Buffalo Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Buffalo Half Marathon.  It is state #36.  My flight was at 10am but with the long lines at security, I decided to get to the airport early and avoid the long lines.  The joke was on me because I was done in 5 minutes and had to wait over 3 hours at the airport.  While I was waiting I realized I had forgotten my belt with my water bottles along with my bottle of Nuun tablets.  It was tempting to go back home since I leave so close.

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It was a quick flight where I attempted to take a nap but I couldn’t. Once I landed I ate a quick lunch at the airport because I was very hungry.  Then I took a cab to my hotel.  I had a nice room.  The only bad thing was that I had to pay for wifi.  I was annoyed because I was already paying $250 for the room and I still had to pay for Internet.  I didn’t pay.

The expo was about a little over half a mile.  No big deal.  Except that it was HOT.  Once there I bought two bags of Honey Stinger Chews (orange blossom and pink lemonade) and two bottles of Nuun.  I only needed one because I have quite a bit at home but I wanted to try some new flavors (orange and strawberry lemonade).  I quickly saw Bart Yasso at the end of his presentation but did not get a chance to say “Hi” to him because there were people waiting to take pictures with him.

After the expo I headed back to the hotel.  I took a quick break to cool down.

Then I went to my room to watch TV.  Luckily I did not need wifi to watch some shows on Netflix.  I did not want to get up but realized I still needed to eat dinner.

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For dinner I went to a restaurant around the corner from the hotel.  It was crowded but found a place close to the bar but even better because I had a much better view of the Mexico vs. Paraguay soccer game. 

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I did not stay too long because I knew I had an early wakeup call since the race started at 6:30am.  Gorgeous sunset!

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I did not sleep well last night and did not want to get up.  I struggled.  I made coffee and quickly changed.  I wore a tank top because I knew it would be hot and indeed it was.  I got to the start line at 6:15 but went to the convention center to use the restroom.  Of course there were long lines.  Once I was done I went back to the start line and could hear the end of the National Anthem.  Of all of the races I’ve run, I don’t think I’ve ever missed the National Anthem. Apparently there were also fireworks which I missed too.

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Finally it was time to run.  I knew I was in trouble before Mile 1.  I was too HOT.  More hot than usual.  Plus, I had a headache.  I started too fast and my first 2 miles were my fastest (10:45 and 10:04).  After that it was downhill (mile 6 was 10:36 which I am surprised).  I struggled the rest of the way.  I was literally running one mile at a time and counting down each mile till the finish line.  I thought about dropping out because I was feeling horrible.  I felt better (and did much better) at my previous race in WV and that course was even more difficult.  But it wasn’t as hot like today.  I knew dropping out meant I would have to come back (or pick another race in NY) and I did not want to do that (nothing wrong with coming back here but I did not want to cough up the money).  Plus, I had been attempting to do this race for a few years and this year was the year to finally do it.

I did not like the course.  The one thing I did like was that most of it was shaded.  I am thankful for that because I know it would have been much worse.  It is also flat but nothing gorgeous or exciting to see along the way.  There weren’t many spectators but there were great volunteers. There were plenty of water stations and a few even gave us cups filled with ice.  Plus the locals used their water hose to cool us down and that felt wonderful.  I did see three runners on the ground needing medical assistance. Scary!

Seriously, why make us run through this?

My favorite sign.

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Done.  I was very happy when I crossed the finish line.  I drank a cup of Gatorade, got a water bottle, and ate a few orange slices (delicious) and walked back to the hotel.  It felt like a LONG walk back to my hotel.  

I know every race will not be a great race and this was definitely one of them.  There was nothing I could do about the weather.  I did my best to enjoy the race and to finish it.

Next race:  Elmhurst 4 on the 4th, July 4.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Harpers Ferry Battlefield

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I think this is The Shenandoah River.

Running through Harpers Ferry.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.