Covered Bridges Half Marathon

I live for action packed, adventure filled weekends and the weekend of the Covered Bridges Half Marathon was definitely one of them!

Sometime last year, after hearing a bunch of people raving about the race’s beautiful course and hearing “bridges” in the name (I have a weird passion for bridges) I decided I NEEDED to run it. The only thing was, it sells out in about 15 minutes. So I threw caution to the wind and actually signed up for a race in advance for once.. like REALLY in advance, so I had no idea what else my schedule would hold at the time.

Turned out, it was to be my boyfriend’s grandparent’s 50 wedding anniversary party the night before. A party that I was to help prep for the two days before hand (when I wasn’t at work), then help set up, then party at. Of course, it turned out SUPER FUN, but after helping make about a million chocolates for the dessert table, eating half of them, and dancing for hours I was pooped and beginning to question my decisions. I left at 9:30 to make the 3 hour drive to the campground I where I was staying. I couldn’t believe there was STILL traffic going through Boston 😒 and I ended up getting mildly lost trying to get gas in NH because their exit amenity signs are different than the ones I’ve evidently come to know and love here in Mass.

In the end I made it to the KOA campground I was staying at in one piece, but questioning my decisions further, at 1AM. I pulled up to the office and was somehow surprised it was closed.. yes it was 1 in the morning, but they had even had an “Extra Comments” section in registration for late arrivals that I had filled out so I was kind of stumped why they’d just leave me. I honestly debated just camping in the parking spot in front of the office for a few minutes until I finally notice a “Night Registration” sign off to the side. It was above a what looked to be a brightly colored bulletin board with only one paper posting a “Non-Emergency Number” on it. It seemed off, but I figured this isn’t an emergency after all so I gave it a shot. After clearly waking the poor woman up, the park ranger explained to me that the “bulletin board” was actually a box.. the night registration box.. which had my info.. so I didn’t have to go disturbing people 😅 She then proceeded to try and direct me to my site even though it was literally the first one at the entrance. I think she thought I was clueless at this point (which I guess I kind of was). I parked in my spot.. 20 feet from the office and attempted to Google Map to the start line so I could figure out how early I’d need to be up. Of course I didn’t have GPS signal so I just went with more than 20 minutes to spare since I thought I remembered it being about that far of a drive. Exhausted and kind of exasperated with how things were going I set my alarm for 5AM and laid down in the backseat of my car. That’s when I looked up to see the sky FULL of stars that I was going to be sleeping under. I immediately felt better and like this was all worth it again and passed out after a short star gaze 😊

I woke up before my alarm, feeling pretty good that morning. I remembered it being a pretty straight shot to the race start so I figured I’d just start driving and hope to find GPS and/or signs. Turned out I just needed to go to the entrance of the campground for GPS AND the race parking (I had looked up the start line before) was 4 minutes down the road! I ended up being the first person there who wasn’t a volunteer! After how hot it was the day before I wasn’t going to be caught dead without my hydration vest. But that was fine by me because then I had more real estate to stash all my other stuff.

I got in line for the shuttle and chatted with others as they gathered for the race. One was staying in a cabin in the KOA campground and told me the pool (that my site was directly across from) was heated (so that’s a fun note if you ever stay there). I arrived at the start with insane amounts of time (especially for me) before the race. I was pumped my Instagram friend Meriam found me and we spent the rest of the time taking a bunch of pictures with her phone because mine was dead from trying to find signal ❤️

We ran up the mountain for warmup 😜

We lined up across the entire road at the start, which wasn’t really surprising, but what was surprising was we were allowed the entire road for a good 3 miles! It was pretty cool to see such a large pack of runners take over the road for so long. The course started as nice country back roads, went though a cute little town at one point, then became all roads along one or more beautiful rivers! It wasn’t super hot but they were those wicked clear, kinda shallow rivers that look too perfect not to take a dip in so it was really hard to just run past them! There was a medium length and incline hill at mile 5, but tons of people cheering and only one other REALLY steep hill at mile 8. That one they had a full out marching band at the bottom of to pump you up to the top! The rest of the course was only tiny inclines and declines and the race FLEW by! I don’t really remember much else for racing details.

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Already Captioned 😂😂😂😂

I could see it as a course you could definitely PR on. I think I’ll make a weekend of it (if I get in) next year, so I can explore the course by walking the day before and then go for speed during the actual race. Some other fun things about this course was they had clocks and live music about every 2 miles along with the water stops. The water stops were also generally really big, on both sides of the road, and manned by some adults, but also lots of adorable kids! It also turned out I hadn’t needed to shove everything I owned into my hydration vest since they shuttle your bags from the start to the finish (I’m just really good a reading instructions and hadn’t seen that 😅)!

I ended up taking my time and running 1:50:11. I will definitely be trying to get into this race again next year and would totally recommend you join as long as you don’t mind registering so far in advance! Even with a much less than optimal night before a race this race was 100% worth it!!

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Rhode Races Newport (Marathon) Half

This past Saturday’s marathon attempt went both better and worse than expected..

I originally signed up for the race while bummed and sick, as a get-well-soon present to myself. It was only a month away at the time so already knew I wouldn’t be really racing. But after how my first full marathon turned out (lots of walking) I wanted a little confidence boost and to know I could at least run 26.2 miles straight, even if slowly.

I ended up staying sick for about two more weeks after that and managing to slightly pull something in my left leg during one of the like three runs I did get in before the marathon so as it got closer I wasn’t feeling very hopeful.

Marathon Eve my leg actually felt fine! But I ate something (didn’t eat anything new so no idea what happened) that didn’t sit well with me at all and went to bed early with an awful stomach ache.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5:30 AM before my alarm feeling pretty good! I might have woken up because my stomach was still gurgling a bit, but I felt like I won! I groggily checked my “what to wear” poll and threw on the super sweet outfit you guys picked out for me 😎 After a short drive I found out the original address I put into the gps was wrong and I almost freaked out as I have NO sense of direction and I don’t do well in “emergency” situations. Luckily I found the real address relatively easily and the actual lot just in time for the last shuttle 😬 Also luckily, I had picked up my packet the day before for once because it ended up being a run away shuttle (it got lost as roads it was traveling before started getting closed off for the race) and I ended up with another tiny chunk of my predicted time gone.

I’ve run this race multiple times before as the half so I thought I knew what to expect. Little did I know the lines for port-o-potties that are non-existent by the time the half is approaching are INSANE before the full. I stretched as I anxiously waited in line, now feeling less like a confident veteran and more like I was running my first race all over again. I ended up making it with some time to spare and lined up with the 4 hour pacer at the start line.

The gun went off and it was SO weird starting a race so slow and relaxed (8:58 min/mi), but it was just what I needed. I wasn’t feeling great, but I also wasn’t dying so maybe I could have kept going had I not found a friend at around the 4.5 mile mark and picked it up due to fun conversation. I stayed with her in the low 8’s chatting until somewhere in mile 8, when I started feeling really rough and dropped off. My stomach still felt really off and I think putting so much of my energy into trying not to be sick just sapped me because I started feeling insanely drained. I tried to eat my Honey Stingers chews I had in my belt to see if that would help, but actually couldn’t open them I was so weak 😅 and at that point I was in a gap with no one around (except half marathoners who had caught up and were ZOOMING past) to ask for help.

The last mile of the half I got a wicked weird feeling in my chest, like I almost couldn’t breathe and I kind of started assuming I wasn’t going to finish the full. I made myself pass the half finish line in a last effort to keep going and grabbed a banana they offered in hopes that some fuel was all I needed. I gave it almost another mile, but the banana was having no effect besides probably making me look absolutely terrifying, so I finally decided today wasn’t the day.

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Breathing out of one side of my mouth trying to fix being unable to breathe..

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Glaring at the photographer sitting happily at the finish line lol

In the end I am glad I stopped as I felt completely miserable the rest of the day and just napped on and off, barely able to eat anything. I was still definitely sick and shouldn’t have pushed my body through the full. There’s always another race and I’m working on getting in some actual training for the Rhode Races Providence marathon May 6th!

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New favorite race photo! LOL But actually the most flattering one I’ve taken!

Howling Wolf Half Marathon 2017

This past weekend I had the pleasure of running the Howling Wolf Half in Stoneham, Mass. The original plan was to take a break from races for the rest of my full marathon training cycle (after finishing all the halves I had signed up for before I even had any thoughts about a full), but that quickly went out the window when an old track bud asked if I’d want to do a race with her. I’m a sucker for halves to begin with, but I absolutely can’t turn down the chance to run with a friend. Also this one was at a zoo and gave free admission as race swag!!

When I woke up race morning it was 27 degrees 😱 I hardly ever feel cold and run extremely hot when running so I honestly had no idea how to dress to be comfortable while also not getting frost bite. I ended up packing pretty much every piece of warm running gear I own (which honestly isn’t all that much) in hopes it would suffice.

I was super happy to find out the swag they gave away at registration was a winter hat (or baseball cap) and gloves so I at least had a hat now if that ended up seeming like a necessity. I found my friend and we warmed up and caught up some before the race! I wasn’t planning to go crazy, but I think between the cold and our reunion we were too exited and went out at 7:25 and 7:14 for the first two miles 😅 Once I looked at my Garmin to realize this we turned it down a notch for the next couple of miles 7:52 and 7:47.

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The course is made up of two loops. One big ~4.8 mile loop and a smaller ~3.4 mile one. You go once around the big one, then the small, then back around the big. As we passed the starting area after the first big loop at around mile 5 I got rid of my outer shirt (I had ended up deciding on two long sleeves), which I had been carrying for a good amount of time by this point. Soon as I did I felt like I was flying and took off for the next two miles at 7:35 and 7:07. It was honestly so amazing! It felt effortless!

Then suddenly right around mile 7 I stopped being able to breathe. It was so weird and I don’t think it was the cold because I’ve run in it plenty and never had anything like this happen to me before. It felt like I was taking deep breaths but there was no air to actually breathe in. My breathing became super rattly and I probably sounded like I was having an asthma attack, but I tried to push through. It was also up a nice large hill so that was extra fun. I managed an 8:03 so I was happy.

My breathing went back to normal as suddenly and seeming randomly as it had stopped. I felt infinitely better, thought I wasn’t getting my effortless flow back and definitely felt the effort of running again. The next few miles were slightly more difficult just because I had to get out of the funk my lack of breathing had caused. It also didn’t help that this segment was rolling hills that I normally would have loved. Instead, I got to think about how I should like them while they slowly killed me. 💀 7:39, 7:49, 7:34, 7:45.

At mile 12 the air disappeared on me again. It was a bit less intense this time (Possibly just because it had happened before so I was less shocked and knew it would go away..?) and I was able to stay at 7:55.

I was super grateful I gained my breath back for the last mile and there were no more hills to climb. I was able to stay at 7:14 and “sprint” the last 0.1 at 5:56!

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My final time was 1:39:38 for a six second PR! I also placed 1st in my age group and 10th female overall!! My friend also PRed by over a minute and got 3rd in age group!

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We finished the day by checking out the zoo! 🐆🦓🦒🐻

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Nice and warm in my awesome new hat!!

Rhode Races Providence Half Marathon

Last weekend I completed the second race in the Rhode Races series, the Providence Half Marathon. Going into it I was honestly a bit skeptical of the course since I am so not a city runner and would much rather be frolicking around in nature (or at least with views of nature, aka Newport 😍). While I don’t really have an opinion on the views, since I was kind of too focused on running to notice, I was pleasantly surprised it didn’t FEEL like city running. The course was over a much less densely populated area than when I generally think of Providence so it was peaceful and not full of the hustle and bustle of a city. It was well blocked off from cars and people, almost always giving us at least a full side of the road. I also thought Providence was a hilly city, but the course was mostly flat (with a few decent uphills to spice things up). I usually think flat courses feel monotonous and like they go on FOREVER, but the few hills combined with decently winding route kept that from happening. Also I say “winding” because it had turns, but almost none of those 90 degree angle turns around city blocks, which I also dislike. Overall, I really enjoyed a course that I definitely thought would not be my cup of tea at all.

The only actual issue with this race being a city race was packet pickup. Even parking and getting to the actual start was super easy! (More factors I had been thoroughly worried about.) While it is definitely still partially my fault for doing race-day packet pickup when they had warned us against, this packet pickup was SO much less organized than Newport’s (by the same company). I blame this mostly on the fact that instead of being in an open tent on a huge beach, it was down a narrow-ish hallway into the ballroom of a hotel. As they warned, the lines were long, resulting in the signs directing us being too far from the end to know exactly where you should be lining up. I, as well as others ended up waiting in the wrong, very long line.

By the time I was at the start line, being behind schedule due to pickup and imagining the worst course possible had started to stress me out and I changed my plan. I was going to run this as a training run. I hung out in the very back (even though that’s slow for my training pace), fully convinced I was going to do horrible and not wanting to hurt anyone else’s time with my slowness.

It’s crazy how quickly and drastically my thought process switches as soon as the “gun” goes off to start a race. It’s always been like this (even throughout high school track), but up until it actually happens I never remember it’s a thing. I instantly felt a million times better, no longer thinking this run would be my demise, and knew even if I didn’t do crazy well I was going to get things done! But at that point I was already at the back, trying to dodge through people without being rude and cutting them off.

The rest of the race was playing catch-up, which I generally don’t mind, but not quite this extreme of a case. I felt about the same (good!) throughout and loved the few perfectly placed hills (hills are my jam! My brain is programmed to try and sprint up them since the faster you get up them the faster they are done, so I feel super BA).

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It was SUPER nice out, but also made me realize how pale I am haha wow do I need summer!

The crowd also seemed to cover pretty much the whole course in small groups which was nice. Though for me that just meant more witnesses to my water drinking failures. (I CAN NOT figure out how to properly drink water from a cup while running and have learned to just dump it over my head in an attempt to cool myself without drowning and/or hurting myself.. Until this race when I threw it in my face instead of on the top of my head by accident and almost drown anyway. I also almost face planted while trying to take the smallest sip possible. It just never works out.)

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The face of concentration as I try not to trip during the small brick patch lol

I also had a racing first and threw up a little at the finish line, oops.

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Making sure to still stop my Garmin before throwing up! Priorities!

In the end I missed my PR by 1 minute and 36 seconds, but I most definitely gave it my all so I was very happy.

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Overall I would definitely recommend this race, but would also recommend packet pickup the day before as they advise or at least getting there extra early. I’ll probably be back next year, though maybe on a different mission since I heard the full marathon course is excellent as well!

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Rhode Races Newport Half & Boston Expo Weekend

Any weekend filled with running related activities is a great one, but during this Easter weekend even the non-running related parts were awesome! It all started way, way too early on Saturday morning while I scrambled to gather my things in the 10 minutes I had generously allotted myself. My boyfriend was being even more difficult to wake up than usual and it became clear I had given him whatever plague I had caught at the beginning of the week so this was going to be a solo adventure. Before a couple of weeks ago an extended solo adventure was risky business as my car wasn’t exactly reliable and I don’t really do well being trapped on the side of the highway trying to fix a car on my own (might know that from experience haha). So taking my new car on its first adventure without a single worry was the perfect way to start the weekend!

Not only did my new car make the trip great, but they also gave the Rhode Races Masters Series participants VIP parking. I originally didn’t think much of this perk, but it was REALLY nice to have my car pretty much at the starting line (versus the normal mile or shuttle ride away). It was especially great since one of the main symptoms of my illness seemed to be the inability to keep a stable body temperature and I needed to go back to change the amount of layers I was wearing about 300 times.

The Race

I started pretty far back, partially because I didn’t want to overdue it while being sick and partially because I almost missed the start completely due chatting with new friends and not paying attention lol oops. But I was able to get up to where I wanted to be pretty quick anyway since the race wasn’t overly crowded. (Both times I’ve run it it had the perfect amount of people, where the start wasn’t a mess, but also you always had a decent amount of people around you at all times.)

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They had a sneaky photographer SUPER close to the start. I’m assuming to catch people while they were still all smiles, but clearly I wasn’t having any of it.

The first mile FLEW by, but then again so did the whole race. I love this course because there’s always a view and I wouldn’t consider it too flat (I get bored) or too hilly. I’m not going to lie, it’s not completely ocean views, but even the “residential” parts are through beautiful mansions and might-as-well-be mansions. I debated taking out my phone so many times for pictures, but knew I would end up dropping it since I took it out of the case to fit better into my belt.

My actual race was decent. Breathing was a bit harder than usual and I think I swallowed a ton of mucus (sorry, TMI) so my stomach started rolling during mile 8 (which is not a normal problem for me) and I took it down another notch.

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Kept my mind off my stomach by hunting for this photographer lol

In the end I was really happy with the results, even if disappointed that I was sick for my favorite course. Being sick really didn’t slow me down all that much, so I can’t wait to see how well I’ll do when I’m feeling 100%!

Boston Marathon Expo

For the second half of my running weekend, my friend talked me into going to the Boston Marathon Expo on Easter (which I now hope will be a new tradition!). It was SO cool just to be in Boston surrounded by other runners. It was especially cool/funny for me since the actual expo is in the Hynes Center, where an anime convention I attend also takes place, so I got to see all anime merchandise and crowd replaced with its running counterpart. Kind of like a parallel dimension! (Sorry if that was too nerdy 😂)

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Had to check out the finish!

The expo is crazy filled with all the awesome things to try and buy! I ended up getting to try a few things I’ve seen fellow runners using and have wanted to try:

Honey Stingers

First off, the waffles just looked good, but I assumed for sure they would be full of gluten (I have Celiac). The first thing I saw when I went up to the booth wasn’t the waffles though (wait they have MORE?!?), but FRUIT SNACKS! I stinking love fruit snacks! Although these were labeled as organic *skeptical eyes*. I asked and they were gluten free so I figured I’d give it a shot! They were REALLY good. Like didn’t taste like health food at all. (Not that I’m a junk food addict, just in the gluten free world they tend to take out the bad ingredients while taking out the gluten and it sucks when something could be really good if it was just gluten free instead of all natural, free of every allergen/bad thing possible, and awful.) So by “didn’t taste like health food”, I mean “didn’t taste like you were sacrificing flavor for healthiness at all”. I may have went back to sample multiple times, just to be sure 😜

I was also pleasantly surprised that when I asked about the waffles they did have gluten free options! I didn’t want any crazy flavors (which they do have some for gf too!) so I tried the Wildflower Honey Waffle. Yum! Also I definitely felt like the waffles were a type of food that would flow with my stomach while running. (Unsure about fruit snacks as I tend to like dry, absorbent stuff but I will probably buy some of both to test because they were so good.)

Roll Recovery R8

I had actually run a half the day before this, which I now think is the optimal way to go to the expo since you can try all the recovery methods! I had thought about getting one of these when I saw it awhile back, but the price tag made me want to try it first. I have to say I was a tiny bit surprised (not that I should have been if you actually think about the design) how you can’t really roll your entire leg with the R8. Since the rollers are on both sides you can’t roll the direct back of your calf since that would then roll your shin as well. Just something I noted (especially for the price) that I previously didn’t think of. BUT my legs did feel significantly better after using it and with my new skepticism of the device I doubt it was just me thinking that. Also not going to lie it is REALLY nice to have it put the pressure on for you when you have stick arms like me haha as normal rollers are an arm workout after running a race, NO THANKS. (I end up roping my boyfriend into rolling for me a lot lol)

Nuun Hydration

So turned out Nuun probably isn’t for me. They had a ton of flavors and the actual flavor I tried (watermelon) was really good. My issue was the strength of the flavoring. It was really weak.. like if you like lemon water then you’d probably enjoy this product, but I need a drink to be plain water or a full out flavor. Though they were in huge water coolers and the expo was hopping so they may have miss calculated the water to tablet ratio. I just assumed since they are the creators and trying to sell the product that they would want it to be the correct/optimal mixture.

Once we were done at the expo we visited some of the other stores in the area and I bought two things:

A “Run Boston” shirt that I can’t seem to find at the moment for a picture 😞

And this sports bra from Janji. I really love their patterns/colors AND part of the profits go to giving clean water to other countries!

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Picture from the site since I’m too lazy to find the bra right now lol

And the cherry on top of the day was literally as we were heading back to the T to leave we ran into Shalane Flanagan!! 😱 Luckily one of us wasn’t too star struck to ask for a picture!

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Anyway thanks for reading!!