Category: Race Recap

BCT Harpers Ferry Half Marathon

Last weekend I traveled to West Virginia to run the BCT Harpers Ferry Half Marathon which makes it state #35.  While it was a hilly and challenging course, it was still beautiful.


I left Friday morning for Baltimore and met up with Jaime for lunch.  She went back to work and I went to the National Aquarium and was very impressed with it.  I saw turtles, sharks, frogs, so many types and fish and birds.  The best part was touching the Moon Jelly.  They felt so weird sort of slimy.  I found Nemo but could not find Dory.  Afterwards I got a coffee from Corner Bakery and waited for her to get off work.


After work we met her husband and went to a bar while enjoying the best crab pretzel.  Yummy. Then we relaxed and enjoyed a baseball game between Baltimore and Detroit.  We did not stay too late because we had an early wake up call in the morning to drive to West Virginia.

The next morning we were out the door by 5:45.  We knew it was about an hour drive to Harpers Ferry but didn’t really know how much longer it would take to get to the start line.  We were there by 7, met her friend, Justin, picked up our bib, used the restrooms and waited for the race to start.  It was a small race with no more than 400 registrants.

A quick announcement from the race director (no National Anthem but there were playing “Take Me Home, Country Roads which made me smile) and off we went.  There was no special mat at the start line so my time started right at 8am.  I had a timing chip secured with ziploc twist ties and was afraid of it becoming loose and actually losing it.  Throughout the race I made sure to look down a few times to make sure it was there.


Here is the race description:

“Local runners have crafted one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons in the country. The half marathon course is almost completely enclosed in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the preserved Civil War era towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry.  The route includes close to 1000 feet of total elevation gain and 2000 feet of total elevation change.  You will experience a mix of trail, road, and crushed gravel paths.  You will view the confluence of the Two Rivers- the Shenandoah and the Potomac.  The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will. The fun and challenging downhills will be a wild ride you’ve rarely experienced in a run.  Breathtaking views of the rivers, historic buildings, mountains, scenery will stimulate the senses and inspire you to reach the finish line.”

Harpers Ferry Battlefield


I think this is The Shenandoah River.

Running through Harpers Ferry.


This is how I felt going down and up the hills.


It may be a simple medal but let me tell you that I earned it.


Even though it was challenging and tough, it was a beautiful course.  I did like the variety of running paths.  The volunteers were wonderful.  I knew I wasn’t going to PR so I took my time, walked up the hills, took pictures, and simply enjoyed the race.  I wore an Oiselle shirt and shorts along with a blue Sparkle Athletic skirt and got many compliments on it.  I was so happy it wasn’t hot and that it did not rain.  I did get warm while running but was never uncomfortable.

Post race I had two slices of pizza and a bagel.  I was very hungry.  We stuck around for a little bit longer and left after the start of the One Mile Fun Run.

Next race is the Buffalo Half Marathon on May 29.


Good Life Race 5k

I realized this post is late.  I usually try to write a race review within a few days of said race but somehow I slacked off with this one.


Last month I ran a 5k.  The last time I ran a 5k was the Strike Out ALS 5k on July 15, 2014.  And my last PR is from 2011 with a finish time of 29:48.  The original plan was to run it easy and for fun due to 8 miles I had to do the day before.  Well, thanks to Mother Nature, she decided to leave us with ice on the lakefront that I had so much trouble walking much less running in those icy conditions.  I decided it was not worth risking me falling and injuring myself knowing I had a race the next day.  I left my running group and decided to go home.  

Thankfully it wasn’t icy anymore on Sunday but it was still cold and windy.  I arrived with plenty of time to the Oak Park/River Forest High School to pick up my bib and to wait for Lisa. Once she got there we found a bathroom and then waited for the race to start.  We talked and talked some more.  Finally it was time to run.

Saw this on the wall of the bathroom stall.


I decided to run with Lisa hoping that I could keep up with her.  No, she is way faster than me.  I held on for half a mile and I told her to just go ahead without me.  It was a small, neighborhood race so it was nice to run through Oak Park.  There were a few spectators but nothing compared to the bigger races.  There was a water stations around 1.8 miles and by then I was very thirsty. It was also windy.  I wore a long sleeve Oiselle shirt and a jacket.  I got hot and took off the jacket and wore it around my waist.  I ran and walked and 3 miles sure went by fast.  Finally I saw the finish line and I was done.

I went inside to wait for Lisa and was amazed at all of the post race goodies.  There was Nestle chocolate milk, pizza, Jimmy Johns sandwiches, hummus and chips, and KIND bars.  I also got a flower.  All of this stuff for a 5K?  The last race I remember having this much food was at the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon.


A few days later I found out that I had placed 3rd place in the Athena A Division.  For sure I was surprised but also happy about it.  


Overall, it is a great race.  The cost is reasonable, free parking, close to Chicago area, and amazing post-race food.  I will definitely plan to run this race again next year.

2016 Shamrock Shuffle

Today I ran one of my favorite races, the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle.  It was my 8th time running it.  As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the goal was to take it easy and have fun.  So yep, that means no PR which is fine with me. 

We had some crazy weather on Saturday.  It seemed like every two minutes it changed from sunny, windy, snowy, repeat.  Definitely crazay.  I am so glad it was like that on Saturday instead of Sunday.


Sunday morning my alarm went off but I hit the snooze button twice.  I did not want to get up. Eventually I did and I made coffee and a peanut butter sandwich.  I felt so full afterwards. Around 7 I drove to the train station to get downtown.

Once there I made my way to The Congress Hotel to use the bathroom and wait in a warm place for the race to start.  Well, at least till 8 or so because I had to check in my gear bag and be at my corral by 8:20am.  I made it with less than 2 minutes to go.

I saw Lisa in the bathroom and then met up with her afterwards.  I met her husband and a few of her friends.  We talked for a  bit and then it was time to go.


It was cold but yet I wore two long sleeve shirts, my Oiselle singlet, shorts, sparkly skirt, and compression socks.  I knew that I would warm up once I began running.  And yep that is exactly what happened.  I don’t think I ever felt really cold like I did last year.


My Garmin lost signal underneath the tunnel on Columbus.  It happens every single year.  Once I regained signal my splits were 1 minute faster.  Of course I did not know this then but was in disbelief when I would see my splits.  I reminded myself that it was supposed to be an easy run and not a PR race.


I stopped to walk, got Gatorade at the water stations, and simply just enjoyed the race.  I saw Lauren and she passed me up.  I am surprised I saw anyone I knew with a race of over 30,000 runners.


Once I turned into Michigan Avenue I knew I was close to the finish line.  Well, maybe not that close.  You see, this race has one of the worst finish lines.  There was an incline which I walked (I call it Mt. Roosevelt) and then once you get to the top, you still need to run about an additional quarter mile to the finish line.  Terrible, terrible.

After the race I waited for my friends to finish so we could get our beer and then have brunch. By then the sun was out and it felt really good to be out there. 



According to my watch, I ran 5.55 miles in 52:40 with a 9:29 average pace.  However, my official finish time is 52:38 with a 10:30ish average pace.  So weird.


I enjoy reading about race recaps and I’m hosting a linkup for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K.  The rules are simple: linkup your race recap from this year.  It’d be great if you linked back to this post, but no pressure. This is just for fun — but remember: only Shamrock Shuffle Race Recaps. 

I hope this works.  This is my first time doing this so just bear with me.  Thanks.

Live Grit Lakefront 10 Miler

Yesterday I ran my 2nd race of the year: Live Grit Lakefront 10 Miler.  I’ve run this race in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015.  Not sure why I skipped 2013 and 2014.  In previous years this race took place in March so I was a little surprised to find out CARA moved it to March.

This race is on the list of races to run for get guaranteed entry to the Chicago Marathon as part of the CARA Marathon Incentive Program.  I already have an entry for this year but why not get started for next year right?

I love a hassle free packet pickup.  It took me 10 seconds to get my bib at Live Grit.  I stayed just a little bit longer to check out the Oiselle gear.  Everything was marked down (about 50% off). Sadly, I did not buy anything.

I love the shirt.  I rarely keep my shirts but for sure this one I will keep.  Great color right?


I met Emily for dinner.  It was last minute and it was great catching up with her.  I had way too much sushi but it was DELICIOUS.


It was cold on race day.  I wanted to wear shorts but changed my mind when I saw the weather report.  Plus, it does tend to get windy along the lakefront.  I wore two long sleeve shirts and was still cold.  I left my house at 6:30am and was at the race location by 7.  I had to wait 2 hours but it was worth it because I found a parking spot next to the finish line, used the bathroom various time, and met the lovely Dani.


Photo credit: Dani-Holmes-Kirk

I had no time goal for this race.  My only goal was to have fun.  I did wear my watch but switched it to the current time screen instead of current pace/average pace/distance screen. I only switched the screen maybe once or twice but that’s it.  I ran by feel.  I ran and walked whenever I felt like it.  I actually enjoyed this race.  It felt so good to feel the sun on my back.


Ridiculous hill we had to run between miles 2-3 and then on the way back between miles 9-10. Seriously WHY?!?!?!


The miles went by quickly.  I did have some pain on my right knee and quad and on my left hip.  I did not have this pain during my last race so I will be foam rolling a whole lot more.

After the race, I got a slice of pizza and went to get my beer when I met another lovely runner, Lisa.  We’ve communicated via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram but have never met.  We talked for a little bit but then she had to leave.  I got my beer but I did not finish it because I was too cold and instead grabbed another slice of pizza.  I was so hungry and the pizza was delicious.

Photo Credit: Lisa Verdon


Another medal to add to the collection.


Next race is Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k on April 3rd.

Like or dislike 10 mile races?

Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans

On Sunday morning I ran my first race of the year.  I was in New Orleans in 2012 for the marathon and this time I ran the half marathon.  I left Saturday morning along with my two sisters and my nephew.  Lola wanted to join us but had to stay at home.  She was definitely missed.


Time to hydrate at the airport.  Seriously, Contigo water bottles are the best.


Once in New Orleans, I went to the expo to pick up my bib.  I was in there for 20 minutes.  My goal was not to buy anything. Mission accomplished!  I was tempted to sign up again for next year.  I mean, $50 is seriously a great deal.


This little park was next to our hotel.

Later I met a few friends for lunch.  I was so hungry because I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast early in the morning in Chicago.  We went to Pierre Maspero’s and I had a beer along with Fettuccine Alfredo with Blackened Shrimp.  It was delicious.  Then we went to a couple of bars to check out the music and to drink.  Well, I did not drink but my friends did.  I did see the cutest cat.


For dinner I had made plans to meet with Rebecca.  I met her in 2013 in San Diego when she ran the full and I the half marathon.  My goal was to finish before her and indeed I did.  🙂  She is so much faster than me and her race began 30 minutes before mine.  I did not meet her for dinner because I had a late lunch but I did see her after the race.


Race day.  I had coffee and a waffle at the hotel.




As for the weather, it was perfect!


For some reason I thought the race started at 7am (that was the start time for the 10k) so I left the hotel at 6:30 since I still had to use the bathroom and check in my gear.  I then found out that it started at 7:30.  Oh well.  I looked for Rebecca and Sam but I did not see them.  I did see Jaime and a few minutes later it was time to go.


When I began training for this race, my goal was to finish under 2 hours (Goal A).  Let’s say I had bad and good runs throughout this training period.  However, I did have great runs during the month of February.  I was confident but was still prepared for Goal B which was to finish under 2:17.  That is my PR from 2013 and I came so close to it last year.


I was feeling great till about mile 6.  That is when my legs began to hurt.  They felt tired too.  I took an ibuprofen and stopped at the medical tent for some of that pain spray (cannot remember what it is called).  None of that worked for me and I ran/walked the rest of the way. I was disappointed.  The weather was great.  It was a flat course.  Some parts of the route was sunny but for the most part it was all shade and it was WONDERFUL.  I did not understand why I could not pick up the pace.  By mile 10 I was around 1:46 and with some quick math I figured that I could still PR as long as I ran the rest of the miles at 10:30. That did not happen.  My last 3 miles were done at 12:00, 11:36, and 11:51.


All this time the marathon and half marathon runners were running the same course but it was time to split up around mile 12.5.  By then I just wanted to be done.  There were people giving jello shots and you bet I took one.  Why not?  I was almost one.

Official finish time is 2:24:26.  Done with race #138 and half marathon #63.  I am disappointed with how my race went on Sunday.  I know I should be happy that I finished the race and that I ran another half marathon (and I am).  However, I can’t help it knowing that I trained for this race for months and then for it not to go as I expected.

My coach told me “Shake it off.  It’s not a reflection of your hard work or self worth”.  So true.  I am not giving up.  I still have a few more half marathons this year and I know I will get my sub 2 this year.


Next race is the Live Grit 10 Miler on March 19.