Blog Archives

Too Many Irons in the Fire

WOW….I knew I hadn’t posted for a while, but didn’t realize how long it had been. February 23rd was my last post. I had intentionally taken some time off as my scheduled just got a little crazy recently. I work a full-time job as a facility director for a correctional training academy, but I’m also an adjunct professor for a small local college and teach a couple of classes a week. I can typically handle all that and still get my housework/laundry done, blog once in a while and keep up with my running and racing schedule. However, my son added an extra element to the mix that made it near impossible to keep my head above water.  I ended up with too many irons in the fire.Tony

You see…my son is a senior in high school this year. Plus, he is the baby. I have no more “kids”, just adult children. So I made it a point to make him, his education and sporting events top priority this year. Of course he has to play three sports which keeps us busy year round, but that’s ok. Football season wasn’t too hard to keep up with since they only play one game a week. But basketball proved a little more difficult with 2-3 games a week, and now it’s baseball with as many a 6-8 games a week.  He keeps me running, and it’s not the kind of running that prepares me for half marathons.  But…. just look at this face….

Who could refuse this man-boy the simple pleasure of having his mom watch him play baseball??  (Just so you know, he’s being a goofball in this picture because they just won the game.)

Well, I couldn’t resist. However, I couldn’t keep up with everything and something had to go. So I took a hiatus from  Running Hills and Hollars….the blog, not the actually running.

His season is winding down which is proving to be very bittersweet for me.  I’ve watched this boy play baseball since he was just a tot and even shorter than the bat he would swing.  I can remember his first hit off the T when he took off towards 3rd base instead of 1st base, and when everyone started yelling, he just cut across the pitcher’s mound.  Best of all….he was still safe.  You gotta love T-ball.  😀

In just four weeks, he will be graduated from high school.  He’s already registered for fall courses at college, and he will be on his way in the adult world.  Although I’m so very excited for him, I need something to keep me distracted from the inevitable heartache and deafening silence of the empty nest I’m about to face, so I’ll be back to Running Hills and Hollars more.  This spring I have run some distance races on which I’ll be posting reviews very soon, such as “Haulin’ in the Holler 25K Trail Run” and the “Gristmill Grinder Trail Half Marathon”  to mention just a couple.  I’m also now eligible to become a Half Fanatic, so that’s definitely worthy of a blog post when I receive that honor.

I’ll be back at blogging this week with my first of many reviews for summer races here in West Virginia.  Be sure to stop back in to catch up, and I appreciate the patience of my readers during my time off.

Have you ever needed to step back from blogging for a while….

maybe due to burnout, or family obligations or some other reason? 

Please share your story.  I’d like to think I’m not the only one.

Until next time…..enjoy the run!! 😀





Run to Read Half Marathon (Fairmont, WV)

The Run to Read Half Marathon took place at 2:00pm on a beautiful, wintry Sunday afternoon on January 5, 2014.  There was no precipitation with temps in the 40’s with no wind, so I thought it was perfect weather.  However, as the sun went down, it did start cooling off a little.  The entry fee for the race was between $25 to $40, depending on how early you registered.  The proceeds from the event went to the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County, a very worthwhile and deserving organization.

R2R Half3

The organizers were hoping for 400 participants, which they came fairly close with 268 people finishing the race.  The beginning of the race was very crowded on the narrow course, so another 100+ people would have made it very packed.  But more about this issue later.  There were runners from all over West Virginia and several other states.  The ages ranged from 13 to 69, so there was a good representation in each age category.

R2R Half4The race was held at the historic site of Prickett’s Fort.   It is a “rustic log fort and is a re-creation of the original Prickett’s Fort of 1774, which served as a refuge from Native American war parties on the western frontier of Colonial Virginia.”

The course itself is one of the unique aspects of this race, especially since it is held in West Virginia.  This course is almost completely flat.  The most gain in elevation my running app showed was 200 feet during mile 10, which for anyone who has run in this state knows that is very minimal.  This made for a pleasant flat, fast course.  A former railroad track, the course has been converted into a rail-to-trail to include bridges, a tunnel and beautiful scenic views of the river and woods.  Less than 5 miles of the course was asphalt, with the remainder being crushed limestone.  The park crew had cleared the majority of the trail of snow and ice the day before the race, so on race day there were minimal icy spots, and a little mud in a few places.  The crew did an awesome job prepping the course to make it safe for the runners. 😀

The race was well run by the director and committee.  The volunteers were friendly and always helpful and supportive.  With this many participants, I’m sure it took a lot of work to organize it so well, so the race crew definitely gets a two-thumbs-up.  The post-race event was awesome.  Since it was chip timed, awards were handed out as soon as the winners crossed the finished line, so there was no need for everyone to wait until all runners had finished.  But there was lots of great food…. including hot chili, fruit and more following the race.  There’s not much better than a bowl of hot chili on a cold winter’s day.

As for how I did… well, I didn’t set a PR which kinda bummed me out since the course was so flat and fast.  But over the Thanksgiving and R2R HalfChristmas holidays, I ate too much and didn’t stick to my training as I should have.  So I paid for it during the race.  I finished 212th overall and 5th in my age group, with a time of 02:23:11 (4 minutes slower than the half marathon I ran 5 weeks earlier).  The bling wasn’t too bad… everyone received a finisher’s medal, and instead of T-shirts we got a toboggan and gloves.  The toboggan had the Run to Read logo embroidered on it and is very well made.

I really liked this race as it allowed me to kick off the new year with a major run.  The flat, fast course was a pleasant change of venue as it was nice for once to not worry about the hills…. you could just set your pace and run.  A couple of things I feel could use some attention was in regard to the beginning of the race.  The start line was overcrowded, and I was surprised no one was knocked down.  On top of that, some of the speed walkers were in the middle of the pack, holding people up (one of my biggest race pet peeves!).  I wonder if waves of runners according to past race pace could be set up so smaller groups could start at different times.  If that’s not possible, at the very least it would be nice if the chip timing mat were at the beginning.  Racers in the back of the pack have a lot of time added before they ever get across the starting line.  Granted, it’s only a few seconds to a minute, but every second counts…. right?

Gold-Medal-225x300Overall, it was a good race and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s definitely one that I will plan on doing again next year.  Additionally, this is the first race of a three-part race series, so this year I hope to run the 10k and 5k (or possibly changed to a 1 1600 meter, I’ve heard) to get in the whole series and earn the series T-shirt.  If you’re looking for a flat, fast long distance race in West Virginia with some history, beautiful scenery and competition, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed in the Run to Read Half Marathon in Fairmont, West Virginia.  For this race, I’ve given a gold medal.

For an additional review, visit Sandy Runs.  Her blog tells about her stories as a Marathon Maniac, Half Fanatic and 50 State Marathon Club member.  It was a pleasure having her visit West Virginia and she gives an excellent review of the race.

If you were at this race, feel free to add to the review.  What did you like the most about the Run to Read Half Marathon?  What did you like the least?

A correction from the RD, Jim Woolfitt: Just to set the record straight: MCPARC (Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission) gets the credit for clearing snow off the trail & the parking lots. The parking lots are not under MCPARC’s jurisdiction but the park superintendent is not complaining. MCPARC also helps with the water stops providing manpower, tables, chairs & water coolers.

2014 WV Race Review Changes

My racing scheduled has slowed down a little with winter upon us, but I’ve still been crazy busy with the holidays, work and preparing for a new semester as an adjunct professor. So I’m running a little behind on writing reviews for a couple of races I did complete at the beginning of January. (But they will be coming in the next few days!)

The main reason for my delay is that I’ve been trying to decide on a template to keep the race reviews consistent. I want to deliver information to you that may help you decide on whether or not to do the race in the future, but I want to be sure I don’t miss anything. So that has contributed to my belatedness as well. Please accept my apology and know I’ll step things up to get you more timely and accurate information.  Here’s is what future reviews will entail….

  • Race details such at distance, time, location, weather, cost, sponsor/charity, etc.
  • Pre-race and post-race events
  • Runner information such as how many, ages, etc.
  • Course details
  • How the race director, committee, volunteers did
  • Awards and how I did
  • Pros and cons
  • Miscellaneous such as history or race or area, local legend, etc.
  • Overall rating
  • Pictures of the race will always be included

Gold-Medal-225x300For the overall rating this year, I thought I would use something visual.  At first I thought I would use the Star Rating with one star being a bad race and five stars meaning it was a great, can’t-miss-this-next-year race.  But I didn’t think stars really related much to running.  So I decided to use medals.  Hey, we all love to get medals from the race…. this was my chance to give a medal back.  So I will give gold medals to top races, silver medals to middle ground races, and bronze medals to the needs-a-lot-of-work races.  Of course, please realize I’m giving you “MY” opinion of the race…. there are always others with different opinions.   But I do try to be open-minded when rating something.

Finally, and something I’m very excited about is the fact that I may have some guest bloggers helping me with race reviews.  Last year I ran in a lot of races, but of course I couldn’t hit all the races in West Virginia.  So I’m talking with some running friends of mine that hit races in other areas and of different distances to add some spice to my race reviews.

So I wanted to write-up this short post to let you know what’s coming to my running blog in the very, very near future.   If you run West Virginia races and would be interested in sharing your review here… just let me know.  I can’t pay you for the review, but I can help promote your blog, website, Facebook or Twitter page.  It’s always interesting to get a review from someone else’s perspective.

What do you think of the template I’ll use?? 

Is it too much information??

Am I missing any information someone may want to know about races here in West Virginia??

Consistancy is #1 in 2014

I posted My 2013 in Review recently, and have been reading it over and over to assess my progress over the past year. It’s always hard to make such an assessment when you don’t have year-over-year results to compare. Since this was my first full year of running and don’t have 2012 to use as a benchmark, I have to break the year in chucks and compare it that way.

Fortunately, I used Runtastic, a mobile app on my iPhone to track all of my running throughout the year.  I can review and assess the past 12 months, read notes I left to myself after training runs and races,  see how much speed work I did and how many long runs I ran.  I’ll note if my runs were on the road or on a trail, what the temps and weather was like, and how I felt after the run.  There’s an immense amount of invaluable information I’ve saved in that little app.  I highly recommend using a run diary whether it be one on your phone, a GPS watch or hand written.  You’ll thank yourself one day.

2014 goals

Now I’m ready to set my goals for 2014…. to get serious and down to work about where I want to be this time next year, then… I can make a plan that will get me there.  I take goal setting very serious, because if I don’t give myself a direction in which to go, I’ll fail.  I’m a goal-setting-to-be-successful type of person… at work as well as at play.  So here I go…

  • Number One: BE CONSISTENT!!  After reviewing last year… month over month… the lack of consistency has been my biggest downfall.  My mileage bounced around too much, and I would take as long as a whole week off for no reason.  The most damaging inconsistency was in my speed work… hence, the slow increase in speed.  Typically, I make my goals measurable, but this one is more general.  Additionally, I look at it in three areas:
    • Training Consistency:  I’ll set training plans and goals, and not deviate from them (unless, of course I’m injured).  No skipping long runs!!
    • Actual Running Consistency: Even during races and runs, I need to be more consistent and walk less.
    • Nutritional Regime Consistency: Be more careful with my diet.  Cut back the one cheat meal a week to one a month.  Although this may sound crazy to some, I need to increase my daily caloric intake from 1,200 to 1,500.  I’ll need to research this one some more to set a good plan in place.goodfood
  • Speaking of speed work… this needs to definitely improve.
    • Once a week, I need to either hit the treadmill or the track near work to do intervals or tempo runs.  This has to be 4-7 miles.
    • Twice a month (minimal), do hill repeats.  And do them for real!!
    • Incorporate at least a couple of strides in every easy run (except long runs).

And now for some more measurable goals:

  • Finish the P90X3 program by March 31
  • Incorporate P90X3 workouts 2-3 times per week into training program for remainder of the year
  • Complete a one-year run streak starting January 1st (at least 1 mile every day)
  • Run 1,000 miles in 12 months
  • Get weight down to 130 and maintain it there
  • Get body fat percentage into the fitness range… 21% – 24%
  • Run a sub-25 minute 5k
  • Run a sub-2 hour half marathon
  • Run my first 25K
  • Become a Half Fanatic this year!!

Now… the last thing I need to do is print this up and stick it to my refrigerator so I see it every day!!  If it’s printed, then it’s for real… right??

These may be some lofty goals, but I feel they are completely attainable.  It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I have a good support system from family and friends.  If I follow thru with these plans and goals, I’ll be in the best shape of my life by the start of 2015.  Then I can start thinking about a full marathon.  😀

What are your goals for 2014?  If you’ve blogged about it, leave me a link below so I can stop by to read about your plans for this upcoming year.  We can cheer each other on!!

My 2013 In Review

Before I set any goals for 2014, I felt I needed to look at how I did in 2013… what I did right… what I did wrong… where  I’ve come from so I know where I need to go from here. Below are some of the milestones I’ve met over the past 12 months…

2013 medals

  • First consecutive 12 months of running in my life (2013 goal accomplished!!)
  • I will have run over 860 miles by December 31 (I still have 3 days left to run) (2013 goal of 500 miles…. SMASHED!!)
  • I will have my first ever 100-mile month in December
  • I ran 16 5k’s during the year (2013 goal of 10 5Ks accomplished!!)
  • Ran a sub-30 minute 5k (2013 goal accomplished!!)
  • My fastest 5k pace was 8:54 min/mile (I only did that once)
  • I ran 3 10k’s during the year
  • I ran a sub-60 minute 10k (2013 goal accomplished!!)
  • I ran 2 half marathons
  • The first half was my first half ever (2013 goal accomplished!!), and my first trail race since high school
  • I set a much better time on the second half at 02:19:18 since it wasn’t a trail race.

Some things I have learned over the past year from racing and training is as follows…

  • Trail racing is very, very, VERY hard!!  Never ever underestimate the trail!! :/
  • Don’t try to carb load with a heavy pasta dinner the night before the race…. start two days prior and end with LUNCH the day before!
  • Dress for temps 20 degrees warmer than what it really is, and in layers in case I get overheated
  • Drink lots of water every single day to be properly hydrated
  • Remember to eat and hydrate properly for trainings runs, especially long runs…. not just races
  • Although I have a good base now, I need to increase leg and core strength and do more speedwork to improve speed
  • LISTEN TO MY BODY!!  If I’m in pain, get it checked!!
  • Just because I burned 1,000 calories doesn’t mean I can eat 1,200 calories of junk food!!  Seriously!!
  • Don’t skip the long run!
  • Don’t skip breakfast!

And finally, when I look at what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong… here’s a look at where I started a year ago to where I am now… 12 months later….

  • January 2013 I ran a total of 53.92 miles…. December 2013 I may double that as I currently sit at 93.39 miles and 3 days left to run… yea, I’ll double that!!
  • In January 2013 my longest run was 8 miles at a 12:00 min/mile pace…. I ran 10.5 miles today at a 10:30 min/mile pace
  • The longest distance I ran this year was 14 miles in November
  • Today I ran up hills with no problem that I couldn’t run up in January 2013
  • My first 5k of 2013 (March) took me 35:06 at a pace of 11:19 min/mile…. I ran my fastest 5k in September at an 8:52 min/mile pace…. I ran several 5k’s later in the year between 9:00-9:30 min/mile pace
  • I ran not just one, but TWO half marathons… the longest race I’ve ever run
  • January 2013 I weighed 130 pounds…. today I weighed in at 135 pounds.  I’m confident the increase is muscle.  🙂
  • I’ve lost over 3 inches around the waist, but feel I can still tone up more with some concentrated core exercising

runjunkeeProbably one of the coolest things about my running adventures this year is how I’ve made literally hundreds of new running friends both in real life as well as virtually.  I started out running alone, but then moved up to having my racing buddy, Wanda join me for most of my races and even my husband for a few.  Now, I’m part of a group of ladies who support and cheer each other on as we train and go to races together.  Additionally, I’ve met friends that I keep running into at different races on the circuit (no pun intended).  Then there are the virtual running friends I’ve met…. I started a Facebook running club called Central West Virginia Road Runners Club where I’m keeping in contact with folks in my area.  I’m also a part of an awesome Facebook group called Run JunkEes Run Club.  On Twitter, I virtually hang out at #RunChat and participate in a virtual group discussion every Sunday night.  It’s a great way to get and receive motivation and inspiration.

I would love to hear how you did in 2013.  Leave a comment below telling me about it, or better yet… I encourage you to write a post on your blog about it.  Let me know, and I’ll definitely stop by to read about your accomplishments and share it with my virtual friends.

How You Doin’?

I’m doing fine… glad you stopped by for a visit.  I just thought it would be nice just to chat a little bit if you have the time.  I haven’t posted for several days as the craziness of the holiday season has kept me quit busy.  I have a few minutes of downtime at work before I go to the company Christmas dinner…. so I thought I’d jot a few things down to let you know about some posts coming soon and what I’m thinking of writing about.  I’ll be quick as I know you’re just as busy as I am.

Everyone is starting to post their 2014 goals.  I have some ideas of what I want to do, but haven’t really taken the time to start putting my goals down on paper.  You know how it is…. once it’s down on paper…. it becomes real.  So I want to be sure my goals are ones that will best benefit me, that I want to accomplish and can accomplish.  I’m tossing ideas around in my head, taking into account what other bloggers are saying and making some plans.  I’ll be posting about that soon.  I’d really like to read your 2014 goals…. so if you don’t mind, please leave me a comment with a link to your blog post.  Others might be interested in checking out your goals as well.

But before I set my goals for next year, I think it’s wise to review the past year first.  I want to revisit everything I accomplished as well as everything I failed, where I went wrong and what I did right, how I did improve and where I can continue to improve.  Since I just started running in late 2012, I don’t remember setting any goals.  Since I was a beginner, I really didn’t know where I was in regards to running and where I was going…. or if I even wanted to go anywhere.  I hadn’t decided yet if running was just a temporary fixation I had, or if it would become a true change in lifestyle.  Since then I do believe it’s become part of my lifestyle.  I’ll find what 2013 goals I can find (if there’s any) and assess how I did on them.  That will help me look toward 2014 and setting next years’ goals.

Finally, I have my third half marathon coming up in about 18 days, so I may post some on training, tapering, running in the snow, streaking, doing intervals on the treadmill, P90X3 or just some general Christmas posts.  All my kids are coming home for the holidays this year, so it will be exciting and I will want to tell you all about that.  I’m sure I’ll get some running-related Christmas gifts that I’ll have to talk about, too.   And who knows what else may pop into my head and end up here.  😀

So until next time….. run happy!!

Train In All the Elements

A few months ago, I saw a post on Facebook where someone posted a question about training for an upcoming race.  It’s been a few months ago, so I can’t remember it word-for-word, but I remember the post was made during the week and their race (I think their first 5k) was that Saturday.  So this new runner mentions that they had been doing all their training on the treadmill, and wondering if they should get a run outside done before the race.  I kind of cringed when I read their question, as I couldn’t imagine doing all of my training inside, then trying to complete a race…. nevermind competing.

This old post came to my mind this morning during my long run.  It was a unique long run for me as it’s Sunday morning, and I have never ran on Sunday morning before.  I have always made my Sunday morning priority going to church.  I haven’t even run a race on a Sunday morning.   Sunday afternoon….. but not Sunday morning. 

I got to run this morning because we had cancelled church due to the weather.  It was really putting down the snow and the roads were hideous!!  On top of that, the forecast was calling for the snow to turn to sleet around noon.  So to keep our parishioners safe, my husband who happens to be the pastor, cancelled services for the day.  So I decided to take advantage of the extra two hours and go for my long run early.

I ended up running in quite challenging conditions…. I took off at 10:00am with temps around 32 degrees and large snow flakes falling.  I was trudging through six or more inches of snow, but it was beautiful.  Then around 10:30am…. the wind kicked up, temps raised about 3 degrees and the sleet started.  Although I was warm, I was getting wet.  And on top of that, the snow was getting heavier making it harder to plow through.  It had rained the day before and froze under the snow, so my footing wasn’t good either.  (Note to self…. order those Yaktrax!!)

snow_Conrad LaneWhen the weather started turning bad, for a fleeting moment a thought flew through my head to call it quits.  But then I remembered I have a half marathon on January 5th…. only four weeks away.  And the chances that I’ll face these exact same conditions, if not worse, is very high.  So I trudged on, considering this the perfect training opportunity to prepare for wintry elements.  These were conditions I could never simulate in my home gym on the treadmill.  And it builds my confidence as now I know I can handle the long distance in the cold, snow and sleet.

So what’s my point?  Running on a treadmill meets its purpose when necessary, but it’s also important to train in all the elements…. cold, hot, humid, dry, rainy, snowy, sleeting, windy, flat and fast, hilly, early morning, afternoon, night, and whatever else God might throw your way.  If you’re going to race, you gotta be prepared for anything and everything.  Well… at least as much as possible.  Just remember, always keep safety top priority.  It made the run harder, but I kept my run this morning on all back roads that were traveled very little or not at all.  The main roads were too dangerous. 

I’m glad I didn’t quit early and finished my 8-mile run this morning.  I was cold and wet when I got home, but I was exhilarated!!  It was worth training in the elements as now I’m one run closer to being prepared for my half marathon…. rain or shine!!  😀

Do you agree with me?  Can you complete all of your training on a treadmill and be successful in a race?  What are some of the worst conditions in which you have run to prepare for a race??

December Goals….With a Little Help

So… I didn’t quite make all of my goals for November.  Please allow me a few minutes to revisit and appraise those goals.

  • A monthly mileage goal of 80 miles… Unfortunately I got in 68 miles, but pre-race tapering and post-race recovery for a half marathon took easily took away the 12 miles I needed to complete this goal. 😦
  • Do Jillian Michaels’ “Ripped in 30″ DVD at least 4 days a week…  I worked out with Jillian for 2 weeks, but then… half marathon.
  • Run a half marathon on November 24th in under 02:20:00…. I was successful here, and actually just now realized I was under the time I set.  I ran the half in 02:19:18!!
  • Maintain weight at 130-135 MAX!!  I weighed in at 137 yesterday.  Considering it was Thanksgiving last week, well….. I’ll take it.
  • Run at least three early morning, pre-work runs per week… Just couldn’t get my schedule set for this.  Will try it again later.

So all in all, I didn’t do too bad.  There’s still room for improvement.  Sometimes just learning how to set goals is a lesson in itself.  I’m learning more about me, my running, how to fit it into my schedule, when too much is too much and visa versa, and et cetera.  So goal setting is a lot like running, you just have to keep working on it, tweaking it and refining it, until someday, you’ve mastered it.  And with that being said… on with December’s goals.  😀

My goals are going to be a little different this month.  I’m getting a little motivation from a couple of sources.  One is my all-time favorite magazine, Runner’s World, and a little fun challenge from a Twitter group I’m apart of… #runchat.

  • This month I WILL HIT 100 MILES!! Do or die… 100!!!!
  • I will complete the Runner’s World Run Streak and run at least 1 mile every day from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Day.
  • I will complete 15 minutes of Nike Ab Core workouts every day during December.
  • I will run my last 5k of 2013 and complete it in under 28 minutes (a new 5k PR).
  • Return to and maintain weight at 130-135.  No excuses this month!!  Self discipline!!!
  • I will have fun by successfully completing the #RunChatHunt… a pictorial holiday-themed scavenger hunt. (See pic below.)

So what is one of your goals for December?  Are you streaking?  Run hunting?  Are you going to hit that last PR of the year? Above all, I hope you have fun this month!  Run happy!!  😀

2014 Half Marathon Wish List (EDITED February 2014)

I put this post together several days ago, but hid it away in my draft file thinking it was way too soon to talk about the large races I hoped to participate in next year.   Then I read a blog post of a fellow blogger, Running Wild that talked about his 2014 Race Season Planning.  So, I decided it wasn’t too early after all.  I put some finishing touches to this post and decided to publish it tonight.  Granted it will probably change throughout the year, but at least I have an idea of what I want to do.

Below are the Half Marathons (or longer races) I’m looking at for 2014.  I’m already registered for the first two, and I won’t get to do all of the others, but these are the one’s I want to run in the most… kinda like a wish list.  Who knows, maybe a friend or family member will ready this and pay for my registration for one of these races as a Christmas gift.  Nice idea!!  😀

If I do get to complete them,  I should meet the criteria to become a member of the Half Fanatic club also.  What an awesome extra bonus.  That would be so cool!!

What do you plan on running next year??


January 5, 2014
9th Annual Run to Read Half Marathon

Fairmont, WV



March 22, 2014

Haulin’ in the Holler 25K

Eleanor, WV




April 19, 2014

Gristmill Grinder Half Marathon Trail Run

Babcock State Park, Eleanor, WV




April 27, 2014
Run Like a Diva Half Marathon

North Myrtle Beach, SC



June 7, 2014

Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon

Morgantown, WV




August 16, 2014
News and Sentinel Half Marathon

Parkersburg, WV






August 30, 2014

42nd Annual Charleston Distance Run (15 miler)

Charleston, WV



*** OR ***



R&R VA Beach

August 31, 2014
Rock & Roll Half Marathon

Virginia Beach, VA





beckley HM

October 5, 2014

Beckley Half Marathon

Beckley, WV






October 17-19, 2014 (?)
Runner’s World Half & Festival

Bethlehem, PA






November 9, 2014 (?)
Marshall University Half Marathon

Huntington, WV






November 23, 2014 (?)
Miles of Smiles Half Marathon

Monongah, WV

Miles of Smiles Half Marathon & 5k (Monongah, WV)

This week is typically known as Thanksgiving week, but here in West Virginia we call it hunting season.  It’s the first week of buck gun season, and my two Tony’s (husband and son) have been waiting patiently for this day to come for quite a while now.  I took the week off to enjoy some downtime from work and get caught up on housework and laundry, maybe do some Christmas shopping, and of course get some running in.  But like any other day off, here I am wide awake at 5:00am.  I was even up before the hunters this morning.  I just couldn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned all night thinking about yesterday.  What’s so big about yesterday?  I did it, folks…. I finished my first “Real” half marathon, and I did it in a fairly decent finishing time.  Technically, this was my second half, but I did so poorly on the first one (which was a too-difficult-for-a-beginner trail half marathon) that I decided this would be my first “real” half.  I shaved 30 minutes off my time, so that tells you just how difficult the first one was.

Since I won’t be doing much housework today and I’m up so early, I thought this would be a prime opportunity to catch up on my blog posts.  I’ve run a few races that I haven’t reviewed yet, and need to get done so I have a journal of the event.  In this post, I’ll talk about the half I ran in yesterday.

It was Miles of Smiles second year for this half marathon and 5k run/walk.  Miles of Smiles is headquartered in Western Pennsylvania and provided timing services for nearly 300 races in 2012, and I would guess more than that this year.  I’ve participated in several races where they are the timers, and they’ve always done a great job.

This was their second year for the Miles of Smiles half and 5k which is held in Monongah, WV (near Fairmont, WV… home of Mary Lou Retton… remember her?)  Monongah (pronounced Ma nawng’ ga)  is a small town of slightly over 1000 residence, but used to be a booming coal mine town in the early 1900’s.  It’s quite rich in history, including a devastating coal mining disaster in 1907 when 362 miners lost their lives.  It was a double out-and-back course on the West Fork Rail Trail, which was 90% paved and included short jogs across a renovated wooden railroad bridge crossing the river.  The majority of the course followed the sleepy, lazy West Fork river which made for some beautiful scenery even though the leaves are gone by now.  The course was flat and fast, with very minimal inclines that any beginner could easily handle. The sky was blue with temps being in the mid-20’s.  There was a cold brisk breeze most of the race that took my breath a few times, but other than that it was perfect running weather for November.

miles_smilesHMmedalThe race was well ran under the direction of two veteran runners, with several water stops, post-race food and of course the chip timing is always appreciated.  We all received a beautiful finisher’s medal with trophies for the overall winners and nice place medals for several age groups.  We also received very nice long-sleeved tech shirts that I’m sure I will wear often.  There were 110 racers in the half and 45 participating in the 5k… just the perfect size for a first half marathon.


I didn’t do too bad as I finished 87th overall and 8th in my age group with a final time of 02:19:18 (10:38 min/mile pace).  I feel certain it’s a time on which I can improve and makes for a great motivator for my next half marathon.  Below is a picture my daughter took just a couple of seconds before I crossed the finish line.  It was awesome to have her there cheering me on along with my racing buddy, Wanda who ran in the 5k and placed 2nd in her age division with a sub-30 minute time.  Congrants, Wanda!! 😀


All in all, it was a great day and a great race.  I’m very satisfied with this accomplishment and look forward to my next half marathon hosted by the same crew in Fairmont again in January 2014.   Did you race this weekend?  How cold was it where you ran??