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3rd Annual Race Into the New Year 5k (St. Albans, WV)

NY Race 5kFor the first time ever, I ran a race on the first day of the year with the Third Annual Race Into the New Year 5k.  What an awesome way to start out 2014!  My husband, Tony and racing buddy, Wanda ran it with me.  We traveled to St. Albans, West Virginia (near our state capitol, Charleston) to run this afternoon 5K race.  Scheduling it at 2:00pm was a little different from what I’m used to, but they did that so people could stay up late on New Years Eve to celebrate, but not have to get up too early to race.  Being in mid-winter, I especially liked the afternoon time as it give the sun time to come out and warm things up a little.  Fortunately, the weather fully cooperated with a sunshiny day with temps in the 50’s to 60’s and little to no wind.  The cost for this race was $20 if you pre-registered and $25 on race day which included a nice T-shirt and post-race snacks.  This is the third and final race of the St. Albans Race Series which includes a quarter marathon in August, and 2- 5k’s (one in November and this one on New Years Day).  If you complete all three races, you earned a really cool looking medal (which is why I want to run the series in 2014).NY Race 5k3

There were a total of 189 runners participating in the race this year ranging in ages from 7 to 66.  It was a very nice turnout.  Over forty of the participants were involved with the 2013 racing series.  The race is a typical city race with a the course that started and ended at the St. Albans High School and winding around the streets of a small neighborhood.  There wasn’t much scenic beauty, but the neighborhood was well-kept and several people came out of their house to cheer the runners on.  The course was flat and fast with the exception of one small hill that even a beginner could easily handle.  The course record was broken this year by David McCollam, 34 with a time of 15:28.

The race was well run with a very unique starting event…. after making the general race announcements and before shooting the starting pistol, the race director got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend.  She said yes and all the racers and volunteers cheered for the young couple.  It was quite exciting.  The race was chip timed, so that sped up the awards program after the race.  For the post-race activities, there were the usual snacks and water available for the runners, and the race awards and series awards were handed out. Instead of medals, the age group winners for the race received cool trophies with penguins on the top and a Christmas tree ornament.

NY Race 5k 2

The series awards and medals were definitely an encouragement for everyone to run all three races for the 2014 series.  I finished the race in 30:46, but didn’t place nor did I set a PR, which was a disappointment since the course was so flat and fast.  But, just like the half marathon I would run a few days later, I had let the holidays get the best of my diet and training.  It was just a fun race anyway and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with Tony and Wanda.

I plan on doing this race again next year…. it was a great way to start out the new year and charge right into my running resolutions.  The only problem with the flat, fast course is that it’s easy to set a PR on it making the other 364 days extremely challenging to PR.  But since I didn’t do so well, I guess I don’t have that problem personally.

Silver-Medal-225x300Overall, the course wasn’t very challenging, making it was more of a fun race.  For that reason, I’m giving this race a silver medal since I consider it closer of an average 5k.

If you ran in this race, feel free to share your opinion.  What did you think of the proposal at the beginning of the race?

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??

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??

run2readHM14

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

Fairmont, WV

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March 22, 2014

Haulin’ in the Holler 25K

Eleanor, WV

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babcock-state-park-mill

April 19, 2014

Gristmill Grinder Half Marathon Trail Run

Babcock State Park, Eleanor, WV

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DIVA-NMB

April 27, 2014
Run Like a Diva Half Marathon

North Myrtle Beach, SC

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June 7, 2014

Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon

Morgantown, WV

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new_sentinelHM

August 16, 2014
News and Sentinel Half Marathon

Parkersburg, WV

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CDR_1

August 30, 2014

42nd Annual Charleston Distance Run (15 miler)

Charleston, WV

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*** OR ***

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R&R VA Beach

August 31, 2014
Rock & Roll Half Marathon

Virginia Beach, VA

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beckley HM

October 5, 2014

Beckley Half Marathon

Beckley, WV

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Runners-World-x388

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

Bethlehem, PA

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MU-Marathon

November 9, 2014 (?)
Marshall University Half Marathon

Huntington, WV

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SmileyGuyhalfmarathon

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

Monongah, WV

1st Annual BUMS Run 5k (Buckhannon, WV)

This was, undoubtedly, one of the most enjoyable races I have participated in to date. The race organizers did an awesome job of adding a lot of extras into this race to keep everyone interested throughout the entire day. The 1st Annual BUMS Run 5k was held on Saturday, October 26th in Buckhannon, WV.  The temps were a frigid 29 degrees, but the sun was shining bright and there was little to no wind at all.  In addition to the 5k race, there was a Halloween costume contest, great door prizes and a health fair with several venders participating.  Up-beat music blared over the speakers prior to the race getting all of the runners, volunteers, venders and spectators anxious to get started.

bums race 4

The race started at the Jawbone Park in downtown Buckhannon, wound its way through town, on a river trail that followed the Buckhannon River and back through some lovely well-kept neighborhoods and returned to the starting line.  I always like a loop course the most as you get to see constant new scenery and keeps your mind going.  This was the second race I had run in Buckhannon, and both had portions of the course on the river trail which is very beautiful.  There were very few inclines with the hardest one being a fairly steep hill near the end.  But it was doable if you kept a slow, steady pace.

The race was sponsored by Rob’s Fitness Factory in Buckhannon, with the Young Bucks Association directing it and local volunteer fire department helping with traffic control.  The organizers did an amazingly awesome job with their first 5k.  Everything went so smoothly that one would have never guessed it was the first year for this race.  Racers had to be registered two weeks in advance to receive a T-shirt which kinda threw me aback when I didn’t get a T-shirt during the packet pickup.  But it was my fault because I didn’t read the registration guidelines thoroughly.  But I purchased one at the race for an extra $6 because I really liked the design.  I greatly appreciated the cause for this race as a portion of the proceeds went to the West Virginia University Cure Kids Cancer Fund and another portion went to local youth sports teams.  The race director informed me that $1,000 was raised for the WVU Cure Kids Cancer Fund!!  Awesome job!!

BUMS race One of the best parts of this race was the number of young people who participated.  Of 122 participants, 45 were kids 19 years old and under.  That’s 37%… what an amazing turnout!!  I didn’t set a new PR for a 5k, but I did very well in this race.  I finished 44th and was 2nd in my age division with a finish time of 28:24 (9:09 min/mile pace).  My racing buddy, Wanda was closing in on me as she finished 4th in our age division with a 29:39 time…. another sub-30 minute race for her… she’s gonna catch me one of these days. 😀

The medals were unique as winners received a dog tag with the races name and date on it.  The funniest part of the day was the costume contest.  Mr. Banana won and he definitely deserved it.  Actually, I thought he was quite a ham.  😀  Also making an appearance was Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf; Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2; and a host of other characters.  Additionally, a lot of spectators braved the cold to cheer on the runners.  Buckhannon as a whole did a great job supporting this race.

bums race 3

It was a good day, a great race and a whole lot of fun.  I hear they will be hosing another race in April 2014 and plan to attend if possible.  Thanks for doing such a great job!!

A note from the race director:  BUMS stands for “Buckhannon Upshur Middle School”- most of the sports teams that participated were from the middle school here. The YoungBucs Association is a nonprofit that was created by my brother, Travis Foster (he also coaches middle school basketball). The association is intended to be a “blanket” organization for sports in Upshur County. The concept is that the organization works to fundraise throughout the year (with the help of all the benefitting teams/groups) and then when there is a need, teams can look to YoungBucs for support. So if the football team needs a little extra money for a trip to play-offs or if the soccer team needs new jerseys- YoungBucs can offer a stipend to help with the costs. It is really a neat concept! YoungBucs was started by my brother to help his basketball teams but has grown to the point where it can fiscally support more teams in our community.

Photos compliment of  Robbie Skinner and Young Bucks Association of Buckhannon, WV.  Used with permission.

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!! 😀

miles_smilesHM

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??

Countdown to the “Real” First Half Marathon

One month out… that’s right, one month from tomorrow I will be running in my “real” first half marathon.  I’ve been training hard, but now it’s time to get serious and not miss a single mile or cross training routine.  I know, I know…. I need to keep it fun.  A truer statement couldn’t be made regarding the sport of running and racing.  However, I have learned from experience that if you don’t mix in some seriousness, the ultimate experience can be disappointing and disheartening.

In August, I ran my official first half marathon.  However, it didn’t go over very well so I have omitted it from my list of half marathons.  There are a couple of reasons I left that race so discouraged…

  1. I bit off more than I could chew.  Chalk it up to lack of experience combined with too much enthusiasm, but I registered for and ran in a race that was, undoubtedly, far too advanced and difficult for a beginner runner.   I finished it, but my time was a miserable 02:54:00 or an average pace of 13:00 minutes per mile.  I have LSD practice runs that are faster than that.  I just wasn’t prepared.  I didn’t take the race or the training serious enough.  I finished, but I could have done so much better.
  2. I have nothing to show for it…. no T-shirt, no finisher’s medal, no pictures… nothing!!  I know this sounds materialistic, but it was supposed to be my first half marathon.  It was supposed to be a big deal, something I could brag about.  But I had nothing to show for my effort.  So, maybe it was all a dream.  A dream of running a trail race through some of the toughest, yet most beautiful terrain found in West Virginia?  A dream during which I exuded so much energy fighting the covers imagining I was climbing mile-long-hills, and tripping over rocks and roots that I woke up all muddy and sweaty with the bed torn to shreds? A dream that made my entire body stiff and sore for days??  That couldn’t have been a dream… no, it was definitely real.  But still nothing to show for it.

As a result, I’m considering the Miles of Smiles Half Marathon near Fairmont, West Virginia on November 24, 2013 to be my “real” first half marathon.   I’ve fixed the preceding problems with the following resolutions:

  1. I’ve conducted a little research on the course for this race.  It should be easy for me to handle this one as it is on a Rail-to-Trail course.  As a result, I’ve been able to mimic the course a lot in my training.  I need to run in a race that is challenging, but not demoralizing.  Something I can be proud of, yet determined to improve upon at the next race.
  2. All participants get a T-shirt and a finisher’s medal.  They will even be taking pictures and posting to their website.  I will actually have proof that I participated in and completed the race.  I may buy myself a magnet for my Jeep.  I’m thinking something like this….

crazy

I wrote the August half marathon off as a really expensive training run.  So, my first real number one, numero uno half marathon is one month from tomorrow.  Actually, its 32 days, 00 hours, 34 minutes, 36 seconds… 35 seconds… 34…33…  you get the drift.  Wish me luck.   😀