Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Disclaimer: I received an Justin's as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Emir and I have long enjoyed te deliciousness of Justin's before they partnered with Bibrave to send us Pros some goodies to try.   Don't get me wrong we enjoy our beers and the occasional splurging when we go out to eat, but in our every day eating, we are trying to be smart and healthy.  It's this quest that led us to Justin's.  A nutty spread is especially necessary in a house with kids but just as necessary in a house of ultra runners.  We often fuel up before a long run with a nutty sandwich.  It packs the calories and protein we need to give us that energy for our runs.  We ended up switching from some other nutty spreads to Justin's because of the all natural ingredients, we know it's a healthier product in general.  It also doesn't hurt that the taste is outstanding. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

a marathon mom 2014

Since I've been laying around dying from the flu for the past week, I've had a lot of time to reflect on my 2014.  Yes a lot of it has been feeling sorry for myself that I haven't run this whole week and being jealous every time Emir laced up his running shoes but there were times I laid there thinking about how grateful I am that most of the time I am able to do what I love, run.  And in 2014 I was able to do that ALOT.  I ran 2360 miles which is by far the most I've ever done in a year. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Nice Stroll through Philly

It's December.  It's getting colder, gets dark way too early and we have seen some snowflakes already.  What does all this mean?  It means it's the time of year when a bunch of runners gather in philly to run the exact route of Rocky Balboa in Rocky II.  Yes, the Rocky 50K!

This year was the second annual event.  Long story short, our friend Rebecca created this event after an article was published that stated Rocky actually ran 31 miles in Rocky II if you piece it all together.  As ultra runners, there's no way we could read something like that and not insist on running it!  You can read the full story in my post from last year the inaugural event.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Merry Christmas from Marathonmom!!

This whole running thing has turned into so much more than me going for runs.  It's been truly awesome.  By far the part that has been the best, most inspiring and just amazing is the running community.  I just don't even have the right words to express how grateful I have been to have you all in my running life.  And I mean everyone including my FB running groups, twitter running chat friends, instagram and of course my blog readers.  To show my gratitude I wanted to host a little giveaway for a Christmas gift for my running friends.  BioSkin has graciously given me a $20 gift card that can be used for any of their products which I am going to give away to one of you via rafflecopter. 

Hurts So Good--Addaday Pro Roller

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

Obviously as a runner, a marathoner and ultrarunner, I have a roller.  I actually have a foam roller and a stick.  They seem to get the job done.  I curse them while I'm rolling but am usually happy later that I did it.  But once I received the Addaday roller, it was a whole new ballgame. 

I chose to go with the Pro model since it had 3 different types of gears.  I figured 3 were better than 1 type.  There's two gray medium firmness gears, 1 red precision gear and 2 white soft gears.  According to the website Addaday rollers are "great for deep tissue massage, designed to massage like fingers and easy to clean"

I agree with their description completely.  The shape of the gears really dig deep into your muscles much more so than a regular massage stick.  I could definitely feel the difference when I was using it to help me recover from the Philly Marathon.  I also liked having several different options of types of intensity.  I had some extra sore spots that weren't ready for the extra deep so I used the white gears and then other spots really needed the intense massage so I used the gray gears.  And my favorite feature is definitely the little red precision gear.  I have had shin splint problems since the day I started running.  I've never been able to find something that could really dig into those little shin muscles and give me some relief in that area.  That little guy gets in there perfectly, seriously it makes me so happy.  The little things ;-)

I've also never had a stick/roller that I felt I could use on my neck, shoulders and back.  The gears on the Addaday Pro can really get in those nooks and crannies to work out those knots so now I don't have to beg Emir to give me massages all the time. 

And finally, I've found that the shape of the gears are really good on the bottoms of my feet.  Lately I've been having some achiness, I'm sure some form of plantar fasciitis.  Rolling my feet on a flat stick just really doesn't do it.  The curves of the gears really dig in there.

sometimes I just like to hang with my new friend ;-)

There's really not much else I can say.  The Addaday Pro roller is literally great for ANY part of the body and the unique shapes of the gears are perfect for digging deep into your muscles.  I LOVE IT!

Disclaimer: This product has been provided to me free of charge as a Bibrave Pro with no obligation of positive review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Here's links to the other Bibrave Pro Reviews:

Jane - http://www.runthejungle.com/2014/11/addaday-pro-review.html
Angie - http://wp.me/p3CgRX-OW

Monday, December 1, 2014

2014 Philly Marathon--BQ or bust!

I had been preparing/waiting for the Philly Marathon for what felt like forever and now it's already come and gone in a blink of an eye.  I liken it to a wedding day.  So much anticipation, excitement, nervousness about everything going perfect and then it's over so fast.  Then you enter the post wedding depression where you can't believe it's already over and you wish it wasn't, you wanted it to last forever.  The good news for me is that unlike a wedding, I will get to run a marathon again.  I mean at least I don't think I'll have another wedding ;-) 

There's a lot I want to say but I don't want to bore everyone to tears so I will try to keep it somewhat concise.  If you follow my running, you know that Philly Marathon was my "A" race of the fall season.  And actually I've literally been waiting for this race since the end of March when Emir and I signed up.  After running a 3:49 at OD marathon and a discussion with Coach Caleb, I felt that it was not unreasonable to go for a BQ.  That's almost 8 months of waiting!  No wonder I was a mess the couple of weeks leading up to the race.  So much training, hard work and dreaming of that BQ had built up this race so much.  Don't get me wrong, there were LOTs of great racing in between but this, it was just different, it just felt so big. 

Also, adding to my excitement was that a couple of months ago, my sister Cindy had asked me my thoughts about her trying to run.  Cindy actually has been a runner many more years than me as she started in college while on the swim team and continued after.  She is an experienced triathlete and has run a number of half marathons but never a full.  I was beyond excited that she was considering it.  And in the end she decided to go for it and make the Philly Marathon her first full marathon. 

I couldn't have been happier not only that Cindy was running but that I was a part of her big day!

The weather had decided to cooperate and the forecast went from polar vortex to race day temps in the 40s maybe into the 50s.  I mean cold is fine but then I would have had to worry about layers including a layer that I might have to just discard.  Just makes it more complicated for me.  Anyway my plan was to wear my singlet with arm sleeves however I have had chafage problems with the sleeves that I had.  I mean actually they are more arm warmers and they even tore up my arms recently at the Runner's World Half so I wasn't too sure what to do.  Come Saturday, the day before the race, we dropped the kids off at my parents' house (can't say enough how awesome and supportive they are!) and headed down to Cindy's house (I've mentioned before she lives about a 5-10 minute walk from the Art Museum where most Philly running events take place).  The three of us headed to the expo.  I was shocked since we didn't get there until 3-4 in the afternoon that it was packed!  Last year we went Friday night and it was much less crowded.  Despite the crowd, it didn't take long to get our race stuff.  After that I was browsing some Philly Marathon gear and behold I found Zensah arm sleeves!  They were compression arm sleeves rather than arm warmers so I was thinking that the moisture wicking material might not cause chafing.  And they were neon pink, the same color as my Zensah ultra calf sleeves that I had tested, loved and was planning on wearing for the race so clearly it was a sign I needed to purchase these for the race.  We all browsed a bit and then headed home. 

Zensah Arm Sleeves--were great! No major chafage to report!

standard expo pic
Somehow I did fall asleep.  I did wake up once or twice but was able to go back to sleep.  When my alarm went off at 5, I was jittery and full of energy, totally ready to go.  Why can't I feel like that everyday?!?! 
Feeling ready
I won't bore you with our race morning rituals but I will say that I went potty at Cindy's house but when we got to the starting area, I felt like I had to go again.  We hopped in a line for a porta potty with about 20-25 minutes before the start. 

potty line selfie!
Next thing I knew there was 10 minutes to race time and it didn't seem like there was anyway I would make it to the front of the line before the start.  I was also panicking because I really wanted to run with the 3:35 pace group.  My BQ time is 3:40 however there was no 3:40 group.  After speaking to Coach Caleb he agreed I should hang with the 3:35 group and see how I feel.  Adding to my panic was that in the days leading up to the race, I found out I had a #teamwickedbonkproof teammate running the marathon.  Cara and I connected through our team FB group and then we started conversing about the race on our own.  Caleb gave Cara the go ahead to run with me and see how it goes.  Cara too was trying to BQ however I think her time needed to be 3:45.  Needless to say, I was thrilled!  Not only was I going to get to meet one of my teammates but run the race together.  It was very comforting.  Emir was planning on starting with me as well but neither one of us had any idea what this marathon would be like for him.  He hadn't run a full for a whole year.  Last year was not a good marathon year for him due to injury but he did really well at Runner's World in the half so who knows.  Anyway my urgent need to find the pace group and Cara made me get out of line, which definitely came back to haunt me later.  After the race, once I was back in a normal state of mind, I remembered that last year even though the race started at 7, the regular corrals started after that.  And it was true, my start time was 7:10.  I probably would have been fine if I just stayed in line.  I'm sure I will forget that again next year ;-)

Anyway I found the pacer and then I found Cara!  I was happy.  It wasn't long after that we started.  I don't know if it was that we started in the second corral this year (last year we just jumped into the first one) or I just don't remember clearly from last year but the first 5-6 miles were a CLUSTER!  I felt like I was fighting the crowd that whole time.  I was constantly weaving in/out, having to slow down, speed up, avoid getting whacked.  All of this not only was probably using more of my energy than necessary but also making it kind of difficult to stay with the pacer.  I totally support ANYONE that wants to run a marathon, I think it's amazing and awesome but seriously people can you start in the appropriate corrals?!?!  I never want to impede on anyone's race which is why I don't like to be in a corral that is too fast for me, I don't want to be in anyone's way.  It was very clear that there were a lot of people who should not have been where they were.  I mean come on, how can you start in the first corral and be walking in the first mile?!  It also doesn't help that the Philly course is fairly narrow in those first miles until you get to the Fairmount Park area where it starts to open up and that all the half marathoners are running with the full people.  I think it's just too many people at the same time.   So, I was a bit frustrated by the time we got to mile 7 but good news was I was still on pace.

I was still running with Cara but Emir had disappeared (I learned later that he stopped to pee in the first few miles).  The pacer wasn't too far in front of us.  We were coming upon the section of the course with some hills.  I felt good tackling the hills.  I definitely slowed a bit on the inclines but then picked it back up.  Once they were over about mile 10-11, we were a bit behind the pacer but I felt great that I conquered the hilly parts and didn't feel that it took too much out of me.  Next is my least favorite part, running by the art museum but only being half done.  All the half marathoners go zooming by to finish their race and we head out on our 13.1 out and back along Kelly Drive.   Cara seemed to be enjoying this section.  Reflecting on it, I think Emir and I take for granted how beautiful the city is along this stretch.  For us it's a common training route and it's also the quietest part of the race.  It's really pretty much impossible for spectators to get to this part which I don't really mind the quiet part but in past races I really didn't appreciate the beauty of it.  Cara who is not from the Philly area kept saying "this is so nice, beautiful!"  And you know what?  She's right! 

Falls Bridge--that's Cara right behind me in the teal visor

working hard

As we went along Kelly Drive, Cara and I kind of would go back and forth as to she would be in front then me.  I actually really thought around miles 15-16 she was pulling away from me and that I might be starting to loose steam.  I kept calm.  I had been drinking my Tailwind from my handheld throughout the race and taking plain water as needed at aid stations now I was feeling like I just needed more.  I think I probably could solve this problem by making my Tailwind more potent but I just can't down it when it's super concentrated.  So I've found that sipping my Tailwind throughout the race and taking the occasional gel really works well for me.  And that's what I did.  The timing was perfect as I knew miles 18-21 are HARD.  Those are the most fun as they go through Main street Manyunk which is a HUGE party on marathon day including beer if you want one but there are hills and at that stage of a marathon it can really destroy you.  Unfortunately I had lost Cara on the short turnaround on MLK drive.  I saw her coming down as I was headed back but that was the last I saw of her.  I was feeling bummed about it but I needed to keep pushing to make my goal.  It was also at this part that I saw Emir.  He was only a couple of minutes behind me and looked great, I was really happy about that. 

I decided not to indulge in a Manyunk beer this year as I was on a serious mission.  I've done it my first two Philly Marathons and it didn't seem to matter but this year was different.  How upset would I be if I took a beer and then missed my time because of stomach issues or something like that?!  Not to mention, at this point my bladder was bothering me a bit.  I mean not surprising as I felt like I had to pee before the race even started and all I had been doing was drinking Tailwind and water for the last 18 miles.  Ugh.  Anyway I did the best I could through this section.  I could feel my quads starting to become slightly unhappy on the hills and overall that running was becoming more of a struggle.  By the time I got out of Manyunk I knew I definitely wasn't going to be making it near 3:35 and honestly didn't know what I was going to finish.  I headed back down Kelly Drive for the last 5 miles.  I felt like I was putting in incredible effort but yet my pace wasn't getting any faster.  As the miles ticked off I would check my watch and it just kept getting more and more off pace.  I had the 3:35 bracelet on so I knew those splits but it was way too much math for me to figure out what I needed the splits to be to beat the 3:40 I needed.  The last 3 miles especially were SO HARD.  I just kept trying to put so much effort into it but my body was rejecting me.  I started cramping in my stomach which I actually think was related to having a full bladder in addition to some gas building up.

The thing that really kept me going was well that I REALLY wanted this but also the crowds.  As I got closer to the art museum area, there were just tons and tons of people.  They were screaming for us runners and most of the time by name as we have them on our bibs.  In my head I was saying "you have to do this, you don't want these people to think you suck!"  And I'm not exaggerating when I say the last mile was HELL.  Based on my "I'm on the last mile of a marathon" math, I still couldn't figure out if I was going to be under 3:40 but I knew it was going to be close.  I really tried to kick it into high gear.  I mean what the hell it's the last mile.  I could tell I actually was running faster but it was so hard and taking so much effort.  Literally about .5-.6 miles into it, my head started pounding, I felt lightheaded and nauseous.  My body couldn't handle it.  I backed off a bit but in doing so I was convinced that I was not going to BQ.  I felt like I was barely moving any more.  I passed the 26 mile marker and looked down and my watch said 3:39, I mean I think it did.  And I was like that's it, I didn't do it.  Those .2 felt like forever and like I was barely moving.  I hit my watch as I crossed the line and I could not believe it, 3:39.43.  And I said it with no emotion as literally I had no strength to be happy at that moment. 
face says it all.  Couldn't hide my feelings

Able to smile for a second once I realized I got my BQ
I got my medal and some water.  Then Emir appeared!  I was so happy but my stomach was really hurting.  He finished less than a minute after me, a 26 minute PR for him, amazing!

After a bit and ahem releasing some pressure, I started feeling better.  We made our way to the food and what, soft pretzels?!?!  Thank you Philly Marathon!!!  Finally, a Philly race does the right thing and has Philly pretzels after the race.  Those babies never tasted so good! 

oh yeah!
Then we found a spot to wait for Cindy.  I checked the runner tracking on my phone and saw her pace was really good at her last check point.  She had started in a corral that started 20 minutes or so after the start.  Cindy was hoping for lower than 4:40 for her first race.  I personally thought she could run faster but she does have issues with both her knees.  Next thing I knew she was calling me.  She had finished in 4:07!  All of the sudden I just was feeling overwhelmed.  Cindy had done amazing in her first race and said she would do it again!  Emir had finally had a great road marathon, the kind of race he really deserved with all the hard work he puts in.  And me, finally all of the sudden I realized "holy crap, I just dropped another 10 minutes off my time and I got a BQ!!!" 
PRs for all!
What a great weekend I had with Emir and Cindy.  We really enjoyed some nice time without the kids, you know actually getting to talk without being interrupted every 5 seconds and of course all had a great race.  I'm also so grateful I got to meet and run with my teammate Cara.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I LOVE being a part of #teamwickedbonkproof and times like this make me love it even more.  And FYI Cara got her own sub 4 PR!  Not the BQ she was hoping for but still a GREAT day for her.  I'm looking forward to running more races with her in the future!

celebration time
I really wouldn't change much about this race.  One thing I would have done is just stay in line for the potty as I do think that did cause me some discomfort in the last miles.  I can't change the logistics of the race, so I really couldn't have changed how much bobbing and weaving I did in the early miles which might have cost me some precious energy.  While I definitely had a faster first half, I don't feel that I went out too fast.  I felt comfortable the whole time.  After doing Philly several times now, I feel like the course is one that is most times going to be a faster first half.  Having to run through Manyunk miles 18-21 just really make it hard to negative split.  What I was feeling at the end was just me putting a full effort into this race. I felt awful at the time and for a little bit after I finished (like 15-20 minutes) but I'm not left feeling "could I have done any better?"  You know what I'm talking about.  Those races where you do your best time but then don't feel trashed at the end which then you start thinking "maybe I didn't run as hard as I could"  And you might wonder why would I even contemplate this since I got a huge PR and a BQ?  Well it's hard not to when despite achieving the BQ time, I know that I probably won't actually get into Boston with that time.  More than likely I need to run about a minute faster.  So while so happy with my performance, it left me feeling a little disappointed.  But reflecting back on everything, I am confident I gave it all I had and did the best I could.  All this means is I get to run another marathon in the spring to take a little more time off so that I DO get to run Boston 2016.  I mean I really can't feel bad when I've taken 16 minutes off my marathon time this year! 

As for my post marathon depression, it will be short lived as the Rocky 50K is this Saturday!!!!! 

PS I would like to plug my upcoming interview with UR sportswear.  It will be live on Youtube Thursday 6pm EST.  You can find it here

And now enjoy our post race photoshoot ;-) :

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Clif: Blocks and Bars

Awesome package from Clif and Luna

As a BibravePro a few weeks ago I received a lovely package in the mail filled with Luna Protein Bars, Clif mini bars and Clif Shot Bloks. I've had Clif bars so I knew I would love those however I have not tried the Luna bars or shot Bloks.

Clif Mini Bars

I have had many a regular size Clif Bar in many different flavors and I've enjoyed them all. When I received the box of Clif minis I assumed I would love them as well and I was not disappointed. The minis are exactly the same as the regular, just smaller size.


I feel like all I keep saying lately is "As a Bibrave Pro I was sent this product to try" but that's because it's true.  Sorry if you are tired of hearing it!  The latest product we were sent is the Flipbelt.  I'm always excited to receive different things to try out but I really didn't think I needed or had a use for a Flipbelt.  For starters, I don't like things around my waist when I run.  In the past prior to purchasing a hydration pack, I had a belt with four bottles on it.  There were often times I just felt like it was suffocating me, even though it was around my waist not my chest.  It also moved alot.  I felt like I was constantly adjusting it while trying to run.  I also received some serious chafage on some runs with it.  Another reason is because I do have a hydration pack that I can stuff whatever else I need besides my liquids.  I often have my keys, gels, shot bloks, phone and gopro in there (maybe I take too many things running?!).  And it's never a problem.  But I always keep an open mind when trying something new.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Discount Race Codes

I can't say enough how great an experience being a BibRave Pro has been.  Not only do we receive wonderful products to test and entries to races but I have become part of an awesome #bibravepro family who are so upbeat and supportive.  The other benefit is that we receive discount codes to various races that we can share with our fellow runners.  Instead of making a bunch of different tweets/FBposts about the various discounts, I figured one blog post would make it easier.  ENJOY!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nuun Hydration

Nuun Hydration

A few weeks ago Nuun Hydration sent myself and all the other BibRave Pros 4 tubes of Nuun to test out. Emir has purchased Nuun in the past however I myself had never tried it. It's only been more recently that I have been branching out and drinking flavored, hydration products before and after running and also just whenever for extra electrolytes. Many years ago when I was a swimmer, I despised electrolyte drinks. I really didn't like the strong flavors and I always felt more thirsty after drinking them. Once I have an idea in my head, it's really hard to shake. However, since lately I've been receiving different products to test, it kind of forced me to try things that I probably never would have on my own. In the case of Nuun, I was very pleasantly surprised. The flavors are very light, tasty and even have a little fizz which I immediately loved. So much so that I've been told lately that I'm a Nuun addict, I don't really see the problem with this. The flavors I received were mixed berry, grape, lemon-lime and blueberry pomegranate. Mixed berry and grape were DELICIOUS! I could drink those all day long. I'm not a lemon-lime girl in general so it was not surprising this was not my favorite however I must admit considering I don't like lemon-lime anything, I still drank more than one of these so it's not that bad :-) Blueberry pomegranate was a little weird for me. I think maybe it's a little too tart, it was hard to pinpoint exactly but I wasn't a big fan of this flavor. However, not a problem as Nuun comes in a multitude of flavors to suite anyone's palate, just visit their site to see for yourself.
Nuun comes in tablets. Just pop one in your water, watch it fizz for 2 minutes and good to go!

Nuun comes in the following types: Nuun active hydration, Nuun All Day, Nuun Energy and U Natural Hydration. Active hydration electrolyte enhanced to keep you hydrated without sugars and carbs even when active. U Natural is vitamin and electrolyte enhanced however contains half the amount of salt as regular Nuun for when you are not being as active. Nuun All Day contains caffeine and 17 different vitamins without sugars to keep you going all day long, without any of those sugar high crashes that sodas and juices can give you. Nuun Energy also has caffeine however it has the electrolytes of the active hydration formula so it gives you that boost of energy you need for a workout plus all the hydration you need.

I, myself, received the All-Day, Energy and 2 tubes of the regular Nuun hydration. It's hard to say if the Nuun gave me extra energy. But what I can say is that it definitely helped me to re-hydrate and stay hydrated post long runs and even just in general. It's also important to me that it does not have any sugars and each tap is 7-8 calories. I don't like drinking things that tack on a ton of extra calories. I also really enjoyed having a bottle full during the day at work or at night while watching tv. So it is something I would buy since I almost always drink something while watching tv and I enjoyed drinking the Nuun way more than plain water plus it was actually doing something positive for my body at the same time. I'm looking forward to trying out some of the other flavors.

Disclaimer: This product has been provided to me free of charge as a Bibrave Pro with no obligation of positive review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Runner's World Festival

Niko was so excited for his first race
Why did I do that last year?  I was so stupid.  It literally felt like one of the biggest running mistakes I've ever made.  So this weekend after a year long wait and endless nights thinking of the regret I had,  I did it!  I achieved a goal I had been dreaming of for a whole year.

 I finally snagged a free skirt during the half marathon of the Runner's World Festival weekend!   AND even better so did Emir ;-) 

I know it sounds ridiculous and silly but honestly, I really did regret not getting "skirted" as the girls called it.  You can read about my sad story from last year HERE.  So already you know that my Runner's World weekend 2014 was a smashing success as I got not one but TWO FREE running skirts!  HAHA ok enough of the skirts.

Niko and Una having fun before the race
This year was the 3rd annual Runner's World Half and Festival in Bethlehem, PA and the 3rd year Emir and I were signed up for the Hat Trick (5K, 10K and Half marathon).  We love the challenge of running 3 races in one weekend and have had a great time every year which is why we keep coming back.  It also helps that Bethlehem is only about an hour from where we live.  Technically I suppose we could drive up each morning for the races but we choose to enjoy the weekend as a get away for just the two of us.  Plus aside from the races themselves there are lots of other activities going on so it's nice to be able to stay in Bethlehem all weekend to enjoy whatever we might decide to take part in. 

Niko & Una with my co-workers kids Grace and Emma.  Grace (the taller one) ran the mile and got 4th overall
This year we were especially excited for the Festival because we had signed Niko up for the kids race.  I have mentioned before how Niko is very into our running.  Always asking how our run went, how far we ran, how long we ran and when he can, he will run with us for a mile or so.  Since asking him if he wanted to do the race, he has been BEYOND excited about it, talking nonstop about his race.  Being 5, Niko was signed up for the 1/4 mile.  For older age groups there was a 1/2 mile and 1 mile races.  Conversations the week leading up to the race were pretty comical.  Niko has really only attended ultras and 1 marathon, never anything shorter.  He kept asking about the aid stations and what kind of food and drinks they would have for when he was tired and needed to fuel up.  Our efforts trying to explain how short his race would be were just fruitless but at least it was interesting conversation ;-) 

Una had a ton of fun running

On Friday when we went to the tent to pick up Niko's race bib, we found out that the age group was actually 2-5, not 3-5.  We asked Una if she wanted to run, of course seeing all the other kids with bibs and race shirts, she said "YES please!"  It was super easy to register her on site and she still got a bib and shirt.  The only difference if you registered ahead was the kids' names were on their bibs which totally made Niko's day.  Did I mention how the kids' races were completely free?!  So awesome.  While we waited for the kids' races to start, there was a band that played music for the kids and led them in some yoga poses.  Both Niko and Una loved this.  Niko especially is very into yoga as he does it after recess everyday at school.  Next thing we knew, it was time to start!  Emir ran with Niko and I ran with Una (well run/walked).  She definitely had a blast waving to the crowds cheering for her and taking calls on her Dora phone, hehe.

"Mom I've got an important call on my phone!"
We saw Niko go by the other way on his way back.  He was booking it.  There was no places for the kids but he was definitely in the top 10 finishers. 

Niko was flying!
All the kids got kids' medals and snacks after they finished.  You could tell ALL the kids and their parents had a great time.  My mom and sister had driven up to watch the race and take the kids home with them.  But even if they hadn't, it still would have been worth it to drive them up and then back home, it was that much fun for all of us. 

So great that my mom and sister came to watch the kids run
No sense boring you with details of our dinner, beers at the hotel bar while watching bad karaoke and morning routine when we got up on Saturday ;-)   Emir had booked us to stay at the Comfort Suites University which is right basically on Lehigh University's campus.  They had free breakfast that started at 6:30, perfect!  It also worked out great for us as it was well less than a mile to the steelstacks where the 5K and 10K races start.  We actually had to add some distance on to our warm up run from the hotel to the start.  As I mentioned in last year's post, the starting area for Saturday's races are awesome.  There are a whole bunch of porta pottys however we never even use them since the steelstacks visitor's center has huge indoor bathrooms with tons of pottys.  No lines, no nothing!  We easily checked our bag and pottied and were ready to go.
Happy to be racing together.  Haven't done a race together since May.
This year we smartened up and started closer to the front for the 5K so that we wouldn't get trapped and be able to go the pace we wanted.  We started pretty fast.  We realized immediately that this year's course was different than last year and there was no hill in the first mile.  There were a couple of hills in the second mile but overall I wouldn't say the 5K was overly hilly.  I can't remember when Emir took off ahead of me.  I think during the first hill in the second mile.  I felt just ok during the 5K.  My lungs were burning and I had that weird metallic, blood kind of taste in my mouth.  I knew it was my asthma.  I don't really talk about it much in my blog because I don't really feel like it affects me too much but every once in a while it does rear it's ugly head.  Most of the time it's when I get sick with an upper respiratory infection.   Also occasionally during very strenuous activity but that has gotten way less as I do an inhaler before every run to keep it in check.  I've been very lucky as my body has adapted very well over the last few years to my running.  Asthma was the main reason I didn't run until a few years ago.  I could swim for long periods but never run very long before I started having trouble breathing.   Even when I first started trying to run a few years ago, my lungs would start burning within the first couple of minutes.  It took a while before I could go for entire runs without the burning.  Now it's pretty rare but it does happen occasionally. 
Representing Bibrave at the 5K
Of course feeling this made me upset.  I was thinking how am I going to run another race today and a half marathon tomorrow if I'm having problems!?!  ugh!  Anyway I finished in 23 minutes which despite not feeling great, was a pretty big 5K PR for me, by a good 2 minutes or so.  Emir had finished in 22 minutes which was a PR for him.   We were both pretty happy but pretty pooped.  We walked around, got our bag and used the pottys.  All we could talk about was how we felt more like a nap than another race.  And we could both already feel a little hammy soreness from running hard. 

PR in the 5K!
Before checking our bag back in to do a little warm-up for the 10K, Emir said maybe I should do my inhaler again since I was feeling not so great in the lungs.  Pulling out my inhaler I remembered that it wasn't really spraying the medicine out the way it should which I mentioned to him.  Of course in Emir fashion he went right to work with a little twig he found on the ground, problem solved.  I got two normal puffs.  In a few minutes I could already feel the difference.  Don't ask me why I didn't really think to take care of this prior to the 5K or why I thought it wasn't really that important.  Like I said, in my mind I have very mild asthma and it's not a big deal but things like this remind me that I do have an issue and I need to be mindful of it.

Now onto the 10K!  We started up near the front again, although we had decided we were going to start off a bit slow due to feeling tired/sore from the 5K.  HA! yeah like we ever do that.  Emir stopped at the first potty as he had to pee AGAIN but I just kept going with my co-worker Becky who had started with us in the 10K.  She got 3rd in her age group for the 5K.  We ran together for a while but she said she was going to drop back as she was feeling tired.  The 10K course was different this year as well.  And by different, I mean HARDER!  There were definitely more hills than last year.  I really wanted to beat my 10K PR which was from last year's Runner's World but fighting these hills was making me feel like I didn't have a chance at doing that, especially as Emir went flying past me during mile 3 even though he had stopped!   I couldn't keep up with him but I did give myself a talking to and off I went to finish strong.  My lungs were much better now and even though my legs were a big sore, I was able to get them moving.  I was really happy to cross the finish at 49.03, almost 2.5 minutes faster than last year!  Emir had come in at 47 minutes which was a big PR for him as well.  We were totally kicking ass!! 

Becky and I after the 10K

PRs for both of us in the 10K!
After the two Saturday races, we were exhausted and sore!  We made our way back to our hotel, showered, got some lunch and headed back to the artsquest center.  We browsed the expo as we didn't really get a chance on Friday with the kids.  This is the one area I feel was a bit disappointing this year.  The expo seemed to be lacking compared to last year as far as booths and goodies.  We really didn't spend much time there at all.  Also, this year we did not attend any seminars.  We attended many the first two years however this year there were really no new ones offered.  Most of them were the same topics and even most of the same speakers.  We were also VERY disappointed that there were no running movies offered this year.  The first two years we watched several wonderful running movies while at the festival and really enjoyed the experiences however this year there were none. 

Oh well, despite not really finding anything too interesting at the festival on Saturday, we were kind of glad to go back to the hotel to rest.  We were spent!  We napped a bit and watched a movie.  So while disappointed about the offerings, I do think these extra hours of rest really helped for the half marathon on sunday.  We had a delicious dinner at the Bethlehem Brewery with some good beer and then back to the hotel to bed early.  Runner's world does offer a pasta dinner with the editors on Saturday which we did the first year.  We did have fun and the food wasn't bad but we just felt like going out somewhere since we were kid free and especially somewhere that we could try a few different beers.

Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for the half.  We both felt soreness in our legs and were wondering how well we were going to fare in this race.  The start for the Half is a bit further away than the other two races however it was perfect distance for our warm-up.  It was a bit chilly on Sunday but I didn't think it was too bad except for the huge gusts of wind, brrr!  Even though I wasn't sure how I was going to feel running this race, I couldn't wait to get started so I could feel warm.  I wanted to give it my best shot to beat my PR from a few weeks ago at the Philly Rock and Roll however I knew it would be SUPER hard.  Not only had I run a 12 hour race the week after Rock and Roll and raced very hard just the day before in the 5K and 10K but I knew this Runner's World course would not be flat like Philly, despite Bart Yasso's claim that the course was easier (I knew it would not be true!).  I convinced Emir and my co-worker Becky that we should start with the 1:40 pacer and just see what happens. 

At the start of the half
Becky and I kept up with the pacer for the first couple of miles while Emir held back.  In hindsight I probably should have held back as well but I was determined to try to PR.  As it turns out, Emir was more on pace than the pacer who ran the first two miles in about 7:26 each rather than 7:38.  The third mile was all hills and that's when I just gave up on the pacer.  While I have definitely made vast improvements in my pace on hills, they still slow me down.  And with sore, tired legs I just felt like I couldn't do it.  Miles 3 through about 6.5 or so were tough.  I was getting kind of down as I watched my overall pace get slower and slower and I just felt like I didn't have enough in me to go any faster. So when I reached the Running Skirt aid station, I was like "what's the difference if I stop now to get a skirt?!" not to mention I had already made up my mind immediately after finishing last year that this year, I would stop and get a skirt no matter what. Not to mention if I was going to end up with a bad race, I might as well get a skirt out of it! Check out the Running Skirts video HERE.  I'm at 1:33 ;-)

At this point I was somewhere between 7 & 8 miles and my overall pace was such that I would finish 1:47-1:48 and that's if I didn't go slower. I was excited about getting my skirt and I think the gel I had done about 10 minutes prior was kicking in because next thing I knew I had put up a couple of miles under 8 minutes. That was all I needed to pick it up a notch. Over the last 4-5 miles it wasn't easy but my overall pace kept creeping down. My last two miles were 7:30 and 7:40 and I crossed the finish at 1:45.30. While not an overall half PR, it was almost 4 full minutes faster than last year's Runner's World half and only 1 minute shy of the PR I just ran a month ago on a MUCH flatter course. I was very pleased with my results! I am definitely confident that on a course similar to Philly Rock and Roll I would have beat my PR. And because I love stats I figured out that my overall Hat Trick this year was about 10 minutes faster than last year AND last year I was 68th female for the Hat Trick and this year I was 27th. I would say that's a pretty good improvement!

Happy we did so well in all 3 races and THRILLED to get skirts ;-)
So overall once again we had a great experience at the Runner's World Half and Festival. Everything was well organized as usual. Everyone is super friendly, helpful and treats the runners like first class citizens. Emir and I are also huge Altra fans (Emir is an Altra Ambassador) and they are the main sponsor of the festival. We were able to meet up with Brian and Golden two of the co-founders and another embassador Tiffany. It was really nice to be able to meet them and hang out, they are all SUPER nice.

Altra Ambassadors Emir and Tiffany with Altra co-founders Brian and Golden
Of course, all the races including the kids'races were awesome! We enjoyed the courses being different than the past two years despite that the 10K and Half were NOT easier Bart Yasso! ;-) We like the challenge and that Runner's world keeps mixing it up. All the aid stations were well stocked and staffed. And the swag was good too, tech shirt, hat, a pair of Balega socks for us Hat Trickers and of course a medal for each race completed. I'm so proud of Emir who finally had some GREAT road races. Last year was such a tough year for him due to injuries that he didn't even attempt any road races this spring. He's been working so hard and it was so frustrating to see him struggle but this weekend he PR'd in ALL 3 of his races!!! I'm also proud of myself not only for running well but for not giving up in the half when I was down. I really attribute it to now being #bonkproof thanks to working with Coach Caleb and being part of #teamwickedbonkproof. Seriously, it has done wonders for my running this year. Running so well at the Philly Rock and Roll and now this weekend at Runner's World has really given me great confidence going into the Philly Marathon. I wasn't sure going into the fall season if it was realistic to think that I could make a 3:40 to BQ but now I feel it's really achievable for me (my coach thinks so too which is awesome, read HERE). This just has me filled with crazy anticipation now but it's good. I even told Caleb to "bring it on" the next few weeks leading up to the marathon. So this weekend will be a tough 19 miler filled with assertive effort for the first minute of each mile and then a fast finish of 3 miles at marathon pace. I just feel so ready to tackle this thing now but I need to remain focused, injury free and train hard for a few more weeks. AHHHHHHH!!!! ;-)

Here's a few of my fave race photos for your viewing pleasure.  Don't mind the bubbles as I will NOT pay the ridiculous amount they are asking for these ;-)