Monday, December 30, 2013

Louie's Very Delayed Hartford Marathon Review

It's been almosttwo and a half months since Riley, Nick and I completed the Hartford Marathon. I considered skipping doing a review for this race. At first I did not want to write a review because part of the experience was bad. I will get into that later. Then I debated skipping this review simply because it has been so long since the event. Now to state the obvious, I have decided to write a review or well more of a recap.
Waiting at th starting line. Photo Credit to Riley.

The events of the day before the marathon. We headed for the marathon around 6 o'clock and this was the start of this going badly. We ended up hitting rush hour traffic on the way to Hartford and barely made it to check in on time. Upon getting to get in, Riley and Nick recieved marathon relay bibs in place of the official marathon bib and I received a generic Hartford Marathon Foundation bib. There check in was strange in that they did not have numbers assigned to pre-registered runners and instead you were given whatever number they reached for during check-in. 

After checking in, it turns out that they had run out of the official t-shirts. We were asked to write down our name, which race, address, and shirt size as they would be mailing them to us.  As of this post , we have not received our race shirts. We were informed that the order was placed the end of November and we would have them in four to six weeks. 

So next up is the race itself.  For the race itself, I have nothing but good things to say about the course and the volunteers.  The course itself had a lot of great scenery and whether it was running on water or through downtown Hartford, it was beautiful. The first six or so miles were run with those running the half marathon and then from there we split off onto our own course. The marathon course was lined with both spectators and volunteers water stops were frequent enough. They averaged about every other mile or so. 

Crossing the Finishline!
Physically, the first half of the marathon went pretty well. Having ran a few half marathons this year I was prepared for that. I came into the marathon with a sore ankle and after the halfway mark it started to act up, but I just kept running. Eventually, it turned into a run then walk then run routine, but even so I managed to finish the marathon. That was all that counted. 

Crossing the finish line was amazing. We were greeted with water bottles and what we call "space blankets". What we were not greeted with however were the hard earned finisher's medals. They had run out of them as well. Once again we were asked to put our name, event and address on a sheet of paper as it was going to be mailed to us. We have all received them in the mail. It is easily the coolest finisher's medal in my collection. 

Note: That is not the official shirt. It was one I purchased at the race day expo.

A few fun and random notes from the race:

1. Riley and I started singing Livin' on a Prayer at mile 13. "Ohhhhh, We're halfway there."
2. The highest elevation we had to climb was at mile 25. 
3. It was inspirational to see many of the runners who also achieved there goal of finishing a marathon. It can see like a daunting task.
4. The Cracker Barrel has the greatest bacon cheeseburger and apple cider ever.*

*This could have just been my hungry self making me believe this. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Riley's ING Hartford Marathon Preview

TOMORROW'S THE DAY! Louie and I are about to face our very first marathon tomorrow in Hartford, CT. Our friend Nick will be joining us for his first 26.2 as well. This is probably going to be the best bonding experience ever, haha.

I've spent most of this morning just trying to mentally prepare for the race. I've been thinking a lot about why I started training in the first place. I feel like I've always had the goal of running a marathon one day, but I never knew when. I'm a huge fan of Shay Carl on YouTube, and when I started watching he was a relatively big dude. He decided one day that he didn't want to be big anymore, lost over 100 pounds, and finished the LA marathon in 2012. If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is.

I thought, if he could do it, then I (a person who's been in relatively good shape my whole life) could totally do it. And with that, my life as a long-distance runner began. (What was I thinking?!) I took the time to watch all of his marathon videos this morning to get me pumped up, and I thought it'd be nice to share one with you all. Who knows? Maybe he'll inspire you to run your first marathon like he did for me!

I'm looking forward to this race. I know I can accomplish this goal that I've set out to accomplish, and I can't wait to get that medal!!! I'll be vlogging our experience in Hartford, so look forward to a nice long marathon video! :)

P.S. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter for progress updates during the race! 
Louie's Twitter: @lsimoes3
Riley's Twitter: @rmfickfack

Louie's ING Hartford Marathon Preview

In about twenty-four hours Riley and I will be running the ING Hartford Marathon. I would be lying if I said I was not nervous. It is a pretty daunting objective. 

When we first started this blog the timer on the side said 200+ days. Now it is down to hours. We have experienced a lot since starting this. Two half marathons, an obstacle race, a 10k and training runs. These are what will see us to the finish line. Anything you put your mind to you can achieve. 

Also, these really cool finisher's medals help! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Race Review: Color and Glow 5K

Louie and I ran in the Color and Glow 5K last weekend! It was so great to participate in a fun run type of race instead of something super duper challenging like I have been this entire race season. I wasn't nervous about the distance, I wasn't worried about my time, and I wasn't concerned about coming in first place (but let's be real - I'm never too concerned about coming in first place, because I know it'll never happen :P). I was just there to have a good time!

One complaint we both had about the race was packet pick up. Participants only had 2 options - the day before the race (which was a work day) from 11 AM to 7 PM at an off-site location, or on-site the day of the race from 10 AM to 12 PM (the race started at 7:30 PM) only if you were travelling more than 80 miles to the race. A. That's super inconvenient for participants who live close but work weird hours (like me) and can't get to an off-site location, and B. What are the participants that are travelling from far away supposed to do for 7 hours after they pick up their packet? A race like this always needs pre-race packet pick up as an option. Seriously, that's a no brainer. The only time races should be allowed to get away without race day pre-race packet pick up is if there's tens of thousands of participants and it's physically impossible to hand out all of the packets right before the race. Judging by the amount of people that were at the race, I think they could have handled at least one registration tent.*

The race was held at Brockton Fair Grounds in Brockton, MA. We showed up about an hour early (which is TOTALLY unlike us) and we were able to just hang out and take in the atmosphere before lining up. The race MC was tossing out glow-sticks at the starting line, so we weaved our way to the front of the pack to catch a few and get decked out for the race.

Before the glow sticks...

...and after!

The race was scheduled to send the first wave out at 7:30, but it didn't start until about 7:50. We got a little antsy for the start of the race, but it also gave us the opportunity to take in the atmosphere, rack up out glow stick collection (I think I wound up with about 12 or so, haha), and get excited for the race to come!

Personally, I was expecting more lights along the course - kind of like the Electric Run - but the route was, for the most part, pitch black and since the majority of the race was through a field, I was super worried I was going to step into a hole (which I did a few times) and injure myself. For this reason, I was extremely careful about my footing the entire race, which definitely took away from the fun. I would love to see this course more well lit (bonus points if it's colorful lights!) in years to come.

I would like to have been covered in more paint, also. I sign up for races like these to be doused in color. We were in the first wave, so I understand that they had to conserve for the other runners, but adding in some more paint stations along the course would be awesome. (Side note - they didn't tell the voluteers not to shoot paint into the runner's faces. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the other runner got their eyes painted, because I certainly swallowed some. >_>)

Either Louie and I totally beasted the course, or it wasn't a full 5K. I think we finished in about 22 minutes (neither of us timed it because we were just there for the fun!) which is extremely fast for both of us. I wasn't too surprised about the short distance (we experienced the same thing for Color Me Rad) because these types of events are more about the fun experience than completing a true 5K, which I think is awesome. I love that there are events like these to encourage people to get active and introduce them into the running world with something fun!

Post-race glow!

The race bling was really cool - colorful glow in the dark medals! It's definitely one of my more unique pieces of race jewelry. Our originally-white bibs also got totally covered in glow paint, which gave them a cool splatter effect. Loving that I have some color on my bib wall now! :)

This was a really fun race with a LOT of potential. They need to add a few things to make this a truly great event, but I think with each year this race will improve and become bigger and better. I can't wait to see where it goes! If you're looking for a fun, unique approach to fitness and night life, definitely check Color and Glow out!

P.S. Check out my video from the event! :)

To find a Color and Glow 5K event near you, visit their website!

*It was pointed out to me that there was a registration table at the event, but it wasn't advertised at all. We were both under the impression we had to go to the times on the website. So frustrating!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What I've Been Doing

It's been a while since I've written on the blog. Riley has been picking up my slack like a champ. I wanted to check in and let you know how training is going and how a few of the races I've done were.

First, this summer was pretty rough fro training. I felt like if I was not injured then I was sick, but that did not keep me from doing some running throughout the summer.  I did do enough training to feel prepared for The Hartford Marathon, which was the goal when this blog was started.  As part of the training, I have run my furthest distance which was about 15 miles. In my preparation for the marathon, I have learned that while 20 mile long runs may be productive, they are not completely necessary.  If you can complete a 16 mile run heading into the marathon you should be okay. this is an opinion that was shared in more than a few articles.

I've, also, managed to get in some fun races as well.  Riley wrote the review for the Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 so I won''t go into too much detail about that. I will say that it was an awesome event and was slightly more difficult than when I ran it last year.

The week before the Finish at the 50 race, I ran the Warrior Dash in Barre, MA with my friends Nick and Danielle.  This was a 5k obstacle race. All in all, I think it was a pretty fun race to run too. As far as obstacle races go, it was not the most difficult one that I've run. I'll get to that one in a minute. It was, however, challenging enough where someone with experience running them may still have a challenge, but it is not too daunting for new runners.  Some of the obstacles were a barbwire crawl, cargo net climb, wall climb, and up & overs.  One of the coolest things about it is that the finisher's medal doubles as a bottle opener.

The Finisher's Medal

Posing after the Warrior Dash

On September 7th I ran the Super Spartan Race in Vernon, NJ.  This race was hardest race I've ever done. It is 8+ miles and 15+ obstacles. The terrain was probably the biggest obstacle of the entire race. It was on a ski resort. For about the first two miles we had to go up the mountain. this was brutal.  The obstacles were many of the usual ones including a barbwire crawl, up and overs, rope climb, sand bag carry, and spear toss.  One of the unique twists was that their cargo net was a vertical cargo net as opposed to the angled ones that make a pyramid.  This was the biggest test of will I have done to date. The sense of accomplishment after was indescribable.  
Sandbag Carry

the Fire Jump.

Accepting that I'm about the catch a shot to the stomach and seeing the finish line.

Celebrating with a post race PBR.

Well, that's what I've been up to since my last check-in. What have you, our readers, been up to?

Thursday, September 12, 2013


It's finally here - we're in the last month leading up to our first marathon.

My last few weeks of training haven't been the best. Yesterday I set out on a 5 miler and couldn't make it through. Granted I had about zero nutrients or water in my body and it was insanely humid, so it probably wasn't the smartest idea to run at the time. I haven't really been taking care of my body the way I should be.

But for this last month, I'm making a promise to myself - get my body ready for this marathon in every way possible! I'm going to call it...

Hyration . Nutriton . Stretching . Running . Sleep

These are my 5 frames of focus for this race. Constantly drinking water (which I've actually been doing really well with!), cutting out the junk (including my high sugared-high creamed coffee x_x) and loading up on healthy foods, stretching for at least 20 minutes every day, staying on my running plan, and making sure I'm getting enough sleep.

This is where it all counts, and I want to be prepared for this race as possible. 
I think I can ask at least a month out of myself to get ready in every way!
#POWERMONTH - Let's do this!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Preparing for an LSD Run

No, I'm not talking about running on acid.

In the running world, LSD stands for long, slow distance. When training for a race, it's good to work one of these runs in every week, ideally on a day when you have lots of time on your hands! The goal of these run isn't the time, it's the distance. You're ultimately just trying to achieve a certain distance (that is usually obscenely longer than what you usually run) with little to no stops, no matter how long it takes. When I go out on LSDs, I'm usually just shuffling my feet by the end of it, looking like an old lady. But I reach my goal distance one way or another!

How I feel during LSDs

These runs are supposed to introduce your body to the amount of stress it will feel during a longer distance race. You need to get used to being on your feet for a few hours at a time, your muscles need to feel the impact of your feet pounding the pavement repeatedly, and your brain needs to practice fighting through the physical anguish that you're putting yourself through which will ultimately push you across the finish line. Sounds appealing doesn't it?

Your LSD should be your dress rehearsal for your actual race, and you should prepare accordingly. Hydrate the entire week leading up to it. Load up on (good) calories and nutrients the night before and morning-of. Warm up and stretch your muscles the way you would the day of a race. And make sure you pack all of the supplies you need while out on your run. Here's what I usually bring with me.

1. Cell phone

Since an LSD isn't an organized race, there aren't always going to be medical personnel near by to come to your rescue if anything were to happen. If there's an emergency, if you feel like you physically can't go any further and you need someone to pick you up, or if someone needs to contact you while you're gone for a couple hours, you'll be thankful you brought it with you!

2. Identification/Insurance Card/Blood Donor Card/Emergency Contact Info

I like to carry all of these things with me if for whatever reason I get hurt and become unconscious. Since I'm normally running solo, there won't be anyone to identify me to anyone else who might find me. This way, they know my name and address, have a number to call one of my loved ones, and can relay some medical information to any medical personnel that arrive on the scene. If you don't want to carry all of these things with you, definitely consider buying a RoadID and wearing it while you run!

3. Camelback

I don't like carrying water bottles, so I strap on a Camelback when I go out on long runs. Makes for great, hands-free running!

4. Running Belt

I usually wear long spandex when I go out on LSDs, so that means zero pockets. Instead of having to carry everything in my hands for 3 hours, I just strap on one of these handy running belts! They look pretty nerdy but its better than juggling 13 things.

5. Nutrients of Some Sort

I'm not big on gels or goos or what have you, but I do think it's important to bring some sort of nutrients with you on big runs. After sweating for such a long time, your body will be screaming for some sugar or salt towards the tail end of a big run and ust water will not do the trick. Pack a granola bar or banana or plan your run where you can stop at a store and buy something to eat. You'll definitely feel the difference!

6. Podcasts, Audio Books, and Playlists - oh my!

LSDs can be excruciatingly boring - especially if you're going it alone. I love my music, but there's only so much of the same 100 songs that I have loaded onto my running playlist. I like to load up my iPod with podcasts and audio books as well, so A.) I'm learning something new and B.) It's kind of like there's someone chatting with me along the way! Definitely try downloading a few of those or have someone else make you a playlist of their music so you're hearing something totally new during each run!

7. Suncreen, Hat, and Sunglasses

Since you'll be outside for a particularly long period of time, make sure you're preparing for it - especially in the summer! The sun can take a lot out of you, and cause scary things like severe sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, migraines, and more. Protect yourself!

I hope these tips will be helpful for your next LSD run! 
I'm off on an 18 miler myself... Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Training Update: Lazy Long Distance

With a little under 7 weeks to go until Hartford, I've been swinging between long distances and complete laziness. Marathon training has been tough and has definitely brought out the whiney couch potato in me.

"But I don't WANNA go running!" -Me. Almost every day. Also I think I heard a two year old saying something similar just the other day...

I'd like to sound noble and awesome and tell you that I've gone out on every single run my schedule has told me to do, but then I'd be lying (and that's the opposite of noble and awesome). The truth is that I usually skip at least one scheduled run every week. Sometimes my body is just not up for it, so I make up excuses in my mind and I can't get myself out the door.

I am, however, going on my long runs. Like, high-teen mileage status. Because I'm slacking on my mid-distance days, they're probably a lot more difficult than they should be, but they're getting done, none the less. I am still pretty apprehensive about this whole 26.2 business. So far I've only made it up to 17, and 18 is in the cards for me this Saturday. Those are long distances, and I'd still have an additional 8 or 9 miles to go on top of that come race day. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but I guess I've just got to trust my body and brain to push me across the finish line.

(Here's my vlog from my 17-miler. I seem cheery mid-run, but the next day update makes it clear I was struggling!)

With these critical last 6 and a half weeks of my training colliding with the busiest possible time of year for me professionally, it's definitely going to be a challenge to get my booty out the door when all I want to do is hide under my blankets watching Netflix during my down time. But these 6 weeks are going to go by in a blink, so I'll be strapping the Nikes on and pounding the pavement and looking forward to October 13th when I can be lazy and not feel guilty! :P

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Runner's Envy

The other day while eating lunch, one of my co-workers said that she has "runner's envy". I've never heard of this term before, and as I set out every day on my painful multi-mile runs, I couldn't imagine anyone being envious of me. But once I thought about it, it occurred to me that runner's envy is pretty common. Even I have a mild dose!

Runner's Envy is what it sounds like - when you're envious of runners. Even if you're a runner yourself, you can have Runner's Envy (and personally, I think it's more common if you run on a regular basis!) You may see another runner that's faster than you. Another runner that's clearly in better shape than you. Another runner that's running further than you. Another runner that has nicer gear than you. It could be any single attribute that another runner possesses that you don't, and it can totally throw off your confidence.

A few weeks ago while I was out on my run, I came across another female runner who was a lot faster than me. She was on the opposite sidewalk from me, but going in the same direction. I saw her come up out of the corner of my eye and blast right by me like it wasn't a big deal. Even though I had no idea who this girl was or what kind of runner she was, I was jealous and began to doubt myself.

What if I'm not good enough? 
What if I won't be able to accomplish my running goals? 
Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead.

But then I realized - I don't know who this girl is or what kind of runner she is. How she trains has no effect on how I train. Maybe she's faster than me, but can she run long distances like I can? Is she training for a marathon like I am? Is running her main fitness focus like it is mine? I'll probably never know, and once I realized that, I felt liberated and could easily focus on my own run and training.

Every runner is different. Every runner has their strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to stay focused on yourself and what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blogger turned Vlogger

HEY EVERYONE! I figured the ol' running blog needed some dusting (considering I haven't written in about 3 weeks... >_>), so I wanted to drop by and say hello!

There's a million excuses I could give you for not blogging here, but I'll save you the other 999,999 and give you the only excusable excuse I can think of - I've been logging all of my training on my YouTube channel via vlogging!

I told you guys a while back about my vlog project for the last 16 weeks of training, and I've stuck with it so far! Unfortunately, it's leaving me a little less motivated to utilize this beauty of a running blog, but I'm hoping to change that. I can't let another blog of mind wind up in the internet cemetery for under-utilized websites! :P

To tide you over until I can come up with some fresh material, here's a little training update:

1. I ran the Foam Fest 5K with my parents on the 13th! It was a lot of fun, and is on my to-do list of race reviews, but until then, here's the video!

2. I still have yet to officially register for Hartford (These damn bills acting like they're more important. Pshhhhh) but I'm still training for it like I am. Eventually I'll scrape up the money to get myself a bib, and I'm hoping that's within the next few weeks or so!

3. I'll be honest and admit I've missed a few runs, and in an attempt to make them up, I've totally stressed myself out. Since stressing myself out during this training is the one thing that I want to avoid, I decided to ditch the make-up workouts and stick to the schedule. It feels like the world's been lifted off my shoulders!

Hope you guys haven't missed VStR too much! I'll try to make a better effort of giving this space some love. In the mean time, check out the MaraVLOG playlist on my channel!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Race Review: Havard Pilgrim Finish at the 50

Last week Louie and I (along with Nick and my parents) ran the Finish at the 50 races. My dad ran the 5K, while the rest of us ran the 10K in 90 degree weather with 85% humidity like crazy people. The event was A LOT bigger than I expected, and hands down the largest race I've ever run. I'm used to about 2,000 people tops, but this was the kind of race that if you split up, it was almost impossible to find each other again.

I was not properly fueled for this race. I had worked all day before hand, and couldn't really hydrate properly (I work retail and you can't have a water bottle on the sales floor) and between working and packing for the holiday weekend, I didn't eat all that great throughout the day. Needless to say I was feeling it! I finished in 1:02:41, though, so I'm not too upset about it!

I was a little disappointed in how the race was run. The water stops, though nicely spaced out throughout the course, weren't long enough to accommodate the amount of runners, and there was a huge back up at every station. You also couldn't get back into the stadium once you stepped foot off the field, which was super annoying. I think the runners should have been able to come and go as they needed as that was the only place with post-race water.

The event itself was fun, though! It was so cool to be on the field at Gillette. I know that there are various NFL sponsored races that have the same idea as this one, so be sure to check for races near you! :)

Check out the video from the race below!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Race Review: B.A.A. 10K

On Sunday June 23, 2013, Boston Athletic Association hosted it's first race since the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Parts of the pre-race ceremony were used to pay tribute to the victims as well as the heroes who acted on that fateful day. This event drew 5,436 participants. Many of the runners were sporting a shirt in support of Boston.
The Starting Line

It turned out to be a great event. It was helped greatly by my friend Lauren running the event with me.  As part of registering, runners received a B.A.A. 10k Adidas tech shirt and a finisher's medal.  The course itself was beautiful with flowers and the architecture around Boston. The race started and ended at The Commons.  The rest of the course is sort of a blur because I was so focused on completing the race, but I can say that it was mostly flat and there were plenty of water stops along the course. These were extremely helpful because it was a hot day even at 8 AM.
Race S.W.A.G.

Lauren really helped to push me to continue at a pace. A big part of running is mental and because it was such a rough month, I was a little worried about my ability to run.  We finished in around an hour which was fine by both of us because it meant we average less than 10 minutes a mile, but this race was also about more than our finishing times.

The experience of running this race was more than just challenging myself. It felt more like a therapeutic exercise for many involved. The running community is great and to see the support within this group was amazing. There were the elite runners, including Lelisa Desisa the winner of this year's Boston Marathon, recreational runners and even runner's who were inspired to start running to honor the victims.  It was a great display of camaraderie. It was easily one of my favorite races I have run.

A few interesting things that happened on Sunday.  Adidas had their Boston Stands As One shirts for sale both before and after the race. A few of the sponsors where Marathon Sports, Powerbar, Poland Springs and Adidas. Lastly, and the most important detail I have not said yet, is that Lelisa Desisa post race decided to give his winners medal to the City of Boston as a sign of solidarity.  It is a very touching measure and means a lot to many.

Lauren rocking the race S.W.A.G.

The set-up on the Commons

Monday, June 24, 2013

16 Weeks to Go!

Whattup y'all!

GUESS WHAT. There's only 16 weeks (even less now!) until Louie and I run the Hartford Marathon! That means it's time to kick our training into HIGH GEAR! 

I've decided that I want to vlog my training throughout these 16 weeks to document my journey. I just posted the first video on my YouTube channel this morning, in which I talk about my training plan and the vlog project itself. Make sure you subscribe and check back every Sunday for a new video! :)

P.S. You can find the training programs that I talked about in the video here!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Race Review: Superhero Scramble

The new official photo of the VS. the Road crew :P

This past weekend Louie and I ran the Superhero Scramble! The New England race was what they call a "Charger", which means it was their shortest race at approximately 4 miles and 20 obstacles. It was hosted at Amesbury Sport Park, a popular location for New England obstacle races. With Tropical Storm Andrea hitting the northeast on Friday night, the race got pushed back three hours, so we didn't get there until the afternoon - nice change of pace after all these early-morning starts!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Race Review: Memorial Day Marathon 15K Trail Race

A couple weeks ago I ventured over to the Berkshires to run the MDM 15K Trail Race. The race was part of a huge race weekend sponsored by Berkshire Bank, which also included a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and a kid's race. The 15K Trail Race, which happened on Saturday, was the first race of the weekend.

Unfortunately it was raining the morning of the race, which made waking up at 4AM and the 2 hour drive slightly miserable, but I decked myself out in Red, White, and Blue (even put a bow in my hair!) to celebrate Memorial Day, slapped a smile on, and hit the road!

Since I live so far away, the early packet pickup wasn't an option for me, so I had to be at the race site at 7AM sharp to beat the lines and pick up my number and swag bag. The registration fee came with a super nice tech shirt, a "Boston Strong" wristband, and some other goodies from local running stores. Berkshire Bank also matched the amount of registration fees for the weekend and donated them all to One Fund Boston, which I thought was a fantastic part of this entire event!

The race began at 8:15. There was about a mile of road that we had to run before hitting the trail, but it was full of great views of the Berkshires. There were 3 different trails that we looped (slowly and carefully, as it was very slick from the rain) but the second one was by far the most difficult to conquer. The second trail was essentially straight up the side of a mountain. I tried so hard to keep running, but eventually I had to break down and walk, along with everyone else. I did, however, make sure I ran the flat parts, the uphills that were reasonably steep, and the downhills that weren't to slick.

I would have to say that this was the most difficult race that I have run so far. I figured that being used to trail running and being a half marathoner would make this 15K a piece of cake, but I was wrong. I'm more proud of myself for finishing this race than any other race I've run so far. I came in at 2:01:11, which gave me a pace of about 13:01. Far slower than my half marathon PR, so that should give you some idea of how hard it was!

If you're looking for a challenge and you're in the half marathon range in your training, I suggest trying a trail run for a change of pace. It will test your endurance, strength, and mental toughness, and will make you feel awesome once you finish!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy National Running Day!

No matter how far, fast, or often you do it, make sure to get out there today and celebrate your ability to run!
Happy National Running Day, Everyone!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Dream of Sneakers

...the title of a hilariously terrible sitcom, starring a girly running geek, such as myself.

Considering that I've had the same running shoes since July 2012, I'm in desperate need of some new sneakers. Every run is painful, and I know once I get some better cushioning on my feet, my speeds and confidence with longer distances will come back. I'm currently ballin' on a budget, so brand new sneaks are hard to swing. But it doesn't mean I can't drool over the prettiest, most obnoxiously colored shoes out there!







Saturday, May 25, 2013

Race Review Round Up: Navigant Credit Union Running Festival, Boston Fund Run, and Tough Scrambler

It's been a while since I've reviewed any of the recent races I have completed. I have done three races since my last review. The three races are the Navigant Running Festival Half Marathon in Pawtucket, RI, Boston Fund Run/Walk 5k, and Tuff Scrambler 5k Obstacle Run. These are just quick little snapshots of what I thought of each of the races.

The Navigant Running Festival Half Marathon was on May 5th and started at 8 AM.  Needless to say, this start time was a bit rough. I saved a little time by going down the day before to pick up my bib number and race t-shirt.  Part of the pre-race ceremony was a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings.  There were also bracelets given out that said Rhode Island runs for Boston. 

Overall, I was a very nice race. It had some great scenery while running as the end portion took you through a part filled with cherry blossoms. The course itself had a few hills nothing too challenging compared to the Great Bay Half Marathon. I ended up setting a half marathon PR with a time of 1:56:25.  It was a pretty great feeling to do a sub 2 half.

Next up was the Boston Fund Run/Walk 5k was organized by a local race organizing company, Northeast Race Management, LLC.  The race itself was free. They asked that you make a donation to One Fund Boston. It was a great community event. I was really excited that I could participate and the best part was that it helped raise over $3,000 towards the cause.  

The participants for the Boston Fund Run

Lastly, I ran the Tuff Scrambler again. It was my second time as I ran it last October as well.  It was a different race as they added a few new obstacles to the course. the two most obvious additions was a new mud crawl, climbing stairs and under wooden walls. It was still as fun of a race as I ran in October and I got even muddier than last time. I still highly recommend this as a beginners obstacle race if you are in the area. It is a great introduction.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Me, a Runner?

It is now May 11th and I have not written a post for VS. the Road since April 10th. I have been doing a lot of thinking about running and what it means to me. It might seem like a strange thing to say but I have always resisted considering myself a runner.  I have never thought I was good enough or running enough to be considered a runner. Well this all changed five days after my last post. The Boston Marathon became the target of a terrorist attack and everything I had thought changed.

I saw a community come together and rally. I saw runners on a day that they had worked so hard for become selfless. Many had continued on after the marathon and ran to to nearby hospitals to donate blood. Many of the images that have come from that day are inspirational. Marathon runners, volunteers, first responders, and even spectators ran to help victims without a second thought. They show that people are selfless that in the darkest moments, you can always find the light.  Something to check to out is Boston Magazine's story behind there recent cover: Boston Magazine Story

So, how does this relate back to the title of this article. Well, it was after this that I finally realized I was a runner. The running community is amazing. On top of the examples I have already stated many races have embraced One Fund Boston and have pledged to donate part of the proceeds from the races to the fund. This past Sunday, I ran the Navigant Credit Union Half Marathon. We were given bracelets that said "Rhode Island Runs for Boston" and a moment of silence was held before the race for the victims as well.  I am, also, doing a 5k Fun Run/Walk next week that is free and is asking for donations instead of a registration fee. It's amazing the way the running world has rallied.   It truly is an amazing community.I cannot fully express in words what it means to be a runner. I think the only way to completely understand is to run, but what I do know now, and will never again question is:

I am a RUNNER!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Training Update: Amp Up the Mileage!

It's finally that time, folks. With my next race over a month away, there's no better time to start shooting for higher mileage in my training and focusing on preparing myself for Hartford (less than 6 months from now! O_O).

This week I've knocked down 6.5 and 8.5 mile runs, and after a day or two of rest & stretching, I'm hoping to get into the double digits. So far, I know I can run 13.1 miles. A half marathon is the longest distance I've ever run at one time. By the end of May, I'm hoping to push myself into the 15-16 mile range. The overall goal is to get into the low-20's by the end of the summer.

Physically, I know I can complete a marathon. It's the mental aspect of running 26 miles that I need to work on. When I'm out on my longer runs, I get extremely bored and keep glancing at my watch, wondering when it will be over. I never really get this boredom when I'm actually racing, but when I'm training alone, I can not wait for the hours of running to just be over so I can be around people I can talk to.

Lucky for us, Louie and I don't live too far from each other, and we're both equally intimidated by taking on long runs on our own. Our big plan for the months leading up to Hartford is taking on the same long run every week TOGETHER, so we both have someone to motivate us and get us past those mental blocks that make long distance running so difficult! (With, of course, and amazing post-run meal.)

We'll be sure to update everyone on how our longer runs go as we get closer and closer to 26.2! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombings

Hey everyone. Just wanted to make a quick post regarding yesterday's tragic events.

First and foremost, Louie and I are both safe and healthy. Louie was safe at work a few miles from the race. I was at the marathon, but 9 miles from the finish line. It's chilling to think that some of the runners I was cheering on were right next to the blasts a couple hours later...

We  both went to college right on the Boston Marathon route, and Marathon Monday has been a special day to us for quite some time. It's a Lasell tradition to cheer on the runners as they pass us at mile 17, and it's really a day of school spirit and city spirit. Everyone wants to be at Lasell on Marathon Monday, enjoying the atmosphere of Boston pride.

It's really heartbreaking to see someone ruin such a happy event that celebrates our city and the people that work so hard to reach their goal of running such a historic and prestigious race. Competing in the Boston Marathon is the crowned jewel in any distance runner's career, and the fact that someone had to turn these athletes' opportunity to shine into their own opportunity to hurt people makes me sick to my stomach.

I'm currently wearing a race t-shirt in honor of those who were killed, injured, and otherwise affected by this cowardly attack, and will probably wear one every day this week. To show the running world your support, feel free to do the same. Runners are tough, physically and mentally, and we aren't going to let some lame terrorists take our sport or our city away from us.

If you'd like to read about yesterday's events from my point of view, you can check out the post over on my personal blog.

Stay safe. Stay strong. #RunforBoston

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Race Review: Great Bay Half Marathon 2013

Nick (#290), Louie (#876), me (#291), and my mom (#1267)
On Sunday, Louie, our friend Nick, and I all ran the 7th Annual Great Bay Half Marathon in Newmarket, NH. This event was sponsored by Exeter Hospital, and was run at the same time as the beyond the Rainbow 5K, which my mom ran!

Pre-race was a bit hectic. Packet pick-up was at Newmarket High School, and most of the participants kind of hung out in the gymnasium before heading up to Newmarket Elementary School, where the starting line was. There weren't many bathrooms available, so if you needed to use the bathroom, you had to risk missing the start of the race due to the giant lines. Shortly after we started running, we ran by a few stragglers that were still waiting in line.

The 5K and Half Marathon runners all started at the same time, which was awesome because I got to start the race with my mom! The course split after 2.5 miles - 5Kers heading back towards the city, and the Half Marathoners headed into the woods of NH. The half marathon course was beautiful, taking you past streams and great views of the water front. There were lots of supporters hanging outside of their houses, partying, playing banjos on top of their cars while hula hooping (talent!), belly dancing, and giving out pretzels and Twizzlers to the runners. (I'll admit, I took a Twizzler. It was awesome after 8 miles!) It was a great change of pace from Hyannis, which (due to the pouring rain) was pretty desolate.

One of the biggest challenges of this course was how hilly it was. If you aren't used to running on hills, this course will definitely be a challenge for you, because there are some monsters along the way! Luckily, being from New Hampshire, conquering hills during long runs is something I'm no stranger to, but I don't think I can say the same for Massachusetts natives Nick and Louie.

Even though this course is challenging, it's definitely manageable for beginner half marathoners. Louie and I both PR-ed by a considerable amount, and Nick, who was running his first half, reached his goal of finishing under 2:45. Don't let the hills scare you off - if we all finished, so can you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spotlight: Charity Miles Running App

So, recently I was told about a great App, by my friend Brianna Strunk, for anyone who walks, runs or bikes.  It's called Charity Miles. The premise of the App is that due to it's initial corporate backing they have $1,000,000 do donate to charity.

The way it works is 25 cents is donated for every mile you walk or run and 10 cents is donated for every mile that you bike. These may not seem like a lot of money, but every little bit counts.

The app itself keeps track of the time and distance of each run as well as the amount of money you raised by being active. For example, my first run was 3.142 miles and it raised 79 cents so you do not have to complete full miles as it will credit even portions of a mile.  It does require you to log into the app. You can create an account with Charity Miles or log-in using Facebook or Twitter. Also, you are allowed to post to social media to help get more people involved in the causes and generate awareness for the charity you are running for.

The app has a wide range of Charity options as well from the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society to the Wounded Warrior project. There is a cause that anyone can support. My cause of choice has been Stand Up to Cancer.

As far as the tracking of time and distance is concerned, you may want to run a second tracking app such as Endomondo or MapMyRun along with Charity Miles if you are interested in tracking your splits, calories burned and other statistics as it does not get into that much detail for it's tracking. Running the second tracking app does not interfere with the using a second one.

I highly recommend this app to anyone. It's a great way to generate funds for great causes by simply doing what you already do! Please give this app a try and leave feedback on it in the comment section.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pre-Race Survival Guide

I'm running my second half marathon this weekend with Louie and our good friend Nick (it will be Nick's first!) and I'm well into my pre-race rituals. I've been thinking this week how important the week before your race actually is. Though I've been training for weeks, this last 7 day period before pinning on my number, lacing up my shoes, and running 13.1 miles with my 3,000 new best friends, is probably more important than all of those miles I've logged getting ready for the big race. So, today I wanted to share with you a little Survival Guide to the week before your race!


"Taper" is a fancy term runners use that basically means slow down and give your body a rest. The week (or in some cases 2 weeks, depending on how long your race is) before a big race is the time to let your body recover a bit from the long miles you've been putting down day after day during your training. It is still important to continue to run so you don't fall completely fall out of shape, but make sure you're running shorter distances at slower paces. In doing this, you're saving your body from stress so it is in top condition to race.

Rule #2: Water, water, and more water.

Water is your best friend the week leading up to your race. Try to drink one or two Nalgene-esque bottles of water a day. Choose water over other drinks with your meals. Water when you wake up. Water when you go to sleep. Water when you're thirsty. Water when you're not. Drink so much that it annoys you how often you have to run to the bathroom with a full bladder. (That means you're doing it right!) Although it may be refreshing in your dry mouth, the water that you drink during your race does not actually hydrate you, so it's important that you start chugging your H2O during the days leading up to your race.

Rule #3: Ssssttttrrrrreeeeeetttttcccchhhhh

The same idea of drinking water applies to stretching. Do some simple stretches at your desk at work. Instead of plopping yourself on the couch, take 20-30 minutes to get a good stretch in while your catching up on your favorite reality TV show. Stretch in the shower while your muscles are warm and loose. The more your stretch in the days leading up to the race, the better your body's going to feel during it.

Rule #4: Stalk the Weather

I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to checking the weather for big events, but with a race it's a little bit more important. Since you'll be outside for an extended period of time, you need to know exactly how you'll need to dress in order to be comfortable throughout your run. Temperature wise, dress as if it's 15 degrees warmer than it is. If it's raining, dress with lighter, less absorbent materials, so you aren't running with extra weight absorbed into your clothes. Dressing right can make a huge difference in how you run your race!

Rule #5: Pick out your race day attire!

This is my personal favorite part. You want to pick out clothes you'll feel running in, and if you have people coming to cheer you on, something they can spot you in out of the thousands of other competitors. I prefer bright colors!

Rule #6: Lay everything out the night before.

This way you can make sure that you have everything you need for race day and you'll cut down your chance of forgetting anything early on race day morning when you're groggy and trying to mentally prepare for the race. I like to have my race outfit layed out (everything from my number to my socks), and put all of the extras (change of clothes, foam roller, snacks, water bottle, headphones, etc) into a bag that I can just grab in the morning.

Rule #7: Visualize

Think about your goals throughout the week and how you plan to accomplish them throughout the race. Positive thinking is one of the most powerful techniques in sports (and life) for success. Tell yourself that you can accomplish the goals you set out to reach, and if you put the work in during your training, you will reach them!

Rule #8: Relax!!!

At this point, you've trained all you can, and there's no use stressing over it if you think you didn't do enough. Have confidence that you've set yourself up for success and that you'll do the best you can come race day. Once the race is over, you can evaluate what you did right, what you did wrong, and how you can adjust your training to have a better race next time. But for now, enjoy the race and the events surrounding it, take in the atmosphere, and have a great time!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome Back Beautiful Weather!

Now that the weather is getting nicer, I wanted to take some time to just quickly write about how weather influences my running. Last Tuesday I set out to do an easy 4 mile run. This served two purposes. The first was to get in a few miles in preparation for The Great Bay Half Marathon. The second was the try and break in my new shoes.

What started out as a 4 mile run ended up being a 9 mile run. This is where the weather comes in. This was the first time in quite a while the weather was so great for running after I got out of work. Once I started running I just wanted to keep going. It was so nice to be free of the treadmill.

I have already run a few races outside this year, but running a race and running to train are completely different for me.  When I am racing, I try to improve my Personal Records. When I'm running as part of training, I tend to take in my surroundings more. I go at a lighter pace and focus more on just getting the distance in than on running faster.

Tuesday was the first time in a long time, I remembered why I love running so much. It may sound lame or corny, but as I was running I did not have care in the world. It was all about running. It was me vs. the road. I think 9 miles was great for a random run, unfortunately the road always wins though. A person can only run for so long but the road continues.

Happy Race Season!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Race Review: James H. Lamb Memorial Scholarship Road Race

Race season is officially in full swing. With my third race in three weeks it's great to be back at it on a regular basis.  The race this week was the James H. Lamb Memorial Scholarship Road Race.  It was a 5 mile course in Taunton, MA.

So for the registration and fees concerning the event. Pre-Registering it was only $16 and Day of Race Registration was $20. This was great pricing for a race of this distance. Usually they are more expensive.  The lower price however did not affect the S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get) bag given out to runners. Included in the bag, was a long sleeve t-shirt, sun glasses, a water bottle, a stop watch, and a few other items. It was surprisingly impressive for a race that only had a total of 79 participants.

As for the course itself it was a nice loop that started and ended at Coyle & Cassidy High School. The course went passed Hopewell Park, down towards the old Leonard Elementary School, a left onto Fremont St. and then down some strides and back past Leonard Elementary school and back the way we came. There were two water stops and every mile was marked and had a timer. The course itself had quite a few hills and some were steeper than others, but overall it was a great course to run.

The best part of this race was the after racing in many different cities and towns in Massachusetts, I finally manage to run on in my home town! It was a great feeling to run it and feel a certain sense of pride to race in the city I grew up in. I finished the race in 43:06 which is a personal record for 5 miles outdoors.

I am taking this weekend off from racing,but I will be back to racing when Riley and I conquer the Great Bay Half Marathon.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Training while Sick

Even though it's technically spring, winter doesn't look like it's leaving us any time soon here in New England. It's like we're north of The Wall up in here! (If you don't get that reference, I'm not sure if we can be friends.) 

With the weather stubbornly hanging in the 40's longer than usual, tons of people are getting sick. I've been teetering on the brink of sickness all winter, but luckily (*knock on wood*) I haven't been hit yet. However, I know that if I do end up getting sick, how detrimental it can be to my training.

I came across this little rule of thumb while researching marathon training last spring. There is a trick to training while you're sick, and it's pretty easy to remember:

If your sickness is above your neck, it's OK TO TRAIN!
This includes...
  • Headaches
  • Head colds
  • Sinus infections
  • Etc.
If you're feeling dizzy or faint, get your rest, but if you just have a cold or a mild headache, it's typically okay to lace up and hit the road.

If your sickness is below your neck, it's NOT OK TO TRAIN!
This includes...
  • Stomach bugs
  • Fevers
  • Chest colds
  • Etc.
These are ailments that usually take a long time to recover from, and your body needs all the energy it can get to fight it off. The best thing to do is to take a few days off to let your body recover. If you still feel the need to exercise when you're experiencing a below-the-neck sickness, try something low-impact like some band exercises or yoga.

Obviously, I'm not a doctor, and this rule probably won't work for everyone, but I find that it's a good way to figure out if I should push through the pain or sit out a day or two. Gauge how you feel, and go from there, and if you're really not sure, check with your doctor or athletic trainer before continuing your training regimen.

Good luck, and stay healthy! Spring will come soon! (I hope...)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Review: New Bedford Half Marathon 2013

Yesterday, I ran the New Bedford Half Marathon in New Bedford, MA with my friends Arianna Magee and Joe Nusca. For them this was their first half marathon. For me, it was a follow up to the Hyannis Half Marathon with the hope that it would good much better than that one.

The day of the race was already much better than it was for the Hyannis Half Marathon. Instead of it being raining, windy and cold it was sunny with wind gusts. A much better setting to be running a race in.

There were 3135 runners in this race, but even with this many participants parking was not an issue at all. They planned for the large crowds and had ample parking spaces available.  The biggest pre and post race issues for this race were the lines for locker rooms (pre-race) and the festivities (post-race).

Before we discuss post-race though on to the race itself. With such a massive crowd and a highly popular event this race was amazing. Part of the course took us by the beaches and harbors in New Bedford.  It made for a very scenic race at times. With it being in a decent size city this view did not last for the entire race, but it certainly made it better when I got to see it.

However, the two toughest spots for this course are stated in the course description itself. There are two hills that are rather long and up the level of difficulty for this race. The first hill is at mile 3. It is by no means the steepest hill a runner will encounter, but it tends to be a long hill with a steady incline. The second big hill comes in around mile 12. This was a rather difficult hill due to fatigue and soreness in my legs, but I managed to conquer them both.

Another really cool aspect to this race was the crowd turnout. New Bedford takes a lot of pride in this race and you can see it with the spectators who are there cheering on the runners. It was easily the largest turn out fro spectators I have experienced yet.

All-in-all, this was probably my favorite race so far. Between the crowds on the street, my time and just the overall feeling at the end, I have never felt more accomplished when finishing a race. When I crossed the finish line I yelled "Yes!".  That's the only time I have have ever done that.

In the my resulst were a chip time of 2:13:24.  This average of to a minute per mile time of 10:11.  This was 12 minutes faster than my time for the Hyannis Half Marathon. Such a great improvement and now, I am looking forward to the Great Bay Half Marathon on April 7th.

Race Review: Ras na hEireann U.S.A. 2013

     Last weekend I ran the Ras na hEireann U.S.A. in Somerville, MA. This was a fun 5k to run that was made even better by running it with my friends Brianna Strunk and Nick Fernandez. There was a very big turn out for the race as well. It was easily the biggest turn out I have seen for a 5k yet. It turns out there were 4435 participants.

     Even though there were that many participants races day went smoothly. This was aided greatly due to the fact that race bib and t-shirt pick up were made available during the week leading up to the race. While I did not personally go to pick up my bib and t-shirt, Brianna had picked them up, I was told it was a rather smooth process and that is a good sign for a race.

     Now, back to race day.  We arrived in Somerville at around 10 o'clock and headed to the starting line around 10:30 with the race starting at 11.  It was a very St. Patty's Day themed crowd.  At one point while waiting for the starting gun, we were hitting a beach ball around.

     Now for the race itself.  Having run a race in Somerville last October, I was not to surprised by the course. It was very similar to the previous race with the starting and ending points only a street away from the previous race.  The course itself is a relatively flat course with only two hills that may cause issues for some runners.

My results for this time was a 28:15 with an average minutes per mile of 9:06.  As for where I placed within the group itself I was 1595 out of the 4435. Overall, I was extremely satisfied with the finish of this race. It was a very fun run with a good time.

     Part of finishing this race included receiving a finisher's medal and specials at some of the local bars in the area. We tried to go to a one of the bars that had the specials the lines were outside the door and they did not seem to be moving fast at all. We did find a nice little pizza place to eat though. The Davis Square area does not lack for restaurant options.

I highly recommend anyone who likes running to do this race next year!

Monday, March 4, 2013

All Strengths No Weakness

Hey everyone! I just wanted to write a quick post to let you know that a fellow Lasell Alum, Hector, has launched his own fitness blog called All Strengths No Weakness! Make sure you go check it out if you want to read some in-depth articles about general fitness, dieting and training, without such a big emphasis on running like us crazy kids over here at VStR.

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Hector! :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Race Review: Hyannis Half Marathon 2013

This weekend Louie and I both completed our first half marathon - the Hyannis Half Marathon in Hyannis, MA, which is the first race in the Cape Cod Half Marathon Trilogy. This event has been going on since 1996, and over the years has evolved into the Marathon, Half Marathon, and Marathon Team Relay that it is today. Needless to say, it was very well run event.

Despite threatening weather warnings, the event was not cancelled or delayed. The race began, as scheduled, right at 10AM in the pouring rain. As it is in every large race, the first few miles were a bit crowded, but after the first 5K everyone started to find their pace and spread out. Around miles 2.5 and 3, there were some giant puddles that covered the width of the road. At some points, we had to trudge single-file through the muddy grass on the side of the road. Fortunately, those disappeared after that section of the course.

The course itself wasn't completely closed. I'm not sure if this is normal for races of this length as it was my first one, but there were points where regular traffic was on the course or waiting for runners to go by to make turns and cross intersections. I thought that was a little odd, but the police for each town did a great job controlling traffic and made sure the runners got the right of way.

The wind and rain wasn't so bad at the beginning, but right around mile 10 I could really feel the weight of the water in my clothes. Even though I was only wearing a Dri-Fit sweatshirt and Under Armour Cold Gear pants, it felt like I was carrying around an extra 30 pounds.

Crossing the finish line was one of the best feelings ever. Even though my whole lower body felt like it was going to fall apart, as soon as I passed mile marker 13, a whole new rush of energy went through my body and it felt like I was sprinting for the last .1! I felt so accomplished when I got my finishers medal and I wore it around with pride for the rest of the afternoon. (Louie and I also got our photo taken for Core Power's website, because we're basically models. :P)

By my watch, I finished in 2:14:52, but my official time was 2:15:56 (I paused my watch when we stopped a couple times to stretch out). I came in 1,800th place (haha) out of about 2,400. I'm so happy I finally accomplished my goal of completing a half marathon, and am looking forward to getting better and better at this distance! 

The next race for me will be the Great Bay Half Marathon in April, and I'm definitely looking forward to competing again! :)