Showing posts with label half marathon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label half marathon. Show all posts

October 31, 2017

10 Favorite Things from the Runner's World Half Festival 2017

So I've been stalling writing any blog posts about the Runner's World Half Festival because I had such an amazing time and there is so much to say. It was an absolute honor and pleasure to be invited as part of the RW Half Run Crew. I left with sore legs, sweet bling, and new running friends! Since I love lists, I figured I'd start out my post-race weekend recap the way I blogged about what I was most excited about pre-RW Half Festival! Spoiler alert: some of the things I was excited about beforehand DID turn out to be amazing.

10 Favorite Things from the Runner's World Half Festival 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Things from the RW Half Festival Weekend (not in order!) 

1.  The people: The RW Half Run Crew and all the Runner's World employees I met were so nice (Oh and RUNNING WITH RYAN HALL WAS PRETTY FREAKING COOL TOO). We had a such a great group of people in the RW Half Run Crew. 


RW Half Run Crew with Ryan Hall

2. Meeting Ryan Hall: See above re:running with Ryan Hall. It was great to hear him talk about his kids and biggest tip about marathoning is to relax! He said he races best when he is relaxed. 

RW Half 2017 Ryan Hall photo

3. Meeting Bart Yasso and hearing him talk: So apparently everyone likes Bart Yasso because he is actually an awesome and super nice guy! He gave a little talk after our lunch with him that brought me to tears as he read letters from young kids who were inspired by him and "wanted to be Bart Yasso, without all that running crap". Runner's World isn't going to be the same without him when he retires! 

He also said something was really inspired me-"you never know who you're connecting with or influencing, so keep doing it". This relates to me on a professional, personal, and social media level!

Lauren_2017_RW Half-Bart Yasso

4. The dog "race": It was just as amazing as I imagined and the best run of the weekend. I spectated and then got to pet SO MANY DOGS after the race. A few people were serious and ran the 1 mile race with their dogs. Some weren't born for racing. 

RW Half 2017 dog race1

Some decided that 1 loop or 0.5 miles was enough and needed a break. 

RW Half 2017 dog race2

5. The half marathon on Sunday: Doing the grand slam (4 races in 3 days) I was kinda dreading how I'd feel on Sunday for the half marathon and last race of the weekend. I started out slowly and was going to use it as a marathon training pace run but ended up running around 8 minute miles. I was so happy and full of gratitude running. I had so much fun stopping for a couple photos, stopping for some beer from spectators, and taking in all the beautiful scenery.  Running along the tree-lined streets of Bethlehem with perfect weather was absolutely beautiful. 

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Photo on the run

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Post-half marathon happiness

 6. Free race photos:
Because all races should have them. Seriously though I got a few nice photos during and after the races like this one below after the 10K on Saturday. 



RW Half Marathon 2017_10K-racephoto

7. Exploring the city of Bethlehem (on foot!): As I mentioned before, Bethlehem is a beautiful city. I had only visited once before so seeing a lot of the city on foot via the races. 


I mean look at this sunrise on Friday morning:  
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Having all of the races start and finish at the SteelStacks was really cool too. They are really stunning and massive. It's a cool part of history of the town. 

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Running over this bridge over the Lehigh River multiple times over the weekend was a highlight as well. 
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 8. Learning about Altra Running company and shoes from founder Golden Harper: Golden Harper, the founder of Altra Running gave a whole talk about how the company was founded and how the idea of zero drop shoes came about (you can read a little bit of the story here).  He then gave a very informative seminar about efficient running form (information also available on their website-check it out!). I love trying out the Altra Running HIIT XT shoes we were given before participating in a tough HIIT workout as well as a trying pair of the Escalantes that I ended up running the half marathon in them!   


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 9. Pizza at the end of the trail run: A beautiful site to see after the 3.6 mile trail run on Friday afternoon-that was super fun! 


I repeat, finishing a trail run and seeing all of these boxes of pizza: 
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This is the look of true happiness on my face right here. I couldn't even wait to take a photo before taking a few bites. Shout-out to Lehigh Pizza! 
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Oh, and this view after the race was nice too. 
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10.The Bling & Swag: The Grand Slam was my first running challenge of doing multiple races as part of the same event. It was definitely exhausting but was a really fun experience. All of the medals were cool and SteelStacks-themed. It was EVEN COOLER that the Grand Slam runners received a larger half-marathon medal that 

RWHalf2017_medals-1

As part of the RW Half Run Crew, Runner's World hooked us up with an awesome bag of goodies from the vendors including The Stick, Janji, Balega, MoJo Socks, and Altra Running

I also like the long-sleeve Altra race shirt we got as well as the blue backpack I received for registering for the Grand Slam. 
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 RWHalf2017_medals-2

So the Runner's World Half Festival gets two big thumbs up from me. Running the Grand Slam was a blast, and I loved the other challenge options for doing multiple races. Everything was well-organized and the race courses were fun. 

Thanks to Runner's World you have the chance to win a sweet RW Tote full of running goodies too. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents only. Giveaway open until 11/7/2017 12 AM. 
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May 11, 2017

What to Pack in Your Marathon Gear Check Bag

Disclosure: I received complimentary product from ShowerPill. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 


When you cross the finish line of a half or full marathon, the first thing you are thinking is YAY, glad that's over. If you are me next you are thinking where can I get a beer, water, banana, and sit down, PLEASE. If it's a big event or one where you plan on hanging out around for the post-race festivities that so many races have now, it might be a good idea to pack a gear check bag. I find this especially true if you're running a big race where it's going to take you a while to get back to your hotel/lodgings/house or you'll be hanging out in your post-race clothes for a while. 

After the Chicago Marathon the past 3 years the weather has been nice, and I've been feeling good so I hang out with friends, have a couple beers, and listen to the music in Grant Park. 
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Post-Chicago Marathon 2016 with a beer in one hand and my gear check bag beside me
Now, I'm the type of person that is usually cutting it close to getting to a race start or at least isn't giving myself much time beforehand. Even with marathons which are big deal to me, I still feel like maybe I should give myself some more time to get around. This is particularly true if you're running a huge race or one with security checkpoints. 

I usually hope that I have a friend or my boyfriend to carry some stuff for me until I finish. If not then sometimes I'll quickly navigate the pre-race area and drop off a gear check bag, if available. For some of the bigger half marathons and marathons I've run bag check is usually offered, and the process is pretty organized. Races give you a clear plastic bag at packet/bib pick-up (security reasons nowadays!). Then you can drop it off before the race with your bib number attached, and pick it up after finishing the race. It's not recommended to store valuables in there, because it's not like locked-in-a-safe secure. 

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Here are 5 items that I always pack in my gear check bag

1.Clothes
The type of clothes is dependent on you and the season, but I think having something not damp with sweat or smelly is a post-race must have. Even if it's summer I like to have at least a dry shirt to change into. If the weather is cold, I love having a comfy sweatshirt, dry shirt, and possibly extra pair of tights to change into. After hanging out in my sweaty clothes I usually feel extra chilly once my body starts to cool down and some fatigue sets in. 

2. Socks
This kind of goes along with clothes, but having a nice pair of clean, dry socks to change into after logging some race miles is great. It gives my feet some relief. Often I pack a pair of compression socks to wear to get a head start on recovery and to aid with circulation. 

3. Wet wipes
Having a travel-size pack of wet wipes is great to just wipe off my face and arms of sweat or dirt after a long run, particularly if I'm hanging out post-race for a bit. 

Since I discovered them a year or so ago, I've been loving ShowerPill wipes which are a thick washcloth-sized body wipe which kill 99.9 of germs and also contain hydrating vitamin E, witch hazel, and aloe vera. They come in single packets and are perfect for travel or gear check bags. 

You can save 20% off any ShowerPill order through 6/15/2017 with code LAUREN

4. Sandals
Oh yes, I've been known to rock some socks with sandals post-race. Actually my beloved Adidas sandals from my high school soccer days are falling apart and need to be replaced (not shocking). Again like the socks, it's nice to get my feet some relief and a chance to air out. Besides for comfort, I also like having sandals or even a spare set of shoes if the race has been muddy or wet. 

5. Favorite snack & drink
I always usually eat something offered post-race after I have my go-to recovery snack of a banana. If it's a long distance race or I'm not sure what post-race fuel will be available, I like to pack a small snack or drink that's a favorite of mine. That way I'm positive I have something that my body can easily handle and that I'll be able to quickly refuel with. 

For me this means a tube of Nuun Hydration that can easily be mixed with water and a Honey Stinger waffle. The gluten-free salted caramel  waffles are my favorite! 

6. Hair ties 
These are always just a good thing to have (for us longer haired gals and guys anyways). Possibly for pre-race if I (or another runner!) realize I've forgotten them or had one snap when fixing my hair (it's happened). Sometimes it's nice to pack some extra hair ties or a headband if I take out my sweaty pigtails post-race and want to look a little less like I just ran 13 or 26 miles 

Do you often gear check a bag? What's your must-have item to pack for post-race?

April 14, 2017

Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Race Recap


My recap of this last April's inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon in Walt Disney World 2016 is here, just a week before this year's race. 

 As I mentioned in my post on my favorite Disney eats, my sister works at the parks so it was an excuse to visit her. My friend was also running this race as his first half marathon and had a place for me to crash which makes it more enticing because the price tag on this race was $185 which is A LOT for a half marathon, or a race in general. 

There is a 5K and 10K, and half marathon during the race weekend as well as the Dark Side Challenge (10K Saturday, half marathon Sunday).  

inaugural-star-wars-dark-side-half-marathon-recap

Pre-Race

I stayed at the All-Star Disney Resort with my sister the night I got to Florida so getting to the expo was easy-I just caught a bus over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  First there was a huge room where you go and get just your bib. I love when your name is printed on your bibg for races like this one. All of the cast members/employees I encountered were very nice and helpful. 


Next you head over to another giant stadium room where the actual race expo is. They had lots of fun vendors, but it wasn't too crowded when I got there early on Saturday morning. They had some cute things, but I don't really buy anything at most race expos anymore. I did end up getting Sparkly Soul headbands (Star Wars themed)- one for me and one for my sister.


I loved this graphic of the course map hanging up.  Everything in the expo was pretty well-organized. 


I did think it was really cool that there were stormtroopers patrolling the race expo. 


Here's a photo of the race shirt. RunDisney uses Champion products which aren't my favorite racing shirt style, but I do like the design of this shirt with Darth Vader on it. 

People are known to go crazy for the RunDisney race merchandise for sale at the expo. I tried to make my way there quickly and apparently some things had sold out, but there was still a ton available for purchase. I bought another cool Darth Vader shirt and a pint glass, but honestly wasn't too impressed with anything.

Race Day

The half marathon STARTS at 5 AM so that meant like a 2:30, 3 AM wakeup for me. That is damn early for a race morning for me. My friend and I ended up taking an Uber to Epcot and managed to use the bathrooms at the entrance to the park (score!). There were some photo op backgrounds up which was fun.  I was in the first corral which made me feel super speedy because for such a huge race with over 18,000 runners I was close to the front. The race had a fun start with a video and then fireworks!  


I didn't have any racing goals for this race and knew that because I wanted to stop to get photos with characters that my time would be slower. My only goal was to fully experience a runDisney race and have lots of fun! The race temperature at the start was in the 60s with 75% humidity, something I was not yet used to running too in April in Baltimore (that humidity kicks in there in the summer though!). 

The race course starts in Epcot, goes through the Boardwalk and Beach resorts area, through Hollywood Studios, to and through Animal Kingdom and then finishes at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. One of the first character stops was R2D2 so I jumped right in line behind only a couple people and got a photo with R2D2-it was awesome! 

My race outfit was BB-8 inspired with a Sparkle Skirt, hand-painted visor and shirt. 


The first couple of miles took us around the World Showcase with all the different countries at Epcot which was one of my favorite parts. They had the parks lit up and many employees standing out and cheering. It was really fun to be running through one of my favorite parks with no one but runners there. 

Miles 2-4 have you going through the Boardwalk and Beach resort area which had a few more brave family members and friends cheering who were staying at those resorts and then we made our way to Hollywood Studios. I stayed at one of these resorts last time I was in Disney World with my family so it was fun running by these. I was having a great time so far!

Race photo on the boardwalk
I had been previously warned that due to the distance between parks, there were long highway stretches of races at Walt Disney World. The first 4 miles of this race were so fun and exciting that it was like a blur until I got to the long highway stretch to get to Animal Kingdom at Mile 9. Settling into miles 4-8 was a little mentally tough, but there were some characters as well as big video screens playing clips from various Star Wars films. 

Getting a photo with Chewbacca was super fun as well and one of my favorite photos. 


Running the ginormous parking lot at Animal Kingdom to get to the park entrance was killer. It felt like I was never getting any closer! Once we got into the park it was really fun to run through it, especially with all of the music, employees cheering, and wildlife due to the nature of the park. 
Miles 9-12 lead us through Animal Kingdom and back along the highway again towards the ESPN Wide World of Sports, with the last 1.1 miles going through the complex. 

By the end of the race the sun was up, and the weather was warming up quickly. Overall the course was fairly flat with a couple inclines on the highway stretches. 

I appreciated all of the photo ops with employees willing to take photos with my phone (although many of those from the beginning came out really dark i.e. my Chewbacca photo above) as well as the PhotoPass professional photos. I've heard that the lines can get long which can be annoying unless you just expect that it's part of the experience. The start and stop of running can be a little weird feeling during a half marathon too. 

This was one of my favorite photos from the race,trying to look as boss as possible in the emperor's chair. 


There weren't as many characters out as I expected, although there were some fun photo ops that put you in scenes from the movie. During the highway stretches there was some music and video screens including a DJ playing remixes of Star War music, but I was expecting more entertainment. 

This movie scene photo op I wasn't thinking straight and posed wrong and should be going away from the monster, haha. The photo then gets flipped over so that I'm like Luke hanging in the cave in Empire Strikes Back, which I did not understand at the time it was being taken. There was another fun scene photo op in the trash compactor from A New Hope


By the end after the long highway stretches, I was ready to be at the finish and enjoyed myself that last mile. 


I finished the race in 1:49:12, 11th in division and 497 overall out of over 18,000 finishers,  which is pretty solid considering I stopped to take a bunch of photos and was running this for the whole runDisney experience. That also gives you a sense of how many people run this race. 

Once I finished I was handed a medal and picked up a Powerade, water, cold towel, and box of snacks. 


Now I will say that the medal is pretty freaking awesome. It's heavy and Darth Vader middle part spins. 


I finished fairly fast so the finish area in one of the big parking lots wasn't too crowded yet. There was a big screen so you could watch as people finished. Here they had more photo ops including the big man himself, Darth Vader.  They had all of these next to each other, and the queues quickly became pretty long. 


Dressed up as BB-8, this was the first photo line I jumped into. I love this photo, although I wish I could have like hugged BB-8 or something. 




As I said, the morning heated up fast. I ended up waiting for my friend to finish his first half marathon and then journeyed back to the hotel for some snacks and a nap. I headed out to the parks later that day. It was fun to see other's wearing their medals around the parks. 


Overall Race/RunDisney thoughts

Positives 

-Great photo opportunities: You can get lots of awesome photos during and after the race. I also thought getting photos with the characters was very fun! 
-Awesome medal: If you care about your race bling, a runDisney race is definitely the place to grab some awesome, unique race medals. 
-Unique experience: I think it was a unique experience with fireworks at the start, character stops, and a fun theme throughout (especially if you are a big Star Wars fan like I am). Running through the parks before they are open is also really fun. 

Negatives

-Price: I still think for the pricetag that Disney could offer runners 10% off park tickets. The price for tickets only keeps climbing, and I think it would be nice to offer SOME sort of discount on park tickets. 
-Highway stretches: There are long stretches of highway during the races, based on how far apart the parks are and the race course. Here you aren't getting really getting any fan support or as much excitement as I expected during this race off the park premises. 
-Early start: I was pretty tired after the race so it wasn't the day where I was going to have a long day at the parks. I can't imagine doing that wake-up multiple days in a row for the challenges. 

Something that could be positive or negative is the race size. The Disney World races have a capacity upwards of 20,000 runners. It was fun to be part of such a large race,and get to start the race with the energy of a crowd of people. It also makes the expo, race start and finish, and parks/resorts more crowded at that time. My friend who started in the back because he didn't have a time to put in when he registered said it was really frustrating trying to get past many people and the start was really crowded. 



You can find information about the race and this year's events on their race website here

Have you ever run a runDisney race? Do you like big or small races? 



March 8, 2017

5 Spring Race Day Tips

Even though the weather can’t make up its mind, it will soon officially be spring. In the Mid-Atlantic region, that means ALL the races as the weather warms up.  I know many people are running the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon and 1/2 Marathon this weekend. I have the past three years (2015 race recap here), but am holding off a couple weeks before racing long distance because I haven’t quite built my mileage up enough.

I will be, however, be running the KELLY Shamrock 5K with most of Baltimore on Sunday, and can’t wait (2015 race recap here). It’s not going to be fast, but that race is pretty easy-going. I've run it 4 years, and it's always a fun, city-wide event. Spring may mean the first race of a new racing season for many runners. Here are some of my tips for the first race of the spring racing season.


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5 Spring Race Day Tips

1. Lay out your clothes and gear the night before. 
I do this before every race, but it’s especially important if it’s been a few months since you’ve raced. Make sure all your gear is together and that you aren’t forgetting anything. Charge your phone, running watch, or iPod if need be too! You don’t want to be scrambling around in the AM looking for your fuel belt, headphones, gloves, or clean running clothes.
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2. Run with friends. 
I love running with friends in general but especially for the first race of the season it can help keep the pressure off yourself and keep things fun. The first race of the season is usually not a goal race for me. I look at it as more of a warm-up for the copious other spring races. Keeping pace with a friend can keep you motivated and help you pace yourself in the beginning of the race.

3. Start slowly. 
The first race of the season can be super exciting, especially once you are the start line and have the energy of the crowd and fellow runners. It’s super easy to get caught up in starting too fast at the beginning instead of pacing yourself. You don’t want to use up all your energy at the start or it could be a longgggg race. Trust me.

4. Dress in Layers. 
At least in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, spring race weather is very unpredictable. I’ve run races in March and April where it was freezing cold or unseasonably warm. I always grab some throwaway clothes from Goodwill. I also have few pairs of arm warmers that I love to race in when it’s cool at the race start, but not cold enough for long sleeves because I can pull them down during the race. Dress in layers you can easily take off and toss as well as have layers like a pullover available at the finish line for when you cool down after the race.
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5. Have fun. 
The first race of the spring season I am usually a bit under trained after taking some time off and adding more cross-training into my routine. That is even more true this season as I’m rebuilding after an injury. This first race of the season is a benchmark for where you are at so learn from it. Reflect on where you are right now and what your goals for the rest of the year are, but don’t get discouraged. Think about the positives, decide what you want to work on after the race, and stay motivated through the season. Have fun and enjoy the race! 

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Yet again, this will be me after the Shamrock 5K!
I linked this post up with the Half Marathon Race Tips link-up below. Check out all the awesome posts!




Do you usually run your first of the season for fun or to target a goal? What's your first competition or race this season? 
 
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