Blog Archives

Long Branch Half-Marathon Race Recap

Finally! Remember when I used to have recaps up the day after my race, or sometimes even the day of? Those were the good ole’ days. Sorry to leave you guys hanging, but life’s been busy! I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten a new promotion at work, which has been a big reason for me falling off the radar. I’m still adjusting and transitioning into my new role at FITNESS, but I couldn’t be more excited. But while posts still may be slightly sporadic around here for a bit, I’m going to do my best to get back to regularly scheduled programming.

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Now, on to the race report! I tackled my seventh half-marathon in the beginning of May over in New Jersey. That’s seven half-marathons in seven states in the last two years. Crazy! I still can’t believe that only two years ago I had no idea what I was doing (I still don’t, really – I just pretend now) and the thought of running 13.1 consecutive miles terrified the bejeesus out of me. 21-year-old Sam, you had no idea what you were getting yourself into.
After racing in Maine, I spent April maintaining my fitness level and figured if I sprinkled in a few speed sessions, I might be able to get a PR in Jersey. After all, the course was MUCH flatter and I wouldn’t be fighting wind for 80 percent of the course.
My ultimate goal was to go sub-2, but a part of me knew that was an unrealistic goal. I’ve been struggling with hip tightness and a nagging pain since February, so I didn’t take training as seriously as originally planned for either race. But still, I managed to PR in Maine, so I knew anything was possible.
About a week before race day, Dustin and I convinced our friends Tristan and Katie to make the trip with us and be official cheerleaders. They had never watched a race before, and Tristan is becoming curious about running, so I thought this was the perfect trip since the race was only a few hours outside of the city. With them on board, and a big crew of running friends coming out to cheer, I knew I wouldn’t be lacking in inspiration.
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I got to the corrals without any problems, and although I had a few bathroom issues that made me nervous about what to expect for the rest of the race, I went in ready to run. The organizers blasted “Sweet Caroline” before beginning the wave start, and this New England girl-at-heart couldn’t help but beam with pride and wipe away a few tears.
The whole race went seamlessly for me. I saw all of my cheerleaders at each point that I expected to, and had surprise pop-ups from the NYC girls once! Let me tell you, seeing them all go crazy once they spotted me made me feel so special. I don’t get to make it to nearly as many running meet-ups as I’d like, so hearing them cheer their hearts out made me so unbelievably happy and gave the surge of motivation I needed to keep pushing.
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I ate a Clif shot blok every three miles, starting at mile 4. I had the opportunity to meet with some of the experts behind the Clif company a few months ago for work, and we thought that I might be hitting a wall more often than I think because I wasn’t taking in enough fuel, and I wasn’t starting early enough. With this new strategy (which I also used in Maine), I definitely felt more energized throughout the race.
Around mile 10 was when my legs started to realize what was going on. When people say this course is flat, they’re not kidding. It’s like a pancake. Perfect for running fast, but it only engages the muscles in one way. Two days post-race, I experienced soreneess like I hadn’t felt since my first half. Ouch.
Mile 13 was really rough. By that point we had hit the ocean views, which were a great mental distraction, but they also brought wind. A lot of it. The whole mile was a straight headwind. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as strong as the winds I faced in Maine, so I just kept repeating, “You made it through Maine” to keep my head in the game.
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By the time I had hit mile 10, I knew I wasn’t going to go sub-2, and I was honestly OK with that. Missing a PR, however, wasn’t kosher with me. I turned the last 5K into a big race, and even though we had the wind in the last mile, it was the first time I had the pleasure of picking off large groups of runners. For once, I felt fast! I sprinted the last half-mile, spotted Dustin, Tristan and Katie right before the finish line, gave one last kick and finished with a smile and a new PR of 2:0
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Overall, I would highly recommend this race to a beginner racer, or anyone looking to PR. Sure, the wind at the end wasn’t fun, but the race was really well organized and the views are nice. It’s extremely spectator-friendly, so bring lots of friends! There were extra security measures, but that was to be expected – and they made everyone aware of it ahead of time – so it was totally cool.
So what’s next? Originally, nothing. But it looks like I’m now doing the run portion of the NYC Triathlon with a few friends (say what?!), and I may be doing a June half-marathon with Lauren. No concrete plans on that yet, but we’ll see! And if not, I’ve got my eye on Philly in September. So for now, I’m just going to enjoy the start of summer in the city.
Catch ya later!
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13 for 2013

Now that January is basically over, I guess it’s about time I share my goals for the year. I always wait until the ninth to finalize them in my head – it’s my lucky number and I believe it allows time for the “OMG, it’s the new year, let’s make all these crazy resolutions right now” hype to die down a smidge. Now that it’s the end of the month, and according to multiple statistics, most people have already given up on their resolutions, I’ll share mine. Spread some more optimism.

1. Do more yoga. I believe that I went to yoga all of 10 times in 2012. I’m not kidding. Instead of me setting some crazy goal of going from zero to twice a week like I did last year, let’s just try to do more than I did in 2012. If I manage to stretch myself out 11 times this year, I’ll deem this one a success.

2. Be able to do 20 push-ups in a row. Bringing it back because I really want to do this one. I’m ready for buff biceps. And I just want my entire upper body to look nice.

3. Run a sub-2 half-marathon. Another goal from last year, but I’m so much closer to crossing this off the list than I was then. My current PR is 2:06.41, and I’m ready to train hard and slash 6+ minutes off my time. Goal race to make it happen: New Jersey half-mary with team Lululemon in May. Here we go!

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4. Participate in the first Manhattan Relay for Life. It’ll be my seventh Relay, but the first in the city I now call home. And the first in Manhattan, ever. I’m on the planning committee to help make this big dream a reality and I could not be more excited. My mom will be celebrating her 50th birthday this year, which makes this Relay even more special to me and my family. Get ready, folks, there are some great fundraisers in the works and I would love to see you.

5. Run in a relay race. I’m already starting to make this one happen with Abby and a bunch of other fabulous ladies who plan on running Reach the Beach in Massachusetts this May. It’s 12 days after that goal half-mary, so I’m hoping to be in prime running shape to do my fair share of running legs. But more importantly, I’m excited to have fun with 11 other run-crazy women, crammed in a van for 24 hours. Doesn’t that sound like a great time?

6. Run six half-marathons this year. One of my big life goals is to run a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30. I did the math at the end of last year, and in order to do that, I need to run six every year. Phewwwwwwie. It’s not impossible, but it’s a jump for me. I’ve done five half-marathons total, so jumping to six more in one year is a big leap. But I’m ready to take the plunge and will reveal which races I have my eye on soon.

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7. Go on vacation at an all-inclusive resort. Dustin and I had the cruise experience and loved it, but now we want to check out another way to relax. We’ve been intrigued by the concept of all-inclusives for a while now, so let’s make it happen this year. We’re thinking about the Dominican Republic, but are open to other suggestions. Please share!

8. Pay off one student loan in full. I’ve paid off one loan completely and am on track to do it again soon. Ideally, I’d like to check this one off before the end of summer, but sometimes life gets in the way. I’ll be happy if it’s completed by December 31st.

9. Read two books per month. Last year I read one each month and you all know how much I loved it. I’m picking up the pace this year and will continue to get my knowledge on. For a quick recap of the books I devoured in 2012, click here.

10. Read my personal training certification books. This is separate from goal numero nine because I don’t consider text  books to be a part of my leisure reading. Nonetheless, I’m excited to bust these babies open and get back to studying.

11. Buy curtains. It might sound dumb, but I’ve been living in New York City for almost two years and I still don’t have them in my living room. 2013 is the year to purchase appropriate window fabric. 

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12. Finish a scrapbook. I used to make time for this little hobby o’ mine back in college, but it’s fallen to the wayside since graduation. I really enjoy making them, for myself and others, and think it’s a great way to package photos and memorabilia. I have one that’s been in the works since 2010 (eek!), so let’s aim to at least finish that one up.

13. Ride in RAGBRAI. What’s RAGBRAI, you ask? Oh, it’s just a bike ride that starts at one end of Iowa and ends on the other side. Karla, our co-worker, John, and I are gearing up for the race in July and I am pumped! Have I done a bike race before? Nope. Do I know anything about bikes? Not so much. But has that ever stopped me before? Not a chance. Remember, my first running race was a half-marathon. Go big or go home, right? (If anyone in NYC wants to teach me how to ride well, that would be great)

There ya have it, folks. 13 goals for 2013. Now it’s your turn: what goals have you set out to accomplish this year?

NYCRuns Hot Chocolate 10K Race Recap

At long last, the recap for my first 10K race is here!

nycruns-hot-chocolateBack in November, I heard about the Hot Chocolate 10K on Roosevelt Island and was instantly intrigued. I didn’t know anything about the location of the race, which is a shame since I’ve been living in NYC for a year and a half now (what?!). But hot chocolate was in the name, which I was sure meant they’d serve me some after I covered 6.2 miles. Special food and/or drinks at the end of a race pretty much guarantees my presence, so I glanced at the mid-December date, prayed it wouldn’t snow and signed myself up. The low price point, no travel costs and promise of a souvenir mug didn’t hurt, either.

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Right after I gave up my money, I went to Twitter to see who else was running it. Obviously. Turns out, a ton of awesome runners would be there; ones I hadn’t seen in forever. It sealed the deal that no matter what, this would be an awesome day. Oh yeah, and as I said before, it was my first 10K. An automatic PR is never a bad thing!

Dustin and I took the tram for the first time (awesome) and hopped off around 9 a.m. thinking both the 5K and 10K started at 9:30 a.m. WRONG. The 10K didn’t actually start until 10 a.m., leaving us with tons of time to catch up with friends and putz around. Could I have been productive and done a warm-up jog? Sure. Did I? Nope. I was so distracted by the laid-back atmosphere of this small race – I have only run big-name races thus far – that I barely took time to squeeze in some dynamic stretching. But I was smart enough to squeeze in about 5 minutes worth of moves before Dustin headed out to find his first spectator spot.

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(Photo stolen from Erica)

The race itself was interesting and a lot of fun. Again, this was a really small race, so we didn’t even have the roads fully closed the entire time. Case in point: check out the video Dustin got of me chasing after a truck around mile five!

We ran on different surfaces, from grooved pavement and dirt roads to regular ole’ streets and sidewalk. Most of the course was along the water, which I greatly appreciated despite the slight wind that came with it. If I get to run by the water, I’m a happy girl.

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I didn’t really have a goal for this race, other than to finish in under one hour. I wasn’t there to go balls to the wall or to really test my speed. I wanted to work on my pacing and just have fun while I was out there. I did my best not to look at my watch and go by feel. Unfortunately, I had more knee pain than I expected. Once I hit mile two, my body really started to scream at me because I was  in desperate need of new sneakers. I haven’t switched to a new pair in quite a few months, even after training and racing for multiple events in them, so I knew I had it coming. My poor wallet kept telling me to hold out to see if I got a new pair for Christmas, so I sucked it up to finish my 2012 race year in my good ole’ Brooks Adrenaline 12’s.

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They’re officially in retirement now.

Despite the pain that traveled through my knees all the way up to my butt (seriously, I felt like I pulled a glute afterward), I really enjoyed this race. I had enough in the tank for a great kick at the finish, and I loved the easy travel and opportunity to hang out with so many runner friends. The course was extremely spectator-friendly, too. We looped the same course twice, so I saw Dustin five times – a record for us! And that one goal of mine? I met it 🙂

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Hot chocolate post-race = happy runner.

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If you’re in the NYC area and looking for a fun race to end the year, I’d definitely check this one out. You can tell the people at NYCRuns worked hard to make this a very low-key, relaxing and fun event. I plan on being back next year – we’ll see if I can go sub-:50 by then!

Do you like the 10K distance? Any fun ones you’re signed up for in 2013? 

Race for Recovery 5K Recap

Last Saturday, I laced up my sneaks and headed out for a 5K race. Where? WHEREVER I WANTED.

Sorry for the all caps, but that gave me a sense of power.

I’m done now.

Anyway, I was running the virtual Race for Recovery 5K put on by NYC Running Mama to help raise support for victims of Hurricane Sandy. For just $20, your name was entered into a drawing to win a boat load of super awesome prizes perfect for the running-obsessed. If you donated more than $20, your name went in more times. Obviously, more chances to win. Which means more chances at the grand prize: a fantasy day at the Runner’s World headquarters (promise it’s not as risqué as it sounds).

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Unfortunately, my bank account hates me and I was unable to spare more than $20. But I happily handed it over, not really caring whether or not I won a prize. After all, I don’t really ever win raffles, so I just wanted to help out while getting my run on and feeling part of the awesome community that we crazy people create.

As we all know by now, I am by no means a morning person, so waking up at normal race-time was not in the cards for me. After a crazy work week, I relished in the ability to sleep in and didn’t crawl out of bed until 9am. ‘Twas glorious.

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This is not me. But doesn’t Dustin look comfy?

After dilly dallying for a few hours, I left my apartment around 1pm, unsure of where I wanted to run. I just knew I wanted to get down near Astoria Park so I could run by the water and take in the city skyline. The weather was perfect, my legs felt loose and my tunes were grooving. I maintained a strong pace, negative splitting the whole time. It helped that once I actually hit the park area and saw that skyline, my iPod seemed to know what was going on. Without any playlist prep, “Empire State of Mind” blasted through my headphones. Talk about a major kick of inspiration. My pace easily picked up a notch as I hit the halfway point and started making my way home.

All I could think about on this run was the mass of people taking part to help those who lost so much because of Sandy. And now that we have all heard the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, I’m even more grateful for that moment. So many people joined together and restored my faith in humanity. Strangers lent a helping hand and did whatever they could to help those in need, whether it was delivering supplies, running a race to raise money, or hanging power strips out the window so random people could charge their cell phones.

Despite all of the cruelty that hangs heavy in the air these days, there are still some seriously awesome people in the world. And I could not be more grateful. If you’re in need of inspiration, I suggest checking out this article. It’s good for the soul.

Anyway, the run went fairly quickly, and even though it was my first 5K race (which means an automatic PR), I still got an actual PR from all of the times I’ve run an unofficial 5K.

5k watch

That makes me happy. What makes me happier? Michele raised over $10,000 with the Race for Recovery. BOOM. Major kudos for her brilliant idea and mad organizational skills. I haven’t even met her in person yet (um, can we change that?) and I already know she’s a rock star.

So I didn’t win any of the goodies (big surprise), but Michele was kind enough to post our finish times in order. Turns out I came in 33rd out of 112. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

It’s safe to say that was a happy Saturday. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done that weekend too, which also gives me a lot of joy. And I threw some Spinning in the mix. Now that I think about it, that really was a fantastic weekend.

Now it’s your turn to tell me about the things that give you warm fuzzies. Did you run the Race for Recovery? Did you write about it? Tell me your story and send me your links. I like to read. Sometimes. 

Race Fever

People warned me that this would happen.

“Be careful, it’s addicting!”

I shrugged my shoulders and laughed it off every time. I didn’t believe them.

I was wrong.

Sign me up.

After running my first half-marathon, I am officially addicted to racing. I’m not sure how long this obsession will last for, so I’m just going to roll with it for now. I find myself constantly checking out races to sign up for, but at the same time I’m trying to hold back because of my very slim wallet.

Which is where Oswego State comes in. Yeah, yeah, they’ve been sucking money from me for the last four years, but at least I get some pretty cool perks out of it. Example numero uno: the eight-week training program for the sprint triathlon. Now, I knew about this program when it first started being advertised, but I didn’t take full advantage of it because I was still training for my half-marathon, so my days revolved around running. But I kept the race in the back of my mind, thinking that I could train for it afterward.

Well, the time has come, my friends. I am officially training for this sprint triathlon.

What is that, you may ask?

  • 7,500 yard swim (or 15 laps)
  • 12.4 mile bike
  • 3.1 mile run

I’ve never done any type of triathlon before. In fact, I’ve never done any type of swimming in a competitive manner (Unless cannonball contests count, of course). So I decided to start with something small and this race fits perfectly because it’s on campus (no travel costs) and it’s free! Well, I paid for it with all of the hidden fees the school tacks on in your tuition, but I like to tell myself that it’s free.

The race also offers a beginner sprint triathlon, which consists of:

  • 7 lap swim
  • 6.2 mile bike
  • 1.5 mile run

Clearly, it’s half of the sprint triathlon. I decided to suck it up and go for the full-distance of the sprint. I’m not looking to do anything amazing in this race; I’d just like to finish. After all, the last time I made that my goal I did pretty well. Plus, it’s something I’ve never done before, so I automatically get a new PR (personal record)!

But this sprint triathlon isn’t the only race that’s caught my eye.

Warrior Dash

A few of my college friends and I are signing up for the Warrior Dash on August 13 and 14 in Windham, N.Y. By the time the race rolls around, the majority of us will have graduated and moved on to the next phase of our lives, so this will be a great reunion weekend that will allow us to catch up, reminisce and get our sweat on.

Finally, I really think I’m going to sign up for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon on November 20. My birthday is November 18, so I’d love to head over there with some friends to celebrate my birthday and explore the city. I think I’ve convinced my two future roommates, Libby and Victoria, to run it with me. Now I just have to win over my older brother, Justin, who’s studying at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).

Dr. Shelton hiking in California!

He’s extremely athletic, so I’m hoping it won’t require too much pleading. My main obstacle is his school schedule. Being in med school takes up a lot of your time, from what I hear 😉

You may have noticed that I kept saying “I think I’m going to sign up for this.” I’d love to say that I’ve already registered for each race, but I only have for the sprint triathlon. Why? Because the sprint triathlon is the only one that’s free. I’m graduating in one month (woah!), which means I have a lot of financial responsibility coming my way pretty soon. I’ve paid my own bills throughout college and manage my money quite well, but I need to keep in mind that I’m moving to New York City, which is way more expensive than Oswego, and preparing to pay back student loans.

Basically, this all means that I would absolutely love to compete in each of these races, but I’m not going to count my eggs before they hatch. If someone wants to pay my entry fees, I’m all in!

Now, I want to know: Are there any races you’re looking forward to this year? What money-saving tips do you have for a soon-to-be-college-graduate who has this new love for racing?