer, completing two in a short timeframe, and spending a lot of time biking and running (and a tiny bit of time swimming) with serious triathletes (training for the Princeton Half Ironman). I had so much fun training and talking tri’s that I’ve decided to make the Princeton Half Ironman (HIM) my goal for next year. And as membership is required to race, and also required for Hightstown, the NJ State Tri in July, and to attend the local open water swims, it made sense to upgrade my membership. Why now? Because today, registration for the NJ State Triathlon opened. I signed up both Alex and myself for the Olympic distance. It will be Alex’s first triathlon. =D

The second, bigger, step towards my future involved a phone call and an online order (that was less expensive than my latest race entry no doubt!). I FINALLY took the plunge and ordered my text- and workbooks to become a personal trainer (YAY!). I’ve been talking about it for years (see here, here, and here), and I now feel ready to devote time to study and practice myself. I really feel this is the right move for me. I understand it takes most people 3-6 months to study for the exam, so I will give myself 6 months and see where I’m at. I’m clearly not in any rush, but I need to do this for myself.

My next step, future-wise, will be to sign up for a swim lesson in the winter or spring. If I’m going to swim 1.2 miles for the HIM, I’m going to need to be more efficient!

Oct 2 / Jane

Steeplechase Distance Run 10k 2014

Last year, I wanted to PR in the 10k at this race. So Bill graciously ran me to a PR 54:31. It was home turf, where I grew up, hilly Hillsborough. So we returned, not necessarily for another PR run, but to race, for sure.

Parking last year was a nightmare, so this year I road my bike from my parents house. 10 minutes and 2.9 miles later, I was locking up my bike beside the bag drop. I found Bill, checked our bags and headed to the start. Walking to the start, dailymile.com friend Harry introduced himself and wished me luck.

Bill and I went back and forth, both thinking each other would be faster and we said it’s okay not to run together, we’d meet at the finish. But we ran together anyway, chatting through the first 2 miles. Then I picked it up a bit, finally finding my stride. I pushed it on the uphills and Bill on the downhills. I took water at every other station since it turned out to be the hottest first weekend of fall ever!

We turned onto Amsterdam Road after 5 miles and had one long stretch, a little downhill, then back up to the finish. I saw 51 minutes on the clock at mile 6, bye-bye PR… Then I rounded the corner into the elementary school and sprinted to the finish. The clock had just clicked over 53 minutes and I was hoping for a chip time under that!

Bill was right behind me. We were both recovering when we heard our names and ‘congratulations.’ Turns out Brad had ridden his bike all the way out from Trenton to watch us finish! We grabbed some post-race snacks and I got a little stretch and massage by the local physical therapy group. We meandered around the vendors and took a peak at the results. 2nd place in my AG, really? Cool! So we resolved to stay for the awards.

My official time was 52:45 and it was a 2nd place AG win.

Finishers!

Finishers!

I packed my backpack and biked back home, medal hanging from my neck. I definitely love this race: fun, challenging course; great swag: t-shirt, custom bib, reusable shopping tote; yummy food after; lots of vendors… I’m very pleased I decided to run this one week after the Beast (link? oh yeah, I didn’t write that recap yet…) and that I did so well for it. I was not anticipating a time faster than 55 minutes and look what happened.  =)