Shamrock Half Marathon 2016 (Virginia Beach, VA)

Shamrock weekend in Virginia Beach is one of the most anticipated race weekends. It is like the kick off to the season of racing here in the Hampton Roads area. There wasn’t anything that was going to keep me from attending and racing, including gale force winds.

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This year I participated in the Dolphin Challenge (the 8K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday).

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Saturday morning the temperatures were in the low 50ºs when we started out, but the winds were gusting across the oceanfront. There were times it would rip across you, and you literally would start running sideways due to the wind pushing you. A gust head on would push against you, and you knew your legs/feet were moving but you GPS on your Garmin said otherwise. My face was wind burnt, and while I tried to enjoy the festivities in the finishers’ tent – my thoughts were drifting to what tomorrow would have in store for us. The weather reports were forecasting worse weather…

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Two very different races less than 24 hours apart, and here is what I have learned… I am stronger than rain, cold, and wind – but not faster. 13.1 miles in 42° temperatures, 22-24mph winds with at times 40mph gusts and BONUS… heavy rain. At one point my borrowed poncho was no longer around my body, but flying high behind me like a cape. I must be Wonder Woman by this point right, or at least that was my thought? At the start of the race I found myself mentally comparing it to the Harbor Lights half marathon walking up to the starting corrals, thinking “Harbor Lights was cold, it poured down rain, and I never quit. If I can get through that, then I can finish this?”….right?

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With few exceptions, we did not have strong winds and it was 10° warmer. It may not seem like a lot, but when it’s blowing harder than what seems like CAT 1 hurricane at times you begin to question your judgement. Yes, I know I’m exaggerating – but seriously I think snails and turtles could probably move faster than I was. The only reassurance was my “ride or die half marathon sidechick” Angela (aka Pea) pushing along right next to me, and seeing the J&A mile marker flags flapping away in the wind. With everything being said, finishing the race only 3 minutes slower than Harbor Lights is an accomplishment. I tried not to focus on my overall time, and instead enjoyed the spectators and the company around me.

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While it wasn’t a PR for the course, it was for the conditions – and I’m pretty damn proud of myself that I didn’t end up with a DNR or DNF. If you ran at Shamrock, whether you finished in the top or if it took you the entire course time limit – you’re a hero in my book for sticking it out and finishing what you set out to do. I also have to give a huge thanks to all those who set up stations, and volunteered their time in those conditions. As always, J&A puts on an amazing event (regardless of the weather conditions which are beyond anyone’s control) with a rocking afterparty, great race swag, gorgeous finisher medals, awesome finisher items, free race photos, and excellent course support. Registration for the 2017 Shamrock weekend is now open (http://www.shamrockmarathon.com), and I guarantee you will see me out there. This course and I have unfinished business…

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Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon 2015 (Virginia Beach, VA)

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As much as I would love to write an entry about how amazing this experience was, in some ways it was and in others it wasn’t. What I can tell you is that from this I have learned some extremely valuable lessons about what your body is capable of, and when it completely fails you in the end when it’s had enough…

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It started out like every other typical race morning. The corrals were packed, and the level of energy was high. Everyone was in good spirits, even though it looked like at any minute the sky would give way to a huge rain storm. I happened to be next to an awesome group of people who were joking and snapping pictures while we waited for our corral to launch. The best part of race day is making new friends in your corral while you’re waiting. It was extremely humid, but in my mind all I could think was a nice shower would cool things off right? Man, was I ever wrong about that. At 7:30something our corral launched, and it had already started to sprinkle lightly. By mile 2 the clouds opened up, and the rain was pouring down on us. Between losing traction with the ground, and the salty rain stinging my eyes – I am sure I looked like a newborn baby giraffe trying find my footing and manage a steady pace. At mile 3 my race buddy (and partner in crime) needed to use the facilities, and I should have taken that time to adjust my laces and tighten everything down since now I had a river flowing through my shoes – but for whatever reason – I didn’t. From there things just continued to go down hill for me…

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Honestly, I think by mile 9 we had done more walking than running. It was not the strong finish that I had been hoping for after my performance at Shamrock Half, and more than anything I just wanted to finish. I felt like such a disappointment to myself. I had to remind myself that there are people who wouldn’t do what we are doing even if you paid them, and I paid to do this. Pull your compression shorts out of your butt, put your big panties on, suck it up, and keep pushing through.  There is so much that I have learned from this experience, but here are a few important points… 1.) Running to music is definitely better than running to an eBook that you downloaded to try. While it may work for others, for me I was restlessly bored and couldn’t find my stride. Plan your music ahead of time, so you don’t get bored while you’re out on the course. 2.) When your feet get wet in your running shoes, it’s a good idea to tighten everything down to keep your feet from slipping around. As a result I experienced my first ever bruised runner toes, but fortunately did not lose my toenails as result. 3.) Extra hair ties are a necessity in the event that your only one snaps around mile 5 when you’re trying to pull up your hair for the hundredth time.

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Regardless of the time, we finished which is what we set out to do. Do I feel slightly defeated, of course – but I can tell you this – I am far from broken or giving up. If anything, it is fuel to fire me to push myself further, and be stronger for the next one. I also learned what my body is capable of. I am hypoglycemic, and I wear a Road ID bracelet with a medical alert badge, for this very reason. After the race we decided to just leave and head to meet our significant others out for a celebratory lunch. We arrived at our location about a half hour before they were to open, which gave my body just enough time to let my blood sugar crash. By the time the restaurant opened their doors, the onset of the drop was beginning to show. Everything was blurry, and I felt extremely light headed. Once inside I braced myself against the bar, and next thing I knew I was going to pass out. There’s nothing scarier to me than knowing I am about to pass out – I just know, and I know there is no stopping it. My friend asked me what I needed, and all I could mutter was “sugar”. Someone brought me a sugar packet, but I couldn’t get it open. I remember someone opening it, I tried to get it in my mouth, but ended up coughing on the sugar because it was too late. The back of my head hit the bar, and I slouched to the ground. Fortunately, I came around quickly and was able to get a soda down and ramp up my sugar level quickly.  So the final lesson I learned from this half marathon is to always be mindful of my levels, and bring something with me on the course to replenish my sugar levels. If you have any health concerns or issues, be sure to let others know about it prior to your race. If you don’t have a Road ID badge (or medic alert bracelet) write your medical conditions in permanent marker on the front of your bib in the event that you have an issue on the course, this way responders are able to help you quickly. Rock-n-Roll Half Virginia Beach is a tough course, between the heat and elevations. To my knowledge, 6 people were taken by ambulance from the course to a near by hospital for treatment, several others dropped out for a DNF, and others didn’t make the cut off for time and were bused ahead to the finish. I am thankful that I was able to finish on my own two feet prior to the cut off, thankful for my running partner in crime who swore she would never run a half marathon (but did this one so I wouldn’t have to be alone), thankful for the opportunity to run the next one stronger, further, faster.

RUN PROJECT 52 – WEEK FOURTEEN “BLOSSOM” FEATURED POSTS

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Now that Spring has sprung, I asked runners to show me what is blooming where they are. Here some of my favorites. Don’t forget, to see more search Instagram and use #runproject52! Happy Running!

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Wendy Clark from Tiverton, RI

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Lauren from Norfolk, VA

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RUN PROJECT 52 – WEEK THIRTEEN “BRIDGE” FEATURED POSTS

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Week Thirteen had runners traveling to find a bridge. I immediately knew what bridge I would choose. It is the prettiest bridge in the Virginia Beach area. Located inside the Japanese Gardens at Red Wing Park.

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Others who follow along sent me some amazing photos as well. Here are a few of my favorites. To see others search on Instagram using #runproject52 and you can see the rest.

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Karen found this on Mountain House Creek Trail.

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“My name is Christa. I have asthma and I was training for the Gate River Run. This route includes 2 bridges but since the BIG one was unavailable to pedestrian traffic I had to practice on the Acosta bridge. At first I could barely get over it walking. I started running it in late December. By mid-January I was running half the bridge and February I could run one side of the bridge. In the beginning of March, I was running the full bridge both sides. I love to stand on the top. The view of my city of Jacksonville, FL is beautiful from the top. I have seen the sun set from this bridge. I have been through rain, high temps, freezing temps on this bridge. This day it was extremely windy. Nothing like being on top of a bridge looking down on everything!”

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Ashley in Juneau, AK “The Juneau-Douglas bridge is the only thing connecting the town of Juneau with the island of Douglas. The two land masses are separated by the Gastineau Channel. I’ve driven over this bridge hundreds of times but this was my first time running it. I felt so invigorated standing there, over the middle of the ocean, and just soaking it all in! One thing Juneau is not lacking is scenery! I was totally ok taking a break from my run just to enjoy the view.”

RUN PROJECT 52 – WEEK TWELVE “SPRING” FEATURED POSTS

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Week twelve lined up perfectly with the beginning of the Spring season. During this week I asked runners to capture an image of what Spring was for them where they are.

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Isidalia DiSalvi from Fremont, California

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Karlee from Phoenix AZ – Picture taken in Oceanside, CA

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Mariel Boldis from Reno, Nevada

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Stephanie Rork

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Emmalouise from Bay Area, CA

RUN PROJECT 52 – WEEK ELEVEN “DISTANCE” FEATURED POSTS

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This week I wanted everyone to run their best distance that they could, or show me what their furthest distance was for the week. Here are some of the posts…

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Heather (Founder of SWEET Workout) Virginia Beach, VA

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Yazmin Flores from Mexico City (translation in image) “We all have excuses, but all also have tennis!”

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Marnie from Oregon “I hiked 5+ miles at Willamette Mission State Park. I came across big paw prints on the trail and put down my 20 ounce Gatorade bottle for size comparison.”

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Karlee from Phoenix, AZ

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Jennifer from Arkansas

RUN PROJECT 52 – WEEK TEN “STREET SIGN” FEATURED POSTS

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Some of the funniest things I have seen while running have been street signs. So for week ten I asked runners to find me their funniest street signs. These are a few of my favorites…

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Mariel from Nevada “Being a goofball is what inspired this photo. I absolutely loved the sign because I’ve never seen anything like it and not even 2 seconds later, a big huge dog chased me out of that very parking lot. He must have thought I was infringing on his turf or something.”

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 Carrie from Brookfield, WI “I spent all week trying to come up with a funny street sign I could use in one of my posts. It occurred to me that all of the street signs that I knew growing up all together we’re quite funny. I spent some time reviewing the neighborhood map and picked my favorite street names to choose for the pictures. I invited my mom and my sister on a walk and we enjoyed the beautiful sunny day while I was able to document the neighborhood signs.”

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Ida from Uppsala, Sweden “When I was thinking about what street signs I could post for this weeks challenge I remembered how much a group of exchange students I met in high school laughed about this sign! Especially the British kids and their teachers…”

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Marnie from Oregon “There has been some owls attacking runners in the early morning hours at Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, Oregon. I heard about this on the local news and had to check it out for myself. Most recently with all the publicity, they are now selling these signs & the money raised will go back into the city parks.”

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Rosemary from San Jose, California “My story goes. My daughter and I woke up super early to drive one hour as we headed to the beach. As we are running, I first saw a sign of a fairy. (well, I DO love fairies after all). As I stopped by to read it I was inspired to take a picture. For those who are dog owners ( and dog lovers), have you ever encountered running out of doggie bags? (I do occasionally) OK. So I am not go into details of why it is important to pick after your dog but after reading this sign I have to remember that, after all, there is no dog poop fairy.”

RUN PROJECT 52 – WEEK NINE “MOONLIGHT” FEATURED POSTS

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Are you the type of runner who prefers to run during the day, or do you find the thrill of a night run more exciting? This week I challenged runners to step outside of their routine, and try a night run and capture the moonlight.

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I am a the type of runner who prefers to run first thing in the morning, clear my mind, and prepare myself for what the day will hold. While I enjoyed the coolness that the night brought, it was challenging. I was also wide awake later that night! I think for me, I will stick with daytime running!

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Sarah from Lethbridge Alberta Canada “I love running both during the day and at night, but for widely different reasons. Over the winter months, the majority of my running had been in the dark as I try to do it before my kids wake up or after they are in bed. Nighttime runs are peaceful and calm, but I limit them to known streets that are well lit. I absolutely love running on clear nights being able to see the stars. I will usually stop to stargaze and just enjoy being outdoors if it’s not too cold.”

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Dani from Newark, CA “I prefer running when it’s light out. I tend to run alone, so I’m more comfortable running when there are now creepy shadows! When I do the same route in the dark or daylight, my running/pace is better during the day. But I am much more aware of my surroundings at night.”

RUN PROJECT WEEK EIGHT “MUD” FEATURED POSTS

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To celebrate being selected as an Orange Mud Ambassador (http://www.orangemud.com/#_l_3j) I choose the theme MUD for week eight. In the meantime, if you are in need of amazing hydration packs or gear, please visit Orange Mud with the above link!

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So, here I am with one of my friend Krystal for the Dirty Girl Mud Run. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun getting dirty. So much so, we signed up for this year’s race! Double trouble returns for round two of “Splattered SWEETies”.

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Marnie from Keizer, Oregon “My inspiration for doing this mud run is to prove to myself that at age 44, I can do anything I set my mind to. I ran my first ever 5k in May 2014 and now I just completed the Buck Mountain Mudslinger 6.5 Mile Trail Run. (Silver Falls State Park) This trail run  definitely lives up to its name. I am definitely not the fastest (I finished 185 out of 190 runners) but I FINISHED. Plus my Mom loves to hear about my adventures”

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Amanda from Auckland, New Zealand “So difficult to find a mud-inspired pic this week! It’s been hot and dry here, very little rain, so surprised to see this! I have a route including a walkway overlooking the beach that I run/walk while my daughter at dance class and it was found there – plus the sand can look ‘muddy’ when the tide is out! Perfect place to run after a long day at work!”

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Emmalouise from Bay Area, CA “My Husband is what inspired the picture. I had been training him for a few weeks and he was finding it a struggle so I wanted to incorporate some fun into his training so that it didn’t feel like a workout. It totally worked! We spent the entire 5k laughing and joking (he is what I am smiling at in the picture). We had a great time working together and helping other people through the mud and he now say’s mud runs are his favorite.”

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Hope you will join us for #runproject52 and Week Nine theme – MOONLIGHT! This week I want to challenge some of you to a little night time running. Do you run better during the day, or at night? Here’s a good way to find out. Plan a route and run it when you normally would (for me that would be morning), then the following time you would run switch it to your night run. Compare your results. I think it’s interesting to see to record and compare, sometimes the results can really surprise you.

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RUN PROJECT WEEK SEVEN “TIME” FEATURED POSTS

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Time is usually something that is very important to a runner. Whether it is making the time for a run, the time it took you to run, what time the race starts – time is of the essence.

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Lynsey from Raleigh, NC “Instead of sharing a picture of my current time, I chose to share this collage of time quotes. Having gotten in to running because of track in high school, I am conditioned to focus on time. But, since I’m no longer a teenager, I am trying to recondition myself to focus on the joy I get out of running as opposed to trying to get back to my best mile time. I’m training for my first 1/2 marathon and am battling a groin strain so the process of reconditioning myself to put less emphasis on time is actually getting easier! But then again, there is joy in beating your own mileage times and knowing you’ve cut 4 minutes off your time in the past year!”

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Roberto from Tenero, Switzerland “My goal for the 52 weeks of this year is to set a PB on the Marathon of Zürich which I will run in April. So I am keeping training in order to achieve my goal which is a sub 3:30h for the 26.2 miles. Then even participate to my first Olympic distance Triathlon on September. I already did some sprint.. but never the Olympic distance because of swimming. But I am keeping training even on that. Today was a 4k session!!”

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Ashley from Juneau, Alaska “There are so many things in our lives that pull us in a million directions. This day was no different. All day I’d been hoping to get a run in. But with hubby out of town, doctor appointments, and work schedules, I wasn’t exactly sure WHEN that was gonna happen. As luck would have it, I was able to get off job one early so I hurried home. When I got there, I had about 45 min before I had to be at job two. My daughter happened to get home earlier than normal from school. I asked her if she wanted to run with me, fully expecting her to say no. I mean really, it was rainy, her friends were playing outside, and she’d have to spend time with her mom. But she said yes! We ended up getting 2.27 miles together in 24:58. She only walked once and that was 2 miles in and only for about 40 feet. I was so proud of her!!! We spent the entire 2.27 miles talking about our day, working out some fourth grade drama issues, and just enjoying the rain and the run and the time together! With so many demands on my schedule, it was so nice to carve out an unexpected and absolutely amazing almost 25 minutes with my baby girl!”

A Journey Through Fitness