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Oct 2 / Jane

Hightstown Triathlon 2014

In training for the Jersey Girl Tri, I picked up some bike rides with Brad and some friends training for the Princeton Half Ironman. Following their lead, I signed up for Bill’s favorite race, the Hightstown Triathlon. Of course, Bill did not race it this year! They moved the date of the tri to August to accommodate the Half Ironman in September on its usual weekend, and Bill was not prepared for it. But it worked in my schedule.

Alex and I got stuck behind a 9/11 motorcycle ride on the way to packet pick-up the day before. It was a 15 minute ride that took nearly an hour! Thankfully the swag bag was worth it, and the peace of mind of getting everything together the day before.

I got to the race early (and solo), parked close by and reassembled my bike out of the car (yes, replacing the front wheel counts as reassembling). I checked-in outside of transition, was marked with my race number, then found a place to set up my bike. It’s a small race (only 128 finishers!) so there were only 3 heats: men under 40, men over 40, and women, in that order. I met up with Brad, and Bill, who was volunteering, and some other runners I’d get to know better after the event.

My transition set-up.

My transition set-up.

I waited with the women before the start on the side of Peddie Lake. It was cooler and overcast and looked like rain, even though there had not been any in the forecast. The mens heats were off and it was not long before we found ourselves hopping in the lake to wait at a buoy for an in-water start.

The gun when off and I was one of the slowest swimmers. To be expected, for sure: I had little practice this year and not a whole lot of confidence. I again took my googles off and put them on my head and proceeded to do a mix of side- and breast-stroke. I spent a tiny bit of time doing back stroke, but that made me nervous not being able to see ahead of me. I remember looking over and seeing Lisa, a friend of Brad from the Hamilton Area Trail Runners Group (HATR), we were evenly paced throughout the swim.  And then it was finally over. A very encouraging volunteer firefighter stood at the end of the dock helping us out of the water, and into transition I went.

Swim (1/4 mile): 11:26

T1 was super close and super fast. A quick wipe of my feet, shoes, helmet, gloves, and I was running my bike to the mounting line.

T1: 1:36

As soon as I got on the bike it began to rain. Another rainy bike leg, really?? We made some turns out of Hightstown then onto a flat country road, I started passing people immediately. I was working on passing a group of 4 or 5 with other rider ahead of me when the group all promptly turned right and myself and the other rider continued straight! We did a quick U-turn then sped up to pass that same pack of riders again. Then I passed the one in front of me. I was alone on a stretch right by the Turnpike where a slight uphill burned my quads and I felt like I was barely moving (looking back on it, I think the wind was just super strong at this point). Once heading back towards Hightstown I continued to pick riders off until I was back in town and at the dismount.  No one had passed me on the bike, not one person.

Bike (15.33 miles): 48:34 (18.9 mph)

I got back into transition to find there were not many bikes around me… The women who’d all exited the water, and then transition, way ahead of me, were all still out on the bike. Alright! I racked my bike, changed my shoes and headed out of transition. Don, a geocacher friend and volunteer firefighter working the event, was cheering me on as I started running.

T2: 1:17

The run course was flat, a mixture of road and gravel/dirt pathways. I saw Linda (HATR) first, who counted me as the 6th female overall (what?!); then Bill a little later on who snapped a photo and yelled encouraging words. My breathing was uncomfortable and I felt like my legs wanted to move faster but I just couldn’t. One woman did pass me, then I started to recognize the roads I was running and ran right past my car into the parking lot where the finish banner greeted me.

Run (3 miles, felt short): 25:18 (8:10 pace)

Photo Credit: Bill.

Run Jane Run! (Photo Credit: Bill)

I chatted with a co-worker at the finish. He took a spill on the bike, ouch! I looked at the results, not bad, 7th female. I probably placed in my AG too. I headed back to my bike to gather my things and change before the awards. I had the hardest time getting my bike wheel off (never an issue putting it back together of course!): I solicited assistance from another woman nearby and we managed it together. I was frazzled though and after getting my bike in the car, I closed the trunk with my keys inside. UGH! Thankfully, I had my phone in my pocket, so I called Alex (hungover or possibly still drunk from a housewarming party we attended the night before) to come bring me my extra key.

I walked back over to the awards with Lisa and celebrated what turned out to be a 1st place in my AG victory! My official time is 1:28:10, 47th overall (7th female), 2nd in my AG (but awarded 1st since 1st received another award).

Butch, Brad, Lisa, myself, and Tom. I, of course, the only one not changed after the race!

Butch, Brad, Lisa, myself, and Tom. I, of course, the only one not changed after the race! (Photo Credit: Bill)

Brad, Lisa, and Bill waited with me after the awards for Alex to arrive with my spare keys. Everyone else had run off. I have to say, that was one downside to this race, there wasn’t much of anything post-race. They had some egg casserole, I couldn’t even look at it after finishing, and coffee. What happened to bananas and a bag of pretzels? Oh well. Alex arrived and we all went our separate ways. I was indeed thrilled with my performance and wore my medal grocery shopping after the event.

Work the following day was just as rewarding. The co-worker I’d raced with made a point before the race to tell me it would be very disappointing if he didn’t beat me at this tri. I agreed since he is a much stronger runner than I. He was also training for the Half Ironman and is a much more accomplished triathlete, with a nice tri bike too. Well, I beat him. Granted he did have a fall on the bike, but that didn’t stop him from telling everyone I’d beaten him. =)

Sep 29 / Jane

Half-Wit Half Marathon 2014

A $34 trail half marathon in the middle-of-nowhere, PA with a hilarious description on a warm August weekend. What’s not to like? Did I mention it was only $34?? Their website describes the race as follows: “The Half Wit Half is perhaps Pretzel City’s tuffest race. Type A’s love it because finishing it is quite an accomplishment. Others not as competitive love it because finishing it ALIVE is quite an accomplishment (versus on the back of a horse drawn cart with us yelling “bring out the dead”).” Seriously, read the rest here.

Before race day, I was able to convince Gwen to run it with me. Yay, someone to help me navigate the “smorgasbord of rocks and roots, single, double and triple track trails, uphills that are bad and downhills that are worse, fallen limbs from both trees & those ahead of you, and even urban decay such as the legendary “120 Steps from Hell”.” I couldn’t wait, especially after my friend Brad’s ringing endorsement: hardest half ever. Issy and Dan had also previously run it and vowed never again. Well, at least it would be good training for the Spartan Trifecta, right?

Right! Gwen and I arrived early enough for a prime parking space. She finished her coffee and I stocked my CamelBak with Shot Bloks and a Chia Bar. I visited the bathroom twice, once waiting behind a very familiar talkative face… (more on that later). Then we walked down the road to the start where we recited the “Half Wit Oath” prior to the gun.

We’d planned to just take it easy, enjoy this as a fun run and have a beer at the finish! Well, it turns out, technical trail races with 2000+ ft elevation change really aren’t that fun. It was hot, and while the trails were shaded, it was a very demanding run. We took a lot of walking breaks, making up some time on the downhills. Thankfully, the race directors figured we may be doing this and provided some entertainment en route. Twice I saw “Poetry for Half Wits” on separate signs up steeper inclines. The following is one of the poems:

Roses are Red
…Roses are Red.
You could have stayed in Bed
You must have been dropped on your Head
Because you’re Here instead.
What were you thinking?
MORON!

Yup. Then we came to a stop at approximately 10 miles, and in addition to a water station, there was a beer station. I had a sip of water then headed around on the loop, destined to be back at this same station at mile 12. I ran ahead of Gwen, thinking I’d have a beer and wait for her there. I had two beers and discovered that familiar face in the bathroom earlier was a teammate from my college cross country team! Sad to say it’d been that long, I didn’t recognize her right away. We chatted and she drank. There was a competition at this beer station. Volunteers were keeping track of how many cups of beer (Yuengling) each participant drank and the 1st and 2nd male and female who finish the race in under 3 hours would win a prize (provided they can walk to the podium to claim their prize…).

Gwen had a sip of my beer then we continued on the final mile to the finish. It was an uphill climb, we hopped a guardrail, then finished on the grassy lawn outside the beer garden. My finish was 3:02:12. Slowest. Half. Ever.

All smiles now that it's over!

All smiles now that it’s over! (Yes, I know my hair is sticking up.)

We gorged on post-race snacks, watched the awards, and exhausted, made our way home. I think both of us were a little shocked by our performance in the woods. I had an idea what I was getting myself into, but it was hard. Very hard. I’m not sure trail running is for me. I suppose I should take that half-wit oath seriously next time. 😉

Post race entertainment... Unfortunately not as good as Uber Hans.

Post race entertainment… Unfortunately not as good as Jack Nicholason Uber Hans.

Sep 29 / Jane

Jersey Girl Triathlon 2014

I had been looking forward to this event for nearly a year. My first triathlon last year, the Jersey Girl remains one of my favorite. I recruited Mom, Kate, Issy, Nula, Megan, and Gwen (as a late addition) to participate with me. A couple days before race day, our final line-up had some amendments and we ended up with 6 total: myself, Mom, Kate, Issy, Gwen, and Sally.

The forecast was not good: cooler and rainy. I had never ridden my bike in the rain, ever, so I was super nervous on the drive over. The ground was wet and it was overcast when we arrived (but it was not yet raining!). We met up in the parking lot, together with our best spectators, Dad, Alex, and Dan. Mom had picked up all our race packets, so we distributed and affixed swim caps, bike tags, timing chips, race bibs, etc.

Gear bags and bikes in tow, we set ourselves up in transition, got marked with our race numbers and age, and took some “before” shots. It wasn’t long before they were calling heats to the shore to line-up. They split the field into only 12 heats, the 29 and under’s going 2nd (after the Open, or “elite,” heat).

Giving directions to the ladies of heat 2.

Giving directions to the ladies of heat 2.

Family, before the start.

Family, before the start.

Future Jersey Girl Triathletes 2014!

Future Jersey Girl Triathletes 2014!

On the beach, getting ready to swim!

On the beach, getting ready to swim!

It was a large heat and the ocean was looking rough, but the temperature would be warmer than the air. I put my googles on and they fogged up before they even counted down to our start. I put them on my head as soon as I got in the water.  I was comfortably maneuvering around other swimmers, doing the breast stroke and keeping my head above water. The water temperature was very comfortable and while the waves were rough, it was over in no-time.

And, GO!

And, GO!

Running off towards transition...

Running off towards transition…

Swim (300m, shortened to approx 275m per results): 6:26

I was out of the water and running up the beach to transition before I knew it. I got to my bike and plopped down on the ground to put my bike shoes on. I was so focused I forgot to even wipe my feet off, dirty and wet, into my shoes they went! Kate and Gwen entered transition as I was getting on my gloves and helmet. The weight of everyone else’s bike on the rack had me yanking at mine to get lose, but off I went.

T1: 2:36

I got on the bike and started passing people immediately. It began raining and there were a lot more turns in the early part of the bike through Long Branch than I remember from last year. I really thought it was more just out and back. Oops? I was taking it easy due to the wet roads: without any experience riding in the rain, I had no idea how my bike would handle. I got stuck behind a slow moving car at one point through town. That was so very frustrating. Finally I hit Ocean Ave and picked off more riders, one by one. I was passed once, by a fast-looking girl on a tri bike (not in my AG as it turns out). My odometer clicked 11 miles and I couldn’t believe the ride was over.

Riding out on Ocean Ave

Riding out on Ocean Ave

And back on Ocean Ave...

And back on Ocean Ave…

Bike (11mi): 35:36 (18.5mph)

I thought the weather must have deterred spectators, since I did not see many on the bike, but then I realized it was just too early. Many participants were just starting the bike! Transition was a ghost town and Alex talked to me from outside the fence. Yes, the bike went well, but the roads were wet! I quickly racked my bike and changed my shoes.

Please note I have one foot in my running shoe, one socked foot on the wet ground and Im taking off my helmet... I will then throw my ring off with my gloves- and not notice it until halfway through the run! Oops!

Please note, I have one foot in my running shoe, one socked foot on the wet ground and I’m taking off my helmet… I will then throw my ring off with my gloves, and not notice it until halfway through the run! Oops!

T2: 1:31

It was strange heading out on the run with barely anyone watching. I was running alone until one girl came up beside me: she said she liked my pace and would run with me as long as she could. Just over a mile in on the out-and-back course, a speedy girl in my age group ran by. Then one more, not my AG, yelling encouraging words as she went by. She called me “girlie,” which I just love! I rounded the turn around and started seeing more faces behind me. Issy was close by at the turn around and I remember telling myself, don’t let her beat you! I pushed it into high gear and saw Gwen a little bit behind Issy. The boys were cheering at the finish and I was done.

Start of the run, all alone.

Start of the run, all alone.

FINISH!

FINISH! (In the same pose as the start…)

Run (3mi): 25:16 (8:26 pace)

I took my medal and a cup of water back to where the boys were to see Gwen finish. Issy followed her, then I ran up the course to run-in Kate, Mom, and Sally, respectively.

All five ladies with me completed their first triathlon at the Jersey Girl. They all battled strong currents in the ocean, a wet bike leg, and a windy run. And they ALL finished with a smile. I cannot tell you how proud I am of my family and friends. I had no doubt any of them would be able to complete the tri, I’m just thrilled they all seemed to love it as much as I do!

We grabbed some post race goodies and went to view the results. I had a chance to place in my AG, so we took some photos and waited for the awards. I did end up with 3rd in my age group with a total time of 1:11:21, 29th overall. We waited for the Mother-Daughter Team awards, but they did not come. We inquired after them, but to no avail. Later, online, Mom and I would be listed as the fastest Mother-Daughter Team with a combined time of 2:38:56 (average 1:19:28).

JERSEY GIRLS 2014

JERSEY GIRLS 2014

A podium finish for me.

A podium finish for me.

We packed up our gear from transition, changed into dry clothes and went to a nearby diner for lunch. We reflected on what a fun race it was and how proud we were of each other for completing such an awesome event. And yes, I am already looking forward to next year!

Sep 29 / Jane

End of September

I don’t know how you bloggers do it. It’s the end of September and I owe you [loyal reader(s?)] race recaps back to August 3rd! Some of the posts I was waiting to write the get the right emotions in without rambling; and I suppose waiting nearly two months will get you very concise recaps, since that’s all I will remember. And so I will begin recapping some of my favorite events so far this year…

(Links will be added as posts are posted.)

Jersey Girl Triathlon 2014
Half-Wit Half Marathon 2014
Hightstown Triathlon 2014
Tri-State Super Spartan 2014
Vermont Spartan Beast – World Championships 2014
Steeplechase Distance Run 10k 2014

Sep 1 / Jane

Tour de Oxen

After the trail 10k this morning, Alex and I headed out on a 21 mile bike ride through Hopewell Valley to see some of the Hopewell Valley Stampede.  The route we took was very hilly but we got to see some neat decorated cows!  It was very hot and humid, but this was fun.

Olly Olly Referee, the start of our tour

Olly Olly Referee, the start of our tour

Ox Power at the Harbourtown Cemetery

Ox Power at the Harbourtown Cemetery

Iron Oxide after some serious hills!

Iron Oxide after some serious hills!

Copper Vine in front of Hopewell Valley Vineyards

Copper Vine in front of Hopewell Valley Vineyards

Alex, enjoying the tour

Alex, enjoying the tour

Sep 1 / Jane

Hot Diggity Dog 10k Trail Race 2014

I was unexpectedly back in town for Labor Day.  (Impending storms shortened our weekend camping trip.  Not that we wouldn’t camp in the rain, but more importantly, we do not have anywhere to dry wet gear.)  So I made the last minute decision to run a local 10k trail race.  I got there early to sign up on-site and found some of the Hamilton Area Trail Runners (HATR) to chat with until the start.  My speedy friend, Bill (winner of the Trenton Half last year), was also there training for a fall 10k so it was fun to catch up with him a bit too.

Based on the results from last year, I had an idea I may be competitive in this race, and with no chip timing I lined up near the start.  We were off towards the marina on a paved pathway and then straight into the woods.  The trail was windy single track with lots of rocks and roots.  Most of it is packed down for mountain bikes and there wasn’t much elevation change.  I stayed behind Erin from the HATR group until about 1.5mi, then I fell into line behind another female leader.  I followed them most of the way, got past a couple people before the 5k mark then we were pretty evenly paced.  The woman in front slowed so I moved past.  I was feeling pretty good, despite the humidity (97% at the start of the race, temps in the low 80’s).  It felt a little cooler in the woods, but still humid.

On the last wooded loop I saw the woman I’d passed before catching back up and I knew outside of the woods, in the full sun and heat, I’d slow.  I dug deep and thought to myself, how awesome it was that I hadn’t fallen during a trail 10k.  And then I promptly fell.  Seriously, it was just like that.  Thankfully it was just a little stumble, no broken skin, just a little dirt.  I ran out of the woods to the volunteer indicating “second female!”  But in the full sun down the path from the marina I was exhausted!  The previously third female ran by me and I picked it up just enough to finish third female in a time of 58:01 (7 seconds behind #2).

Running to the finish

Running to the finish (photo credit: Bucks County Speedsters)

I was hoping for a finish between 55 and 58 minutes.  I’m thrilled I met my goal and exceeded my expectations for an AG place.  Looking at the results now, it appears there were about the same number of participants overall (126) but the times were slower.  Likely due to the humidity and threat of rain (it did storm later in the day).

Some of the HATR runners today

Some of the HATR runners today (photo credit: Bill Scannon)

I hung around the HATR group until the awards.  They announced the overall winners, male and female, then proceeded to the AG awards.  My name was not called.  Neither was Bill’s (who’d came in 2nd overall); or the woman who placed right ahead of me.  It appears their timing system excluded the top 3 overall from the AG awards even though they only gave out 1 overall award.  So afterwards, we were each given 1st place in our respective AG (which were, coincidentally,  all different).

I’m very happy I got out of bed early and ran this one.  It was a great, well-run event with a fun group of people.  The course was what I expected from a trail race in Mercer County Park: flat, but challenging.  It was also extremely well-marked and well-manned, with 3 water stations and volunteers at all trail ends.  The goodie bag for race-day registration was pretty nice, granola bar, full size water bottle, hand sanitizer…  Then a finishers reusable cup, full hot dog and chili BBQ with pretzels and gummy bears (not as great for us vegetarians, but still awesome that they provide this!).  The AG award I received was not a medal or a trophy (my least favorite, what the heck will I do with this?), but a $20 gift card to Modell’s!  I was just telling Alex how I love my ADIDAS compression shorts and wanted another pair…  I would definitely consider putting this race on my calendar again next year.

Race goodies

Race goodies

Sep 1 / Jane

Kale Salad

This has been one of my go-to salads this past month.  The recipe is adapted from the Food Babe.

1 bunch kale, stems removed
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c cashews
juice of 1 lemon
1 T olive oil
1 t honey
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a blender or food processor, process kale into small chopped pieces.
2. Make dressing: stir lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together.
3. Combine chopped kale, raisins, and cashews to a large bowl and top with dressing.
4. Stir all ingredients together and serve.

You can substitute just about any dried fruit (cranberries, currants, yellow raisins, etc) or nut (pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.) and lime can be used instead of lemon.  Be creative and enjoy!

Aug 4 / Jane

Running with the Balloons 5k 2014

Alex and I made our 4th annual trek to Solberg Airport for the AM hot air balloon ascension at 6:45 am on the last Sunday in July.  We’d even recruited some geocaching friends to join us for the ascension and 5k this year, it being a summer favorite of ours.  Unfortunately, the weather called for thunder storms and it was announced about 7 am that the balloons would not go up due to the low cloud ceiling.  Bill arrived shortly thereafter, knowing there would be no ascension (I suppose we could have called the weatherman in the morning before leaving so early).  😉

We did an easy warm-up, then lined up at the front of the start together.  Each year they try to have a unique event to begin the race.  Last year they shot a woman from a canon; this year they had a troupe completing a complicated high dive into a large pop-up pool.  The last diver hit the water and we were off.  I didn’t have any time goal I wanted to hit this year, just wanted to run it faster than last year and I was aiming for a place in my age group.  I probably would have done a little better too if I hadn’t run a 6 mile trail run the morning before.  Oh well.

Bill slipped away once we exited the airport onto a gravel, horse-lined road.  Alex went after him.  I kept Alex in my sights but ran my own race.  Downhill, then back up, down and back up, right on a paved road… A little more down and up, then past the 2 mile water station and back into the airport.  We ran a grassy trail a back way to the runway.  Then past a giant Panda balloon and down the runway to the finish.  The runway is deceivingly long…  The finish banner seems so close, but then you’re still running!

I ran past the husbands of my geocaching runner friends, and finished just over 30 seconds behind Alex.  Alex ran a PR of 24:56, finally breaking the 25 minute mark (yay!) and I came in at 25:28.  We collected some goodies, juice, coconut water, Gatorade protein bars, then I watched Joanna and Wendy complete the 5k.   We congratulated each other, then went our separate ways.

Bill and Alex waiting for the awards.

Bill and Alex waiting for the awards.  Quick Check was the sponsor, can you tell?

I jogged around a bit to locate bags for our goodies, but not a lot of the vendors had opened yet.  It was still early and without the morning ascension, there were not a lot of people at the festival yet.  We meandered back into the awards tent and discovered all three of us, Alex, Bill and I had placed in our respective age groups!  Alex came in third, but was awarded 1st place since the other two in his AG won overall awards.  I also came in third (and was given third); Bill came in second in his AG.  So we had all three medals at the end.

We enjoyed another lively awards ceremony (the MC is just hilarious); then headed into the festival for goodies and a little cool down.  Although it was disappointing there was no balloon ascension, it is still one of my favorite 5ks of the year and I’m looking forward to next year already!

 

WINNERS!

WINNERS!

Lady, the Rav4 Pegasus Unicorn.

Lady, the Rav4 Pegasus Unicorn.

Aug 3 / Jane

PA Spartan Sprint 2014

Several weeks ago now, Alex and I completed the first third of the Spartan Trifecta, the Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint at Blue Mountain.  We signed up as a team with friends, Dan and Issy, and were joined by a couple of their friends, but we decided to race on our own this time.  Staying together as a team didn’t go very well for us last year: too many different paces and abilities, it was better just participating with Alex this year.  We went into it knowing what to expect from last year and hoped to just get a good time this year.

We arrived early, but with a 12:15 start time, we ended up in an auxiliary parking lot with a 20 minute wait for a shuttle bus.  It was a little disorganized, and a little disappointing: no where in the pre-race info did they mention shuttle buses.  Nevertheless, we got to the start in time, and met up with Dan and Issy and their two friends with enough time for a warm-up before heading into the chute.

Our "before" photo.

Our “before” photo.

12:15 hit and we were off up the mountain and over some walls.  I’d read in the pre-race info that the course would be longer, approx. 4.9mi, which meant we probably wouldn’t be doing one long trek up the mountain, then one long way down. And I was right.  We came to a second set of walls (over, under, through), then headed back down, over a cargo net, to the base of a ski lift.  Alex and I were jogging up to this point, then we had to head back uphill.  Here’s were we decided to hike it and save our energy for the obstacles and flat or downhill running.

We hit the inverted wall, then another 8′ wall before heading into the woods uphill.  And uphill, and more uphill.  We hiked and made our way through groups of people.  There were a couple steep sections that had a rope available to help walk you uphill, a couple little downhills before more uphill.  Then we reached the summit and the sandbag carry.  It was on the same slope as last year, but opposite direction.  I appears the earlier groups did the entire loop; when we went, it was just down and up the “down” side from last year.

Eyeing the camera at the Sandbag Carry.

Eyeing the camera at the Sandbag Carry.

Next was the spear throw, which Alex made and I missed.  I did my burpees and we continued to the Hercules Hoist.  The weighted sandbags were definitely heavier than last year, but I was able to get mine up with minimal difficulty.  Alex did assist me on the way down though.  Then it was time to head downhill.

We really opened it up on the downhill and I became incredibly grateful for my choice of footwear.  I wanted trail shoes for the Trifecta, so I did some research and bought a recommended pair of Invo8 Trailroc 236.  I’m used to minimalist running shoes though, so when I tired them on they were just too different.  Before the Spartan, I ended up finding the Merrell Pace Glove 2‘s at Marshall’s for $49, so I had to have them!  I went back and forth about what pair to wear, and Alex convinced me to try the Invo8’s.  I’m SO GRATEFUL I did.  They are fabulous!  I had no issues going up or downhill, they gripped perfectly and were very comfortable.

Near the bottom of the mountain we encountered the rolling hills of muddy water.  In a water pit, over a mont of dirt, into another pit, etc. Then a little more downhill before we hit the swim.  No slip & slide this year, bummer, but the swim was still very refreshing with the mid-day heat beating down on us.

Out of the water, was the tractor pull, a cement block down near the water and back uphill.  The earlier heats travelled through the water, we did not.  Next, we had a choice of obstacles (really? why not both back to back?): Monkey Bars or the Log Hop, both of which we were told you could assist with.  The Monkey Bars looked larger (the actual bar) than last year and likely very slippery out of the water, so we opted to assist each other on the Log Hop.  This year, we both made it safe and sound and rounded the next corner to a water stop and the barbed wire crawl.

 

Tractor Pull, part 1.

Tractor Pull, part 1.

Tractor Pull, part 2.

Tractor Pull, part 2.

Barbed Wire Crawl.

Barbed Wire Crawl.

I feel the crawl was a little shorter than last year, and maybe less messy since we completed it on the first day this year.  There was a volunteer spraying a fire-hose over everyone and the cold water was welcome.  We then headed onto a slope with a new obstacle (new to us, at least), the Tire Pull.  A tire (men & women’s specific) was attached to a chain on the slope and you had to pull the tire up to you, then drag it back downhill for the next participant.  Alex had packed gloves for both of us, and this is the first time I thought I needed them. Unfortunately, I had the thought after Alex was already working on his tire and I was ready to do mine, so I just completed it without.

Back at the base of the mountain now, we hit the Rope Climb.  I was wiped out and knew I wouldn’t complete the climb, so I did burpees while Alex rung the bell at the top of the climb, with ease.  I took the time off also to rid my shoes of rocks accumulated during the water obstacles.  At this point we assessed we’d been on the course for nearly 2 hours, 30 minutes more than we thought it was take us based on last year’s time.  Of course last year the course was a little simpler and much shorter (3 miles or so).

The following obstacle was also a new one for us: the Bucket Carry.  Carry a 5 gallon bucket filled with rocks up the designated slope and back down.  I cheated a little and picked a bucket with a very small amount of rocks in it.  The earlier heats had to fill the buckets themselves and dump them at the end for the next person.  I don’t understand why they modify the obstacles so much; I don’t feel like it would have caused any bottlenecks, but would have kept some people on the course a little longer…

Anyway, after the Bucket Carry, we headed back uphill for the Traverse Wall.  This one is one of my favorites because I’ve been able to nail it each time; this time was no exception.  But I did think I lost Alex, I finished and could not find him anywhere!  He was in line to go on the other side of the same wall I was on, and then he wasn’t.  Turns out, people on that wall were moving so slowly and someone suggested going left to right was better for right-handed people, so I was looking for him on the wrong side.

Reunited, we headed back to the base for the FINAL obstacles(!!).  Of course another new one, the Monkey Bar Cargo Net had a massive bottleneck of participants waiting to get onto the net via four short ramps.  It was terribly inefficient, as I remarked to those around me.  Alex got fed up and we tried to exit the line and complete burpees to move on from the obstacle when a staff member indicated that this was a required obstacle and could not be forgoed.  I argued they were not regulating the obstacle well and the wait was too long; Alex completed his burpees.  I got the OK to head in-between participants waiting and get on the net to make my way across.  I took some people in line with me and started a trend.  I also completed the obstacle with minimal difficulty.

Out of the water under the net, we hit a short barbed wire crawl and a short sloped wall before the fire jump to the finish.  My official finish time is 2:23:25, which, believe it or not, puts me in 21st place in my age group (out of 456, top 5%!); I also placed top 5% out of all females and top 15% all finishers.  This is from the Saturday Open race only and excludes Elites.  For comparison, the top Open female finished in 1:47:18 and the top Elite female in 1:14:27.

Finishers!

Finishers!

We got cleaned up and changed and chatted with a high school friend of Alex’s while sipping the free beer, Shock Top (yum), until Dan and Issy finished.  Our friend Brad (from the Bordentown Running Club) was also participating, so we chatted a bit about the race as well (and planned a 25 mile bike ride for 7am the next morning).  Issy and Dan were over an hour behind us, we waited while they cleaned up then met for a late lunch/early dinner in town before heading home for a nap.

It was a rough race, definitely more difficult than last year.  I’m not sure if it was mainly because we started in the afternoon (which sucked), or that it was longer with newer more difficult obstacles.  Either way, it was worth the trip to Blue Mountain and it was a nice way to kick off the Trifecta.  It did open my eyes to some changes I need to make in training though.  I do not want the Spartan Beast to be a bad surprise.  Time to plan some more hill runs and quad strengthening exercises!

Cheers!

Cheers!

 

EDIT: I totally did not remember all the obstacles while writing this.  Major thanks to rem6a on youtube for his first person video of all the obstacles.  Want to know what I went through?  Watch it here.

Jul 13 / Jane

Revolutionary Run 5k & 10k 2014

Last Friday, the 4th of July, was my 28th birthday.  I started my day, as I have the past three years, with the Revolutionary Run 10k.  This year, however, I was not running it alone.  Kate was over from PA to run the 5k with Mom and Alex would ruck the 5k along with them.

Alex followed Kate and I to the race and Mom met us there.  We were running late, but thankfully since we were all on teams, bib pick-up was quick, if not a little disorganized (from what I heard, at least).  Bill had picked up the bibs for our Princeton Intervals Team (Bill, Ali, Jason, Mariesa and myself).  We stuffed our shirts in Alex’s bag and headed to the start.  Ali and I watched the start of the 5k, made a quick pit stop at the port-o-potties and met Bill in the stating chute.  I saw Jason warming up, but hadn’t met our 5th team member yet (Bill would later point her out to me during the race).

Alex heading to the start.

Alex heading to the start.

Kate and Mom at the start of the 5k

Kate and Mom at the start of the 5k

None of us had any plan what we wanted to run…  Unlike past years, the weather was cooler and overcast; not the usual sunny, hot and humid.  The race director announced the race would begin promptly at 8:30 am, “in 3 minutes” he said.  Then at 8:30 am exactly, a musket fired signaled the start, without warning.  So we started running.

I stuck with Ali and Bill through the first mile, then the second…  Ali started to pull away, but we kept her in our sights.  Bill and I made it to the turn around and I was feeling good.  There were a couple mile markers on the course, but no one telling splits. I wasn’t really looking at my watch since I am familiar with the course and was running comfortably.  By mile, 4 we were just behind Ali again and I could tell I was running faster than anticipated, like PR-fast.  We caught up with Ali and at mile 5 I remember thinking I could definitely beat 54 minutes.  Bill was fading in and out telling me to go on, then running ahead himself with a surge of energy.  But in this mile, I remember distinctly feeling great, announcing this, and setting the pace. Then, by the time we were heading back into the park, I was ready to be done.  We rounded the final turn and Mom appeared cheering me on.  Bill told us ladies to run ahead; Ali turned on the heat so I ran after her.

I didn’t have much left at the finish.  But I’d unexpectedly PR’ed, by a lot.  My official finish time is 51:55.  As Bill so willingly pointed out, that’s over 8 minutes faster than I ran the same race last year (although I have, of course, run a 10k faster than that more recently).  And we all finished within 4 seconds of each other; :52, :55 & :56 respectively.

Alex and I at the finish.

Alex and I at the finish.

Family photo

Family photo

We enjoyed some post-race smoothies and watermelon; took some photos and collected free samples (body wash and Advil? why not?).  Alex was wildly popular with his American flag, flag short shorts (or Ranger Panties as they’re so lovingly called), and 40 lb ruck: people were borrowing his flag for photos or asking to pose with him.  (He even ended up featured in a local paper.)  The rest of us relaxed and chatted and waited for the awards.

The 5k awards came first.  They started with the all-male team, then all-female, then co-ed: 3rd place, The Slow Phillips; 2nd place, Jane Made Us Do It (!!!); and 1st place, What Were We Thinking?  I was so thrilled Mom, Kate and Alex got an award; I’m so glad I took the easy way and signed them up as a team.  😉  But hearing those names for the winning teams was too much.

Jane Made Us Do It! AND we got 2nd place!!

Jane Made Us Do It! AND we got 2nd place!!

There were more teams listed under the 10k results, and the race was competitive, so I wasn’t sure how Princeton Intervals fared this year.  Turns out, we also took 2nd place co-ed team!  And since Ali, Bill and I were the only ones there, we took the medals (technically, Bill and I were the two un-scored members of the team, but only by seconds, and it was, of course, my birthday).

More bling for Princeton Intervals.

More bling for Princeton Intervals.

So medals in hand, we saved some additional watermelon and bananas that were destined for the garbage, and headed to Mom and Dad’s for a Birthday BBQ and Bash.  This race was the perfect way to begin my day though; a great race with great company, friends and family, a PR and a team award!  Hope everyone else’s 4th was as bangin’!