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Category: Race all 50 states

Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Almost two weeks ago I went to Vermont to run in state #33.  Jaime and I had registered for this race back in December and it sold out in a few hours.

My flight left at 7am with a layover in Baltimore and that is where Jaime boarded the plane.  I had not seen her since November for the Tulsa Route 66 Half Marathon.  An hour later we were in Manchester, NH picking up the rental car and on our way to get something to eat cause we were starving.  We found  a cute and delicious sushi place not too far from the airport.

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Then it was time to head out to Vermont.  Beautiful drive!

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The race directors did a good job of sending emails on a regular basis with helpful race information.  Somehow we missed the part letting us know that bib pickup was only available on race day.  Jaime and I arrived in Woodstock (cute little town) only to find out that we were to pick up our bibs the next day.  We’ve both run a lot of races and have never heard of such a ridiculous thing.  We know some races offer bib pickup the day before AND on race day but never only on race day.  Well, since we were there already we walked around for a bit.  Jaime found a magnet for her collection.  We went inside another store and they were offering complimentary drinks for the customers.

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For dinner we went to a Mediterranean place and ate hummus, falafel, zucchini pancakes and a bunch of other things.  I had woken up really early that day for my flight and was asleep by 9:30.

My body likes messing with me and I was awake at 4:30 but really it was 3:30 since I was still on central time.  An hour later I got up, got ready, and went downstairs to see what was available for us at the breakfast buffet.  There was fruit, bagels, cereal, oatmeal and other stuff.  My favorite was the pancake maker.  I made two of them for me and went back upstairs.

The race began at 8:15 so why the heck were we leaving our hotel at 6am?!  Well, we had to drive to Quechee Village Lot, leave our car, and then get on a shuttle bus to take us to the start line at Suicide Six Ski Area.  The whole trip from the hotel to the start line took 45 minutes.  That meant we had to wait 1 1/2 for the race to start.  It was cold.  I took a long sleeve shirt and was still cold. I used the port-a-potties after I got my bib and once again before the start of the race.  We were both annoyed that we had to wait so long for the race.

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Finally it was time to run.  I took off my long sleeve shirt and wrapped it around my waist.  I knew I was going to be hot once I began running.  I had clear instructions from my coach.  She told me to run miles 1-5 @11:30; miles 5-10 @10:45-11:00; and miles 10-13 to go as hard as I felt comfortable.  I had every intention of doing what she planned for me.  Did not follow her plan.  I finished my first mile in 9:15.  I couldn’t believe it because I did not realize I was going that fast.  I did try to slow down and my next two miles were done in 10:07 and 10:28.  At mile 4 (10:24) I stopped to take a picture.  At mile 5 (10:46) I walked a little bit while I ate my energy gel.  My watch lost connection at mile 6.24 and was working again 2 miles later.  It was still way off based on the mile markers.

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There was this massive hill around mile 8 and I just simply cursed.  And I walked too.

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At mile 12 there was this woman yelling that we were almost done and I seriously wanted to tell her to shut up.  It really bugs me when people are yelling and screaming at the runners telling us we were almost done when we really were not almost done.  You can say that to me when I am .25 miles from the finish line but not 1 mile away.  I had taken an ibuprofen after mile 6 so my legs weren’t sore.  Ha, once that wrote off I was sore for two days.  Once I knew I was close to the finish line, I ran as quickly as I could and finished in 2:19:51 @10:41 average pace.  I heard the announcer call out my name and said something about Chicago Cubs tickets.

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I am very pleased with my finish time.  It is my second best half marathon finish time.  My PR (2:17:01) is still from the Hartford Half Marathon in 2013.

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Then came the tricky part.  My cell phone was not working so there was no way to get a hold of Jaime.  I sent her two texts but they were taking a long time to get through.  I also called her several times but got disconnected.  Finally, by some miracle I got her text letting me know that she was next to the stage.  I turned around to look for her and saw her walking towards me.  In my text I told her that I would meet her by the car.  I saw some cars up ahead and assumed that was where we left our car that morning.  Wrong.  We still had to hike almost a mile to get to the parking lot.  Why make the runners walk almost a mile after running 13.1 miles on a hilly course? Plus, we still had to shower, check out of the hotel, drive to Manchester, and eat before Jaime’s 2:50 flight back to Baltimore.

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Overall, I thought it was a very pretty course.  The weather was perfect during the race.  The shaded areas were wonderful.  The volunteers were great.  Great tshirt color too.  However, the logistics were horrible.  I am somewhat OK with the flight to Manchester and the 1 1/2 drive to the race location.  I did not like the early wake up call (still better than Disney races), the long wait prior to the race, and definitely not the walk back to our car.  Jaime and I had talked about doing again some of the races we’re run before such as the Little Rock and RnR New Orleans. The Vermont race is definitely not on that list.  I guess maybe I am spoiled and like it when I can walk and it is easy to get to the start line and then back to the hotel after the race.  I remember that for the Little Rock Half Marathon the start line was literally outside the hotel.  I am NOT saying not to do this race but just giving you a little heads up on what to expect.

What has been your “most challenging race to get go?”  Next race is Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.  This will be my 3rd year running it and I am looking forward to it.

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Running in new states in 2015

To date I’ve run in 31 states.  Well 32 if you include Washington DC.   I know Washington DC isn’t a state either I am counting it as part of this goal.  The states in yellow are those that I still need to run in.

Race in the 50+1 States

To date I’ve registered for the following races/states:

There are a few more I plan to do but still working on logistics:

So that is 7 new states this year for a total of 39.  Wow, I was hoping to be in the 40s at the end of this year so I will need to add a few more races to my list.  Let me check out those cities that I can get to on Southwest.  I live about 5 minutes away from Midway Airport so there is no doubt as to which airline to use.

As I complete a race in a new state I get excited because I am so much closer to completing my goal. I am hoping this year I get to truly enjoy each race instead of focusing on time.  Although I would like to one day run a sub-2 half marathon.  To date my best time is 2:17:03 at the ING Hartford Half Marathon in 2013.

I am also excited this year to run the Illinois Marathon as a relay member for “Team Faster than Snails”.  For sure that race will be just for fun!  Oh, and I am still hoping to run Ragnar Relay Chicago. So far we’ve had 2 snow days and now my last day of school is June 9 (Tuesday).  Team members meet on Thursday evening to start on Friday morning.  A couple more snow days and for sure I won’t be able to run in the relay.  No more snow!!

Come run with me!  Where are you running?  Can I tag along?

December and Year in Review 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection:  Some of the links in the post below are “affiliate links.”  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

HappyNewYear

In December I ran 90.71 miles compared to 69.82 in November.  Last year (December) I ran 142.39.  Big difference but I remember that I was training for my 50K in April.

Here is my 2014 running year in review:

# of Miles Run: 1001.48.  I did my last run yesterday morning.

Races Run: 17, 50K (1), marathons (1), half marathons (9), 10K (2), 8K (1), 4 milers (1), 5k (2).

Fun Race Destinations: All Disney races except the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.  Also, Des Moines and Tulsa (basically all races with Jaime).

Best Races: I had a great time at both the Shamrock Shuffle and the 4 on the 4th.  I felt really good in both races and definitely enjoyed them.  Also, I enjoyed the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon because I also felt great (besides some pain in my glutes) and did well despite my lack of running/training.

Worst Races: Chinatown 5K, ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon, Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and Route 66 Half Marathon.  I really hate running in the rain and hills.  However, I would like to run again Chinatown 5K and Route 66 Half Marathon.

Running Shoes: I started off the year running in Brooks PureConnect 2 (315.35 miles).  Then switched to the Brooks PureFlow 2 (346.28 miles) and then back again to Brooks PureConnect 2 (65.18 miles).  I then needed more support so I got a pair of Mizuno Sayonara.  There were OK.  I guess I was used to lightweight shoes and found the Sayonara too heavy.  I went back to Fleet Feet and was fitted with a pair of Newton’s Kismet. Wow!  I really loved those shoes.  Everything was going well until I experienced some toe numbness in my right foot.  I went to the podiatrist who diagnosed me with Morton’s neuroma.  I don’t think that’s accurate since I did not experience many of the symptoms. “Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes.  Morton’s neuroma may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock.  Morton’s neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes.  This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot.  Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.”

Luckily, I only experienced the numbness but it was enough to take me back to Fleet Feet for another pair of shoes and I walked out with the Brooks Ravenna.  Really comfortable shoes but somehow I experienced some discomfort on the right side of my right foot.  I really tried to make them work (because I did not want to buy more shoes) and used several different pairs of socks but no luck.  In November I bought my last pair, Saucony Ride.  My feet are happy and I am happy.

Star Sightings: I met Scott Jurek, Deena Kastor, and John Cox.  Plus, I got to see Bart Yasso again in Chicago and Tulsa.

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Ambassadorships: Zooma Chicago Half Marathon and Fort2Base.  I did not run Fort2Base but instead volunteered at gear check which was fun but also exhausting.

Next year I will be am ambassador for Christmas in July and will be sponsored by Hammer Nutrition.

Register for any Christmas in July Race and use discount code AMBARROYO10 to save 10% off and code 228361 to save 15% off your first Hammer Nutrition order (affiliate link).

Personal Records (PRs): 2, Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.  I am excited and looking forward to running them again this year.

Favorite Medals:

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Top L to R: Tinker Bell Half Marathon and Disney Princess Half Marathon Bottom L to R: Dumbo Dare Challenge and Coast to Coast Challenge

Best New Running Product I Tried: Hammer Gel in Nocciola (Hazelnut-Chocolate).

My plans for next year?

  • Run 2,015 miles as part of Run 2,015 in 2015 Challenge.  The plan is to run them with three other friends but don’t think they’ve signed up.

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Route 66 Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma.   That makes it state #32.

On Saturday morning Jaime and I made our way to the expo.  Our plan was to meet Bart Yasso for a shakeout run at 10am but quickly changed our minds when we saw that it was raining.  The expo was GREAT!  So many vendors.  I bought some Balega socks and cute charms for my shoes from Shoe Frosting.

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My traveling running buddy!  Jaime is also on a mission to run in the 50 states.  To date she has run in 44 states and might be done next year.

Bart Yasso.

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One day I will run the Little Rock Marathon.

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Half Fanatics!

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Check out these beautiful cars!

Cute shirt!

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On race day Jaime and I got ready and headed downstairs to have breakfast (free provided by the hotel).  I wasn’t too hungry but had coffee and a waffle.  Temperature was in the high 50s which makes it ideal running weather.  I took a long sleeve shirt just in case I got cold.  I wore it in the beginning but took it off before the 1 mile marker.  I had absolutely no time goal for this race but just to run by feel considering that I had not been training properly (or at all).  🙂

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There was so much excitement around us.  And did I mention it was close to 60 degrees?  Finally it was time to run.  We were both in Corral B so we got to see twice the confetti show put on before the start of each corral.

I had NO idea how hilly this race was supposed to be.  I don’t check the course map prior to the race because I’d rather deal with it on race day.

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This mascot made me laugh.

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The course itself was beautiful.  I did like it except the hills.  However, the second half of the race was not as bad as the first half but there were a few hills that snuck up on me in the last few miles.  I felt good throughout the race.  The weather was just fantastic and at times there was a breeze that would cool me down.  I didn’t have any pain in my glutes but my quads and calves did get tight.

I took a grape jello shot because why not?

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The Route 66 Bridge.

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Almost done.

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Around mile 12.5 is when the course separated for the marathon and half marathon runners.  That meant two more turns and I would be done.  However, it seemed like that last half mile felt longer.  Finally the last turn and I saw Bart Yasso.  We high-fived and I sprinted to the finish line.  Done.  Finish time is 2:42:17.  I am very impressed with my time considering that the course was hilly and I am definitely undertrained.

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Love the medal.  When I crossed the finish line I got a different one but then exchanged it for a Half Fanatic themed medal.

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I did not stick around to take advantage of the Half Fanatic VIP area as Jaime and I had to head back to the hotel, get ready, and head out to Oklahoma City because we both had flights departing from there.

Overall it was an awesome race and if you are planning to run in the 50 states then this is the race for you.  It was well organized, many great vendors at the expo, a lot of food at the finish line, plenty of water stations, and a beautiful course.

That was my last race for the year.  My plan now is to get back to running on a consistent basis. Since August, my runs have been mostly once a week on Saturdays.  I’ve struggled to got out for a run during the week but am hoping that will change.

I have not signed up for any races in 2015 but have a few in mind and can’t wait to race again.

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Princeton Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran in state #31 in New Jersey.  I’ve already written about what I did the day before the race.

On race day I got up at 5:20 am.  I slept OK that night but was still tired and had a headache.  I quickly made my coffee and got dressed.  The night before I had picked my clothes and decided to wear pants and a long sleeve underneath my Oiselle singlet.  I had two shirts to pick from depending on the weather.  That morning the weather forecast was 41 degrees which I figured was decent running weather. I picked the yellowish shirt.  Once I was done I went downstairs and then outside to check again the weather.  It was cold!  But I knew that I would warm up once I began running.  I waited for my Uber driver and in the meantime got a big plastic bag to keep me warm while I waited in line for the race to start.  I must remember to pack one in my suitcase just in case I need one again.

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The driver dropped me off at 6:25.  I had plenty of time to wait.  Did I mention it was cold?  Oh and it was windy too.  I did not want to wait outside so I walked to a café place and waited there till about 6:55.  I then got in line and the race started a few minutes later.  I was surprised there was no singing of the National Anthem or maybe I missed it?  No time to fret about it cause it was time to run.

As usual my first mile was my fastest (10:18).  I was surprised at how good I was feeling.  I did warm up a little but still felt cold because the wind had a mind of its own.  The first few miles went by fast. We ran on the road and trail which helped break up the rhythm of just running on pavement.  Trail running is definitely more difficult.  It was nice not to deal with the wind.princetonhalf2

There were hills.  Oh boy.  There was one before mile 6 and it felt like it was a mile long.  Surprisingly it took me almost 14 minutes to finish that mile.  I say surprisingly because it felt longer than 14 minutes.  I walked most of it because it was just so darn long!  My quads were burning and I felt some tightness in my left leg similar to my race in Des Moines but without the glutes pain.

I thought the last half of the course was prettier but more difficult.  We ran through the streets of Princeton.  Beautiful area with lovely homes.  But it definitely had more hills.  I was tired and in pain.  My new shoes gave me no trouble except for some chafing on my right foot near my bunion.  I’ve experienced similar chafing with other shoes so I know it wasn’t because of my new shoes.  I guess it is time to get that surgery I’ve put off.

See all of the hills?

There wasn’t much crowd support but the small amount that there was did help.  The volunteers were wonderful too.  As for the medal, well I am not too happy about it.  My nephew told me that I have nicer ones.

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I am glad I did this race.  It was definitely challenging for me but still a pretty course.  I first thought of doing it last year but instead decided to run the Manchester Half Marathon.  And boy am I glad I did because I got to meet Kathrine Switzer!

If you plan to run this race in the future make sure to stay at the Nassau Inn in town or rent a car.  

Next race: Run Disney Wine and Dine in Florida.  It was be my last Disney race this year.