Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Philly Hot Chocolate -- Niko's first 5K!!

Disclaimer: I received entry to Philly Hot Chocolate 15K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Those of who follow my social media, are already well aware that Niko ran the Philly Hot Chocolate 5k with me last weekend.  But I bet many don't know the real story about how it happened and probably think I'm a crazy running mama who forces her kids to run like her.  Nope totally not.

Niko got really into swimming this past year.  He swam on the summer swim team and the winter swim team.  He basically practiced 4-5 days a week from June until February.  He also loves soccer and baseball but there was a bit of a sports gap between when swim team ended and baseball begins.  I thought he would be happy for the break (I know I was!).  Literally the first day that he didn't have swim practice, he came to me and said "Can I please run on the treadmill??"  I was shocked.  I didn't think a treadmill would be of any interest to a 7 year old boy.   He asked if he could use my headphones and off he went on his first TM run.  And that's how it started.  He began running a few times a week.  One day Emir said "It would be awesome if he could do the Hot Chocolate 5K"  And I said "well why not?!"  I was signed up for the 15K as I have done the last two years but if Niko wanted to do the 5K, I had no problems switching.

To say Niko was excited when I asked him if he wanted to do the race would be a serious understatement.  We talked about it daily.  Not to say his training was easy because it wasn't.  There were times it was like pulling teeth to get him to run.  It was also tough to get him to go past the 1-1.5 mile mark which I do think was more of mental thing and a 7 year old boy not having a long enough attention span thing.   I did manage to get him to run 3 miles on the TM two weeks before the race.  He definitely was hurting afterwards but at least we all felt good that he could make the distance.

Since this was going to be Niko's first big race, my sister and her boyfriend decided to run with us which made Niko even more excited.   The Friday before the race was a torrential downpour all day which made traffic and stuff a nightmare.  My sister lives in the city so we sent her our race emails and she picked up our stuff for us.  We met her down at her place, Niko fueled on a GIANT cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake.  It was pretty impressive how fast he ate all that.  We had a fun sleepover and then met up with Cindy's boyfriend down by the race.
Niko demonstrating the thumbholes

It was a little chilly but overall great weather to run the race.  Niko was a little antsy in the corral but once we started he was good.  One of his main problems during training is that he would sprint as fast as he possibly could the first few minutes and then cramp up or just completely bonk.  Both Emir and I tried to work with him on pacing ALOT but I was pretty worried with how excited he was that he would just take off like a bat our of hell.  As it turns out, he was pretty nervous and worried about making it all 3 miles.  He said when he ran 3 miles on the TM it was hard and he got tired and his legs hurt which he didn't understand because "mommy and daddy run like a 100 miles"  I told him that our legs get tired and sore all the time too which seemed to make him feel better.  In any case, he definitely took it easy the first mile.   He ran the first mile in 12 minutes which included his candy stop.  He was shoving m&ms and chocolates in his face, it was pretty funny.  He seemed to be enjoying it and feeling good and I was thinking, ok if he makes it in like 38 minutes that's great for his first 5K.  Mile 2 he definitely picked up the pace.  I think it was antsy to reach the turn around point and once we hit it, he started taking off even faster as he was excited to be halfway done.  Cindy's boyfriend did a great job of keeping his mind off of how much we had left.  He was racing with Niko since Niko's main goal was to beat us all. 

We ran mile 2 in 10:40 something and Niko seemed to be feeling great and totally ready to finish that last mile.  The sun had come out and it was so nice out.  Niko started taking off on these sprints that a few times I had trouble keeping up.  I was so occupied with chasing him down that next thing I knew we had finished.  Also the finish line was kind of ambiguous this year and all of us were kind of like "was that the finish?"  We realized it was and I looked down and we had finished in 33:30!!  Niko ran his last mile in 9:26 and was running the last tenth in 8:25 pace.   He was beaming and we were all so proud of him.  He did a great job! 

Obviously everyone always enjoys the chocolate goodies at the end of the Hot Chocolate, I mean why else do we run it?!  But Niko especially was so excited to get these rewards for finishing the race.  He had a great experience.

As always, I had tons of fun at the Hot Chocolate.  Obviously this year's will always be extra special sharing Niko's first big race.  I didn't notice any changes from year's past other than there actually was a candy station full of candy.  The past two years I never saw any candy on course during the 15K so it was fun to get to indulge while running this year, it was definitely the highlight of Niko's race.  The jackets this year were probably the best yet.  They are a nice, thick material and have THUMBHOLES!  My only wish is that they would have a kids size.  There were close to 200 kids in the 14 & under category so I feel that is more than enough to offer a kids size, even just one kids size.  I felt so bad for Niko because I got him a men's small since he doesn't want anything to do with a women's anything and it was GIGANTIC.  He will absolutely never get to wear it even in a few years and he was definitely disappointed to not have a jacket he can wear around to show his friends.  Other than that a great time was had by all and Niko asked if there is a Hot Chocolate in Colorado that we can do next year so looks like we will be doing HC Denver next year!
Niko in action!  Free race photos!
You can also check out my recaps of the 2015 and 2016 Philly HC!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Feelin' the OOOOO!

Disclaimer: I received OOFOS as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!


I have seen and heard a number of runners raving about their OOFOS recovery flip flops and sandals including some of my Bibrave friends that tested them last summer.  I, myself, didn't have the opportunity since I was away in the Balkans.  They always intrigued me especially now after having the recent foot injury so I was happy to take the opportunity to do some OOFOS testing when it came up last month. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Austin Marathon or maybe just the Half

Well considering this was me, 9 days before the marathon, I am just happy that I toed the starting line at all this past Sunday at the Austin Marathon.

I still have no clue what is actually wrong with my foot or how exactly I did it.  What I do know is that during mile 5 of a taper week run, suddenly I had excruciating pain in my right foot and I had to stop running.  I actually had a hard time walking home.  Once home I iced, massaged etc and next thing I knew, the pain was so bad that I couldn't even bear a tippy toe on the floor.  I had to crawl just to get to the bathroom.  It was no better at all when I woke up so off to urgent care I went.  X-rays were negative for any tears or fractures so they gave me crutches so at least I could stop crawling around.  After that each day got better.  I still walked with a significant limp for a solid week.  I did a few short runs the few days before the race.  I could feel soreness but was hopeful maybe it wouldn't be too bad during the race. 

Normally, I would be freaking out with an injury so close to race day but this just felt different to me.  I cared but not really all that much.  I've been working really hard this training cycle on improving my speed.  I've spent the better part of two years working mainly on endurance so that I could be successful in completing my super long ultras.  My speed has definitely taken a big hit.  Even before I actually went back to working on my speed, I just felt that the Austin Marathon would be too soon for me to be able to run as fast as I want.  I wanted to run it anyway because we would be there visiting friends and I love running races in different places and it would be nice to see where I'm at but I was not really considering that it would be a PR race.  And as it turns out this training cycle was pretty awful for me.  Everything was a major struggle.  I even had a couple long runs where the second half, I would hardly be able to maintain 10-11 minute paces.  It's like my legs forgot how to run.  Anyway it led me to believe I had no chance in hell of running fast in the race. 
We got up at 3:30 Saturday morning to catch our flight to Austin.  We were in Texas by 11:15.  Our friends picked us up and we headed to the expo.  I forgot to mention that the week before the race, Emir decided he would prefer his long run to be the marathon rather than 20 miles on the TM Friday night after getting home from a week in Colorado.  We got our stuff really quickly and the kids had fun playing some mini golf. 
LOVE these people!!!

We spent the afternoon exploring downtown Austin and drinking a lot of beer at Austin Beerworks & Oscar Blues Brewery.  We haven't seen our friends in at least 3 years and it felt so good to be spending time with them.  Our kids also were having a great time together.  My foot was definitely sore from traveling and walking but I felt like I didn't even care.  I was happy. 

Rocio made me cookies!!! :-)
It was another early wake up for the race Sunday.  We were both really exhausted.  I also checked the weather since they were calling for possible storms.  No storms, just cloudy however 95% humidity, ohhhhh boy.  And as soon as we stepped outside, ummm yeah we were soaked.  It was pretty gross. 

Parking near the race was very easy and FREE!  We did our usual start line rituals and I could already feel my foot when I stepped off a curb.  I was just trying to stay positive that I would be able to tolerate the soreness for 26 miles.  Before I knew it, we started.  I tried to run around 8:30 pace which is slower than my goal pace but it was what we had deemed reasonable for the first few miles since they are mainly uphill.  It was SO hard for me, I started feeling really bad right away so I backed off.  I did manage 8:50 but after that I just slowed way down.  I felt bad for Emir because I know he could have ran way faster but one of the reasons he decided to run was to help me out because we were worried about my foot and if it did feel good he would help pace me.  Anyway, I'm not sure if it was the foot pain, the humidity, the fact I had been popping Ibuprofens like candy for 9 days, the Sudafed I had been taking that week, the lack of sleep or probably just the combination of all of it.  But anyway it was hard to run any speed at all.  I felt like my race was over before it started. 

Emir kept having to stop to wait for me or circle back a bit because my pace was pretty bad.  Probably about 5 miles in he said I should probably just do the half.  Usually I would argue and say that I could finish but I knew he was completely right (arg!).  My foot was getting more sore the further I went and I kept having flash backs to the severe pain which had me crawling around my house.  I definitely did not want that.  Maybe if I still was gutting out close to a PR time despite pain, it would be worth it but not for a slow-for-me time.  So we slugged it out together until around mile 11.  We walked through water stops which helped me ease some of the pain.  We also, even though we had our handhelds with Tailwind, kept running out of water and were so thirsty.  We were just not adjusted to this level of humidity at all.  Emir also was going through gels like candy so I even gave him my remaining ones to take with him. 

At mile 11 we went our separate ways, his to finish the rest of the full and me two more miles to finish the half.  It was pretty uneventful other than a couple more pretty steep climbs.  I finished in probably what is my slowest half time ever but honestly I was so happy to be done, I didn't care one bit. 

I passed the time waiting for Emir by responding to texts from my beloved #brf's who were concerned that my tracking showed I was going so slow and that I had finished the half marathon.  I also chatted with my sister, sent coach an email and then spent the rest of my time in the Oscar Blues beer garden.  Time went pretty fast and before I knew it, Emir was going to be crossing the finish any minute.  I hobbled over and he came through a few minutes later. 
Our new Altra apparel is the bomb!

We went and had some compression treatments on our legs and more beer garden before heading back to our friends' house.

All in all we had a nice morning together from the getting ready to the dragging me along the first half of the course to sharing some post run fun.  It's always nice to run different places so I enjoyed seeing some new sites.  There were a decent number of spectators including ones with beer and margaritas for runners which is always a huge plus in my book.  We both agreed very strongly that even on my best day, this would not have been a PR race for me.  Emir went faster for a few miles after he left me but he said it was very hard to maintain due to the humidity which is so true.  I drank SO much water the rest of the day and night and hardly peed.  The other thing was that we knew this was a hilly course  but it was actually way more climbing than we thought.  I ended up with 700 feet of climbing in the half and he with about 1400 for the full.  I am not good at uphill so even with the downs in between, I'm sure I could not have gone anywhere near the pace I need for a PR.  So while yes obviously it's annoying and disappointing to have injured my foot, it really wasn't that big of a deal compared to if I was hoping this to be my "A" race.  I still got to run a bit with Emir and really the main point of our trip was to visit our friends which we had a wonderful time with them, it was just a nice bonus that there was a race to do so we could get in some miles. 

That night and the following day, I had pretty significant foot pain, not as bad as when I needed crutches but bad enough to bring back my limp.  Even now, 4 days later, I'm still feeling the effects so I know it was truly the right decision.  I usually feel like a slacker or that I'm making excuses if I don't do what I set out to do which honestly doesn't happen very often at all, but in this case I'm very much at peace with my decision.  I'm also very grateful Emir was with me to help me come to the correct conclusion.  Man I hate when he is right!!!  HAHA

So the good news is I don't have any big races coming up for a while so I can take it easy for a bit to let this foot get all the way better.  I know, it was just not enough time to let it get better before the race but I couldn't not try to run because what if it did feel ok enough.  It's one of those things you don't know for sure until you try it out.  My next race is the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn right here in Sharon Hill, PA.  All the races take place on a track, yup a track!  I'm doing the 24 hour race and gunning to get a 100 mile PR.  I'm actually very excited for this race because it's so close to my house that many friends and family can come cheer me on.  I'm thinking I'll get more people than usual to come out since it will be my last race here in PA before we move this summer.  I'm not saying I'll never do one in PA again because obviously we will be back to visit our family but I can definitely play it up ;-)  HA HA


In the meantime while I train for that, I only have the Philly Hot Chocolate which I was going to run the 15K as usual however Niko has really improved his endurance lately being on the summer and then winter swim teams.  He has been swimming 4-5 times a week and then he started hopping on the TM after swim season ended and ran 2 miles pretty well.  So I decided to ask him if he would want to run the HC 5K with me and he was very excited by that so I switched so that we can run his first 5K together.  I'm really looking forward to this, I know we will have a great time.  I may also do this local 50K that's on a flat towpath as a training run for the 24 hour but I haven't signed up yet.  We have been gradually working on packing and purging our house.  It's ALOT of work and it still seems like so much more to go.  Plus Emir has had to go to Boulder a lot for work anymore (big part of why we are moving).  So for now, I just don't want to get too much on my plate.

Well I might not have many race reports to write since duh I don't have many races coming up, but I will probably write a few training progress reports and moving progress reports plus we have a big family trip to Boulder in April to show the kids their new home so lots of mountain pics coming your way!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

lighting up my run -- Knuckle Lights

Disclaimer: I received Knuckle Lights as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

As it is winter time, many of our runs especially on work days occur in the dark.  Being visible is super important as well as being able to see where we are running.  As an ultra runner, I also use various types of running lights during my own races and when crewing/pacing.  Therefore, running lights are super important to me and I like to have lots of them.

The knuckle lights are something different than anything I've tried as far as things to light my run.  I've used many a headlamp and a few things that clip on but never a handheld light.  To me having to carry a light might be annoying or take up space in my hands that I might need for water, fuel etc but since I was given the opportunity I wanted to check these out.
I was shocked when I first picked up the lights, at how light they are.  According to the website, they are less than 3 ounces each which when you hold them, definitely feels super light.  Probably one thing that helps with the weight is the fact that they do not use batteries.  They come with a charger that is very easy to use.  I LOVE this since we go through batteries around here like crazy between the dark winter runs and long ultra races we do for all our headlamps.  I definitely did not need something else that uses batteries.

The lights each have a magnet so they stay together. 

The lights easily turn on by pushing the button on top, it was not difficult to do even when on the run.  They have multiple settings including a bright light, normal light and flashing light.  I've used all three settings and like them all.  I was especially impressed how bright the lights were and the extensive area they covered when I was running.  Headlamps tend to light up a more narrow cone type of area where these lights, light up a very wide area.  I can also see this being really helpful so that I don't get that weird tunnel vision that can happen with the headlamps.

As far as having them in my hands while running, it didn't bother me at all.  They were easy to hold.  Sometimes I would put them both in one hand which since they were so light, didn't make much of a difference.  The holders you slide your hands into are adjustable which is nice for all different size hands and if you want to make it more snug so they can just sit on your hands rather than actually holding them.  
 The only negative I could see was that some people might not like that the light they create does move while you are running since you are usually swinging your arms.  I didn't find it bothersome but I definitely can see some people might especially if they are wild arm swingers.

All in all I liked the knuckle lights alot.  I took them last weekend to Key West to do my pre-race run and I used them later this week on a night run with my sister.  I can definitely see myself using them in my ultras especially in conjunction with a headlamp, that trail will be so bright I'll trick myself into thinking it's daytime ;-)

I think they are definitely worth trying out and right now you can use the code BIBRAVEPRO and save 10% off your entire order. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Back to Paradise -- Key West Half

 Disclaimer: I received entry to Key West Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Best coffee ever!

I am not going to bore you again with how and why I decided to go back to the Key West Half, you can read that here.  What I am going to bore you with, is the fantastic time I had in Key West this past weekend. 

Miami Beach
Full moon at the beach
I flew into Ft Lauderdale Thursday afternoon and arrived at my Miami Beach hotel by about 3:30-4.  Since my #brf Angie does not fly, she was driving all the way from Iowa and would not be picking me up until some time Friday afternoon.  Not a problem for me.  I enjoyed some time at the pool and beach then some rooftop deck beers and found a cool bar for some pub grub.  Angie's long time friend Kate arrived about 1am so we spent all Friday together at the pool and beach waiting for Ang.  It was really tough but we survived somehow. 

The drive through the keys was pretty uneventful since it was dark and we couldn't see too much.  Our hotel in Key West turned out to be super nice with a great pool/bar scene.  We hit up Duval street for some food and a drink.  We found a place having karaoke which was AWESOME. 

The next morning Ang and I did our half marathon shake out together.  Every time we go on a trip together, I realize more and more why we are such great friends.  She just gets me and running is just as important to her as it is to me.  It wasn't even a second thought, just "when is our run gonna be on Saturday."  Her wardrobe also like mine consists of mainly running related apparel and like me I don't think I saw her apply makeup a single time.  <3<3

I found a new pet on our shake out run
Anyway after our shakeout which was on the hot side, we rented bikes from our hotel.  We cruised islandstyle all day long.  We hit up the expo which was noticeably bigger and better organized that in 2014 when I ran this race.  It was inside a brewery rather than outside.  There were multiple vendors including ALTRA! and acquiring our stuff was quick and easy.  Then we lunched and hit up a bunch of different sites on the island ending at Higgs beach where we stayed to watch sunset. 

Southern Most Point

Race morning was super early for me.  Since I'm currently training for the Austin Marathon, coach felt it was best to train through this race especially given it's in a very different climate that I'm not currently acclimated to.  That said, he wanted me to run a total of 20 miles including the race.  He was going to have me do a few before and a few after however I requested to not have any after due to the free post race beer.  I mean I do have priorities.  This meant I had to get 7 miles in and be ready for the 7 am start.  Ugh, early wake up for me!  But I did it and it was fine.  I did have to cram a lot of crap in my pack though which made for a little bit of annoying thing during the 7 miles.  I felt ok during the 7 but I was definitely sweating my ass off even though it was still dark.  It was definitely pretty humid.  I just kept thinking "How am I going to run 9 miles at MP like coach assigned during the race??"  But you never know until you try. 
using my knuckle lights in the dark
kinda hot after the warm up
I reached the race starting area with about 20 minutes before the start and Angie saw me right away.  I quickly checked ALL the crap I had lugged around and went to hit up the potty and get some more water and I ate some chomps.  I felt like I had hydrated and fueled enough but I still wanted to carry my handheld and had a few gels in my fuelbelt. 
Before I knew it, I was lined up and we started the race.  I was in the middle of the crowd somewhere so my first mile was on the slower side.  Lots of bobbing and weaving and getting stuck.  Miles 2-3 I ran pretty close to my goal marathon pace but it wasn't easy.  4-6 were a bit slower but about 20 seconds off so I was feeling ok with that.  At this point I had started chugging water at aid stations and dumping a second cup on my head.  I just felt super overheated but every time I did that I would feel better for a while.  As we came up on the turn around point, I was starting to feel better like maybe I would be able to do some more miles at MP.  Literally 20 feet after going around those cones,  an extremely sharp pain shot through my right hammy.  I was like "what was that?!" but I kept going but a minute later, the pain came again and did not subside.  I had to stop and try stretching it out.  I've never cramped before during a run but I knew this was what it was.  I walked a bit and stopped to stretch a bunch of times.  It wasn't getting much better so I limped to the next aid station to get some electrolyte drink in case the cause was dehydration.  I ate my gel, drank the orange drink they kept calling Gatorade but Ang insists was Ultima.  It felt slightly better so I started jogging a bit.  All in all, I probably walked a solid mile and slowly jogged half of the next one.  I think by mile 9 I was back to running a steady pace but was not able to pick up speed at all as I could still very much feel my hammy and it kept reminding me that it was on the verge of flaring back up any minute.  Finally I reached the last mile and just let myself relax and go since I figured if it cramped up too bad again I was close enough to just walk it home.  I ended up doing one of my faster miles that last mile and was just so relieved to cross the finish line.  There was a nice crowd cheering and TONS of water waiting for me.  I knew it would be a little time before Ang finished so I headed to the beer station.  They had tons of cups already filled just waiting to be drank, IPA and pilsner, ummmm what?!  AND it was unlimited refills.  BEST POST RACE EVER!!!!!

Eventually Ang found me sitting on my ass drinking beer.  First order of business was getting her some then we got some post race food.  We had a great time listening to music and obviously drinking lots of beer.  They also had some kind of raffle based on race numbers going on and I won a Hemingway prize pack.  It was a pretty sweet prize that included a beautiful water color, stone mug, a Hemingway book and some key lime coffee.  So despite my actually running not going as well as I had hoped, it was still tons of fun and I couldn't be more glad I made the trip down there especially to hang with Ang. 

We got to spend a bit more time together the rest of Sunday and then we set off early Monday morning so she could drop Kate and I back off in Miami.  Then she carried on driving back to Iowa (yes we reminded her ALL weekend how much easier flying would have been, haha). 
Key Lime Pie Cruisers

Love these girls!!!
<3 my angie <3

All in all, I thought the race was well organized, with a nice, scenic course.  There were a few changes from the 2014 race however I felt they were all good ones.  The expo was much improved, there were more aid stations, more volunteers working them and I felt the post race party was waaaaay better.  In 2014 there were free drinks however I remember having to wait in line forever just to get one let alone the ten I had this year.  They definitely had the system down pat.  Also the quality of the beer was REALLY good, come on, I know that's very important to you guys!   Even though I've done this race twice, I would go back in a heartbeat.  It's definitely worth the trip down plus then you get to enjoy all Key West has to offer.  It makes for a great runcation, even with the higher temps and humidity, still worth it. 

Now I'm back home in cloudy, depressing....back to trying to train my ass off for Austin which is next month.  Since I didn't do an end of the year or beginning of the year blog, I'll just list out what I have so far this year:

February--Austin Marathon
April-- Philly Hot Chocolate 15K
May -- D3 24 hour race, Sharon Hill, PA
July-- likely Jahorina Ultra in Bosnia (shorter one this time!)
October-- Chicago Marathon

Not much yet but I think it will be best to focus on getting another 100 mile PR at the 24 hour race and a BQ at the Chicago Marathon.  I still may end up adding some more things in there as the year progresses but those are my main focus.  I also will have a lot of non-running things to take care of in the upcoming months as 2017 is a big year for the Dedics so I do not want to over do it on the races until we are settled.  And I do imagine once we are settled in our new home in Boulder, Colorado (YAY!!!!) there will be LOTS more races on the list.

Sneak preview of what our running life will look like in the near future: