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Archive for October, 2012

Million Mutt March – Louisville, KY (October 27, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Million Mutt March – Louisville, Kentucky

Me crossing the finish line of the Million Mutt March – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: Million Mutt March 5K

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 27, 2012

Time: 24:44

It had been a pretty intense week for me.  After churning out my fastest half marathon not even a week earlier, getting in my training runs for next week’s half marathon, traveling, getting caught up on work, and having the weather go from 80 degrees one day to 43 degrees the next…I admit…I was tired.

I also admit that on Saturday morning, the thought of stepping out into the windy, cold morning to go run a race at Cherokee Park was not really thrilling me.  I don’t dislike Cherokee Park.  I train there a lot with my fun run group at my local running store.  The hills make for a nice challenge and definitely help build strength in my legs.  But I just wasn’t feeling it that morning.  My legs were achy due to the sudden return of cold weather.  My original plan to wear one of my running skirts changed before I walked out the door after a quick check of the weather.  I know a lot of people who would still venture out in shorts to run.  Normally I would too.  But not with that wind.  I was already cold just sitting around my apartment.  So, before my roomie and I headed out, I changed into my capri pants, grabbed a Lärabar, and stepped out into the cold.

Like I said…it wouldn’t have been too bad save for that wind.  That’s what made it cold.

We arrived in really good time at Cherokee Park and managed to find parking not too far from the pavilion where packet pick-up was happening.  I ran in the Million Mutt March last year too, and one of the best parts of this race is the number of dogs that are brought out.  You see, this race benefits our local no-kill animal shelter No Kill Louisville, and not only are adoptable pets brought out, but runners bring their dogs as well.  Some dogs even run with their owners.  The first dog across the finish line gets an award.  It’s a fun race for a good cause.  So when I saw I was going to be in town for it, despite the still travel/race weary legs, I had to sign up for it.  I wouldn’t miss this one for the world.

Packet pick-up was a breeze.  It had just opened up 15 minutes before I arrived and no one was there.  Granted, there had been an option to pick up your race packet the previous night at the local Fleet Feet in Louisville, but I wasn’t going to make an extra trip into Louisville only to return the next morning.  Not for this race.  Packet pick-up at Cherokee Park is never difficult.  Go to the pavilion, tell them your name, get race bib and t-shirt.  Easy.  And that was exactly how it ran.  The only difficult part was that the lady at the packet pick-up had to reluctantly remove her mittens (yep…told you it was cold!) in order to flip through the race bibs to find mine.

I was handed my number (28!), asked what size t-shirt I wanted, and wished luck.  I thanked them, grabbed four safety pins and went to find where Cathy was standing.  I handed her my race bib and she went to pin it on me.  This meant I had to unzip my hoodie and be a little chilly for a moment.  So…I did.

Before you think I’m wimping out, I understand that I did run a half marathon where the temperature was 43 degrees and I was in short sleeves and a running skirt.  But with the wind here,this 43 degrees felt like 37 degrees.  And my rule is once it hits the 30s…I don’t do shorts.  So, with that rule in play and the temperature feeling like it was in the 30s, I went with capris and my Soft Kitty (from Big Bang Theory) socks.  Long sleeve tech shirt and my running jacket.  Layers.  Layers are my friend in this sort of weather.

I got my number pinned and immediately zipped my jacket back up.  We walked my t-shirt back to the car and I debated on whether or not to wear my gloves.  I decided, in the end, to skip them.  Not sure that was the best choice, but…you know…

We still had about 40 minutes to go until the start of the race, so we ventured back toward where all the activity was.  Vendors and pet adoption/rescue places were setting up booths for the event that followed the race.  We made a quick circuit of the area, then returned to the little basketball court.  I stood there, shivering, looking at the dogs that passed, giggling at some of the costumes they were wearing (some owners dressed up their pooches for the Doggie Costume Contest).  I eventually devoured my Lärabar (Peanut Butter Cookie, in case you were wondering) about 30 minutes before the race was to begin.  And then, I began to do a few stretches.

When it gets cold, I usually get lazy with the stretching.  I don’t want to stand out in the wind and loosen up.  I wand to fold my arms across my body and attempt to just stay warm.  But that won’t help me in a race, especially with hills, if I pull a muscle.  So…I half-assed some stretches, but at least I did it.

Soon, runners, walkers, and pooches were all making their way toward where the start and finish line of the Million Mutt March were set up.  A woman wearing a t-shirt walked past declaring that today was her wedding day.  I congratulated her and she said that her husband-to-be is afraid she’ll fall on her face and get hurt.  We laughed a little at that.  Then, I moved to find a spot, actually near the front of the pack for me, to get started.  We were given instructions about the course…and then had to part from the start due to one of the shuttle buses arriving.  Seriously.  The bus went to the drop off point, some cars followed it through, and we got back into our spots and prepared for the start of the race.  I hit play on my iPod, saw the small group ahead of me begin to move, and headed for the start.  I hit the start button on my Garmin as I crossed the line and was off.

Somewhere in those first few steps at the start line, I made a decision.  I run Cherokee Park quite often, so I figured, why not experiment a little with this race.  Push a little harder.  Yes…tired legs…I said push harder.  I could at least try, yes?  So, with that decision made, I made for a quick decent down the first hill to the point where it levels off.  I tried to keep my hard pace.  It wasn’t too difficult.  I had an older lady running just slightly ahead of me in a yellow jacket.  I used her for the first mile to help me keep my pace up.  It was a trick I had read about in numerous books on running and one I was now going to employ.  The course veered from the Scenic Loop and headed down one of the roads connected to the park.  Mile 1 was now done and I was making good time.  I didn’t check my watch, but I heard it beep.  I know now…if I don’t focus on my time, I run a better race.  Keeping that in mind…that’s how I chose to run this one.

We finally hit the turn around on the road and I looped around, now just behind the woman in the yellow jacket.  This part of the course was flat, but I knew some of the worst hills in Cherokee Park were still ahead.  My brain was telling me to slow down, my legs were screaming at me to slow down, but I didn’t listen.  I had 2 miles to go, and this was a course I ran often and knew well.  If anything, even on travel/run-weary legs, I could push this.  I could.

As Cathy and I had driven into Cherokee Park, I knew that Mile 2 hit as we began the never-ending climb up what we call Dog Hill, so with that in mind, I went to go ahead and push a bit more, get past the woman in the yellow, and prepare to set my own pace going up that hill.  It would be coming up in a few minutes.  I went to pass, and she moved over to where I was running and cut me off.  WTF?!  I moved the other way, and she did it again.  How aggravating and very unsportsmanlike.

Fine…if that was the game she was going to play, I’d pass her on the hill.

Or, that was my plan.  As we started up Dog Hill, I once again moved to pass her, and she once again slid over in front of me making it impossible to do so.  I thought about faking to the left and going right, but while that works in basketball, it doesn’t really work in running.  I had heard about, even read about, these types of runners…but this was my first actual encounter with one…and I’ll be honest…she was really pissing me off! 

I pushed even harder than usual on the hill now because I really wanted to get past her.  But, every time she’d move in front of me and make it impossible.  I finally just let her have the lead.  No sense killing myself trying to pass when it obviously wasn’t going to happen.  I was raging inside.  I hit the top of Dog Hill, and now it was down before the last stretch of the race, uphill toward Hogan’s Fountain.

Usually this part of Cherokee Park I run on fresh legs, coming in from Eastern Blvd. from the running store.  However, in the 5K runs held here, this is always the last stretch.  So, I tried to run this as I would on fresh legs.  I really dug deep here, wanting to just go all-out, even on hills, for this run.  It was something I had wanted to do in the summer, but the extreme heat didn’t really allow me to throw caution to the wind and just push it at a race to see what I could do.  Choosing to do that on a race with hills on tired legs…probably not the best way to go…but…well…the decision was made and I was now less than a mile out from the finish.

As I was nearing the crest of the hill at Hogan’s Fountain, another bus came through.  Seriously.  A bus.  A lot of runners run with headphones in, and the guy and his dog just ahead of the bitch…er…the lady in the yellow jacket…didn’t even hear it coming.  He could see the finish line and he was going for it.  The director of the race was having a fit when that bus showed up.  It even honked at the guy with the dog, but he just kept on trekking.

And while the woman in yellow was distracted by the bus, right there, right at the finish, I blew past her.  FINALLY!!  And wow…did I ever feel that run.  I stopped my Garmin and turned off my music.

Cathy was there at the finish line, waving her hands as I went through.  She came over to tell me I set a new PR, but either by a second or…by whatever my Garmin said.  My Garmin said 6 seconds.  So, only when official results posted would I know for sure.  I held up a finger and walked away in an attempt to catch my breath.  A table with bananas and water bottles was just up ahead, so I walked that way, taking deep breaths, and finally getting to a point where I could answer.

And the first thing I said was, “I have been trying for most of the race to pass that woman…and I just barely did it.”  Yeah…don’t focus on the important thing there, star…bitch first.  Oy.  But…you know…I’m not normally the competitive type at these things, but the fact that she kept purposefully blocking my attempts to pass just set me off.

I took a drink of water (which I had to get Cathy to open as I couldn’t feel my fingers), and we walked around the little vendor/doggie adoption area.  I bought another little race mascot, a little dalmatian in a No Kill Louisville shirt, which I named Frank N. Spot.  And I nommed on my banana.  We pet a few puppies, met some great dogs, were asked more than once to adopt a pet (if we could…we would), watched the Derby City Disc Dogs preform their frisbee tricks, and then were ready for the awards ceremony.

I knew that I had been the 5th woman across that finish line, so I figured I at least placed in my division somewhere.  But as the names were read out for the 30-34 age division…I wasn’t called.  I knew that couldn’t be right because the evil blocking woman was one of the grand master winners…so I had to have won something.

After all the awards were handed out, I checked with the race director.  Lo and behold, my name had been on the page prior, as had three other people, and the awards were given to those who came in 5th-7th.  Whoops.  So, without any fanfare at all, I was handed my first place medal for the Million Mutt March age division and sent on my way.  My roommate didn’t even take a picture immediately.  I had to ask her too.  Like I said…no fanfare.  Kind of a disappointment for that kind of an error to happen…but these things do happen.

So, the official results of the Million Mutt March 5K are that I finished in 24:44 seconds, my new PR for a 5K race.  Not bad for a hilly one, yes?  I was 16/161 finishers overall.  I was the 5/107 women to cross the finish line.  And I was 1/19 in my age division.  WOOHOO!!

I loved that I pushed myself on this race to do a little more than I normally do.  I didn’t like some of the unsportsmanlike action taken by the woman ahead of me.  I loved that in the end I beat her across the finish line.  And I loved that my money for this race benefited No Kill Louisville.  It was a cold morning, but a good one…and I ran for a great cause.  And in the end…that’s what it is all about.


Hershey Half Marathon – Hershey, PA (October 21, 2012)

Me crossing the finish line of the Hershey Half Marathon – Hershey, Pennsylvania

Me crossing the finish line of the Hershey Half Marathon – Hershey, Pennsylvania

Race: Hershey Half Marathon

Place: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Date: October 21, 2012

Time: 1:51:37

Ever have one of those races that you just felt good going into?  That’s how I felt about the Hershey Half Marathon.  After making a stunning comeback from my torn plantar fasciitis in numerous races of varying length, plus having some really great training runs leading into it, I was confident that Hershey was going to provide me with a good race.  New PR or not, I was heading to the land of Hershey Chocolate…also known as…one of the best places on Earth.

So, aside from my goal of joining the 50 States Club, why a half marathon in Hershey, Pennsylvania?  Running for chocolate, of course.  This race, just before Mile 12, hands out a candy bar.  No joke.  That was what originally caught my attention.  It was mentioned on an early date of my roommate’s Food Challenge Desk Calendar.  And I immediately knew I had to run it.  I also knew this would be a great road trip to include Jenn on, because she is as much a chocoholic as I am.  We made plans.  Registration opened.  And I signed up.

This meant travel.  Lots of time in the car.  And it all started the Friday before the race on Sunday.  Cathy and I worked a half day on Friday and then made our way up to Columbus, Ohio.  We crashed at Jenn’s house that night, knowing the realization that we would have to be up crazy early in the morning (5:45 a.m. which I was not happy about) to eat breakfast (I brought homemade gluten-free carrot cake pancakes), get coffee (from Caribou Coffee…because when I am near one I have to have it!), and get on the road for the 7 hour car trip from Columbus to Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The car ride took forever.  Honestly.  We made a couple of stops along the way for stretching, bathroom, and food.  I had to be very careful with my food decisions that Saturday because I didn’t want to consume something with gluten in it the day before I ran 13.1 miles in a race.  That would have been disastrous.  So, I stuck to products I knew and trusted and were labeled gluten-free for the journey there.

At around 2:30 p.m., we arrived in Hershey, Pennsylvania and had to make our way to Hershey Park and attempt to find the Ice Palace, where packet pick-up and the expo were held.  We followed traffic to Hershey Park and then Cathy had her immediate freak-out of normal proportions with the usual, “I don’t know what I’m doing…I don’t think this is right…I don’t want to ask someone else…”  But once you get her past that part of the trip, she does better.  Well, she had that moment and it passed when we got up to the ticket gate and she inquired with the lady in the booth about packet pickup.  She told us to drive all the way around and follow the signs for the Season Ticket Office, and we’d get where we needed to go.

That’s what we did and we were directed into a parking lot, where we did a little hunting for a spot before finally getting out of the car for a little while.  It was nice to stretch and move some.  We had a little bit of a walk to the Season Ticket Office, which was marked with signs and balloons for the Hershey Half Marathon Packet Pick-up.  We entered…and I immediately spotted the booth for BondiBand.  I love BondiBand, so I said I would loop back around for it…and focus for the moment on getting my packet, which is truly the most important part.

It was easy.  The packet pick-up was done from the first letter of your last name.  I went up to the B box and he was able to easily find my name.  He pulled out a packet, handed it to me with my shirt and a reusable bag and directed me over to Chip Check, where a woman took the packet, ran it over a scanner, and made sure my name came up and the chip was functioning.  It was.  And I was Bib No. 400!

With the important stuff now in hand, I was able to walk around the expo.  There weren’t too many booths there, honestly.  Your local groups, a few vendors, and…BONDIBAND!  So, after making one circuit of the small expo, that’s where Cathy, Jenn and I headed.  Like I need more BondiBands, right?  I can’t help it…these things are great and I wear them on training runs as well as during races.  They’ve become part of my running attire and people recognize me because of it.  So, after about 45 minutes of searching, Cathy and I narrowed down our choices to four, which she bought for me, and soon…we were heading out of the expo.

With some time to still kill before meeting up with my friend Kathy for dinner at a restaurant with amazing gluten-free Italian food options, we ducked into Hershey World and checked out the prices for activities and hit up the gift shop.  Shopping took us a little while, but we wrapped it up and made our way to the resort we were staying at that night.  Cathy got us checked in and we took our luggage up to the room and settled in for a little bit until Kathy arrived to give us a tour of Hershey and take us to Piazza Sorrento, our choice for where to have dinner.

Dinner was delicious and hanging out and socializing with Kathy was a lot of fun.  But as the night went on…she had to get back home to her family and we had to get ready for yet another early morning for the race.  I dug into my luggage and started laying out what I was going to wear that morning of the race, noting that it was going to be a crisp, cold 43 degrees out and I didn’t bring long sleeves, arm warmers, or anything.  So, I knew I was going to be cold that following morning.  I did bring my running capri pants, but opted for my running skirt regardless of the chill in the air.  With all that done, we turned in for the night.

The 5:30 a.m. wake-up call came and I dragged myself out of bed and went to get dressed.  I put on my running clothes, got my plantar fasciitis sleeve over my taped feet, then my running socks.  My shoes were laced up and I was good to go except for putting the colored hair extensions in my hair and putting it up in ponytails.  I managed that, put on my “Will Run for Chocolate” BondiBand I purchased online prior to this race, and headed out to the living room area of the suite.  I grabbed a bag of gluten-free cereal and settled in at the table to munch.  It wasn’t the usual cereal I would eat, but it was already in a portable container.  I had picked it up the weekend prior at a gluten-free expo, so while it would have been better with some almond milk over it…I work with what I have.  Both Cathy and Jenn (poor Jenn had been awake since 3:30 a.m.) had their breakfasts as well and we finished up getting ready before heading out the door.  I grabbed my banana to consume an hour before the race, filled up my water bottle with SmartWater, and we were off.

I stepped outside into the garage of the resort and immediately knew I was honestly going to be quite cold for the start of the race at least.  The wind was quite strong and very frigid.  But…I also knew I would arm up as I ran, and a half marathon is quite a distance to go being overdressed.  So, I freeze some at the beginning, but don’t have to worry about shedding layers or being too hot during the event.

We drove over to Hershey Park and found a great spot near the end of a row.  I didn’t want to get out of the car yet, so I waited for Cathy to futz around with what she needed in the bag she was bringing, what she wanted in the trunk, and whatever else she was futzing with.  And when she was finally ready, Jenn and I got out of the semi-warm vehicle and walked toward Hershey Park Stadium.  As we were walking, I peeled my banana and began to slowly eat that.  We ducked into the brightly lit stadium to take a look around.  I got to see the Finish…and knew that was my destination.  I just had to get there.  The start of the race happened outside of Hershey Park Stadium, but we still had some time.  Instead of standing out in the cold, we headed over to where Packet Pick-Up was happening and ducked inside.  On our way there, a runner spotted my “Go Karen Go!” sign that Cathy has at every race and she said, “Oh my God, you run in Louisville!  I see that sign at every race!  You won an award at the Big Hit Quarter Marathon!”  I couldn’t believe that the sign was spotted and recognized by someone else up from the Louisville area.  How cool!  We said hello, wished each other luck, and we went to step into the warm surroundings of the packet pick-up space.  It was in here that I began to stretch.  And as the crowd began to thin out, I knew race time was getting close.  So, sucking it up…I went back outside and made my way over to the starting area.

Me and the Hershey Bar before the start of the Hershey Half Marathon

Me and the Hershey Bar before the start of the Hershey Half Marathon

Being that this is the Hershey Half Marathon, a lot of the Hershey mascots (aka: Candy Bars) were out and roaming around.  I spotted the big Hershey Bar and knew I had to have my picture with him.  So after a high five, we took a great picture.  Jenn and I then hopped into a picture with the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup mascot.  Awesome.  And, little did I know that the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup was the featured candy.  It was on the medal this year!  SWEET!  Cathy opted to have her picture taken with the Kit Kat Bar.  It was pretty epic and so much fun.  What a great way to just sort of take the edge off before a race.   And, it got me out of my hoodie to acclimate to the cold air sooner than I would have otherwise.

With photos done, and announcements about to be made, Cathy and Jenn gave me good luck hugs, told me they’d see me at the finish, told me to have a great run, and Jenn gave me the best send-off with “Don’t pants your poop!”  HAHAHAHA!!  Love it.  Marathon Thoughts…thank you for that one.  I got lined up in the middle of the 8 minute miles and 9 minute miles…my proper spot this time.  The race director went up to the podium to give a small speech about the race.  I wasn’t aware that this was only the third year the Hershey Half Marathon had run.  I thought it had been going on for much longer than that.  He went over the rules…like not to take fluids from strangers…look for volunteers in the orange shirts instead.  It was great.  And then he turned the microphone over to the miracle child from the local Children’s Miracle Network picked to kick off this year’s race.  He was so adorable and not shy at all.  With much gusto, he got us out and going with a simple “Ready….Set…….GO!”

And so…the race was on.  The movement toward the Start was easy and smooth.  It took me about a minute to get from where I was corralled to the actual Start gate.  So, that wasn’t too bad.  I spotted Jenn and Cathy on the other side, flashed a smile and a peace sign…and was off.

Now, prior to the race, I watched the video of the course.  It looks pretty flat from the video.  But on Thursday night, I started looking up blogs on the Hershey Half Marathon and everyone was talking about how hilly it was.  I was determined that they ran a different course than the one I saw.  But…nope.  They were absolutely right.  HILLS!  Lots of hills.  And not just small rolling hills either.  Some of these were pretty good climbs.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The beginning of the race is mildly challenging.  The first mile, for me, flew by.  Honestly.  I was just sort of running at what I deemed to be a good, slower, start time for my run.  I want to get better at run easy…push more…finish fast.  But I was through the first mile and it felt great.  Mile 2 was spent running through Hershey Park itself.  That was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed seeing the park, the rides that were available, the vendors.  Sure, it was tight quarters with all the runners in there, but you make the most of it.  You enjoy it.  You choose a pace and you just work through it.  Quite a few inclines welcomed us inside the park.  I did my best to power up them without using too much energy so early on.  As we came out of the park, the race hit Mile 3 and off we went to wind through the streets of Hershey, Pennsylvania.  With the challenge of the hills I found myself focusing a lot more on the road ahead of me.  I didn’t glance at my pace, even when another mile beeped off on my Garmin.  I wanted to just run this at what felt comfortable.  It had been working for me in the past couple of races…why mess with it and try to rush myself?  Miles 4-6 just seemed to fly by because of the hills that greeted the runners.  I was so focused on getting safely to the top without expending too much energy, but not slowing down to a crawl either, that before I knew it…I was halfway through the race.  I was warmed up.  I was feeling good.  I was remembering to hydrate when I felt I needed it.  Halfway was where the relay teams tagged off, so I got to see some of that happening, which was cool.

Mile 7 took us basically up a hill almost the entire way.  But my legs were feeling strong and pushed forward.  I was moving at a good pace.  Mile 8 – 9 was done through a residential area.  The roads narrowed a bit at Mile 8 because we had runners coming up one way, and those going through Mile 9 were coming down the other way.  But everyone navigated it well and the neighborhoods were a nice change of scenery.  Some of the best crowds were out on these corners.  And if they saw your bib…they would shout your name.  This was one very awesome crowd.

Miles 10 – 11 felt amazing to me.  I hit that 10 mile mark and saw the time clock reading of 1:23:17 and I knew I was far above my normal race pace for this run.  My best 10 mile race time was 1:29:33.  This race was proving to be one of my best half marathons yet…even with the hills.  Normally by Mile 10 I need to refuel with Sports Beans or a GU.  But not today.  I had energy.  I was pushing now because I was only 2 miles from the end.

As I came onto Chocolate Avenue, I was greeted by the volunteers dangling Reeses Nutrageous bars out to runners.  It was the Chocolate Aid Station!  YAY!!  A lot of runners ignored it…but the whole purpose of this race was to get the chocolate bar at Mile 12.  This happened just before Mile 12, but I had to take one.  I had to.  I didn’t eat it, but I carried it with me as I ran up the street lined with Hershey Kisses topped street lights, and back toward Hershey Park.  Mile 12 had yet another hill, but I was so close now, I could taste it.  I came into the parking lot and started down toward the tram gate to run toward the stadium.  Then it was out and around the stadium before coming into it, dashing around a corner…and finding that Finish line.  I was rewarded with a Finisher’s Medal almost immediately.  That finish was one of my better ones.  I immediately spotted Cathy and Jenn in the stands and I was so pumped up from the finish that I was bouncing and pumping my fists.  Even more amazing…the chocolate I got at the Chocolate Aid Station didn’t melt.  I got my finisher’s photo taken and Cathy said they would meet me at the Results tent.

I made my way there, getting the little cooler of goodies along the way…and some water.  I was gifted with another space blanket to help warm me up…and I walked onto the field and over to results.  Sadly, my results weren’t up yet to find.  However, I did go and get hugs and congratulations from both Jenn and Cathy immediately afterwards.  I handed Jenn the Nutrageous bar I picked up at the Chocolate Aid Station and thanked her for coming out after a long trip and sleepless night to sit in the cold and wait for me to finish a race.  I was pumped.  I was so excited.  My best race yet and I was still feeling great!

I got my Arbonne Vegan Chocolate Protein shake out and drank that down while standing around and texting my family.  Then I sent the text to my friends.  And then…after downing some water…we got into the car to head back to the resort so I could shower and we could head out and do something out of town the rest of the day.  This…was one hell of an amazing race.  And when all was said and done, I shaved 7 plus minutes off my previous half marathon PR.  So a great run and a new PR…despite the hills!  YES!  All that hard work and training really is paying off.  What a fantastic run!

The official results of the Hershey Half Marathon have me finishing in 1:51:37.  I was 642/3932 finishers overall.  I was 212/2516 women runners to cross the finish line.  I was the 634th person to cross in the 25-34 age division.  And I placed 77th for people who were 32 to cross the finish line.  THRILLED!  Ecstatic.  Just…so proud of myself for such a well run race. 1/58 in my age division.  I set a new PR for a half marathon…and I have my next one, in…2 weeks.  No joke.  But I am treating that one as a training run due to it being so close to this one.

Being part of the Hershey Half Marathon was so much fun.  Pushing myself without knowing it and setting a new PR while here…priceless.  Running for chocolate…the best reason to run.  Period.  I might have to do this one again sometime!

Me striking a pose for a strong finish and new PR at the Hershey Half Marathon

Me striking a pose for a strong finish and new PR at the Hershey Half Marathon

Will run for chocolate…

Hershey Half Marathon

Hershey Half Marathon

I’m going to be the first to admit it…I never thought I’d be running in the Hershey Half Marathon up in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  In fact, it wasn’t even on my radar until it came up as a food challenge on my roommate’s calendar of food challenges.  She mentioned that runners receive a chocolate bar at Mile 12.  That was enough to convince me to at least look into it.

Well, this race is a pretty big deal, it seems.  In fact, this race tends to sell out…quickly.  No joke.  And this year is no different.  The race is sold out!

I’m really excited to be running in this half marathon.  While destination races always put me on edge with nerves, logistics, planning, and all of that…I’ve been really excited about heading to Hershey.  I’ve been running better than I have in a long time.  And this will be a good race to do after the near catastrophic Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon where I literally felt like I was going to die at the end of it.

The weather is supposed to be perfect this weekend…and especially on race day.  A little chilly in the morning…somewhere around 43 degrees…but I tend to warm up fast.  The high on Sunday is 60 degrees.  Like I said…perfect weather.  The 13.1 mile course winds through Hershey Park, out and around town, and finishes back at Hershey Park Stadium.  There is plenty to see along the way.

While the video I watched of the course seems relatively flat, last night I was reading some blogs of people who ran it previously…and it seems they say it is rather hilly.  So, I guess it is a very good thing I often run hilly routes.  Good training.

Accompanying me on this venture are my two loudest fans, Jenn and Cathy.  They will be hanging at Hershey to see me off and then see me through the finish line.  Yeah…I’m really feeling good about running in this race.  Honestly.  When my training runs have gone so well, it’s hard not to feel good about it.

But now…after putting it off all week and all morning, I need to get everything packed up.  Around noon today I am heading to Columbus, Ohio, where I’m crashing with Jenn for the night and then we are all off to Hershey early in the morning.  I need to make it to packet pick-up before it closes at 5 p.m. on Saturday…so that leaves only a minute amount of wiggle room on the 7 hour drive from Columbus.  We’ll get it sorted.  I’ll just do my best not to wind myself up and focus on the important thing…

Having a great race.

Wish me luck.  And I’ll definitely attempt to keep my chocolate consumption down until after the race.  But I make no promises…